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Jason’s Newsround: Forget heavenly happenings, what’s the best camera here on planet Earth?

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It may have happened a few days ago, but if you saw this event, you’ll remember it forever. What could it possibly be? And if you are in the market for a fast, inexpensive M-Mount lens, we point you in the direction of one worth checking out. Sadly, it looks like Ricoh GRIII fans might be waiting a while longer for the next generation, GRIV. But, owners of the Panasonic Lumix S5IIx can congratulate themselves on owning the best camera in the Panasonic range. And are you a wimp if you do not shoot manually? Read on to find out.

Photokina 1954: A legend is born

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1954 Die photokina etabliert sich als internationale Leitmesse rund der Foto-Industrie. Photokina establishes itself as the leading global event for the photo industry.

The Leica M3, and along with it, the M-Mount has just turned seventy. As the Leitz exhibition stand at Photokina in Cologne was dismantled, exactly seventy years ago today on 11 April 1954, few contemporary press commentators realised the real significance of the event. In retrospect, the overwhelmingly significant story was the introduction of M3. The Leitz bayonet mount arrived to threaten the existence of the screw-mount LTM or Leica Thread Mount or M39 Mount, which had been the hallmark of the Leica “miniature camera” for 30 years. And a legend was born.

Jeremy’s year shooting landscape with the Leica M11 rangefinder

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Professional photographer Jeremy Walker has spent a year shooting landscape with his latest Leica rangefinder, the M11. He upgraded from the M10-R and has had no regrets. In the past eighteen months, he has sold his remaining DSLR kit and almost all the equipment he has accumulated over the years, simply to concentrate on a new outfit predicated on light weight and high performance. His new outfit consists of just the M11 body and four small prime lenses — a 21mm f/3.4 Super-Elmar and a trio of Summicrons, 35, 50 and 90mm. All of this fits comfortably in his Billingham Hadley Pro bag.


Small-bag smugness

Travelling abroad has become a joy, says Jeremy, with no fight for overhead cabin storage and no worrying about a huge camera rucksack being taken away for hold luggage at the gate. Jeremy refers to it as “small-bag smugness”.

My first overseas job with the Leica M11 came just a couple of weeks after purchasing it, a few days shooting in Florence, Italy. It was the middle of the summer, not my favourite time for travel and daytime temperatures were pushing towards the high thirties centigrade, which is not the weather for heavy rucksacks and large tripods. On my first morning out on location, I knew I had made the right decision. A small, light, unobtrusive bag and handheld shooting with a compact rangefinder camera. Perfect.

Landscape around the world

You can follow Jeremy’s year in his full Amateur Photographer report, as part of the magazine’s long-term review of the M11. It takes him from Florence to Scotland, to Iceland, to New York, in all weathers. He admits, though, that if the rain is heavy, he does worry about the weather proofing of the lens mount. This is more so because he has noticed that, in some extreme situations, the lens mount is not light tight and, if this is the case, it may not be weatherproof:

Light seepage

I started playing with long exposures, something I rarely do these days. With an exposure longer than thirty seconds, often the image would have what looked like flare in one corner. Apparently, this is light leaking through the lens mount, a quirk in the Leica M rangefinder design. At first, it seems horrendous, an expensive camera that’s not perfectly light-tight. But once you know of the problem, it’s easily fixed. Just shield the lens mount from direct sunlight or, as I have done, make a little soft leather collar that goes around the lens mount which is fixed in place with Velcro. It really isn’t a big deal for me (or, I suspect, many other M11 users) as I rarely do long exposures.

While he acknowledges that the compact Leica rangefinder has a certain reputation for street photography, it isn’t noted as a tool for landscape photography, something which is fundamental to his work.

M11 for landscape

The Leica rangefinder is possibly not the first camera you would have associated with a landscape photographer. They are certainly more linked with ‘street’ photographers or reportage photographers from the fifties and sixties. The Leica rangefinder is an anathema to most, over-priced and out-of-date.  There is pretty much no auto anything, a distinct lack of modes, and the frames per second is pitiful. As for video, forget it. But this is where the Leica M11 and, in fact, all Leica rangefinder cameras, score highly. It is the stripped-down, back-to-basics feel that makes this camera so appealing. 

Jeremy agrees that the Leica M11 rangefinder is not to everyone’s liking. However, after a year and half shooting in all weathers and environments, he has found it to be an excellent workhorse. But, as he says, it so much more than a working tool, so much more than just another camera, and it’s difficult for him to put his finger on it. Switching to Leica, he says, has breathed new life and enthusiasm into his photography: “There is a pleasure to using an M11, there is an intangible quality to it.”

Read Jeremy Walker’s full M11 review at Amateur Photographer

All images in this article are copyright of Jeremy Walker and may not be reproduced without permission


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Lightroom Lens Blur: Useful tool or distracting gimmick?

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Wouldn’t it be handy on occasion to achieve a narrow depth-of-field while shooting at f/16? The new Lightroom Lens Blur feature offers just that: fast-lens results from a slow-lens shot. So, is it a useful addition to the photographers’ compositional repertoire, or a fun but forgettable gimmick?

