Glenn Charles

Adventurer | Leica Photographer | Connector

Today I am a Time Traveler with a Camera... Tomorrow, who knows

Coconino 250

I have finally gotten my photo essay online of my bikepacking trip on the Coconino 250 loop.  A stunning and somewhat challenging loop in Northern Arizona that takes you through forested pines, high alpine trails, dessert sand, and beautiful slick rocks.  This is a must do loop and one that I look forward to revisiting in the future.  

My bike of choice for this trip was the amazing Salsa Cycles spearfish.  Fast and nimble, it was absolutely the perfect rig for this trip.  Everything was photographed on my Leica Monochrome and a single 50mm Summilux.  Forcing myself to shoot with a single lens and in black and white was definitely one of my most rewarding photo expeditions.


Quick Q Update

After two weeks with the Q I can say without a doubt it is the real deal; all the reviews were correct; it is the best single lens compact camera I have ever shot.  Amazing build quality, stunning IQ and lightning fast AF all in a small compact body.  For the most part, I have put down my M240 and have only been shooting with either the Q or the Monochrom.  With the release and now readily available set of reviews on the SL, I am beginning to re-think my overall kit strategy.  More on that at another time.

I had previously mentioned that one of the only negative things I had to say about the Q was the way it was held in the hand.  Leica's little thumb indent helps, but the body still has just a bit too much heft to make that a stable platform for holding the camera.  There are a couple of options for remedying this including buying Leica's own grip; buying one of the JB Camera Design grips; and adding the new Thumbs Up adapter.  

I currently have these Thumbs Up adapters on my M240 and my Monochrom, so going that route was a natural first step.  The adapter arrived yesterday in the standard beautiful packaging. The adapter itself is meticulously machined and fits the Q like a glove, giving the hand a rock solid hold on the camera.  While I will still add a JB grip, this is a great first step and enhancing the feel and ergonomics of the mighty Q.  

The Leica Q

My search for high quality, full frame, fixed lens 'grab' camera has now ended.  While the Sony RX1 came close, it was a Sony, with all the issues that come with that...  After reviewing everything there was on the Q and spending a weekend with my good friend Brady and his trusty little beast, I made the plunge.  

Selling off my Nikon gear I am now officially 'All In' with Leica.  The advent of the Q and now the SL gives me the opportunity to have  a single system ranging from a small compact (Q), to traditional rangefinders (MM & M240), film(tbd), and state of the art interchangeable mirrorless bodies (SL), all capable of using the magnificent line of Leica Glass.

What follows is a visual tour of my first weekend shooting the camera.  I had the chance to shoot this in every possible way including from the hip on a bike to night time street shots all the way to more contemplative image making.  I can say without a doubt that this is the real deal and is no way a product of the Red Dot hype. 

Stunning image rendering from the fixed Leica lens

Stunning image rendering from the fixed Leica lens

A bit of a circle

About 18 months ago I decided to give really small cameras a try.  I bought a Fuji X100s and rented the Fuji XE-1 along with two lenses.  I used that kit to photograph the Lost Coast, a story that has been one of my most popular ever and will be featured in a magazine this spring.  

While I enjoyed the size and weight of this kit, and felt the images were good, they still did not give me what I was personally looking for when my goal is to tell a story via the web and have the ability to print large.  At that time, I felt that the Fuji kit was nice, but just not up to the task, so I divested myself of the little X100s and moved on.

Fast forward to 2015, and one could argue that Fuji is on a roll, with big names jumping on their bandwagon and a host of my good friends signing up as well.  Since that Lost Coast trip I have seen one of my X100s images printed wall size by the wizards at Dugall which again reminded me that today's cameras have plenty of oomph to do just about anything we want of them.  

Still, I believe it is important to feel a connection to your gear, something that transcends simply taking photographs.  At least for me, this is an important element to my photography. So here we are, and I have now picked up a little Fuji X100T to be my 'grab' camera for my next two trips.  I have 3 weeks biking through Ireland, an environment full of spring time color and great old textures.  This will be a wonderful palette to play with the little Fuji.  Of course, it will not be my primary tool -- that task will belong to the Leica M240 and a 35/50 Summilux combination.  

Next, 2 days after returning from Ireland, I head to Alaska for 3 weeks of deep winter cycling through the barren AK interior.  A region known for white and shadows, dancing night lights and temperatures that will reach -30F at night.  An environment that is hostile towards people and electronics.  For that trip, I will again rely on the little X100T as a grab camera alongside my trusty Nikon D810.  

My last trip to Alaska I used a D800E for two months with much success.  I came back with images that to this day blow me away.  They have graced the covers of Salsa's catalogs; are all over their website; and are blown up life size in their traveling display.  The quality and image size of the D800 along with the large lithium batteries will be key to dealing with the environment of Alaska winter.  

This is not too say that a Fuji couldn't, but I am not prepared to make to big a jump as of yet.  So I consider these two trips as my attempt at dipping one of my toes back into the land of Fuji to see if the X series can appeal to my photographic needs.  Follow along as the X100T and its wireless capabilities should get a tremendous amount of action on my Instagram and Twitter feeds.  I will follow up after the trip with some of my thoughts on how this gear selection worked out and where I see myself going in the future.

The 'Beer' Slinger

I can't remember a piece of bikepacking kit that has had this much interest in quite some time.  So in the spirit of helping others out, I will not only showcase what kinds of camera gear the Slinger can hold, but also all of its other wonderful utility.  First up, Beer, in the form of a Growler.  As you can see, there is plenty of room for a full size growler.  Oh yea, this is gonna be killer.

Growler Details: 11 inches tall and 12 inches circumference at its widest point.

2015 Salsa Carbon Horsethief

Last year I acquired a Salsa Spearfish and absolutely loved that bike.  To date, it is the nicest Full Suspension bike I had ever ridden.  A trip through Arizona however left me wanting just a bit more travel than what the Fish provided.  This is not a knock on the Fish, but more of a refinement on my part of what kind of FS bike I need for the trips that I plan to take.

Enter the 2015 Carbon Horsethief.  Like the Fish, the Thief features the new Split Pivot design.  Unlike last years Fish, this year the Thief is Carbon Fiber.  I must say, I am super stoked about this new design.  I built up the bike this morning and took it out for some pictures in the foot of snow we got yesterday.  While this makes for pretty snaps, it does not allow me to actually get on the bike and ride...

This year I am off to the SW again to put the bike through its paces and then onto several longer and more robust trips in 2016.  I am definitely excited about getting out and putting this bike through its paces.