The past couple of days here at Wetzlar have been packed with presentations and meetings, and until now I’ve had no opportunity to sit down and write. The whole experience of being at the Leitz Park is quite overwhelming for Leica fans; I get the same sort of buzz I experienced when I visited Apple’s HQ on this very day in 2011, coincidentally the day that Steve Jobs died. Fortunately, nothing quite so dramatic has happened here.
We have enjoyed presentations by Stefan Daniel, Stefan Schultz, Ruud Peters and Peter Karbe from the Leica management and I shall be writing more about these detail-packed sessions later when the dust has settled. Jono Slack told us about his experiences as a beta tester and renowned Leica expert, dealer and author, Lars Netopil introduced us to his latest book on the history of the brand. One of the highlights of yesterday was a private visit to the new archives, managed extremely efficiently by Monika Bock.
A standout impression is one of informality. Yesterday I was in a tightly packed lift when someone asked which lens I had on the CL — it was the 35mm Summilux — and why it was so big. I set off to explain without realising that behind me was standing Peter Karbe himself. Talk about rushing in where angels fear to tread. But I hope I made the right points about high-performance autofocus TL lenses needing to be much bigger than their M counterparts.
Then, later, I found myself in the Casino canteen queue next to Stefan Daniel who pointed out the Currywurst und Pommes as typical German junk food. I tended to disagree — I love currywurst, junk or no junk.. Not far behind in this very egalitarian food chain was Peter Karbe, followed by most of the Leica top brass.
I took the opportunity to ask Herr Karbe why none of the APS-C L lenses features image stabilisation. His answer was short and to the point: Size. Enough said.
Later today a large group of LHSA members will be doing the Wetzlar walk, followed by a visit to the Leitz family graves. It has been such a pleasure to meet Leica enthusiasts coming from 18 countries, including a good contingent from Britain, and I can only marvel at the combined knowledge of the brand that is present here on one spot for the coming weekend.
I have to say that the Leitz Park is extremely impressive both in design and effectiveness. It seems to me as an outsider to be a great place to work. It’s interesting, by the way, to hear from Ruud Peters that Leica Camera AG does not own Leitz Park — it is owned by Dr Kauffman’s family investment concern and leased to the various Leica divisions. More than anything, this illustrates the impact Andreas Kaufmann has made on Leica and underlines the way in which he has invested, and continues to invest, in the future of the brand.