During Photokina I had the opportunity chat with Leica’s director of product management, Stefan Daniel, about the massive array of new cameras, lenses and accessories announced at the show. I joined Dr. Michael Pritchard of the Royal Photographic Society (who took the accompanying photographs) to ply Herr Daniel with a few questions.Read More
Since the introduction of the Leica M-P with the reinstated frame line lever there has been some doubt about whether existing M half cases would fit. I understand that some cases, including Leica's own, do have problems accommodating the lever. With Arte di Mano cases, however, the situation is a little more flexible. I own both the standard half case and the special edition which covers the Leica grip. In my opinion these cases are absolutely the best money can buy.
I've tried both on the new M-P and I think the fit is just about acceptable. While the edge of the case does touch the lever, it doesn't overlap and is not unsightly. I suspect that if you already own an M case from Arte di Mano you could happily use it with the M-P. It is certainly worth trying before you go out and buy a replacement.
I had a word with Sejun Kim of Arte di Mano in Korea and he confirms that it is possible to use the old case on the M-P although there could be some loss of functionality of the lever. However, he is a perfectionist and is currently working on a new M-P case which will feature a slight change in the contour of the front cover to fully accommodate the lever. He also tells me that it is not possible, for various reasons, to amend the old cases.
When I heard about the new M-A (the M-Analog according to Dr. Kaufmann) I was not so sure it would be popular. Wouldn't most film fans prefer the MP with its built in light meter or, even, the automatic M7? If I did want an all mechanical film camera, why not just buy an M3, M2 or M4? However, I cannot claim to be a film buff but I know someone who is. He is Bellamy Hunt of Japan Camera Hunter and he thinks the M-A is orgasmic. I allow, it's a handsome beast and already a couple of my friends have their names down for the first coming.
The successful cooperation between Leica and Panasonic will continue for at least another five years according to a joint release from the two companies. On Friday, Leica's CEO Dr. Alfred Schopf and Panasonic's Yoshiyuki Miyabe renewed the agreement which first started in 2000 with digital audiovisual equipment lenses and was extended to the digital camera sector the following year.Read More
In the end, it’s a kind of alchemy that produces the best imagery and in many cases, Apple’s image magic leads the pack.
In this review of Apple's iPhone 6 camera, Mashable asks if it is the best point and shoot. There is little doubt that smartphones in general, not just Apple's products, have put the skids under the low-end camera market. Camera manufacturers have now realised that their futures lie in offering committed photographer, prepared to pay several hundred pounds, more of what they want in terms of perceived pro features. The scene-mode generation is defecting to the smartphone in droves and, soon, there will be no market for sub-£100 compacts.
The Relonch camera aims to turn your iPhone into smart, polished-aluminium body with a real f/2 50mm prime lens. It's at prototype stage and was being demonstrated at Photokina for the first time. In the foreground of the above picture you see the mock-up of the camera which has a dock at the back to receive your iPhone 5S. Behind is the device that actually works, a jury-rigged camera with an unspecified prime lens shrouded in gaffer tape.
It works, though, as witness the picture of me (below) taken with the Heath Robinson device. The Relonch, which was on display at Photokina, is scheduled for production next year and will cost around $500. The company is looking for backers.
I have my doubts about the market for such a device. The Sony QX10 is probably a more viable way of harnessing your phone to a superior lens. It is more versatile in that it will work with many sizes and shapes of phone. The Relonch, on the other hand, is device specific. Imagine having paid $500 for a Relonch only to find it a bit of junk when your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus arrives in a couple of weeks' time.
The new D-Lux replaces the much-loved D-Lux 6. I know many photographers who swear by the D-Lux and I have seen some incredible results despite the small 2/3 sensor. Much of the success of the 6 was down to the Leica Vario Summilux zoom lens which is generally accepted to be the best lens on any compact. There is no arguing, however, that the tiny 2/3 sensor was becoming something of a liability, especially with the emergence of excellent larger-sensor compacts such as the Sony RX100.
