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The Gatherers Of Light

Voigtlander Nokton and Super Nokton; Long Term Real World Review

A look at a pair of the latest additions to a most unique line-up of lenses, designed for m43 cameras. Read through to find a 15% discount on the full range of Voigtlander m43 Nokton and Super Nokton lenses.

Voigtlander 29mm f0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens

Voigtlander 29mm f0.8 Super Nokton (f0.8 equivalent 58mm field of view) on camera and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view). Pictured on my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

This astonishing f0.8 aperture’d lens, with an equivalent 58mm field of view on 35mm full-frame format, is in a class of its own. Ground Aspherical elements and a 12 aperture blade design mean that its rendering is simply as spectacular as its light gathering. It focuses down to a very impressive 0.37m and measures 88.9mm x 72.3mm, coming in at 703g.

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view) with my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

A 120mm equivalent at f0.95 makes for a very special portrait lens. Its close focus of 0.34m though, brings it into close-up photography territory, making for a very versatile lens. Measuring in at 82.5 x 87.7mm and weighing 860g, this is the chunkier of the newest two Noktons. 

The pair make for an extremely impressive set and the addition of a Voigtlander 10.5mm f0.95 MFT Nokton or Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 MFT Nokton lens will make for a perfect three lens outfit, for photographers or film makers, with a uniform rendering, colour, feel and of course, unique light gathering ability.

Discoveries Of The Super Fast F No.

I’ve been using fast aperture lenses for most of my career (almost 33 years at the time of writing). I was the first amongst my colleagues, on my first two newspapers in the 1980s and early 90s, who had an f1.2 lens, in the form of a Canon 55mm f1.2L FD lens. This was soon to be joined by the phenomenal Canon 85mm f1.2L FD lens. In those days of film, the most common film a photojournalist had was 400 ISO, so those fast apertures allowed us to work in hugely varying light conditions.

For me, fast lenses have always been about their light gathering ability and not ‘bokeh’.

I later went on to get AF versions of these lenses in my Canon EOS days. Many years later, when the Leica M9 came along, I saw what the recently released Leica Noctilux ASPH could do. So, after some saving, an insurance cheque from when a security guard dropped a bag full of camera gear and broke most of it and selling off of less used equipment, I managed to get a Leica 50mm f0.95 Noctilux ASPH. An aperture I’d never ever dreamed of and one which opened many possibilities.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Angelika Ghazaryan, a descendant of Genocide Survivors, at the 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th, 1915. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. US President Joe Biden has become the first US president to issue a statement formally describing the 1915 massacre of Armenians as a genocide by the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) on the day that Armenian communities around the world marked the killing of 1.5 million Armenians. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

My philosophical approach to lens choice has always remained the same; standard lenses, later joined by zoom lenses as the quality increased, married to at least one super fast aperture lens. This approach makes for an extremely versatile outfit.

Years later, I started shooting what began as a personal project on opera, which soon turned into a major 10 month project with an exhibition (seen by over 400,000 people) and a book, supported by Olympus. I was an Olympus Visionary at the time and was shooting with OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 MkII cameras. When working backstage, I quickly realised that the f1.7 M.Zuiko lenses weren’t fast enough. My Leica M9 and 50mm Noctilux weren’t usable either, as I simply couldn’t see enough in the dark to allow me to manually focus the optical rangefinder. The Olympus mirrorless with its EVF was allowing me to see in the dark, almost like a soldier’s night vision, but the available lenses just weren’t usable as the light levels were so low. I started looking for a speedy solution.

I recalled Voigtlander has a 25mm f0.95 Nokton and when I looked deeper into this, realised that the range had been expanded. A quick phone call to Hardy at Robert White Photographic, was followed by me ordering a Voigtlander 17.5mm (35mm equivalent) and 25mm (50mm equivalent). These two f0.95 lenses allowed me to create work impossible to shoot otherwise. Having these f0.95 apertures was truly a revelation. To give an idea of the lighting conditions, I’d often be shooting at 5000 ISO, 1/20th of a second at f0.95. The marriage of fast aperture and built in body stabiliser allowed me to work unhindered by the less than favourable conditions. The slightly deeper depth of field on m43, also aided me to get my subjects sharply in focus. Some of these pictures were printed at over A0 in size, approaching around 1.5m in length for the exhibition.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII and Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. Ida Ränzlöv, singing the part of Arminda, Anchise’s niece, waits backstage for her cue. Mozart’s La finta giardiniera. Dress rehearsal. Royal College of Music Opera School, Prince Consort Road, London. November 25, 2016. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Later on, on a different production, I decided to add the Voigtlander 10.5mm f0.95 Nokton (21mm equivalent) to my setup. These three Noktons have stayed with me since I first got them in 2015, through to my transition to Lumix.

