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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

"Never ever confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice cream cone and licking a razor blade."  

 

Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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Meaningful Sharpness Is Complicated and Messy
Old 09-20-2018   #41
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Meaningful Sharpness Is Complicated and Messy

Perceived image sharpness is a subjective topic. It is also an endless topic because everyone has a different view about meaningful sharpness.

Objective sharpness (I'm not sure it's even a good idea to still use the word sharpness) is a completely different topic.

The International Standards Organization developed and published a thee-part standard, ISO 20462, "A psychophysical image quality measurement standard". ISO 20462 is discussed in this peer-reviewed journal article. ISO 20462 attempts to interpret subjective image assessment in a "calibrated manner".

Another complication of "meaningful sharpness" involves considering the system MTF50 instead of just the lens MTF50. The system would include the sensor's optical path (AA filter, micro-lens array, etc) and pixel density; the raw file demosaicking algorithms and image rendering parameters; the display monitor's characteristics; the printer hardware and interpolation software and the print media.
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Old 09-20-2018   #42
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What I want is that you post pictures...instead of talking about what once was and what may be tomorrow. Post pictures, instead.
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Old 09-20-2018   #43
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I'd like a camera that is so automatic it goes off on holiday, takes the photos, comes back and processes/prints the film for me.
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Old 09-20-2018   #44
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I'd like a camera that is so automatic it goes off on holiday, takes the photos, comes back and processes/prints the film for me.
They make those. But they come with a photographer for hire.
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Old 09-20-2018   #45
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A Leica SLM (Monochrom SL).

Know that the 35 Cron-SL reported to be released next year is APO. The 75 Cron-SL is also APO. Also there is a 50 Cron APO coming out.

So now I want to win a lottery so I can buy these lenses. I already own a SL, but I think a Monochrom version should be made especially for me.

Cal
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Old 09-20-2018   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Wijninga View Post
What I want is that you post pictures...instead of talking about what once was and what may be tomorrow. Post pictures, instead.
Anytime you're in Western Canada Peter, i'd be happy to buy you a beer!
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Old 09-21-2018   #47
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Quote:
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I'd like a camera that is so automatic it goes off on holiday, takes the photos, comes back and processes/prints the film for me.
This joke from Stephen Wright sums it up:

"I just bought a camera that's so advanced, you don't need it."
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Old 09-27-2018   #48
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I want a really transparent camera, where I can quickly find and change settings without having to take my eye away from the finder. I want it it be compatible with a range of good quality lenses. I want it to be responsive, firing the shutter at the moment i press it (within reasonable limits). I want the program mode to expose reliably. I want it to take richly detailed pictures. Quite robust and made well enough to last a few years. About it.
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Old 09-27-2018   #49
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What do you look for when you are contemplating a new camera?
Size, weight, body shape (I like RF shaped bodies), price, fast enough AF, and small lenses... to me, Fuji is the current sweet spot in this area. I also like fixed lens cameras.

Everything being released these days is huge... and/or DSLR shaped...and expensive. It seems that very few are making cameras I like anymore.
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Old 09-27-2018   #50
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Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
Size, weight, body shape (I like RF shaped bodies), price, fast enough AF, and small lenses... to me, Fuji is the current sweet spot in this area. I also like fixed lens cameras.

Everything being released these days is huge... and/or DSLR shaped...and expensive. It seems that very few are making cameras I like anymore.
John,

Are you considering getting some backup Fuji's so you are not caught out?

Something to consider.

Cal
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Old 09-27-2018   #51
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John,

Are you considering getting some backup Fuji's so you are not caught out?

Something to consider.

Cal
I have 5 already... and there are a lot out there. I`m not too concerned. If worse came to worse, I would use these new cameras... after all, photography is more important than gear.
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Old 09-27-2018   #52
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I have 5 already... and there are a lot out there. I`m not too concerned. If worse came to worse, I would use these new cameras... after all, photography is more important than gear.
John,

Five is a good stockpile to have. Better to have too many cameras than too few. LOL.

In regard to the Fuji Style of cameras you like, I want to know what you would want as far as advances or improvements.

I'm seeing some backlash against the bigger cameras that seem on trend. It would be interesting to hear about the other side of the market. Seems that people that want small cameras that have a good price point need to be heard.

I'd suggest a camera like the Leica "Q" except with a 50 and without the Leica price.

Cal
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Old 09-27-2018   #53
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John,

Five is a good stockpile to have. Better to have too many cameras than too few. LOL.

In regard to the Fuji Style of cameras you like, I want to know what you would want as far as advances or improvements.

I'm seeing some backlash against the bigger cameras that seem on trend. It would be interesting to hear about the other side of the market. Seems that people that want small cameras that have a good price point need to be heard.

