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Leica Q & Nisi ND Filters

By September 10, 2019 No Comments
Leica q2 & nisi m75

Leica Amsterdam

nisi filters

Nisi Filters

Leica Q2 & Nisi M75

Explore the creative possibilities with the Leica Q2

I had the opportunity to try the Leica Q2 for some weeks and together with the camera I’ve got a Nisi M75 filter kit to try some long exposure photography with this amazing camera.

The Leica Q is seen as a second camera by most Leica photographers. Mostly they have an bigger model as their main camera and take along the Q when they are out for a stroll in the city or want to pursue street photography while being as low profile as possible.

When I saw the specs of this camera I was blow away.
47.3 megapixels combined with a beautiful 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens this is a beast of a camera in a very compact package. This in combination with the possibility to use filters would definitely be fun! I hope to inspire you to try out this type of photography so even when you are out in the city for a short stroll, you will be able to create some amazing images!

Leica Q2

Specs

The Leica Q2 features a beautiful compact design together with the Summilux 1.7/28mm lens. The buttons on the body are kept to a minimal and this works really great. The way you change the focus from auto to manual focus is so easy to use and the focus throw is really nice. All in all this is an amazing little camera!

  • 47.3 MP full frame sensor
  • 3.68 MP EVF
  • Weather sealed against moisture and dirt
  • 28mm f/1.7
  • ISO 50 to 50.000
  • 4K video
  • Touchscreen
  • Bluetooth
Read all about the Leica Q2

Why would we use filters?

Long exposure photography with the Nisi M75 kit

If you have followed my work you know that I really like to play with longer exposure times and thus use filters almost every time I use my camera. It was a surprise to me that most of the Leica Q users don’t own a set of filters. It’s such a great way of capturing the city from a total different perspective.

While digging into the world of Leica I’ve found numerous blog posts about the dynamic range of the Q/Q2 and that they wouldn’t be suitable for landscape photography. By all means… this is completely false, just use filters!
Back in the days when I was shooting with 16 mp camera bodies and a dynamic range smaller than we have on our iPhone I was still able to capture the photos that I wanted. It was just a game of knowing the limitations of your gear. The same applies today.

Why and how do we use ND filters?

We use ND filters for various reasons. We can use a ND filter to lengthen our exposure time, so we can capture a more dynamic image showing movement in the sky for example. We can capture light trails, or smoothen out the water in a river or a waterfall. By using very long exposures we can create an eternal atmosphere in our photos.

A Grad ND is used to balance the exposure between a bright sky and a relative dark foreground. Like you encounter during sunrise and sunset for example. No more over exposed skies!

Next up is the CPL (circular polariser) this is used to combat reflections and to deepen the colours of the sky and enhance the contrast in the clouds. During fall you can enhance the foliage as wel with this kind of filter.

Last up it the Natural Night filter. This is a special use filter during the dark hours where light pollution is present. Either on the horizon or within the city you are photographing in. It filters some frequencies of light and cuts through the haze. The resulting images will be less yellow from the street lights, giving you in-camera a very natural image.

My used Leica & Nisi set

Leica Q and Nisi Filters
Nisi M75 Filter kit
Nisi Medium GND 8
Nisi ND
Nisi Natural Night filter
Nisi Landscape CPL
67mm Adapter ring with 49mm step down ring
Leica Q2
posbank

Leica q2: 1/10000 sec | ISO 200 | f/1.7 | Nisi M75 + medium GND 8

Amsterdam at sunset

Leica q2: 3 sec | ISO 50 | f/13 | Nisi M75 | 3 stops ND + CPL + medium  GND 8

A great example for the CPL filter is seen below. See the reflections in the top windows of the canal houses in Amsterdam? By turning the CPL filter we can remove these reflections and bring the focus of the image back to the canals and the boat soaring by.

This image is mad with 3 filters attached

  • 3 stops ND filter
    To lengthen my exposure time so I could capture the boat passing by (giving me some light trails) and to smoothen out the water
  • 3 stops medium GND 8
    Because the sun is about to set the houses and the canals are way darker as the sky. By adding a 3 stops medium edge grad ND we can balance the exposure again. We darken the sky a bit so to say.
  • CPL
    As said above. The CPL is used to remove the glare from the windows in the center of the frame (you can use the slider to see the before and after.
CPL filterAmsterdam canals

An other example where I have used the CPL filter in my architecture photography. In the image without the filter the reflection on the left is distracting. I want the eye to move along the center vertical line to the top of the building. Now the eye will stop at the reflection.

By turning my CPL filter I was able to remove the reflection on the left and darkening that part while the right part was brightened and would reflect a bit more light. Almost no post processing needed to finalise my vision for this image. Just turn a CPL filter.

Nisi CPL filter reflection Nisi CPL filter reflection

I hope to inspire you to go out and create unique bodies of work!

Martijn Kort
long exposure metro station den haag

Nisi Natural Night

With the help of the Nisi Natural night filter you are able to capture more natural images during the night in a cityscape environment. This filter helps to cut down the orange/yellow glow from the streetlights by filtering those frequencies of light.