To see some of my work using these Noktons, either visit my Instagram @terakopian or look at the backstage, low light work in my reportage on the opera, Albert Herring on my SmugMug website: https://terakopian.smugmug.com/Albert-Herring-Opera 

To help illustrate the light gathering aspect, imagine this as a shooting scenario: You’re shooting a portrait in a dimply lit church, trying to craft a beautiful image using the available daylight, gently flowing through the windows. At a very reasonable 400 ISO, you choose to shoot at 1/125th shutter speed, to ensure no movement from you or the subject. With a Nokton, you’re at f0.95, which allows these settings. If you were to shoot with your pro spec zoom lens at f2.8, you would have to ramp the ISO up to a less acceptable 3200 ISO. For me, this ability to shoot with available light is far more of a priority, than bokeh hunting, which of course the Voigtlander Nokton and Super Nokton will give you, by the bucket load. The ability to isolate the subject, is there, in a very unique and aesthetically pleasing way. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. A portrait of opera singer Aris Nadirian. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The Fast F No. Flip Side

These are all specialist lenses and when wide open, they’re not clinically pin sharp when shooting a lens chart, specifically as you start to edge further out from the centre, the sharpness drops somewhat. Even a Leica Noctilux ASPH costing over £8000 struggles with this. Physics is physics and any lens that reaches the dizzying apertures of zero point something, has to make a compromise or two. I only raise this as I’ve occasionally read criticism of all these mega aperture lenses, where the social media poster clearly doesn’t understand that these are specific tools for ultra low light work. Of course, when you stop down to the f5.6 through to f9.0 window, the lenses will sharpen up dramatically, including towards the edges, rendering ‘perfect’ clinical results. For me though, an image with soul wins over a clinically sharp picture of a boring, static object. Photography is about emotion and thought, and these lenses give us the tools to create such work, in conditions often out of bounds.

Voigtlander 29mm f0.8 SUPER NOKTON (f0.8 equivalent 58mm field of view) on camera and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view). Pictured with my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

These aren’t general purpose lenses, they are however masters in low light and creative photography. They allow you to work in conditions that are dreamt of and rarely realised with regular prime lenses or zooms. Just to put your mind at ease when I write they’re not clinically pin sharp, I’m more than happy to put my reputation on the line and produce not only my own personal work with these nocturnal creatures, but shoot commissioned assignments too. They are that good. Just not as good when shooting charts on a wall, pixel peeping the chart and comparing them to standard lenses, which don’t have the f zero point something magic.

It’s about keeping in mind that these are specialist tools, which means that I use my Noktons for specific work, that’s where they shine. For fast street photography during the day, I’d definitely choose an AF lens. However, for the same genre at night, when trying to work in the most challenging of situations, then these lenses are the perfect choice and will produce magic. For observed moments in a pub, at a wedding, by the canals in Venice, or a portrait of a loved one, choosing either of these lenses will produce pictures that you will treasure. The close focus also adds the ability of still life closeups, of anything from flowers to objects. Shoot these wide open to create something extremely unique, or stop them down for a more traditional look.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Barbed wire and fencing nearby London Underground rail tracks. Ealing, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

This magic takes a little bit of work though and you need to raise your skill level. Once you do though, imagery that wasn’t recordable, begins to write to your memory card. Put in the time it takes to master manual focusing, learning how the focus ring behaves, develop a little muscle memory, use focus peaking and punching in to magnify the focus point to check critical focus, and these lenses will make you smile. You start to produce results from environments you simply wouldn’t have previously been able to really work in. One other tip is to focus wide open, which allows you to be absolutely critical when focusing (it also gives focus peaking a razor’s edge of area to highlight, adding to accuracy) and then if needed, stop down to shoot. Naturally the subject dictates how to approach it, so with faster shooting scenarios, one can focus stopped down as well.

