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

Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

ďOur autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selectsĒ  

"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 Shooting Gear
Old 06-28-2012   #1
Bill Pierce
Registered User
 
Bill Pierce's Avatar
 
Bill Pierce is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 724
Street Shooting Gear

For a long time my full frame DSLRs were my main cameras. Now, however, with the steady improvement in image quality of smaller digital cameras, I find the big DSLRs confined to the studio where working with motion stopping strobes (essentially working at very high shutter speeds) and with their lenses at their optimum apertures, they deliver incredible image quality.

Now newer, small, mirrorless cameras like the Fuji X Pro, Sony Nex-7 and Samsung NX200 that are more convenient to use on locations, are APS-C sensor cameras delivering results that we used to associate with larger cameras in spite of their less than full frame sensors. Fuji claims their image quality equals or exceeds the quality of some full size sensors.

And, truth be told, on the street and in many locations, working in less than perfect conditions, we canít even exploit the quality of these cameras. Even smaller cameras like the Fuji X10 with itís relatively large 8.8x6.6mm sensor size, down to the Canon S100 with its standard 7.44x5.58mm sensor produce remarkable images when compared to similar small cameras of just a few years ago and are wonderful ďstreet cameras.Ē

So, hereís the question. Are you putting the discreet 40mm pancake lens on your full frame 5D III because, even on the street, nothing beats full frame? Are you using the tiny S100 and wearing loud Hawaiian shirts because tourists can get away with photographing anything? Or, are you a middle of the roader going the APS-C route? What is your experience with the relatively new gear available for street shooting? I think thatís a subject that interests many of us. We can benefit from the experience of each other.
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #2
Aristophanes
Registered User
 
Aristophanes is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 648
I put my discrete 40mm and 15mm and 70mm pancake Pentax primes on and shoot anywhere using APS-C.
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #3
BlackXList
Registered User
 
BlackXList is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 336
I'd never shoot candid stuff with my big dslrs, I'm trying to become more comfortable (and quicker) doing it with manual focus film slrs, because I enjoy the challenge.

Just take a look at the GRD pics thread in the point & shoot forum for all the evidence you could ever need that small unobtrusive cameras can produce fantastic images in the street.

A lot of my street shooting is done with an LX3, and when I can get results like this from it, as much as I love my hefty DSLR , it's just not the tool I need on the street

  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #4
Sam Kanga
Registered User
 
Sam Kanga is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 101
Hi Bill,

Currently I'm using the Fuji X-10 - pretty good for what it is. I'm considering the Nex-7 (similar body size to the X-10! - and they are coming out with a 24-75mm equivalent lens) or X-pro1 (similar body size to M's - which I use for film). Or might have to sit tight and wait.

My main concern is that I have to rely on autofocus, and in indoor situations, I can't trust it when working quickly. I've missed too many shots (I mean they are too far out of focus - I can live with being a little out). Apparently the Nex-7 does focus fairly quickly.

With the film M's no problems at all - indoors or out. M9 would be great, but too expensive for me. So back to practice, practice, practice!

Thanks
Sam
  Reply With Quote

Ricoh GXR-M & Leica 35 Summicron
Old 06-28-2012   #5
Duane Pandorf
Registered User
 
Duane Pandorf's Avatar
 
Duane Pandorf is offline
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: I'm currently in Brevard, North Carolina.
Posts: 298
Ricoh GXR-M & Leica 35 Summicron

My choice for my type of "street" or I should say my travel photography is my Ricoh GXR-M with a v2 Leica 35mm Summicron.

Its compact and can be easily set up for zone focusing if required. I enjoy its small size as I travel for work and my schedule is 7 days on and 7 days off.

This week I was in Nice, France for a couple days and I'm writing this post from London.

So a DSLR is completely out of the question and I've recently put that gear up for sale. I've managed to sell my lenses and have just the body to get rid of.

The funds will be used to finish my glass investment for this kit.

A couple from a couple days ago in Nice:



__________________


Duane Pandorf
Blog | Portfolio | Google+
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #6
-JQ-
Registered User
 
-JQ-'s Avatar
 
-JQ- is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 36
First, thanks Bill for taking time to help the rest of us out.

I have recently been changing my entire kit too - thus finding this nice site. I'm going to be traveling for work to places that aren't all that photo friendly. So I decided to try the M system for the size, and as everyone "knows" all real pj-type stuff is shot on them :-). Sorry...really I've wanted to try the system and now can justify the expense - finally.

So I'm going with an M8 and a couple of lenses cv 35/1.7 and 90 elmar-c. I have a 50 but hate to take it into the dirt -too old and pretty.

