Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cherry Blossoms From A Different Perspective - Leica M9 and Voigtlander 12mm f5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar

I live in the Northern Virginia, about an hour from Washington, DC. DC's cherry blossoms are really quite impressive, but as in other places, they don't last long. They are currently at their peak, but I just haven't been able to find the energy to get downtown on a weekday evening to shoot them. Maybe this weekend.
 
The good news is that I have some nice cherry trees in my neighborhood. Small, but nice.
 
On the way home from work today, I decided to try to capture them from a different perspective - up high, with an ultra wide angle lens. So, I mounted up my Voigtlander LTM 12mm f5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar lens on my Leica M9, and connected both to a monopod. Then I grabbed a step ladder and headed out. These three shots are the result of putting the camera right into the cherry blossoms with the monopod, and using the self-timer to trigger the shutter.
 
Sakura Up High #1, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Voigtlander Ultra Wide Heliar 12mm f5.6 Lens
iso 640, f9.5, 1/60 sec.
 
Sakura Up High #2, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Voigtlander Ultra Wide Heliar 12mm f5.6 Lens
iso 1250, f6.7, 1/180 sec.
 
Sakura Up High #3, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Voigtlander Ultra Wide Heliar 12mm f5.6 Lens
iso 640, f4.8, 1/90 sec.
 
The Ultra Wide Heliar is a very specialized lens. Advertised as the widest rectilinear (non-fisheye) lens for full-frame 35mm cameras, it's not a lens that gets every day use. It's so wide that you nearly have to touch the subject with the lens for it to take up any significant portion of the image area. It is also pretty slow, with a maximum aperture of f5.6. But, it has basically infinite depth of field, so the fact that focusing is not accomplished through coupling to the Leica rangefinder is really not an issue. Just set the focus and forget it.
 
It also has pretty significant color shifting (magenta and blue at the extreme image edges) and some vignetting (darkening in the image corners). For both reasons, and because I like the composition this way, I decided to crop the images as squares. I set the lens code on the M9 for the Wide Angle Tri-Elmar (16-18-21mm) at 16mm, which is the widest angle lens setting in the camera.
 
I found a website that describes software ("Cornerfix") that elminates the color shifting. They also suggest selecting the 21mm f2.8 lens code in the M9 when using the Ultra Wide Heliar. I'll have to try that.
 
(Click Here) to read about Cornerfix. I have not tried it.
 
You can also see that I applied some negative vignetting to get the white corners. Again, just because I like it that way.
 
A nice diversion for shooting an hour or so after work in the evening. I hope you enjoy the view.
 
DMC-365.blogspot.com
 
My Ultra Wide Heliar is the older Leica Thread Mount (LTM) version. Here's a link to the newer Leica M-mount version. Either is adaptable to Micro 4/3, yielding a nice but not crazy-wide 24mm equivalent field of view.