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Ryan Mah: a Leica for black & white video

Not many people think of a Leica camera as a video tool, but Ryan Mah, co-founder of Black Rhino Creative, does. He loves the small footprint of the system and cinematic feel of the lenses.

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Three Leica cameras and four lenses were used in a recent video produced by Black Rhino Creative. From the film itself to the behind the scenes and stills, all was shot with black and white in mind.

Presented last May, the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) is a return to the origins, according to Leica. It works exclusively in black and white, both for photography and video. It is, one could say, the ideal camera, alongside a normal Leica M (Typ 240) for a creative as Ryan Mah.

On the Black Rhino Creative website, Ryan Mah is revealed in a simple phrase: he is a multidisciplinary creative with a lifelong passion for storytelling. Never without a camera in his hand, he sees the world in black and white.

It is only natural, so, that Ryan Mah has a passion for Leica. In fact, Leica was his first camera, when he started photography at art school, and he keeps using them these days. And yes, although Leicas do colour too, we often associate them with black and white photography. For Ryan Mah, in fact, as he states in a recent interview published in the Leica Camera Blog, the world could be all in black & white.

A recent video created by Black Rhino Creative, a film production firm dedicated to sharing authentic, intimate and engaging stories, is an example of that passion. “Jer Thorp & The Office for Creative Research”, a documentary about the work of software artist, writer and educator Jer Thorp regarding data visualization, was created with two Leica M (Typ 240) and four lenses. A 21 mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH, 35 mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH FLE, 50 mm f/1.0 Noctilux and a 75 mm f/1.4 Summilux.

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A third camera, the new Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246), was used to shoot all the behind the scenes and production stills… in black and white. Nothing new, in fact, as that’s how Black Rhino Creative usually works. They don’t dislike colour and also use it, but they have a passion for black & white.

The Leica M Monochrom offers something Ryan Mah also appreciates: the camera has a separate release button for activating video recording in 1080p full-HD format. Switching between photo mode and video mode in the new M is simple.

During the interview Ryan Mah explains why it was decided to cover the whole story in monochrome. It’s “the aesthetic we find most compelling and consistent with the films we produce. In my personal life, I shoot almost exclusively in black and white too, if I could view the world in black and white, I would!”

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The short video published here, filmed with the Leica M Monochrom, extends the information available on the interview. Although there is a marketing aspect always present in these things, as Leica is a supporting partner, the video, along with the interview, offer some interesting information when it comes to the reasons why the team at Black Rhino Creative exclusively use Leica lenses – for their cinematic feel – and cameras.

Ryan Mah says that Leica cameras still have “room for improvement in the controls and usability compared to cameras dedicated to creating motion picture” and closes the interview with a note: “we’re also eager to try the new Leica S2 and its 4K video capability!”

Follow the link to Leica Camera Blog to read the whole interview.


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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…
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