Home Cameras/Lenses Leica En route to Biévres International Photo Fair

En route to Biévres International Photo Fair


Today I am en route to what has become one of the big fixtures in my annual calendar — the International Photo Fair in the town of Bièvres, south-west of Paris. This year I decided to drive, so today I will be incommunicado for much of the time. Travelling by train does have some advantages, and being able to work is one of them. 

  Waiting for the fair to open
Waiting for the fair to open

Fortunately, Biévres is a fairly easy drive from London, about 300 miles. Allowing for loading the car into the Channel Tunnel train at Folkestone and emerging some 40 minutes later in Calais, the journey takes about six hours. The advantage of going by car is that I can at last buy that van-sized cintage plate camera I’ve had my eyes on. Just joking. But it does mean I don’t have to give as much consideration to weight or bulk if I see something I fancy. 

  Something to shoehorn into the car, with Ivor Cooper of Red Dot Cameras looking all proprietorial
Something to shoehorn into the car, with Ivor Cooper of Red Dot Cameras looking all proprietorial

If you are going to be there either on Saturday or Sunday, do come and say hello. I shall be “hanging out” with Ivor and Elaine Cooper from Red Dot Cameras, and they will know where to find me, most of the time at least.

I am taking just one camera of record this year. It is the review copy Sony A7III together with the Techart autofocus adapter kindly loaned by David Babsky,. I’ve thrown in a couple of M-mount lenses to do the hard work. I’m hoping to grab a few useful shots and get some material for the review of the Sony.

  Lots of lenses to choose from, aspherical as well as floating element
Lots of lenses to choose from, aspherical as well as floating element

It’s good to explain my absence because only this week it was feared I had dropped off my perch. I received a call from a worried John Shingleton in New South Wales. He and fellow contributor Wayne Gerlach had had coffee on Tuesday and realised they hadn’t seen a post from a Macfilos since the news of the discontinuation or the Leica M7. They feared I too had been discontinued. The explanation was less final, however, since I took three days off, including Monday which was a national holiday, and, clearly, Macfilos was missed. At least on the NSW coast if nowhere else. 





  1. Mike, yes,what you say is true. Wayne and I feared the worst as Macfilos posts usually appear with such regularity and rapidity. Sitting overlooking Terrigal Beach on a beautiful winter’s morning-only 20C-sipping on our cappuccinos we surmised that you may indeed have been stricken with or perhaps had even succumbed to the very virulent Sony a7 virus. A phone call did dispel that dark thought although it is disappointing to read that you are still risking exposure to the virus by taking an a7 to France with you. Quelle horreur. I am sure that it will let you down-somehow.

    • I’m sitting in a now very rainy Stainmore in Cumbria and chuckling to myself about your views on the Sony.

      My fleeting fumblings with the A7riii give me the view that it pulls a stunning image, but I feel no connection between me pressing the shutter release and the final image. It sort of does it all with surgical precision for you.

      Mike, enjoy Paris.


      • Dave, as you may know my opinion of the Sony a7 is based on real experience. I owned one for 15 months and the saga was related in a Macfilos post when it went to new home. I took some excellent photos with it. I cannot fault it on that score but I totally understand what you say with the lack of connection – others call it lack of soul. Also I never came to terms with the confusing menus or the controls. I did not hate tha a7 – that’s way too strong a word. I just did not get along with it.

        • That’s the nail on the head. My first go and I took a slew of shots without realising it, as there was no confirmation I had taken the image – just total silence.

          I look at the images taken with my X and I can relay the experience, the day and the moment, which was something I rarely got from my Nikon gear in the same way. The Sony doesn’t give me that feeling with my limited use. My son in law loves it though, so each to our own on that front.


          • But you had it on silent (which is very useful in certain circumstances). Switch it off and the camera gives a satisfying click, just like a Leica….

