Sunday, October 14, 2012

Leica M9 Goes to the Circus

Big Apple Circus, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 50mm f1.4
iso 640, f2, 1/90 sec
My family, a friend, and I went to the Big Apple Circus. I always enjoy photographing there because the lighting is dramatic, the action and subject matter always interesting. Usually, I bring a fast(ish) telephoto, like my Nikon 300mm f4. This time, I decided to bring only my Leica M9 and a single lens, the Canon 50mm f1.4 (a Leica thread mount lens, also known as the "Japanese Summilux").
I found that I was able to shoot at wide apertures at iso 640 or 1250, with reasonably fast shutter speeds (1/90 or faster).
Enter the Contortionist, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 50mm f1.4
iso1250, f2.8, 1/350 sec
The pictures I brought home are very different from what I usually get. Wider angle, of course. But also, a little wider in sharing the context of the event. I even took the opportunity to walk a little during the intermission, which yielded the following shot:
Glowing, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 50mm f1.4
iso 1250, f1.4, 1/60 sec

This shot was taken in deep darkness. Amazing what f1.4 can do.

I was a little concerned about how the noise would creep in at iso 1250 on the M9. I must say I'm very pleased. Even in a shot like the one above, with lots of black space around the subjects, I don't find the noise objectionable. Lightroom's exposure adjustments (namely, making the blacks even blacker) and noise reduction work beautifully with the M9's files.

And here is my favorite shot from the event:
The Moment, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 50mm f1.4
iso 1250, f2, 1/125 sec

This one's worth looking at full-size, to see the details.

With my normal gear, I may have captured one or two of the horses in great detail. This image shows how the performer is conducting the full coordinated motion of the magnificent animals. That would have been missed. I also felt it when I captured the exact moment that shows their strength, concentration, and timing. This is why I love shooting rangefinders. The constraints force me to make better images than complete flexibility in focal lengths allows. I know, that sounds strange. But, I would certainly have elected to go for details in this scene if I'd had a telephoto lens with me.