This is a story about cats and cameras. Something for everyone, you’d think. But if you are not a cat lover (and I do understand there are some rather sad people who don’t like ‘em) don’t groan. Just read on and relish the gear instead.
You see, Mike wants to increase the readership of Macfilos and cat photos and cat videos are very popular. And when I say very popular I mean to say, to use the jargon, they go viral. So I’m pitching in to help Mike with some cat photos and, who knows, Macfilos may go viral.
Mike also tells me time after time that the stories about gear get the eyeballs. Now that saddens me because I find all the gear talk very boring and rather depressing as I look at cameras as a means to an end — to take photos. I just like photos: My photos and other photographer’s photos. But as my second name is “pragmatism” I’m prepared to set aside my prejudices and to include gear talk this once for a good cause.
Now I am very fortunate to own a few Leica cameras. I used to own a big collection of Leica cameras, lenses and accessories but in 2008 I lost interest and sold much of it to fund the restoration of an early Porsche I had just found. The one thing that Porsches and Leicas have in common, apart from both being both German, is that both can absorb large sums of money if you pursue collecting them as a hobby. Indeed, sometimes I think that Porsche and Leica share the same pricing department.
So after the 2008 downsizing and subsequent restocking, I now have four current Leicas — a Sofort (am I allowed to mention the Sofort on Macfilos, Mike?), an X1, an X Vario and a Q. As I am advancing in years, I reckon that may well be the end of my Leica collecting. The quartet suits me just fine and I am certainly more than happy with the three real Leicas. As for the Sofort, well there always has to be black sheep in the family, however ready it is.
As well as a couple of old Porsches and the Leicas, I have two aged Himalayan cats, Phoebe and Zoe. Now both these lady cats are 18 years old which according to the Purina cat age scale on the internet is the equivalent of 88 human years which for pure bred cats is a remarkable old age. I am the first to admit that they are both spoilt rotten and cosseted which probably explains their longevity.
Cat’s Eye level
Of course over the years they have both been photographed hundreds of times but some of the photos I have taken recently are, to my mind, the best. The reason for this is that I have been getting down to
For the sake of new Macfilos readers and as editor Mike has explained in earlier Macfilos stories, Leica themselves were also culpable in the X Vario’s sad story. The X Vario is in fact a brilliant camera, with an exceptional lens, superb build quality and is capable of producing exceptional IQ.
On the floor
The X Vario’s real Achilles’ heel was the lack of an integrated electronic viewfinder. But that omission makes it an exceptional cat camera because using the clip on Visoflex EVF you can get the X Vario down to floor level. By tilting the EVF eyepiece 90º you can look the cat in the eye, which is something you cannot do with the Q or even the optical viewfinder on an X1.
After placed the camera down on the ground, taking the photo is always a challenge since cats do not take directions, instructions and definitely not orders. I am then faced with the task of getting on my feet, which readers over 70 will appreciate is the most difficult part of the procedure.
Cat lovers unite
Anyway, here are two cat-level photos taken with the “grounded” X Vario in recent weeks. I hope the cat lovers love them — and send them viral — and as for those who are dog lovers, well I hope you found the gear talk interesting.
As both I and several correspondents and fellow authors, including Kevin Armstrong and John Nicholson, never tire of mentioning, the X Vario is an exceptional camera. In camera lives my XV is very similar to my cats — very old. According to the Shingleton Camera scale it’s probably also 88. But, it is a camera you can own and relish for many years to come.
If you have a chance to acquire an X Vario don’t hesitate. They come up for sale on eBay from time to time. I know of an Australian Macfilos contributor (Editor’s note: Why not just name Wayne and get it over with?) who bought a mint X Vario for a great price a few years ago but in a moment of madness he sold it soon after. I don’t know why and I suspect neither does he. I would not be surprised if he soon buys another one. I keep showing him photos taken with mine. If you own one already hold onto it. It’s already a classic.