Leica surprises later today

Leica will announce a range of new products this afternoon in Berlin. At 3 pm Central European Time we will hear about a new camera and new lenses, probably something in between the current X and M ranges. From what I hear this will be an important launch and crucial to the future of Leica. More later. 

Update 8 am, April 24: A loud cry of "Scheiße!" in Wetzlar, no doubt, as the entire web site for the new T system went live last night for a brief moment, but not too brief for at least one news source to pinch all the screen shots. So now I know more or less everything about the new camera. Nevertheless, I am going to respect Leica's embargo until 15.00 CET today.

Choosing the best compact system camera

If you are moving from a DSLR or up from a point-and-shoot camera, there are two compact system cameras that currently stand head and shoulders above the pack. The Fuji X-T1 is an APS-C sensored triumph of traditional controls which even has a physical dial for ISO settings and drive modes. With this camera there is less menu diving than with most other cameras on the market (even with Leica, it should be noted). But are the controls accessible and do they work efficiently? Fuji is also renowned for its JPG processing and, if you work entirely in jpegs, the Fuji is an excellent choice. It certainly has the best electronic viewfinder in town.

The second camera to consider is the Olympus OM-D EM-1 which is better built, has faster autofocus and is more pleasant to handle. For some, though, the fact that the Olympus has the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor (a quarter the size of full-frame) is off-putting. But it has to be said that the combination of lightning-fast autofocus and stellar lenses (particularly the new all-round star, the 12-40 zoom, equivalent to 24-80 in 35mm terms) probably gives the Olympus the edge. The Olympus will produce more keepers, simply because of its unrivalled autofocus speed, and that counts for a lot.

This exhaustive review by David Fleet, the Cotswold Photographer, is a must view if you are considering either of these two systems. 

Leica M: Firmware update to improve user experience

Leica Rumors has stated that there will be a firmware update for the Leica M on "May 24". I suspect this could in fact be April 24 which is the date of the next Leica press event in Berlin. It would make sense to announce the update then, although possibly the file will not be available for download until later.

Firmware will add two primary features, blue lines for the focus peaking system and the ability to set strict parameters for auto ISO, including minimum shutter speed as well as upper and lower limits for ISO. This will be a very welcome improvement and will answer one of my few criticisms of the camera. There is also a tweak to exposure compensation by making it no longer necessary to hold down the front button. More information will come soon but there will be a number minor tweaks in addition to these main features.


Leica to go to the Photography Show in 2015

Notably absent when I visited this year's Photography Show at the NEC, Leica has now decided to take space at next year's event. This is welcome news and will make a visit to Birmingham between 21 and 21 March essential for me. It is also good to hear that Ricoh will be taking part for the first time. 

This year's show in March attracted just over 30,000 visitors but next year there will be more space for exhibitors and even greater numbers of visitors. The event moves to the large Hall 5, which offers nearly 25,000m2 of space, a substantial increase of 10,000m2 on the 2014 event.

Diary date: The Photography Show 2015, National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, from 21 to 24 March 2015

Leica T: 27-84mm zoom and 35mm Summicron at launch


Later this month the new Leica T APS-C system camera will launch together with two new autofocus T lenses. Both, accord to LeicaRumors will be made by Panasonic and will not feature an aperture ring.

The standard zoom will be a Vario-Elmar-T ASPH 18-56mm (27-84mm equivalent) with an aperture range of f/3.5-5.6. It will thus be slightly faster than the lens of the X Vario as well as being longer than the XV's 70mm. Much will depend on the quality of the lens. The XV's zoom will be a hard act to follow.

The fixed prime will be a 23mm (35mm equivalent) Summicron-T ASPH with an f/2 maximum aperture.

Assuming equivalent image quality, the Leica T will compete with both the existing X2 and X Vario, offering both the 35mm prime of the X2 and the zoom of the X Vario.

Rumours tell us that the Leica T will come in an aluminium unibody and will be designed by Audi, as with the Leica C and M Titanium. A black anodised finish will be announced later in the year together with additional T-system lenses.

Sony A7s: Unprecedented dynamic range from 12MP sensor


Sony is on a roll. No sooner do I notch up a thousand clicks on my A7r than a new and better beast arrives, this time a full-frame mirrorless camera with ISO performance up to a staggering 409,600 and offering an "unprecedented dynamic range". According to Sony, the new A7s will offer effortless handling, extreme highlights and rich, deep blacks in the same frame." And, as a slap in the face to the pixel panderers, these wonders will be achieved with a sensor with a mere 12 Megapixels to play with. Yes, one third of the density of the current A7r.This is a camera that can almost see in the dark; it will certainly be a dream for video work and it will set new benchmarks for the rest of the pack to follow. And just think of the saving in storage.

Read more here on the.me

Readly: The full review of the Spotify for magazines

Over at Macfilos/home I have just published an exhaustive review of Readly, the all-you-can-read magazine subscription service that brings a spot of Spotify to your reading. I've used Amateur Photographer to illustrate the test. In Readly you will find plenty of camera fodder from both sides of the Atlantic to keep you busy, all for £9.99 a month. Read the full review here.

Video lust at last as Chinon unveils Bellami HD

I am not much interested in creating videos and prefer still photography. That red button on my Leica M has never been pressed in anger. So I have paid very little attention to developments in the dedicated video camera world until I saw this, the Chinon Bellami HD1.

The styling is fantastic, just like an old mechanical film camera, and the device promises to take a wide range of old and new lenses with different mounts. It could be a case of style over substance but I would love to try one. Could the Chinon be the tipping point that takes me into the world of video?

All-you-can-read photo magazines for £9.99 a month

Over at MacFilos/home I have just reviewed Readly, a new all-you-can-read subscription service for magazines. I was pleased to see so many photographic stuff from both sides of the Atlantic and I think the £9.99 sub is worth it for these titles alone. With free access to over 400 magazines and back issues, Readly could be something of a bargain for readers. I like the Spotify all-you-can-eat approach and I am looking forward to testing Readly.

Within minutes of opening my account I had set up a pageful of favourites, including no fewer than six worthwhile photography monthlies. If I confirm the subscription after the two-week trial, Readly will cost me a reasonable £9.99 every month.

Within minutes of opening my account I had set up a pageful of favourites, including no fewer than six worthwhile photography monthlies. If I confirm the subscription after the two-week trial, Readly will cost me a reasonable £9.99 every month.