Home Events LHSA becomes Leica Society International to reflect new world role

LHSA becomes Leica Society International to reflect new world role


Before the annual conference in Dublin last week, the US-based LHSA (Leica Historical Society of America) changed its name to LSI, Leica Society International, to reflect the organisation’s growing international focus.

The four-day conference, which ran from Wednesday to Saturday, brought delegates worldwide to Dublin’s Davenport Hotel. It was the ideal scene for presentations by leading photographers, technical experts and Leica management, including Stefan Daniel and lens design guru Peter Karbe.

William Fagan, LSI Vice President and Treasurer, did a superb job organising and chairing the extensive programme of talks and activities, while the LSI’s Richard Rejino did an equally good job in handling the logistics of the event.

World-class photography

The sessions with world-class photographers, including Sarah Lee (who spoke earlier this year at the UK Leica Society’s meeting in Buxton), were a highlight of the week. They included Eric Luke, the Irish photographer and LSI member who won the World Press Photo News Award for an image of the funeral of Mother Teresa in Kolkata, and Ana Maria Gosen of Venezuela, who secured the LSI Grant in 2020 and the Leica Oskar Barnack Award in 2021.

On Thursday evening, we had the opportunity to meet one of Ireland’s leading photographers, Tony O’Shea, at the Photo Museum of Ireland, of which William is the chairperson. Tony is justly famous for his street photography depicting Dublin and Irish life and has been a Leica user for over 40 years. But, as William Fagan pointed out, this was the first time that he had spoken publicly about his work.

Monika Bulaj received this year’s LSI Grant Award during the final dinner on Saturday night. Judges and guests were entertained by a stunning portfolio of her work in recording the plight of minorities. Alan Weinschel, a former LSI president who was on the initial judging panel, said, “As soon as I saw Monika’s work, I realised it was exceptional. I had identified the winner, almost without needing to see the other contestants’ work.”

In addition to her $5,000 grant, Monika received a Leica M10-R with a special-edition 50mm lens donated by Leica USA.

A pensive William Fagan is impressed by the stunning photography of Monika Bulaj

Technical front

This opportunity to celebrate photography at its highest level was just one aspect of the busy conference schedule. Robin Sinha from Leica UK’s Leica Akademie provided a fascinating, detailed comparison between two of the most popular cameras in the current line-up, the M11 and the Q2, and provided invaluable insight into making the most of both these cameras.

From Austria, we welcomed Michal Kosakowski of the Leitz Photographica Auction and Dennis Iwaskiewicz of Leica Classics GmbH. They provided an entertaining overview of the auction business, including the story behind Oskar One Zero Five, the camera that sold in June for €14.4 million. We also got previews of some of the valuable items that will be featured in the forthcoming November auction, which William Fagan will cover for Macfilos before and after the event.

Factory view

Highlights of the week for many were the presentations by Stefan Daniel, Executive Vice President Technology and Operations at Wetzlar, and the legendary Peter Karbe, who took us through the history of optics from Isaac Newton to Carl Zeiss and the present day.

Peter is so obviously enthusiastic about optical design and the qualities of glass. Only he could go weak at the knees when describing his favourite glass, which he identified as No. 900 403. These six digits, he said, were constantly in his mind. As William Fagan said, Peter Karbe is not just one of the world’s foremost optical designers; he has now become part of the history of optics that he so ably summarised.

Stefan Daniel’s talk was intended to be an informal chat about current models and Leica’s approach to the market (he told me), but it turned into an absolutely fascinating 45 minutes, with a lively question-and-answer session. There was too much to summarise here so I will write a separate article on Stefan’s presentation for publication later in the week.

Leica’s chairman, Dr Andreas Kaufmann, had intended to be present in Dublin but was prevented from travelling at the last minute after feeling unwell. Instead, he sent a video to underline his continuing support for the work of the LSI.


In his closing address on Saturday, William Fagan thanked Leica UK and Leica Akademie UK for supporting Sarah Lee and Robin Sinha. He also thanked Leica Manchester and David Stephens for working with Leitz Auction and Leica Akademie Austria to provide a ‘Leica on Loan’ service at the conference. Finally, he thanked Stefan Daniel, Peter Karbe and Christoph Müller (Senior Product Manager, Leica M) from Leica AG for their contributions to the conference and for the company’s continued support for the Leica user.