My bag of three Noktons is now a bag of four Noktons and one stellar, Super Nokton. These five lenses are a crucial tool of how I work. I’d definitely recommend you check them out. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Sunset reflections during a COVID 19 Lockdown permitted exercise walk. Ealing, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Tonal Range

My years of shooting with my three Voigtlander Noktons showed me that these lenses have tremendous tonal range; from highlight detail, with a lovely information rich gradation, all the way to the deepest shadow areas. This provides a raw file with all the details you need, ready to be processed to produce a vibrant colour or the lushest of monochrome images. I’m thrilled to share that these new additions exhibit the same rich, full tonal range. Stop them down a little and they become pin sharp too, perfect for detail rich landscapes or urban cityscapes. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Daily life on the South Bank, opposite the Houses of Parliament, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Image Processing

When it comes to image processing, m43 cameras have their lens correction info built into their raw profiles. With any non-m43 or non electronic lens, this information is missing. I’m thrilled to say that Adobe’s LightRoom has all this information in the lens correction module. So, just choose Voigtlander and then find the profile for the lens you’ve shot with. In my LightRoom, I’ve actually set up Custom User Presets for each lens, so one click, populates all the settings I need, including some raw processing tweaks.

On the subject of image processing, all the images posted here and in the related Flickr album (see below), were shot in raw and processed in LightRoom. The finishing touches to the colour photographs and the black and white treatment on the monochrome images, were done in Exposure Software’s X6 and X7.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Daily life on the South Bank, opposite the Houses of Parliament, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Construction

Anyone who has used a professional grade manual focus lens from the ‘good old days’ will immediately feel at home. Both of these lenses are phenomenally made. Engineered to perfection; perhaps, over engineered even. To help illustrate this, my three previous Nokton lenses are seven years old at the time of writing; seven years of professional use has left the performing exactly as they did initially and looking practically brand new. These are well made, professional grade lenses. As the DNA is the same with the two newer lenses, I have no doubt that a decade or two on, these lenses will be just as good as they are now.

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view) with my Lumix G9 camera. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The focusing rings are smooth, the aperture rings sure footed. For film makers or those working on film sets as photographers, the aperture ring can be de-clicked at the twist of a ring, resulting in silent operation.

On the video front, the full range of m43 Noktons and the Super Nokton, provides an amazing set of lenses. High end film makers prefer manual focus anyway. The feel, accuracy and look of these lenses, married to a quality ND filter, will produce a wonderful look and feel.

I used to shoot Canon FD (mainly L lenses) and then Nikon AS and AIS lenses in the 90s and both of these Voigtlanders remind me of using those quality lenses with their silky smooth and sure footed handling.

Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton (f0.95, with an equivalent 120mm field of view). London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

These solid and metal bodied lenses are heavier than most of their plastic bodied brethren though, so one needs more careful matching to camera body. They balance perfectly and handle beautifully on my Lumix G9 cameras, with or without (which is how I usually have mine) the vertical grip. I wouldn’t really use them on my smaller and grip-less Lumix GX9. I’d definitely recommend the higher end bodies with grips or the middle range bodies with their optional grips. This will make for a more comfortable setup. In my days when shooting with Olympus and my set of three Noktons, the E-M1 balanced perfectly, but the E-M5 MkII definitely needed the grip added for comfortable working, as the built-in grip was just too small. Of course if working with a tripod, or a cage for video work, the handling won’t be an issue. It’s worth keeping in mind that the extra engineering and metal construction makes for much more control on fine tuning the focus, which is crucial when working wide open. 

Other f0.95 Options

At the time of writing, other options for proper f0.95 lenses are from Leica with their Noctilux range and Nikon with their Noct. These options will set the photographer back in the £8000 to £10,000 range. There are a few other options available, but these are gimmick lenses in my opinion and good to play with perhaps, but not to shoot seriously with, in situations when one has to use dependable gear. I definitely wouldn’t use the other options on professional assignments, where as I haven’t hesitated to use my Voigtlander Noktons.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. Joe Biden has become the first US president to issue a statement formally describing the 1915 massacre of Armenians as a genocide by the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) on the day that Armenian communities around the world marked the killing of 1.5 million Armenians. (London, UK) 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

At the time of writing, the Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton comes in at £1,599.00 (inc VAT) and the Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton at £1,049.00 (inc VAT). Whilst not cheap, nor is their construction, or the results they produce. Given how well they perform, how well they’re made and well my older Nokton lenses have lasted, these are valued appropriately I’d say. These lenses are worth every penny and the Super Nokton is unparalleled in it’s f0.8 aperture.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Joe Biden has become the first US president to issue a statement formally describing the 1915 massacre of Armenians as a genocide by the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) on the day that Armenian communities around the world marked the killing of 1.5 million Armenians. (London, UK) 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

When planning a camera outfit or planning lens purchases, investing in the best lenses you can get, is the wisest move. Sticking a cheaper lens in front of the best sensor, will give an much inferior result to putting a great lens in front of a good sensor. The other aspect, is that lenses far outlast camera bodies. So invest wisely and you won’t need to change the lens anywhere near as often as you would a body. 

