1.12.2022

At John's (implied) Request We're Taking a Break from Writing about Leicas. At least for this morning.

 

this is my original painting of a "to go" coffee cup. Years ago I had a one person show of my paintings at Trianon Coffee in Westlake Hills, Texas. This was a favorite of the patrons of that outpost of good coffee. 

It was Tolstoy who wrote: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

When I sit down to write fiction, or about my life as a photographer, I usually have two thoughts. The first is: "I've been so lucky to have such a wonderful life, complete with a wonderful partner and a kind family. Lucky to have done well in business and especially lucky to have spent those business years immersed in making art." 

But my second thought, which follows on the heels of the first is: "If I'd suffered horribly I might have more interesting stuff to write about." And then I quickly beg the gods not to punish me for such a self-destructive thought.

This morning I "moderated?" a comment from John, who has grown somewhat disinterested in the blog since my recent purchase of Leica products. And, rather than taking umbrage or becoming defensive I found myself agreeing with John about the blog. 

Not because of the Leica gear but because reading about challenges, problems and their solutions, or narrow escapes from failure, is always more fun and titillating than reading that some old guy bought himself more cool photo stuff and took a walk and played with his cool stuff, had a coffee and then came back home to his nice, comfortable home whereupon he ventured out to his large, attached and very private office to write about his "adventures" on his shiny iMacPro while leafing through yet another folder of images of mostly cosmopolitan comfort and abstraction with which to illustrate posts about his repetitious forays.

I completely agree with John. It's tiresome. But I am cursed with what my wife calls, "An optimistic memory." When I think about the past I remember all the good stuff like exploring castles on the Turkish  coast with my parents and siblings, back in the 1960s. Swimming through the 1970s and beyond. Being asked to teach at UT. Being lured from UT by $$$ to direct an ad agency. Marrying the woman of my dreams. Having a perfect child. Who is now a (mostly) perfect adult. Making decent money making decent photographs. Buying fun cars. Getting bored by fun cars and then having an equal amount of fun buying boring, practical cars. I remember the thrill of months long backpacking trips through Europe in my college years with beautiful girlfriends and endless mornings of swim practice at a private club in my middle age. Of the unbelievable opportunity to be coached by swimmers who won gold at Olympic games. And having ready access to really good coffee all the time, without ever having to scrape together change from a change jar to pay for it. 

But the sad truth is that nobody really cares about all the happy moments. It's just not good material to write about. Who cares if a Leica is a good camera or not? What does it matter if someone buys a new lens? Who would ever want to read about how you paid off your house or invested wisely? Nobody. 

I'm toying with the idea of creating a completely fictional life in which every moment is fraught with peril and sadness in order to keep my readers interested. But to what end? How will I be able to monetize this dystopian creation so I can at least rationalize the time and effort it might take to become truly miserable enough to be an interesting writer? 

I could write about the thrill of racing to the top of Mt. Everest without auxiliary oxygen in order to document a comet exploding in the upper atmosphere but suffering from massive cardiac arrest which I survive by taking some potion that might eventually kill me, while dragging myself back down the mountain on my frostbitten hands and knees. Only to find that the memory card, with the once in a lifetime cosmic event, was hopelessly corrupted and then, because of a horrible contract with shady characters who threaten my loved ones, having to reimburse the clients who sent me in the first place. With interest. Lots of interest. Contract subsequently cancelled via sordid gun play and mayhem. But not before being severely injured in the melee...

Maybe stuff like that will keep people entertained. And there always seems to be good money in writing about run-ins with serial killers and such. And I do like science fiction so there might be an angle about dangerous and uncomfortable space travel or being enslaved, off world, to mine unobtainium on distant asteroids for lizard people who secretly rule the galaxy with iron claws....

I'll think about it. But first I'll jog over to the club for the noon swim practice  on a sunny, sixty degree day in the middle of paradise. And maybe lunch afterwards.  Lots and lots to think about here. 

Thanks for the nudge John.


1.11.2022

Leakage. The Primary Marketing Strategy of the Camera Industry.

 https://leicarumors.com/2022/01/07/new-leaked-leica-m11-pictures-and-detailed-specifications.aspx/

I'm not currently a Leica digital "M" user. But within the smallish niche of Leica M photographers the fora are lighting up like fireworks on the 4th of July. Details started leaking out this week about the upcoming launch of the Leica M11. And I'm sure it's a wonderful camera for anyone who is ready to drop about $9.000 USD on the most current iteration of the venerable M series of cameras. 

