Go Back   Rangefinderforum.com > Coffee With Mentors > Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

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!

 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes

Street Camera
Old 07-06-2011   #1
Bill Pierce
Registered User
 
Bill Pierce's Avatar
 
Bill Pierce is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 751
Street Camera

With the move to digital and the high price of a digital Leica, many photographers are turning to other cameras for street photography.

I'm using a Canon G10. Subsequent generations of the G series have less megapixels to keep down noise at higher ISO's. But use the G10 at its lowest ISO, 80, and it produces results that according to tests conducted at Luminous Landscape are comparable to a cropped medium format camera in 12x18 prints. My standard exhibition print paper is 17x22 inches, and the prints can't be distinguished from my full frame digitals.

Of course, using the camera only at ISO 80 is a huge limitation. But street photography is outdoors. As somebody who shot news on Kodachrome 25, the 80 speed on a small sensor with generous depth-of-field is not a problem. And, in to the accessory shoe of the G10, I slip Leitz bright-line finders that match the equivalent focal length, if not the frame ratio, of the focal length in use into the G10 accessory shoe.

This is not a perfect solution. And I wondered what other street shooters who have moved to digital are doing. Any suggestions? Any thoughts?
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #2
matthewm
Registered User
 
matthewm's Avatar
 
matthewm is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 348
Last August I carried a G11 to New York with me and loved it. In June of this year, I went to Vegas on my honeymoon and carried my G10 I had a G10 and sold it. Then, I got a G11 and sold it. Then, I got another G10, and plan on keeping it. For now...

I agree that the little point and shoot cameras can be great street shooters. They're small and unobtrusive (especially the S90/95 cameras) and they don't get too much attention from onlookers. Most people will just think you're a tourist with a point and shoot camera and won't pay you any attention at all. I could never have done that with a 5D/35L combo.

I'd be interested to see some of your work with the G10. An old, but very capable camera to say the least.
__________________
Ultimately, Photography is subversive, not when it frightens, repels, or even stigmatizes, but when it is pensive, when it thinks. --from Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes

---
Websites: Flickr | Blog

Fuji XPro1 / 18 / 35
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #3
maddoc
... likes film.
 
maddoc's Avatar
 
maddoc is offline
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: 調布市
Age: 48
Posts: 6,733
Ricoh GRD something. At least from what I have seen on-line and from Moriyama`s photo that camera (series) is the most capable street shooter and the only digi that I would consider.
__________________
- Gabor

flickr
pBase
blog
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #4
kshapero
Tourist
 
kshapero's Avatar
 
kshapero is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: South Florida, USA
Age: 65
Posts: 8,677
I use a ZI, 35mm lens and a Sony NEX, 16mm (24mm)
__________________
Akiva S.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kshapero
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #5
matthewm
Registered User
 
matthewm's Avatar
 
matthewm is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 348
Quote:
Originally Posted by maddoc View Post
Ricoh GRD something. At least from what I have seen on-line and from Moriyama`s photo that camera (series) is the most capable street shooter and the only digi that I would consider.
Another great camera. Unless you want zoom. I had the GRDIII and it was leaps and bounds better than the G10, but it's also pricey and I ended up selling it.

I regretted it almost immediately and at some point plan to part with the G10 and get back to the GRD. I always thought I'd like having the zoom functionality, but I always shoot the G10 at 28mm f/3.5 or so. I almost never zoom... Go figure...
__________________
Ultimately, Photography is subversive, not when it frightens, repels, or even stigmatizes, but when it is pensive, when it thinks. --from Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes

---
Websites: Flickr | Blog

Fuji XPro1 / 18 / 35
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #6
BobYIL
Registered User
 
BobYIL's Avatar
 
BobYIL is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,278
The X100 seems to be a fine street camera; dead silent, AF, high ISO and 35mm coverage. Also an optical viewfinder for lightning quick response. What they need is to introduce the X200 with a 33/1.7 lens, then I presume a great deal of digital street shooters would be satisfied with two models only...
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #7
Rick Waldroup
Registered User
 
Rick Waldroup's Avatar
 
Rick Waldroup is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Texas
Age: 60
Posts: 777
I shot a GRDII for a couple of years. It is a great camera for street shooting. The "snap" mode, in particular, makes the camera super fast, as it basically zone focuses the lens and disables the autofocus. The lens is super sharp. I regret selling mine.

I now shoot a Lumix GF-1 with various prime lenses, for my street work. This is an exceptional camera for street photography.
__________________
Rick Waldroup Photography
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #8
nightfly
Registered User
 
nightfly is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,514
Another vote for the GRD III. Its' the first digital I've had that operates fast enough for me and produces good enough files. You can set it up so that a half press gives you auto focus but a quick full press shoots in snap mode which to me is super compelling. If you keep it around wide open, you can get photos that don't have that infinite depth of field that bothers me in small digital sensor photos.

