Thursday, December 13, 2012

After A Night of Shooting Nikon At A Concert - A Night of Shooting Leica At A Concert

The Acoustic Burgoo, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 Lens
iso 1250, f2, 1/125 sec
Well, the night before this shot was taken, I photographed Larry Keel and Natural Bridge with my
most trusted high iso camera - the Nikon D700 (see yesterday's post). On this night, I chose to shoot the Leica M9. There is so much focus on high iso perfection these days, the M9 is considered weaker in this area, and I was concerned about noise. I decided not to push it over iso 1600 in any case, and tried to stay at 1250 most of the night. This meant shooting wide open, or very nearly wide open, with my lovely Zeiss Sonnar C 50mm f1.5 lens.
So how did the experiences compare, shooting Nikon DSLR and Leica M9 on subsequent nights, at live music concerts in the exact same venue? First, I shot a lot more with the Nikon. Shooting mostly with the 28mm f2.8 AF Nikkor and 85mm f1.8 AF-D Nikkor lenses, I felt fine shooting at iso 3200. I only used the Nikkor 50mm f1.4 AF-D for a few shots.
I picked 32 images from the Nikon night to include in my set on flickr.

(Click Here) to see those selections.
On the second night, shooting the Leica, I relied almost exclusively on the Zeiss 50mm f1.5 Sonnar C. Because I had to shoot at a lower iso than the night before, I had to rely on the fast f-stop of the Sonnar. I did shoot a couple with my Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8, but not many at all. At iso 1250 or 1600, f2.8 was just not fast enough.
I picked 20 images from the Leica night:
(Click Here) to see my Leica selections
The Grand Finale, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 Lens
iso 1250, f2, 1/125 sec
I can say that I had more perfectly focused shots using the Nikon. Maybe this is obvious, since I was able to use autofocus with the D700. Also, high iso noise is definitely lower than the M9. Having a fast f1.8 telephoto was very nice for use with the D700. I was pleased with a fair proportion of shots.
On the second night, the Leica was a blast to use. First, I got to go backstage with the band for a little while, and the M9 was the perfect camera for that. Small, unobtrusive, quick to use. I would not have felt nearly as comfortable with the Nikon DSLR. Also, I love the feel of the M9, and enjoy manual focusing, even though that affects the number of sharp images negatively - especially shooting moving subjects in low light. The noise at iso 1250 is quite acceptable in my opinion. I did feel limited to the 50mm lens, as neither my wide (25mm f2.8) or telephoto (90mm f2.8) was fast enough at iso 1250.
So, when shooting concernts in the future, if I'm going for great stage shots in low light, I'll lean toward the D700. However, if I'm looking for more relaxed shots of performers and fans, and the light permits it, I'll always favor the M9. As usual with me, no clear decision to limit my equipment choices. Both cameras are excellent, but in very different ways.