Category Archives: Teaching point

400 photographers agree: we love CCD!

400 Signatures Letter to Leica copy

The world’s longest-running (and most intense)  Open Letter to Leica has reached a milestone:

400 signatures!

It’s true, 400 photographers, enthusiasts, and artists agree:  we love CCD!

Specifically, we believe that the CCD sensor — at base ISO — offers superior image quality.

We also believe that an updated CCD sensor in a future Leica M camera would be in keeping with Leica‘s philosophy of providing out-of-the-mainstream elegant yet powerful photographic tools for discerning photographers.

So help keep the pursuit of high image quality alive by allowing CCD to develop and thrive.

Keep the momentum going!  Encourage others to PLEASE SIGN THIS LETTER.


Snow Bunny.

I’m quickly learning how to process Sigma DP3 Merrill files.

For example, I’m constantly resisting the temptation to apply sharpening, since the images have an abundance of sharpness and micro-contrast (two qualities that are not necessarily flattering for portraits).

Yet, this particular image proves one thing:  it is possible to post-process DP3 files to produce a sharp and smooth portrait.

Oh, and the tonality possible with the Foveon sensor… wow.


Snow Bunny

Sigma DP3 Merrrill:  1/15 sec (hand-held, but braced), f/2.8, ISO 200.

Paranoid Android.

This literally represents Test Shot #1 from my Sigma DP3 Merrill.

It arrived yesterday.

I charged the battery up, and fired some shots without even glancing at the manual or camera settings.

I’ve already decided whether I like the DP3.

(I do)


Paranoid Android


Winter Solace.

Cozy and hidden from the cold.

On another note, if there’s a better way to digitally record such Life’s Little Moments, then I’d like to know.

As it stands, the Kodak CCD inside the Leica M9/M-E remains my sensor of choice.

Won’t you please sign My Open Letter to Leica, if you haven’t already done so?


Winter Solace

Sigma Love-Apalooza on Planet Earth.

This is an example of the image output from the original Sigma DP series camera, the DP1:

(28mm equiv, F4 lens)


The DP1 was an excruciatingly slow compact camera, but it helped me capture one of my favourite images, Planet Earth:


The camera and software from Sigma were both challenged (and continue to be), so much so that I never purchased any of the subsequent DP offerings.  Still, the image quality from the Fovean sensor has always called out to me, like a Sirens’ song

The Siren that’s been singing the sweetest song over the past 18 months: the DP3.



‘Twas the night before Christmas.

And the children were tracking Santa.

Merry Christmas to All.


'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Technical Commentary:

The sun was quickly setting as this scene was unfolding and the the vestigial rays of light coming in through the window were creating a pink, gold, and red speckled glow on the wall behind our trio of Santa trackers.  The glow of the smartphone screen also helped set the mood.



Noise reduction… not.

Despite the fact that I use M9/M-E and M8 cameras, I’ve resisted applying noise reduction to my images for years.

I’ll take noise over loss of detail and texture any day.

On a related note, I’m happy that Leica doesn’t force in-camera noise reduction on us either.


370 Signatures for CCD.

Right now, My Open Letter to Leica has garnered 370 signatures from photographers like you who see and appreciate the wonderful qualities of CCD sensors.

Leica‘s announcement of ongoing support of the current CCD sensor has been welcomed by many in the Leica community.

However, if you are a fan of the “magic” of CCD, please join me in asking Leica to also introduce an updated CCD sensor in a future M camera.

Thank you,


Of flash photography, zone focusing, and rangefinders.

I have two observations about the use of flash and zone focusing, as they pertain to rangefinder photography:

  1. Flash photography is anathema to rangefinder photography.  Indeed it is intrusive to any type of intimate photography.
  2. Show me a photographer who operates a rangefinder exclusively with zone focusing, and I’ll show you a photographer who cannot competently focus a rangefinder.


Leica 50mm APO Summicron.

Leica 50mm APO-Summicron

I’ve studied many images created with this lens — on the Leica M240, M9/M-E, and M8… and even on non-Leica cameras.

The verdict:

This is an optically astounding lens that, in the right hands, is capable of impressive results in combination with any camera (contrary to popular belief, the results are not only evident in large prints of images produced with high megapixel cameras).

It’s all the more impressive when you consider how small this lens is.  It’s the combination of optical excellence and compact size that is the hallmark of the Leica ethos.



The M8… for hockey?

In 2011, I wrote an article called:

The M9… for sports?

In 2012, I wrote a follow-up article called:

The M3… for kids’ sports?

I wrote them because — back then — many DSLR users considered rangefinders too “slow” for photographing action, even though I (along with several others) had been creating images that consistently proved otherwise.

To this day, I prefer rangefinders over DSLRs for photographing sports.

Today, I decided to take my Leica M8 to photograph my daughter’s hockey game.  Of course, given everything I’ve written above, I knew I would get some keepers… provided I could get close enough to the action.

I did.

I’ll be posting a few of the images over the next few days.

I hope you find them of interest.


Birthday Girl.

Technical consideration:

This was photographed at ISO 640 and “pushed” in LR for an effective ISO of 2500.


Birthday Girl

I really, really love that M9/M-E sensor.

M9 Sensor - Prosophos.

I was casually photographing my daughter unwrapping her birthday gifts this evening in our (very) dark living room, in front of the Christmas tree.  I wasn’t expecting much (photographically speaking).

However, every single frame turned out to be wonderful.

