The crack cocaine of the Leica world

Recently I think I’ve met two other people who have purchased Leica M8s and on both those cameras, I think I saw a Cosina-Voigtländer 35mm f/1.2 Nokton lens. If so, that’s a strange coincidence because it is a very obscure lens.

Leica and Cosina

Leica and Cosina
North Beach, San Francisco, California

Nikon D200, Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D, Canon 500D close-up filter
1/40sec @ f/1.4, iso 200, 85mm (127mm)

Say what you will about the value, but I think rangefinder cameras look gorgeous.

The weird thing is, that this obscure lens is the only lens I have for my Leica.

Well that’s not true anymore:

Weird aperture

Weird aperture
North Beach, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G VR, Canon 500D close up filter
1/2sec @ f/14, iso 200, 170mm (170mm)

The only lens I have for my Leica is no lens at all!

Yep, the lens has officially died in a manner unheard of: the internal aperture blades have popped out of their mount during normal shooting use. I am writing this to see if Cosina will do something to repair the manufacturing defect, and to write a little about my experiences with this lens on a digital Leica.

[The Nokton, Voigtländer, and Cosina after the jump]Continue reading

Joel B Sacks sendoff

I stopped by XYZ Bar to say bye to Joel B. Sacks, formerly of AdBrite and CNET. I came late and couldn’t stay for long.

Joel gets all the hotties

Joel gets all the hotties
XYZ Bar, South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, 14-24mm f/2.8G
1/6 sec @ f/2.8, iso 6400, 24mm (24mm)

Andrei left me my SB-800 so I did get to try out my new camera and remind myself that I need to relearn flash photography and crack open the manual sometime.

I had never been to XYZ Bar before. It is right across from the convention center and has a restaurant is on the first floor while the bar is on the second floor.


XYZ Bar, South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, 14-24mm f/2.8G
1/30 sec @ f/2.8, iso 1100, 14mm (14mm)

[three more photos after the jump.]Continue reading

Leica Level UPs

“Personally I find that the price tag of Euro 1200 for a new piece of glass and the exchange of a few springs and cogs in the current shutter mechanism is on the high side. But we all know we are in Leica territory.”
—Erwin Puts on “The Significance of LUP”, Februrary 13, 2008

The article is definitely worth a read from a business of photography standpoint, but before you do, you need to understand that Erwin is a respected rangefinder camera lens expert who is talking about then newly announced Leica Upgrade Program for the Leica M8.

I won’t go into the details about Leica in this article, nor try to justify the insane price tag for their cameras or lenses. Most will not be able to get past that part, however. They’ve never been in “Leica territory”: the bizzaro world where everything only gets more expensive, $3000 for a digital body is a steal, Japanese-made lenses with the most exotic glass and construction are of inferior quality, high technology is retro, and contrast-killing internal reflections are sometimes a highly sought-out “look.”

Every time a geek talks about Steve Job‘s reality distortion field, I want to say, “Have you heard this company called Leica in Germany?”

Despite this and the fact that I own a Leica, we are talking about $1800 for a replacement sapphire glass over the LCD screen, a quieter shutter, and a warrantee extension.

Quiet shutter

The shutter sounds a lot quieter…not ninja stealth yet though.

[quiet shutters and hard glass after the jump.]Continue reading

A Grand Slam

It’s important to listen to feedback from your readers:

Comment on my blog from John:

Lol, what a complete load of bollocks. I can’t believe I wasted my life reading this.

Comment on my blog from “photog”:

“You are not a real photographer, look at your shots. Stick to being a dork and don’t post this nonsense. Your camera doesn’t help your images.”

There is this old joke about how waitresses at Denny’s have to look ugly in order to make their food taste better:

Diner: “Excuse me, miss. There is something wrong with my Grand Slam breakfast.”

Waitress: “Hmm. Let me see.” *holds breakfast next to face* “Now does it look better?”

To John, photog, and others. Thanks for being the Denny’s waitresses of this blog. I always appreciate how your insightful commentary make me look good.

We serve slams all day

The real version of this sign says “Open 24 Hours” in red on the bottom.

Parting slam

A college friend once once went to a Denny’s in the Florida panhandle. It was closed. “Sorry we’re closed,” the guy inside said.

“But the sign outside says, you’re ‘Open 24 hours,’” my buddy pointed out.

“Yeah, but not all at once.”

Lossy RAW compression

Thomas Chamberlin asks an interesting question in the Flickr D3 user’s group:

“With the D3 and D300 we are now offered lossless compression, no compression, or compression with loss for RAW files. Nikon says there is no effect on image quality using lossless compression. The file is compressed 20-40%. Write times are faster than with no compression. How can they compress the file 40% and not affect the image quality? What is lost and then regained?

The great thing about getting a new camera is that I get another chance to put “on paper” words that lost to the ether.

My digital bodies

My digital bodies
North Beach, San Francisco, California

Panasonic DMC-LX1, Ultrapod
2 exposures at .8sec @ f/3.6, iso 80, 11.6mm (52mm)

From right to left. The Leica M8 shoots RAW into the Adobe DNG format (not sure of the compression), the Nikon D70 which introduced lossy NEF compression, the Nikon D200 which shoots lossy and uncompressed NEF RAWs, the Nikon D3 which shoots lossy, lossless, and uncompressed NEFs in both 12 and 14-bits. The photo was taken with a Panasonic LX-1 which shoots a Panasonic/Leica RAW file format that is uncompressed and 13x larger than the JPEG sidecar file! Ironically, I processed this image, by accident, from the sidecar files instead of the RAWs, even though it was shot at ISO 80.

[Weighing in on lossy RAW after the jump.]Continue reading


We use YUI at Tagged because that’s what I chose. We lost a couple front end engineers at Tagged so I’m having to pick up the slack—this means actually having to learn the Yahoo User Interface (YUI) in earnest. So I whipped up this diagram of YUI 2.5:

Yahoo User Interface Library (YUI) dependency tree

There are some errors, but it’s good enough for me to get started. Download the OmniGraffle document here. Corrections appreciated!

“What?!” You say. “Someone set us up the bomb? How could you make a choice and not know everything about it.”

Yes, I made the architecture decision to use YUI without knowing it in detail. However, I believe that sometimes when examining architectures you miss the forest from the trees.

[The philosophy of architectural choices after the jump.]Continue reading

Pragmatic bullshit

Someone took exception to me saying:

“I have yet to read a good “Pragmatic Programmer Series” book.”

…with the lines:

“I think that’s a bit of a hard knock of the Pragmatic Bookshelf. I’ve had a number of books which I’ve really enjoyed from them; The Pragmatic Programmer and Practices of an Agile Developer spring to mind.”

Hehe, he caught me! Oh, I didn’t lie—I just never actually finished a single one of their books. 😉 I started reading the Pickaxe book and The Pragmatic Programmer mentioned, but I put them down in disgust.

The book that started it all

This book is the book that launched a thousand crappy books.

[But that won’t stop me from peeing on your programming religion after the jump.]Continue reading