According to the (well documented) leaks the new camera will be the first one of the series to do away with the removable bottom plate. The designers are following the example of the Leica Q2 with the battery flush with the bottom of the camera. The battery is also gasket to ward off moisture damage and dust. The battery release mechanism works the same as the one on the SL2; you push a lever adjacent to the battery which releases the battery partially, then you push lightly on the bottom of the battery to effect the full release. It's a nice system and you don't have a situation in which a battery springs out from its enclosure and slams onto a concrete floor. 

The most dedicated Leica zealots will no doubt cry and wail about the disappearance of a removable bottom plate mostly because it will be one more vestigial piece of M-ness of which they will be forever deprived. Along the same lines the body will no longer have brass components because Leica has decided that special aluminum alloys are... better. This will cause rent fabric, the burning of owners manuals and many other displays of sadness and disappointment. (and how many of you chipped teeth by holding the metal bottom plate of an M3 between them while fumbling to load one of those fussy cameras?).

Most of the leaks seem to confirm that the new M11 will feature some variation of the Sony 60 megapixel sensor and much hoopla will be made about the Leica M series "Apo" lenses being designed to resolve all the way out to 100 megapixels with the implication that lenses from leading rivals are so tawdry and unsharp by comparison that the potential of the 60 megapixels in other system will be wasted as the optical systems available for them won't resolve anywhere near that level of detail. 

I predict though that some in the Leica camp will clamor for a lower resolution version of the M11. Something like an M11 - Lite. There are any number of photographers who don't need or want the giant resolution, and the even more enormous resulting raw files. We saw this play out last year when Leica launched the 24 megapixel SL2-S as a lower resolution sibling (and a lower price-tagged) companion or substitute for the SL2. In the interim between the introduction of the SL2 and the arrival of the SL2-S many professional users voiced their concerns about too many pixels with their credit cards and bought up most of the premium condition, used SL cameras on the market. Sending a message that, perhaps, 24 megapixels really is the sweet spot for most photographers, regardless of the resolving power of the lenses. 

If you are in the market for the new M11 you'll be happy to know that there's a new, outboard, EVF finder (fits in the accessory shoe of the camera) available with a higher resolution than the previous one; and a lower profile. You might also be happy to hear that replacement batteries for the camera are "only" $180 instead of the $285 price tag of the SL, SL2 and SL2-S batteries. Oh happy days! Yes, the add-on thumb rest will be available for this camera at the very "reasonable" price point of $265. So, you'll be able to customize your camera to your heart's content. 

The rest of the camera specs reflect the growing electrification of the M series and now the current camera can deliver electronic shutter speeds all the way to 1/16,000th of second. All while keeping the traditional optical rangefinder.

The most humorous forum exchange I have seen so far was between a person who claimed to be a recipient of a pre-announcement M11 for test and review and a fellow antagonist who seemed to make it his mission to pillory the first poster for "breaking" his NDA and leaking some information. It could have been innocuous information such as, "The M11 will continue the tradition of using Leica M series lenses." Or, "The new M11 will require a battery in order to function." The haranguing went on for at least an internet page of comments. 

So, how do I feel about the latest M camera? Am I in the market for one? Not likely. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting M film cameras but each time I've tried one of the digital versions I've come up a bit cold. I like the size of them and I like the concept but I've become so wedded to the versatility of the SLR/DSLR/Mirrorless replication LR that I won't willingly go backwards when it come to my serious cameras. I am a complete Leica enthusiast and think that the CL camera should have been fleshed out into a worthy, discreet, sneaky, silent street shooting tool. It fulfills that function for me. And the SL cameras are the perfect workhorses for my style of commercial work.

But the M system seems locked into a style and period of photography that most folks won't tolerate anymore. There are so many new photographers who've cut their teeth on the holy trinity of zoom lenses and I can't imagine many of them giving up their 70-200mm f2.8 zooms, etc. in order to use a camera that was basically designed to work well with single focal length optics that range from about 28mm to 90mm. 

