For the first time since cameras went from film to digital, here's a camera without a screen on the back. The Leica M-D 262 simply has an ISO dial on the back.
When I picked the Leica M-D 262 up for the first time, I wondered what I would see in the viewfinder. I expected there had to be a screen somewhere.
But no. When I looked into the viewfinder the first time, all I saw was the shutter time in red LED-lit numbers: 1/250. And then it changed to 1/360 when I moved the camera, and then to 1/60 when I pointed it down to the table. That was all.
Is this really all I need to get it to work?
Leica M-D 262.
A retro gimmick
It looks like some sort of gimmick, or maybe an untimely return to the old days of film. Yet, a Leica M Digital Rangefinder without a screen seems to have been a secret dream for quite a few.
When I turned on the camera for the first time, I got a pleasant surprise: there is a red lamp hidden on the back of the camera that you only see blinking when the camera is turned on, and when the buffer is working after you take a picture.
On the Leica website I can see the first mockups of the Leica M-D 262 where the red dot is placed on the top back of the camera, just below the “Made in Germany” (where the Leica M 240 has a sensor to adjust the screen brightness automatic).
I'm so happy to see how the designer cleaned the camera so the red lamp is literally hidden as part of the leather covering.
Watch now: The Leica M-D 262 User Report
Enjoy this 15 minute video user report by Thorsten Overgaard on the Magic of Light TV:
The Leica M-D 262 introduces a fast change of ISO. It's very convenient, I quickly learned, that I can change the ISO by just turning the wheel.
The ISO wheel is simply changed by turning it. It's stiff so it doesn't change by itself. But mainly, I don't have to press any button, release the wheel or lock it or anything. I just turn it to wherever I want the ISO to be. A very simple and very classic Leica mechanical masterpiece.
Inside the viewfinder the Leica M-D 262 shows me the number of pictures left after each photo is taken.
When I focus and get ready to take a photograph, the red numbers in the viewfinder show the shutter speed the camera suggests and which will be the shutter time if I press the shutter. I can also change the shutter speed on the dial on top of the camera and then the numbers change to a dot and two arrows. That's the manual mode, with arrows inside the viewfinder to guide me which way to turn the aperture ring to get the exposure right.
The moment I press the shutter release, the camera takes the photograph. You hear the silent shutter go off and the red lamp hidden in the leather blinks as it writes the file to the SD-card, and then in the viewfinder you see 564 in red numbers, which is the number of pictures left on the card.
If I press the silver button on top of the camera, at any time, that will prompt the red digits in the display to show how much battery is left.
The only problem I have is that the red numbers in the viewfinder only show three digits. So 999 pictures left is the highest number of images it can show.
The SD-card I use in my Leica M-D 262 is the SanDisk 64GB card with a writing speed of 95MB/second, which is the one I recommend for the Leica M 240 as well. For some reason, the “same” SanDisk card in the 32GB model has a slower startup-time than the 64GB model of the same card (by which I mean the 95MB/sec speed).
The 64GB card holds a lot more pictures than 999, so for many months my Leica M-D 262 always just showed 999 pictures left. I finally got the idea to store a folder with backup pictures on the SD-card so that the space left on the card is less than 1,000 pictures. That way the 999 was replaced with an actual number that decreased by one each time I took a picture.
But I must say, by that time – and perhaps generally – the number of pictures left is and was really not something I notice at all.
I wrote and asked product manager Jesko Oeynhausen at Leica Camera AG about this, and he told me the reason was that only three of the four digits inside the viewfinder are full 7-segment digits, and the fourth isn't (it was only designed to show 0).
It's been so long since I've had a camera without a screen. I couldn't wrap my head around what it would be like. I completely forgot it was once possible to do anything without one.
But you know, for me that was also the attraction, in some childish way. This is different!
When I got my Leica M-D 262, the initial fear was, how could I see if I can't see the picture on the screen? How can I know anything, how can I make anything right, if I can't control how it looks?
A little scary! It was so simple that it became kind of complicated predicting the results.
My daily bicycle photo from my morning walk in Tokyo, Japan, Leica M-D 262 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95.
The first day I walked out with my new Leica M-D 262, I frankly expected the exposure to be wrong in most of the pictures. Nothing in walking around and taking pictures convinced me it would be otherwise. I feared I had enjoyed a happy unpacking but soon might experience a disgraceful return of the camera to the dealer.
But no. The actual experience was as described above, but once I came home and downloaded the SD-card to the computer, my fear was replaced by an almost child-like feeling of personal accomplishment, realizing that I could make just as good pictures without seeing them, without live view, focus aid, preview and review. They looked awesome!
This changed and challenged my view on this. Months later I still felt this mixed experience of insecurity about whether it will work, and an odd revolutionary enthusiasm for the fact that I have no control and I don't give a damn. And each time I return to the computer and download the SD-card, I have this rewarding feeling of accomplishment.
I got this!
King of all seven Kingdoms and a camera without screen.
Photography is like a string of accomplishments, or certainties, on your route to get it right. First you learn focus, then aperture, then shutter time, then how they relate to each other, and you get to make a photo in focus with the correct exposure (most of the time).
Eventually you get it under control, but then with the constant evolution of new things in photography, the string of things to know about sort of becomes endless. It gets complicated.
Our attention has been shifted to the next model we can buy, rather than the next photograph we can take.
Using the Leica M-D 262 gets me back on track of what photography essentially is. The unnecessary extended line of things to know about to make a photo is shortened down to the few, essential things I actually do have to know about, master, and use to make a photograph.
I already knew those things; I just didn't know how to do them without all the other things.
Maybe like me, you will be pleasantly surprised that you actually can.
It doesn't take a lot to take a photograph. We just lost track of that.
It's a camera without a screen, obviously. But when you think about it, that doesn't answer the question.
Without the screen you don't only lose a view of the picture you just took, but also the whole menu is not to be found anywhere. (No, it's not in the viewfinder – it's gone!)
Since screens were introduced on cameras the number of functions became unlimited. The camera manufacturers no longer had to make a button for each function (which until then had put a natural limit to how many functions you could add to a camera). Suddenly they could add hundreds of functions to the screen menu of the camera.
Instead of using their idle time figuring out how to make the camera simpler and better, they started making lists of things that they could also add to the camera menu. If they invent something “new” and gave it a cool name, then they could offer something no camera ever offered before. Such has been the business model. Until now.
On the Leica M-D 262 the screen is not there anymore. It's completely gone!
It reminds me of days when there was only one radio channel and there was (actually) a few seconds of silence from when the radio host stopped talking until the record player started playing the next piece of music.
There existed an era where, when you left your home, nobody could call you because there were no telephones outside buildings.
That sort of silence and concentration, that's what the Leica M-D 262 offers. The sort of silence and solitude you pay $800 a day to try to experience in a cottage at the Four Seasons Hotel in Bali, or when you enroll in a “Monk for a Month” program in the Himalayan Mountains.
That's the essence of what my thumb on the bare, leather-covered back does for me.
One of the reasons a digital camera without a screen doesn't sound right, is that now that evolution has gotten us this far, why would we give up an essential breakthrough such as the digital screen?
Imagine the Canon 5D without a screen. Or a Nikon D810 without a screen. Awkward, right?
The idea of a digital Leica M 240 without a screen also seems awkward. Everybody is talking about screen quality and how they want bigger and better screens.
Removing the screen from the Leica M-D 262 underlines the genius simplicity of the Leica M-D 262.
I can't think of any other camera so simple in its basic philosophy that it would work without a screen. Here is a camera concept so simple and straight-forward that it actually works without a screen.
Other than taking pictures, there are a few buttons to press, if that makes you happy.
The ISO dial on the back is pretty much the main attraction of all the buttons. I wouldn't say it's to die for, but it's close!
I can see how much battery is left by pressing the silver function button on top of the camera. This will show a 1.00 or 0.45 with red LED numbers briefly in the viewfinder, telling if the battery is 100% or 45% full.