Above: Leica M Product manager Christoph Müller and Peter Karbe, perhaps the world’s leading designer of photographic optics (Mike Evans)

He said he could not think of another manufacturer in this field where ordinary users had the opportunity to meet and quiz the people responsible for designing, developing and marketing their chosen brand.

William also paid tribute to the late Eamonn McCabe, who died just before the start of the conference. Eamonn was a giant of British photography. He was Sports Photographer of the Year four times and Picture Editor of the Year for a record six years in a row. He also gave Sarah Lee her first job with The Guardian and acted on the LSI Grant Award Panel in 2022.

Joining the LSI

The LSI is open to members from any part of the world. The annual conference is held in a different and interesting location every year, but there is a lively programme of member-participation events during the year.

Next year’s annual conference is set to be a very special occasion. It will be held at the Leica campus in Wetzlar for the first time since 2018 and will represent a splendid opportunity for delegates to see the factory and meet the people responsible for maintaining and developing this iconic brand.

Editor’s Note

Just when I was feeling quietly pleased with myself after putting this article to bed, Jonathan Slack sent me a few of his “snaps” of activities during the week, so I’ve incorporated some in the above article at the risk of upstaging my efforts. Thank you, Jono, for the great portrait shots you did of me. I will impose them on our long-suffering readers in the future.

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  1. Dear William, Congratulations! By all accounts the Dublin meeting went off exceedingly well. My loss to have missed out on two counts – meet up with the community of the newly rebranded LSI and a visit to Ireland. Would you by any chance know if the presentations and/or discussions were recorded for viewing by LSI members?

    Dear Mike, This has been a great round up of the events surrounding the Dublin meet. I have just managed to catch up on all that has been happening, having no internet connectivity at worst and sketchy connectivity at best for most of the time I was in Arunachal. Next time I will get another cellular operator’s SIM.

    • Thank you, Farhiz. Yes, it would certainly be good to see you at a future LSI meeting. In fact, next October in Wetzlar looks like the perfect opportunity so maybe you should out it in your diary now!

    • Thanks Farhiz

      We may have some recordings and I have a lot of the slides, but there could be permissions and copyright issues. We’ll do a review and see what can be done. I have yet to do the judging of the Photo Walk competition entries (deadline end of October) and we usually also do a survey of those who attended. I often do a review article of such conferences, but this time you will understand why I was not taking photographs of the event. Indeed, I did not even bring a camera with me other than my phone. The only write up of the event so far is Mike’s wonderful article above. There has been a lot of stuff about the conference posted on social media, particularly Instagram, where my material can be found under my handle ‘Willeica’. Also look out for material by Susan Flaherty and Sean Sweeney from Boston who were part of an Irish American contingent at the conference. There are also plenty of photos of Stefan Daniel using the ‘new’ M6 and 35mm lens around Dublin. In addition, there is material recorded at the evening event at Photo Museum Ireland where our staff took photos and made videos. That was a magical evening for us where we paid tribute to one of our greatest Irish photographers who did not speak about his 40 years of work until LSI rolled into town. It must have been the ‘Leica connection’.

      I said before that if you are coming to Dublin/Ireland in the future please get in touch with me. It would be lovely to meet up.


  2. Thanks for putting together this article. I wanted to attend the LHSA annual meeting, but I could not get my visa on time. I am excited about participating in the next one in wetzlar, Germany. Super cool. I am a member of LHSA (LSI). I agree with people’s sentiments on the group; the Leica camera is an instrument to record beautiful moments. And it is an excuse to meet and share ideas, from gear, moments, and Guinness beer haha

    • You missed a great meeting in Dublin, but every Leica enthusiast should visit Wetzlar at least once in their life. The LSI meeting next year will be my fifth visit to Wetzlar, possibly my sixth if I also attend the auction there next June. You will be made feel most welcome by fellow LSI members.


  3. Now seriously, is there any value to joining this organization, if you do not need/want a hug with Stephan? I will never travel outside Canada anymore so will not be able to attend anything and so on.

    • Not sure what this means. You don’t have to travel outside of Canada to participate. And, yes, we had two or three Canadian members at the Dublin meeting. As for hugging Stefan, that is optional.


      • I reread my question and realize it did not accurately convey my question. I was asking for a sales pitch on the value of being a member if one cannot attend anything.