Both of these optics produce phenomenal results, with a look and feel that gives the images a signature and a ‘pop’. For me, a huge part of the attraction for Lumix and Olympus m43 is the Nokton range, as it adds tremendous versatility that no other lens mount on the market has; super fast apertured lenses covering ultra wide angle, to medium telephoto (equivalent of 21mm to 120mm). With the addition of these two optics, the range is now not only complete, but with the Super Nokton, out of this world good. I can’t recommend them highly enough. As I have done, get in touch with Robert White Photographic and check them out. You won’t be disappointed. 

Final Thoughts

Whilst both m43 brands produce exceptional lenses, especially in their Leica DG and M.Zuiko PRO ranges, including faster f1.2 and f1.4 options, there just isn’t the option to go faster. In a sea of images shot with f2.8 zooms, with some stretching for the Lumix, Olympus or Sigma faster lenses, nothing is going to give the look of these Voigtlander lenses. The 60mm Nokton and 29mm Super Nokton, render in a unique way, not only letting you create in lower light, but to make an image which is unique. An image which pops. Bringing almost a three dimensionality to the scene. If you can look at a scene, raise your camera and make a unique photograph, I say, why not?! Creativity is about creating, not mimicking the masses with run of the mill facsimiles.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. The wall of hearts grows as a memorial to loved ones taken by coronavirus. Each heart representing every one of the UK’s close to 150,000 victims (to date). The memorial is the idea of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign group, which has called for an inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic. The National COVID Memorial Wall. North Wing, Lambeth Palace Rd, South Bank, London SE1 3FT. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Aperture Is Aperture

These astonishing lenses are f0.8 for the Super Nokton and f0.95 for the Nokton.

Let’s clear up a misconception though; that of apertures being somehow different in Micro Four Thirds, as its a cropped sensor. I keep seeing misinformation online in forums and groups, so think it crucial to clear this up!

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. A portrait of Elvis. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Imagine that you have a 70-200mm f2.8 lens. Its a constant aperture lens, so f2.8 all the way through. So, at 70mm, f2.8 is the same as f2.8 at the 200mm end. Both, given identical lighting conditions, will provide the exact same exposure. So, f2.8 is f2.8.

However, the depth of field on the same lens will differ tremendously from the 70mm to the 200mm end. 70mm will give a wider depth of field, with more being in focus, compared to a shallower depth of field at the 200mm end.

So, it’s in fact depth of field and the rendition of the image in defocused areas, or bokeh, which differs between sensor sizes. So, an f2.8 aperture on a given lens, will render bokeh, or set depth of field differently between m43, APS-C, full frame or medium format etc. The larger the sensor, the shallower the depth of field and the softer the bokeh. As mentioned though, the light gathering ability of that f2.8 aperture remains the same. So, for the physics of light, these f0.8 and f0.95 apertures, have the same astonishing light gathering ability as a full frame camera and lens would….well, if there was an f0.8 option available.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 60mm f0.95 MFT Nokton Lens. Geese on the South Bank, opposite the Houses of Parliament, London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

One last point on the subject of bokeh; many novices will rush to buy the most exotic aperture lens they can afford, wrongly thinking it will improve their photography because its a “bokeh monster” or that it will magically just render bokeh, without the photographer needing to master any basic elements of photographic technique or understanding of photography.

One can achieve beautiful subject isolation and soft background, with a lens set at F5.6 or f8.0, or get everything relatively sharp in the frame with little or no isolation using an f1.4 aperture. Camera to subject distance needs to be close and subject to background, much farther. Keep this in mind. It’s not just setting an aperture, but understanding subject and background distances, for a given aperture, for a given social length.