I'm coming primarily from a 5D2 and still believe in the FF way...so if the M8 works as I hope and so far sooo good. M9 may follow. I couldn't sell my 135 f2 so I'll be taking a crop SLR for now.

All that said...I've really enjoyed using the 5d2 and 17-40L for "street" - big beautiful (croppable) files!

I'll be following this thread to glean from all the collective experience and advice :-)
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #7
Bike Tourist
Registered User
 
Bike Tourist's Avatar
 
Bike Tourist is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Central California
Age: 78
Posts: 876
XP1 + X100 for street and 97.63% of everything else.
__________________
Dick Thornton

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

Old 06-28-2012   #8
btgc
Registered User
 
btgc's Avatar
 
btgc is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 4,259
Probably there are situations when DSLR can be used on street....one needs some esotheric lens, or has misplaced more convenient camera, or such.

Here's my take on Sigma DP-series. Not able to shoot series fast, writes off to card for ages, ancient interface, bad at high ISO and list goes on? Maybe, and yet it has awesome manual focusing wheel, it's small, non-obtrusive with customizable zoom buttons (assign any two most used settings).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg street-blue1.jpg (63.8 KB, 32 views)
__________________
MyFlickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #9
nightfly
Registered User
 
nightfly is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,503
I assume from the phrasing of the question that this is digital only?

iPhone 4s & GRD III if that's the case, otherwise GR-1 or M4-P + CV 28.



  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #10
Range-rover
Registered User
 
Range-rover is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 950
Hi,
I was using a Canon 5D of late, but I picked up a Nikon D200
Crop sensor using with a 20mm f2.8 AIS Lens and doing shots in
New York and I'm not missing the canon much at all, it's just a little
smaller, quieter, quicker when taking shots most likely will be selling
the Canon stuff I have.

Range
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #11
DNG
Fuji X-E2 / Nikon FE
 
DNG's Avatar
 
DNG is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Camby, Indiana. USA
Age: 60
Posts: 2,625
I had a Pentax K20d, but did not try my hand at street photography until I had a Panasonic G3 with a 20mm f/1.7 pancake on it. But, I so love the character of film for street, and bought a Nikon FE and Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AiS... I have no trouble using a FF film camera. The size is not the most important, but, the speed in which you and it can react in a photo op.

I also have an Olympus OM-D E-M5 that I would most likely put my Panasonic G 14mm f/2.5 on as my street lens. I prefer a slightly wider FOV than 20mm affords.

The E-M5 is a good pick for street work, it is easy to set a DOF zone, and I the camera be set on Auto-ISO while the camera is also full manual exposure and Manual Focus. So I can pick 1/250 and f/8, preset my DOF Zone, and the camera picks the ISO for a correct exposure.

Although, I have not been downtown yet, with my E-M5... I am looking forward though.

Some Shots with the Nikon FE/24mm


4-24-2012-Dwtn Indy-at the Circle by Peter Arbib, on Flickr


Catching Up by Peter Arbib, on Flickr


4-24-2012-Dwtn Indy-at the Circle by Peter Arbib, on Flickr


4-24-2012-Dwtn Indy-at the Circle by Peter Arbib, on Flickr
__________________
.
Olympus OM-D, The Dedicated Resource Blog

iPernity

Flickr (Street Photography)

Tumblr

My Feed Back

Fuji X-E2 / XF 18mm f/2 / XF 35mm f/1.4
Nikon FE / 24mm f/2.8 Ais / 50mm f/1.8 Ais
Lr 5.5 / CC14.1.2
Epson V700


  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #12
Florian1234
it's just hide and seek
 
Florian1234 is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: somewhere in the middle of Germany
Age: 30
Posts: 1,116
Leica M6+35mm lens or Olympus Pen E-P1 with 17mm (35mm fullframe equivalent) and comfy shoes.
__________________

"You can't fight in here - it's the war room..." I
http://www.flickr.com/photos/florian_d
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #13
hlockwood
Registered User
 
hlockwood is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Boston metro area
Posts: 797
My goal for any shot is, finally, to produce a (B&W) print. I have a printer limitation (now) of ~ 12 in. for the short side, so that's the size I mostly print to. For film and my Leica M7 that size and larger is not a problem. For digital, I decided I needed full frame to get to the same capability. That, in turn, led me to the M9, not to a small sensor camera.

While many of the small-sensor images that I see on screen (including those in this thread) are excellent, I would like to see what happens when they are blown up to many times their original size.

Of course, if my reasoning turns out to be faulty, I'll come up with an alternative to justify my lust for the M9.