Strangely for a retro-futuristic camera as the Leica M-D 262, it has a thumb wheel. I daresay it is only there because Leica Camera AG used the form of the Leica M 240 for this camera. As that one had a thumb wheel, they kept it in the Leica M-D 262. It gives me the possibility to change the exposure by pressing the silver function button on top of the camera, and at the same time turning the thumb wheel. I can change the exposure +/- three stops in steps of 1/3 stops.
I can change the date and time using the silver button on top of the camera and thumb wheel. It's rather complicated and is described in the manual on page 76. I never change the time no matter what time zone I go to, so I would only have to change this setting if the camera somehow was reset completely.
Leica Camera AG have re-introduced the frame selector on the front of the camera. You can slide it between three positions so as to preview in the viewfinder how the fame lines changes. The idea is that you can preview how much would be in the fame if you switched to another lens other than the one on the camera.
Also, not to forget, the Leica M-D 262 of course has the basic attractions that all Leica M cameras are known for: The super clear viewfinder where you see a wider area than just what will be in the picture. The feel of precise engineering from before the time everything became plastic, free sex and all that jazz. The feeling that this camera will continue to work into the next millennium.
When you pick up a Leica M, you just feel this is it.
And if you don't, why then you just saved yourself the trouble and a lot of money!
The ability to tell the camera which lens is attached is not there. Either it senses it via the bit-code on the lens, or it's just not there.
There is no possibility to change the file format or file size. There is only one format, and that is DNG (which is the Adobe Digital NeGative: One file that contains the raw data from the sensor as well as a sidecar; the XMP file with the data giving the circumstances for the sensor recording).
I photographed this lady in Tokyo the day before the Halloween. I thought it was a Halloween outfit, but she proudly told me it was a "baby theme" and all she wore was baby theme. It's one of those things, but almost exclusively for Japan. Leica M-D 262 with Leica 35mm Summilux-M AA ASPHERICAL f/1.4. 2000 ISO.
Auto ISO is gone.
Digital color filters are gone, as is the JPG file.
No possibility to choose between compressed DNG or uncompressed DNG files (when you take a photo, it's an uncompressed file; then it is being compressed on the SD-card).
Bracketing the exposure is gone, naturally.
Changing of the file names to for example M262000 isn't an option anymore. Gone.
Video is not part of the Leica M-D 262. Actually, live view is not there at all. This also means the Leica M-D 262 has a slightly different sensor than the “live view sister”, the Leica M 240. More on that, later.
User profile is gone (the possibility to pre-define settings for different users or lenses or shooting situations).
There's no other light metering mode than “Classic”.
No fancy flash exposure settings.
No histogram, obviously. It's in the file, but you can't see any on the camera.
The possibility to preset copyright information in the file is gone.
And, not to forget. Preview of the picture is gone!
All those things might not matter. But if they do, then perhaps the Leica M 262 is the right choice (the one with the screen):
Let's not forget the version of this camera with a screen, the Leica M 262 that came out previously.
Yes, I know. Those names are confusing. It used to be Leica M3, Leica M4, Leica M5, Leica M6, Leica M7, Leica M8 and Leica M9 Digital Rangefinder (that was released September 2009). But then, from what was supposed to be the Leica M10, Leica Camera AG decided to change the model names to simply Leica M and then a “Typ 240” to distinguish the different models.
The idea behind it was to do like Apple does with their MacBook Pro, which is always called MacBook Pro, but then has a model name to distinguish which model it is and how much processor power, etc., that they have. Sort of a good idea, except that even Apple doesn't really use their model names, but instead refers to “Mid 2013” and “Late 2016” as the model names.
So the Leica M 262 (with a screen) came out in late 2015 as a simplified version of the Leica M 240, and a more economical model. Leica Camera AG did a similar thing with the Leica M9 in that they launched a model Leica M-E in September 2012, as a sort of continuation of the Leica M9, but only available in a grey color and for about $800 less than the Leica M9. They announced the Leica M 240 (Leica M10 if they had continued those names) at the same time in September 2012, and at the same time – sort of said – “many still like the M9, so we'll keep producing that one, but we'll call it M-E and it will only be in grey.”
It was never a huge success because Leica users seem to generally prefer the most exclusive, most superior (which is also often the most expensive). While the Leica M-E gave the dealers some opportunities to create “student packages” with a camera body and a Summarit lens or something for a nicer package price, most people went straight for the Leica M 240.
In late 2015, without releasing a new model, they released a continuation of the three-year old existing model, the Leica M 240: that new model was the Leica M 262, which doesn't have Live View. If you compare the Leica M 240 and the Leica M 262 in real life, what you notice is that the Leica M 262 has a WB button (to set white balance) in the top left on the back where the Leica M 240 has the LV button (to activate Live View).
People who have bought the Leica M 262 for simplicity, the slightly lower price and because it is the newer model will be quite happy with this model. However if they get the idea that it would be fun to add a macro adapter or use another brand of lens on their Leica camera, they will realize they can't do that without the Live View.
That was the short story of the models. If I throw in the limited edition Leica M60 they released without a screen in early 2015, that then gives us a clue to what inspired the Leica M-D 262 (the one without the screen).
The limited edition Leica M60 was the first Leica M digital rangefinder without a screen and the inspiration for the Leica M-D 262.
The original idea of a digital camera without a screen has been suggested by many as purist, and with the limited edition Leica M60 they found an excuse to try it out. It was limited, which means collectors would buy one and store it in a closet, and a relatively exclusive number of people would buy one and actually use it. No big harm omitting the screen. Great idea, great fun, and something for the blogs to write about.
But the Leica M60 idea was so popular that it likely inspired, “Why not do a retail model without a screen as well?” and there you have it, the Leica M-D 262. That's how it was born.
It could have been called the Leica M-D 240 or Leica M60-A or any other name, but they decided to say it was the Leica M 262 without a screen.
In my opinion, it's more a Leica M60 in black paint and with traditional leatherette than a Leica M 262 without a screen.
Below is an overview to get an idea of what's going on with the different models. It's worth noting that quite a few people still use the Leica M8 from 2006. That's how durable a digital Leica M is. And try to find a Leica M9 from 2009 and you'll realize that that one too is still a popular camera. It's not that easy to find one because people hold onto them!
The question I've been asked, again and again over the last few months is, what's the difference between the Leica M 240 and the Leica M-D 262?
It's pretty clear that the Leica M-D 262 is the same as the Leica M 240 except for three things:
1: No screen.
2: Different sensor.
3: And all the consequences of having no screen.
As I use two Leica M 240's and one Leica M-D 262 as my main cameras, my experience is that I use the Leica M-D 262 when I want to go purist and have fun. When I have something that demands certainty for results, I go for the M 240.
I have both, so I have the choice. I wonder if I were only to get one camera, which one would I get?
The Leica M-D 262 has a 1GB buffer, which means that you won't really experience that your picture taking slows down or stops after 8-10 pictures. It keeps going at a rate of 3.7 pictures per second if the setting is set to C (continuous) under the shutter release button.
There haven't been any errors reported on the Leica M-D 262. I take that as a testament that the Leica M 240 was pretty well-made to begin with, and for any small occasional errors experienced by other users during the last 3-4 years, there have been solutions made for them.
One of the things I have to live with on the Leica M-D 262 is that if the focus adjustment is out – and mine was for a while in the beginning – there is no possibility to throw on the EVF (Electronic View Finder) and get the focus right by viewing what the sensor sees.
Soon after I got my Leica M-D 262, the camera was slightly off. For a long while I could only use the Leica 50mm APO on my Leica M-D 262 because that was the only lens that had acceptable focus.
After I got my camera adjusted, it nails the focus precisely with any lens I use.
I see it as a learning experience. Of course it is nice when everything works perfectly, but in (camera) life, it's not always the case. Sometimes we have to improvise or cross two fingers to get it to work out.
In a camera without a screen, I feel a little helpless if the focus isn't right, because there's no other way to focus the camera. In reality it's no different than the Leica M9, but at least in the Leica M9 you can check the focus on the screen. Somehow, I felt a little more in control with a screen.
And of course in the Leica M film cameras, I'm sure the focus has often been off but you really didn't notice. One thing was that you couldn't check, re-check and then check again immediately on a screen. But more importantly, the focus precision on film cameras wasn't as critical as on digital cameras where the film plane has been replaced with a very precisely placed glass plate with an even more and always correct exposure plane.