Given this understanding, then yes, a magical aperture of f0.95 or f0.8 will not only let you work in super low light, but allow you to achieve astonishing subject isolation, with that 3D look and super soft, beautiful bokeh. Given the lens is a good lens; aperture alone won’t produce creamy backgrounds. So dear reader, do get these dream lenses, but also learn about photographic technique and practice too, so you can get the most out of your lenses and even more importantly, get much more joy and satisfaction out of your photography. 

One Last Thought On Bokeh

It’s really disconcerting how may photography enthusiasts are bokeh hunters. There’s a sizeable enough group of people who express more interest in out of focus backgrounds, than they do for the in focus aspect within the photograph; the actual subject. No great photograph in history has ever been about the out of focus background. Whilst these lenses will allow this, crucially, they allow creating photographs and video, in lighting conditions which would make it impossible. They produce a beautiful and unique signature when doing so and can make your subject pop. That is where they shine in my opinion. 

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. Members of the British Armenian community gather at the remembrance service for the 1.5 Million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Empire. 106th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of April 24th. St Yeghiche Armenian Church, London, UK. April 25, 2021. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

READERS’ DISCOUNT CODE

The fabulous folks at Robert White Photographic and Flaghead Photographic Limited have very generously provided a 15% discount code. The code is multi-use, so you won’t be limited when getting a second or third lens, should you decide super low light photography or subject isolation like never before available on m43 is for you.

The code Terakopian will get you a 15% discount off, from any of the six Voigtlander Micro Four Thirds lenses. Visit Robert White Photographic if you’d like to use this discount. Having shot professionally with five of these lenses for years, I really cannot recommend them highly enough. They open up new avenues of possibility with your camera.

Link To My FLICKR Album

To view the photographs featured and some others, without downsizing or compression, please visit this Flickr Album which accompanies this review.

Lumix G9 and Voigtlander 29mm F0.8 MFT Super Nokton Lens. A Pilot Custom Urushi fountain pen. London, UK. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Testing The New Olympus 25mm f1.8 Lens

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 Test

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has fast become one of my favourite cameras. One of my favourite focal lengths, especially for street photography and environmental portraits is 50mm and I felt that the Olympus m4/3 lens lineup was missing this. I was delighted to find though that this lens was going to be announced soon and Olympus UK kindly lent me the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f1.8 lens to shoot my Los Angeles trip with. I’ve therefore been shooting with this lens since the 5th of January, for creating real pictures. Those who are familiar with my tests know that I don’t do the scientific breakdown or photograph brick walls; I take equipment on real assignments and shoots.

The sun rises over Los Angeles, California, USA. January 13, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The sun rises over Los Angeles, California, USA. January 13, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), plays volleyball on Venice Beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), plays volleyball on Venice Beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach at sunset. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), on Santa Monica beach at sunset. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. www.andreafeczko.com), at the funfair on Santa Monica pier in the evening. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator. http://www.andreafeczko.com), at the funfair on Santa Monica pier in the evening. LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

For those not familiar with the m4/3 (Micro Four Thirds) system, the 25mm lens gives an equivalent of 50mm at a relatively fast aperture of f1.8. Married with the astonishingly great 5-axis stabiliser in the E-M1, this means that hand held extreme low light photography is very possible. At f1.8 one also gets lovely separation of subject from the background. I shot with the lens solidly whilst on a trip to Los Angeles and day in, day out, it performed perfectly.

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator - www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator – http://www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator - www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Andrea Feczko (American TV Presenter and digital content creator – http://www.andreafeczko.com), at the lavish Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, LA, USA. January 14, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Visitors at the Chinese Theatre forecourt featuring handprints, footprints and signatures of iconic celebrities. The young visitors check out the Harry Potter imprints. Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Visitors at the Chinese Theatre forecourt featuring handprints, footprints and signatures of iconic celebrities. The young visitors check out the Harry Potter imprints. Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Cartoon characters interact with the tourists. Walk of fame, Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Cartoon characters interact with the tourists. Walk of fame, Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. January 16, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Very fast (and silent) to focus, pin sharp, accurate colour and tonal rendition and great element coating, meaning that shooting into the sun is not a problem. Being part of the M.Zuiko Premium range means it’s extremely well built. As you can see from the product photography, it’s also tiny and only weighs 137g. With two Aspherical elements and a close focusing distance of only 0.25cm, it has fast become my standard lens on my E-M1. I won’t hesitate in recommending this lens; it’s fast, crisp, small and extremely capable.

To see more photographs taken with the Olympus 25mm f1.8 lens, please visit my Flickr set.

