Busy Bees: Leica, Panasonic, Nikon in a big week for camera news
What a week this has been — so many announcements of interest to fans of digital cameras (rather than mirrored cameras, naturally). I’m feeling fortunate that my stay in Hong Kong was planned to ensure I would be back in time to handle the Leica M10-P, Lumix LX100 II and the overwhelming Zeds. This was pure coincidence and it would have been something of a disaster to have to deal with all this from the hotel in Knutsford Terrace.
It’s a week which also marked the tenth anniversary of both digital-cameras-without-flapping-mirrors and the micro four-thirds intruder. I’m planning a short piece on to mark that milestone. The video on the M10 made with Ivor at Red Dot Cameras has proved very popular. As Ivor’s daughter Kimberley points out though, we have an overwhelmingly male audience. Females seem singularly unimpressed, either with the M10-P or, more probably, with the presenters. In kindness, I told Ivor I’ve been dragging him down in the popularity ratings. Without my interference he would probably be a star.
And, fortunately, there is a stash of articles awaiting publication — including Paul Glendell’s treatise on panoramic photography (with the Leica M9), John Shingleton’s musings on Leica and Porsche, plus Wayne Gerlach’s thoughts on signal-to-noise ratios.
All this means I don’t have to work quite so hard next week and I am looking forward to taking things a bit easier. On the stocks, though, is a review of the Voigtländer 65mm Apo-Lanthar lens and a detailed look at the Sony RX100 VI which will be published in the coming weeks. Next Wednesday also marks the tenth anniversary of Macfilos (what a coincidence with the anniversary of mirrorless cameras) and, of naturally, I can’t let that pass without a few words.
It is time, I think, to sit back and take stock. So I can ramble on a bit. The arrival of the M10-P has rekindled my rangefinder enthusiasm and I’ll be taking the M10 out for walkies more regularly in future. It will be going with me at the end of September to the LHSA annual gathering, this time at Wetzlar. I’m looking forward to meeting members from around the world, including Jonathan Slack who, despite our both living not that far from one another, I haven’t yet met.
Clearing the decks
I need to clear the decks a little first. For the past couple of months, I’ve been rather exercised by two Sonys, the a7III and the RX100 VI plus the Leica C-Lux. I feel that by the time I’ve added the Sony to the list of reviews and then doubled down on a C-Lux/RX100 comparison, I will have done the 1in sensor to death. For the moment.
A tale of two inchers: The mini-monster zooms at work, a world apart. Left, the Big Buddha on Lantau Island, Hong Kong, captured by the Sony RX100 VI at its maximum 200mm. Right, the Leica C-Lux zooms in at 360mm in London's Trafalgar Square. It's not quite a fair comparison since the Buddha was much, much further away. Click these cropped images to see full size.
However, either the C-Lux or the RX100 will become my permanent pocket camera, and I will keep the powder dry until the comparative review. As for the a7III is a wonderful camera, even without native AF lenses, and I am particularly fond of it in conjunction with the Voigtländer 40mm Nokton, a superb manual-focus E-mount lens. The arrival of the TechArt adapter, allowing autofocus of M-mount lenses, is proving something of an entertaining sideshow. it isn't without controversy, however, as Jonathan Slack points out. The Sony does have some problems with M lenses arising from the thickness of the sensor cover glass. I hope to investigate this further in a longer article.
No mention of micro four-thirds? Well, despite the lovely G9 and a bevvy of lenses sitting on the shelf, I haven’t had much time to exercise them in the past three months. It’s always good to know, though, that the G9 is there and ready for special occasions — such as a planned return to the London Wetland Centre with the 50-200mm Leica DG Vario-Elmarit. A few months ago I was there with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II and a similar lens, so I’m looking forward to the results form the G9.
In the meantime, it’s time to move back mentally to the purity of Leica for a few months. I’ve missed using the M10, for sure, and my time in Hong Kong with the CL reminded me what a wonderful little camera it is. With the 18mm Elmarit pancake or the 23mm Summicron, this camera feels just like the X1 or X2 but has the advantage of the built-in viewfinder.
Yet despite the excellence of the rather quirky controls on the CL, I still have a hankering for the ultimate simplicity of the layout on the X1 with its physical speed and aperture dials. I really think Leica should revisit the X concept of a very basic 35mm fixed-lens compact. I think it would sell like hotcakes (or as hot as cakes sell at Leica).
Roll on the M10-D
As for the M10-P, I would really love to have this camera instead of the M10 but it makes little financial sense to upgrade at this stage. I suspect a majority of M10 owners will feel the same. What will interest me, though, is the M10-D should it make an appearance later this year. I still believe Leica will produce such a screenless M and I know I would love it. The now discontinued M-D was something really special and a joy to use — the ultimate film camera with a digital sensor, allowing just the same options as we used to have with film cameras until the advent of digital.