The Good Companion meets some chums from 1929, including a Leica I and a vintage Swan fountain pen

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I have a new good companion which I met for the first time a month ago. It all started with the Klack keyboard noise simulator I had installed on my Apple Studio computer. My subsequent musing, Klack Goes the Keyboard, proved to be more popular than many of our regular posts. It’s pure nostalgia in a bottle, of course, but it caused me to dust off all my old typewriters and indulge in some real clack-clacking.

Jason’s Newsround: Everything you wanted to know about Kaizen, but were too afraid to ask

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This week we have included several articles dealing with Kaizen, the Japanese concept of continuous improvement, even though only one story has the word in the title. Fujifilm is one of its great practitioners, ultimately delivering the acclaimed and continually improving X100 series. Although Leica might not use the word, its commitment to continuous improvement is evident in the steady advances across its M, Q and SL ranges. In fact, to paraphrase The Troggs, whether it’s sensors, entire cameras, or rechargeable batteries, Kaizen is all around us.

Ten Most-Read Articles of the Quarter: The old, the new, and the non-existent

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Macfilos readers have kept a sharp focus on camera gear over the last three months. And it’s not just the latest kit that caught their eye. Stories about vintage gear, and cameras that don’t even exist yet, found an enthusiastic audience. Although Leica dominated the line-up, a couple of articles highlighted a new player in the game. Read on to find out which made the Macfilos top ten for the quarter.

Leica Launches Prestigious New FOTO Award for Food Photography

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In a surprise move, Leica has added a new category to its line up of annual awards recognising photographic excellence. The new award is for candid food photography: images of dishes from the kitchen, not the studio. Here at Macfilos we were delighted to hear the news. We had already begun to dabble in this much overlooked photographic genre.

Prioritising Weight over Speed: Is this the new fashion in lens design?

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Along with sharpness, arguably the most important considerations in buying a new lens are speed, weight, and cost. A really fast lens might offer prestige and the prospect of outstanding subject separation. But, it usually comes with a hefty price tag and at a hefty weight. And when travelling, where a kit is carried for many hours, do we really lose out prioritising weight over speed? It seems some manufacturers are voting with their apertures. Take the Panasonic Lumix 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 for example.

Jason’s Newsround: Leica M reimagined, new show venues, Ricoh’s new GR III HDF cameras

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photography & video show birmingham

In this week’s news round, we look at the Leica M reimagined, a bold take on bringing the rangefinder up to date. There are new venues for two British photographic events, details of a toy camera that could make a fun present for any photographer, and a glimpse of a new collapsible 50mm f/2 lens for M-Mount. Plus, Fujifilm tells us that without the success of the X100, the company could have been in a difficult position. Finally, we look at all the wild rumours of a revolutionary Leica D-Lux 8. Sorry, but we don’t think they are true.

Operation Lock Almost: One way to tame that skittering focus point on the Leica Q3

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The Leica Q and, here, the Q2 (with it's custom-made Arte di Mano halfcase) are wonderful travel cameras. But they are quite bulky, especially in the lens department. And how often will you shoot street photography at f/1.7?

Operation Lock. That’s what Panasonic calls it, but it has many names. All modern Panasonic Lumix cameras, as far as I know, offer this quick and convenient method of locking down the controls. Itchy fingers or wandering thumbs will not cause mayhem. Similar features are common in many modern cameras. But Leica has steadfastly refused to add an easily operated operation lock function. In particular, such a development would prevent the four-way pad or the joystick (where fitted) from moving the focus point around unbidden.

Sigma 50mm f/1.2 DG DN Art lens for L-Mount launched

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The Sigma 50mm f/1.2 is a compact, relatively lightweight addition to the company’s flagship Art range. Designed specifically for mirrorless cameras, this professional-grade f/1.2 prime lens is now the fastest 50mm autofocus lens in the L-Mount ecosystem. If you are an SL-camera owner searching for a wafer-thin depth-of-field, this could the lens for you.

Long Tongued Bat scoops British retailer’s Photographer of the Year award

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“Long Tongued Bat Approaching Banana Leaf” is the snappy title of a stunning wildlife image which has scooped a top prize in a UK competition. Marilyn Taylor’s photograph, taken in Costa Rica, is an impressive example of low-light photography. She won the top prize of £5,000 in a competition organised by the national photo retailer, London Camera Exchange (LCE). In addition to the overall winner, there were fourteen category champions, each of which received £500.

M Files (24): M-Mount lenses from China, an overview

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Examples of Chinese M-Mount lenses: different manufacturers
From China with love: A great number of brands are catering now to the M-Mount market. Some seem content with rather tasteless plagiarism, others take their own approach. Left to right: Funleader, Thypoch, TTArtisan, 7Artisans, Laowa.

Have you heard all these names?  TTArtisan, 7Artisans, Laowa, Thypoch , Light Lens Lab, Polar, Mr. Ding, Funleader: All these are M-Mount lens manufacturers from China. Some of them have been around for several years, others are new. This episode of The M Files gives an overview of all these brands of Chinese M-Mount lenses. Proper reviews might follow in the future.

Fuji X100VI Limited Edition: Ballot for the 110 cameras allocated to the UK

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The Fuji X100VI Limited Edition, celebrating Fujifilm’s 90th anniversary in 1934, is to be the subject of a ballot to choose Britain’s lucky 110 buyers. With only 1,934 units worldwide, the Limited Edition will be in massive demand everywhere, transcending the already strong debut of the standard model.