        • It is an all year round organisation and while the meetings are highlights there are many other benefits to membership, including the magazine, Zoom meetings, user groups, discounts and special offers etc


  4. Thanks Keith J, Keith W, Dunk, John and Brian for your kind comments and Mike and Jono once again. The objective was to get the right balance between photography and technology and I think that we succeeded in doing that. As Chairperson of Ireland’s largest photo gallery (now called Photo Museum Ireland) I can confirm that we never ask any photographer about what equipment they used. I carry this over into my personal life and I did not ask any photographer, including Jono, what equipment they had brought with them to Dublin. Some of Jono’s photos are crops and were of a very small size, a wise precaution by an experienced photographer who does not want his photos copied.

    I did, however, see Stefan putting an ‘interesting’ camera/lens combo into his bag and on Saturday night he let me use the combo to take a couple of photos of himself and Mike sitting together. All I can say for now is that it was very smooth. More later in the week.


    • Hi William, you are spot on about not asking a photographer what camera they used. This is one reason why I do not belong to photography clubs anymore. They always asked what camera, lens, aperture settings you used when discussing an image. I used to paint and the artists did not ask me what brand of brush, paint, and size of brush I used. They discussed what my painting evoked and so on. I used to be a member of an artists group where i was the only photographer and it was an inspiring experience. For me, the joy of photography is pursuing my visual art and using the tool that best suits me in doing my hobby. For me, the Leica camera is the most intuitive to use. However, any camera can capture awesome images so pick your poison and enjoy your creative process.

  5. A treat of an article! Leica ownership is certainly more than the joy of use. Critics focus on cost and some missing AI features and that the rangefinder is old technology. I doubt any of them have lived with the cameras for any length if time to master them. The rangefinder experience is unique and either you love it or you do not. If you do not like it, it does not mean it is bad or outdated. It is similar to manual versus automatic transmissions. The choice is yours but if you do not like manual, please do not pee on someone else’s preference. If I was currently limited to one camera (eek), I would pick the M11 and not tell my wife about my SL2-S.😂 But seriously, my M11 is amazing, and I do not care if it drifts in rangefinder accuracy anymore as I finally received the visoflex after many months of waiting. However, it was worth the wait, and it is not as unattractive on my M11 as I thought it would be. So it now glued on and I can use rangefinder or evf as desired – wow, true happiness.

    I am now going to consider membership as it appears they will now welcome Canadians student since they are now international. I do not normally join clubs, especially camera clubs, but this may be worthwhile.

    Did anyone check to see if Jono had a M11 monochrom with him? I am somewhat patiently waiting for one. I had the M10M but sold it after I got the M11 as I want to reduce my battery charger farm and backup batteries. The M10M files are spectacular and who needs large format film photography anymore😂? Seriously. It is amazing and glorious at shooting black cats in coal mines.

    The camera and lens market is steadily shrinking but I have no doubt that Leica will more than survive in spite of poor product management. The joy of Leica craftsmanship and commitment to the core essentials of photography make it truly unique in the photography market. Some people negatively focus on their special editions, but I appreciate the collectors that add to the r&d dollars.😂
    I must return to my Guinness, and appreciate that Stephan at least agrees with me on one thing

    • Ah Brian – the Guinness in Dublin is sublime!
      . . .and several people checked to see if I had an M11 Monochrom with me.
      All the best

      • I once enjoyed a business trip to Dublin and the ultimate pleasure of sitting in a pub with a Guinness. It is the next best thing to a Leica – fine craftsmanship.

    • As you see from today’s article, the question of an M with a built-in EVF cropped up again during Stefan Daniels’ presentation. There seemed to be a lot of interest, but you make the point of being happy with the Visoflex, and adding this to an M11 is cheaper than buying a second body with an EVF — and a lot lighter and less bulky. It is an interesting discussion, and the result of the LSI ballot will be enlightening. I suspect there will be a big YES vote, but this doesn’t mean they’ll all go out and buy such a camera.

  6. Can only endorse everything Mike has said in his comprehensive report. Public thanks to repeat my personal thanks to Richard and William.
    It was good to see Stefan and Peter drinking Guinness!

  7. I really enjoyed your glimpses of this event, Mike. It makes one realize how Leica is so much more than a collection of rangefinders – or even optics for that matter!

    • Thank you, John. Looking around the delegates and seeing cameras on out on the streets, I would guess that almost all were either Ms or Qs. I saw only one SL2-S, but I may have missed a few others. I suppose when packing for an event like this, it’s a good idea to travel light, and there’s also a feeling that the M is the one to have. I had intended to take the M11 but decided that the Q2 would be an easier camera to use for reportage. On reflection, it would have been good to have a longer lens when photographing the presentations from a distance. Still, the cropability of the Q2 came to my rescue.

