Clubbing: The Leica Society's annual shindig at Leica Mayfair
It’s that time of the year again: An opportunity for some of Leica’s most loyal customers to visit HQ and get the inside story on developments. The Leica Fellowship and The Leica Society (TLS) members traditionally visit Leica Mayfair in London on consecutive days, are treated to lunch and an afternoon of activities.
Today was the turn of The Leica Society and, as a member, I tagged along to meet friends and take a few shots. Obviously I had to take a Leica to record the occasion. I couldn’t face carrying the SL and 24-90, so chose the more discreet M-D with a 35mm Summilux. I didn’t miss having a screen, as I have confirmed on every outing with what has become my favourite M digital.
One of my part-time activities is as a member of the TLS Circle D, a monthly photographic combination for users of Leica cameras or Leica lenses. Yesterday was an opportunity to meet several fellow Circle D members, including Phil Coomes, Rob Challis, Dunk Sergeant and Tony Goodger. It was also good to meet John Brockliss who we featured on Macfilos earlier this month.
Brian Palmer, the Society’s chairman, kindly told me that he had bought both the Leica Q and M-D on the recommendation of Macfilos. I didn’t know whether to feel pleased or guilty. At the very least this reminds me to be objective in future reviews. Strictly on the quiet, though, he made the right choice. Both are fabulous cameras.
When I arrived at the new Leica Store I was surprised to find a vintage Leica IIIg mounted on a tripod and occupying centre stage. Later I met the owner, Vincent Roberts, who told me that this particular camera has been bought by his father on 5 December 1957. He paid £199 for it at the New Camera Exchange in Bond Street (no camera shops there now, of course...) . It's Vincent's only Leica and he believes it is the finest Leica ever made, the epitome of mechanical perfection, chosen for its rugged good looks over the bland and then contemporary M3. Vincent believes he is just looking after this pristine little camera and will make sure it goes to a good home when he dies. Such dedication.
But it's not all vintage. Leica Mayfair deck out a table with all the current goodies, from M to X to TL to SL, to Q. Here'a s great opportunity to get some hands-on experience with some very expensive and exclusive hardware.
But the annual visits to Leica Mayfair are focused on a presentation of new products and current developments. Yesterday Leica Akademie trainer, Robin Sinha, outlined the new Sofort, the titanium-finish Leica Q Gray (sic) and the little f/5.6 Summaron retro lens.
Our own William Fagan, a noted vintage Leica authority, was there to show us the original, vintage f/5.6 Summaron. There’s not much difference, but I did think the new version had a somewhat smoother focus movement than my own vintage Summaron. Do I think it worthwhile to shell out £1,850 for the new lens when I already own a rapidly appreciating 60-year-old version that produces virtually identical results? Perhaps not.
Unfortunately I had another appointment yesterday afternoon so missed the portrait challenge — an opportunity to use the SL to grab the portrait of the moment. I must find out who won. ....And I did. Here's the winning shot of Chris, taken by Bill with the Leica SL and 24-90mm Vario-Elmar.