So the Ms will continue to be the camera of choice for a select group that remembers how cool their fathers or grandfathers thought the original M cameras were. And there really are people for whom the M11 and a 35mm Summilux will actually be a perfect fit for their personal shooting style. I guess the underlying hope of a lot of people who really want the M experience but can't afford to buy it new is that recently-made-flush-by-the-stock-market people will buy the M11 and a few lenses just because "it's the best in the world" and will then succumb to buyer's remorse when they realize that Leica Ms are  extremely specialized tools and not a great "Swiss Army Knife" of cameras. Then the hope is that the M11s will flood into the used market and make photographers of a certain bent and budget quite happy. This may be the case but as in so many other areas the value of used Leicas doesn't decline like it used to. 

A very humorous part of the loudly heralded announcement is the fact that Leica Store dealers around the country have invited their customers to either travel to the stores or join them by Zoom to be, in some way, present for this "historical" unveiling that will take place on the 12th of January. I foresee trays of passed, hot hors de oeuvres, Champagne fountains, middle-aged men wearing Leicas and fishing vests and long gone Magnum photographers turning over in their graves at the spectacle of what camera marketing has become. But maybe not. Maybe it's always been this way but no one ever invited me to the party...

After all the hoopla dies down I hope the Leica engineers will get back to work on the CL2. And I hope the design they finally bless us with keeps the same battery as the CL. The only cost effective battery ever adopted by Leica! We can always dream...

On a health related note: Continuing onward with my newfound love of vaccination I have, just this morning, gotten a pneumonia vaccine. I figure that if, in spite of my overweening caution, I do manage to catch Omicron Covid I want to make sure I don't get a side of pnuemonia along with the entrée.

If you happen to be one of the very few readers here who is over 65 I suggest you liaison with your medical staff and "get the jab" to prevent pnuemonia. Seems to be a prudent step and it's free to Medicare recipients. Just sayin. 

And yes, good swim this morning... but I won't bore you with the details. The Leica launch is currently sapping all my writing energy.

1.10.2022

Assignment: Make a black and white catalog of interesting photographs of an unusual building. Eschew the traditional approaches.

 

The Southern Exposure.

Over the last couple of years you've seen my images of this building time and time again. I started my documentation when the whole project was just a gigantic hole in the ground, across a little stream from the public library. I've tried to show why this building is so peculiar/addictive by investigating all the different angles. One edge of the building is actually curved and this is shown, faithfully, in my photographs. But since there is an expectation that buildings will be rectilinear and squared up many have asked if I'm using a fisheye lens or if the lens I am using is compromised and unable to render straight lines. Nope. That's the way the building was designed. 

The construction company, DPR, is nearing the last lap on the project. Work is underway to complete the "skirt" of ground level spaces that will almost certainly house upscale restaurants, reservation only coffee shops and other services. The bulk of the building will be filled with Google employees and their contractors. The executives will, no doubt, claim the offices on the South side of the building since the structure is across the street from Lady Bird Lake and faces the unspoiled shores thereof. 

I have photographed the building in both black and white and color but I love the drama of the contrasty monochrome images. I've used all kinds of cameras and lenses in my "architectural" work but today's images (the ones  shown here) were all done with a battered, but stalwart, Leica SL and the Panasonic 20-60mm zoom lens. 

I've wanted more images of the building with the exterior completed and when I saw the weather report this morning indicating good, clean sunshine for most of the midday and early afternoon I waved goodbye to the home team and headed out to see what I could get. 

The camera and lens combination that inspired me to start photographing more in black and white here was the Leica CL camera and the 17mm f1.4 TTArtisan lens. There is something I really like about the HC Monochrome profile in that camera (and by extension in the TL2 and the SL2 since they use much the same parameters in a profile of the same name). The 17mm is just a great lens for most wide angle use.

I think that no matter what kind of brief you start out with it's incumbent on a good photographer to spend time really getting the feel of a huge structure like this one. That means you might want to come back and visit it at sunrise, sunset, midday, late morning, early afternoon and even at twilight. Going down once and finding one good angle with some pleasant sunlight on it just isn't enough. 

For example, the image just below was done just before lunch and is an Eastern facing part of the building. That shot was gone by 12:30 as the sun moved low and West. But after lunch the sun did a reverse "sunrise" on the opposite side of the building as the sun crested over the top and spread out from the top of the to the bottom of the exterior, over time. That top down spread moved down the building relentlessly but I was able to capture the transitions from a perch six stories up, across the stream, on the rooftop of the public library. The light doesn't wait for the photographer and if you miss the perfect angle of light it's often no easy matter to go back at a later date to try and duplicate the look and feel. Everything changes with the passing of time. 





