View Full Version : RD-1 works a wedding (long field report w/pix)

03-02-2005, 03:25
After a couple of trips to LA and NYC with the RD-1, I was ready to try it on the job.
Studio tests, and leisurely personal photography is one thing, fast paced, get the shot wedding photography is another. For Saturday's wedding I took it along with the M7s and Canon 1DsMKII ... so it was in good company. Lenses included 28/2 ASPH, 35/1.4 ASPH and the 75 LUX.

Of interest here was it's use @ higher ISOs in lower available light when under pressure; use with a SF20 Flash; and use with the 75 Lux.

Generally the camera did well and passed muster for wedding work in the future. While candid wedding prints rarely exceed 7"X10" image area, the images have to be good enough for larger prints due to enlargement and cropping after the fact. At weddings you often don't have the luxury of being in exactly the right spot when something interesting happens. So you shoot, get the shot and crop in during post processing. Actual prints are the measure because that's the end product, not electronic files.

General impression of the prints I've made so far: to my eye, they tend to look more like prints from scanned color neg film than those from a Canon digital with a CMOS sensor (not analog silver prints, but ink-jets from a Epson 2200 on Premium Luster).
While not super smooth or perfect, I really like the look of the prints from an emotional POV... which is far more important to me than technical perfection.

Also, I found that I tended to get the same type of candid shots as I do with the Ms,
which are different than what I generally get with the big assed DSLRs. That's why I still use rangefinders in the face of also using the mighty 1DsMKII.

Files: most every shot was underexposed and tended to the red. I'll refine my settings further to address this. However, I didn't loose a single shot to blown highlights ; -) And I actually liked the moody feel of the underexposures. But it does present an extra bit of work to tame the reds. Ambient lighting at a wedding is often very mixed and this one was no different. Ceremonies have to be done with no flash, and often have tungsten mixed with strong directional window light. I do not like the B&W files from this camera all that much, so the M7's aren't going anywhere soon.

SF20 flash: I use this flash for TTL fill with the M7s and have one of Lutz's S-fills on it. Well, that diffuser doesn't work on the SF20 when you are using the A setting with the RD-1 (bounces light back into the auto sensor). So I just used the flash straight on. I was able to trick the flash by setting a higher ISO than the camera setting, so when shooting at 400 I set the flash to 800, plus I put the factory W/A diffuser on the SF20. When working closer I set the camera to ISO 200 and left the flash at 800.
Camera was usually used on manual setting using slower shutter speeds and wider apertures. The lowest the SF20 will go on auto is f/2.8 which was fine at f/2 and even f/1.4 using the tricks mentioned above.

Using the 75 Lux: Got some isolated portraits using it wide open. Since the 75 acts like a 112.5 focal length, you don't have to be on top of the subject for a head shot.
IMO, that eases the difficult DOF issue with this lens and it's shorter rangefinder base.
Framing was fairly easy by using the 50mm framing and thinking inside the box ; -)

Blah, blah, blah, talk's cheap, here's some photos ...

Some getting ready shots in a dingy little room; then a couple of available light shots at the ceremony (note the temp shift on the wide shot: blue wall on left side, tungsten washed wall on the right ... which I can fix if it's selected for the album);

03-02-2005, 03:59
A few more...

A shot with the 75 Lux of the flower girl; then some shots at the little reception using the SF20:

03-02-2005, 04:04
I think weddings are the acid test of camera useability and these look very good, Marc. How do you rate the sensor on the RD-1? Clean at most iso values? Did you find it a fast shooter under the lighting conditions?


03-02-2005, 04:20
Hi Gene, The sensor is quite useable at the 200 and 400 ISOs even when cropping is required. At 800 and 1600 it's also very good, but just like with faster film you need to watch the framing a little more to avoid severe cropping when enlarging.

Speed of use is similar to the Ms, which I've used for decades. But certainly not as fast as the 1DsMKII which focuses so fast it's scary. I'll get even better at the RD-1 with more use... and weddings get you use to a camera in record time. Note: if you use the LCD review, the camera won't shoot until you tap the shutter button to clear it. That slowed me down a couple of times.

Sean Reid
03-02-2005, 04:47

Thanks for the interesting post. When you say that the files ran a bit red...were you shooting JPEG or RAW? If the latter, how are you setting WB? With an eyedropper WB setting, I usually find the color to be spot on. Also, I had asked you this same question on DWF but how much of the finder frame (if any), is blocked with the CV 35/1.2? I don't have one here to check yet but am very curious about that combination.



03-02-2005, 05:47
RAW Sean. I usually set Auto WB on the camera unless it's a set of shots I know will be all in one type of lighting. Shooting weddings has you moving from one light source to another in rapid order, so concentrating on the shot becomes the priority.

I do use the eyedropper in PSCS, but the images were still a little pinky in the flesh tones. I'll often just go to > Image > Adjustments > Selective color ... and add a bit of yellow to the reds in general.

The CV 35/1.2 cuts into the viewfinder approx. this much (less so with shade removed) ...

Ed Schwartzreic
03-02-2005, 07:21
Reading this thread with interest. Yesyerday was Town Meeting Day in Vermont, and I almost filled a 512mb card with raw images from the meeting. The setting is sort of like a wedding in that the action can be close by, or at a distance, one wants to avoid unnecessary cropping, and there are moments which are must-haves (like the moderator in action, people voting their ballots, or people sounding off). There was drama yesterday too because there was a resolution about the VT National Guard having to do with its being misused for the Iraq war.

I used solely a 90/2 AA with the Leitz 135 finder for framing. The venue was an antique town hall, natural and tungsten mixed lighting. I shot at ISO 800 so that I could use 1/125 at f/3.5 for all shots. In the results the lighting was a bit flat, but easily correct in PS.


03-02-2005, 07:59
After seeing Marc's post on using flash with the R-D1 on photo.net, I started to check out using my Nikon SB-800 flash with the camera. I was just fooling around at home, so I don't have anything worth posting, but it does seem to work quite nicely. The SB-800 has a (measured) trigger voltage of 4.7V, so it's quite safe to use with the R-D1.

I set the flash on "A", with the zoom function set to manual (of course) and then varied the ISO to either match the Epson's ISO or increased the SB-800 ISO to give a fill-flash effect (thanks, Marc!). It appears to work well either straight on or angled to bounce, and also works with the snap-on diffuser. It will also work with the SC-29 off-camera cord.

03-02-2005, 08:19
Marc, I did have one question that I didn't see addressed above related to the underexposure: did you set the exposure on the R-D1 manually, or use it in aperture priority?

05-03-2005, 14:00
Thanks for posting wedding images from an RD-1. I'm still looking at this camera closely. And even more so after seeing Ed's RD-1 at the LHSA Spring Shoot.

I currently shoot my weddings 80% digitally so it would be nice to use Leica lenses more than all my Nikon digi gear. Stuff get's heavy!


Sean Reid
05-03-2005, 14:38

I just shot a wedding Saturday and made about 65% of the pictures with the R-D1. I arranged a test camera for my friend George Weir last month and he used it for several weddings. His report will be added as a second opinion piece to my review on LL. I'm working on a portfolio from this last wedding that will be on my site within the next week or so, hopefully.