Corfu with rangefinder and SLR
Two weeks on Corfu with the M9-P and R8 with both film, and Digital-Modul-R.
40 Photos • 15 February 2014
In September 2013 I went to the island Corfu, in Greece, it is on the left side of the Greek mainland, close to Italy. It has some italian influences in it’s architecture and the island is more green than most Greek islands. The weather was still nice and warm during the day, but was already getting a little colder at night. A summer jacket would keep you warm especially when cruising around the island on a scooter.
On this trip I took my Leica M9-P and Leica R8 with the Digtal-Modul-R and some color negative film Kodak Gold 200 I especially aimed at using the legacy digital back for the R8/R9 cameras on my trip.
I brought a few M lenses like the Elmarit-M 28mm ASPH.; Summicron-M 35mm ASPH. and Summicron-M 50mm. For the R8 I only brought one lens: The Vario-Elmar-R 1:4/35-70 Macro a very versatile lens especially when there is plenty of light, since it’s maybe a little slow with f/4 as it’s largest aperture. On the R8 with the Digital-Modul-R with it’s slightly smaller than full frame / small format sensor the lens performs perfectly, the slight vignette it has wide open on film is gone. The crop factor of the Digital-Modul-R is about *1,37 meaning you get a slightly smaller field of view.
The question I had in my mind was how the M9-P would compare to the R8 with Digital-Modul-R I was determined to find out on the island, renting a scooter and cruising around the island.
The first evening I saw a nice spot at the bay near the hotel I was staying at, I sat down and saw the sun set behind the hills on the horizon. I had the M9-P with me with the 50mm Summicron-M since I didn’t want to lug the R8 with Digital-Modul-R around on the beach after a day of traveling.
Visiting the old Venetian Fortress
After a ‘good’ night rest on a Greek bed, I wanted to visit the main city of the island. It’s called Corfu Town, or Kerkira, and some other names. I didn’t have a scooter yet so I went for the public transportation.
There are some different things you can visit in the main town. There are a lot of nice a small streets, and some squares with fountains. There also are two big fortresses, the ‘old venetian fortress’ and the ‘new fort’ I wanted to visit the old venetian fortress first, I had to walk a bit through the town so I could look around and take some pictures with both the M9-P and R8 with DM-R.
The R8 on itself is a quite heavy camera for analog SLR standards, but with the added bulk of the DM-R it gets pretty heavy. Using a neck strap is a no-go at least for my neck it is. The DM-R comes with a leather hand strap, that I used. I could just let the R8 with DM-R hang from my right hand, it didn’t feel heavy at al to my surprise. Even after climbing the old Venetian fortress it still felt okay. Maybe I don’t know my own strength.
From on top of the old Venetian fortress you have a great view over Kerkira.
Digital-Modul-R image quality
The DM-R might be a little older these days, I shot these pictures in 2013, with a R8 from 1998 and the DM-R from 2006 meaning that when I took these images the camera was already 15 years old, which isn’t that old for a analog camera really. But especially the DM-R is a stunning digital back. It’s basically 8 years old.
If you ask me the combination of the R8 with the DM-R and some fine Leica-R lenses beats allot of the DSLR’s you can buy today. Maybe not in megapixels since it’s only 10.1MP but image quality wise, and colour rendition it’s really even better than the M9-P. The DM-R gives you 16bit RAW files, that are very nice straight out of the camera. The auto white balance isn’t great, but we’ve got grey cards and Lightroom to fix this. You’ve already seen some DM-R images above, but they are mixed up with the M9-P ones. Below are some more.
Visiting the new fortress
The next day I wanted to visit the new fortress, that has a view over the town of Kerkira from the opposite direction. With the sea on the background. It was a very hot day so after breakfast the first thing I did was jumping in the pool for some refreshment before heading out.
So it was time to head out to Kerkira again, to visit the new fortress. Again I took the bus to Kerkira but the walk wasn’t as long since the bus stop is nearby the new fortress. It was only a short walk to the entrance of the fortress, but it was a different type of route compared to the day before. Less touristic, more local.
