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Leica Sl in the rain. © Thorsten Overgaard.
   
 
   

Leica SL - Page 6 - Interview with lens designer Peter Karbe

Index of Thorsten von Overgaard's user review pages covering Leica M9, Leica M9-P, M-E, Leica M10,
Leica M 240, Leica M-D 262, Leica M Monochrom, M 246  as well as Leica Q and Leica SL:

Leica M9 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20   M9-P
Leica M10
V 1 2 3 4 5                             M10-P
Leica M 240
P 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44         What if?
Leica M-D 262 1 2                        
Leica Monochrom 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
A
29
B
29
C
29
D
               
Leica Q 1 Leica Q2: 1   Leica TL2: 1 2              
Leica SL 1 2 3 4 5 6 Leica CL: 1 2             Books

 

Small Camera, Large Print (and large lenses)

By: Thorsten Overgaard. February 23, 2019. Updated November 6, 2019.

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I had the opportunity to talk with lens designer Peter Karbe some months ago about lens design and which direction it is taking for him. This is first part of our talk where we get around quite a few things on lens design, which perhaps reveals some pointers to the future of Leica photography.

When Oskar Barnack invented the Leica in 1908, his slogan was “small negative, large print”, which led the way for the small rangefinder camera with 24x36mm film negative. This made photography discrete and portable.

 

When the first rangefinder cameras came out a little over 100 years ago, the camera became small and portable.
When the first rangefinder cameras came out a little over 100 years ago, the camera became small and portable.

 

An important ingredient in the design of the small camera was the high quality optics that allowed to capture the photograph with clarity and details on the small negative so it could be enlarged.

As you read this, the world of photography it about to take on a few new directions which seem to stipulate and expand on that very slogan of Oskar Barnack, “Small negative large print”.

Before the interview with lens designer Peter Karbe below, let me first go back to a talk with Stefan Daniel and Stephan Schulz at the LHSA anniversary at Leica Camera in Wetzlar in October 2018 that might gives an idea of how the future of Leica M, Leica SL and Leica S develops and interact.

 

Leica SL with Leica 24-70mm Vario-Elmarit-L f/2.8. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica SL with Leica 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit-L f/2.8. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

Leica Camera AG: The future of medium format and full frame

 

Overgaard: The L-Mount (previously known as SL and T mounts) is now shared with Panasonic that will make compatible cameras and lenses, and with Sigma that will make compatible lenses. How is this going to work, are there a coordinated product strategy?

 

Stephan Schulz (Product manager Leica S and Leica SL): "We at Leica are similarly surprised when Panasonic brings a new product, like Panasonic Lumix DC -S1R with 47MP, because we don't know it before. This is what we cannot discuss with those partners. We are an alliance (with Sigma and Panasonic), but we are competitors also, so that means we are not allowed to exchange any data about target markets, target size, upcoming products, and so on."

 

Overgaard: The Leica SL concept with "large enough lens mount for any design" and the idea of a professional mirror-less camera seem to have woken up Nikon and others, even it is a larger camera concept in times where everybody seemed to agree, smaller mirrorless cameras are the future, and that 'full frame is the new medium format'?

 

Stephan Schulz: "Our L-mount is 51.6 millimeter in diameter, so that's big enough for any design we could wish to design. This was checked by Peter Karbe and his team many, many years ago to make any lens you can dream about. It's big enough for the full-frame, and this L-mount was made for full frame.

"The Nikon Z-mount is bigger. This may have even more, let's say, possibilities to make optical design more challenging, but on the other side, we think the drawback is you cannot make really small APSc cameras.

"So, our L-mount was designed in a way that it's big enough for everything, and as small as possible. We can make nice compact cameras like the Leica CL, for example. if you tried that with the Z-mount, this will not work because it's too big."

 


Leica SL at the beach. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Stefan Daniel (Global Product Director): "The L-mount, formerly known as the T-mount, when we launched it with the Leica T in 2014 actually goes back to the year 2010, or 2011, when Peter Karbe and his colleagues designed it.

"Initially we had the plan to use the M-mount to go full frame mirrorless, but it has proven not to work out because the back focal length is too large, and the diameter is too small. So we came to the conclusion that we needed a new mount.

"So, the thoughts for that new L-mount, 7 or 8 years old already, has proven to be spot on, I would say. So, thanks Peter Karbe!"

 

Stefan Daniel speaking at the LHSA 50th Anniversary in Wetzlar.
Stefan Daniel speaking at the LHSA 50th Anniversary in Wetzlar.

 

Overgaard: The medium format is becoming the new medium format. The Leica S is the medium format currently, but it seems to slide over to Leica SL?

 

Stephan Schulz: "In total we have 10 focal lengths in the Leica S system, some with and some without Central Shutter (making it 16 model variants in total)."

