TFP Documentary / Image Theft / Leica M8

Time For Prints documentary

I'm really curious about this documentary. There are so many angles. So many stories. Every time I work with a model who's got some experience, I always ask them about what sort interesting characters they've encountered.

(Found on the San Francisco Nudes blog)

My primary fear about pictures of mine floating around

I've come to realize that my biggest fear isn't necessarily that I'd discover somebody putting one of my pictures in a huge advertisement campaign. I figure that for the most part, this is kinda covered by copyright law and fairly easy to go after.

The concept of people viewing my images without paying for them doesn't necessarily bother me either. I've found that I have gained much much more by sharing my images fairly freely than I would by keeping them locked in a box.

I'm quite comfortable with Google & Yahoo Image Search and the Internet Archive.

It's a minor annoyance that people are probably right-click-and-saving my images to their hard drive. I don't have room to really complain too heavily because I realize that it's pretty much impossible to prevent it (And the idea of DRM is even more annoying).

What I am worried about most is my pictures floating around the web without attribution. There are tons of images that are passed around and are very popular... but nobody knows who took them. I'm naturally curious and love to know the larger context of pictures. Take for example, the Bikini Girls of the Apocalypse picture, which doesn't have any information attached to it. I've done some web searching to see if I can find more information but failed. Somebody obviously went through the time to make all of the set pieces... but I have no idea where it came from.

I got an anonymous message from somebody trying to defend their habit of copying images off my site and posting them wherever and insisted that they were still showing respect for my work... and whoever wrote it was clearly missing the point. It is easier to send a hotlink than it is to send a file.

This is why I am pretty merciless about sending DMCA requests whenever I find that somebody has copied one of my pictures to their site. This is why I've decided that I'd rather pay a bandwidth bill than give permission for somebody to host my images elsewhere. This is also why the next version of this site will automatically burn in a copyright notice on all pictures.

The Leica M8 in Iraq

An article has been making the rounds on the Internet about a professional photojournalist using the Leica M8 in Iraq.

The M8 is the perfect form factor, really. Without the mirror box and prism and as much mechanical hardware, in theory, you can fit more lens + sensor in a smaller unit. With less stuff flopping around, you can get away with longer exposures and draw less attention because it will make less noise.

However, it turns out that the Leica M8, like most of the recent Leica cameras, is really not designed for hardcore professionals. It's designed for the Leica collector audience, who may shoot their Leicas once in a while but mostly buy it as a status symbol and under the generally correct impression that the values will continue to exist contrary to reality.

I've played with an M8 and I was suitably impressed with some of the working properties. It's tiny. It's cute. I like a rangefinder in some situations. But I'm also impressed with the Voightlander rangefinders... and the Fuji and Mamiya medium format leaf-shuttered rangefinders even more.

The problem is, to do a digital sensor really right compared to the big guys while the camera market is still in flux, you need to invest a lot of money. Far more than Leica can really afford to spend, which is why they rebrand so many cameras from Panasonic. So Leica cuts corners and gets far worse results out of a 1.3x sensor than the only other manufacturer in that area. And Leica seems to have realized that their main audience hasn't been professional photographers for a long long time.

Posted by reese :
I have the same issue as you when it comes to sharing images and online. Sure, it's great if people are looking at them, and I do maximise the chances by making my images public for the most part. I don't mind people saving them, using them, etc. It's only when it comes to them using them unattributed that I have a problem. Just plain sneaky, I think!
Posted by Marc Rochkind :

"So Leica cuts corners and gets far worse results out of a 1.3x sensor than the only other manufacturer in that area."

Don't understand the "far worse results" part of this. On what is this based?

My understanding (and my own experience) is that by foregoing a Moire filter, using a too-thin IR filter, and by providing great lenses, they get far BETTER results from anyone using a 1.3 sensor, or a 1.5, for that matter.

The review you cite mentioned numerous usability problems, and other issues (e.g., white balance) that don't apply to raw, which is, of course, the way to get the best from any camera.

(I'm not necessarily disagreeing with anything else you said about the Leica, just this one sentence.)

Posted by Wirehead Arts :
Actually, Marc, what I'm going on is the phrase from the review "I would estimate that between the lack of fast wide lenses and the abysmal high ISO performance, the M8 is 4 to 5 stops behind both Canon and Nikon in low-lighting shooting" and where he points out earlier that this is partially due to the slow wide-angle lenses.

Now, I'm going on secondhand information here, because I don't own an M8. But getting barely acceptable images at 640 ASA doesn't sound very good, given the 1.3x crop sensor. Compare to the 1D Mk III's high ISO performance. Which I suspect just goes down to Canon and Nikon having a lot more money to blow on camera-integral and raw-converter noise reduction than Leica.

But, yes, there's a better chance that with a high-quality near-diffraction-limited lens and the bigger sensor area and the lack of extra glass between the lens and the sensor, you could squeeze more optical performance out of it in a smaller package than the 5D in sunny situations.

I'm partway through importing every last bit of content off of this version of the site and moving it into the new version of the site. Taking forever, because I'm also re-organizing it and cleaning up formatting at the same time.

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