Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Macfilos: Pause for thought and a look at the future direction

Macfilos: Pause for thought and a look at the future direction

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The L-Mount Alliance announcement came at a timely moment for me. It is helping me rationalise my own photographic needs and set the future direction for Macfilos. This is not a general news site, and I certainly don’t have time to cover or review all products on the market. Some focus is necessary. It is also necessary to attract and retain readers from our subset of the photographic world.

My visit to Wetzlar, coming right on the heels of a busy week reporting on Photokina, has given me more pause for thought. Colleagues, including William Fagan and John Shingleton, think I’ve been overdoing it. And they are probably right. I wasn’t at all well during last week, and I have probably suffered from stress. So it’s a good time to ponder on the future.

Concentration

For several years I’ve concentrated on Leica and Panasonic, and this reflects the current profile of our readers. I was amazed to meet so many regular readers at the LHSA event last week, all of them very complimentary and enthusiastic about the site. It gave me renewed conference that the content of the sight is right, but it also told me that more concentration on subject material would be a good thing.

It is clear that Leica coverage is most popular, but it is equally apparent that there is little interest in some other makes. I discovered this with Sony where there is virtually no interest from current readers. Of course, it’s a chicken and egg situation. If I wrote more about Sony, I would attract readers interested in the subject. But the same could apply to coverage of any manufacturer, from Canon to Fuji through to the new Zeiss full-frame. 

  The new world of the L-Mount Alliance is led by Leica. It’s a bold move and one which will be welcomed by Leica enthusiasts. They are just about to gain access to new and exciting products which will be fully compatible with their current equipment
The new world of the L-Mount Alliance is led by Leica. It’s a bold move and one which will be welcomed by Leica enthusiasts. They are just about to gain access to new and exciting products which will be fully compatible with their current equipment

The new alliance has encouraged me to have a complete rethink. Leica will remain the primary target for coverage, but I will no longer attempt to take an in-depth interest in all full-frame mirrorless cameras. I had toyed with the idea of adopting the Sony a7III as a smaller full-frame alternative to the SL. But, as Jonathan Slack points out so eloquently, M lenses play better with Leica cameras. The Nikon Zs look even more attractive and might work far better with M lenses. These are all good cameras, but there is plenty of coverage on the broader blogging world and I think we would be on a hiding to nothing in attempting to compete.

It now makes perfect sense to concentrate on the one mirrorless mount — for both APS-C and full frame. Lenses will be interchangeable and will have an assured value on the second-hand market (which, for instance, in the case of TL Leica lenses, has not always been apparent up to now). Furthermore, the prospect of the developing L-mount world is very exciting.

I already own a comprehensive set of Leica APS-C lenses and a CL camera, and that system has just become a lot more future proof following the agreement with the other manufacturers. I look forward to the smaller full-frame mirrorless camera from Leica, and I hope it is not merely a rebadged Panasonic S — which is looking increasingly unlikely now we’ve seen the pro size of the S models. I’d like something a bit smaller. Something, perhaps, that would be perfectly attuned to M lenses use but which would have the advantage of being able to mount some of the forthcoming stabilised zooms and primes from Sigma and Panasonic. A smaller M camera with IBS would be even more enticing….

  Leica UK recently chose this image, by Mike Evans, as the subject for a promotional postcard distributed through Leica boutiques in the UK. This was the occasion of an Akademie session run by Robin Sinha during the pop-up store week in London’s Brick Lane, in October 2014. Concentration on Leica has paid off for Macfilos
Leica UK recently chose this image, by Mike Evans, as the subject for a promotional postcard distributed through Leica boutiques in the UK. This was the occasion of an Akademie session run by Robin Sinha during the pop-up store week in London’s Brick Lane, in October 2014. Concentration on Leica has paid off for Macfilos

A special place for the M

Of course the M will always remain and, for the time being, it is my only full-frame system. I have decided to hold on to the Panasonic G9 and a couple of weather-resistant zooms (12-60 and 50-200) until I decide whether or not I wish to stay in micro four-thirds for the future. But I have already sold some m4/3 primes which haven’t seen a lot of use. Eventually, I suspect, I might abandon m4/3.

