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LFI

3/ 2008 APRIL

LEICA FOTOGRAFIE INTERNATIONAL

LOÏC BRÉARD PILGRIMAGE TO EL ROCÍO

LEICA’S FUTURE INTERVIEW WITH THE NEW CEO

LARGER THAN LIFE

  



D 19088 F

D EUR 6,50 NL EUR 7,70 B EUR 7,70 L EUR 7,70

MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY WITH THE R SYSTEM


CONTENT

PORTFOLIOS LOÏC BRÉARD

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Once a year, the quaint Spanish village of El Rocío transforms into the site of a flamboyant pilgrimage. Loïc Bréard captured the spectacle in intoxicating black and white images

UWE DÜRIGEN

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Living for the gods: Uwe Dürigen accompanied an Indian Sadhu on his pilgrimage – a colourful reportage on asceticism and the joys of faith

TECH-TALK LEICA’S REVISED PLANS

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An interview with the new CEO Dr Andreas Kaufmann on past experiences and future product strategies

MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY

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Getting close to Mother Nature: exploration with the MacroElmarit-R 60 mm f/2.8 and Apo-Macro-Elmarit-R 100 mm f/2.8

LEICA M8

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Firmware 1.201 helps the M8’s auto white balance find its feet

FOURTHIRDS

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How things will continue with Leica’s D system, and how Ben Burling sees the world with the Digilux 3

CAPTURE ONE 4

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Innovations and improvements that the current edition of the classic Raw converter has to offer

APERTURE 2.0

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The latest edition of Apple’s integrated program for the Raw workflow had made a big leap forward

SECTIONS EDITORIAL

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HELEN LEWITT

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EXHIBITIONS

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LFI ONLINE GALLERY

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PREVIEW / IMPRINT

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Loïc Bréard: Standard bearers in El Rocío, Spain 2006 (page 10) Macro photography with the R System (page 26) Uwe Dürigen: Sadhu in the Himalayas, India 2006 (page 54)

Cover photo: Loïc Bréard: Pilgrims in El Rocío, Spain, 2006

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INTERVIEW

„IN THE BEST OF SPIRITS“ Leica has a new CEO. Dr Andreas Kaufmann, owner of Leica Camera AG, has been running the ship over the past few weeks. Former captain Steven K. Lee was – ever so politely – asked to walk the plank. We wanted to know how such a mutiny had erupted, and what course Leica is plotting for the uncharted waters ahead.

“The supervisory board of Leica Camera AG today removed Steven K. Lee as member and chairman of the board of management of Leica Camera AG with immediate effect.” This was Leica’s official statement to the public on the 22nd of February. At the same time, Leica announced that Dr Andreas Kaufmann, whose ACM Project Development Ltd. holds 96.51 per cent of the Leica shares, would be taking over as company president. This radical step, so soon before Photokina 2008, has come as a surprise to many. Kaufmann himself had asked Lee on board in 2006, around the time of that year’s Photokina; upon rescuing the crippled company, the former Best Buy manager was to expand the Leica brand and drive ahead the development of new products. Now he’s been fired without notice. We can only speculate as to why this happened – there must have been some serious internal conflict. However, the parties involved currently wish to keep shtum about the reasons precipitating the dismissal. We’ve noticed that many Leica employees seem relieved about Lee’s departure. This points to major problems with personnel management under the aegis of Lee. Camera dealerships, for one, openly expressed their resentment: Martin Meister, the biggest Leica dealer 6

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Dr. Andreas Kaufmann once brought Steven K. Lee on board; now he’s fired him. He is optimistic about setting the company on the right course

in Germany, wrote a newsletter in which he voiced his frustration with the disturbed relationship between Leica and its dealers, suppliers and, not least, customers. In recent times, the number of divergences with regard to product strategy and the prioritisation of target markets is said to have been on the increase. In our interview, Dr Kaufmann reassures us that product development is still on course, but it goes without saying

