Two months ago we laid our hands on the Leica S2 Medium Format camera body with the Leica Summarit 35mm, 70mm and 120mm lens. So we brought it out in the wee hours of the night to shoot our new profile pictures since now we have Mr Benedict Chan a.k.a Ben Chan with us. No toilet bowl shots this time round, but we managed to take our shoot to a Food Centre, where we ended the shoot inside a rubbish refuse chute at about 3am. As we didn’t have the liberty of time, we had to make do with a night shoot hence this might not be an accurate test, doing injustice to the camera. We sorely apologise if the images are not what you expect of a camera review, which is not the purpose of this entry, but more of how we would use it in our shoots.
The Leica S2 is built like an ordinary sized full frame DSLR camera albeit a little bigger, and I thought it looked like a simple quiet fella when I displayed it out on the table alongside my Canon 5D Mark II. Leica S2 just feels like the kind of guy who has been rejected, ostracized and outcast by the society with his head hanging low in a dark corner. Looking modest, simple and clean with very few buttons, the Canon 5D Mark II just seemed to look a little flashy side by side. But what I was about to find out later when I tested the camera got me dumbfounded.
The resolution produced by the waterproof body camera with a 30mm x 45mm sensor which was larger than a standard 35mm full frame DSLR was simply mind blowing at 37.5 megapixels. I can shoot an image, crop in the eye lashes at 100% and it’s still has enough resolution to print tack sharp 8”x12” prints. The tiny details that are often pixilated become so obvious now. Every crease, folds, tiny hairs, wrinkles (woooopps) are captured in minute precision. However you’ll either need to make sure your hands are steady like the tripod or you’ll need a tripod for maximum results as the shutter mirror slap is insanely different from the run of the mill DSLRs. The slightest movement can easily cause an image to go out of focus. The AF (auto focus) is quite accurate but you won’t want to expect it to be as fast as the standard DSLR cameras. But once it locks on to the subject, it WILL be piercingly sharp. The legendary Leica lens brings life to the image and subjects simply pops out – almost 3d like. Talk about 3d needing 3d glasses!
One exciting feature that can really put my mind at east for all my shoots is the dual memory card slots design, a feature I require that’s lacking on the 5D mk2 unfortunately. The Leica S2 is designed to house two separate cards – a Compact Flash (CF card) and a Secure Digital (SD card) simultaneously. You can program the camera to write RAW files to one card and JPEG to the other or write RAW files to both cards at the same time, creating an automatic in-the-field backup. Not only that, you also have the flexibility to program the Leica S2 camera to write sequentially so that when the first card is full, it will automatically write to the second card.
If you’re looking for features which are getting common in cameras such as the HD video mode, or the various scene modes which comes with color filters and various settings in-camera, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. You might ask, “Hey! The camera body alone cost thirty over grand but doesn’t do all the bell and whistles of a sub thousand dollar camera?!” Kid you not, this beast is in a league of it’s own. The Leica S2 is designed for the top end professional market where features practical to the photographers are heavily emphasized on, such as the dual-shutter system. This allows you to select the camera’s built-in focal plane shutter OR the built-in leaf shutter for insane flash sync speeds of 1/1600 seconds. You can severely kill the sunlight outdoors using flash while maintaining nice bokeh blur as you no longer have to crank up the aperture – strobists should understand how useful that can be!
The Leica S2 is like what the Chinese always say “wo hu cang long” – crouching tiger hidden dragon. This baby will not be as useful in my Actual Day shoots when sometimes speed is the key to a make or break image, but it will definitely be a lot of help for my conceptualized pre-wedding shoots where I can control most elements inside the picture. However note that the Leica S2 is not designed to compete with the professional series from major manufacturers such as Canon or Nikon. The Leica S2 is in a league of its own.
Presenting the Big Old Board (Da Lao Ban) of Raymond Phang Photography! He looks like he can drink some “Jia Jia Herbal Tea”.
No, I think he need a dozen cans of Beer, a carton of Jia Jia Herbal Tea, a truckload of Oldenlandia Water, and a sea of Watermelon juice to cool him down.
His anger appeased after drawing our faces to make us look like monkeys.
Don’t you think he look so much lovely now?
Introducing – SUSU! She’s the Digital Plastic Surgeon at Raymond Phang Photography! She’s an expert in painting the details of your beautiful wedding gown, she can give you 8 packs without making it look too fake like a plastron, and magically erase your pimple/wrinkles away.
Of course she can do much more than that. Err… does burping loudly and saying excuse me right after, attempting to do a nonchalant fart in your face and raiding the fridge counts?
Next up would be Mr Benedict Chan a.k.a Ben Chan! Ben is an awesome photographer with Raymond Phang Photography, and one of the most hardworking one here too.
Besides Photography, Ben also enjoys Long Boarding. Here’s Ben posing with a safety cone which he uses for practice and his cute little white doggie side kick named Xiao Bai.
Here’s Xiao Bai practicing Yoga on the long board with Ben generously showing off his protruding plastron which was a work of art specially designed by Susu. You can have one too!
Ben is now wearing the Emperor’s Clothes… Ben is fierce with his temporary tattoo on his arm. So temporary that there’s no need to wash it away or peel it off after the shoot. The tattoo only appeared in this one picture. Again, all thanks to Susu.
Every company has a sai gang warrior, and here’s the one from Raymond Phang Photography – ANGELINE!
All the faces are painted by Angeline who wanted to make everyone ugly. LOL!
We still have two naughty Chihuahuas – Bailey and Satin to be photographed, but it was way too late already. We had fun making all the props though – the giant cigarette, dung crown and all. Haha. Hope you guys enjoy this series! Cheers!
Raymond Phang & Angeline