LA Fashion District, downtown Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

LA Fashion District, downtown Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank is a burger restaurant where every Friday night, classic car enthusiasts gather to show off their classic restored cars and hotrods. Los Angeles, California, USA. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 South Grand Avenue in Downtown of Los Angeles, California, is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Centre and was designed by Frank Gehry. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 South Grand Avenue in Downtown of Los Angeles, California, is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Centre and was designed by Frank Gehry. January 17, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Photographed next to the 45mm lens for size comparison.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Photographed next to the 45mm lens for size comparison. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Shown with supplied lens hood attached.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Shown with supplied lens hood attached. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens.  Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera.  January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian   *Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 25mm 1:1.8 lens. Photographed attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera. January 28, 2014. Photo: Edmond Terakopian
*Please forgive the particles of sand on the equipment!!*

Canon 1DX Preview

Hands On With The Canon 1DX

A pre-production Canon EOS 1DX. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I’m fortunate to have had two opportunities to try out the new Canon EOS 1DX in private (thanks to Canon Europe for organising this) during the Pro Photo Solutions show earlier this week.

I need to firstly make it clear that as this was a pre-production camera, I wasn’t allowed to use my own CF cards for evaluating the images or video (which is fair enough as by the time the camera is released in March 2012, the firmware will have gone through several changes).

What I did get to do was try the camera fully, for both stills and video (checking results on the rear LCD screen), check out the completely redesigned menu system and chat at length with the extremely knowledgeable Graham Smith and Mike Burnhill from Canon.

I must say that I’m very impressed with this flagship camera. It carries on the 1D line and is a rugged workhorse of a machine which has been designed to be even more durable than it’s previous versions (I once stood in torrential rain on assignment for around 6 solid hours with a couple of Canon 1D MkII cameras and ‘L’ lenses. Although my Berghaus Gortex jacket leaked, the cameras carried on working perfectly and never gave any problems).

It’s fantastic having a full frame and fast drive camera, all in one. The 12 fps is just astonishing as is using the 14 fps (with mirror lock up – all of this at 18 megapixels). It’s something I have wished for, for years! The controls on the camera are new, with quite a few being fully programmable. The design and placement for all of these is pretty much spot on (the only problematic one perhaps being having the magnify button which is set low down, below the screen – perfect for reviewing stills, but is a problem for when shooting video and wanting to check focus beforehand (initially spotted by Dan Chung, with whom I’m in full agreement) – I’m sure by launch perhaps one of the more convenient buttons can be programmed via firmware to act as magnify if needed for video).

Shooting up to 51,200 ISO was just astonishing; extremely clean with accurate looking colours. Magnifying in to 100% on an 8000 ISO image made me double take as it looked clean enough to have been a 100 ISO shot! Absolutely amazing. I need to remind readers again though, these were all judged on a pre-production camera using the rear LCD screen.

The AF system is completely new and feels very responsive. The new modes and selection methods with overrides certainly impress.

Another hugely impressive fact is for video shooting the camera has a better file system and no longer drops lines when down sampling to HD. Another massively important addition is adjustable audio meters which display during shooting. Canon have stopped just short by not including a headphone jack. If the AV out port can stream during recording, then perhaps a headphone adapter could be fitted to monitor audio? Who knows!

As far as is the Canon EOS 1DX perfect, we shall have to wait and see. November 3rd is due to see a video product announcement by the company and the rumour sites are buzzing with the launch of the 5D MkIII some time next year.

This certainly seems like a perfect DSLR. Personally, I’d love (as would every single one of my colleagues) a lighter pro body, with a removable grip. Apart from this gripe, it really is an impressive DSLR and ticks almost every box. I can’t wait to test it out properly and see what it’s capable of, both in terms of stills and for video.

Fuji X100

Test Images From The Fujifilm X100 At High ASA

I had the opportunity to have a quick play with the new Fuji X100 over dinner and took a series of images inside a dimly lit restaurant and it’s surroundings during Focus on Imaging in Birmingham. My full and proper review will follow once I get a review sample, but wanted to share a few images. These images can be found on my Flickr Page.

Leica M9 Titanium

My day with one of the most exclusive digital cameras ever made

World Exclusive

Photographer Edmond Terakopian tests the limited edition Leica M9 Titanium. November 12, 2010. Photo By Brett

There were rumours abound before Photokina 2010 about Leica bringing out a new camera; talk of an M9.2, a different digital M and even a digital body that would take the Leica R lenses. Well, the different digital M turned out to be right, but who would have thought it would be anything like the Leica M9 Titanium, or Titan as it’s also called?

