Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246)

Black & White is Back!: The Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246)

Photography, Reviews

This review was originally published on B&H Photo’s Explora blog where I am a regular contributor.

Long gone are the days of having to pick between color or black-and-white film stocks before setting out the door. We have now entered a digital world where many critical artistic decisions are made long after the initial image is created. Leica has decided to change that by offering a new camera that makes images only in black-and-white, allowing photographers to solidify their vision and mindset before they head out the door. And, after taking it for a spin over the past week, I can say that it produces images that absolutely cannot be matched.

Welcome to the black-and-white world of the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Digital Rangefinder Camera.

Leica Q (Typ 116) Featured

The No-Compromise Compact: Leica Q (Typ 116) Digital Camera

News, Photography

This article was originally published on B&H Photo’s Explora blog where I am a regular contributor.

Users looking for optimal image quality in a compact body would do well to check out Leica’s latest release, the Q (Typ 116) Digital Camera. Packing a full-frame 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor into a portable and, I must say, beautifully designed body, the Q aims to deliver high-end image quality while still ensuring it can remain on you at all times. It also implements a Leica Maestro II-series image processor, along with a Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens to quickly create images with smooth bokeh, at sensitivities up to ISO 50000.

Canon 5D Mark III

A Decade of Innovation with Canon’s 5D Series

Feature, News, Photography

This article was original published on B&H Photo’s Explora blog where I am a regular contributor.

Ten years ago, in 2005, Canon broke new ground in the imaging world with the EOS 5D, the first full-frame DSLR to feature a body size similar to that of a 35mm film SLR. Today, Canon is still revolutionizing the industry with the 5D series, most recently with the jaw-dropping 50.6-megapixel resolution of the 5DS and 5DS R, announced in February. In order to celebrate this decade of innovation, let’s take a quick look back at the most notable features and trends introduced by the 5D series.

Election Night at the Democratic Headquarters in Ithaca, N.Y.

Photojournalism: Election night in Ithaca, N.Y.

Journalism, Journalism, Photography, Photography

Election night is always emotional, no matter who you are backing. Here in Ithaca, NY people were able to celebrate President Barack Obama’s re-election. With triumphant and emotional cheers.

Election Night at the Democratic Headquarters in Ithaca, N.Y.

Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 — Olayinka Omotosho, a Humphrey Fellow at Cornell University, celebrates in response to hearing CNN predict President Barack Obama’s re-election while at the Tompkins County Democratic Party headquarters at the Holiday Inn in Ithaca, N.Y.
Shawn Steiner/The Ithacan

One Hour Photo

Did the “one hour photo” speed the death of film?

Uncategorized
One Hour Photo

The film and prints received from the local shop that still is able to send out film.
Shawn Steiner/In Focus

Recently, I had a roll of 35mm Kodak Ektar 100 processed at a local drug store. I was satisfied. There were 38 developed images (yes, it was a 36 exposure roll, I’m that good) and a set of prints along with a CD. The darkroom chromogenic prints, while appreciated, are atrocious. The scans were better, but still not good enough for my applications. Now, this was expected for my project.

My workflow was always planned to involve taking the negatives and producing my own scans and inkjet prints. The everyday person, however, may have a different reaction. I would image tit to be along the lines of, “This looks terrible!” or “My friend’s new point and shoot looks amazing compared to this!” Basically the person will come to the conclusion that it is time to move to digital.

Amelia Marino

My friend Amelia posing for a shot with some Kodak Ektar 100 35mm film.
Shawn Steiner/In Focus

The prevalence of these one hour photo shops proliferated a change in a desire for quality for the necessity of speed. Digital allows for the best mixture of each for the average consumer. They don’t have access to personal darkrooms to process their film in a timely manner, and they most likely don’t realize the capabilities of their film negatives.

So did these workflows lead to an increasing disappointment with the quality of film?

If I were to imagine being a normal consumer I feel like I would make the change to digital much faster if I thought that the cost of processing film was no longer worth it.

These prints are good enough for being a quick reference, but otherwise I can see this as part of why consumers moved so quickly into the digital realm.

The Ink Shop

The right place

Thoughts
The Ink Shop

The Ink Shop doubles as a workshop and a gallery on East State Street in downtown Ithaca.
Shawn Steiner/The Ithacan

So, after my recent Instagram post I’m going to start this with a little clarification. I am not opposed to cell phone photography, I simply find that utilizing it in some ways is unnecessary. But, I believe in the right tool for the job and there are instances where an iPhone happens to be it. Onto the rest of the post.

A couple issues ago I was shooting for a story on a local screen printing business called The Ink Shop. On that shoot the designer and I felt that a wide shot of the entire workspace would be fitting top art. Well, being a Tuesday afternoon with less than a day to work meant speed was paramount. First, I took a series of shots with my SLR and prepared for a process of stitching a panorama together. But, then I realized the new feature iOS6 granted to iPhone users, panoramas.

I pulled out my phone and quickly moved across the scene. A bit of editing in the office led to a usable top image for a front story. Best tool for the job.

Members of the Ithaca Police Department and Fire Department stand outside The Commons at the intersection of South Aurora Street and East State Street. The Commons was evacuated Thursday, Oct. 11 due to a suspicious package.
Shawn Steiner/The Ithacan

This was then followed last Thursday with an odd shoot. Driving back to campus with a fellow editor we saw a swarm of emergency vehicles downtown. I pulled out my phone and took a couple shots as we drove by.