None of this excludes the mention of other systems. While I will give attention to Leica, Panasonic and other member companies in the LMA, I have no objection to running articles featuring other brands, such as Fuji, which we have covered extensively in the past. Dave Seargeant’s feature on his Nikon Df last month proved very popular and this is probably a good indicator of where readers’ interests lie — not so much in DSLRs as a genre but in this one specific retro design that strikes a bell. A similar article featuring a common-or-garden Canon or Nikon DSLR would have received scant interest.

Essentially, it is business as usual, but the recent developments have allowed me to clarify my own photographic needs and, by extension, the subjects I will be interested in covering. 

There is one final point relating to the future. Over the past few months I have become frustrated by a number of problems relating to our current host Squarespace. There are three issues still outstanding after nearly a month, with the “Object, object” comments but being the most obvious to readers. This was caused by a site-wide upgrade and Squarespace is showing little interest in getting it sorted out quickly. As a result, I am considering a move and have been talking to a colleague who runs a successful photographic blog and he has made one or two suggestions which I am following up. I hope to have more news soon.

What are your views on current Macfilos coverage? And do you think embracing the L-Mount Alliance offers the correct focus for future direction?

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48 COMMENTS

  1. Mike, Without checking your site analytics, demographics, etc, it seems that it is a haven for older photographers whose ways and thinking began in the days of film(?).

    Yours is something more and different than a camera review site. If it’s any help, it seems to align with the flow and direction of rangefinderforum.com, which also periodically struggles to define its boundaries. Since it have been organically grown and tested, content there might be useful to you with defining the community you want to address along with the scope of discussion.

    • Thanks, Tuco. I do get a feed from Rangefinder.com and agree that it has a similar focus (or, perhaps in an eclectic sense we should say lack of focus) and I can learn from that. I think the general consensus from all these comments is that things are going along well as they are, but the L-Mount Alliance presents some interesting additional opportunities for our attention.

  2. Hello Michael. Your commentary rightly points to the interest in gear, with a non-exclusive focus on Leica, which generates a lot of feedback in Macfilos. But please also keep on encouraging a broad brush with regards to interesting images – subjects, perspectives, locations, opportunities, light, history etc. It’s the eclectic mix in Macfilos that makes it fun to visit the site daily.

    • Thank you Wayne – you beat me to it. I love the fact when I am reading about camera’s on here, we have a broad range of images that go along side the cameras – many of which are stunningly well presented.

      Yes I originally found Macfilos through my research for my Leica X purchase, how can I forget (I am sure Google kept finding the site regardless of what I typed in). But I am by and large more interested in decent photography, than the gear that captures it. In fact I just love to know the circumstances in which people managed to get the images. Jono Slack often talks in his articles about the gear he tests, about the places he travels to with the test camera, and the images that come back hook me more than the discussion about the camera.

      Also Mike thanks for the mention on the Df, it is a great camera, but it is unique in that I forget what it is when I am using it. I also love my little X, but the Df has shown me that I do really need a viewfinder of some sort to work with. It gives me a better connection to the images I produce.

      Keep doing what you are doing though.

      Dave S

    • Eclectic is a word I often hear in connection with Macfilos. In fact, I think you are the third person to use it in the comments to this morning’s article. I have an eclectic mind. Some would say I am a Jack of all trades and master of none. I also like to inject a bit of humour. Sometimes photographers and even manufacturers take themselves too seriously — vid. the announcement of the Leica Q Puttee edition…..

  3. Why not also have at least some coverage of Nikon Z and Canon R mount? I think the future world will definitely not be "only" L-mount and I fear lot of interesting stuff will be lost if not covered. Although I see the L-mount and its future coverage as pretty important as soon as the products around this mount will grow, it is still questionable how widely it will be accepted as a general mount – similar to m43.
    So please assure also coverage of other new mirrorless mounts!
    Best regards
    Peter

    • Peter, it certainly isn’t my intention to ignore the important mirrorless developments from Nikon, Canon and other manufacturers. In fact, I like the Z6 and 7 very much and I think Nikon has done a brilliant job. I suppose it is better late than never. I am hoping some contributors who own other brands of camera will come along and write for us.

  4. I would agree generally with Wayne and Dave. However I also see Macfilos as a Leica focussed (pardon the pun) blog, which obviously has a loyal audience. I think if you are going to continue in that vein then it makes perfect sense to follow developments to the L mount. You’ll be widening your audience to Panasonic and Sigma fans and what’s more, I don’t think many, if any, other blog writers will take such a tack.