The limited edition Leica M9 Titanium, complete with Summilux-M 35mm f1.4 ASPH in Titanium. November 12, 2010. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I must admit to not being a big fan of the limited editions that companies produce; I’m a photographer and want tools which are reliable and produce the utmost in imaging quality. I’ve often sighed to myself when I’ve seen limited editions of the M6 or M8. My thoughts at the time were always the wish that Leica would stop concentrating on these and put all their energy into making a ‘proper’ digital rangefinder. For me, the M8 and M8.2 just didn’t cut it. Well, the M9 certainly does cut it and ever since reviewing it for the BJP at launch, I’ve been saving for my own M9 which I recently bought. Leica has changed a lot in recent years; fresh thinking has brought amazing products like the S2 and some stunning M optics as well as the wonderful M9. So, considering the current lineup, I didn’t sigh when I first saw pictures from the launch, but was rather intrigued.

The M9 Titanium though is an absolute departure from putting exclusive leathers and other materials onto the normal camera’s outer casings. Although it has an M9 at it’s heart, it has a completely a new casing, even down to the base plate. There is also some new technology in the viewfinder, more of which later. As it’s name suggests, the material is Titanium; tough and light – pretty much ideal for a camera. Every piece of exterior metal is made from solid Titanium and the body is covered in beautiful high grade leather.

The limited edition Leica M9 Titanium, complete with Summilux-M 35mm f1.4 ASPH in Titanium. November 12, 2010. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

So, what to do about designing the camera? Well, the answer surprisingly was to approach a car designer; to quote Leica:

“The exclusive special edition Leica M9 “Titanium” is the result of a collaboration with Walter de’Silva, the prominent automobile designer. Responsible for groundbreaking design concepts for the latest models from the Volkswagen Group, the chief designer and his Audi Design Team have re-interpreted the design of the LEICA M9 just as he envisaged it. The outcome is a unique camera with a new interpretation of the characteristic features of Leica rangefinder cameras, which lends precision engineering, unique style and solid titanium to extraordinary formal design.”

It may seem a strange thing to do as cars and cameras are so extremely different, but seeing the camera, I must say that the collaboration is an absolute success. In the pictures first released, the camera and lens looked good, but in real life, it looks and feels superb.

In the days of film, I used to have a Leica 35mm f1.4 Titanium lens – I must say I always loved the way it felt. Well, this camera takes that feeling and multiplies it many times over. I can’t think of anything that can make an M9 feel cheap, but the M9 Titanium does just that! As much as I admire the look and the feel of the camera, I also absolutely adore the lens. The ‘kit’ lens is Leica’s extraordinary Summilux-M 35mm f1.4 ASPH. This too is created using solid Titanium and also comes with a beautifully crafted Titanium lens hood, specifically made for the camera. Even the red Leica badge is custom made from resin and hand-engraved with enamel for the camera. There is also an interesting leather holster for the camera, which again was specifically designed and made for the camera. All of this is packaged up in the most beautiful of presentation boxes, including a gorgeously printed book showing the journey of the camera’s design, from concept to reality.

The limited edition Leica M9 Titanium. Summilux-M 35mm f1.4 ASPH in Titanium. November 12, 2010. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The good news for the collector is that there are only 500 of these to be made. As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t one of the ‘normal’ limited editions, but a completely new design of camera, in solid Titanium. Price of such exclusivity is £19,800.00. I’m not really a collector, so don’t know much about such things when looked at as investment, but to me, a completely unique camera does make investment sense. Now, if only I could win the Lottery!

In Use

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Leica UK and the Leica Store Mayfair, I was able to spend a day with the M9 Titanium. Naturally all the testing was done in the office; even if Leica would allow it, I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking such an exclusive and irreplaceable camera out on the street. I need to add though that this camera isn’t part of the 500 but a pre-production proof of concept model; after all, the Leica Stores need to have cameras to show collectors before orders are placed. The one I used had the serial number 6.

Photographer Edmond Terakopian tests the limited edition Leica M9 Titanium. November 12, 2010. Photo By Brett

In the hand, this camera really feels great. The weight and feel of the materials is just perfect. Aesthetically, I think, it works really beautifully, but the feel of the thing is also spot on. Every part of the body, and that gorgeous lens just work. It’s form, function and material in perfect harmony.