I'd suggest a camera like the Leica "Q" except with a 50 and without the Leica price.

Cal
I am one of the need a small cameras as my health is pretty mullered I can no longer hold big heavy cameras. M43 is ideal for me as long as I can get a fairly light weight body such as the EM10 or G3/5 and smaller lenses. I have had to put the Sony A7 on the auction site as after a few mins I am in a fair bit of pain, I loved what I got out of the 55mm but sadly no more. So the idea of carrying these massive bodies is a non starter, thankfully for what I create the 16mp m43 is good enough. For a camera to be functional I want a viewfinder, I don't mind this bigger and bigger trend but atleast Olympus and Panasonic released usable bodies recently (EM10mk3 GX9).
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Old 09-27-2018   #54
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Quote:
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John,

Five is a good stockpile to have. Better to have too many cameras than too few. LOL.

In regard to the Fuji Style of cameras you like, I want to know what you would want as far as advances or improvements.

I'm seeing some backlash against the bigger cameras that seem on trend. It would be interesting to hear about the other side of the market. Seems that people that want small cameras that have a good price point need to be heard.

I'd suggest a camera like the Leica "Q" except with a 50 and without the Leica price.

Cal
Cal, I have no problem with Fuji as long as they keep on making the X100, X-Pro, and X-E series of cameras... they are RF shaped and I like them a lot. As far as what they can do in the future, I guess they can make more small lenses, keep updating the AF speed / accuracy, and add better sensors.

I do like the Leica CL and the Leica Q as well... I think they are well designed. IF Leica had a small 35mm F2 (50mm equiv) for the CL, I`d have to have one. I`ve been using a Fuji X-E3 w/ 35mm F2 as my main camera lately. It is small, fast, and has the IQ I`m used to. It needs a bigger VF, a little better build quality, and cutting edge low light AF for me to be truly happy.
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Old 09-27-2018   #55
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Quote:
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... What do you look for when you are contemplating a new camera?
I'd look for something substantially better than what I have in order to justify the cost of the upgrade.

Not long ago, a friend of mine made me a 30 x 40" print (far beyond my capacity) from a raw file I captured with my Leica M-P 240. It's very sharp and substantially outperforms any reasonable need I might have into the foreseeable future.
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Old 09-27-2018   #56
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I'd like a camera that is so automatic it goes off on holiday, takes the photos, comes back and processes/prints the film for me

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
This joke from Stephen Wright sums it up:

"I just bought a camera that's so advanced, you don't need it."
Hmmm. I'd say it's more a case of:

"I want a camera that's so advanced, it doesn't need me."
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Old 09-28-2018   #57
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Cal, I have no problem with Fuji as long as they keep on making the X100, X-Pro, and X-E series of cameras... they are RF shaped and I like them a lot. As far as what they can do in the future, I guess they can make more small lenses, keep updating the AF speed / accuracy, and add better sensors.

I do like the Leica CL and the Leica Q as well... I think they are well designed. IF Leica had a small 35mm F2 (50mm equiv) for the CL, I`d have to have one. I`ve been using a Fuji X-E3 w/ 35mm F2 as my main camera lately. It is small, fast, and has the IQ I`m used to. It needs a bigger VF, a little better build quality, and cutting edge low light AF for me to be truly happy.
John,

There is this new compact called a PIXII that has some connection to Leica. Mucho small. Looks to be a fixed lens. Pretty much all is known is this tease of a picture and no specs.

Pretty much looks to be a very contemporay design and one of those cameras where everybody would want one because of style and size.

Your dream might have come true if a 50mm FOV, but it seems to be a full frame with a Leica 28/2.8 lens. I suspect this camera will be less than a Leica "Q."

I totally get it why a small camera is handy. All we need is a basic camera.

Cal
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Old 09-28-2018   #58
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I just bought a lovely, functioning OM1n for about £50 and currently I don't need anything more at the moment film camera-wise. As many have said, the digital pixel race is not something that most users need to run, 16MP being fine for practical purposes and I've got that covered. However I'm still hooked on the process and look of film so maybe a reliable dual format film scanner with some great software for under £1,000.
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Old 09-28-2018   #59
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Interesting......

https://photorumors.com/2018/09/28/a...-pixii-camera/

Seems someone was listening.

B2 (;->
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Old 09-28-2018   #60
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John,

There is this new compact called a PIXII that has some connection to Leica. Mucho small. Looks to be a fixed lens. Pretty much all is known is this tease of a picture and no specs.
Really? It looked big to me and I thought it was M mount. I'm done with manual focus though...
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Old 09-28-2018   #61
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Really? It looked big to me and I thought it was M mount. I'm done with manual focus though...
John,

Forensics for me confirm in fact it is a M-mount, manual focus.