that the continued demoralisation of staff can’t have been helpful in achieving the company’s original goals. But the crisis is over, and the mood in Solms is evidently optimistic. The expectation of finalising new products for Photokina – and healing a few wounds in the process – is now within the realms of possibility. Within the first few days of the new leadership, one product idea had already been changed. The M8 upgrade program, whose advance sales were scheduled to commence on the 1st of March, will appear in a different form to that initially announced. From August on, Leica Customer Service will offer to replace the display glass for 750 euros and change the shutter for 800. Both services are available for 1120 euros, and with either upgrade the M8 guarantee is extended by one year. The deciding factor in this change of strategy was that many customers were only interested in one of the modifications. This is now possible. Moreover, Leica’s perhaps overly enthusiastic new idea would have created an atmosphere among users of expecting something new every couple of months. And yet Leica hasn’t entirely bidden farewell to the upgrade concept – there’s nothing wrong with offering a few improvements from time to

Photo: Michael Agel

BY HOLGER SPARR AND FRANK P. LOHSTÖTER


EL ROCIO

Every year at Whitsuntide, a glorious pilgrimage culminates in the Andalusian village of El Rocío – an event where religion and everyday life merge into one. Yet amid this veritable explosion of visual wonders, Loïc Bréard manages to capture moments of introspection as well.

PHOTOS: LOÏC BRÉARD


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PORTFOLIO LOÏC BRÉARD

Left: Sumptuously embellished, ox-drawn wagons serve to transport exhausted pilgrims to the Virgen del Rocío. Above: Moments of reflection and introspection in the midst of the festive turbulence; below: ‘sin pecados’ – ‘sinless’ wagons – are richly decorated with flowers and silver. They carry the statue of the ‘Mother of God’ and the standard of the respective brotherhood

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PRACTICE MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL

Spring has sprung, and photographers are once again being drawn to the great outdoors. It’s the time of year when Mother Nature reawakens, producing a seemingly infinite diversity of living beings both animal and vegetable. Like so many things in life, the term ‘macro’ is a category with a certain norm: DIN 19040. According to this standard, anything that has a reproduction scale between 1:10 to 10:1 is considered macro. As far as the buffs of the trade are concerned, though, macro begins at a 1:2 reproduction scale – but let’s not split hairs. Ultimately, macro photography is about creating a large-scale reproduction of a tiny object or detail, which we would otherwise pass by without noticing. The idea is to take a miniscule object of interest out of its usual context and, through photographic composition,transform it into something new. A reproduction scale of 1:2 means that an object measuring 40 by 70 mm in real life will fill the 35 mm plane entirely. If the resulting printout were to measure 20 by 30 cm, the object would appear five times its actual size. Just imagine the size of the reproduction when 26

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blown up from a projector! Macro photography directs our attention to the details that would otherwise require us to use a magnifying glass. It can be seen as the opposite pole to dynamic photojournalism. If accurate sharpness matters anywhere, it’s here. By the same token, we want any elements that might be a distraction to play a nicely vague role in the blurry background. The composition has to be clean and the light and depth arranged consciously if your results are to be consistently good and not just hit and miss. This doesn’t mean that macro photography is something for experts only. The R system, with its wide variety of accessories, is designed to help you achieve stunning results with relative ease. The large, bright viewfinder of the R9, although no match for the venerable Leicaflex viewfinder (LFI 2/2008), guarantees extra-fine focus control. There are also special macro lenses and accessories, such as extension tubes and close-up lens attachments. And don’t forget that the Digilux 3 can be equipped with

an adapter in order to accommodate R lenses. Its sensor cuts the acquired angle of view in half, thereby effectively doubling reproduction scale. The bigger the reproduction scale, the smaller the depth of field. In the realms of macro photography, the DOF only measures a few millimetres. A tripod can be an invaluable aid, as well as any given sliding positioning plate with a quick release clamp, such as the Novoflex Castel series, or one of the many different types made by Burzynski (distribution at www.isarfoto.com). It’s tools like these – not to forget a 3-way pan/tilt head with precision drive – that will hopefully make your macro experience frustration-free. After all, the severity of camera shake increases the closer you approach the subject.