Leica has now leapfrogged the opposition by shoehorning a (relatively) massive 4/3 sensor into the new D-Lux. I sense a winner. On paper, this little camera can wipe the floor with the current king of compacts, the RX100, but we shall have to wait to see what the test results say. As a package, I greatly prefer it to the Sony, but that's just my opinion.
Certainly it has all the makings of a success. To feed the new large sensor is a fast new Leica Vario-Summilux f/1.7-2.8 which reaches from a wide 24mm to 75mm (35mm equivalent). While it would have been nice to see a longer 90mm at one end of the zoom, the wide 24mm is certainly a big advantage in general use.
The new camera also addresses some of the criticisms of the its predessor. Perhaps the most requested feature was a built-in rangefinder. Now we have it, and it's a gem with an impressive 2.8 micro dots. All this comes in a package no larger than the previous model and all the familiar design cues are there, including the lens-mounted aspect ratio adjustment which has always been a popular feature. A welcome improvement, too, is the ability of the lens to accept a filter without the need for a third-party adapter. There will be an automatic lens cap offered as an accessory, but give me a UV glass protector any day.
With an ISO range up to 25,600 and full HD video, the little D-Lux will take over from where the Six left off. I had a brief introduction during Photokina and was impressed by the build quality and the handling. Above all, the viewfinder impresses. Auto focus was speedy, although I was only able to test it indoors on the Leica stand. While the new camera will cost more than its predessor at £850, there is now no longer a need to fork out for an expensive hot-shoe-mounted EVF. When this is taken into account, the D-Lux is actually about the same price as the old model.
The D-Lux 6 was Leica's most successful digital compact and I am sure the 4/3 successor will carve out an even bigger share of the market. For once, Leica has a state of the art digital that can shoot with the best. Only Leica fans will have a dilemma, whether to go for the versatility of the D-Lux of the focused superior image quality of the new Leica X.
The new X was another surprise this week. I had heard rumours of an X2 replacement with a faster lens but assumed it would follow X1 and X2 format. Instead it is a masterful rework of the X Vario.
The X Vario is a camera I liked very much when I reviewed it last January. I didn't even mind the starting aperture of f/3.5 in contrast with those who condemned the camera out of hand because of its slow lens. Image quality is superb and it is a thoroughly competent little camera.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find the new X to be in effect an XV (or, as the publicity message had it, a mini M) but with a fast fixed prime. It was also positive to find the ageing VF-2 viewfinder replaced by the high-resolution large-screen Visioflex from T.
I had a short time to get acquainted with the new X during Photokina. First off, I should say that this is a great looking camera, more the mini M than some critics would allow. It looks seductive, too, in the silver trim with that silver lens. Unfortunately, as ever, the pretty looks are spoiled by the big black viewfinder in the hotshoe. The Visoflex ought to be available on silver as well as black for those who choose the prettier silver camera. It is fortunate that the Visioflex performs a lot better than it looks.
The camera handles well. It is well balanced, helped by the lighter lens and feels just like a lighter X Vario. The controls are simple, a typical M-like touch, and the menu is a model of simplicity. But I was keen to check out the operation of the four-way pad since this is acknowledged to be a problem with the X Vario. It is in the same lower right position as on the Vario and it is appears to be equally vulnerable to inadvertent operation with the ball of the right thumb. It does seem to me, though, that the pad has been reworked and no longer feels as trigger happy as the one on the XV. Nevertheless, it wasn't long before I was touching it by mistake and going into exposure compensation. (UPDATE: The latest firmware update disables the troublesome flash button unless the flash is raised. However, as I said, the exposure compensation button is still capable of causing bother)
I suspect this control pad will be a mixed bag ― somewhat better than the X Vario but still not perfect. It is disappointing that more hasn't been done to cure this annoying feature. I asked Stefan Daniel if there were plans to allow the four-way pad to be locked or disabled, as is possible with Sony and Fuji cameras, but he did not think it was part of the latest firmware fix which also applies to the XV.
