Home Events Full-time Job? An atypical week in the world of Macfilos

Full-time Job? An atypical week in the world of Macfilos

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Macfilos is a hobby, as regular readers know. I gave up gainful employment many years ago, and this blog is now something of a passion: It’s a passion that helps keep me occupied and fleet of mind. But am supposed to be retired. Macfilos is certainly not a money earner because we don’t use advertising; rather, it is more of a money pit, as my bank manager knows. Yet from the moment I landed in Dublin eight days ago, I have experienced one of the busiest and most stressful weeks of my life. I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for.

My favourite picture of the week — lens maestro Peter Karbe is as pleases as Punch as he talks about his all-time favourite glass. He couldn't fake such enthusiasm... (Image Mike Evans, Q2)
My favourite picture of the week — lens maestro Peter Karbe is as pleased as Punch as he talks about his all-time favourite glass. He couldn’t fake such enthusiasm… (Image Mike Evans, Q2)

The Leica Society International (LSI) gathering in Dublin was a delight, and I met many old friends and made many new ones. I particularly enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with the management of Leica, including, of course, Stefan Daniel, who did so well in responding to members’ questions and concerns during his presentation last Friday. As William Fagan pointed out, it is hard to imagine any other company in the photographic world exhibiting such a willingness to meet customers and chat in this way. Members present felt a real connection with the factory, which is vital in fostering relationships and growing sales.

Two old friends, Evris Papanikolas, master of the Rock n' Roll camera strap, and Keith Walker from England (Image Mike Evans, Q2)
Two old friends, Evris Papanikolas, master of the Rock n’ Roll camera strap, and Keith Walker from England (Image Mike Evans, Q2)

There was so much material that I was kept busy throughout the next few days. Then, on Tuesday, in a link to my article on Stefan Daniel’s talk, another website made an extremely unfortunate typo, substituting SL for CL in the paragraph about the end of the line for the CL. The result was upsetting, as you can imagine.

At dinner with Stefan Daniel. What you don't see in this picture is a certain new camera and lens that disappeared under the take as William Fagan pressed the shutter of the editor's Q2 (Image William Fagan, Q2)
At dinner with Stefan Daniel, a highlight of the visit. What you don’t see in this picture is a certain new film camera and lens that disappeared under the table as William Fagan pressed the shutter of the editor’s Q2 (Image William Fagan, Q2)

It all came as a bit of a shock. I spent much of Tuesday pouring oil over the troubled waters and felt quite low about the whole episode because, in a way, we were linked to the mistake and thus involved. I was fortunate to have tremendous support and advice from Jonathan Slack and Jörg-Peter Rau, both of whom know what it’s like to report on events as a working journalist. What we printed was factual and non-sensational, intended primarily to illustrate the unique way in which Leica approaches its customers.

In the end, all this turned out to be something of storm in a teacup and peace reigns once more. Yet I didn’t have time to brood: Thursday brought one of Leica’s biggest flurries of press announcements in many years.

What all the fuss was about: The new M6 is announced in 2022, 38 years after the original camera became the first (traditional) M camera to feature TTL exposure metering (Image Leica Camera AG)
What all the fuss was about: The new M6 is announced in 2022, 38 years after the original camera became the first (traditional) M body to feature TTL exposure metering (Image Leica Camera AG)

Fortunately, I had been supplied with full details and photographs under press embargo earlier in the week. So I was able to write the five launch articles (M6, Steel-Rim Summilux, SL2-S Reporter, Barnack Awards and Photograph of the Year) in advance and ensure that they went live at the appointed time. That in itself was a leap of faith: Would the auto post function work perfectly, or had I made an unfortunate mistake in the settings? To complicate matters, there were two embargo releases at 2 pm (London time) and three at 7 pm (to coincide with the reception at Wetzlar). All went well, as it happens.

Patners in the LSI: Brad Husick, LSI President, Evris Papanikolas and editor Mike Evans (Image Jonathan Slack)
Partners in Society: LSI President Brad Husick, Evris Papanikolas and editor Mike Evans (Image Jonathan Slack)

Today my pulse has returned to normal, and I can reflect on a very unusual week. I hope there aren’t many as busy as this in the future. It seems incredible that so much has happened the week since I arrived in Dublin. Back to retirement!


30 COMMENTS

  1. Congratulations Mike
    You’ve done a grand job, and it was great to catch up and chat in Dublin. Definitely more relaxing for me!
    All the best

  2. There is no one more competent or happy in their retirement work than you. Thank you Mike for all the hassles we put you through, you probably should think about becoming the next PM (HA) you would also make that look easy!