    I don’t actually own a Leica camera at the present time (I sold my M9 over a year ago and regret it!). The recent L mount news has really piqued my interest.

    Best wishes,
    Don

    • Don, I do believe the new products that will come from the L-Mount Alliance will be of interest to Leica owners and will complement the current contents of the site. I am sure I am not alone in now realising that there is a good future for the TL2, CL and SL and any further cameras or lenses that Leica will produce.

  5. Mike, your health is paramount. Make it and keep it your No.1 priority. Without good health, Macfilos would suffer, possibly terminally.

    Your analysis of site appeal and coverage is sound. It would be counter-productive to spread yourself too thinly across the photographic spectrum. In general, I agree with you. (I have often wondered how you keep photographically sane when constantly changing your cameras and lenses) As we age, so does our ability to remember the subtle operating differences and menu structures of rival systems.

    My advice would be to slow down, recover, and then concentrate mainly on the L-Alliance products. There is always room for nostalgia which your subscribers contribute.

    Get well soon.

    • David, thanks for your concern and you are right that health is paramount. I have been stressing a bit recently and I don’t like to miss too many days. I remember some months ago I missed three days in a row and one morning I was woken at an early hour by a phone call from Australia. It was John S wondering if I were still alive.

  6. I’m newish to Leica and stil only have a DL-109 but I’m enamoured with the story of Leica and where it takes you – travel, friendships, photography, and equipment that enables. So for me it’s the focus through a Leica lens (pun intended) that keeps me interested and coming back. I can go to review sites for the heavy lifting and details.

    Keep on doing whatever it is you’re doing!

    J

    • Thanks, Jon, you are right about review sites having more in-depth coverage. I enjoy doing reviews of gear that interests me, but I don’t like to feel obliged to do everything that comes along. I also tend to concentre more on handling and usability rather than the technical stuff which other reviews can do much better. Thanks for your support and continued interest.

  7. Hello Mike .. hope you get better soon. I think like Wayne said, it is the eclectic nature or the site that has attracted me. I like reading on all new camera and lens stuff so rather than a specific brand, it is your writing style that has made me bookmark as one of the sites I look at every day. -mahesh

  8. Mike, I appreciate your thoughtfulness around this blog; it’s one of the few that I look forward to each new post! I hope you will rest up, though. We’re in a bit of a lull now anyway, with the L-mount alliance announcements and that gear not being released anytime soon, and with, apparently, no new Leica gear to announce (but who knows).

    I’m bearish on the L-mount! I’ve had the SL/24-90 for about a year now and absolutely adore it (though, yes, it is heavy). For my 50th I just purchased the 50mm Summilux-SL too. I’m excited about the Panasonic line and I’m looking forward to more L-mount lenses. I believe that this is a good focus for Macfilos. Please keep it up.

    I’m less of an M guy because of my eyesight, plus I’ve grown so used to using EVFs. I’m not that interested in the CL, yet (I’d like to see where it goes). Like you, I still have the G9 too (kept the 12-60, sold everything else).

    I also enjoy the stories around photography and the posts about historical events and other such things.

    In any case, thanks Mike! Rest up.

  9. Mike, When all the LMA products commence filling dealers’ shelves next year you’ll likely have ample new ‘box office’ material to review … and to the natural ‘dumbing down’ of M4/3, and other, product reviews. I look forward to reading your reviews of the anticipated FF L mount telephoto prime lenses and hopefully their matched extenders.

  10. Hi Mike

    Its a great site and it certainly ‘ain’t broke’, so as the saying goes…
    That said, I think an expansion to cover the ‘L’ Alliance would be really good and interesting. From what we heard it may of course grow to more than three. As a starter, I know little of Sigma, and would be interested in your take on what they bring to the party.

    Cheers
    Keith

    • I will certainly be looking closely at the L-Mount Alliance. For starters, I have a great regard for Panasonic and, of course, their D-Lux, V-Lux and C-Lux are an important part of Leica’s compact-camera offering.

      As we probably both remember, Sigma was known as a manufacturer of cheaper lenses in the days when we had Nikons and Canons — an alternative for those who didn’t want to splash out on the genuine article. But that could have been a misinterpretation.