With the Leica M-D 262 I can't check the focus on the screen, so here's what I do before an important assignment where I want to use the Leica M-D 262: I take some test shots with the lens I plan to use, inside and outside (so as to get close, medium and long distances), and then I import the photos and check them on the computer.
I didn't use to be worried about sudden focus errors: Less than a year ago I was using the Leica M 240 and the Noctilux for two days of event photos, and when I started editing the photographs, I noticed that the focus was off. It was never off like that, so I was surprised that I had missed the focus in quite a few photos where I was sure I had focused correctly. I checked the camera, and sure enough, something had happened that had thrown the focus off. Thankfully it was a lot of people jumping back and forth on stage, so I had enough pictures in focus to make it work. (The photos that would usually be out of focus because the subject moved right when I took the photo, those were now the ones in 100% focus!)
I make sure to set the ISO high when I do test photos of the focus inside. If the camera is at 200 ISO, I might be taking test photos at 1/12 second. That can work for taking photographs, but for test photos of focus sharpness, I need the shutter speed to be 1/250 or faster.
How to get the focus adjusted
Getting the focus adjusted on the camera is one thing you don't have to worry about on the new Leica SL and Leica Q models as these don't have a Rangefinder mechanism to focus, but both use Live View all the time.
Focus adjustment is exclusively a problem for the Leica M models since early time until today, as they need to get the mechanical focus mechanism adjusted from time to time.
The mechanical focus mechanism – the Rangefinder – is one I admire and love, but it has that limitation that it needs to get adjusted from time to time. My experience is that it really doesn't have anything to do with anything, when or how often it needs the adjustment. I can use a camera a lot and it keeps working, or I can have a camera I haven't used for a while, and suddenly it's out of adjustment. Or I'll loan it out to somebody and if they don't know how to take a lens off and put a new one on, they bang the focus mechanism (tried that too, yes).
I am in the fortunate position that I can drive by the factory in Wetzlar 2-3 times a year when I'm anyways out and about in Europe. When I drive from Paris to Denmark, going to Wetzlar is only a 20-minute detour. So I make a little trip out of it. At other times I send a parcel with cameras and lenses to Wetzlar for adjustment and repair (when I have banged up the shade on the Noctilux, the front of a 35mm has started to fall off, or the cameras just generally need an adjustment and sensor cleaning).
I always mail customer service beforehand that something is coming. I never just send something or show up and expect they have time to deal with it. I sort of book it in. In a few instances they will tell me that it's not possible that date because of a German holiday, or the part needed is not in stock. That's why I book it in so I also have an idea how long it will take and if it's possible to get done in that span of time.
If you're not so fortunate that you can swing by the factory and you don't have time in the calendar to go on your yearly Leica Virgin Pilgrimage to Wetzlar, you may consider getting in touch with the customer service in Germany directly and simply send a parcel.
If the issue is sensor cleaning only, there's quite a lot of facilities around the world that will do sensor cleaning. Almost any professional camera store has a sensor cleaning service. If you don't want to take the responsibility yourself fiddling with cleaning equipment on the delicate sensor, that's a way to do it.
If the issue is adjustment of the focus, the possibilities are fewer, but they do exist. I'm far from updated on all of them, but here are some of the places they can do focus adjustment on a Leica M on the spot:
It's said that the sound of the shutter should be more quiet on the Leica M-D 262, but I didn't find that to be true. They sounded very much the same, but with the - maybe important - detail that I compared a well-used Leica M 240 shutter sound to a brand-new Leica M-D 262 shutter sound.
If you remember my first articles on the Leica M 240, you will remember I said the Leica M 240 has a distinct and very decisive shutter sound, kind of metallic, that gets softer and more quiet after a few thousand shutter actuations.
What most people say when they pick up the Leica M-D 262 is, “It feels lighter” and it sure does.
Factually the weight of the Leica M-D 262 and the Leica M 240 is the same – 680g with battery. Only the Leica M 262 however, is actually lighter – only 600g – because the top plate on that model was made of aluminum.
But the feeling is lighter, and I guess a great deal of that illusion simply is the feeling of holding it. The leather-covered back and the lack of buttons and screen simply make it feel simpler and lighter.
Tokyo, Japan. Leica M-D 262 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95.
Cheating with a screen
Often I need a screen to check my pictures. Is the focus right, is the exposure right, is everything ok?
If you are on location and it's an important photo shoot, how can you check that it's all alright? My first thought on the Leica M-D 262 was, why haven't they made it possible to attach an EVF on it which would make it possible to work with confidence.
When I had used the Leica M-D 262 for some days, I realized I didn't want an EVF. I actually wanted to be blind. I had also considered that I could use a WiFi SD-card (WLAN as they call it in Germany), and transfer the pictures to my iPhone or an iPad immediately.
I tried the WiFi card back when I got the Leica M 240 in 2013 and it was complicated to get to work, unstable and limiting. For that reason I didn't want to go down that route again, but more importantly I wanted to simply not see anything.
I remember when I used slide film for assignments just a few years ago. Was it tough, you may ask? No, it was never a problem. The reality was back then that you never knew if it worked, but the reason you didn't worry about it was that it always worked. Very few things could go wrong. Your camera didn't forward the film properly if it was inserted wrong, so that's why you would use two cameras. If something went wrong, it only went 50% wrong.
With the Leica M-D 262 I wanted to stay blind. I really enjoyed my newly re-gained ability to take photographs, not knowing anything else than that they would look unexpectedly better.
Yet it still has that excitement that you really can't know till you know.
So much more reason to look forward to getting home and seeing what you got.
As the Leica M-D 262 is built over the M 240 body, the thumb wheel is still on this camera. That gives the possibility to change the exposure by pressing down the silver button on top and turning the thumb wheel at the same time with -3 EV to +3 EV (in 1/3 EV steps).
(EV is short for Exposure Value and is the combination of the recommended f-number and exposure time for given lighting conditions and ISO speed. In a modern, automatic camera, it usually implies that when you change the EV-value to for example +2, the camera's electronics will decide if it will adjust the ISO, the shutter speed or the aperture; or a combination of the three to reach the +2 exposure you set with the thumb wheel. In the Leica M models, the aperture is always set manually, so the camera can't change that.)
Inside the viewfinder you will then see a minus exposure or plus exposure that tells you how much you changed the exposure (compared to what the camera reads it should be).
I never use the thumb wheel, so for me that's one of the things they could remove in a future version. In a Leica M 240 with a preview of the photo via the screen or EVF (Electronic ViewFinder) the thumb wheel enables you to change the exposure and see where it is at on a live view of the photo you are about to take. In the Leica M-D 262 there is no image to look at, so you would have to know how many stops you would like to change it for it to make any sense.
I remember when I owned a Nikon EM as a teenager and I dreamed of getting a Nikon FM or one of the “bigger and more advanced” Nikon cameras. One of the features they had that my Nikon EM didn't have, was the ability to under or over-expose by using the dial on the top left of the camera.
It took me two years of using the Nikon EM, combined with a teenager's inability to afford the much more expensive Nikon FM, before I realized that the wheel on the bigger Nikons to change the exposure was simply extra markings on the ISO dial. Of course! If you moved the ISO-dial from 100 ISO to 400 ISO, you would change the exposure-calculation the camera did so it would be two stops darker. And so on.
With an actual ISO dial on the back of the Leica M-D 262, I got the great idea that I could simply change the ISO to trick the camera. You would think the principle was the same. But no. What happened since my Nikon EM is that the film was replaced with a sensor, so when you change the ISO, the ISO of the “film” actually changes as if you loaded a new film.
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The ISO dial on the back of the Leica M-D 262 is really well designed and well made. It goes from 200 ISO to 6400 ISO.
There is no “Push” 100 ISO which the Leica M 240 has, and which is stretching the ISO performance to a degree that you lose 2-3 stops of dynamic range. It's one thing you should never really do, and in the Leica M-D 262 it's not a choice anymore.