I took a break for a lovely sandwich at the CookBook Café, adjacent to the library. 
It was a turkey and provolone but nicely enhanced with pickled radishes
 and an spirited aioli.




I can hardly wait for the project to be fully realized. I want to photograph the shop windows and the grand entryway on the south side of the structure. I hope more projects built in downtown embrace the whimsical spirit this building brings with it.

And just like that....Monday is gone. 

A totally different look from an earlier visit
(above and below)






1.09.2022

The Leica R 50mm Summicron renders color and contrast like no other lens I've owned. Flat, deep and sharp out of camera but perfect for wringing out amazing photos in post processing. And...the resolution...!


Confessions of mortality! We have allergy seasons here in the central Texas. According to experts we can take credit for being one of the top five WORST areas in the country for cedar pollen and mold allergies. And I am as susceptible as anyone to the ravages of their malevolent presence in the air. I guess I could lock myself in the house and run all three HEPA air cleaners at full blast but where's the fun in not sharing  the irritating symptoms with everyone else? I'm locked in a constant balancing act between not having itching eyes and a constant tickle in my nose on the one hand and being able to go out and make photographs of the great outdoors on the other hand. 

I think between swim practice (outside) and photography (outside) I am doomed to keep the Kleenex company in business for at least the next 30 days. I guess you just have to play the hand you are dealt. At least I have most of the chips... (paused to sneeze...again).

Today I spent time re-organizing the studio to make room, and appropriate space, for my new writing desk. I decided I needed a dedicated piece of furniture for writing stuff for the blog, new chapters for the novel in progress and also for writing checks. I'm trying to be disciplined about not filling up another horizontal space with more stuff and so far I've been rigorous in clearing everything off the beautiful acorn wood top after every writing foray. It's just so nice to have dedicated spaces for specific tasks. And I love the mid-century style.

But after too much time doing drudge work I wanted to get outside. I've had the 50mm Summicron R that my architectural photographer friend sold me last month mounted on my crustiest Leica SL (the one with the most personality!) and I wanted to test it a bit more. I've been reading articles from film makers who are in love with that particular 50mm lens; and in fact, the whole R series of Leica lenses and I wanted to see for myself what the various strong points are and why people who spend lots of time getting things just right (and with enormous budgets) gravitate to this particular model. So, after swallowing my daily Zyrtec allergy pill and filling my pockets with tissues I popped downtown to do a nice walk and to see what's up with old glass. 

I've experimented with the lens a lot in the past because....I owned the same model for a number of years and used it on a Leica R3, R4, R4SP, R6 and an R8. All film cameras. It was perfect for shooting slide film since it delivered high resolution but at the same time cut the contrast in the images which was a blessing since the lessening of contrast had the apparent effect of extending the dynamic range of the film. I do remember that the lens was especially low in contrast when used wide open at f2.0 but got contrastier as you went past f2.8 and headed toward the optimal aperture of f5.6. But how would this translate to use on a digital camera? In particular, the SL. 

For today's walk I set the lens to f4.0 for everything but the self portrait at the end of this post. In every other photo I'm seeing reduced contrast which I've then boosted a bit in post. It does seem to translate into even longer dynamic range scales in the digital files. As you certainly know, starting with a flat file gives you more control in post processing. You get to add the amount of additional contrast you'd like and can even select the section of the tonal range in which you want the most enhancement. It's hard, once an image is delivered at a certain level of contrast, to go in the other direction and make it flatter without drawing a lot of attention to the file's new, awkward appearance. But even in a very flat original file I can magnify the image and see lots and lots over very fine detail which is delivered without LOCA or other spurious aberrations.

So, directors of photography who work on movies and television content love to shoot "soft" and then fine tune in post. By shooting soft (lower contrast, not less sharpness) they mean finding the lowest workable level of contrast at which they can originate. If they are shooting with digital video they are certainly likely to be using LOG files to compress the dynamic range in order to preserve detail in the highlights. The files are then uncompressed in post processing (or "grading") to bring back a pleasing contrast range. The R series Summicrons are coated lenses but they are much older coating formulations than are used on current top of the line lenses. This means that a bit of contrast in the Summicrons is subtracted by traces of veiling flare. The lens seems also to be computed to be of lower contrast as a trade off which is providing more resolution with the same basic optical formula. That makes this lens (and the other Summicrons in the R series) valued over contrastier lenses for moving picture production. 