Harry
__________________
Harry Lockwood
www.pbase.com/hlockwood

Leica M7/0.85, Hexar RF, M9-P and a bunch of lenses.
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #14
Bob Michaels
nobody special
 
Bob Michaels's Avatar
 
Bob Michaels is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Apopka FL (USA)
Age: 70
Posts: 3,089
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
............. So, hereís the question. Are you putting the discreet 40mm pancake lens on your full frame 5D III because, even on the street, nothing beats full frame? Are you using the tiny S100 and wearing loud Hawaiian shirts because tourists can get away with photographing anything? Or, are you a middle of the roader going the APS-C route? What is your experience with the relatively new gear available for street shooting?
Tri-X, 35mm Rangefinder, 28mm lens. But somehow Bill's question already presumes some answer that is not true for me.
__________________
http://www.bobmichaels.org
internet forums appear to have an abundance of anonymous midgets prancing on stilts
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #15
Frontman
Registered User
 
Frontman is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: 東京日本
Posts: 1,530
It all depends on what I am doing. If, when I am shooting, I am going to stop people and ask them if I can take their picture, I will use a DSLR or full-size camera. If I am shooting candid shots, then I'll use something else.

My DSLR of choice was the D700 with a 50/1.2 AIS Nikkor. I then switched back to film, and my tool of choice became my old M4 and 50mm Summilux. I sometimes also use a Rolleiflex, people seem to enjoy being photographed with the Rollei. Recently, I have started using an X-Pro, and it keeps continuing to impress me.

For candid shooting I tend to carry a Leica M of some type, or a Konica Hexar AF. I tend to get the most interesting shots with a Lumix LX5. The LX5 is tiny, focuses quickly, and simply takes great pictures.
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-28-2012   #16
Lss
Registered User
 
Lss is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 1,203
For me, nothing I have tried can touch a good rangefinder camera. New features, such as the articulating touch screen with touch to focus and shoot control on my OM-D, allow approaches and viewpoints that would be much more difficult or even impossible to achieve on a traditional rangefinder. However, I am a step behind as soon as I put a device between myself and the scene. This and the quick and intuitive focusing make the rangefinder the most direct and relevant street tool for my needs. It is nevertheless nice to have new options to complement the core experience.
__________________
Lasse
  Reply With Quote

adopting a wait-and-see approach
Old 06-29-2012   #17
mrmeadows
Registered User
 
mrmeadows is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 33
adopting a wait-and-see approach

I became disenchanted with DSLRs for the street/travel/documentation photos I seek to take while traveling in Turkey in 2007. Even today, the DSLR bodies and zoom lenses are nothing short of obese, and there is a dearth of fast, wide prime lenses for APS-C sensors. At that time, the M8 was the only small digital body with small, fast lenses that was available. On returning home I purchased an M8 and couple of used lenses to augment the two old Leica lenses I already owned. I later purchased a second used M8. I was lucky to get in before the Leica prices skyrocketed. I still use the M8s, mostly with a 35mm (= 47mm ff) or a 24mm (= 32mm ff) lens.

As Bill points out, the situation regarding small digital cameras and small, fast lenses has changed dramatically in the past five years, and several firms now offer practical alternatives to the M8/M9 Were I to buy a system today, I would not choose the Leica again for a host of reasons. Besides being outrageously priced and beginning to carry the stigma of being the camera of choice for rich dilettantes and other conspicuous consumers, the bodies embody old technology in both sensor and user interface and do not compare well with the current state-of-the-art of the camera industry (in my opinion, of course). I also agree with Bill's assessment that sensor size is no longer much of a quality issue, so one has the freedom to choose a system based on other factors. I would not buy a u4/3 system, because I greatly prefer working directly with the 3:2 aspect ratio. I would not buy any of the cameras which lack any sort of viewfinder. I also don't imagine that any of the adapters for M lenses would satisfy me: since none of the associated cameras has been designed to use the M lenses natively, I strongly suspect that the adapters entail unacceptable compromises the way the lenses can be used. Hopefully, by the time I need or want to replace my M8s, the camera industry will have evolved to offer even more mature and attractive options than the XP1 and NEX-7 seem to be today.

