Leaving your Leica M9 switched on all day

While out with photo-journalist Don Morley last week I learned something interesting about power management on the M8, M9 and Monochrome. Don, who carries around two M9s and has also had extensive experience with the M8, reckons that leaving the camera switched on is the way to better power management, longer battery life and, along the way, makes the cameras quicker to use when needed.

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Equivalence: Crop factor, aperture and sensitivity

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.

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Leica M after two years, M10 would have been simpler

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.

Lost art of cutaway drawings: Anatomy of a Leica

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.

Killing Aperture means Apple will rule the cloud

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

Super bridgers to supplant DSLRs and ILCs

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.

Panasonic FZ1000: Is it the harbinger of doom for DSLRs and interchangeable-lens cameras in general? Photo courtesy of ephotozine.com where you can find a full test of the camera.

Panasonic FZ1000: Is it the harbinger of doom for DSLRs and interchangeable-lens cameras in general? Photo courtesy of ephotozine.com where you can find a full test of the camera.

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.