"For Leica S there are several reasons that it is not mirrorless. If you use a medium format camera, we presume that you really care about image quality, and from our point of view, medium formats that are available today produce a lot of heat in Live View. Heat means that the noise goes up. Noise goes up means image quality goes down.

"So with the new 64 megapixel Leica S3, we have managed to have more dynamic range than the previous models. Higher sensitivity than the previous models, better colors, and even lower noise. Also, the pixels are smaller.

"Leica S is not designed for live view, it's designed for dSLR. We think it’s a very good alternative to the mainstream. Maybe one day we have to change it to mirrorless, but as of now we think it's much too early.

"Also, for the moment, we don't plan to add additional lenses to the Leica S lineup. The really long focal lengths are missing in the S system because the longest is 180mm. But we think that, in regards to longer focal lengths, it's not only about resolution, it's also about stabilizing the image. There are a lot of things that needs to be done to make a good images of long focal lengths.

"We think the Leica SL system is more appropriate for such applications. I cannot tell much details, but I can at least tell that you can expect the next Leica SL model will be more than 24 megapixels."

 

Leica SL in the snow. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica SL in the snow. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Overgaard: Image Stabilization is something people ask about, both in lens and in camera. It takes up space in the lens, and/or in the camera. Is there a solution in the future for that?

 

Stephan Schulz: "On in-body image stabilization, it's really obvious that it's a question of body size. We have a priority on the body size, which has a great heritage, particularly for the Leica M, and having image stabilization needs some space in the body to move the sensor.

"We cannot talk about future products in our strategy, but you can be sure that we have a close look at in-body image stabilization. We think if it's helpful for our customers, we may one day do it.

"I can say that it would be nice to have in body image stabilization in the Leica SL because then you also have a benefit using the non-stabilized lenses benefiting for that. So, imagine there would be an Leica SL, just imagine, pure theory ... with in-body image stabilization ... and then you put a Leica M-lens on, and then you have a nice image stabilization. That would be one benefit.

"By adding the two,in-body image stabilization and in-lens image stabilization( in the L-lenses), you can correct different frequencies of shake, and that is also a benefit. Which in the end will result in gaining more f-stops so you can photograph at lower shutter sopeeds without shake."

 

Stefan Daniel: "Yes, one more thing if we think about prime lenses; if you develop them to very, very high performances, like the new APO-Summicron line, then it's much easier to make a high-performance lens in a compact way. These are compact lenses at a very high level, without optical image stabilization. Those lenses would benefit from body image stabilization as well."

 

Stefan Daniels is the global product director. He has been working at Leica Camera AG since he was 17 years or so (picture above). Starting in customer service repair, he has worked through various technical and administrative departments and up in the organization of Leica camera AG to be basically second-in-command next to the CEO.   Stephan Schulz was the one responsible for the development of the Leica S which was such a crusial project for Leica that his marching order from Dr. Andreas Kaufmann (the owner of Leica) simply was, "You better make sure it is a success, because (we're f...ked if it doesn't work) we've invested all in this project".  He did come through with the Leica S, which was sort of the Apollo 11 project of Leica, creating a lot of new technology that has been used in Leica M, Leica SL and other camera models ever since.
Stefan Daniel is the global product director. He has been working at Leica Camera AG since he was 17 years or so (picture above). Starting in customer service repair, he has worked through various technical and administrative departments and up in the organization of Leica camera AG to be basically second-in-command next to the CEO.   Stephan Schulz was the one responsible for the development of the Leica S which was such a crusial project for Leica that his marching order from Dr. Andreas Kaufmann (the owner of Leica) simply was, "You better make sure it is a success, because (we're f...ked if it doesn't work) we've invested all in this project".
He did come through with the Leica S, which was sort of the Apollo 11 project of Leica, creating a lot of new technology that has been used in Leica M, Leica SL and other camera models ever since.
     

 

 

Peter Karbe. © Thorsten Overgaard
Peter Karbe. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

Peter Karbe Interview: The Era of Big Lenses

Overgaard: Now we have the SL-lenses, TL-lenses, the S-lenses. All the lenses get bigger, compared to the traditional Leica M lenses.

And now I see Nikon, Canon and Fuji also just open it up and make big lenses so they have lots of space to work with for their optical designs. The focus of lens design seems to be to enable the optical designers to control everything to perfection?

 

Rob Cale with his Leica SL and 50mm Summilux-L f/1.4 in Frankfurt. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Rob Cale with his Leica SL and 50mm Summilux-L f/1.4 in Frankfurt. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Karbe: “I think Nikon said that they really followed our concept, completely, 100%, in their new Nikon Z.”


Overgaard: Yes, Nikon seem to want to be Leica. They’re even making a 58mm Nikkor Noct f/0.95 and also follow the concept of offering adapters so one can use all previous and old Nikon lenses. Just like you did with the Leica SL four years ago, in 2015.

