Since my outing with photo-journalist Don Morley last week I have been doing a lot of thinking about the Leica X Vario. Sometimes I imagine I am the only person thinking deeply about it, judging by the many ill-informed comments we read in various blogs. The chance to compare XV and the Fuji X-E2 was a lesson.Read More
The first image that always springs to mind is Nick Ut's Vietnam picture of the running child. But a close second is Yevgeny Khaldei's composition of the raising of the red flag over the defeated Reichstag in May 1945.Read More
Don Morley asked what I really thought of the Leica X Vario. We were chatting about cameras by email and he had read my review of the camera earlier in the year and had been thinking of buying one. So we concocted a test session and decided to add a a direct competitor and an odd-ball outsideer combination of the world's only consumer black-and-white camera with Leica's equally odd-ball Tri-Elmar pseudo zoom.Read More
自从我来自华盛顿DC的朋友Ralf Meier入手了一台新的索尼 RX 10，他就近乎疯狂的开始了他的“扫街”。最近，他带着这台有1英寸传感器超大变焦镜头的相机去了中国，这些照片就是上海街头的记录。所有照片都经过Ralf的许可而进行了再处理。
Ever since he got his hands on a new Sony RX10, my friend Ralf Meier in Washington DC has been brushing up his street-tog creed. He recently took the super zoom, with its 1in sensor, to China and these shots are a record of street life in Shanghai.Read More
With an unerring nose for the novel, Bellamy has just unearthed this unique camera, a Takahashi Leica M4.Read More
David Bell, Leica's UK managing director, has stepped down. In his eight years he has transformed the German manufacturer's presence in Britain and has overseen the introduction of significant new models, including the M and Monochrom.Read More
Red Dot Cameras of Old Street in London now have a completely revised interactive web site which is a goldmine of information for the Leica enthusiast. Ivor Cooper's is one of the three main independent Leica retailers in London and certainly has the largest stock used equipment in addition to the full range of modern stuff. The site is now much easier to navigate than before and it is easy to home in on a specific area of interest. In addition to the new image, the site has also been optimised for mobile as well as desktop. Auto sizing of pictures and flexible layouts for the smaller screen make browsing a pleasure. Find the new site here. If you at a loose end in London, Red Dot is the place to spend the odd hour or two browsing the display cabinets of old Leica cameras, lenses and accessories.
Among the more curious exhibits at the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey: The original serried rank of brown porcelain urinals as watered by the motorcycle and car greats of the pre-war racing world. This 1907 relic is now hidden behind closed doors and you won't find it on the Brooklands web site. It is available for viewing only by gentleman callers and strictly out of bounds for use, having been replaced by a smart set of 1930s equipment.
Fact: These are the oldest urinals ever installed at any motoring circuit in the world. Rejoice.
Postscript: A kind reader has pointed out that the title of this piece is somewhat sexist. Of course, there were many female drivers of renown in the pre-war era, including Kay Petrie, Barbara Cartland, Margaret Allen and the Cordery sisters. I apologise to their memory. On my next visit to the circuit I shall send in a female spy with a Minox to discover what vintage 1907 facilities were available to the lady drivers.
The lesser of the two evils: Littering attracts a fine of £80 in the unlikely event you get caught, so why worry when you have the Sword of Damocles hanging over your head?
This magnificent 5.5-litre Mercedes-Benz 540K, manufactured in 1937 for a renowned collector, Yaswant Rao Holkar II, Maharaja of Indore, was a star attraction at the Irish Classic and Vintage Car Show in Dublin earlier this month. My friend William Fagan, an Irish Leica user, collector and member of The Leica Society, sent me these shots of the car and filled me in on some of the background.
The Maharaja was one of the foremost car collectors of the vintage period and this Mercedes 540 Kompressor was just one of his passing fancies. Despite its imposing size it was a two-seater cabriolet capable of "astonishing" performance for a car of the period. The British magazine Autocar tested a similar model and found it could reach 100 mph, had a 0-60 mph time of only 16.5 seconds and a blower letting out an "almost demoniacal howl".
The car was discovered in a Mumbai motor agent's yard in the 1970s, giving the appearance a low-mileage vehicle with little evidence of use. Years later, after changing owners, it was completely rebuilt in in the USA in 2002 and finished in a deep midnight blue with a harmonising blue hood. Its odometer, which read only 17,000 miles at the time, was reset to zero.