Once we were back on campus the phone calls began. We needed to get a photographer downtown for an investigation into a suspicious package. Fortunately, I already had a photo and we were able to put a story with art up online very quickly. The photograph and story even got picked up by a news station in Syracuse.

Cell phone photography is an incredible advancement in photo technology. We have a high quality camera in our pockets at all times. Use it when the need is there or the aesthetic is desired and serves a purpose. It is something to be utilized.

Dave Maley, associate director of media relations, will be facilitating communication between student media and college administrators.
Shawn Steiner/The Ithacan

Editorial portrait: David Maley

Journalism, Photography, Photography, Portraits

Dave Maley, associate director of media relations, will be facilitating communication between student media and college administrators. 
Shawn Steiner/The Ithacan

This is part of a new policy implemented by Ithaca College president Tom Rochon. All student media must contact Maley to set up interviews with upper level faculty and administrators. The campus community has responded very strongly to this new policy, including a letter urging repeal from about 70 faculty members as of Friday, Oct. 5, 2012.

Find the story here at theithacan.org/25742.

Fire at The State Street Diner

Photojournalism: Fire at the State Street Diner

Journalism, Journalism, Photography, Photography

Selections of my photojournalism will also appear from time to time. This is how I am introducing this new section on this site. Hope you enjoy! Here is the first image, a personal favorite.

Fire at The State Street Diner

Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 — Stuart Prineas, an electrical contractor, examines the damage from a fire Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 at the State Street Diner. The diner caught fire at about 4:30 p.m. from what local authorities believe to have been faulty wiring, however the investigation is still ongoing.
Shawn Steiner/The Ithacan

Ithaca College senior Erik Caron, center, belts out “Devil’s Coming” and plays guitar for the Erik Caron Connection alongside bassist sophomore Gabe Lefferts, left, and drummer Alex Cano ’12, right.
This photograph was taken at ISO 25600, f/2.8 and 1/125 second at 20mm.

The fear of digital noise

Thoughts

Ithaca College senior Erik Caron, center, belts out “Devil’s Coming” and plays guitar for the Erik Caron Connection alongside bassist sophomore Gabe Lefferts, left, and drummer Alex Cano ’12, right.
This photograph was taken at ISO 25600, f/2.8 and 1/125 second at 20mm.

Noise was never a good thing. But, everyone still seems to want to emulate the grain of film.

Pushing film two stops so that you can get a usable image was more important than the amount of grain that you may see. It was the norm to have to deal with grain. Now that we have moved to digital sensors it seems that we are afraid to see anything besides a perfectly clean image on the camera’s LCD screen. The immediacy of digital has let us know how we can change things to “fix” the image in camera, and see when we take unusable photos.

Why should we be afraid to push the boundaries of our cameras technology?

I support the ability of modern day cameras to reach these absurd ISOs. Years ago I never would have imagined being able to shoot outside at night and have a perfectly exposed image. Independent filmmaking would also still require a lot of startup money. Now, we can shoot for bare minimum and produce something of quality.

In the realm of photojournalism it means we can go new places with less equipment and get the shots we need. The other day I was shooting at ISO 25600 in a pub late at night. I took photos. That is awesome. No flash, no unnecessary lights, just capturing the mood as it was set up for the show.

At first glance I have heard shock at the ISO speeds I was shooting at. But then when I have shot video on the same SLR I have heard that it is too clean and sharp. Where are we going to finally accept the world of digital and accept it on its own, without thinking about it in the context of celluloid.

Many companies are even trying to produce the ability to add grain to digital footage.As much as I appreciate the nostalgia for film, I respect the advancement is technology that allows our industry to advance to incredible heights. Accept the look of noise and forget the look of grain. It is a part of the digital image making process and we should see it as such.

Junior Jeff Chilton plays trombone with Samuel B. Lupowitz and The Ego Band during their record release show Saturday at The Nines.

Moving back to black and white

Thoughts

Junior Jeff Chilton plays trombone with Samuel B. Lupowitz and The Ego Band during their record release show Saturday at The Nines.

RED Digital Cinema recently announced a monochrome version of their EPIC camera. Surprised?

Monochrome cameras seem to be a new trend with high-end camera manufacturers. Leica released their own M Monochrom weeks ago and while not much has really been heard about these cameras they seem to be doing well. A huge part is the price tag of these cameras. Still out of reach for most consumers.

What is their purpose?

Technically, these cameras offer significantly improved performance in areas like resolution, dynamic range and sensitivity. The removal of the debayering process found with color digital imaging means that every pixel of the sensor records raw luminance data. This means that it is a true image without processing and manipulation by the sensor to create a color image.

If you look at my sample image above it shows how simply converting an image at a high ISO can seemingly improve the look of a previously unusable image. And it shows just how far imaging technology has come.

It will be interesting to see how these cameras begin to take off. RED is boasting that David Fincher’s new film is being shot entirely on their new monochrome camera. So hopefully we will see some clips soon.

On a different level, this is the more obvious side to the current trend in digital camera development to create better images as opposed to simply add more resolution (although I’m sure RED would say that they can do both). It shows that companies are no longer just bumping the resolution.

For example, the recently released Canon 5D MKIII features an increase of only one megapixel. However, it features significantly better low-light abilities along with more dynamic range than previous iterations.

I’m glad to see this shift from a numbers game to a question of quality. I think that 20 megapixels is plenty, if we really want to replace film we need more than simply super large image files.