Amsterdam is a cool town. Everything might be just a little more polished since my childhood in the capital, but there is no denying Amsterdam is one of the cooler cities around. The city has been a front-runner in tolerance throughout the ages, it has set the bar when it comes to bicycles as the main means of transport, its people are quite laid back, I could go on, but these are just a few reasons behind the cool vibe. Amsterdam also strikes a fine balance between catering to all walks of life. One of the groups that the city is catering to with a recent development, is a group that prefers not to walk at all. I am talking about skaters. A new neighborhood has started to come to life on an island just inside the ring road on the east side of the city. The apartment buildings and townhouses are all built in a mix of styles which is the current trend and I must say I quite like the variety compared to the uniform building blocks from the past. In between the buildings, the city worked with a Danish architecture firm to bring to live a skate-park that has no rival.
With the weather being magnificent recently, I threw my Leica SL with my new Voigtlander 21mm F1.4 and my trusty Nikon Df and 58mm F1.4 in my bag and jumped on the bike to check out the park.
One thing that I always notice with skaters, or surfers for that matter, is a spirit of a true community. Everyone is cheering each other on and people give each other space, or patiently wait for others to finish their run before jumping in. A young girl was about to jump into the bowl for the first time and clearly was experiencing some nerves, everyone around her cheered her on and that was the little nudge she needed to head down in the bowl and get that important first run under her belt.
I brought my new 21mm lens with me and I can tell I have a bit of a learning path ahead of me. I'll do a proper write up on the Voigtlander 21mm but my first impression is very good. Composing with an angle of view this wide is new to me and it feels very different compared to 35mm and up. There is so much to compose with! I do enjoy this new challenge and the Voigtlander is a remarkable lens. Tack sharp, not too heavy and beautiful rendering. The Leica 21mm Summilux is about 6-7x more expensive and I cannot imagine it is that much better. It works very well on the SL, the balance with the body is excellent. Ergonomics, as always, with Voigtlander lenses is good too. The recent batch of lenses Voigtlander produced are a notch above their older lenses. The 75mm F1.5, the 35 F1.2 v3, the 40mm & 50mm F1.2 and now this 21mm F1.4 are all truly excellent lenses. I can't justify the premium for Leica offerings in these focal ranges.
Back to the park, it was a happy mix of skateboarders, rollerbladers, BMX-ers and many other things on wheels I don't even know the name for. This is a unique place in the Netherlands and judging from how crowded it was, it serves a clear need. I think this won't be the last time I head out to the park and watch these people do their thing while the sun sets.