  3. Mike, it sounds like Dublin was a bit of a ‘busman’s holiday’ for you. I have done almost 50 articles for Macfilos and I know how hard you work on a pro bono, not for profit basis. The CL business got very circular after a while and I wonder is it possible to do a poll to determine views of Leica users on this topic? At the session last Friday Stefan was open to a poll on the M type camera with an EVF issue. Leica might not want to do a poll on the CL, but could you do one?

    I too am caught in the same trap as yourself and my hobby has led to have two large unpaid pro bono responsibilities in the area of photography. As well as being VP/Treasurer of LSI, I am also Chairperson of Photo Museum Ireland, the place where I brought the LSI group on Thursday of last week. I don’t receive any payment for either role and while I could claim expenses for the latter, I don’t. Therefore, like yourself, my roles cost me money, but they are an adjunct to my hobby. The amount of work involved with both bodies greatly exceeds that in my writing of articles for Macfilos, which for me are pure enjoyment.

    For the Conference, I did a double team with Richard Rejino, Executive Director of LSI. I looked after the program, the speakers, the presentations and I chaired the sessions. Richard looked after the logistics, the hotel (although being in Dublin I was involved with that), the buses, the meals etc. This all worked, but the amount of work in making this appear seamless was enormous. Behind every session lay months of work. To appropriate an expression used by Sarah Lee in her talk, the key to success at a conference is preparation, preparation and preparation. Luckily, Richard and I are very experienced at running conferences in the roles which we adopted.

    I am just behind Peter Karbe in the photo above. Like myself, Peter’s job is a sort of a hobby, but he gets paid for it. He is very interested in the history of optics and we have struck up a sort of correspondence about early optical designs. While Peter was still talking in Dublin I sent him a photo of an original copy of Newton’s Opticks which we have at the Royal Dublin Society and a copy of the 1858 address by Thomas Grubb to the same society about his newly patented Aplanatic lens design. Afterwards Peter asked me about Peter Barlow, the British scientist who created the so-called Barlow lens in the 19th Century. This had a system of elements which eliminated aberrations and distortions of various kinds, just like an apochromatic lens. Many teleconverters are based on the Barlow design. We have exchanged some material on this, but I am raising it here in case any of our readers have anything to add about Mr Barlow and his lens design. Note that a Barlow lens is not a make, but a design.

    William

    • Ah yes William (and Mike) I know all about out of control hobbies! Exactly what my articles are!
      Testing might be construed as ‘work’ but the articles are definitely hobby.
      Jono

    • Thanks, William, and it’s true that organisations such as LSI wouldn’t exist without many people giving up a lot of their time, unpaid, of course. You have your finger in so many pies (and your image in so many of my photographs from Dublin) that you are genuinely omnipresent. What would they have done without you?

      Thank you for all your support over the weekend and for placing me on the top table at Saturday’s dinner. It had unforeseen consequences, but all good in the end.

      Mike

    • Hello. Is Peter Karbe still the Head of Optics at Leica? I ask because there are some on the Leica forums commenting Peter has either taken on a different role at Leica or retired.

      • Peter is still very much with Leica and his job title is Senior Managing Expert Optics and Platform. The head of optics has always fed work into the overall design process at Leica. That was the case in the time of Barnack where Berek did the optical designs, but it was Barnack and his team who did all the rest. For example test calculations on the effects of different lens barrel lengths and designs were sent to Barnack rather than Berek. That is still the case today where it is team work all the way. Even Stefan sometimes defers to colleagues on design matters and he did that several times in Dublin. It truly is a real team effort.

        William

  4. Hi Mike, your expert efforts are much appreciated and are the reason Macfilos is such a success. You have attracted a wide variety of great contributors because of the incredible value of this blog. Thanks!

  5. You’re doing so well. I follow every time there is news. I think this is one of the best sites for Leica pictures and equipment. Huge praise from here for the great effort. Your page is serious but it is also ok to come with the frustrations we may have. We Leica geeks often have many opinions and not least feelings for the Leica brand. I can feel that on myself as well. Professionally I have used both Nikon and Canon (now) but often I think of it more as a tool. My Leica is more than a tool. If you understand. Yes, just praise from here.