But the ISO dial does go to 6400 ISO, which is also considered a “Push” ISO in the Leica M-D 262. “Push” is a term borrowed from the film days where you would ask the lab to “push” the exposure if you had photographed with a 100 ISO film, but exposed it as if it were a 400 ISO film (if it was dark, for example). The manufacturer of film always enclosed a table in the film package on how to “push” the development. I've photographed 100 ISO slide film as 1600 ISO when it was really dark, and then the lab simply would treat those rolls of film as if it were 1600 ISO film. But “push” would always reduce color quality and increase noise in the form of grain. In digital sensors “push” is the same; the noise is increased and you can't really expect the colors to be as accurate. Some times you will also experience stripes across the image.
Notable is also the lack of the Auto-ISO in the Leica M-D 262. In many cameras, the Leica M 240 included, there is a setting to Auto-ISO, which basically means that the ISO will float around from 200 to 6400 as part of the camera's automatic adjustment of the exposure.
In my camera settings the ISO is always locked, and so is the Aperture. By that I mean it is set to a specific value that only I can change, not the camera. The only parameter I work with to get the exposure right, is the shutter time; and that's sitting on the top of the camera in case I want to adjust the exposure time the camera comes up with.
The Leica M-D 262 only has the possibility to lock the ISO at one setting at the time. How it should be.
Example: In front of you is a street in New York with some yellow taxis, people and buildings. As this is in itself a scene with all sorts of tones mixed into the oval center of the frame that the camera uses to measure, the camera will come up with a pretty precise exposure.
Example: In front of you is a long street in New York with tall buildings on both sides of the frame, and then a nice bright blue sky as the topping of the street in the end. As this is a lot of mixed tones in the sides, but a bright highlight (the sky) an the end of the street, the light meter will work out an exposure time that makes it all look midtone. The result is that road in front of you, as well as the buildings on the sides will be underexposed but the bright blue sky in the end will be nicely midtone.
That's how the light meter works: it wants to make everything inside the oval in the center midtone. You likely wanted the buildings to be correctly exposed, so there are several ways to get it right:
A) Point the camera down so what's in the center of the frame is the street and the buildings only, then press the shutter release half down to lock that exposure. Recompose and press the shutter all the way.
B) Change the shutter time on the shutter wheel on top of the camera, from say 1/500 to 1/125 (two stops brighter).
C) Press the silver button down while you turn the thumb wheel to + 2 EV (two stops brighter).
I find that the Leica M-D 262 needs less corrections than the Leica M 240. Or maybe I should say it differently: I find that when I try to adjust the exposure time on the Leica M-D 262 the same way as I think I adjust the Leica M 240, the results are very often too bright.
I take it that it's the combination of what I think I need to do and what I actually need to do, that I misjudge in my eagerness to work this “blind camera” to the best results. I over-compensate.
I find that the Leica M-D 262 gets it right surprisingly well in almost all cases. I'm still debating and learning on that, because sometimes a compensation is necessary. So I guess I just have to adjust my idea of how often and how much.
I was sure I had discovered another revolutionary new thing in the Leica M-D 262. The ISO noise was much lower in the Leica M-D 262 and my intuition told me that where the Leica M 240 can go to 3200 ISO and maintain color accuracy in almost all light conditions, the Leica M-D 262 could go up to 6400 ISO.
In an attempt to document the better ISO performance in the Leica M-D 262, I performed some night comparison photographs in San Francisco. What I learned from that was that I couldn't tell the difference between the two in terms of ISO noise.
Maybe their slight difference in colors made me see something, but zooming in on the noise levels at high ISO … no difference whatsoever.
I don't use the Leica M-D 262, nor the Leica M 240, at 6400 for color photography because that tends to stretch the sensor too much. Given that you would mostly use a high ISO when it is really dark, that is also the condition where you have all sorts of artificial light sources.
It's no problem using high ISO when there is enough light; but why would you need to use high ISO then if it isn't a low-light situation?
The sensor often can't get those colors right in low light at high ISO, and especially when you also introduce "relative strong reflections" of other light sources such as neon signs far away, iPhone screens, etc. you are likely to end up with strange skin colors. I find that 1600 ISO is perfectly safe and that 3200 ISO almost always works. Only in some cases where you get LED light sources and/or you have to adjust the exposure and/or shadow details later, you may get some undesirable stripes in the image file at 3200 ISO.
I've met a few people who claimed that their Leica M 60 had nicer colors than the Leica M 240. As Leica Camera AG claimed it was the same sensor, that didn't make much sense. Some time was spent speculating if the titanium housing of the Leica M60 would make a difference, or if the screen would add noise or heat and so on.
The strangest thing happened when I got my Leica M-D 262.
I asked Leica M product manager at Leica Camera AG Jesko Oeynhausen about this, and the answer was that the Leica M-D 262 has a different sensor than the Leica M 240 because it doesn't have to support Live View and video. Also, he noted that they feel it has the same image quality as the Leica M 240.
He also confirmed that the Leica M 60 uses the same sensor.
What's obvious to the eye is that the Leica M-D 262 sensor has more vivid colors, and also that it can go about 1 stop higher ISO than the M 240 sensor.
From my understanding, it's logical that a sensor that has to be able to do video (Live View) will be busier than a sensor that has to do just one thing well. Hence, less noise and more concentration on getting the colors right in the Leica M-D 262 sensor.
But let's see if that is actually the case. I spent some time looking further into that.
When I import a photograph into Lightroom, the Camera Raw profile is the one that translates the numbers from the raw sensor data into colors on the screen. Different sensor models need different translations because they are different.
Obviously, until Adobe creates a Camera Raw profile for a new sensor and camera, there is no translation going on. So what camera manufacturers do is they have to embed a profile in the file from the camera, so as to tell a software which red the number 010011 should be.
Usually, when you update the Adobe Lightroom and/or the Camera Raw, new camera models and their sensors are included after a while. And usually, then your files automatically are imported with the “Adobe Standard” profile, which now includes a conversion profile for your camera.
But it's also possible that Adobe Lightroom keeps importing files with the “Embedded” profile and doesn't switch to the “Adobe Standard” automatically. Though, for your previous imported pictures that were imported with “Embedded,” those aren't changed. It's only newly imported pictures that will be imported with “Adobe Standard.”
If you haven't updated Lightroom and/or the Camera Raw, the imported photos will continue to be imported with the “Embedded” profile.
You can also set the import to use the Embedded and disregard any Adobe Standard profile.
And you can also create your own profile for the camera and set up Lightroom to use that profile.
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Which profile to use for my Leica M-D 262
I asked Leica M product manager at Leica Camera AG Jesko Oeynhausen about what is best or most correct.
He said that “Embedded” is Leica Camera AG's color matrix embedded in the file, whereas the Adobe Standard profile is created by Adobe, usually some weeks or months after the camera is on the market. His assumption is that the "Adobe Standard“ color management has more complex possibilities than what Leica Camera AG can embed in the file.
"Adobe Standard" profiles are not targeting "accurate," they are targeting some standard color that Adobe thinks is good and trying to provide consistent color across various cameras.
As for the Leica M-D 262 sensor, the correct use of the Embedded vs. the Adobe Standard is not delineated. It comes with an Embedded Profile, and when Adobe includes the M-D 262 in the Adobe Standard profiles, that is supposed to take over.
However, I suggest you spend a little while testing one against the other and make up your own mind.
Some would argue that Leica knows what they are doing, or on the other hand some will argue that Adobe knows what they are doing.
Whichever it is, it's just speculation and background clutter. Which one do you like? Because you have the choice.
Adobe Standard Profile.
Adobe Standard Profile.
Adobe Standard Profile.
In Lightroom you can change the profile to Embedded (or Adobe Standard) and then press ALT and you will see the possibility to "MAKE STANDARD" a little further down on the right corner of Lightroom. Keep your eyes open for the change of text below as it only appears when you press ALT.
You would think that when Adobe say their Adobe Raw is "backwards compatible," it means that older versions of Photoshop and Lightroom will adapt to the newest Adobe Camera Raw. That's why you update, so that new camera profiles will be implemented in the software you work with.
In the case of the Leica M-D 262 Adobe came out with their new Adobe Camera Raw 9.6 with support for Leica M-D 262 in June 2016, as well as a new Lightroom 6.6 also in June.