The second thing that gets called out as a big plus in that world is the very long focus throw between infinity and the closest focusing distance. The longer the throw (or amount of rotation; # of degrees) the more exacting the manual focusing of the lens can be. Additionally the lenses focusing rings can be more accurately marked or indexed to be able to hit an exact focus target when a focus pull is required. And the 50mm Summicron has a very generous focus throw coupled with a very smooth focusing ring. It seems to be the perfect combination for working film productions. But the very long focus pull can be a negative for still photographers, some of whom prefer short, quick focus throws which help images "snap" in and out of focus quickly and decisively. 

I like using the lens for most of the same reasons. If used for portraiture the lower contrast is very kind to skin tone reproduction. The clearly marked and very accurate focusing ring is great for setting a known focus distance and forgoing having to focus through the camera at all. It's a lens which is very usable for hyperfocal distance focusing. You know, f8.0 and be there. 





The beauty of a lens like the 50mm R Summicron, when used now with digital cameras and a full complement of post production tools, is that I can shoot flatter than is usual in camera and then add as much contrast as I'd like and add a much greater appearance of acutance by using the clarity slider to augment the adjacency effect in the mid-tones. 

If you look closely at the image just above (Kirk with camera), I intentionally photographed at the widest aperture of f2.0 and with the camera set exposure at 1/125th of second and ISO 2000. The original file was flatter and a bit darker than the final here but with the addition of contrast the tones look really great. Increasing contrast tends to push the darker colors down into a zone that usually robs a file of shadow detail but with the assist of this lens, coupled with some judicious shadow slider work, you can clearly see nice and noise free deep shadow reproduction on the body of the camera and in the weave of the black band on my mat. The file takes advantage of the high resolution of the lens, even when used wide open, and, when combined with added contrast in post, gives an overall impression of very high sharpness in all the parts of the frame that are in focus.

While it's certainly not as quick to work with a manual focusing lens, especially one that has a very long focusing throw, there are many benefits for the photographer who can take his or her time to focus. The added benefit of using this lens with a Leica SL is that you can also benefit from programming in the lens profile from an in-camera menu. It tweaks the rendering by reducing vignetting at wide apertures and also takes care of color shift across the frame. As you should be able to see from all the files above there are very few visible flaws in the final product. And that's how a good lens should be. 

This lens serves a powerful purpose here in the studio. I bought it (mint condition, with leather Leica case) for $500 and after having used it for a few weeks I see it as a preventative remedy to the ruinous desire for an SL 50mm Summicron Apo. The $500 investment in this glorious "old tech" has saved me from tossing away $5,500 for the new SL model. Sure, AF is great for a lot of stuff but I have decent autofocusing 50mm lenses I can use when needed. But the 50mm Summicron is a special lens and I can nearly always find the time to work around its handling shortcomings. I've had decades of practice.

 

1.08.2022

How well does the Leica CL "do" black and white? And, how well does the TTArtisan's 50mm f1.2 handle black and white?



For many years I mostly shot and printed black and white film for my own "personal" work. That was back in the period of time when I owned a nice, well equipped darkroom. I used a Leica Focomat V35 enlarger for my 35mm enlargements and an Omega D5 enlarger for my medium format and large format negatives. I used Thomas Duplex sodium vapor safelights and also had a nice little sound system dedicated to the darkroom. I did not listen to jazz in the darkroom but had a huge collection of classic rock, mixed with traditional classical music. Your taste will vary.

I loved the isolation and quiet of the darkroom. Music when I wanted it, but mostly just the sound of water cascading through the print washer. It was a wonderfully meditative place. I regret that we mostly moved on from the chemical darkroom and into the "digital darkrooms" we now occupy. 

One of my biggest challenges in the transition from chemical imaging to digital imaging was getting black and white prints that I liked. Early digital cameras seemed to fight me at every step when it came to making good monochrome files. And the battles were even more bitter when it came to printing out images on paper. I guess my most successful adventure, pre-2010, in making black and white prints was when I dedicated an Epson 1280 printer to using all gray and black inks. The process was very hit and miss but I was able to make a number of prints that mimicked quite well what I was used to getting, easily, in the traditional darkroom. But keeping the print heads unclogged and the ink flowing was a huge burden of both time and money and eventually I despaired of ever being able to do what we had done, after years and years of practice, with film and paper. 