Interesting from a historical POV that LTM was once used by Minolta, Canon, Nikon and many others.
Now again it is happening with "M" and "L" mounts.

I know how AF is speedy, and pretty much it makes for a faster shooter, so I know about the limits of manual focus.

Anyways this is an interesting development: a third party M-mount body.

It does look bigger than my CL.

Cal
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Old 09-28-2018   #62
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Interesting......

https://photorumors.com/2018/09/28/a...-pixii-camera/

Seems someone was listening.

B2 (;->
B2,

Thanks for the link and added clarity.

Cal
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Old 09-28-2018   #63
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Anyways this is an interesting development: a third party M-mount body.
Sure is Cal...
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Old 09-28-2018   #64
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Really? It looked big to me and I thought it was M mount. I'm done with manual focus though...
Having sold all me M mount glass, I still love the old stuff, but not sure how it will perform at the edges on a FF. I'd love to have the old Skopar Snap-Shot 25/4 on a body the way it focuses.

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Old 09-28-2018   #65
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Old 11-08-2018   #66
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I want small cameras .
I want less features. I want to get rid of menus.

I like the film and scanner thing BUT... digital is so liberating some ways like: i can change color to BW, iso, white balnce... from picture to picture instead of finishing 36 exposures. Even more liberating: i don´t have top beg w/ security at airports to spare my film from xray.

Otoh... obsolescence on the digital front is annoying. Cameras should not be throw away, disposable items. I grew up on film cameras and manual focus. I can manual focus faster than AF. I have 40 yr old lenses that feel solid.

I want a digital camera w/ no live vision or playback much like the Leica but costing like Fuji or less. I don´t mind the EVF.. i like it. I don´t need an OVF anymore but i still want a viewfinder. The fuji xe3 is almost there but the menus and buttons put me off.

I like a small, simple camera that does not cost more than 1k and has a smalish zoom w/ out optical aberrations. I need to go from wide to tele and changing lenses on digital cameras is a no no (dust gets on the sensor).
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Old 11-08-2018   #67
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What I really want is to become a better photographer. There is no new camera in my near future, but I'm having a lot of fun reacquainting myself with my manual film camera. I hadn't used it in such a long time that it has practically been like having a brand new camera. As a result that excited/anxious feeling when I'm out shooting still applies to a degree.

I'm really enjoying the process of shooting with film once again for no other reason than it appeals to me. While I'm sure that many here can understand this even if they don't feel the same way, it's sometimes hard for me to explain to others. I'm finding the appeal of film photography similar to that of other rather visceral experiences I enjoy such as listening to vinyl records, driving a sports car with a manual transmission, riding a motorcycle, playing guitar, fly-fishing, or even making my own espresso for that matter. They all require a fairly high level of involvement and attention on my part and I suppose I enjoy that. The interest is there and I realize that I'm only going to improve by creating more photographs and learning from my mistakes. But I'd like to think that I'm also accumulating some insight by looking at many of the images posted by others here on this forum

I'm currently focused on relearning much of what I had forgotten over the years. I feel like I'm now at a good place in life to better absorb some of the core knowledge essential to photography (things that I either struggled with or just plain ignored when I was younger). These are likely things that most here on this forum take for granted. I would like to receive more feedback on my images along with any suggestions/advice others might have. I just don't crank out the volume of images that many here do so I don't often have much new to post. I did check that I'd like feedback in my profile, but either I've yet to receive any feedback or I simply don't know how this feature works. Perhaps someone here can clue me in on this.

Oh, while I don't see a new camera in my future, I am interested in obtaining the gear and the chemicals to be able to start developing my own film at some point next year. It seems like a logical next step to me. It's been a REALLY long time since I last did this so that should be a fun trip down memory lane.
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Old 11-08-2018   #68
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What I really want is to become a better photographer. ..

I think about this all the time because pleasure from dealing w/gear can distract from the basic duty which is to make relevant images. So... I believe everyone has his/her particular method of reaching that place where you decide what is visually interesting and why is it interesting. My way is to balance the admiration i have for the masters and pioneers w/ my own private experience in time x place. It sounds pretentious but it´s like this.. i don´t plan on reinventing photography but i feel like i should contribute something and this comes from my own private world. The pleasure w/ playing w/ a camera is put aside when making a picture since it is a pure abstract, rational act. The camera should not get in the way but serve the purpose. Therefore the simpler the camera the better. I rather have one lens, one camera and the the fastest most simple technical way, be it digital film or anything else.
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