      However, judging by the praise heaped on the new Sigma by Dr Kaufmann, it seems they are moving into the big league. There’s also Foveon angle and I suspect more people will be attracted, especially those who have existing Leica or other L lenses. Whatever happens, we have some interesting times ahead.

      Good to spend time with you and Amanda in Wetzlar last week.

    • Sigma used to be – under their original owner – a ‘third-party’ lens manufacturer (for the most part), like the other 3rd-party brands such as Tamron, Tokina, etc (..though Sigma did make those ‘Foveon-sensor’ cameras, too).

      When the owner’s son took over, around 2012, the focus began to change, and the son, Kazuto Yamaki, decided that there was a possible ‘up-market’, better quality opportunity for Sigma if they put work and money into raising the spec ..especially the optical quality.. of the lenses they produced. (I remember a dinner at Windsor where Charles’ photographer – George Someone-or-other – said he shot only with Sigma lenses ..and that was before they (Sigma) decided to go upmarket.)

      In the last four or five years, with their ‘Art’ series of lenses, their reputation has really grown along with their selection of lenses. So what they "..bring to the party.." is, nowadays, very high quality lenses, but at a fraction of the price of Leica’s own lenses. They provide a variety of "full frame" lenses with specs such as 35mm f1.4, 14mm f1.8, 24-70mm f2.8 and many more, which will presumably now become available in the ‘L’-mount ..rather smaller, and rather cheaper, and rather more comprehensive than Leica’s own selection of lenses.

      • David, this is very valuable insight. I confess I haven’t paid much attention to Sigma in the past, and the advances with the "Art" lenses had completely escaped my attention. From what you say, it looks like we could have something of a treasure cave to explore once Sigma’s best lenses arrive in L-mount guise. This could encourage me to buy back into the SL system (my main previous objection having been the size and weight of the SL lenses), although I will probably wait to see what Leica has up its sleeve for SL2 or even SL Mini, not to mention the new Panasonic cameras. Lots of things to look forward too now.

  11. Keep doing what makes you happy, only at a slower pace…Macfilos is a site we all need and appreciate! Whether it is tours of the world or gear. Please take care of yourself first, then your followers at your speed.

    • Thanks, John. It’s the interaction with friends such as you that keep me going. At one time with Macfilos I thought I was talking to an empty hall. Now it is packed with intelligent, thoughtful and (above all) kind and respectful readers. Even the Leica forums are subject to angry posters but, so far, we have maintained a very gentle little world on here.

  12. Mike, first things first – take care of yourself !
    If you don’t do that, who’s going to continue this wonderful site ? I greatly appreciate the unique blend of photo reportage, articles, and interesting info on all things Leica. You have plenty of followers and perhaps more people could help out managing things and developing more articles

    • Thanks, Mike. One of my objectives is to find another person who could act as a co-editor, with access to the site. As you know, I set high standards in writing and all contributors know that I hack away at their texts, so any co-editor would have to be equally careful. Over the past month or two, I’ve had problems with the site hosting company and am considering moving back to WordPress, suitably managed, of course. That could prompt me to find a likely person.

  13. Hi Mike,

    I think when the new cameras and lenses reach the market there will be many opportunities to test and compare and your common sense approach will be helpful in guiding us through the options.

    I hope you pick up soon and assume all that is needed is a good rest. I am tired just trying to keep up with you! The blog is as good as ever.

    • Thanks John, I am getting along quite well. I think I must have had some sort of virus which pushed up the BP, but I’m in good hands medically. Part of the problem could have been the stress of first Photokina and then the big trip to Germany by car, so I hope things settle down a bit. It’s so encouraging to get such support from all the readers.

  14. I haven’t got through all the comments yet, Mike, so please forgive me if I am repeating what others have already said. I am also virtually a daily reader of Macfilos, and as I have said before, I think you have created a remarkably conversational forum where people respect each others’ views and there is a general feeling of urbanity about the whole thing. I have also been amazed by the rate at which you turn out material and can only echo others who are urging you to slow down (even if that means missing the daily feed!).
    I think you are absolutely right to distinguish between where you will focus as regards gear, and the broader spread of articles from others which concentrate more on images than equipment. For example, the sense of photographic history that comes with anything Leica is a source of pleasure and enrichment, but currently I find for myself that using the Sony a6000 with Zeiss 16-70 zoom is much handier than going for a walk with my X Vario and capable of – to my eye – strictly comparable results.
    So: how about at least having a two-day weekend? The Queen of Demark once said of her workpace "My job is to last"!