It’s a bit like, do you remember in the old days with photography, we had the 35mm film format. Then they introduced the APS film system because everybody would buy new cameras, and then you could raise the price of developing film and making prints. I feel it's almost the same thing happening now. The dSLR is down-trending and all agree it will die and mirrorless takes over.  But now with the Leica SL, people are going to buy lenses and larger cameras again. We start a whole new era, making money and new glasses. I kind of dig all that, it’s a revival of photography. But then again, from my viewpoint, the ideal is to make it like the Leica M systems where all the lenses are as small and compact as possible. When you use your excellence to fit great optics into those small lenses, it tends to produce special fingerprints of lenses.

 

Leica 50mm Summilux-L f/1.4 on the Leica TL2. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica 50mm Summilux-L f/1.4 on the Leica TL2. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Now you get to go in a different direction. You predicted, scaled and designed the SL lens system to allow all the space you need to make perfect optics. It’s very forward thinking and the ideal solution. But I’m a bit like, ‘Yeah, that’s nice, but I'm not gonna carry that stuff around in the city or in the rural setting, and so I want the compact excellence.’

 

Karbe: “What is it that you want? Compact or best performance? Or both?”

 

Overgaard: Look at the Leica M lenses. You have the best lenses in the world, and they're compact. I like a camera system I can always wear.

 

Karbe (seeing where this is going): “That's an ideal advantage.”

 

Out and about with the compact Leica M system. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Out and about with the compact Leica M system. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Overgaard: The 50 APO is extremely compact, and it's perfect. One of the points you made with that lens was to make it extremely small and compact, yet so utterly precise. Sort of the opposite of making large SL lenses, because the 50 APO required such precise engineering and assembly that it’s no joke.

As a side-remark, I have this LHSA limited edition 50 APO in solid brass. It's the same compact APO design, but it's bigger than the 50mm rigid. So I looked at this thing, and I wondered, ‘Did Peter Karbe cheat?’ Does he just give himself more space to mount lenses?’ In theory, it should be smaller than the rigid, but it isn't. Do you just take all the space you can for your lenses, or what?

 

The 1956-model of the 50mm summiron-M f/2.0 "Rigid" and the limited edition black laquer 50mm SPO-Summicron-M f/2.0. © Thorsten Overgaard.
The 1956-model of the 50mm summiron-M f/2.0 "Rigid" and the limited edition black laquer 50mm SPO-Summicron-M f/2.0. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Karbe: “Ha ha! No, the LHSA edition is the special editions defined by the customer who ordered. In this case that certain style, the classic lens barrel design, had a larger size than the original 50mm APO.

“We try to turn the lenses into the most compact and best performance lenses. On the other hand, we want to enlarge our fast lens portfolio for the 75 APO-Summicron-SL f/2.0 and so on.

“In principle, look at the Leitz Cine lenses; APS system sensor size but five times bigger lenses than all that.
“It's bigger, and the bigger it is, the more performance you can implement. And I think the customer expects performance.

 

 

“Let's go a different way: Which performance is needed in the future? Do you need 60 megapixels? I don't think so. But probably we’ll get it anyways, yes.

“So, when the lenses perform better, you can concentrate on the decisive moment. The rest you can do later. Take a little bit more space, so you only have to touch the button at the right time. If there are some adjustments, you can do them later. You capture a large picture at the right moment.

“You expect from yourself to take the whole and final picture, ready to show it. But it is better if you have more space, and you can – let's say like the Leica Q (Model 116 with 24 megapixels), you have your frame selector so you can choose 28mm, 35mm or 50mm. If you have the best lenses, then you can crop. This is kind of medium format behavior, because in the past you had 6x6, and then you had the mask inside. You have your full medium format negative, and then you say, ‘Okay, I want to have this part only’.

“Then when we improve the resolution of the camera – the megapixels – and we have the best performance within the lens – the optical performance and resolution of details – you are more flexible.  Because zooming takes time.

“And you can only have one shoot. But if you have an overview, you can take a picture of that overview and then crop later.

“That’s what I think is part of the future. And the Leica Q is well accepted, and we apply this.”

 

Leica Q has an 28mm lens but you can crop as here to see only 50mm. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica Q has an 28mm lens but you can crop as here to see only 50mm. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Cropping in camera

Overgaard: Yes, People haven't taken the Leica Q concept on completely, but they should. With the Leica Q, I totally see the idea that you don’t need a 24-megapixel frame. You crop the image to 50mm and you have an 8-megapixels image that is actually fine. The idea is brilliant, but I also hear and see that people feel they should get all the 24 megapixels. They feel they are missing out, instead of looking at the 50mm picture in 8 megapixels and seeing that it actually works. People still want a 50mm Leica Q and a 35mm Leica Q that uses the full frame, but that’s not the way you are going.

