Tokyo-X-Vario: Shooting at Night Handheld

Leica X-Vario in AV mode. 1/20th sec F/6.4 @ ISO 800. Focal length at 70mm equiv

I’ve been in Tokyo for a week but I’ve only just started taking pictures with the Leica X-Vario. I was sick before I left Vancouver and I was sick when I landed, and I’ve been sick all week. I’m only now starting to feel a bit better so it’s time to get shooting. The first thing I wanted to test was night shooting with the X-Vario. So many complain that with such a small aperture and no optical or sensor based image stabilization, shooting at night would be next to impossible. I didn’t agree so I thought I would give it a try.

As you can see by my caption, not only did I shoot zoomed out to 70mm equiv (which creates a maximum aperture of f/6.4!!), I shot at a reasonable ISO 800 and handheld the shot at 1/20th of a second. I exhaled slowly, secured my stance and slowly squeezed the shutter button. Sure it’s not pin sharp, and yes I only shot jpeg, but I was able to autofocus just fine and I think I captured the mood of the moment. If I took a bit more time and care, I could have shot at 50mm equiv and f.5.0 aperture, drop the ISO down to 400 and got an even sharper and less grainy image. 

Is the X-Vario built for night shooting? Not really. But can you night shoot with it? Of course you can. Instead of depending on the camera to do everything for you, try your best to think out your shot and work with what you have. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish. Shooting with the X-Vario so far has been pretty good. My recommendation is to shoot in manual mode since the lighting doesn’t change much at night and the auto exposure tends to get fooled by the contrast between bright lights and dark shadows anyways. Because of the small aperture of the camera, either shoot at 28mm equiv most of the time, or increase your ISO to 1600-3200. Even better, shoot with a tripod, unless you’re a street style photographer like me. I tend to lean the camera up against a light post or a fence for stability.

More posts coming up. Keep checking back. Thanks for viewing and happy shooting! If you’re in Tokyo and want to go shooting, drop me an email or comment below.


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