Where no cameras matter {Portraiture|Mystery camera}

Amanda cme, a full time makeup artist in malaysia, KL.

Last few weeks its all about using that “premium” level noctilux F1. This week, i decided to use a mystery camera to educate friends and public. The point is..


all smiles

You don’t need the most expensive lens or gears to make art. You can’t be using an iphone if you want quality images of the same scene. But here is the good news…


chelsea, beautiful

Today’s camera, if you were to buy one that is even 1″ sensor. Its more than enough to keep you busy. After all, lens or cameras are servants of light.


the eyes

These images taken here are of very high quality, i have no reservations printing it out and matching even the best 35mm have to offer…with billboards as exceptions.


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its all about the expression

What is even more important is to have quality of light and focusing on what you love to do. I love candids and i love portraiture. This is where leica will have a big problem matching, fast focusing. I had good success using 18mm F4 on the Leica ME with zone focusing. But if you gonna do some composition and you want speed…



you will be spoilt by choice by other brands. Autofocus has reached a godlike speed. All the images in this series are taken with 1 camera that cost less than USD 1000 and 1 set of cheap triggers costing usd 30.


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When i have that bokeh lust, its the Leica with the Noctilux that does it. When i want those beautiful candids and i need autofocus, almost any camera will do.

straight pose

This mystery camera is just the Panasonic FZ1000. A zoom lens of 25-400 and 1″ sensor.
Enjoy your day.

5th Element {Portraiture | Noctilux f1}

end of time
end of time

I am often baffled at how the f1.0 produces the most amazing subject isolation. Unlike zoom lens where you turned the background into cream, the 50mm f1.0 retains the background visible shapes and you can get very decent size of the person with just a few steps away.


A handheld shot at 1/60, iso 320. The image retains the ambiance that is often felt at these beautiful dim lighted places.
Its friday, shoot long and prosper.

18mm, the hidden portrait lens { Portraiture | Candid}

the smiling servant


100% zone focusing. That is how i shoot each of these images. I didn’t even look at the view finder and all done by shooting at the hip level or lower. This is how a guy photographer who was given the “privilege” to carry the model’s bag looks like -> Happy. I can’t blame him, personally when i am allowed to carry the model’s bag, a sense of trust and responsibility can be felt, though at a bare minimum level.

K-pop cover album : photog ….yeah dream on


This is possible because 18mm is a crazy godlike lens. This is the Zeiss 18 f4 lens and with that wide field of angle and even at F4, zone focusing by estimating the distance is a breeze. Turn around, camera at hip, distance 1.2 meter, zap!

the tourist


All shots are done at either 1-1.2 meter or 5 meter. When i uploaded these files into my mac mini server, i was really surprised at the results. For a long time, i wanted to take really candid and natural feel of the scene and people that i see. Models or not, i wanted non-posed shots. I love this shot, in street photography you would want the model to be isolated and without distraction, in street photography u want all the elements, including people walking around. Here is a shot with both!

35mm too wide?

Stephan the photographer here is seen moving closer to the model because he is using 35 mm lens. Little did he know, i aint complaining on my 18, he is part of the story. hahaha.


real laughter, finally caught by the 18mm


all attention



The drama you get from the 18mm is just marcuslicious. I can just imagine this being used in the beautiful morning at Mordor…wait..that don’t exist does it? I mean New Zealand..or Norway. whatever. Seriously, try shooting really early in the morning and you get really beautiful results since everything in the frame is lighted divinely.



Suet Li, the model you see here, didnt look very serious when she saw me not focusing at all and just talking to her while pressing the button away. In this picture i was really low and i took the shot like 2 seconds when i just moved in and out.


eye level


The one.

This picture is the only picture that i took taking more than 10 seconds. That is because i wanted the model to stand right there and snap, i took it.


real mccoy

Have you ever wondered how a person would actually looked like if she or he didn’t know a camera is pointed right at here. Now you see it.


Catch me if you can

By now, Miss Suet Li already know that i am shooting whenever i turn around even though i dont look at the viewfinder nor lcd (not that the leica me has an liveview). So yeah she wins this round. Got me surprised with this pose.


Getting close {Street photography | 18mm f4 Zeiss}


18mm f4 zeiss is one of those lens that keeps coming back to your side, sweet talking you into taking it out for some good time. Today i decided to shoot really close, 1.2-2 meters. This has to be done from the hips and its not something new to me as i prefer shooting silently as an observer rather than taking the VF up to my eyes. Granted, Leica ME/M9 uses mechanical shutters and its nowhere as silent as today’s electronic shutter that you can find in many mirrorless cameras. However once you are on the street, its barely audibe and could be used in almost any street photography except a quiet subway.

look left
look left

If there is one thing that i love about the 18mm more than any lens is the drama it brings to the image. 18 is not your average street photographer’s nor portrait lens, but that is exactly why its a compelling lens to used. While shooting at F4, base iso 160 and 1/250 on a cloudy midday, i notice i could easy frame and get the image almost exactly as i imagined it would be.


Street photography is very different from my model portraiture shoot. You don’t have all the time to focus and shoot and you would want as much elements in the picture as possible that shows the subject being in the street or environment. This particular shot i was very close to the subject and they came out from my left suddenly from the mall’s entrance. I set my camera to be in focus for 1.2 meter. Its really beautiful how manual focus lens have these distance markings easily readable when you are shooting from the hip. The masters of the old film days didn’t have any option but to shoot using distance zone focusing when they don’t want to miss the moment, hence the popular one liner of “F8 be there”. I use f4, i want the background to be visible enough buy not as sharp as the subjects.

where's mum
where’s mum

This photo is unedited. The beautiful subject isolation is caused by direction that these people are moving towards the bright outdoor. I notice the cute baby expression of being anxious and quickly move towards them.

leading lines
leading lines

This is probably a photo that i don’t feel like publishing because it actually resembles an upskirt kinda shoot but i am actually pretty far off and took this picture only because of the rare empty distance between me and the subject. When i imported my images to LR, i noticed how perfectly straight the lines are even though i took it from the hip and did not double check on it after the shot. Was tempted to put the caption as “stalked” after i converted it to B&W, but no.

cafe infestation
cafe infestation

Malaysia is undergoing some Cafe booming market right now. This is a standard Starbucks and look how full it is. There are so much activities and interesting people in a cafe.

The city of Ember {Portraiture|Noctilux f1}

Carbon & yosemite

The noctilux F1 continues to amaze me with its seemingly out of the world rendering. At the end one must ask, does the price justify the results?

the wanderer

Shooting with the noctilux F1 takes on a different kind of eyes. You need to pay attention to the background and to the formation of bokeh that might occur, often making your wildest guess as to what the results might be.

the wanderer’s stare

Using the M9/ME CCD sensor only adds surprises to the results. The M9 sensor is a bad performer in high iso, but with a F1, you only need to do ISO 250-400 max.

grace of light

I found myself torn between focusing on the model as well as trying to envision how the background bokeh might be. Its easy to lose yourself in either one and end up with average photos that focuses too much on bokeh or ignoring its possible distractions.

malaysia top barista, kfchan

Even the most mundane background produces a kind of art around the subject.


The noctilux is not a sharp lens by any modern top lens standard…

binary man

but it can render nothing that the modern lens have.