Laptops get smaller, smartphones get smaller. The screen gets bigger, but the electronics get smaller and smaller. So while all technology gets smaller, why is it that the lenses get bigger? The camera gets smaller, but the lenses get bigger?

I see a point in the Leitz Cine lenses, the Leica S lenses and the Leica SL lenses, that the barrel is of similar size within each concept. I know that is also a consideration for production and readiness of parts and machines. And the Leitz Cine lenses won a technical Oscar for that, so I respect it.

But small is beautiful, isn’t it?

 

Leica TL2 with Leia 35mm Summilux f/1.4. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica TL2 with Leia 35mm Summilux f/1.4. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Karbe: “The same size lens barrels, that is a platform concept. To have stable correction and new technologies, we implemented scalable processes in the production and all those things that we implemented.
“But the main reason for the bigger size for the SL system is to implement our autofocus technology, to have it very fast and high performance. Some other systems have different autofocus systems, they are very slow, and their performance is not that good. We have designed the focusing inside and then we can control the performance quite well from infinity to close focus.

“The lenses has auto focus that is able to move very fast, and as we move on, the cameras will be able to move the parts faster.

“The new lenses will be ...ha ha … the MTF is out the roof, there's no space for more. And so, this is the reason why we need it to be bigger, because the electronics required new optical concepts with larger focus groups. Large focus groups in combination with high performance; we want to find new solutions. That's the reason why we are going bigger.

“With the M system, we still target to get the best performance in small size. But as I have said before, the 75mm Noctilux with f-stop f/1.25 is the widest a Leica M lens can be. 60mm in diameter, that is the maximum due to the rangefinder view”.

 

Leica SL 601 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica SL 601 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Overgaard: Yes, you can't really make a 35mm or 50mm smaller. It's like physics, you know. So you say, with future cameras, we're going to get more megapixels, that’s always a given even Leica Camera AG has been nice and kept it to 24 megapixels across the line for a while now.

But you just started scaling the lenses for so many megapixels, and the resulting resolution and quality of the lenses is so high that you can basically crop it.

 

Karbe: “I think all lenses are prepared for the resolution. We don't need to make them bigger. We got rid of the worry of such things, the higher resolution and all. The new lenses are prepared to work with higher resolution.”

 

Leica TL2 with Leica 50mm Summilux-SL f/1.4. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica TL2 with Leica 50mm Summilux-SL S ASPH f/1.4. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Overgaard: Yeah. I can see that. You have the Leica M, the Leica MP, and they’re beautiful cameras. The miracle is that the mechanical perfection aligns. But now the Leica cameras and lenses are less handmade and require less adjustment.

The Leica M; you have to send it in for adjustment from time to time, whereas with a Leica Q or Leica SL there is no need for adjustment. You buy it and you use it. That makes life so much easier for Leica and everybody. This is a new era.

If you take some of the old Leica lenses, then you get some ‘rock and roll’ again because they’re out of control. Dr. Mandler’s ideal was probably also perfection when he made the first Noctilux f/1.2 and the 75mm Summilux f/1.4 and so on, but it was perfection with that current technology. What you could see in the image back then was what you could see, and now you can see more, because you can zoom in more.

 

Karbe: “Yes, yes, yes, and go closer.”

 

Sydney Opera House. Leica SL with Leica 24-70 Vario-Elmarit-L f/2.8. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Sydney Opera House. Leica SL with Leica 24-90 Vario-Elmarit-L f/2.8. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

The 100+ megapixel camera

Overgaard: So, I have an interesting questions here: If you look at the Leica SL lens or the Leica TL lenses, how high up can you go in megapixels before you must say ’Okay, now we have to improve the lens design again’ … Have you made any predictions for that?

 

Karbe: “Yes of course. For the Leica SL, it’s 100 megapixels.

 

Overgaard: 100 megapixels?

 

Karbe: “Yeah. No problem.”

 

Overgaard: (Here I shifted my pen from my right hand to my left hand and scratched my ear. I looked over at Peter Karbe and noted a triumphant expression in his face): No problem?

 

Karbe: “Yeah, no problem.

“Of course, if you are doing pixel peeping and such … It’s like looking at the thickness of the paint. But, Look at the picture.”

 

             
 

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Overgaard: That's very interesting, because 18 megapixels for a still is sort of enough, that is what the eye can resolve. In video it’s 4K. But of course we are getting 8K video cameras and lenses, and we’ll get 50 megapixels and 100 megapixel cameras, and it's just going to keep going on. I think it's a slower rate now, thankfully.
 

Karbe: “I think with the SL primes, the 90mm and 75mm and the rest, performance-wise, we are on the level of the Leitz Cine lenses. It's very close, but the size of the SL lenses is much smaller. So I think the SL lenses symbolize a new performance benchmark.”