          • After my complaint about it, my son in law turned it back on and also turned on a shutter blink in the EVF. Which helps but I still didn’t feel the love when shooting it, unlike my X (yes a very poor comparison I accept)

  2. You were missed here, but I knew about the Bank Holiday. Ours is this weekend. Let us know if you see any Grubb lenses – address details of dealer would do. Since the Macfilos article last year there has been a bit of interest, but the number that have been identified ‘in the wild’ is quite limited compared to other 19th century brass lenses. Leica Summars, particularly the rare ones like the chrome rigid and the Tropen, are also of interest, but I am sure that Ivor will jump on any good quality copies.


  3. This is the only site I check daily and I was missing your contribution to my day. With your new exploration of the Sony A7??? portable computer capable of taking photos, I thought you may be lost in volume one of the manual or be creating a separate blog to compete with Huff. I love your glasses photo by the way, no matter whether you took it with a camera or computer.

  4. Mike – ignore the jokes about Sony — as you know I have been a Leica shooter for decades, and have the M10, the Q, the CL, and the TL, all of which I love together with the old M6; but I have also enjoyed shooting with the non-computer Sony A6000 and 6300, with Leica lenses and Sony’s own. It feel good in the hand, and indeed takes remarkably great pics. So good luck with the A7iii — it’s fast, accurate and you will surely enjoy aspects of shooting that are complementary to the Leica experience!
    Sorry I can’t meet you in Bièvres — not coming through London until the end of next week – happy hunting.

    • Nice to hear of a fellow-entusiast for the a6000. I’ve been discovering this summer what a good and easy to operate camera it is. Used with the Zeiss 16-70 (equiv. 24-105) and watching the "zebras", I’ve been getting results which to me are on a par with my X Vario (heresy, I know, but……….)

      • I admit I have been a bit down on Sony in the past but I am certainly impressed with the a7III. Last week a visitor from America had just bought an a6500 and I was impressed with that as well. It’s light and small and compares well with the CL. I’m now prepared to consider the RX100 although I am not sure I like the pop-up viewfinder.

    • While I have always had a thing about Sony menus which I think are rather complex and difficult to learn, I have to admit that they are no worse than Olympus. But this doesn’t mean Sony cameras are any more "computers" than any other digital camera on the market, including the M10. They all rely on electronic processing and I see very little difference between the A7III and, say, the G9 or the OM-D E-M1 II. I am currently being seduced by the A7III. It’s no bigger or heavier than the G9 — but then I don’t have any zoom lenses.

  5. Mike

    Have fun at the fair, it seems like a good way to achieve total photo immersion for a few days.

    Also, enjoy the Sony A7III with your M lenses. I have been using that camera’s older brother for about 1.5 yrs with M lenses and other mounts. Out of the box the A7 has a fairly restricted shooting envelope with M lenses; which varies with the vintage of the lens. So, I look forward to reading your impressions of using it and how it fits with your photographic style.

    I do have a suggestion for you. Always keep a lens attached to the camera. The Sony body caps do a lousy job of sealing the body cavity from dust and the sensor seems to retain a little residual charge after the camera is turned off. So the sensor can attract and hold dust like a vacuum. Which can require extra effort to remove.

    Enjoy the trip.

    • Interesting about the sensor dust. I will take care. I seldom use body caps and normally keep a lens mounted. But it’s an important point. But I’m sure the Sony cannot be worse than any Leica M. At least the Sony incorporates a shake or two to clean the sensor, perhaps not too successfully.

      • Mike

        The M-bodies have the shutter to cover the sensor when not using live view. So there may be times when the shutter is closed with the camera powered off; I have not used a CMOS based M to know if the sensor is always exposed like the Sony.

        Concerning the shake mode, if it is the same as the A7II it is not like the Olympus system, it does not operate every time you cycle the power. You need to select it. My experience is it is not as effective as I would like. Hopefully the shake system in the new camera is better.

        Of course, dust on the M9 can be pretty stubborn as well.


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