The Leica Q2 is a very nice Monochrome camera. I'm wondering just how much better the dedicated monochrom model might be....


My tip about surviving a blood test: Visualize your favorite camera. Now visualize photographing your favorite image with the camera. If this doesn't work just whimper and cry until it's over...

After going over some details pursuant to the upcoming multi-person portrait shoot this afternoon I looked at the mess I'd made on the dining room table. There were multiple camera batteries, a Leica Q2, a Leica SL2 and a Sigma fp layered over the top of a bundle of brokerage statements and notices from Medicare. I wanted to choose a camera and lens to take with me on a long walk to my bank. It's smack in the middle of downtown. I thought I wanted to play with the Leica SL2 and the Sigma 65mm lens but in the end the smaller size and the intriguing (to me) 28mm focal length of the Q2 won out. I grabbed an extra battery for my pocket and put the Q2 over my shoulder. Then I headed out. 

I haven't had any cash in my pockets since I was in Vancouver, Canada last November. Just don't use it anymore. And, like film, I don't really see myself transitioning back. ApplePay is safe and easy. Everyone accepts it. I don't have to deal with ATMs or other points of failure. But every once in a while stuff conspires to put cash back in my pocket. Yesterday I got a reimbursement check (very partial) for my recent dental check-up. A whopping $48. I decided to incorporate a physical visit to my local, one location bank to cash said check. And after the SVB imbroglio I wanted to make sure my commercial bank was still alive and kicking. They were. They cashed my Medicare reimbursement check and didn't even need to see my I.D. Why would they? I've been working with the same cashier for a couple of years. 

I like my bank. They are responsive. They are local. The CEO is an old pal from Dell Computer. He used to be the CFO there. My personal bank officer is a guy I swim with named..... Guy. When I opened an account with them I asked about fees and charges. Guy just laughed. Jim just laughed. "We'll never charge you a fee. Ever." That's a bank I can enjoy. I'll just remember to keep less than $250,000 there on deposit. 

With my $48 shoved into my pants pocket I continued my walk with the overriding objective of just walking, looking and making images of stuff I wanted to see photographed. I have to say that after fits and starts, and stops with the Q2 I now see why so many people are enamored with the camera and why it's so popular. It just exudes quality and precision. And the images that pop up on the screen after I press the shutter button seem a cut above everything else I shoo with. 

Lately I've been doing more and more black and white with that camera. Sometimes I shoot raw and then convert to black and white by trial and error, and more trial and error while at other times I find myself surrendering to the BW HC mode in the camera menu, enhanced with a little customization of the contrast. Which all brings me to the point of wondering if the Monochrom version of this camera might be even better in its representation of black and white images. 

I've reached out to an old contact at Leica and requested a Q2 Monochrom loaner. I have every indication that they'll send one along. After all, in the past they've sent along a 15mm Biogon, an M8, and three different Summarit lenses for me to test. As well as a 35mm f1.4 Aspherical and an M9. I can't wait to try it out. I have some projects in mind that are a nice fit for the parameters of the camera and lens. And black and white.

Life is short. I'm impatient. I want to go right to the source. I don't have the time or inclination to monkey around with half measures. If the Monochrom is as good as I think it might be I'll snag one for long term use. Why not?

Does anyone reading this have any direct experience with the Q2 Monochrom? I'd love to hear about it. 

Thanks, KT

P.S. Austin is hosting the Country Music Television Awards in our downtown this week. What does that mean? Well a bunch of inconvenient street closures mixed with a bunch of really, really shitty "music" for the unwashed. Do you love, love, love country and western music? (Not counting Bob Wills or Willie Nelson) Then you might want to stop reading the VSL blog because with the exception of Mick Jagger's song, "Heartbreak Hotel" I think that almost all that genre of music, done over the last 30 years, is absolute crap.

And I hate to see Austinites inconvenienced in their own downtown for the benefit of companies profiting from  a bad "art" and a crowd with bad taste in music.


OT: Prevention. A good strategy for long term health?


Ben leading in the last lap of the mile. 2016.

One of the things I hate most in adult life is getting a blood test. Not a happy little finger prick but a full on jab deep into the vein in the crook of my arm. "We'll only need two tubes." "You'll hardly feel it..." In what universe is two tubes of hot, red blood not too much? And there might be people out in the world with no nerve endings in their arms but I'm certainly not one of them. The emotion of a it all must give me a vaso-vagal response that's off the charts because I can assure you that drawing my blood while I'm sitting or standing will have me unconscious on the floor in seconds. To my greater incredulity I have heard (often) that there are people who like to watch the procedure of their own blood draws. That would have me sitting in front of my psychiatrist in a....heartbeat.

So why do I, yearly, submit to this relatively quick but deep torture? Well, mostly because I do believe in the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." And also, although there isn't a nifty saying about it, I understand the benefits across a wide range of maladies of "early detection." 

Over the weekend I wrote about winding down the business a bit. Maybe not a full "ripping off of the bandaid" but more of a throttling back of the engines of photographic commerce. One of my friends joked that this would free up more time to visit doctors. Which seems to be an active pastime of people over a certain age. It's funny that all of this change would coincide with a dentist appointment (all good, no cavities, no gum disease), a visit with my dermatologist (all good, no cancerous or pre-cancerous spots --- but a lengthy discussion about the relative merits, for him, of a Leica Q2) and then again this morning for day one of a two day physical exam (routine and yearly --- concierge physician; my personal provider of 27 years, and how I can mostly ignore the American medical system...).  