 

Leica SL with Leica 24-70mm Vario-Elmarit f/2.8. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica SL with Leica 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit f/2.8. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

         
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Leica SL with Leica 24-70mm Vario-Elmarit f/2.8. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica SL with Leica 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit f/2.8. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

One lens and a 250 megapixel camera


Overgaard: If we imagine 100-megapixel or 250-megapixel full-frame sensors, and a lens that can resolve definition enough, then we could basically do with just one lens, and crop thereafter.

I asked you a year or two ago, what is the focal length of a pinhole camera lens, and you said, “It depends on the distance". Basically, you move the lens and you get a wider picture, but the rest remains.

In my Composition book, there is this photo where I went out in the park: I took a 75mm photo, and I took a 28mm photo, and I put the 75mm on top of the 28mm photo, and it all matches. It’s all the same.

What I am getting at is, I can shoot everything with a 28mm and crop it later. Like with the Leica Q, one 28mm f/1.7 lens and I crop digitally in the camera or later. I crop it to 90mm, and it’s a 90mm f/1.7 photo

 

Thorsten Overgaard in New York Leica Sl with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Dave Chenn.
Thorsten Overgaard in New York. Leica SL with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Dave Chenn.

 

Karbe: “Yes and no. What's is the difference is the depth of field. It won’t be 90mm f/1.4.
“The perspective will be the same, but the depth of focus will be different. It’s hard to see in your example.
“If the depth of focus is big enough, you will not see the difference. Because the entrance pupil of 28mm is smaller than 90mm. The equivalent F-number is the number multiplied with the crop factor. You have 28mm f/1.4, so 75mm will be f/4.0.”

Overgaard: I can't see it in this picture…


75mm photo laid onto a 28mm photo. © Thorsten Overgaard.
75mm photo laid onto a 28mm photo. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Karbe:”Take a look and see it again.”

 

Overgaard: Hang on! This kind of destroys the idea that you should have lots of lenses because it just ... you have one lens and then you can do anything. But today, you put a 75mm on the camera to be able to think 75mm and you feel like you dragged the background closer, and as far as I can tell … well, why not just use one lens and it does it all? It takes the sexiness out of photography to only have one lens for all, but in the Leica Q it’s quite elegant because you actually see 50mm in the viewfinder. So even though you use a 28mm f/1.7, you get to see what a 50mm lens does. But then you say the f-stop changes.

 

Karbe:Before I started my career as engineer, I started my apprenticeship as photographer. And we had to take pictures from one point of view with different focal lengths.

‘You take the widest lens and crop it, and make a comparison with the long focal lens. Then you see it's the same. There's no difference, this is what you learn, it's basics. But what will change is the depth of focus."

 

Leica SL with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica SL with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

The 35mm Noctilux

Overgaard: It's always a question, what's next? I think everybody wants the 35mm Noctilux. I don't know why?

 

Karbe: “Of course there are white spots on the portfolio, I think. Especially for the fastest lenses, the f/1.4.
“I would like to start a story of APO-Summicron lenses. The first was the 90 mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH, you know. The second was 75 APO-Summicron, then the 50 APO-Summicron.

“Now I had to look at the 90mm APO-Summicron for the Leica SL, and then the 75mm APO-Summicron.

"I think that after the APO's – as the single name, or it should be the single name –  there's no need for more. (Peter Karbe laughs).

“Just with the SL system we need APO-Summicron in the lineup so we can make a story out of it. With this lens system you can grow a lot, and then you can crop a lot, and you can concentrate on the specific decisive moment.”

 

Leica SL with Leica 50mm Summarit f/2.4. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica SL with Leica 50mm Summarit-M f/2.4. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Wide-angle APO lenses


Overgaard: Would it make a difference if you made a 35mm or a 28mm APO design? Or like, let’s say you have the 28mm f/2.0, which is a fairly new design. If you added APO to that one, in the M system?

 

Karbe: “It's close by, yes, but we are not so familiar with doing this with wide angle lenses. We perhaps have to think through the principle. But at the moment I'm looking at the SL system, because of the imbalance. Highest performance of that system.”

 

Joy Villa at ACE Hotel in New York. Leica SL with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Joy Villa at ACE Hotel in New York. Leica SL with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Overgaard: Do you use the Leica SL a lot yourself?

 

Karbe: ‘Yes, I try to find out how to ... How I can perform better with this. Nobody needs 2.5-meter tall prints. Let's think it differently. Let's say there is a football stadium, and you have an overview, and you can take a picture of it. You can have one shot and four pictures. You can tell a story like that.

“This is accelerated of course. This is the wish of everybody. Take pictures and the rest is done in the software.
“Could be the future, yeah.”

 

Overgaard: There was a period where ‘everybody’ thought doing video in a photo studio of a model was the way to go, and then just pick the frames from it you wanted. It didn't really work that well, it was just for a while. There's a lot of work in picking the frame because now you have to look through 4000 pictures instead of 40.