    • Hmm, I do at least have a two-day weekend. Anything that appears at the weekend is usually from John or Kevin and prepared well in advance. I also do try to stockpile coverage and, one time last month, I had a whole week of posts pre-scheduled. Of course, with Photokina and then Wetzlar, I had to report the news as it happened. It’s not always so frantic.

      I agree that it is very easy to be sidetracked into the likes of the Sony a6500, but I am learning to pace myself and stick to the cameras I have. The CL is a brilliant little camera, notwithstanding the lack of a tilting screen (which I know is your deal breaker) and also notwithstanding the lack of stabilised lenses (which is something Sigma might be able to remedy in the near future),

  15. Hello Mike,
    first I hope you’re feeling better and try to have some rest. and slow down. Macfilos is a wonderful site as it is, which I look forward to reading coming home from work. What I appreciate is the respect in comments and the non-pixel peeping you may find on other blogs.New cameras are so many that it would be hectic to try and cover everything so it’s a good thing to focus on a limited range of products. I am also willing to post thoughts on the blog if that could lift some work off your shoulders.

    • Dear Jean, I would be delighted to consider any articles you could produce. You have a fairly good idea of the sort of stuff we cover — some majoring on a set of photos with a text to weave them together, others on a photo-related theme with photos used to break up the text. Why not try something and I will work with you to get it to publication? The same offer goes to any other readers. You can send material, or links, to mike@macfilos.com.

  16. yes, i think you are on the right track – as usual. Even the sidetrips you have taken in the past have always been interesting to me though I am a Leica only owner. But I find that what you find interesting — is always interesting to me (Fuji x20 article for example). So all I really want to say is thank you.

    • Yes, Philip, our readers seem to have an uncanny interest in the things that interest me — from steam trains to old cars and motorcycles. Even Apple products and oddball subjects such as fountain pens and notebooks seem to attract interest. I am tempted to go even more eclectic.

  17. One thing that seems overlooked: The APSC lenses Sigma will bring are a huge benefit to Leica TL and CL users. 16mm, 30mm and 56mm all at 1.4, and all reviewed very highly. The 30mm 1.4 looks like a great lighter alternative to Leica’s 35mm 1.4.

    • I agree, all the more so since I read David Babsky’s comment to this article. I now need to get my hands on a full-frame L-mount camera as soon as possible so I can try out some of these wonderful lenses.

  18. Mike , I am not quite sure if I should be commenting but anyway here goes. Firstly you need to slow it down. I have told you this privately but putting up a post every day may be wonderful for the readers but it is obviously stressful for you-even if you do protest that you enjoy it. So my key recommendation is less posts-that way you will have more time to smell the roses and your committed core of readers will still look at the blog and you will be able to maintain your high standard.
    Secondly I’m right with Wayne,Don and Dave S-interesting stories even if they are not photographic related and plenty of photo stories. Cameras are for taking photos – they are just a means to a more interesting end-photos.
    Thirdly,please don’t expand to include Sony,Nikon and Canon mirrorless -there are plenty of boring sites for those gearheads.
    So in summary Less posts Less gear. Cover Leica and maybe Panasonic but no more.More photos and anecdotal stories.

    • John, again, thanks for your advice. I know you are anti-gear while I am more gear oriented. But it takes all sorts, and I suspect Macfilos readers are also split in this regard — to a greater or lesser degreee. I’m also taking your advice to dust off a few old posts from years ago and republish them. The readership has expanded rapidly in the past two years and most current readers will not have seen the old stuff. Others may be too old to remember that they have seen it, so it’s win, win.

    • Thanks to you both. I am taking all the advice to heart and it is good to have so many friends offering such support. In return, George, get out in that garden and exercise your new M10-P. it will buck you up no end!

  19. Always great to get your views on the kit you review and use Mike. Having suffered a nervous breakdown after taking on too much extra admin work while at Warwick as a professor some years ago, I recognise the need to reorganise working schedules to reduce stress levels. I enjoy the variety of your reviews and will miss this aspect, but your health should always come first.
    David.

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