My blood pressure was a bit high before the blood draw. But nicely purring along when taken again ten minutes after the "jab and flow." I weighed four pounds less than I did at my last physical. My eyes are 25/25 and symmetrically enabled. I can hear bats echolocate with my right ear and I'm just above average in my left ear. My EKG was normal. As were all the BMI, % of fat, and other metrics. I have not shrunk in height over the years. Not yet. And my balance is very good. Actually....excellent. 

The rest of the physical takes place next week and the doctor and I will get to deconstruct the numbers from the blood test. The only thing I've added to my routines lately, beyond lifting weights, is a striking increase in the consumption of really good peanuts. Which are not actually a nut but are, instead, a legume. Super-low glycemic index, lots of protein and fiber and chocked full of good minerals. My new snack food. Thanks to a reader/commenter/friend of VSL who sent me a giant tin of Whitley's Peanuts after a recent visit. I just re-ordered....so "thank you." 

I'm sure most of you go through routines like this once a year (teeth and skin x2) because you want to take charge of your good health, or you just want to get your money's worth out of your insurance, or your Medicare policy. I think it's great for trying to figure out what you need to change, add or remove from your day to day lifestyle to live optimally. I joked a week or so back about adding strength training to my regimen so I could continue to carry heavy camera gear but you know what? It really works!

Checking on your health is not much different than checking in with your wealth management team over the course of a year to make sure your investments are on track and doing well. Or keeping your car running safely and as it should with routine maintenance. 

We're holding steady on the camera and lens inventory over here. I was tempted to follow through and pick up the Leica 50mm f2.0 ASPH lens last week but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't because it appears that Sigma, on April 3rd, will be announcing or introducing their own 50mm f2.0 lens as part of their i-Series lenses. I'd rather own the Sigma as every i-Series lens I've gotten from them has been a wonderful combination of great styling and superb optical quality. And it seems slotted in to be 1/3rd the price of the Leica SL product. Or 1/8th the price of the 50mm APO model. And, of course, you know how I like to watch every penny....

But, surprisingly,  not all of my favorite clients have fled the playing field of photography. On Thursday I'll head over to public relations and advertising company, Hahn, and make portraits of eight different people who I will then composite into some backgrounds the art director and I shot last year. A very large medical products company keeps teasing a big, upcoming (and production intensive) campaign and there are several ad agencies in San Antonio that have just requested bids and treatments for upcoming projects. Not nearly as dire as it might seem to be around here and certainly enough to throw off sufficient dollars with which to pick up fun gear from time to time. 

Can't wait for that 50mm Sigma lens. Just the right size, price, etc. All the rest of the stuff? We'll take it on a case-by-case basis. 

A quick tutorial on finance for new photographers. Part one, maximize marketing to maximize profits and gross income. Part two, never spend a cent that you can't bill back to a client,  and use in multiple jobs, and depreciate or deduct. Save money outside the business every month. Buy and hold S&P 500 index funds. Buy and hold carefully researched stocks only in companies that you deeply understand. Don't buy expensive cars or trucks. Don't feel as though you are entitled to costly family vacations at the drop of a hat. Never have cable TV. If you must eat out at restaurants try to limit yourself to once a week. Better yet, twice a month. Only buy clothes you can wear until they disintegrate from prolonged use. Don't buy a boat. Don't learn to fly your own plane. Don't buy a plane. Don't buy real estate at the top of the market. There will almost always be a recession coming along that will give you great "discounts." Same with other investments beyond the mandatory monthly investments in the stock market. 

Never marry a spouse with demanding and expensive tastes. Always marry someone who is smarter than you. Always marry someone who is more practical than you. Never marry a spouse who has a Nordstrom's charge card. Beware of people who "need" to buy shoes that cost over $150 a pair. Don't buy a motorcycle. You will fall off. It will be an expensive fall. I have learned from experience. Don't run your business without liability insurance. Same with your household. Eating healthy is more important than eating gourmet/luxury.  True story: when B. and I talked about getting married (some 36+ years ago) her only hesitation was my cavalier approach to handling money. She required me to take all of my accounting to her CPA and have the CPA generate a clean and meticulous tax return for that year. She did not want to "inherit" stupid debt. At the time I thought it was a bit over the top. Now I laud her for her judgement.

If you like to drink wine be sure, at least, that it's very good wine. Instead of "more" wine. Don't get subscriptions. To anything.  Use your local library. Here's a mantra for morning biz meetings: Breakfast at home. Coffee out with clients/peers/friends. Have an agenda and a goal.

I have tried all of this and it works well. Here's a few more:  Don't discuss your net worth on the web. You will make some people jealous, others will pity you and a third group will wonder why your parents didn't tell you that your finances are nobody else's business. The fourth group will be scammers....

Take care of yourself. Take care of business. Always be invested. You may get tired as you get older but your invested money will work for you around the clock. 

Oh....and try to take nice and interesting photographs. Be nice to everyone you meet.  That's all.