R SYSTEM FOR MACRO There are times when you’ll be able to experiment without a tripod, too – especially when you’re working with minimum depth. Leica’s close-range R lenses are quite fast: the Macro-Elmarit-

Photos: Marcel Chassot (27–30), Reiner Aichholz (32–33), Dieter Nothnagel (34–35)

Macro photographers just love their delicate plants and creepy-crawlies. R lenses prove to be the perfect instruments to help bring the microcosm at your toes onto the world stage. LFI spotlights three photographers with three different approaches.


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Fotos: Ronald Schmidt, www.sonnelacht-blende8.com


TECH-TALK LEICA RANGEFINDER

M8-FIRMWARE 1.201: AWB FINALLY BALANCED? The M8 has had a rough ride with its automatic white balance. Users raise their eyebrows at the mere thought of it. Now, Leica vows to set things right with firmware update 1.201. LFI gives it the once over. BY RONALD SCHMIDT

ENERGY-SAVING LIGHTBULB

DAYLIGHT

Top: New firmware 1.201, automatic (left) and manual (right) white balance. Bottom: Firmware 1.11, automatic (left) and manual (right) white balance

Firmware 1.201, automatic (top) and manual (bottom) white balance

Leica M8, firmware 1.201

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Canon 5D

Leica C-Lux 2

Photos: Ronald Schmidt

AUTOMATIC MODES COMPARED


Just for good measure we also lined up the Leica M8 with the C-Lux 2 and the Canon 5D, the latter of which is generally seen as having a decent auto white balance. The colour settings were set to ‘neutral’ or ‘natural’ respectively. While the three camera concepts have very little in common, the combination is quite popular among Leica photographers. The results? M8 users can heave a sigh of relief; the current firmware update does the job admirably. The auto setting has been given a proper overhaul and the kelvin parameters for manual adjustment have been adapted. In critical situations, the best thing will always be to adjust the white balance by hand – but this goes for all other digital cameras, too.

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Leica introduced a firmware upgrade for the M8 just in time for the Los Angeles PMA tradeshow early this February. “New, substantially improved algorithms for the Auto White Balance (AWB) for true colour photos in almost any lighting!” Leica declares. That’s quite a promise for a company that has been subjected to much criticism in this area over the past year. Developing a white balance that works 100 per cent in every lighting imaginable remains a sticky issue for any digital camera developer. Will there ever be a final solution to this problem? It seems unlikely. The hardware simply cannot know how each individual photographer prefers his light temperature. Some situations will always call for a manual white balance. In LFI 1/2008 we highlighted a number of tools that can help you get the job done. In any case, the automatic white balance should never be cause for irritation – which brings us to the M8’s enfant terrible. Here, the AWB’s erratic jumps in colour temperature consistently catch the user off-guard, even in the most homogeneous and straightforward of lighting. The problem occurs most when the camera itself is in the shade and the subject in the sunlight (or vice versa) – which is partly also due to the M8‘s ambient light sensor, being predisposed to measuring the intensity of the ambient light rather than the actual colour temperature Let’s find out more about the recent firmware advance, which brings it up to version 1.201. In LFI 1/2008 we discovered the ultimate white balance acid test – the artificial light of an energy-saving lightbulb. First we allowed it to glow for a while and reach a consistent colour temperature. Blocking out all other light, we took a picture using firmware 1.1 and then the current version. The results are clear: the task is still too sophisticated for either one and calls for manual intervention. Next up in our test, we switched off our eco-friendly bulb and bathed our set-up in daylight. With firmware 1.201 the AWB gives a clean yet somewhat cool performance. Crosschecking it with a manual white balance, the latter comes out warmer – but here it all boils down to a question of taste. We ran a series of standardised tests and chatted extensively with other M8 photographers, and it’s safe to say that the unpredictable behaviour described above has been successfully thwarted with this update. The auto white balance is evolving into a dependable tool.

