Early in the New Year is a good time to reflect on the old year now disappearing in the rear-view mirror. That’s what we’ve been doing at Macfilos. A review of 2023 confirms it was a year of firsts and records for the site, but photography remained front and centre. Let’s have a look.
There are many ways to evaluate what sort of year 2023 was. For a photography blog site like Macfilos, some are obvious and easy to measure, such as the number of people who visit the site. After all, what’s the point in having a blog if no-one reads it? Other criteria are quite a bit squishier, such as the quality of the written material or the craftsmanship of the photographs posted. Perhaps the number of people who read each article is a surrogate measure for these more qualitative factors.
In the sections below we have offered a few different ways of looking at the year, and how we saw things. Feel free to let us know in the comments if you see it the same way, or if we have overlooked something important.
For those of you interested in numbers, we will share some figures we track throughout the year. Through them, we are able to compare 2023 directly with the previous year, 2022. There is quite a lot of good news buried in the figures. If we were financial advisors, reporting the performance of an investment portfolio, we’d be feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.
Articles, lots of articles…
Firstly, the number of articles posted. We saw a 10% increase compared to 2022, resulting in a total of 220 for 2023. Those good at mental arithmetic will spot this means just over four articles a week on average. Regular readers will know we try to post three substantial articles on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday cadence. But, if there is breaking news, or a significant anniversary falls on another day, we will slip in additional articles.
Earlier in the year, we did experiment with weekend posts, but reverted to our regular pattern, which we plan to continue this year.
A review of 2023 articles revealed we had contributions from almost thirty different authors. Isn’t that terrific? Some wrote just a single article, while others contributed many. We are extremely grateful to all of them for sharing their perspective, knowledge, and of course, photographs with us all.
If you have considered writing an article, but never quite got around to it, it’s not too late for a New Year Resolution along these lines. The editorial team is ready, willing and able to help you turn your rough draft into a polished article. Press the ‘write for us’ button at the bottom of this article to learn more.
So, how many people have been reading all those articles? Our review of 2023 showed a 70% increase in visitors compared to 2022. That’s quite a change, and clearly driven by something beyond the slight increase in number of articles published. Our conclusion is that the effort we have put in to make Macfilos articles easier to find and read, has paid off handsomely.
What exactly have we done? Two things: structure articles to optimize the likelihood that they will be found by search engines; and increase their readability. The nuts and bolts of this process deserve a separate article, which we will share in due course.
The increase in visitors to the site has resulted in a gain in page views, which have increased almost 50% since 2022. We average two views per visitor. This probably reflects a spectrum from a single article viewed on a visit to many articles viewed by regular visitors.
Again, it’s a very positive trend, indicating that more people are finding the site. We hope that casual visitors become regular visitors, who then become commenters, and perhaps even contributors.
Where are all those visitors from?
The three countries contributing the highest number of Macfilos readers are: The United States (~35%), The United Kingdom (~28%), and Germany (11%). Several other countries, led by Canada and Australia, each make up ~5% and below.
So, >70% of visitors come from English-speaking countries, with the largest group of non-native English speakers coming from Germany. This is surely no surprise, given that the site is published in English and Germany is the home of Leica!
Not only is the site in English, it is in British English, with all its quirky aphorisms and obscure cultural references. Long may that continue!
A huge thanks to all our visitors for your support.
New product launches and reviews
We know from our quarterly highlights that ‘gear news gets the views’. 2023 saw numerous product introductions from the three major brands we try to cover: Leica, Panasonic and Sigma. Between them, these three members of the L-Mount Alliance introduced both new camera models and new lenses.
A comprehensive review of 2023 product introductions would be rather long, but some are worth mentioning. For Leica, undoubtedly the big news was the launch of the Q3. We covered this extensively and posted two, in-depth, hands-on user reviews, both of which were widely viewed. For the rangefinder community, launches of the M11 Monochrom, M11-P, and New M6 were also big news. Again, we provided extensive coverage and hands-on reviews.
