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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

"Never ever confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice cream cone and licking a razor blade."  

 

Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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Old 10-14-2012   #26
Bill Pierce
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Originally Posted by buzzardkid View Post
Dear Bill,

after reading all the posts in the thread I am leaning towards getting myself a GXR.

About a year ago I went the way of the Nikon D3100, with legacy glass and all-manual workflow. Got myself the 18-55 VR kit lens for reportage work that needs AF. But, I'm bothered by having to carry two systems since I generally do not leave my Leica + 1 or 2 lenses at home. Getting a GXR would eliminate that, I would be able to carry a single set of lenses and two small bodies, possibly one AF lens to the GXR.

What is your opinion on using the GXR for professional work? I'll hopefully launch myself as a (semi-)professional photographer and editorial writer early next year and would love to hear what you think of using the GXR as a sole digital body for professional work.
“Professional work” is a pretty big category. Although the sensor is 12MG and not the most recent, I find that, thanks to the lack of AA filter and a sensor tuned to the needs of the short body to flange distance of rangefinder lenses, with good glass and good shooting technique, the image quality far exceeds the needs of print or web journalism. My standard portfolio print is on 17x22 paper, and I have no problem whatsoever with the GXR at that size. (I’m not doing architectural or product shots, but you probably aren’t either.)

As for autofocus, it doesn’t exist with the module for M mount lenses. (Probably the most compatable model with autofocus would be the camera unit with a 16 megapixel C sensor with an effective 24-85 mm zoom.) The magnified manual focus and focus peaking on the M mount model is very good. And there is always scale focusing with M mount lenses. Since you use a Leica, you already know if manual focusing limits the work you do and can make an equipment choice based on that.
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Old 10-15-2012   #27
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Thank you Bill for your answer to my question.

I am planning to use the GXR for work that can be framed manually rather easily: musical concerts, funerals, editorial work and portraits to accompany interviews, maybe some commercial and business work. All to be put to use in print media and online.

The D3100 likely will persevere for the occasional product shot.

Also, I was thinking of using the GXR with a Micro-Nikkor 55mm lens and bellows to re-shoot my 35mm negatives so that I maybe can ditch my negative scanner too. In a thread on re-shooting negatives with a D800 I saw someone mention the GXR too, and real positive due to the lack of an AA-filter.

Anybody in for a Rolleiflex 2.8F in very good condition to fund my GXR?
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Old 10-15-2012   #28
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Anybody in for a Rolleiflex 2.8F in very good condition to fund my GXR?
Why not do the ebay thing, Johan? It appears that a 2.8F will raise more than enough money to fund a GXR-M.

Tom
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Old 10-15-2012   #29
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Johan, the best Rolleiflexes seem to move pretty briskly in RFF classifieds. If it were me, I'd start here among the aficionados

Sounds like you got the journalist position you mentioned in Roger's Writing & Photography thread, yes? If so, congratulations.

The GXR is a great little tool with a value and versatility far beyond its cost.

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Old 10-16-2012   #30
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Originally Posted by rhl-oregon View Post
Johan, the best Rolleiflexes seem to move pretty briskly in RFF classifieds. If it were me, I'd start here among the aficionados

Sounds like you got the journalist position you mentioned in Roger's Writing & Photography thread, yes? If so, congratulations.

The GXR is a great little tool with a value and versatility far beyond its cost.

Robert
Hi Robert,

thank you for your advice on selling the Rolleiflex(es) here, I think you are absolutely correct. I'm still considering what to do, even though I do not use the Rolleiflexes that much, I love their quality whenever they do come out to shoot...

It's just that I have a lot of funds tied up in them (I own a 2.8F and a Tele) and could use that money, for a part to fund the GXR and for the rest... Well, that journalism job hasn't materialized yet, I've yet to hear anything back from the job application...

But I've grown more determined to land a writing and photographing job soon.

Maybe I should let go of the 2.8F and the D3100 with lenses, and keep the Tele
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Old 10-17-2012   #31
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reading the problem with "old" lenses on new sensors had me really worried till i remembered, the APS-C or whatever aint full frame!The edges, well more than an edge is gone..
Personally i'd love to use ALL my old lenses, but cannot unless i buy top end Nikons. MY Leica lenses need an M9,ME M-nothing whatever.The prices simply outrageous for the body, which is low on the DXO test pattern Canon EOS is a way with adapters.Time warp! Did that in '60's with T-Mount. No way, Jose!.I've read about tele-centric and have doubts.
Digital is quite satisfying using a point and shoot.Even for pro jobs..
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