And zeros is what the Mercedes-Benz attracted. In May 2011 is sold at auction for €1.4 million euros. Similar cars now sell for many millions and this car is almost certainly now worth a great deal more than the buyer paid in 2011.
We are most of us quite familiar with crop factor and the adjustment of focal length when using APS-C, Micro Four Thirds or 1in sensors. The maths is easy: 1.5, 2.0 and 2.7 covers these three options in relation to the 1:1 of the full-frame sensor. But what effect does sensor size have on aperture or sensitivity? It's all a question of equivalence.Read More
Breaking the sequence of M camera models with M instead of the M10 is said to have been a nod to Apple with its new strategy of upgrading without altering the name. Yet it gets confusing. Whenever I write about the M I feel obliged to qualify it with "Typ 240", although why we feel obliged to use the German "Typ" instead of "type" beyond me. It's just part of the confusion and it can only get worse when the M Typ 2XX comes out. It is now virtually impossible to refer to a Leica M, in its generic sense meaning any camera manufactured after 1954, without offering qualification.
Apple may now be about to break the sequence on the iPhone, with the rumoured new iPhone being anything other than 6. The Motley Fool has a view on this as I outlined in my piece in Macfilos/tech.
Ever been asked to take someone's photograph, especially at hot tourist spots? Usually they hand you their camera. In this case, at the Iwo Jimo memorial in Arlington, Virginia, these veterans from the Vietnam War (and their wives) produced a couple of cameras that were probably on sale in Siagon back in the day. One was an ancient Canon film camera and I couldn't be sure it would capture the moment.
Not to disappoint, I pressed the Leica T into service to snap them in front of the impressive Marine Corps monument which commemorates, in particular, the Battle of Iwo Jimo in February 1945. Tourists, eh?
Fifty years ago technical magazines, whether covering photography, cars, motorcycles or any other subject, were full of technical drawings of equipment. Cutaways were the norm whenever a new product was announced. Sadly, that has all disappeared. This superb Anatomy of a Leica drawing is just one example of what was once weekly fodder in Amateur Photographer and other similar publications.
This drawing gives you a precise insight into the workings of what probably a Leica IIIa prior to 1940. The detail is outstanding.
Back in the day, I worked as a reporter and feature writer for a motorcycle weekly magazine, appropriately styled The Motor Cycle. It was in its sixtieth year when I joined and we had a complete set of archives going back to 1903, complete with photographs. Not a week went by without the publication of an engine or bike cutaway executed by one of the 20th century's absolute maestros, Lawrie Watts.
Lawrie was a lifeline friend who sadly died a few years ago. His work was not restricted to motorcycles: He drew for many publications published by Associated Ilifee Press, including The Motor Cycle, Amateur Photographer, Flight, Autocar and others. He was also keenly involved in the agricultural world and produced intricate drawings of the most amazing industrial-scale farm equipment. He also designed agricultural equipment of the most esoteric nature. If you want to know more about Lawrie Watts' remarkable career you can find his biography, written by another old friend of mine, David Dixon, at the link below.
The Leica anatomy drawing, almost certainly dating from before the second world war, was not the work of Lawrie (as far as I know) but it is typical of his meticulous style. Where can we see drawings of this excellence these days? Nowhere, I suppose, because the innards of modern cameras are a jumble of chips, cables and electronic gizmos. The art of mechanical excellence has passed us by and we have all ended up in the Cloud.
I have just updated two articles from last week which cover the subject of using Leica M and R lenses on both the Sony A7r and the Fuji X-E1.Read More
Both Apple and Adobe offer cloud sync among all devices, with Adobe Lightroom offering currently the most flexible system for photography enthusiasts. Lightroom offers more control and, indeed, more access to professional features on the iOS applications. Apple, on the other hand, wants to make things simpler for you by taking over all your assets and storing them on in the cloud. Charlie Sorrel, writing in Cult of Mac, sees benefits in both systems:
With Lightroom Mobile and – soon – Apple’s Photos apps, your library is in the cloud. That is, you don’t just have an out-of-date copy of your pictures sitting on a server somewhere. Instead, you can access, edit and organize those pictures from pretty much any device. This is a fundamental shift. You no longer need to worry about which version of your photo you have on which device, because there is only one version, and it’s everywhere.