 

Karbe: “My thinking is that the SL system is just more for the photographer. An assistant for the photographer. The Leica M camera is a teacher.

“The Barnack concept from the beginning of the Leica was the moment, or snap shots. I was just thinking of Barnack. It's a decisive moment.”

 

Overgaard: Barnack also said, ‘Small negative, large print’. We’re getting to a new era of that philosophy in our day and age. There's probably more than two ways of perfection. One thing is that you make it a perfect picture in the camera; that's one type of perfection. The image quality is the next step in getting closer to perfection. The Leica M, in my view, combines both.

 

Karbe: “You can take the older lenses or you can take the new ones. With the new ones you can take pictures and do more with them. That's the difference. You can challenge yourself.’

 

Wandering spirits from the past


Here we took a break.

This was quite a bit for me to process. Peter Karbe works on the future lenses, in particular filling up the map of Leica SL lenses (the “L-Mount” as they now call them).

I like small lenses, and I like those old lenses that Peter Karbe seem to regard as some wandering spirits from the past.

We took a short break to refill our coffee mugs, and by the time I had added sugar and milk, I had through it through and was ready to backfire.

 

To be continued ...

Keep an eye out for the second part of the interview, “The 75mm Noctilux and ‘Rock and Roll’ lenses”.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Reviews of the Leica SL Typ 601

Sean Reid Reviews: "Leica SL 601" (as of October 20, 2015).
Jono Slack: "Field Report (Three Weeks in Creta" (at GetDPI as of October 20, 2015).
Ming Thein: "The 2015 Leica SL (Typ 601) and lenses" (as of Oct 20, 2015).
Kristian Dowling: "Leica SL (Typ 601) Professional Mirrorless Camera Review" (as of Oct 20, 2015).
DPreview: "Hands-on with Leica SL (Typ 601)" (as of October 20, 2015).
CNET: "Review" (as of October 20, 2015)
PC Mag: "Leica SL" (as of October 20, 2015).
British Journal of Photography: "Full Specs" (as of Oct 20, 2015)
Nick Rains: Review (as of October 20, 2015).
PetaPixel: "Mirrorless War" (as of October 20, 2015).
Sean Reid Reviews: "Leica M and R on Leica SL" (as of October 20, 2015).
Steve Huff: "My thoughts on the Leica SL" (as of October 20, 2015).
Jay Cassario: "Leica SL at weddings" (as of October 20, 2015).
Amateur Photographer: "Interview with Stephan Schulz on the Leica SL" (as of October 20, 2015).
Luminous Landscape: "What It Is and What It Isn’t" (as of October 22, 2015).
Husam Mneimneh: "The Real Competitor" (as of October 22, 2015)
Sean Reid "Some Thoughts on the new Leica SL" (as of October 22, 2015)
Erwin Puts: "The New Leica SL" (as of October 22, 2015)
Sean Reid: "35 mm rangefinder lenses on Leica SL and Leica M 240" (as of Oct 26, 2015)
DPReview: "Studio tests and samples: Leica SL (beta)" (as of October 28, 2015)
ClubSNAP: "Interview with Andreas Kaufmann and Oliver Kaltner" (as of October 28, 2015)
Sean Reid "Leica SL and Leica M 240 with Leica 35/1.4 Summilux-R and the Leitz Wetzlar 28/2.8 Elmarit-R" (as of November 16, 2015)
Steve Huff: "Leica SL Hands On - Video and More" (as of November 17, 2015).
Kristian Dowling: "Leica SL (Typ 601) One Month User Experience" (as of November 22, 2015).
Erwin Puts: "First of three articles on the Leica SL Type 601" (as of November 26, 2015).
Jono Slack: "The Leica SL - A Field report"
Jono Slack: "Leica SL in Venice"
Erwin Puts: "The Leica SL, part 2" (as of December 2015 on ISO speed and dynamic range)
Joeri van der Kloet: "The Leica SL review" (as of December 19, 2015)
grEGORY simpson - Ultrasomething: "Camera Season - The Leica SL" (as of January 1, 2016)
BH Photo: "Mirrorless Unleashed" (With comments on the Leica SL video features, as of January 2016)
DXOMARK: "Best-performing Leica to date" (as of January 21, 2016).
Kristen Meister: "Leica SL in the Cold" (as of January 26, 2016)
David Farkas: "A Professional Mirrorless Camera" (as of January 28, 2016).
Bigheadtaco: "Leica SL - Love of Hat or both?" (as of February 10, 2016)
Neil Buchan-Grant: "Location Portraiture with the Leica SL" (as of February 1, 2016)
Morten Albek: "The Leica SL Video Experience" (as of February 11, 2016)
Kirsten Meister: "The Leica SL: Six Month Field Test" (as of June 20, 2016)
Douglas Herr: "Leica SL vs. Sony a7II for Wildlife Photography" (as of June 26, 2016)

 

Leica SL lens reviews:

PC Magazine Review: "Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH" (as of November 2, 2015).
Kristen Meister: "Leica 90-280mm APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL f/2.8-4.0" (as of March 19, 2016).
David Farkas "Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm f/2.8-4 lens review" (as of April 6, 2016).