LFI

LEICA FOTOGRAFIE INTERNATIONAL

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Parking for a civilised spot of tea and biscuits at the promenade in Southend, Essex

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PRACTICE FOURTHIRDS

BEN’S DIGILUST

At Photokina 2006, Leica announced their commitment to creating a third camera platform – the D system –, heralding their entry into the FourThirds segment with the Digilux 3. Today we‘re left wondering what happened. Leica never even mentioned the two genuine FourThirds lenses they had created (see page 43) alongside the D Vario-Elmarit 14–50 mm f/2.8–3.5 Asph supplied with the camera, leaving the promotion entirely up to development partner Panasonic. Leica has instead seemed to be more concerned about convincing owners of R lenses to pick up the Digilux 3 as a viable ‘bridge’ solution in the run-up to the R10. This might seem to suggest that the Digilux 3’s days are numbered. With Photokina 2008 looming large, the time has come for us to ask some questions. Customers are bemused by the blasé attitude with which Leica apparently treats and promotes the D system. Rumour has it that the Digilux 3 has been quietly taken out of production altogether. But this is not the case. Leica talks about the sort of “consistent sales figures” that a small company like theirs can be satisfied with. As long as things continue in the same vein, the Digilux 3 should remain a valuable asset to the Leica portfolio. By the same token, a Digilux 4 is not on the cards for the time being – and Leica sees this as a good thing. The idea is to steer clear of the upgrade craze that has gripped modern camera technology and instead 3/2008 LFI

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Photos: Ben Burling; product shots: Leica, Panasonic

What’s going on with the Digilux 3? Nothing much, by all accounts. It’s become a low-key player in Leica’s product line up. We had a snoop around to see who’s using it, and chanced upon Ben Burling. Check out his impressions of southern England and India.


TECH-TALK RAW CONVERTERS

TRIED AND TESTED Capture One 4 by Phase One has arrived. How does the newly revamped Raw converter fill its predecessor’s shoes – and tackle the competition?

BY HOLGER SPARR

The ‘Quick Tools’ palette contains the most important functions for adjusting your image – including the new ‘High Dynamic Range’ sliders to restore high and low lights

Colour profiles are applied freely in Capture One 4. For the time being, the only way to create greyscale images is via the designated effect profiles

The complete workflow packages pioneered by Aperture and Lightroom have sent ripples worthy of the Titanic right through the world of Raw converters. Up until recently, the software giants of the photo industry had merely dabbled in what was then a tiny market for Raw image capture. Today, they’re leading the way with ingenuity and super-sharp designs, creating software solutions that are both accessible and coherent. We’re seeing a wave of conversions among photographers; smaller providers like Phase One are being forced to rethink their Raw strategies. Products are being smartened up and made more convenient – and some of them stand a good chance of securing their spot in the limelight. Capture One, for example, remains a force to be reckoned with, as it occupies the top spot in the quality department. It’s an application with great potential – especially for the DNG files of the Leica M8. While former editions of Capture One were less appealing and functional than many of the other tools jostling for our attention, Capture One 4 presses all the right buttons, boasting a sleek new design and a whole array of options. The interface consists of small, bright symbols and fonts 48

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Capture One 4 allows you to create copies of your pictures, tweak them independently and experiment with settings. As only the settings are stored, the copies occupy very little space

against a dark background, ensuring that the image takes centre stage. The basic idea behind Capture One remains true, even in its fourth incarnation.

ORGANISE In step one, pictures are imported and viewed. You can set Capture One 4 to organise the file structure and create backup copies in a secondary folder. Pictures are named and copyright notes applied. Unlike Lightroom or Aperture, Capture One 4 does not create image databases. It merely manages the photos by means of subfolders with adjustment and cache files. This swallows up a hefty ten percent more memory. The application is now capable of displaying up to 12 pictures simultaneously. It allows for synchronised zooming and scrolling to help compare large sets of images. The administrative tools are rather limited on the whole. The rating system goes up to five stars, and pictures can be moved, deleted and organised into folders – but where are the keywords, stacks and projects? Even sessions are nowhere to be seen. On top of that, there are no


TECH-TALK RAW WORKFLOW

ONE GIANT LEAP Aperture 2.0, the second version of Apple’s Raw workflow solution, promises more quality, options, convenience and affordability. We got out our magnifying glasses and went looking for the chinks in its armour.