While Adobe will continue to appeal to the enthusiast who values control over assets, Apple is poised to win the lion's share of the cloud-storage market says Sorrel:
I’ve lost count of the number of photo-storage/sharing sites that have shut down in the past year, each one taking my photos with it, or at the very least requiring me to upload my library – yet again – to another service. Adobe and Apple will both be around for a while, and – crucially – both are charging for their services right from the beginning. (Not that Apple couldn’t afford to give it away.)
Who else could squeeze into this space? Flickr is like a gallery, not a library, but that could be fixed. And Flickr has the advantage of already being integrated with not just iOS but zillions of other apps and services. It’s also backed by Yahoo, and offers 1TB of storage.
From the sheer number of dead photo services littering the internet, it seems that deep resources are needed to enter this game. Amazon and Dropbox are the two other candidates that leap to mind, but I have a feeling that the most successful player will also be the most obvious.
Apple’s Photos app is already the central location for your photos on iOS. I think it will soon become the central location for all your photos, period
Here's a bold statement from the Thomas Pindelski in relation to the new Panasonic FZ1000 super-bridge camera:
This Panasonic fixed zoom lens DSLR is one of a handful of superzooms on the market (Sony’s RX10 is another) which heralds the demise not only of flapping mirror DSLRs but also the day of interchangeable lenses. It differs materially from earlier superzooms damned with small aperture and highly variable speed lenses, poor optical quality and minuscule sensors.
Thomas has a point, of course. Bridge cameras have been beyond the pale in many eyes because they combine the worst of both worlds--small sensor with big size. The FZ1000 and the Sony RX10 are different. Big they still are, but the 1in sensor is a quantum leap in ability from the pinprick chips of most of the bridge bunch.
Even I am tempted: A camera like this with a respectable sensor and a built-in 25-400mm (equivalent) zoom is nothing to be dismissed out of hand. Yet I am not entirely sure Pindelski is right in suggesting that the Panasonic and Sony sound the death knell for DSLRs and other interchangeable-lens cameras. There will always be room for those who love the idea of swapping lenses and enjoying a high degree of control—whether with a mirrorless or mirrored design.
He is right in suggesting that these super zoom bridge cameras will make inroads. Nikon and Canon, too late to the mirrorless party, are hurting as camera sales plummet. Martin Kalaydjian writing in THE.ME is rightly worried about overall camera sales which have fallen from 121 million in 2010 to less than 40 million in 2014:
If this trend continues much longer, we will have a a very different future to look forward to. There will always be millions of people who prefer using real cameras to take photos, rather than cell phones or tablets. They aren’t going away. But there will be a lot fewer of us in the future. So the industry will have to adjust to that.
As smartphones kill off the point-and-shoot market there will be a flight to the high-end, targeted at photographic enthusiasts who, while acknowledging smartphone abilities and perhaps using themselves for snaps, will want something more. Even Leica, with its new boutique approach, has its place at the head of the price table.
The FZ1000, like the RX10, puts some much-needed life into the market and shows that there is room for the photo enthusiast who wants better results but can't be bothered with the paraphernalia that goes with DSLRs and ILCs.
Writing in Mashable, Stewart Walpin reveals that the world's first consumer digital camera was marketed by Apple because Kodak couldn't bear to launch it under its own name:
Back in Apple’s dark ages — during Steve Jobs’ interregnum in the mid-1990s — the company experimented with some strange products. Everyone remembers the ill-fated Newton PDA, for instance, which was considered ahead of its time. Less memorable was the QuickTake 100, the first mass market color consumer digital camera.
Back in February 1994 the QuickTake 100 was launched and went on sale on June 20 of that year. With its 640x480 pixel CCD sensor it cost a whopping $749.
David Sparks, writing in Macworld, is not at all fazed by the sudden death of one of our favourite image processors, Aperture. It seems the world has put its thumbs down and everyone, down to the last tribe in the Amazonian basin, will be consigning all their snappery to Apple's Photo cloud:
I believe Apple understands how important our photos are to us and appreciates what a monumental task they’ve taken on with this transition. In some ways, retiring iPhoto and Aperture serves the purpose of waking users up—alerting them to the fact that their photo management is about to change—and new paradigms require new software. If Apple can deliver on this, the company is going to make photo management a lot easier for its users.
I am not so convinced, as I wrote earlier this week, but I can see that for the vast majority of consumers, headed by the smartphone selfie generation, Photos and the cloud is just what they need. For some of us, though, we need a bit more control and a few assurances before we commit to Apple's Utopia. We will need a lot of convincing.