Also I find it's small and light enough to put in my pocket when I'm going out not specifically to shoot.
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #9
Leica0Series
Registered User
 
Leica0Series's Avatar
 
Leica0Series is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 134
I like my S90 but sometimes wish it were a little faster and more flexible ... which is why I'm actually interested in the Pentax Q, although I'm hoping the price comes down before it hits the market.
__________________
Leica 0 Series
Leica M4
Leica X Vario

CV 15/4.5
Avenon 28 f/3.5
Summilux 35 (pre-asph)
Summicron 50 (11817)
Canon 100 3.5 LTM (black and chrome)
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #10
Renzsu
Registered User
 
Renzsu's Avatar
 
Renzsu is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 682
I use my M9, I just make sure I have damn good insurance for all my gear. I never understood the logic of bringing inferior cameras because you are afraid of them getting stolen..
__________________
site | Flickr |
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #11
Jamie Pillers
Skeptic
 
Jamie Pillers's Avatar
 
Jamie Pillers is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Oakland, California
Posts: 3,226
The Ricoh GX200 is another interesting choice. It gives you a nice zoom range for street, 24 - 72mm. You can set the zoom to start up at your favorite focal length, say 35mm. The "snap" function is a wonderful feature for street photographers... pre-defined zone focus and thus zero shutter lag. And the feel/grip/weight is the best I've ever used (I've used most everything else mentioned in this thread). Ricoh really has the street photography camera design dialed in. Now if they'd just figure out a way to put an APS-C sized sensor in their cameras! :-)
__________________
Talk to a stranger today.

Nikon 1 V3; D600; Speed Graphic; Polaroid 250
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #12
nightfly
Registered User
 
nightfly is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,514
Most of the stuff I've seen Moriyama shoot digitally is pretty terrible. I love his work with the film GR1 (and whatever other film cameras he uses) but last time I looked his digital stuff really looked like crap. Perhaps he's gotten a better grasp on the medium recently.

Any URLs?


Quote:
Originally Posted by maddoc View Post
Ricoh GRD something. At least from what I have seen on-line and from Moriyama`s photo that camera (series) is the most capable street shooter and the only digi that I would consider.
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #13
krötenblender
Registered User
 
krötenblender's Avatar
 
krötenblender is offline
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 471
On the street and for similar photography I prefer my R-D1 since I have it (and sometimes the Minolta CLE). I would love to see some minor technical improvements to this (R-D1) camera, but it's mostly perfect for street for me.

I tried some compacts, but none of them worked for me, a DSLR is out of question for that (although I use mine often and like it). I like to try a X100 some day.

Well, one alternative would be the M9, I guess. But the money did not arrive yet...

So the R-D1 is the best, I could get until now and I think, it's hard to beat. (for me)
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #14
gyuribacsi
Registered User
 
gyuribacsi is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 105
I second Krötenblender regarding the RD1 but it is not so fast as a digital p&s. On the other hand, you can use a wide range of matching (in focal length to the assignment) lenses.
George
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #15
ChipMcD
Registered User
 
ChipMcD is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: East Coast USA
Posts: 290
The Canon S90 is nice, and the S95 is probably even better. Although expensive, the Leica X1 produces some really stunning stuff from a small package (even with all of its quirks and perceived faults that have been beaten to death in the various fora). I don't think it's any more obtrusive than other cameras mentioned in this thread. Also, the ability to work with DNG raw files is a big plus. I know the S90 does raw, but I've always shot JPEGs with it.
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #16
krötenblender
Registered User
 
krötenblender's Avatar
 
krötenblender is offline
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 471
Quote:
Originally Posted by gyuribacsi View Post
I second Krötenblender regarding the RD1 but it is not so fast as a digital p&s.
With hyperfocus set the delay is nearly none. That's how I do almost every street shooting. Or did you mean fast as in high ISO? - One thing is of course, that you have to clutch the shutter after each shot. But I have to do this with the Minolta also and it is not a problem for me.
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-06-2011   #17
DougK
This space left blank
 
DougK's Avatar
 
DougK is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Westlake, OH
Age: 44
Posts: 1,532
Another GR Digital III user here. Before I got this camera, if I wanted to shoot street photos I needed to use a film camera because I couldn't operate my Olympus digital fast enough for the purpose (an otherwise excellent camera though). The GRD III allows me to shoot as fast as I need to, plus it's small enough that I don't mind carrying it around and thus will have it with me when a photo presents itself. I occasionally miss having a zoom lens, but in all other ways the camera is just about perfect for my needs.
__________________
Doug K.
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-07-2011   #18
gyuribacsi
Registered User
 
gyuribacsi is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 105
Hi, Krötenblender! The modern digital p&s are faster in handling and sometimes in focusing. The last only for me, because in dim the light of a bar or a Munich street, I can not set any hyperfocus an f/8. That´s why I love my RD1 for digital and my CLE for film. But with both of them, focusing is a real pain - no contrast for the rangefinder-patch.
George
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-14-2011   #19
Bike Tourist
Registered User
 