--- Mike
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-29-2012   #18
gavinlg
Registered User
 
gavinlg's Avatar
 
gavinlg is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Melbourne VIC
Posts: 4,750
Contax G1 or fujifilm x100 only for street, for me. When I used my 5d is was just un-enjoyable - too big. I need it to be small, I need a big sensor, and I need a viewfinder.
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-29-2012   #19
-JQ-
Registered User
 
-JQ-'s Avatar
 
-JQ- is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 36
I've often wondered if a waist level viewer on my 5D2 would help disguise my actions
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-29-2012   #20
Gabriel M.A.
My Red Dot Glows For You
 
Gabriel M.A.'s Avatar
 
Gabriel M.A. is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Paris, Frons
Posts: 9,883
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
What is your experience with the relatively new gear available for street shooting? I think that’s a subject that interests many of us. We can benefit from the experience of each other.

I am using the GF1 with the 20mm and (recently) the 14mm pancake lenses. Love it. The only drawback is the GF1's shutter noise when I'm too close, but most of the time people don't notice it on the street.











It also works remarkably well in low-light/w-high ISO, too. Not bad for a tiny sensor...







__________________
Big wig wisdom: "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --Harry Warner, of Warner Bros., 1927

Fellow RFF member: I respect your bandwidth by not posting images larger than 800px on the longest side, and by removing image in a quote.
Together we can combat bandwidth waste (and image scrolling).



My Flickr | (one of) My Portfolio
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-29-2012   #21
jsrockit
Moderator
 
jsrockit's Avatar
 
jsrockit is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: NYC
Age: 40
Posts: 13,970
Mostly small APS-C cameras for me... but I generally don't do fast action.
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-29-2012   #22
Duane Pandorf
Registered User
 
Duane Pandorf's Avatar
 
Duane Pandorf is offline
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: I'm currently in Brevard, North Carolina.
Posts: 298
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmeadows View Post
...... I also don't imagine that any of the adapters for M lenses would satisfy me: since none of the associated cameras has been designed to use the M lenses natively, I strongly suspect that the adapters entail unacceptable compromises the way the lenses can be used.......

--- Mike
So would your statement above include the Ricoh GXR-M? Their module is specifically designed for M mount lenses. The only issues I'm aware of are those lenses where the rear housing extends a bit into the body.

As to focusing, the GXR does not have an integrated viewfinder but do offer an external one. The peaking focus function works fine for that matter.

I have never owned nor handled a Leica body up until a couple weeks ago. (I don't live near a big city nor do I know anyone close that has one) While in Barcelona last week I did get a chance to handle the M9.

I found it too big for me. Its beautiful and definitely if I had money running out my ears I'd probably have one.

But I really like the small format size of my GXR with a small Leica Summicron.
__________________


Duane Pandorf
Blog | Portfolio | Google+
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-29-2012   #23
Bill Pierce
Registered User
 
Bill Pierce's Avatar
 
Bill Pierce is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 724
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duane Pandorf View Post
So would your statement above include the Ricoh GXR-M? Their module is specifically designed for M mount lenses.
I picked up the Ricoh GXR-M for no other reason than to use it with M lenses. With its manual screen focus, best done at a wide aperture, in some ways itís like an old, pre auto diaphragm SLR. But, with magnified focusing through an external viewfinder that rotates to also allow waist level viewing, it works well as a street camera. With no AA filter and some good M glass the results are impressive. What amazed me was, even though the sensor has angled cells to handle the peripheral rays of the shorter focal length RF lenses, it still works well with the longer Leicaflex R lenses.
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-29-2012   #24
Duane Pandorf
Registered User
 
Duane Pandorf's Avatar
 
Duane Pandorf is offline
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: I'm currently in Brevard, North Carolina.
Posts: 298
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
I picked up the Ricoh GXR-M for no other reason than to use it with M lenses. With its manual screen focus, best done at a wide aperture, in some ways itís like an old, pre auto diaphragm SLR. But, with magnified focusing through an external viewfinder that rotates to also allow waist level viewing, it works well as a street camera. With no AA filter and some good M glass the results are impressive. What amazed me was, even though the sensor has angled cells to handle the peripheral rays of the shorter focal length RF lenses, it still works well with the longer Leicaflex R lenses.
I too like using the EVF as I'm able to get pretty low by doing as you say with tilting the EVF up. Brings a whole new perspective to my shots.

Do you have a favorite lens you liked to use on the GXR?
__________________


Duane Pandorf
Blog | Portfolio | Google+
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-29-2012   #25
Bill Pierce
Registered User
 
Bill Pierce's Avatar
 
Bill Pierce is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 724
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duane Pandorf View Post
Do you have a favorite lens you liked to use on the GXR?
On the street, probably the 28/2 aspheric Summicron. Sometimes the 35/2.5 CV Skopar simply because it is so tiny it makes the camera look like an inoffensive toy, especially if you take the viewfinder off.
  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 11:14.


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.