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.

That 18mm Zeiss Magic {portraiture}


They said that if you ever found yourself buying the same camera or lens, those are the ones you should never let go. In the last 3 years while circling around gears like A7R, Nikon DF and the D4, i inevitably came back to Leica. The reason is simply because the smaller package and….the other 2 lens that i really loved. The 40mm 1.4 and the  28 f2 ultron.


However, during my project on 100 most beautiful selfie, i came across a gem that i regrettably sold and now reacquire the exact same lens. The 18mm Zeiss, you can read more about it in some of the articles in my blogs. The 18mm f4 Zeiss ZM is one lens that is so unique, it earns its place forever with the Leica ME that i have. Its ironic that a last year i have written a long rant against M9 as one of the worst value camera i ever had and now i am back to ME. Thats just life sometimes, its not like i enjoy shooting myself on my foot or contradicting and losing credibility in my posts, but the fact that new data presented to me and hindsight of my usage and experience, warrants a change of heart.


Leica ME, 18mm ZM and the 40 mm 1.4 voigtlander are all tools that have gone one full circle of being sold off and now back with me. For one, i could never love the 50 or 35 mm focal length, but 18, 40 and 75 seems to be my poison and for a very good reason. With the amount of photo spams in the world today, you don’t want to be shooting a 50 mm, the focal length itself, demands a much harder differentiation point on the images it creates.


The 18 f4 Zeiss, used with the 21 mm f 2.8 profile (the first 21 mm one you find in the manual profile in the M9) fixes most of the corner magneta and vignetting issues that you can find reported in the internet. I bet you can find a real good used one by some users that have given up on fixing the corners.

This is Ramona Tiara, soon (hopefully) she will be flying with emirates and in this album, i wanted to shoot her in her full body length and leverage on the slimming capability of wide angle lens. If you are familiar with Casio TR (the most expensive compact camera and small sensor on the planet), you will know that it is using a 21 mm lens and models and ladies just love its slimming effect. What most ppl don’t know is that its not really a software thing, its the lens. So if 21 mm puny sensor camera cost USD 1000, this 18 mm f4 on FF camera is worth every cent it asked for.

L1001547-EditThanks for visiting. I wish i got time to write a long review on this lens or do these images some justice by giving each of them an appropriate caption, but alas, my eyes are tired and its way past my bedtime. So adios, readers, enjoy your photography.


Chelsea Chang & Sasha Gold, Portraiture

Most of the images here are done using the Zeiss 18 f4. However some are done using a very ancient lens, the Cyclops 85 1.5.
I take it that you will have no problem knowing which is which.
You may contact Chelsea via facebook from my page : www.facebook.com/marcuslowphoto for modelling jobs and casting.
I must say she is a very dedicated model and able to do her own makeup. Sasha is not working towards being a model, so its just a fun collaboration.

I hope you enjoy the images as much as i did creating them. And as for the Cyclops, there is 1 very big con that i should mention, its only sharp at centre. Hence even for some of these photos where i composed using rules of 3rd, the face is a bit blur. That is the limitation you will have to live with, but the legendary bokeh, its not something u can create by photoshop easily.













Vanessa, Post Era (Portraiture)

Vanessa will be leaving Malaysia soon. This is her album, portraiture using my emoref (emotional reflective) style.



This was taken using Minolta Rokkor 55mm 1.7. Manual focusing oh yeah!

The minolta lens continues to surprise me. There are many of these lens lying around in japan and ebay, get yours while you can. I am not selling mine on ebay, but my advice would be, you usually gets what you pay for, look properly at the lens images and description before bidding. Some of the images in this series completely astound me when the “flare” hits the Rokkor at 1.7, more on this later.







Images taken in this post is taken using Zeiss 18mm F4 and Minolta Rokkor 1.7.
Zeiss 18mm M mount at Bhphoto

A side project, 100 most beautiful Selfie


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_DSC4119-EditThis post will always be updated with the collection my project, entitled “100 most beautiful selfie”.
These selfie are done using an angle similar to selfie, except i will be using a monster 36mp A7R with 18mm F4 Zeiss.
The update will ceased the moment it reaches 100 selfies. Whether its a chanced encounter, a friend, a family or just strangers, if a suitable person happens to cross my path, i would offer to take a shot of the selfie for this project.




The beautiful 18mm f4 Zeiss for portraits

This is a tricky lens to use for portrait. The challenge lies in the peak focusing recognition because at this width almost everything seems to be in focus with a slight twist. However it is a beautiful lens indeed. AT 18mm, Zeiss gives very interesting colors and mood to the images. I haven’t have a proper session to do a full model shoot yet, so most images here are just casual images. (updated, check out how its used on portraiture here)
Wide angles such as 21, 18 and even 15, gives the subject a very slim profile, something which almost any ladies would appreciate. Like one of my master says “any lens can be used for portraiture”, its just a matter of recognizing its advantages and using it. One thing though, do not use the hood on the FF Nex. The hood causes an unwanted vignette.

Here are some images taken with it, at 18mm F4. Those “selfie” images are taken from my project of 100 beautiful selfies.





In fact using wide angle for 2-3 meter of portrait photography is something that should be explored more especially for outdoor photography.

Here are 2 more examples, unedited straight from camera. Using wide angle gives a flattering view of the subject, if used at the right angle and distance, even the skin looks better!



You can get this lens here: 18mm f4 Zeiss M mount B&H photo

I personally use Fotodiox M to Nex. Its a very solid piece of adapter and the release tab is so much better than those typical china made that i’ve seen. You can get that here from B&H too

* check out more services and my photos at cocoa-dream