Bike Tourist's Avatar
 
Bike Tourist is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Central California
Age: 78
Posts: 914
A Lumix LX5 with electronic viewfinder. At 24mm you get f2. Not bad.
__________________
Dick Thornton

Stock Portfolio:
http://www.shutterstock.com/g/biketourist
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-14-2011   #20
j j
Registered User
 
j j is offline
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 799
I would not called myself a Street Photographer in the strict sense, but I use my camera in town and for this I have a Samsung NX100 with 30mm for digital shooting. Small, discreet and SLR quality. I wish it had faster processing, better high ISO (i.e. above 400/800) and more in the highlights, but overall I am very happy with it. Cost is similar to G series Canon and LX5.

These sets are not the greatest street images you will ever see, but if you want to look at examples...

Amsterdam: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jjbirde...7626322134759/
York: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jjbirde...7626601540951/
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-17-2011   #21
GoodPhotos
Carpe lumen!
 
GoodPhotos's Avatar
 
GoodPhotos is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Denmark, ME, USA
Posts: 96
I have and love a Canon S90, but in my 'working life' I use Nikon DSLRs. I'm thinking a lot about a P7000. All of the great IQ pluses of my S90, but with HD, an optical finder, a much longer lens and the option to use Nikon's CLS flash system.
__________________
---
Carpe lumen,
Michael Eric Bérubé
www.GoodPhotos.com
----
Retinette 022, Retina IIIc, Nikon D90, D7000, Fuji X20
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-17-2011   #22
Roger Hicks
Registered User
 
Roger Hicks is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Aquitaine
Posts: 20,515
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renzsu View Post
I never understood the logic of bringing inferior cameras because you are afraid of them getting stolen..
Same here.

Cheers,

R.
__________________
Now even more free photography information on www.rogerandfrances.com
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-17-2011   #23
Colin Corneau
Colin Corneau
 
Colin Corneau is offline
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Brandon MB Canada
Posts: 722
Solution 1: I don't switch from film. I either wetprint or do a hybrid process.

Solution 2: Seems the X100 is the way to go. An RD-1 also.

Solution 3: Cringe if you will but I really like the images I get from my iPhone4 (with the Hipstamatic app). Very unobtrusive.
__________________
www.reservedatalltimes.com

"Viva Film Renaissance"
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-17-2011   #24
Juan Valdenebro
Truth is beauty
 
Juan Valdenebro's Avatar
 
Juan Valdenebro is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Barcelona and Colombia
Age: 42
Posts: 4,202
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renzsu View Post
I use my M9, I just make sure I have damn good insurance for all my gear. I never understood the logic of bringing inferior cameras because you are afraid of them getting stolen..
Hi Renzsu,

In my case, I do it for the possible stolen images, not for the possible stolen gear... There's no insurance for stolen images...

And the stolen images include two different ones: a stolen roll inside a stolen camera, and (what I care a lot more about...) a stolen opportunity to keep shooting in a place after you've been seen with an attractive camera...

So, if I don't get my gear stolen, I can photograph, and if I don't attract people, I can photograph. It's about getting more images and more time for them, and being less noticed to keep scenes as natural as possible...

Anyway, if I work at f/8 as I usually do, what's the image quality difference between a superior and an inferior camera? 1%? 0,1%? I mean, considering it's not a tripod sharpness test but handheld fast street shooting... In most cases the difference has no relevance at all in the final result: no decent camera will make an image better or worse... It's the photographer...

My XA can make better images than my Leica or my Hasselblad many times, and that's why my XA is a superior camera many times.

Cheers,

Juan
__________________
F i l m means fun!
  Reply With Quote

Old 07-17-2011   #25
arnulf
Registered User
 
arnulf's Avatar
 
arnulf is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Age: 45
Posts: 164
The M9 is the one I enjoy using the most, not surprisingly. I used to have a G11 and it's a good camera, but after I got an X1 that's the one I end up taking with me the most. It has its weaknesses, no doubt about it, but the iq is fabulous. From what I hear the X100 beats the Leica brother in most areas but I've never tried it.

If Leica could develop a manual focus system for the X2 that is as useable as on the m-system, I would be the first in line to buy it. The X1 is so great to carry around. Very small and unobtrusive.
__________________
m6
m9
summilux 35mm
summilux 50mm
Fuji x100
http://www.arnulfjohansen.net
My Smugmug
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 21:11.


vBulletin skin developed by: eXtremepixels
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

All content on this site is Copyright Protected and owned by its respective owner. You may link to content on this site but you may not reproduce any of it in whole or part without written consent from its owner.