At some point computer monitors (and calibration) got a lot better and we practitioners got a lot better at using print profiles and tweaking the looks of our digital files in PhotoShop so they would print in a way that was much closer to what we were used to. In many cases, even just right

The final hurdle, at least for me, was trying to get the camera files as close as possible to my memory of what black and white should look like when it comes squirting out of a camera. I suppose that if I were a full time printer instead of a photographer I would have been able to master the conversion from color files to monochrome files with more panache but then I would be sacrificing the time spent shooting for time sitting on my ass, nursing software, and tut-tutting over what the test prints might show me. Not a good trade off for someone who prefers constant movement. 

The big move forward for me came when I started using Fuji cameras and, by extension, their Jpeg film emulation settings. That convinced me that we could do some really competent black and white work with those cameras. When I bought some Leica cameras last year I was a bit underwhelmed at the menu choices (sparse) for black and white. I have come to realize that simplicity can coincide with getting the right files at the time of photographing. I've come to the conclusion that, for me, all black and white files from digital cameras require more contrast and more sharpness. With raw files I can make formulas in PhotoShop that, when tweaked for subject matter, can be really good. But I like to "see" what I'm shooting in camera and so I've spent trial and error time getting the files in my cameras as close as I can, and then shooting mostly in Jpeg. 

The original Leica SL camera is the most rudimentary when it comes to file customization. In each of the available parameters you basically have a limited range of adjustment. You first choose "monochrome" under the Saturation sub-menu from the parameters. Then you have three other choices: Noise reduction. Sharpness. Contrast. I set noise reduction to the lowest setting possible. I set sharpness to medium or medium high. The more detailed the scene the higher I like the sharpness. I set the contrast to medium high nearly all the time. Unless the day is overcast and then I choose "high." The gradations in the Leica SL aren't as dramatic as their descriptions might imply. High contrast isn't that much more intense than medium high. And medium high is just a few steps above medium. You might set the medium high contrast and still need to add some mid-tone punch in post processing...

The only setting I occasionally think I've overdone is when I use high sharpening. Most of the time I'd be better off setting that parameter to "medium" and then seasoning to taste in PhotoShop. In fact, when leaving the setting at medium I get better results by ignoring the sharpening menu in P.S. and using the clarity slider instead. It's more in line with the way I see files. 

My work flow is a little bit different with the newer cameras. Both the SL2 and the CL have settings for HC Monochrome or High Contrast Monochrome. I know from looking that Leica is doing some color filtering within the files to make them closer to the way panchromatic film worked with daylight and colors. So lately I've been using the SL2 and the CL in the HC Monochrome mode more and more when I know I want to make in-camera black and white files. I try to hew to a moderate course of action with the sharpening and contrast setting with the CL and the SL2 and then add more intensity in post processing. 

Lately, I seem to have found sweet spot for the way I like to see images. I'm shooting in a way that gives me a long range of tones but tends to preserve the highlights, sometimes at the expense of shadows. I like the way the highlights look without any more intervention but usually use the shadow slider in Lightroom or PhotoShop to bring up the shadow detail. I back off when noise starts to become intrusive. But not by much. In black and white images both noise and some blocked (contrasty) shadows seems very natural to me and I don't fear it. I was never a big fan of Tech Pan film or gently processed Panatomic X. More of a Agfapan and Rodinal kind of guy. Or, at my best, a Tri-X plus D76 1:1 aficionado. 

One final characteristic of my current way of working that interests me is the way older lenses (and some new cheap ones) seem to work better in making black and white images than some of the more advanced and higher performance, newer generation lenses. I'm presuming that the older designs have less contrast and bite in the shadows; in fact, they allow a certain amount of flare into the shadows, and this "lifts" the darker tones up in value. Not as accurate, perhaps, but in this instance more pleasing to those who worked in traditional, film monochrome. 

In particular I am impressed with the way the $98 TTArtisan 50mm f1.2 renders black and white files, like the ones here. There seems to be good and snappy tonality in the highlights but a "kinder" representation of lower tonal values. In concert with the Leica CL the TTArtisan lens gives me a rendering that gets me very close to what I used to see when working with film and paper prints. It's nice. 

 

A convenient target on which to evaluate high ISO monochrome from the Leica CL. Shooting in Jpeg.
Also, I wanted a nice photo of my hat. 




It's a gray, but warmer Saturday here. Time to head outside and make some photos. Or just walk around and then get coffee. Either is correct.