    • Thank you, Kim. I think we have a very good community, and everything is good natured and this is unusual in an web site these days. Mike

  6. You are doing a grand job. This blog is truly amazing thanks to you and I will never thank you enough for it.

    • Thank you, Jean, and my thanks are due to you for being such as assiduous and prolific author. I think you have single-handedly put the Ricoh GR back in focus! Mike

  7. Mike, you probably don’t fully appreciate how much your ‘blog’ is enjoyed and respected by so many. Because of the standard you have set, I can understand how you can feel,probably unnecessary, angst if there is a hiccup. Dublin was a exceptional week (well done again William) and both covering the event and enjoying it must have been tiring. I was worn out just doing the latter!

    • Thank you, Keith. It was a great pleasure to meet you again and I hope to have more time to chat if we meet at another Leica event in the Spring. Mike

  8. Looks like you survived and did exceptionally well Mike. Congratulations as that is some achievement, I used to love events, until I started to consider all the things that could go wrong, and then trying to mitigate to cover the risks drove me insane.

    I must confess that the last shot taken by Jono has a very Last of the Summer Wine feeling to it. 😳

    • Thanks, Dave. Events such as the LSI annual bash provide a good injection of enthusiasm that helps keep me going.

    • Many thanks. It’s the enthusiasm and involvement of readers that makes the whole thing worth it. Without this feedback I am sure I would soon lose interest and wonder what it’s all about.

  9. Mike, this was a wonderful job you did for all readers, also for us contributors and hopefully also a bit for yourself. I felt your enthusiasm in every line you wrote, and I admire your professional approach to what you are doing. If I can help a little, I am very happy to do so. Could be wise to do some training because I would be more than happy if I were comparably active and up to date in a few decades. I wish you some quiet days or weeks to recover from this hard week, and I think we would all have every understanding if you cut the beat down a bit on Macfilos right now. It’s a hobby after all, if it turns into permanent stress, it’s not what it is meant to be anymore. So, thanks again! Jörg-Peter

    • I am getting a bit confused. I presume that the stress bit relates to what happened after Mike came back from Dublin. There was no stress for him while he was there and Mike certainly seemed to enjoy every bit of what was, if I may say so myself, a very well organised conference with access to the top people at Leica and excellent speakers on photography and technical matters, plus some fun things like a Photo Walk competition and a visit to Guinness. We certainly don’t want any of our LSI conferences to stress our members and other attendees and we go out of our way to put on an enjoyable programme. All of the feedback which we have got so far has been extremely positive. I just want to set the record straight on this.

      William

      • Dear William, probably my words were not chosen carefully enough. I never wanted to intend that the conference was stressful (after all, I can not judge it as I was not present). What I wanted to say: Mike has taken on a heavy workload. He has done this for us, and I have great respect and gratitude for that. So definitely no criticism of you or anyone else involved with the LCI conference. Jörg-Peter

        PS: In German, stress also has the meaning of “a lot to do” with a more neutral connotation.

        • Thanks for that and I am sure that Mike will thank you for your kind offer of assistance. As you will know, articles on blog sites like this don’t appear by magic and it requires hard work and care to put them together. As an author of nearly 50 articles on this site, all I can say is that Mike is a delight to work with, always professional and never losing his wonderful sense of humour. It is the same with conferences. I put in a year of hard work getting the conference programme together and it was delight for me to find the whole thing coming together, notwithstanding issues like a ‘Brexit busting’ deal involving people in Vienna and Manchester to provide a ‘Leica On Loan’ service for attendees and other issues about a visa for a Venezuelan winner of the Oskar Barnack prize. Stefan Daniel did a ‘no holds barred’ discussion with the attendees at my request and it worked. I thanked him afterwards for this. Then I put Mike sitting beside Stefan at the dinner at the end of the conference, so that he could get all of the information he needed about Leica’s plans for the future.

          If it was the CL/SL piece that caused issues, this is the nature of things on the internet where people get worked over things that in the cool light of day are not as important as some people think they are. Personally, I find that online discussions on such matters rapidly become quite ‘circular’. I had the same issues on the Leica Forum earlier this year about No 105 when I posted a link to my Macfilos article. Outlandish accusations of fake and fraud were made in relation to the camera and its ‘Oscar’ engraving, but all of that ceased on the day of the auction when I posted the result from the auction room. Online publishing is a different game to traditional publishing and sometimes the distinctions between the virtual world and the real world become blurred. At the end of the day it is the real world that counts.

          William

      • I think you’ve gained the wrong impression from what I wrote, William. The event in itself was anything but stressful and, as you say, perfectly organised. I was referring to the week as a whole, in particular the stress that came from another web site and the general pressure of dealing with so many announcements within a few days. From Thursday to Thursday, it was a busy time for me! Mike

    • Thank you, JP, and I appreciate the direct and behind-the-scenes support you give to me and Macfilos.

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