People, cameras and Pumpkin the dog go out in the noonday sun
Last weekend Bill Palmer organised a successful London photo walk from Tower to Waterloo bridges along the South Bank. His target audience was members of the FujiXSpot Forum (led by PaulJ) and the Photographers' Lounge (led by Pete Taschauer, Petach), but a few Leica fans muscled in, thanks to my intervention. It was also a good opportunity for me to meet several Macfilos readers, including Stephen Jenner whose OCOLOY story I recounted a couple of weeks ago. Stephen was showing us his new Leica X-E as well as the M2 which featured in the previous article.
I like photo walks, as much for the social interaction as for the opportunity to take pictures. Somehow we tend to spark off one another and can get off some good shots, mostly of each other as it happened.
Unlike other participants, with their Fuji X-series cameras or Leica Ms of various vintages, I was clutching the heavy option. It was a good chance to try out the Leica SL and 24-90 zoom which had been loaned by Leica UK for four days. It isn't the sort of camera (or, more to the point, lens) that I would have chosen for street photography but I was pleasantly surprised both its performance and by the lack of attention it generated (thanks to my craftily applied black tape over LEICA and red dot). Despite the long, heavy zoom, it seem not as intimidating to others as I would have imagined.
John Cartwright also had an SL in his hands but, instead of the 24-90 monster he had a whole bagful of M lenses to attach to the T-mount adapter. First the new 28mm Elmarit, then a classic Summaron and finally a 75mm Summilux which, he claims, focuses more easily on the SL than on the M. Fujifan Palmer was carrying his new X-Pro2, of course, and juggling lenses like a good ‘un.
The Red Dot triplets, Ivor, Elaine and Pumpkin Cooper were out in force, helping to keep the Leica end of the ship afloat. Ivor had brought out his rare original black-paint M3, looking menacing with its black MR meter sitting on top. This outfit engenders the same sort of Leicalust I experienced when I saw Kai Elmer Sotto's brassed M-P on Friday.
Pumpkin was a patient dog but got his due reward over a poor but expensive lunch at the Doggett's Coat and Badge pub at Blackfriars Bridge. The sausages on my mash were probably the worst I have ever eaten (or tried to eat) but Pumpkin relished them. I was doubtful about his appetite but Elaine pointed out he is a dog; he eats anything including nearly raw bangers. In fact, as she worryingly mentioned, had Pumpkin turned up his canine nose at the sausage it would have been time to call an ambulance for a stricken Macfilos.
The object of the day was not to take photographs of one another but to capture the essence of a Sunday afternoon on the South Bank of the Thames. The SL with its large 24-90mm f/2.8-f/4 zoom proved well up to the task (photos Mike Evans)
What did I think of the 2.1kg Leica SL and 24-90 handy snapper combination? I was pleasantly surprised, as it happens. This isn't the sort of camera I would normally choose for street photography (having long ago given up on big, heavy DSLR rigs) but it hefted well on the long walk, largely thanks to that excellent large handgrip that comes built in. All cameras should have one of these and then there would be no need to buy accessories. The SL isn't a natural for casual street shooting, at least not with the zoom, but it did remarkably remarkably well.
Strip off that zoom, though, and the SL becomes a fitting alternative to the M as a street camera. It is no heavier than an M with grip and viewfinder attached and it performed really well with manual lenses such as the M optics I tried earlier in the weekend. I will be covering this is greater detail in the forthcoming review of the SL.