Homework reading:

Leica SL Typ 601 Manual [English Only PDF - Cleaned out for the German part]
Leica SL Typ 601 Brochure [English PDF]
Leica SL Technical Specifications [English PDF]

 

Leica SL forum news:

L-Camera-User-Forum: Leica SL

 

 

To be continued ...

Sign up for the newsletter to get the next updates:

 
 

 

Was ist das?

What are the different Leica SL buttons and symbols for?

 

Bayonet lock and red dot

There is a bayonet un-lock button on the Leica SL that is pressed to release the lens or adapter.

If an adapter is attached, that too has a silver button that is pressed to release the lens from the adapter.

The Leica lenses all have a red dot on them. It has to be positioned so that it "meets" the silver button on the camera or adaptor, then turn the lens clockwise till it locks.

When using one or two adaptors on the camera you will likely press the wrong button a few times but then you will get the hang of it.

 
     

ROM contacts on the lenses

The metal contacts inside the bayonet of the Leica SL and Leica T lenses and the adapters are for communication with the camera. For Leica T and Leica SL lenses they power the aperture and the autofocus motor inside the lens from the camera battery, and in the case of T and SL lenses they tell the camera the focus distance and zoom position as well. In all lens combinations they supply the camera with info about which lens is used.

For Leica M lenses there is no AF and there is no info about the aperture going to the camera. For Leica R lenses it is (un-)likely that the R lenses with ROM contacts will give info to the Leica SL about which lens is attached. We will know when that adapter is available in 2016.

 
     

ROM contacts in the Leica SL

Inside the bayonet of the Leica SL is the contacts to communicate with the lens' or adapter's contacts.

And yes, that is the sensor you see below and behind it. It is unprotected like this, though it has a glass surface.

When you release the shutter, a shutter curtain will go over the sensor and back in hiding again; after it has cleaned the sensor for digital signals and made the sensor ready to record the next picture.

 
     

The strap lug

The strap lug on the Leica SL has a square shape and doesn't take metal rings as the Leica M and other cameras. It has to be a nylon strap or leather strap that goes around it.

 
     

The diopter adjustment

You can turn the diopter on the viewfinder to adjust to your eyesight.

The GPS unit

To the left of the top of the camera is the plastic roof that seals the GPS unit. It needs a plastic roof to be able to communicate with the satellites.

Stereo microphone

The two sets of four small holes on top of the camera are the stereo microphones for video.

 
     

The rubber thing in the bottom

The soft rubber field under the camera is not GPS or WiFi. The rubber seals the contacts that are used when the battery handgrip is attached.

 
     

The rubber thing on the side

This is not a handgrip but a rubber cover of the contacts for HDMI, remote control, USB3 and external sound recorder.

 
     

The scan code and two holes

The screw mount hole in the bottom of the Leica SL 601 is for attaching it to a tripod, and the other hole is for keeping the camera firmly in place on the tripod so it doesn't rotate.

This plate also contains the serial number as well as a scan bar that can't be read by the iPhone. It is likely for factory internal use.

 
     

The rubber ring on the battery

The Leica SL batteries have a rubber band that is for weather-sealing the camera in that department as well. The rubber ring feels loose when your finger moves over it, but is actually pretty well attached to the battery.

 
     

 

   
   

 

– Thorsten Overgaard
#1888-0918-A
#1892-1018


   
         
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Index of Thorsten von Overgaard's user review pages covering Leica M9, Leica M9-P, M-E, Leica M10,
Leica M 240, Leica M-D 262, Leica M Monochrom, M 246  as well as Leica Q and Leica SL:

Leica M9 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20   M9-P
Leica M10
V 1 2 3 4 5                             M10-P
Leica M 240
P 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44         What if?
Leica M-D 262 1 2                        
Leica Monochrom 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
A
29
B
29
C
29
D
               
Leica Q 1 Leica Q2: 1   Leica TL2: 1 2              
Leica SL 1 2 3 4 5 6 Leica CL: 1 2             Books


leica.overgaard.dk
Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Small Leica cameras:
Leica M10   Leica Q full-frame mirrorless
Leica M10-P   Leica CL
Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240   Leica TL2
Leica M-D Typ 262 and Leica M60   Leica Digilux 2 vintage digital rangefinder
Leica M Monochrom Typ246 digital rangefinder   Leica Digilux 1
Leica M Monochrom MM digital rangefinder   Leica Sofort instant camera
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder   Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder   Leica CM 35mm film camera
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder    
     