But for it to work, you actually have to update your Lightroom to the Lightroom 6.6 (stand-alone software version) or the Lightroom 2015.6 CC (Creative Cloud version). Without the updated Lightroom, the Adobe Camera Raw has no effect other than what it had in the older version.
Updating Lightroom 6.x to the latest version might require that you uninstall the Adobe Lightroom you have and install a new Lightroom 6.0, then run the 6.7 Update Patch (which was released in September 2016).
Leica Camera AG used to include an Adobe Lightroom license with each Leica camera sold. As of May 2016, they only ship with a promotional 90-day trial of the Adobe Creative Cloud. If you want to continue with Lightroom after the 90-day trial, you will have to downgrade the trial to just that and pay a license fee every month (or in case you don't downgrade, you're paying for the full package of Adobe Creative Cloud). The trial is activated in the Users Area on the Leica Camera AG website. If you still have unused licenses in your account from previous cameras you bought, these licenses can be activated to install a stand-alone version of Adobe Lightroom (as long as those exists; which is likely going to end in 2017).
The Leica M-D 262 only photographs DNG, and that is the complete package of sensor data, and it's always in color. There is no possibility to change the settings so as to get a black & white picture straight out of the camera.
I usually have my Leica M 240 set up to take a color DNG and a black & white JPG at the same time so I can import both to Lightroom and have a color and black & white version of the same pictures side-by-side. The black & white JPG from the Leica M 240 obviously uses the “Embedded” profile as it was created in the camera already; and generally it looks pretty good and close to a final acceptable look.
The Leica M9 had an even better “Embedded” black & white profile in the camera. Those Leica M9 black and white pictures really stood out.
Working with converting my DNG color files from the Leica M-D 262, I decided to do a complete evolution and make adjustment tables, and finally a Lightroom preset that would convert my DNGs from the Leica M-D 262 not only to black & white, but to the same look as the Leica M9 black & white files.
My Leica black & white presets are available here:
Leica M- 262 Black & White Presets by Thorsten Overgaard
My presets develop Leica M9 black & white tones from Leica M-262 DNG files, both as 2010 Process and 2012 Process. There's further a few extra special effect files included. And not to forget, the "know-all" eBook you can load onto the smartphone, Kindle or iPad.
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DNG converted to black & white in Lightroom
DNG converted with my B&W preset
The conversion of tones is all over the color scale, but mainly in darker skin tones. The standard Lightroom conversion of the Leica M 240 and Leica M-D 262 tones converts to skin tones that are too dark. That's one of the things I obviously wanted to remedy:
DNG converted to black & white in Lightroom
DNG converted with my B&W preset
DNG converted to black & white in Lightroom
DNG converted with my B&W preset
DNG converted to black & white in Lightroom
DNG converted with my B&W preset
I happened to be looking at some color slide photos a couple of days ago. The chef in my hotel brought a box with some of his old slides and a loupe so I could have a look.
It was very interesting to have a talk and a look into what is now considered old school. Almost all the slides were taken within two miles from where he works and lives, and what I saw was an appreciation of light and colors that you don't see today. We have moved on to digital (most of us, that is), and that has changed the rhythm of how we take photographs.
The concept of “taking a photograph” has changed. What I noticed was that each slide was a moment recorded. Period.
Each slide has the moment of time stamped into it. Which I realize is different than seeing a digital file that doesn't have the same feeling of being the only existing record of that exact moment of possibility.
I don't see this feeling return in the Leica M-D 262, no matter how much of a film camera (with an SD-card instead of a film roll) it feels like.
I am not going to return to film because of that. I think that age is over. Particularly when we discussed the possibility of him getting them scanned. It's a fact that the way he took the photographs, and how they reside in carrousels that he and his wife occasionally put into a projector and view, that's not how most people today would perform and enjoy photography.
The Leica M-D is somewhat pointing back to some of the qualities I enjoyed in film photography, and at the same time giving me some of the speed and convenience I feel I need in the way the world works today.
So far Capture One hasn't added support for the Leica M-D 262 and hasn't given any date for when it will be supported.
Phase One Technical Support suggests waiting a little bit until the M-D 262 is supported by Capture One. I personally started liking Capture One more and more, but I realized they don't know much about Leica cameras: they keep suggesting that one converts only the files one really needs to work on, to DNG. Which makes you realize, they haven't noticed that all Leica cameras use DNG as the native format.
Getting Capture One to work well, is one of my side-projects for the time being. So I asked Stephan Schultz of Leica Camera AG about Adobe Lightroom vs. Capture One a month ago, and what their stand is. Stephan Schultz said that Leica Camera AG have a good dialog with Adobe and work well with them on current and future camera models. In his opinion, one is better off working with Adobe Lightroom for their Leica files for present and future (models).
This is what the majority do: use Adobe Lightroom, but I would say that a growing number of Lightroom users are looking for alternatives to the Creative Cloud. Capture One is the most obvious place to look for another solution.
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Battery time on the Leica M-D 262
I've made it a habit to look through the viewfinder of the Leica M-D 262 and press the silver button when I pick up the camera to take it out. Inside the viewfinder I can see a 1.00 or 0.45 which indicates if the battery is 100% or 45%.
There is not much indication otherwise of how much battery is left, and after having taken an almost-empty camera out, a couple of times, I instructed my silly self to check the battery before I go anywhere.
I got my Leica M-D 262 before the firmware update 184.108.40.206 came out. That meant that there was no automatic power off in the camera.
As I always leave my cameras on C (Continuous) all the time, and let the power saving mode of the camera deal with shutting down after 2 minutes, I would find my Leica M-D 262 battery drained in the morning.
A few days later Leica Camera AG came out with the Firmware 1.0.04 which only feature was that it would shut down the camera after 10 minutes. That solved everything.
So if you have that issue, it's because you should update to Firmware 220.127.116.11.
Speaking of battery, a photographer in Canada emailed me and suggested the interesting concept that the Leica M-D could have a good, old-school advance lever on top (as the ones you used to have on film cameras to advance the film to the next frame) which function would be to charge the camera with enough energy to record the digital image and keep the light meter and red numbers in the viewfinder alive.
From the old days we know that a relatively small battery could keep a light meter going for many months, or years. That leaves the energy for the sensor as the only question.
It's an interesting idea, but also a little ridiculous. Why would anyone want an advance lever on a digital camera?
I wonder if the camera could be made thinner? A digital Leica M that is as thin as the Leica M6, Leica MP and those other classic Leica film cameras, has been one of the wishes many Leica users have aired for years. It's one of the things I'm sure is coming, most likely with gradually thinner bodies as technology allows it.
In the Leica M-D 262, that in so many ways already feels like a film Leica (with a SD card instead of a film roll), you can't help yourself from sitting and looking at the camera, imagining how it would feel to slice some of it away to make it thinner. How much empty space is actually being wasted inside that Leica M-D 262 body is what you think as you sip your coffee and look for a knife to open it with.
As it's a Leica M 240 body, and not much done to disguise that fact in the overall design, nobody would know what can happen if the Leica M-D 262 body was designed from scratch with this specific model as the aim.
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Safari, M-P, M-D, Silver and all the important stuff
With the Leica M-D 262, Leica Camera AG in Germany broke the usual rhythm of the product cycle. It used to be that a new digital Leica M comes out and is replaced by a new model three years later. In the middle of the product cycle, they would usually make a Leica M-P model (where the P supposedly stands for Professional), without the red dot logo and an overall more classic (or old-school) look. And then after that, they would release special editions in titanium, white, Safari green or something for the collectors and the few Leica M users who just can't help themselves but must own a Safari green Leica despite that a new model is just around the corner.
Oh, and then also a Monochrome edition of the digital Leica M in the middle of it all.
One thing that should be noted is that, by now, we know that Leica Camera AG is no longer following that 3-year product cycle. If they had, the Leica M 241 (or Leica M10 or Leica M11) should have been replaced in spring 2016.
That didn't happen, and it's safe to say that we're now looking at a four-year product cycle because we won't get to see the next model of the Leica M until (early) spring 2017. (The Leica M 240 was announced September 2012 and started delivery March 2013).
