Dubai - Travelling with Leica

Me and my family went in February, to Dubai for one week. This was a vacation just to relax and enjoy the sun and fun of staying on a beach resort. Escaping the frosty February everyday life, at home in Gothenburg. 

This was my first time travelling with my other family, the Leica family :) That being the M240/Nokton 50mm 1.5, M7/Summicron 50mm f2 and the Leica Q. This is also my first travel since starting shooting film. I thought long and hard about bringing my Contax 645 but decided against it in the end, mostly due to size and weight. I know, I'm lazy! 


From what I've seen, the M240 paired with the Nokton 1.5, delivers almost medium format like results. This in terms of separation and shallow dof (I always shoot my cameras wide open to get the look I'm after). That was another point in favour of not bringing the Contax 645. Also keeping my costs down, by not be sending a lot of film for scanning over at Carmencita Film Lab (as I usually do). As much as I love shooting film, sometimes the wallet says no.  

The Leica Typ M240/Nokton combo turned out to be just what I was looking for. Great colours, and excellent separation/shallow dof. It's a bit heavy to travel with, but still compact enough for my taste. The dream size for this camera would be if it was like the Leica M7. I've understood that is the case with the new Leica M10 :) Handling and over all experience with the M240 was just super. One down side of not having an EVF is reviewing your images. The M240 struggled with this in daylight. No surprise. But well at home again, the results didn't disappoint when viewing on a larger screen. The Nokton 50mm 1.5 is really a treat. It's small and light. I don't bother with the big metal lens cap. I just threw on an old UV filter and used that as a lens cap instead. That's a tip for all lenses, if they have large caps (and if you have old scruffy UV filters laying around). 

I like to travel with a rather light setup. But I must say, having these three cameras in my Ona Prince street was really heavy. So heavy it sort of hurt my shoulder! Instead I tried to limit myself to two cameras in the bag at the time. I could have used a ND filter (two-three stops) in order to shoot wide open all the time. I did't have that so instead I had to stop down sometimes, in order to keep the shutter speed at maximum 1/4000th of a sec on my M240 (1/1000 th on the M7). I will get ND filters for next time we travel to such a sunny place. Otherwise it was a joy to use this camera in sunny Dubai, at the beach and to capture the spirit of the resort. The sensor really seems to sing in these bright, sunny conditions. This is obviously not my most authentic work but I tried to find the most significant things for this summer resort. I like to find some sort of peaceful mood in my photography, and I think I held up to that here as well. 


My M7 is my Leica monochrome if you will, always loaded with Kodak Tri-X. I was eager to bring that combo with me, in to central Dubai, to capture some of the arabic spirit. Especially in the older parts of Dubai. But my two loving kids got sick with fever so I had to cancel my detour from our hotel. I was really looking forward to capture more of the smaller things. The city life going on, in between all the usual craziness that is Dubai. I was not interested in capturing the worlds tallest building etc. There are plenty of other HDR enthusiasts out there for that! But we will come back here again, so I'll save downtown Dubai for later! 

Instead I shot a roll of Tri-X in pretty harsh lighting conditions around the hotel/beach. I looked for inspiration in photographer Jake Debruyckere and his ability to make sunny magic with Tri-X. I shot it overexposed 1 stop and I needed to stop the Summicron down sometimes, not to blow out the highlights. Still Tri-X hold up very nicely when overexposed. See film Buddha, Johnny Patience take on it here: Results from my M7 at the end of this post.


I'm fortunate to have the Leica Q in my setup. Usually for my interior work for clients. But it turned out to be the most perfect family/travel camera I have ever used (having had Fujifilm, Nikon and Canon). Having the brilliant EVF and electronic shutter made me shoot around f1.7-2 all the time. Previously we've had the 1st gen Fuji X100 for family stuff but this thing blew that away. I realise it's not fair to compare the Q to the X100 but I will anyway. The Q let's me get sharp results wide open. We're talking 1.7 on an FF camera :) The Summilux 28mm really delivered. Fast auto focus as well (good when having kids playing on the beach). I use the 35mm digital crop mode on the Q a lot , because 28mm is often too wide for my taste, when it comes to family photos. I could just crop later on in LR but I like to frame it correctly in camera. There is not much loss in MP resolution, so I could still print rather large family photos (if I'd like to). My advice is to get the Leica Q! Sell your Fuji gear or what not, save, and then save some more. It's simply brilliant. I guess a Q2 (or whatever) will come in the future, that will bring prices down on used Q's. It's small and the files look absolutely amazing on a large screen :) 


Before this trip I bought Lightroom presets from Rebecca Lily. I'm used to edit my digital work with some form of film like presets. I own both VSCO film packs and similar packs from Mastin Labs. Both of them work fine in getting that film like quality and feel to my images. But I've seen some great editing done with Rebecca Lily's Pro Set IV, and I wanted to try it for myself. It turns out that the Leica files and Rebeccas presets are a match made in heaven! I could get film like results from shooting digital and I was really happy to see that. Here I found presets that, not really mimic the look of film, but made my images feel the way I feel when looking at my film scans. Both in color and B&W. I can really recommend the Pro Set IV for Leica. (not sponsored). Although I really enjoy the process of shooting film, my wallet is happier when I shoot digital. Just shoot more keepers with film you think, and I do. It still adds up quite a lot when sending your film in for developing and scanning.

Here are my digital results, using Rebecca Lily Pro Set IV. All images were taken with the Leica M240/Nokton 1.5, & Leica Q. 



Here are some images taken on Kodak Tri-X with a Leica M7/Summicron 50 2.0 // Scans: Carmencita Film Lab