The f/1.7 Summilux lens is decidedly handsome beast, looking very similar to the 23mm Summicron-T launched earlier this year. The focus ring is smooth and well damped, as you would expect from Leica. The aperture ring is identical to that of the XV, with a detente between manual and auto. This is one of my favourite layouts and I remember it from the old Digilux 2.
However, I tried two cameras and on both the movement over the detente between manual and autofocus was rather rough and stiff, quite unlike the smooth and precise operation of the XV's ring. It could be that the show cameras were pre-production models but it is something I intend to check when I get a production model for test later this month.
One disappointment is the lack of a depth of field scale. It is highly useful on a prime lens (as on all M lenses) and I think Leica missed a trick here. Incidentally, the X uses the same screw-in hood as the X Vario, so if you intend to replace your XV with the new camera it is worth hanging on to this rather expensive accessory.
Overall I am very impressed by this new camera. There can be no criticism on aperture this time round and I expect the performance of the lens will be up to that of the Summicron-T and, as Leica will undoubtedly say, be comparable with the 35mm Summilux. It has stiff competition from the likes of the new Fuji X100T but, in its favour, the X is perhaps a more focused camera with its emphasis on manual controls and simple menus. It is more the sort of camera to appeal to an M user as a second, versatile travel device.
Finally, price. At £1,550 in the UK, the X is something of a bargain by Leica standards. It is only £200 more than the T body but you get a Summilux lens thrown in almost for free. You lose that 45 minutes-worth of Portuguese polishing, of course. Still, unless you really must have interchangeable lenses, the X will be a very sensible choice.
As with the new Summarits, I was late in getting round to handling the latest silver Noctilux and 35mm Summilux. There were just too many new cameras coming out of Wetzlar. These lenses surprised me once I managed to screw them on my M and have a play.Read More
When I heard on Tuesday that Leica had a new range of aspherical Summarit lenses I wasn't too enthused. Although I have heard good things about the old f/2.5 Summarits, I had fallen into the trap of sidelining them in favour of the seemingly more desirable (and more expensive) Summicron range.Read More
Now I have had a change to play with Leica's latest experiment, the world's first control-less and screen-less digital camera, I feel lust coming on.Read More
The new Summarit lenses announced by Leica this morning are a triumph of design. What's more, they are beautiful. The big surprise is the weight of the aluminium versions. Anyone used the to the extra heft of a chrome Summilux 35 or 50 will be amazed to find these new lenses weighing more or less the same as the black versions.Read More
Sometime last year Leica said it would never adopt the micro four thirds standard. Yet isn't this the very sensor installed in the new D-Lux?Read More
The newly introduced Leica X is not, as I thought, upgraded X2. It is an X Vario with a fixed 23mm Summilux (f/1.7) lens and a revised hotshoe to accept the Visoflex EVF first seen on the T.Read More
Leica has launched Leica Photopark, a custom photo storing and information exchange for enthusiasts. It will include printing and sharing facilities and the company is going big on data security. More on this later.
Register now at www.leica-photopark.com. Comes live later in the year.
Dr. Kaufmann on the stage telling us that the A in M-A stands for M Analogue. No light meter, back to basics.
With the Leica S (Type 007), Leica Camera AG, Wetzlar, presents the new top model of the Leica S-System. As a logical development of its predecessors, the new Leica S features a multitude of radically new components – like the Leica CMOS sensor and the Leica Maestro II image processor – and now opens up new dimensions in the field of medium-format photography.Read More
Another back-to-basics film camera had been rumoured and it is the M-A which removed the light meter and has no need for batteries. The £3,100 price is attractive, about £500 lower than the current MP. More on this later.Read More
Leica has introduced a new chrome version of the f/0.95 Noctilux ― specially crafted for the Leica fanboy with deep pockets and strong muscles.Read More
As rumoured, the new Leica V-Lux is based on the Panasonic FZ1000 with the one-inch sensor. It is similar to the Sony RX10 in format but with a longer zoom and the ability to record 4K video.Read More