This is not the place to comment on this (but be certain I will get back on this), but what does make me mention all this is the fact that I would like to have a Safari green version, without a screen, of the next digital Leica M as soon as it launches.
Given the usual release-pattern, the model without screen comes after three years and the Green safari comes around the same time. And so far, nobody ever saw a Safari green without a screen. So that could never happen, or it is likely to happen far later.
I, for one, prefer to use a camera I know well, so I would prefer to jump straight onto the model I like, the moment a new camera is out.
Realistically, Leica Camera AG knows their cycles of product releases and would never make it all available from day one. They have a pretty good Fingerspitzengefühl (intuitive flair) for what to release when, that some will buy, and what to release when that will be good collector's items.
But for now, let's just take note that apart from all the other versions of the future Leica M, one model without screen (with or without color sensor), will also be part of the wish list for Christmas and birthdays.
The Leica MP returned to a “new” design of ISO dial recently that display both ISO (bottom) and DIN values (top). Despite the German DIN system being replaced by the international ISO standard in 1982, the Germans seem to still think it's the best one and saw a possibility to sneak it back in!
In the Leica MP the rear ISO/DIN dial is not for show. The ISO value is transmitted to the camera via an electrical contact. The Leica MP would be my choice in “classic Leica film camera”, even though they released a new Leica M-A in 2015. The Leica M-A is made without battery and without an exposure meter (basically back to the days of the Leica M4 and before, when it was all mechanical without any electronics at all).
The Leica M film rangefinders features a fairly bulky construction of the mechanical and electronic parts, compared to how things are designed today. The ISO value on the Leica M film camera is transmitted from the wheel on the back to the camera via an electronic contact. Photo: 9days.hk
If you want somewhat the same “automatic” suggestion of shutter speed in a film camera as in a digital rangefinder (Aperture Mode), you will have to go with the Leica M7.
By the way, we keep wishing for thinner Leica M cameras. Mostly in the context that we want the Leica digital rangefinders to be the same slimness (or thickness) as the Leica film rangefinder.
Speaking of thinner cameras. What if modern industrial design was applied to the Leica MP camrea? I wonder if it could be made slightly thinner, or at least more slick with the hinges and so on. And likely lighter in weight. Also, the through-the-lens light metering could be improved from the one circular spot to the oval area as used in the Leica M digital rangefinders (the so-called “Classic” exposure metering).
There's a lot of old-school metal frames and contacts in back of the Leica MP that I'm sure modern design could compress. I wish they would have done that to the Leica M-A which really doesn't make much sense to me otherwise. But that was a personal side note. What I mean is, just because a camera is classic, doesn't mean it can't be renewed, and improved with modern precision machinery and improved technology.
A thinner Leica digital rangefinder with ISO dial?
It's a wish that often comes up again and again: that the Leica digital rangefinders should approach the same size as the original Leica M film cameras.
Because of the thickness of the sensor and its electronic parts (which are thicker than film, naturally), this is not that easy. It's obvious that the exposure plane of the sensor has to sit in the same place as the film, so whatever is behind the sensor dictates the thickness of the body.
The sensor and screen stacked up on the back of the 2004-model of the Leica digital back for Leica R9.
The screen applied on the back of the camera adds another layer of thickness to the camera, as it sits exactly “on top” of the sensor and thus adds more thickness.
The Leica M 240 has a screen and buttons "added" to the back of the camera. Photo: magicoflight.tv.
It makes one wonder how much space was saved by not having to put a screen on the Leica M-D 262?
This might actually make it possible to reduce the thickness of the Leica M camera in the future, well aware that the Leica M-D 262 was developed on the format of the Leica M 240 and Leica M 262 with as few changes as possible.
A thinner Leica M digital rangefinder is coming. It's just a matter of when. If not in 2017, then in 2020 or 2024. Either straight back to Leica M film rangefinder size, or - more likely - gradually thinner.
The Leica SL and Leica Q (and Leica S before them) all have been subject to forward-thinking design of the back. The screen has been integrated into the body, rather than sticking out as it did on the Leica M8, Leica M9 and Leica M 240. The Leica M 240 was a little more elegant compared to the two previous models, but the Leica Q shows the way of future design of Leica cameras.
The screen of the Leica Q is integrated with the body. Photo: magicoflight.tv.
The screen will not be sticking out much longer in the Leica M models, and next step must be to reduce the thickness of the electronic parts, or remove the screen from the back of the camera. The Leica M-D 262 is the first one to do that.
It all, naturally, leads to the question: does the screen have to sit on the back of the camera?
When the folks at Apple Computer are given a Leica, they all take their iPhone and measure how it would compare to the screen on the back.
Leica SL has a small screen on top, as well as a screen on the back completely integrated with the body.
With a good EVF, as on the Leica SL, the screen is reduced to mainly controlling the menu, and at the same time a large display was added on top (as on the Leica S).
Well, I'm sure I've gotten your blood running a little faster. Let's leave it at this and see what happens.
Set the date and time on the Leica M-D 262 and Leica M60 (the manual page 76):
- Set the main switch to the Self Timer symbol.
- Press the silver Function Button for 12 seconds.
- Now when you look into the viewfinder, you will see year, month, day, hours, minutes.
- Now you can change each value, one at the time, by turning the thumb wheel. Press the silver Function Button briefly for each setting when it's set and you want to move to the next.
- When you are done, move the main switch away from the Self Timer symbol and the new settings are saved.
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Was ist das?
A walk-through of the LeicaM-D 262 body. What are the different Leica M9 buttons and symbols for?
The on/off switch features a Single and a Continuous setting (3.7 pictures per second) for picture taking, as well as a Self Timer (the symbol to the left in the picture).
The silver Function Button to the right gives battery left indicator in the viewfinder when pressed.
It also has a function for exposure compensation when pressed down and the thumbs wheel is pressed at the same time.
The Thumbs Wheel only has a function when turned and the silver Function Button on top is pressed at the same time: In that case turning the thumb wheel changes the exposure in steps of 1/3 EV to maximum -3 EV or maximum + 3 EV.
The Thumbs Wheel is also used in the rare instance of setting the date and time in the camera.
The Shutter Wheel is set to A as default, which means Aperture Priority: The camera suggests a shutter time based on what the light meter in the camera reads, and displays that suggested shutter time in the viewfinder with red LED numbers.
Manual mode: When the Shutter Wheel is turned to any of the numbers, the camera is in manual mode and will expose at that shutter time, no matter what the light meter in the camera suggests.
The red lamp on the back is the only visible piece of electronics on the Leica M-D 262.
It blinks briefly when the camera is turned on, as well as when the camera's buffer is working with writing image data to the SD card.
The Bottom Plate is removed by turning the lock so the bottom plate comes off.
The battery is here, under the camera's bottom plate. It's a fairly large battery that will keep the Leica M-D 262 going for a couple of days, usually. I would suggest having two batteries. One in the charger, one in the camera.
The SD-card sits just next to the battery and comes out by pressing it down slightly, then it is ejected up. Similarly, when you put it back, you press it down until it "locks".
The Leica M-D 262 is – as all modern Leica M cameras are – prepared for wireless WiFicard. The long piece of plastic you see on the bottom plate is there so that the WiFi card can communicate through the thick brass bottom plate.
The hole in the bottom plate is for connecting the tripod so it is screwed into the body itself. The bottom plate is weather sealed.
The label with different approvals for the camera you can take off.
When you put the bottom plate on the camera again, you first attach this end of the bottom plate. It's a newer design made to look like the bottom plate lock did back when we used film Leica's.
The shoulder strap (or hand-strap if you prefer that smaller solution) goes into the strap lug. There is a little plastic plate on the body which only purpose is to protect the paint against scratches.
You will realize after a while that there are many interesting straps you can indulge in for your Leica M.