By our count, Leica introduced, and we reported on, seven new lenses in 2023, for both their M- and SL-ranges.
Panasonic introduced the upgraded S5II camera, an accomplished and highly cost-effective entry point for the L-Mount ecosystem. Sigma launched several impressive new prime and zoom lenses for L-Mount. 2023 was undoubtedly a great year for L-Mount camera users.
It’s a rangefinder, Jim, but not as we know it…
Ironically, one of the most significant developments of the year was not related to Leica, or any member of the L-Mount Alliance. It concerned a re-imagined rangefinder camera for today’s world of photography. The introduction of the third version of the Pixii rangefinder was greeted with enormous interest from the Macfilos community.
Our Associate Editor, Jörg-Peter Rau, managed to get his hands on an example and produced a detailed overview of this exciting device. Judging by readership alone, the introduction of this camera might be the event of the year for Macfilos readers.
Money, money, money
A first for Macfilos in 2023 was to launch a fund-rasing effort to help cover the costs of hosting the site. Overheads have increased steadily over the past couple of years. Since we, and we believe our readers, value the site’s ad-free environment, we sought voluntary contributions. The response was extremely encouraging. We received sufficient gifts to meet 70% of our costs for 2023.
Readers are free to offer a contribution at any time via a button beneath every article. However, we plan to mount another fund-raising call for 2024 in due course.
Jörg-Peter Rau’s M-Files series shone through in our review of 2023. It is one of the most significant ongoing contributions Macfilos makes to the world’s M-system knowledge-base. Jörg-Peter posted seven new articles in the M-Files series last year. These covered cameras, lenses, and accessories.
But perhaps the most significant entry in the series was the M-Files Navigator, in both English and German. This article organized all entries in the catalogue, providing a single location for all information included to date. The M-Files Navigator is continually updated. So this is where to go to learn whether Jörg-Peter has reviewed that Voigtländer lens you have been considering.
The twelve months of Macfilos 2023
No review of 2023 would be complete without a list of the most-read articles. These twelve were viewed by most eyeballs over the course of the last twelve months, even if posted before 2023.
In line with the site’s theme, eight of the twelve were related to Leica in some way. Nine of the twelve involved reviews of a new or existing piece of kit, by a real-world user. We believe this sharing of knowledge and perspectives among the photographic community is at the heart of the Macfilos mission.
Here’s the list — in reverse order.
12. Travelling with the Leica Q2 (Keith James, June 17th, 2022)
Back in the summer of 2022, after agonizing over which kit to take on a forthcoming trip to Europe, Keith decided to travel light. He took his Leica Q2 and never looked back. Keith gave the camera a good workout, tackling architecture, landscape, portrait and street photography. His conclusion? The Q2 performed admirably across the board. In fact, it might be the perfect full-frame travel camera.
11. When the nocticlones go marching in (Ed Schwartzreich, August 23rd, 2023)
Earlier last year, Ed managed to get his hands on a low-cost alternative to the imperious Leica Noctilux — a 50mm f/1.2 from Light Lens Lab. Readers are still eager to learn what he makes of this ultra-fast lens. It’s not often that we see a review of a Chinese-manufactured lens. Ed gives us a first look at how it performs. The results are impressive.
10. The remarkable popularity of the Leica M4 (Mike Evans, March 11th 2022)
Mike revisits a story about a camera that played a crucial role in the success of the Leica M-rangefinder series. Although first introduced well over fifty years earlier, the camera is still a firm favourite among film photographers. Mike navigates its complicated history, involving split manufacturing between Germany and Canada, and the collection of models and finishes that fall under the M4 label. It’s a great read.
9. Someone in Wetzlar is pondering Leica prices (Jörg-Peter Rau, April 19th 2023)
Few topics generate as much interest within the Macfilos community as Leica prices! In true journalistic style, Jörg-Peter sniffed out the details of a survey conducted by the Wetzlar team, which had been sent to a subset of users. The survey appeared to be an effort to explore the price sensitivity of potential purchasers of future Leica products. Perhaps Leica prices really are reaching a tipping point.