BY HOLGER SPARR

Far left: The new Aperture interface is looking much tidier. There appear to be fewer functions, though this is not the case. The program has also become much more accessible and works well on MacBooks Aperture 2.0 rises to the challenge with a fleet of innovative gizmos for advanced image manipulation. In addition to the highly effective moiré removal tool there are sliders for restoration, blackness and ‘definition’ Right: The newly introduced repair brush works just like its counterpart in Photoshop, removing dust, smudges and other unwanted artefacts. With edge recognition activated, it spares the hard contrasts that are meant to remain in the picture

The battle of the Raw converters is about to commence. Apple‘s Aperture 2.0 throws down the gauntlet with dozens of new functions and a provocative price cut from 299 euros to 199. That makes the complete package only 100 euros more expensive than an elementary Raw converter – and it even has the audacity to undercut its chief competitor, Adobe Lightroom. Like Lightroom, Aperture puts all tasks from file import and handling to development and output under one roof. It has left a strong impression thanks to its outstanding file management system. Up until now, though, customers have been slightly but consistently let down in terms of quality and speed. Apple has given their product a much cleaner look and restructured the parameter boxes for enhanced compatibility with smaller monitors. The once chaotic library panels have been confined to a shared space, accessed by clicking on the relevant pull-out tab. All tools remain 50

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within easy reach in expert mode, while the majority of commands and views can be run using customisable keyboard shortcuts.

EXTRA FUNCTIONS The tool palettes include a number of new sliders to help recover highlights and adjust blackness, thus expanding the effective tonal spectrum. Apple has also thrown in their interpretation of the Vibrance slider. First brought to our attention by Raw Shooter and Lightroom, this nifty little tool is designed to boost the saturation of pale colours without messing up skin tones. Then there’s the ‘Definition’ slider for local contrast – which should be used cautiously for best results; otherwise M8 pictures start to look like they‘ve been taken with any compact camera. The vignetting slider comes into its own in portrait and wedding photography, intelligently increasing fade-out in


PORTFOLIO UWE DÜRINGEN

THE GANGES’ HOLY MEN PHOTOS: UWE DÜRIGEN


PORTFOLIO UWE DĂœRINGEN

For Hindus, the Ganges is a holy river, with countless centres for pilgrims along the way. Uwe DĂźringen followed the river to its source, documenting the Sadhu rituals and a variety of festivities held on its banks. A photographic pilgrimage.

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Sadhus, India’s holy men, lead lives dedicated to the worship of the gods. Many pilgrims follow the course of the holy Ganges river, revered as a divine mother. The ascetic’s greatest goal is to reach its source in the Himalayas, where the touch of the ice-cold water, that pure and divine elixir, can give rise to ecstatic experiences

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Barefoot and dressed in thin cloths, Sadhus hike through the holy mountains of India’s Garhwal region. At night, temperatures fall to -10 degree Celsius; Sadhus use yoga techniques to adjust their body temperature. Swami Sajalanand paints the sign of Shiva on his brow and worships lingas – small stone sculptures that represent the Hindu god

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LFI READERS’ GALLERY MARCH OF THE MACHINES.

At the coal port in Amsterdam, the machines have taken over. Gigantic excavators and cranes dominate the scene, and every worker, despite his burly appearance, looks tiny and fragile in comparison. So what’s a 41-year-old insurance broker looking for in a place like this? Subject material for his M8, as it happens. Photographically speaking, Hubert Koekenbergs goes in for extremes. Shot from unusual perspectives, these machines appear absurdly disproportionate in size, giving them a life of their own that dictates the rhythm of the work at hand. Humans lose their commanding role and are reduced to powerless drones whose lives might be in danger if they’re not careful. Only the colours are real: metallic blue ‘Haarlem light’ gives the excavators and ship hulls a shimmering aura, making colour filters superfluous. Excessive camera gear is unnecessary; there’s already enough technology here to sink a ship. www.lfi-online.de/galleries

Most pictures were taken with the Summicron-M 28 mm f/2 Asph, except for the shadowed silhouette in front of the red hull, for which Koekenberg used a 21 mm Voigtländer. Once he’d chosen a lens he had to stick with it all day, as the fine coal dust in the harbour and on the freighters got into every crevice, making a change of lenses unthinkable

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LFI 3-2008 Leseprobe_en-1