Photos & Projects

CE and the Leica M9 & Zeiss 50mm ZM Sonnar

I was recently asked to take some photos for CE, a local small manufacturing and packing company. I shot the whole job on the Leica M9 and Zeiss 50mm ZM Sonnar, so thought I’d share some of the results as part of my path toward an eventual M9 review.

What’s quite unusual about CE is that they’re publicly owned, and operate in a way that has a positive impact on the surrounding community. What was more interesting for my experience of the place was that I wasn’t explicitly told by the chaps who showed me around what they do for the community. Nor was it particularly apparent in my experience of the place. I know the details because I was told by the person who asked me to do the job, but since it didn’t appear in evidence while I was there, it doesn’t seem especially relevant to mention here either.

In fact, I really only mention this much as it helps explain the nature of the job as a pro-bono. And I only mention the fact that it was done as a pro-bono as I wanted to highlight the fact that despite the lack of cash in my back pocket, I somehow find pro-bono work so much more enjoyable. This is nothing to do with a warm fuzzy feeling that you might expect to come along with doing this sort of thing. Actually, it’s about the self-indulgent approach to the photography it gives me in places that I wouldn’t normally be able to shoot.

If I could somehow work for nothing, yet still earn money it would definitely be the path I’d take. I guess working for nothing somehow creates an illusion of a greater sense of freedom to shoot what I like, rather than what the client wants. I say illusion, as ultimately I still get the shots the client wants, it just feels more like it’s on my terms as something closer to being a documentary photographer, rather than a commercial one.

Anyway. The job was to capture some of the staff going about their day to day work, within the environment they work. These places are often a little messy, but somehow out of what appears to be chaos, there is often a feeling of calm. I actually can’t remember shooting in an industrial environment that I haven’t felt this same sense of calm in. This particular environment was no different. There is always a bit of light banter with the people as they go about their jobs, but ultimately there’s rarely even an ounce of vanity between the lot of them. Combined with the photogenic yet largely unphotographed nature of these places, this makes this sort of subject matter pretty much my favourite to capture.

As mentioned, these photos were all taken with the M9/Sonnar combo – a combo that is fast becoming go-to for me. Each time I shoot a set of images like this, I find myself taking a step in the right direction toward understanding how to post process the images to a look I really like. I actually had half a thought to show before and after post process images here, but the conclusion I’ve come to is that I will include a few of those in my final M9 review instead.

For now, here is a selection of final images I delivered to what turned out to be a very happy client.

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

This next chap has worked there since 1978!

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

County Enterprises

This guy is an indoor rowing champion, and RPS photographer – he’s holding a calendar he’s made from his own photos

County Enterprises

Cheers for reading,

Hamish

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    George Appletree
    December 22, 2016 at 9:38 am

    They must be happy for those photographs. Good work.
    Merry Xmas

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      December 22, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Thanks George, and to you!

  • Reply
    ehpem
    December 22, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Very good work. You have shown us people in a wonderfully sensitive way – your respect for them and their work shines through.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      December 22, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      Cheers buddy πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Simon
    December 23, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Certainly can feel the calm bit u mentioned. Nice work.
    I’m now very regret of selling my ZM50 C Sonnar last week. Maybe I would buy it back next week.

    Merry Xmas!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      December 23, 2016 at 8:02 am

      Thanks Simon – I certainly won’t be selling mine πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Mitch
    December 23, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    I simply adore the rendering of the ZM50; far more so than the ‘Lux 50 ASPH that I used to shoot with. I feel the Sonnar optics really provide more “pop” than other computations do. Nice work, Hamish.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      December 23, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      I’ve not tried the lux – I nearly committed to the idea of buying one, but now I’m not even interested in giving one a go. This is the lens for me, 100%
      Cheers πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Amro
    December 23, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Really lovely – this is a lens I will aspire to own. I only have a 40mm Leica lens at the moment. I was thinking of going 35mm – but this convinces me 50mm Zeiss is the way to go.

  • Reply
    jeremy north
    December 23, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Excellent set of pictures H. Good use of the 50, it must have been challenging to use it in a confined space and with such flat lighting.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      December 23, 2016 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks Jeremy, I’m used to the fov, I hardly even think about it now. For these sorts of shoots, much else just feels odd.
      The lighting in the packing part (with the folks in normal clothes) was definitely a bit pants!

  • Reply
    Nigel Rumsey
    December 26, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Hi Hamish, I really enjoyed this review thanks. I shoot with an M6 and really like the Zeiss 35mm lens, I’ve always wanted a 50 but can’t really justify the cost of a Leica lens. The Sonnar seems a little too quirky, if that makes sense, I wonder if you have a suggestion for the sweet spot between price and quality? Would it be a Voigtlander or the Zeiss Planar, if I could get one used? Thank Nigel

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      December 26, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      Hi Nigel, have you seen my full sonnar review?
      http://www.35mmc.com/22/11/2015/zeiss-zm-f1-5-50mm-c-sonnar/
      I always worried about the quirks, but I hardly notice them in use.
      That aside, if it is high optical quality you’re after, I’d perhaps try the Planar. It’s ultra-contrasty, and us the Zeiss colours I like, just doesn’t have the quirks. If you want the speed, the voigtlander 1.5, I’m told is stunning. I know a couple of people who rave about it – it’s main issue is just the handling which is apparently a little lacking.

      • Reply
        Nigel Rumsey
        January 2, 2017 at 10:00 pm

        Thanks Hamish, the Sonnar does look interesting but I think it might be the Planar for me. I like the sound of ultra-contrasty!

        • Reply
          Hamish Gill
          January 2, 2017 at 10:30 pm

          Let me know how you get on…?

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