8. Travelling with the Ricoh GR series (Jean Perenet, June 5th 2023)
The Ricoh GR-series cameras have a devoted following among Macfilos readers, even though they lie outside Leica M- and L-Mount-Alliance territory. Their high-performing lenses and pocketable format make them an attractive travelling companion. Jean walks us through the various members of the series and demonstrates their ability to generate beautiful images with a few of his own.
7. Hands-on with the M11 Monochrom (Jonathan Slack, April 13th, 2023)
Jono gives us his detailed assessment of this latest iteration of Leica’s flagship monochrome-sensor camera. He takes us through the principal upgrades from the M10 Monochrom, and illustrates the camera’s capabilities with a beautiful set of images. If you are looking for a definitive, unvarnished assessment of this incredible camera, this is the review for you.
6. Hands-on with the Leica M11 (Jonathan Slack, January 14th, 2022)
Whether you read Jono’s reviews for information about the camera itself, or because of the photos, this will be a treat for you. Still going strong after two years, the article offers a wealth of detail on the Leica M11. It’s likely to remain the company’s most advanced rangefinder for some time yet, so we won’t be surprised if this review still features in next year’s top twelve list.
5. Leica Q3 first impressions (Claus Sassenberg, June 16th, 2023)
Claus gave us an in-depth evaluation of the new Leica Q3, having used it in anger, out in the field. Spoiler alert: He’s impressed. This is the type of ‘user-centric’ review that has made Macfilos a destination for photographers who want to know what it’s really like to work with a particular piece of kit.
4. Leica Q3 longer-term impressions (Jonathan Slack, May 26th, 2023)
It’s a measure of the impact that the launch of the Leica Q3 had that two independent reviews reach our most-read list for the year. Jono’s review is based upon the many months of experience he had with the camera ahead of its introduction. As a result, we get a comprehensive assessment of its performance, as well as a meticulous description of how the superb Q2 was upgraded to an even more impressive offering.
3. Losing the fight against nature (Dirk Säger, September 1st, 2023)
This is Dirk’s photographic account of his visit to a most remarkable spot, high in the California desert. If you are a fan of sand, lost places, infra-red photography, and cult films, this article has it all. It rocketed on to the most-read list within days of posting. Although we don’t understand exactly why it went viral, there’s no doubt, it’s a cracking read.
2. What Leica has in store for us (Mike Evans, November 16th, 2022)
Mike gazed into his crystal ball, drawing on his familiarity with the cadence of new Leica product introductions. He outlined the tasty treats that might have been available to Leica fans last year and could yet come this year. So far, they have appeared just as he predicted. The article is a perennial favourite, having been published over a year ago. It seems everyone still wants to know what the Wetzlar crew has in store for us.
1. The Pixii Rangefinder (Jörg-Peter Rau, April 17th, 2023)
Jörg-Peter’s definitive review of this modern take on a rangefinder camera remains tremendously popular. It undoubtedly received a boost from more recent articles announcing updates to the Pixii system. Posted earlier in the year, the article is the most-read article of 2023. It is not surprising. Jörg-Peter provided an unbiased assessment of a modern, digital M-mount, rangefinder camera designed from scratch.
Looking forward, after our review of 2023
Having concluded our review of 2023, our attention has turned to the year ahead. As well as our regular coverage of photographic gear, travel, feature articles and photography exhibitions, we hope to include a few special items. It will be another great year at Macfilos!
One thing is certain, though: the world of photography continues to evolve.
For example, advances in machine learning have already begun to impact both taking and processing photos. We expect this trend to continue, opening up new creative possibilities for photographers. More Chinese companies are entering the lens market, the quality of their offerings apparently improving rapidly. Could they win over die-hard Leica buyers? And though it’s hard to imagine the mainstream players squeezing yet another new lens into their product line up, perhaps we will be surprised.
Whichever of these possibilities turn up, Macfilos aims to cover them — with the help of all our contributors.
All the best for photography in 2024!
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