Leica M lenses:   Leica SLR cameras:
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica SL 2015 Type 601 mirrorless fullframe
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   Leica R3 electronic 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 and f/1.2   Leica SL and TL lenses:
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4    
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0    
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica R lenses:
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 80mm Summilux-F f/1.4
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2   Leica 180mm R lenses
    Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leica Cine Lenses:   Leica 35-gmm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/4.0
     
     
History and overview:   Leica S:
Leica History   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica Definitions   Leica S2 digital medium format
Leica Lens Compendium   Leica S digital medium format
Leica Camera Compendium    
The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus   "Magic of Light" Television Channel
    Thorsten von Overgaard YouTube Channel
     
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Calibrating computer screen for photographers   Thorsten Overgaard Masterclasses & Workshops
Which Computer for Photographers?   Lightroom Survival Kit (Classic)
What is Copyright? Advice for Photogarphers   Lightroom Presets
Synchronizing Large Photo Archive with iPhone   Capture One Survival Kit
Quality of Light   "Finding the Magic of Light" eBook (English)
Lightmeters   "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
Color meters for accurate colors (White Balance)   "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
White Balance & WhiBal   "Freedom of Photographic Expression" eBook
Film in Digital Age   "Composition in Photography" eBook
Dodge and Burn   "A Little Book on Photography" eBook
All You Need is Love   "After the Tsunami" Free eBook
How to shoot Rock'n'Roll   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
X-Rite   The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
The Origin of Photography    
Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight 35mm and 6x6 scanner   Leica M9 Masterclass (video course)
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Birgit Krippner   Martin Munkácsi
John Botte   Jose Galhoz
 
Douglas Herr   Milan Swolf
Vivian Maier  
Morten Albek    
Byron Prukston   Richard Avedon
     
The Story Behind That Picture:   Thorsten Overgaard on Instagram
More than 200 articles by Thorsten Overgaard   Join the Thorsten Overgaard Mailing List
Thorsten Overgaard Workshop Schedule   Thorsten Overgaard on Twitter
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Leica Forums and Blogs:    
Leica M10 / M240 / M246 User Forum on Facebook   Heinz Richter's Leica Barnack Berek Blog
Jono Slack   Leica Camera AG
Steve Huff Photos (reviews)   Leica Fotopark
Erwin Puts (reviews)   The Leica Pool on Flickr
LeicaRumors.com (blog)   Eric Kim (blog)
Luminous Landscape (reviews)   Adam Marelli (blog)
Sean Reid Review (reviews)   The Leica User Forum
Ken Rockwell (reviews)   Shoot Tokyo (blog)
John Thawley (blog)   I-Shot-It photo competition
     
 
 
The Von Overgaard Gallery Store:    
Hardware for Photography   Von Overgaard Ventilated lens shades:
Bespoke Camera Bags and Luxury Travel Bags   Ventilated Shade for Current 35mm Summilux FLE
Software for Photography   Ventilated Shade E46 for old Leica 35mm/1.4 lens
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Mega Size Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade E43 for older 50mm Summilux
Mega Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade for 35mm Summicron-M ASPH
Medium Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade for older 35mm/f2 lenses
Small Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade E39 for 50mm Summicron lenses
Commisioning Thorsten Overgaard Worldwide   Ventilated Shade for Leica 28mm Summilux
Thorsten Overgaard Archive Licencing   Ventilated Shade for current 28mm Elmarit-M
Video Masterclasses   Ventilated Shade for older 28mm Elmarti-M
Photography Books by Thorsten Overgaard   Ventilated Shade E49 for 75mm Summicron
Home School Photography Extension Courses   ventilated Shade E55 for 90mm Summicron
Overgaard Workshops & Masterclasses   Ventilated Shade for 28mm Summaron
Artists Nights   Ventilated Shade for 24mm Elmarit
Gallery Store Specials   Ventilated Shade E60 for 50mm Noctilux and 75/1.4
 

 

Above: Leica SL in the rain. © Thorsten Overgaard.



 

Leica logo

LEItz CAmera = LEICA
Founded 1849 in Wetzlar, Germany.

Leica SL latest firmware

Digital Camera Raw 6.18
(December 2015; adds compability to Leica SL 601)

 

 

Peter Karbe is the chief lens designer at Leica Camrea AG and have designed the 50mm Summilux ASPH f/1.4, the 50mm APO-Summicron, the 75mm Noctilux and more.
Peter Karbe is the chief lens designer at Leica Camera AG and have designed the 50mm Summilux ASPH f/1.4, the 50mm APO-Summicron, the 75mm Noctilux and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25
Leica 90mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
advice, ideas or improvements.

 

 

 

     
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Photo seminars Berlin Copenhagen and Hong Kong

 

Photo seminars Berlin Copenhagen and Hong Kong

 

Photo seminars Berlin Copenhagen and Hong Kong

 
           
  · © Copyright 1996-2019 · Thorsten von Overgaard


 

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