The results can be amazing as you can see in the image below.
Both are with the white balance set to custom so it wouldn’t change between the shots. I can’t explain the need for this filter better as by showing you this example…

 

1 isn’t super sharp as I accidentally kicked my tripod. I din’t even noticed it until I saw the images at home… we all make mistakes 🙂

Nisi Natural Night filter verschil_met Nisi Natural Night filter verschil_zonder filter
Night photography with the Leica Q2
The difference a filter can make
Straight out of camera

Just a casual shot, nothing wrong with this but we are able to get more out of this situation.

Without filtersFoto 1

By adding the polariser (CPL) we can control the amount of reflection in the water. We can make it a bit more saturated as well. The sky also benefits from this as it gets more contrast, add saturation and gets an overal more definition.

Added the Polariser (CPL)Foto 2

Because the foreground is a bit underexposed in our previous shot we add a 3 stops Medium GND filter to balance the exposure. We darken the sky so the exposure for the foreground can go up, bringing the two together.

CPL + Medium GND 0.9Foto 3

Now we have balanced the exposure we can try to add some movement into the frame. I've added a 3 stops ND filter to lengthen the exposure time. The water gets a more calm and pleasing look while the clouds express movement because of the blur.

CPL + Medium GND 0.8 + 3 stops NDFoto 4
To sum it up

With the help of filters we can:

1

Add movement

By extending our exposure time we can show movement in our frame, giving it a more dynamic feel to it.
2

Balance the exposure

We can balance the exposure between the sky and the foreground
3

Create Calmness

If we do a very long exposure we can create an eternal atmosphere in our photos that is loved by fine-art photographers
4

Enhance or night photos

By using the Natural Night filter we can capture a more natural image of the city environment by cutting through the yellow light pollution.
5

Be creative

By playing with our shutter speed we can control the effects in our photograph.
6

Remove reflections

By using the CPL filter we can remove distraction reflections in our photograph. We can at the same time bring more contrast and saturation in our skies.

Nisi M75 filter kit

75mm filters

The Nisi 75mm system is specially designed for compact lenses featuring a filter threat between 40.5 and 67mm, which are mostly used on mirrorless cameras. The set comes with different adapters so you can use it on the complete range of lenses.

To me this is the ideal kit to complement the Leica Q2.

The following filters are available for the Nisi M75 kit:

IR ND filters:
IR GND filters:
Adapterringen
  • IR ND8
  • IR ND64
  • IR ND1000
  • IR ND32000
  • Soft IR GND4
  • Soft IR GND8
  • Medium IR GND 4
  • Medium IR GND 8
  • Hard IR GND4
  • Hard IR GND8
  • ​Revers IR GND4
  • Revers IR GND8
  • 40.5mm
  • 43mm
  • 46mm
  • 49mm
  • 52mm
  • 55mm
  • 58mm
  • 62mm (in the box)

Read more about the Nisi M75 kit on the Nisi Benelux page.

Also for point of sales

Conclusion

After using this combination for some weeks now my enthusiasm has only increased. A few years ago I had my first encounter with a Leica camera and I’ve always been interested in trying one out.
I can only say that this camera blows my mind! Such a compact package and such amazing quality not only image quality but also the build quality of this camera is really high. You can really see and feel the craftsmanship.

I had no problems getting used to the camera. The menu’s are logical (Sony are you reading this?), the few buttons on the exterior are super easy to use and understand and the whole user friendliness is just amazing. I mean I wouldn’t need to take my eye off the viewfinder to do anything at the camera. It feels all natural.

The Nisi M75 kit is also a great piece of gear. Just like it’s bigger brother the nisi V6 100mm kit this system works like it’s supposed to work. The filters go in with a breeze, the CPL can be easily mounted and the whole compactness of it all makes it a joy to take along on a city trip.

All in all I wouldn’t mind staying with this compact kit (Leica Q2 and Nisi M75) instead of my Sony A7R x kit.

So are there only good things? We don’t live in a perfect world do we? Well sometimes almost… If Leica would just change one single thing in their camera software I would literally have no negative points to share.
The thing is that you can’t turn off the long exposure noise reduction. This is only a small inconvenience but you can turn it off on any other camera, so why not here? Leica wants the final image file (jpg or dng) to be of the best quality possible. So when we enter the region of noise, the camera takes a second exposure (just as long as the main exposure) to find any hot spots on the sensor and to reduce the noise. As I said it’s only a minor thing but it doubles the exposure time and sometimes I don’t like that.
But hopefully Leica reads along and maybe they could change it with their next software update. 🙂

To finalise it: It’s an amazing camera and when you start to use filters you are able to get even more out of the camera. Get creative or capture wel balanced images. I highly recommend adding a small filter kit like the M75 to your bag.

It’s time for me to say goodbye to the red dot, but I’ll be back for sure!

"Urban Symmetry" made it into the Leica Master Shot Gallery

Martijn KortLeica Q2
Leica master shot - Leica q (Martijn Kort)

Want to know more about long exposure photography?

Read my tutorials or attend a workshop!

Martijn.Kort

Martijn.Kort

Fine art photographer focusing on architecture and cityscapes as well as capturing unique moments from the cockpit. Writing about photography techniques and sharing reviews. Ambassador for both ZEISS Netherlands and Nisi Filters.If you like my work, consider following me on Instagram!

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