Aperture = The f/ stop on the camera that regulates how much light passes through the lens. On a f/1.7 lens the lens is fully open" at f/1.7. At f/2.0 the aperture inside the lens make the hole through the lens smaller so only half the amount of light at f/1.7 passes through. For each f/-stop (4.0 - 5.6 - 8.0 - 11 - 16) you halve the light. The aperture of the lens is basically the focal length divided with the f/-stop = size of the hole (28mm divided with f/1.7 = the hole is 45 mm). ORIGIN: Late Middle English : from Latin apertura, from apert- ‘opened,’ from aperire ‘to open’.
The camera in Aperture Priority Mode
Aperture Priority Mode. When the shutter speed dial on top of the Leica M-D 262 is set to the red A, it is short for “Aperture Priority” and allows the user to set a specific aperture value (f-number) while the camera selects a shutter speed to match it that will result in proper exposure based on the lighting conditions as measured by the camera's light meter. In other words, you set the aperture as priority (f/1.4 for example), and the camera calculates a shutter speed (1/250 of a second) that matches that. If you change the aperture to f/2.0 by changing the aperture ring on the lens, the camera will re-calculate the speed to 1/125 so as to get the same amount of light to hit the sensor (f/2.0 is half the light through the lens as f/1.4 and 1/125 if twice the amount of light on the sensor as 1/250).
APO = Stands for "apochromatically corrected". In most lenses, optical design concentrates the focus of blue light and green light into a single plane, but red light falls slightly into another plane of focus. Red subjects, therefore, would be ever so slightly out of focus compared to blue and green subjects in the same frame. Not sure you'd ever notice though, the difference is so slight. This is the same basic principle that requires you to shift the focus for infrared photography, related to the wave length of red light. In APO lenses, the design and expense has been put in to making red light focus on the same plane as blue and green. Under a microscope you would see that all light subject is now in focus, creating a sharper image overall. Many manufacturers offer APO designs, but in most of these only the very center of the lens is APO corrected. Leica prides itself on making most of the frame APO correct.
If one look at the images produced by the APO lenses (Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0, the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH, and the Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 that is in fact APO-corrected), one will notice that the colors are really bright and alive, almost more real than to the eye. Apochromat; ORIGIN early 20th century, made of the two words; apo: Greek origin, away, and from chromatic (Latin origin), meaing relating to color.
ASPH = stands for "aspheric design".
Most lenses have a spherical design - that is, the radius
of curvature is constant. These are easy to manufacture by
grinding while "spinning" the glass. This design
however restricts the number of optical corrections that can
be made to the design to render the most realistic image possible.
ASPH lenses, however, involve usually 1 element that does
*not* have a constant radius of curvature. These elements
can be made by 1) expensive manual grinding, 2) molded plastic,
or 3) Leica's patented "press" process, where the element
is pressed into an aspherical ("non-spherical")
shape. This design allows Leica to introduce corrections
into compact lens designs that weren't possible before. Practically,
the lens performs "better" (up to interpretation)
due to increased correction of the image, in a package not
significantly bigger than the spherical version. The Leica Q 28mm lens has 3 aspherical elements out of 11 elements in the lens. Most Leica ASPH lenses from Leica has 1 or 2 aspherical elements.
Normal speric lens (grinded)
ASPH (note the shape of the glass as result of pressing rather than grinding)
Sphere: ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French espere, from late Latin sphera, earlier sphaera, from Greek sphaira "ball".
Auto- means “self”. The idea is that when a camera has auto-(something), it does that (something) by itself.
Banding = Noise in digital images. Horizontal lines in a horizontal pictures (if the camera is in portrait mode/vertical, the lines will be obviously be vertical). It's simply noise; the result of uncontrolled algorithms working overtime with an image the sensor really can't see because it's very dark. (If your image have vertical lines in it, it is more likely that the sensor needs remapping).
This image at 6400 ISO, underexposed and then brought up to correct exposure in Lightroom, displays banding: Horizontal lines in the image. Leica M-D 262 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.
Black Chrome = A limited edition of the current Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 lens that is painted black, and is in the same design as the original 1959-model of the 50/1.4 (but with current design of the optics). See photo below:
Bokeh = The visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens: It's a matter of taste and usually photographers discuss a 'nice' or 'pleasant' bokeh (the out-of-focus area is always unsharp why the quality discussed is if one likes the way it renders or not by a particular lens). ORIGIN from Japanese 'bo-ke' which mean 'fuzzines' or 'blur.'.
C = Continuous shooting. When the ring by the Shutter Release on top of the camera is moved from OFF to C, the Leica M-D 262 takes series of images as long as the shutter release is pressed down (3.5 frames per second).
Camera - A dark room. (Short for the original name, Camera Obscura: Camera itself means a "house with an arch roof". Obscura is the keep something in dark or hide something. “Dark chamber”.)
CMOS sensor (as used in Leica M-D 262, M 246, Leica M 240, Leica Q, Leica X, Leica SL, Leica D-Lux, etc)
= (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) chips use transistors at each pixel to move the charge through traditional wires. This offers flexibility because each pixel is treated individually. Traditional manufacturing processes are used to make CMOS. It's the same as creating microchips. Because they're easier to produce, CMOS sensors are cheaper than CCD sensors. CMOS allow Live View and use less energy than CCD.
DNG = Digital Negative, an open standard developed by Adobe. It is a single file that contains the raw image data from the sensor of the camera as well as date, time, GPS, focal length, settings, etc.
The alternative is a RAW file + XLM file where the RAW file contains the image information and the XML contains the rest of information about where, how and when the picture was taken.
A Camera Raw profile (that is specific for that camera) in the computer helps the software program, for example Adobe Lightroom, to translate the RAW data into the image.
DOF scale on the lens
DOF = Depth of Field. This is how much of the image will be in focus. The measurement on top of the lens lens shows lines for each f-stop that indicates from which distance to which distance the image will be sharp. Shallow DOF is a generally used term in photography that refer to lenses with very narrow focus tolerance (which can be used to do selective focus; making irrelevant subjects in the foreground and background blurry so only the subjects of essence are in focus and catches the viewers eye).
The DOF scale measurement on top of the Leica lenses shows lines for each f-stop that indicates from which distance to which distance the image will be sharp. Shallow DOF is a generally used term in photography that refer to lenses with very narrow focus tolerance (which can be used to do selective focus; making irrelevant subjects in the foreground and background blurry so only the subjects of essence are in focus and catches the viewers eye).
Depth Of Field scale from Fujifilm.
EV is short for Exposure Value and is the combination of the recommended f-number and exposure time for given lighting conditions and ISO speed. In a modern, automatic camera, it usually implies that when you change the EV-value to for example +2, the camera's electronics will decide if it will adjust the ISO, the shutter speed or the aperture; or a combination of the three to reach the +2 exposure you set with the thumb wheel.
One EV is also one Stop: A stop is fundamentally changing the aperture one “stop” which reduces the light to half or double the amount of light that goes through the lens. But the word “stop” is also often used instead of EV because changing the ISO from 100 to 200 is changing the exposure similarly as one “stop”, or changing the shutter time from 1/250 to 1/500 is changing the exposure similarly as one “stop”.
In the old days (the 1980's), one would change the EV (or “stops”) by changing the ISO dial setting to make the camera re-calculate the shutter time (you let the camera believe it was 1 stop faster or two stops slower film and it would re-calculate the shutter time as if it was).
In the 1970's-1980's, when light meters became integrated into the cameras, there was often an arrow in the viewfinder; and when it was in the middle, that was the correct exposure. Usually the way to get it there was to change the aperture till the arrow was in place. Changing the aperture would change the EV (but also the depth of field).
In a Leica M you can change the EV by simply changing the shutter speed dial on the top of the camera.
EVF = Electronic ViewFinder. The Leica EVF-2 is the model that can be used on the Leica M 240 (and Leica M 246 and Leica X)
The EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) on the Leica SL 601.
Exposing - To uncover something to light. In a camera, the film or sensor is kept in the dark behind a shutter curtain, and when it goes up, the sensor or film is exposed (uncovered) to light in a short instant of for example 1/125th of a second or 1/2 second. the term “the correct exposure” is that the light or file was uncovered to light for the correct amount of time for the image to be recorded on the film or sensor. Over-expose would be if the film or sensor was uncovered for too long, and under-exposed would be if the film or sensor was uncovered for too short at time for the light to be recorded properly. From Latin expositus ‘put or set out’ and Old French poser ‘to place.’