I previously purchased and used the Sony A7S, Leica M240, Nikon Df, Sony RX1R, and Nikon D800E because I thought I would need them in situations like this.  However, my Leica M-E consistently produces images that surpass any CMOS camera — even in low light.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  CCD sensors produce superior mage quality.

Thank goodness Leica has committed to supporting the M9/M-E sensor.

Please, Leica, please… consider placing an updated CCD sensor in a future M camera.


Leica responds to the M9/M-E/Monochrom CCD “corrosion” issue.

Stefan Daniel has responded to concerns regarding the corrosion issue on the IR filter cover glass of CCD sensor Leica cameras (M9, M-E, Monochrom) by issuing this statement:

“We have been closely following debates on the CCD sensor issue in forums and blogs and take the opinions and criticism we read very seriously. For us, it is important that we offer only technically faultless products. We are therefore particularly sorry if the imaging quality of your camera should be adversely affected by corrosion effects on the IR filter cover glass. We would also like to express our sincerest regrets to all customers who may have encountered this problem.

We have now identified the problem and are currently concentrating our efforts on finding a permanent technical solution. Our response to this problem is a full goodwill arrangement offering free replacement of affected CCD sensors. This goodwill arrangement applies regardless of the age of the camera and also covers sensors that have already been replaced in the past. Customers who have already been charged for the replacement of a sensor affected by this problem will receive a refund.

The effect does not affect the CMOS sensor of the Leica M (Typ 240). Should you, as an M customer, be considering an upgrade from your camera to a Leica M or M-P (Typ 240), Customer Care would be pleased to make you an attractive offer following a check of your camera and under consideration of the model and its age.

We have posted the details of the problem and the terms and conditions of our goodwill arrangement in the News section of our corporate Web site at Important Information Concerning the CCD Sensors // Global // About Leica News // Leica News // World of Leica – Leica Camera AG an have provided a link to the currently available Leica M Monochrom and M-E models. We will also be notifying our distributors regarding the new terms and conditions.

We are aware that Leica’s reputation for superior quality and endurance was the driving factor for your decision for Leica. We profoundly regret that we have been unable to completely fulfil our promise to you and our own standards from the outset. We are now making every effort to find a permanent and satisfactory technical solution for this problem and hope that our goodwill arrangement is able to rebuild and maintain your trust in the Leica brand!

Best regards,

Stefan Daniel
Product Management Photo”

A camera must go — Leica or Sony?

As many of you know, I’ve been experimenting with — and immensely enjoying — the Sony A7S.

The images from the CMOS sensor in the A7S come closest to the look I get with the CCD sensor(s) found in the Leica M8 and M9/M-E vs any other CMOS sensor camera I’ve tried to date (that list includes the Nikon D800E, the Leica M240, the Sony RX1R, the Nikon Df, and — whatever else I left out).

The CMOS-on-steroids A7S also allows me to photograph at amazingly high ISO levels.  And does video too.

Frankly, the A7S is a fun camera to use.

On the other hand, the M8/M9/M-E cameras produce superior images at base ISO.

But Leica doesn’t appear to want to make any more CCD-based M cameras in the future, unless of course a million of you sign My Open Letter to Leica (by the way, only 999,660 signatures to go…).  And the CCD Leica cameras are clunky and dated with respect to technology (they were dated, in fact, at the time of their introduction!).

Then again, Michael Jordan was considered over-the-hill when he returned to the NBA for the second half of his career, and look what he accomplished.

The point of all of this?

I’m a minimalist.  Keeping things simple helps me produce better images.

I mentioned previously that I don’t function well juggling different camera platforms, as added variables (like differences in ergonomics, the way of “seeing” (through the viewfinder), menus, etc.) just get in the way.

Variables are the enemy.  They are to avoided.  They create convoluted paths between you and your images.

So of course, one of these camera platforms is destined to go.

But you already knew that.




This image was taken with the Sony (Alpha) a7S.

I wish to thank my good friend Ashwin Rao who was absolutely correct about three things with respect to this camera:

  1.  The a7S digital files are the most CCD-like CMOS files I’ve encountered (not quite like the magic of CCD, but very close — even in their behaviour during post-processing).
  2.  I need to re-acquaint myself with the “tunnel vision” viewfinder the a7S shares with most other cameras.  This is a significant limitation, since unless the camera is a rangefinder, it’s not (yet) possible to see “the world outside the window frame” to better anticipate photographic opportunities.
  3. The a7S sensor and Leica lenses play well together.

Additional notes:

  • The focus-peaking is quite accurate and very user-friendly.
  • The auto-ISO function, in combination with the exposure compensation dial, actually improves upon my set-up with the Leica M8/M9/M-E.
  • The silent shutter option makes me weep tears of joy — bravo Sony.
  • The advertised high ISO capabilities are not just marketing hyperbole.  This sensor was tailor made for dark Canadian winters.
  • This latest Sony still feels like a computer to me vs. a “real” camera.  But it’s undeniably a “real” camera and a formidable photographic tool that is in many ways light years ahead of the competition.

On another note, I would like to thank Patrick from Downtown Camera in Toronto for patiently allowing me to play with the in-store demo Sony a7S before purchasing one for myself.  I’ve dealt with Patrick a number of times and he is a true gentleman who offers exceptional service!*

[*NOTE:  The recommendations I make on my site are personal recommendations, based on being a satisfied customer.  I am not affiliated with any commercial interests, nor do I earn any money (advertising or otherwise) from any business, product, or link to a business I provide on my site.]





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