When I arrived at the top of the new fortress I was surprised there was almost no one, only one guy with his dog, who served iced coffee’s and some other basic things. I couldn’t see anything of the view yet since there was a high wall surrounding the square on top of the fortress. I wanted to see the view from the roof of the fortress first, there was a small metal staircase that went all the way to the top of the fortress. With a stunning, and very different view of the same city I saw from the other side the day before. Note you can see the old Venetian fortress in the background, with the Albanian mainland on the horizon.
The island Vido
After a nice iced coffee on top of the new fortress it was time to move on, before the sun would set. Since I was on corfu late in the year the sun already started to set earlier compared to mid summer. From the new fortress to the harbour was a short stroll with again things to see. Then it was unclear if there were actually any boats taking people over to the other side. There wasn’t much tourism left, so you had to really look for someone who was stil doing the boat taxi trip to the island Vido. I found one and and of we set to the island Vido, it is only a short trip it takes about 10 minutes with a old fisherman boat converted to a ‘sea taxi’.
On the island itself isn’t much to do, there are some ruins from old buildings that used to have a purpose on the island, there were still signs all around, pointing to camping sites, but there was nothing left of what once was probably a nice small vacation island for people who like to camp. Apart from one restaurant near the small dock of Vido, I only encountered 2 other locals on the island. Two old ladies who fed the pheasants and rabbits, there are a lot of them on the island. Probably to be eaten next season.
Renting a scooter
It was time to rent a scooter and cruise around the island, Corfu isn’t that big with a scooter you can drive from one end to the other end in about two and half hours. This includes some sight seeing and curving roads that go through mountain hills and past the shore. I really like the island Corfu over other islands in Greece, since it’s more green compared to the more dessert like islands like Crete.
Driving around you get to see interesting things, that local Greek people do. While driving very unsafely over a small sidewalk, I saw this couple looking for something in the mud. I had to take a picture of it, I thought damn why didn’t I bring my Elmarit-M 90mm since I had the M9-P hanging on my chest, the R8 with DM-R was in the ‘buddy’ of the scooter. I stopped and got of, got the R8 with DM-R and jumped down a wall to get on the same muddy ground as the couple was. With the R8 with DM-R I had the Vario-Elmar-R 1:4/35-70 and with the DM-R the 70mm end becomes roughly a 95mm lens. Worth a try!
I walked a little towards them, and they looked up but didn’t bother and just continued with poking in the mud, they were looking for seafood. I took some pictures with the R8 with DM-R of them, and then there were also so younger kids that started looking for something, I still don’t know for sure what.
The girl of the couple walked back to where they had put down their belongings, the guy still looking for something in the mud. I looked at her and we had the slightest moment of eye contact, I quickly raised the R8 with DM-R focused the lens, and took a picture. She then looked away, it was one of those moments that only take a second and are then gone, luckily captured with the camera.
Peroulades is a small village in the north western corner of the island, it’s known for it’s nice chalky cliffs, that hang above the sea. It kind of reminded me of the cliffs of dover. I went there with the scooter, which took about one hour from the main city Kerkira. The cliffs obviously being a public area, there was this old lady sitting under a olive tree asking money for tourists to be able to climb the cliffs and enjoy the view. I only had some paper money of which she couldn’t give me change so I was allowed to go up for free. I don’t think she could actually ask money for climbing the cliffs but o well. The view was great from the top of the cliffs. I did a comparison between the Leica M9-P and the R8 with DM-R, can you tell the difference?
There were some others too at the Peroulades cliffs, a guy taking pictures for the National Geographic I think, the old lady that left to go home. And some other guy.
A few more days
There were of course more days left on Corfu, but they mostly consisted of beach, sun, sea, swimming pool, food, more food and drinks! Below are some more images, but sorted by camera. They might give you an idea of the qualities of the cameras and lenses. You can click them to enlarge them.
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