  8. Thanks Jono and Mike for your kind comments. I should mention Richard Rejino, our Executive Director, who did the logistical work, while I concentrated on devising and running the programme. We did not get in each other’s way, but we helped one another, in a spirit of true symbiosis. I did, however, choose the Davenport Hotel, as I knew it to be very good from my previous experiences with it. President Brad Husick gave us all the scope we needed to get the conference up and running and was always there to support.

    The high point of the event for me was to see the great Irish photographer Tony O’Shea speaking at Photo Museum Ireland about his work after 40 years as a Leica user in documentary, street and other styles. We have exhibited his work many times at Photo Museum Ireland, but he has never spoken about it before this. It may have been the name ‘Leica’ in our title that encouraged him to change his mind. Tony took my photo for a newspaper 30 years ago. Instead of using his official newspaper gear he used his own M4-P to take a natural light image. The image was dark and moody. My late mother did not like it, but I liked it, as it was taken with a Leica, which, of course, I could not afford at the time, even though I had a very good job. Tony also allowed me to handle his M4-P on that day 30 years ago and that was the very first Leica that I ever handled.

    All of the other speakers, without exception, were superb. The other factor in the success of the conference were the attendees who approached Dublin in the spirit in which it should be approached. Dublin is very much a ‘people city’ and all of the participants soon realised that. I’ve seen a lot of nice ‘street’ photos already. I devised a little competition for the attendees. They went out last Friday to capture aspects of Dublin and its culture under 6 themes which I had devised. I will judge the anonymous photos to see how well they have captured my city and culture and six prizes of Rock n Roll straps by Evris will be awarded to the winners under the theme headings.

    Finally, there was also the trip to Guinness where members could have a pint of ‘the black stuff’ while enjoying a 360 degree roof top view of the city, as far away as the mountains and the sea.


  9. Hi Mike, thanks for putting together this entertaining summary of the meeting so soon after it took place. It does look to have been a cracking occasion. Were you using your Q2 throughout? Your photos are terrific, especially the one of Stefan Daniel. You can see the details of his face and his jacket so sharply. His left hand was clearly in motion and so I assume the shutter speed was on the slow side for this indoor shot?

    I hesitate to say this, but compared to yours, Jono’s photos look a little over-exposed in the lighter areas – white shirts, hands, faces and grey hair. I know myself that optimizing exposure when there are very dark and very light regions in the frame can be a challenge. I usually have to back off on the highlights and dig detail from the shadows in post-processing.

    Once again, thanks for the fun read and congratulations to William on such a successful event! Cheers, Keith

    • Keith, many thanks and I appreciate your comments on the pictures. Mine are very much “reportage” shots and are not intended to be works of art. Yes, I used the Q2 throughout. The shutter speeds were low, as you surmise, but the stabilisation on the Q2 is pretty good, and I decided to risk it. It’s always challenging in an indoor setting such as this, and some of the shots were unusable because of poor light. Some of those shots (particularly the one of Mike and Monika) were very heavy crops because I couldn’t get near enough, and the Q2’s sensor did a good job. A lot of the time, though, I just used auto-everything and let the camera make the decisions. I retrospect, it didn’t do a bad job.

      Incidentally, I was aware of the big highlight problem. I dialled in -1 EV on the understanding that the dynamic range of the Q2 is pretty good, and I thus minimised blown highlights because I could delve into the shadow to reveal the detail.

      Having said all this, it was more good luck than good management!

    • Hi Keith
      No need to hesitate – Mike’s pictures are great – I was shooting with an M11 and an f1.2 Noctilux – I certainly could have preserved the highlights, (and perhaps should have), but I was aiming at high contrast.
      All the best

  10. Hah – my pleasure Mike – but your photos are excellent!
    Wasn’t it fun – a great program and so many people to meet.
    Thanks again to William Fagan for doing such a cracking good job!
    All the best

    • William did a marvellous job, despite photo-bombing almost all my images. One day we should put together a collection of the expressions from those images – confidence, doubt, mirth, quiet competence…

      It was a fun few days. I’m a great proponent of clubs. To paraphrase someone or other, put me on a desert island with one other person (or, even, a parrot if push comes to shove) and I’d have a club up and running before sundown. I was at it at the age of 17 when I formed the Honda Owners Club GB which is still going strong and I’ve been a serial clubber ever since. So I do believe in making the most of clubs such as the LSI or our own Leica Society.


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