Test images shot with a Leica M9 Titanium. Photographer Brett from the Leica Akademie. November 12, 2010. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

One of the first things I wanted to see were the new LED illumintaed frame lines in the viewfinder. Traditionally, these are bright-line overlays. In use, these have served me well for a decade; however, in very bright conditions where the subject has a very light coloured background, they can disappear. The M9 Titanium has a completely new system where LEDs are used for illuminating red frame lines. These are much easier to see; very crisp and accurate. It took a few minutes to get used to, but I think I would welcome this system in future M cameras. Aesthetically this removes the need for an illumination window on the front of the camera, adding to a cleaner look.

The limited edition Leica M9 Titanium. LED bright line frame lines. Unfortunately I couldn't photograph it showing the entire frame, so this image shows the bottom right hand corner. November 12, 2010. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

One thing which did surprise me was that the frame lines still showed the lens pairings as they have traditionally done, e.g. 28mm and 90mm. I was expecting that the system would show just one set of frames for the mounted lens. I guess though that this would need to read the 6-bit coding to differentiate between the lens pair. Perhaps in the evolution of the M line we shall see this function.

Looking at the outside, one thing which is absent is the manual frame-line selector lever. There are some die-hards on certain forums which mourn it’s loss, but I for one have never found a need for it. I already know the field of view a 50mm is going to give me compared to say a 28mm; the need for changing this manually before choosing lenses is, I think redundant. The M9 Titanium looks so much better and cleaner for not having it.

The Summilux-M 35mm f1.4 ASPH is a superb lens; the results just sing. To have it made from Titanium just makes it feel even better in the hand. It’s an absolute joy operating this camera, looking through that superb viewfinder and focusing this gem of a lens; it just feels absolutely spot on.

Test images shot with a Leica M9 Titanium. November 12, 2010. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Apart from the material and design differences, it just handles like an M9; it just feels even better in the hand. I walked around the office taking portraits of some of the folks there and also some shots of the studio and other shots through an open window. I must admit that it’s the first time in my 21 years as a photographer that I’ve felt privileged using a particular camera; it was a real treat.

The Carrying and Holding Concept

The limited edition Leica M9 Titanium. November 12, 2010. Photo: Edmond Terakopian The limited edition Leica M9 Titanium. The carrying system comprising of the leather holster and the finger loops. November 12, 2010. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I think one of the obvious things is that this camera will probably never really be used as a photographic tool, but more of a collector’s piece. As a result, I’m looking at these ideas as concepts and not as real world suggestions for working with the camera. As concepts, they are very interesting. The holster is a new approach and is made beautifully out of very high grade leather. I for one would never use it in real life situations though.

The limited edition Leica M9 Titanium, complete with Summilux-M 35mm f1.4 ASPH in Titanium. The finger loop is shown on the bottom left. November 12, 2010. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The finger loops, which are metal and covered in leather (and come in two sizes) are slightly more usable. The very first time I held the camera (you insert two fingers through the loop), it felt strange but quickly became quite comfortable. With use, one acknowledges that it’s actually quite a neat system and very secure. I would probably opt for the included carrying strap though as I’m just used to having a camera on my shoulder. This new one sided mounting system does away with the traditional strap lugs at either side, again making for a very clean look.

Reality

I would love an M9 Titanium in black paint. I generally shy away from shiny cameras for my work. The less attention, the better considering some of the environments I work in. Titanium is wonderfully strong and light and is the perfect metal for these tools of ours. Alas, it’s expensive and harder to work with, needing special tooling. The M9 Titanium also has a special hard coating which is applied in Switzerland, so this camera, even if mass produced will never be cheap. Still, as a photographer, a black, or very dark and matt coloured Titanium Leica would be fabulous.

Test images shot with a Leica M9 Titanium. Photographer Brett from the Leica Akademie. November 12, 2010. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The current M9 Titanium is a thing of beauty. Everything about it is pure elegance; not just elegance though as it’s combined with absolute usability and stunning design which marries the aesthetic with the practical. As someone who prefers black, I can look at this camera and I still appreciate it’s gorgeous looks and even the colour. How good does it feel? Just think about my earlier comment that it makes the regular M9 feel cheap.

For a set of picture taken with and of the Leica M9 Titanium, please visit my Flickr page.

©Edmond Terakopian