Exposure Bracketing = The possibility to set the camera to automatically record a series of images where the exposure is above and below what the camera measures. The idea is that at least one of the images will be correctly exposed.
f/ f-stop = the ratio of the focal length (for example 50mm) of a camera lens to the diameter of the aperture being used for a particular shot. (E.g., f/8, indicating that the focal length is eight times the diameter of the aperture hole: 50mm/8 = 6,25 mm); or the other way around, the hole is the focal length divided with 8).
ORIGIN early 20th cent.: from f (denoting the focal length) and number.
One f-stop is a doubling or halving of the light going through the lens to the film, by adjusting the aperture riing. Adjusting the f-setting from f 1.4 to f.2.0 is halving the light that goes through the lens. Most Leica lenses has half f-stops to enable the photographer to adjust the light more precicely.
A 28 mm lens has a 74° viewing angle
Focal length = For example 50mm or 28mm. It originally referred to the distance from the sensor (or film in older days) to the center of focus inside the lens. Nobody uses that measurement, except those who construct lenses! For users of lenses, focal length refers to how wide the lens sees. The viewing angle, which is often given in for example 90° viewing angle for a 21mm lens, 74° viewing angle for a 28mm lens, 6° viewing angle for a 400mm lens, etc.
Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120° to 200° angle of view, but focus only in the center.
Full Frame (FF) = The size of the sensor is 24 x 36mm which is the format Oskar Barnack and Leica Camera AG invented with the first Leica that was introduced in 1925. Many other formats invented since, such as APS, APS-C and all usually refer to Full Frame ratio, by which it means what size they have compared to Full Frame.
Full Frame is "king of photography"
The 24 x 36mm Full Frame format is so "king of photography" that it has continued to be the ideal for all cameras. Besides this, there exists Large Format cameras such as 4x5" (100 x 125 mm) and Medium Format 6x6 (60 x 60mm amongst other sizes in that area).
ISO = Light sensitivity of the camera sensor is given in ISO (International Organization for Standardization). It's a standard that was used in film and is now used in all digital cameras also. The base ISO for the Leica Q sensor is 100 ISO which means that this is what the sensor "sees". All other levels are computer algorithms calculating the effect as if the sensor could "see" more (hence noise at higher ISO levels).
ISO goes in steps of doubling: When the ISO is raised from 100 ISO to 200 ISO, the camera only need half the amount of light to make a picture. For each step in ISO to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, etc the light sensitivity is doubled for the sensor (and the camera sensor only need half the light of the previous ISO to record the same image).
JPEG = A standard for picture format made in the 1990's by Joint Photographic Experts Group). Mostly referred to as JPG as in L1003455.JPG which would be the name for a JPG file from the camera.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - normally f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities).
Leica = A compound word derived from " (Lei)tz" and "(ca)mera". Apparently they were originally going to use "LECA", but another camera company already used a similar name in France, so they inserted the 'i' to prevent any confusion.
Lens hood = A tube or ring attached to the front of a camera lens to prevent unwanted light from reaching the lens and sensor. ORIGIN Old English hod; related to Dutch hoed, German Hut 'hat,' also to hat.
Level Gauge = This is a tool in the viewfinder to see if you hold the camera 100% horizontal and/or vertical. You can turn it on in the Menu. This is not a feature in the Leica M-D 262, but in the Leica M 240 and Leica M 246 you make it visible in the viewfinder by pressing the INFO button (the round one on the back of the camrea by your thumb).
Live View = This is the ability to see the image the sensor see, live, via the screen of a digital camera, or via an electronic viewfinder (EVF).
Meßsucher (rangefinder or distance finder) = Mess = range, sucher = finder. It is always correctly written with the "ß". There are technically not three "s", rather the "ß" and one "s" because it is a word constructed by the combining of two precise words.
ND = Neutral Density filters are grey filters that functions as 'sunglasses' for lenses. They simply block the light so that a lens can work at for example f/1.4 in sunshine. A 3-stop ND filter is recommend for most Leica lenses.
ND (Neutral Density) filters to put in front of lenses to reduce the amount of light that comes in. They don't have any other effect than that and doesn't change contrast, color or anything.
Noctilux = Also known as "King of the Night" because "Nocti" means Night and "Lux" means Light. The first Leica Noctilux lens was the 50mm Noctilux f/1.2 which shortly after it's introduction was improved to the 50mm Noctilux f/1.0. In the current model the f-stop has been improved further to f/0.95. Read the article on Noctilux here.
The Noctilux "King of the Night" lens. From left the 0.95 in silver (same on the camera, in black, the f/1.0 in the back and the rare and expensive first model, the f/1.2 in the front.
Photography - is the art or process of producing images with a camera by exposing (uncovering to light) film or other special surfaces (such as a sensor) to light. The word photograph is a combination of Greek Light (photo) and Writing (graphy).
You can change from Process 2012 to 2010 in the bottom right corner of Lightroom (in Develop mode)
Process = In Lightroom the Process 2010 and Process 2012 refers the the usual definition of process (a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. It comes from Latin, 'moving forward').
Lightroom could be said to be a process tool:
1) The first process is when you import the images and the file is recognized by the Camera Raw as from a camera model and that profile is applied to the image. That is simply a camera profile that knows that this number is this type of red for this camera, and so you see the image in the right balanced colors to begin with. That is the import process.
2) Then you make the choice if you wan to use Process 2010 or Process 2012 which is two different ways to process it further. Each have multiple tools it opens up for you to use and those tools are based on algorithms on how the image should behave on a tonal courve if you change contrast, exposure, etc.
3) The export is another process where you define what size and resolution you want, and then start a batch-process so Lightroom performs that process for you on a number of images in one batch (including where they should be saved).
There are numerous other processes that can be performed automatically, like writing keywords and changes into the XMP file of the image, backup to other drives, synchronization with databases, etc.
S = Single image. When the ring by the shutter release on top of the Leica M-D 262 is moved from OFF to S, the Leica M-D 262 takes one photo at the time (Single). The other possibility is Continuous (see above).
Spot meter = A light meter that measures a small spot of reflections from a surface. For example a SEI spot meter (Salford Electric Instruments) or Pentax one-degree spot meter. Many digital cameas has a built-in spot meter that measures just a spot of 1 to 3 degrees in the center fo the frame.
SLR = Abbreviation for Single-Lens Reflex; the lens that forms the image on the film/sensor also provides the image in the viewfinder via a mirror. The Leica Q has no traditional viewfinder and no mirror. the image seen in the EVF is what the sensor sees.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In Leica terminology a Summilux is always a f/1.4 lens and a Summicron is a f/2.0 lens.
Viewfinder = a device on a camera showing the field of view of the lens.
1) A built-in viewfinder in a camera that simply show the frame you get when you look through the viewfinder.
2) A rangefinder viewfinder which is also used to focus the lens. In Leica M cameras two pictures has to meet and lay 'on top of each other' for the picture to be in focus.
3) An external viewfinder, usually on top of the camera in the flash shoe, so as to show the field of view of lenses wider than what the built-in viewfinder can show (15mm, 21mm, 24mm, 28mm etc viewfinders exist)
4) Very simple "aiming-devices" on top of a camera that is simply a metal frame without any optics. Just a frame, as for example very old cameras (the original Leica), or when using cameras in diving where you can't look through the camera.
5) A Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) that shows what the sensor sees "live".
XMP = (Extensible Metadata Platform), an ISO standard for the creation, processing and interchange of metadata for all kinds of resources. Usually when I refer to it, it is archiving the keywords, editings settings, camera brand, aperture speed, GPS data and any other metadata for an image, into the XMP file that is part of a DNG file (digital negative). In Lightroom and other editing tools it is important to make sure the data is saved to the file so they don't stay only in a software or catalog. When the metadata is inside the image file (in the XMP), it can be indexed, searched for and is also imported and shown as part of the iamge info whenever the image file is imported in another software. Where should you keep the info about a photograph? In the XMP, of course!
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish born multiple award-winning AP photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops which cater to Leica enthusiasts. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.