“I feel a story coming on”, I thought as I spied a neat looking Leica C-Lux 1 sitting serenely in its box. Even today, this 13-year-old didgeridoo
Point and shoot
The C-Lux 1 (a re-badged version of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01) represents a genre that is now almost dead, that of the tiny point and shoot. Just what has happened in those years and how does this ancient and rather basic digital stack up against modern machinery? It’s an interesting question and, as usual, there are two sides to the answer. It might even be better than a 2019 smartphone, who knows? I’ll discuss this later in another article.
I was standing in front of a trestle table filled with photographic relics of the past. Surrounding it were dozens of similar trestles groaning with remnants of yesteryear, overwhelmingly film but with the odd glimmer of more modern technology.
The occasion was the annual Photographica photo fair in London, organised by the Photographic Collectors’ Club. As usual, I’d gone mainly for the atmosphere and to meet with readers and contributors — such a William Fagan from Dublin and Kevin Armstrong from Surrey. I wasn’t in a buying mood because I’ve learned over the years to take care not to become over-enthusiastic and waste money on trifles. My shelves are filled with such earlier lapses of good sense, although older cameras can make entertaining ornaments.
There’s a sort of feeding frenzy that takes over when you see all these ancient goodies laid out in front of you — things you didn’t even know about or had forgotten. Things you don’t need or, even, don’t want. But their Siren call is difficult to resist.
Apple no pay
With this in mind, I took the bare minimum cash in the hope the short supply would deter me from profligacy. They’re not big on Apple Pay at Photographica, which is a bonus for the cash incontinent. I even resisted spending £19 on a fully working Psion Organiser, the world’s first usable Personal Digital Assistant. It would have been fun to play with, but ultimately a waste of money and something else to clutter the shelves.
I spent most of the day chaste, free of temptation. But then, towards the end, I was seduced twice in quick succession.
No.1 of that ilk
Then my eyes lit on an Olympus Trip 35, titivated with a rather fetching red crocodile skin. There were dozens of boring old standard Trip 35s to choose from, but this colourful little number grabbed my attention. I’ve always meant to buy a Trip 35 if ever I tripped over one in good nick, so that was added to my cart.
There’s a thriving after-market in reskinning Trip 35s and I presume this is one of them. Both the Trip 35, and the little C-Lux are suitable subjects for Macfilos articles so I’m pleased to have something to research and try out. And I had enough cash in my pocket because both cheap enough rank as impulse buys.
You’ll be hearing more of both these cameras in the future when I’ve had the chance to run a film through the Oly and fill an SD card with some test shots from the C-Lux 1. There’s a touch of opportunism here. I hadn’t set out with any intention of covering either of these cameras but I now see the synergy.
The Olympus is the quintessential point-and-shoot film camera. It’s not as compact as the company’s successful Mju range, but it pleases with manual controls and a satisfying chunkiness. The Leica, on the other hand, represents the type of tiny point-and-shoot camera that flourished in the noughties, only to be obliterated by the smartphone after 2007.