Wednesday, May 22, 2019
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Photo competitions: Make the most of your pictures

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So, you have the gear and you have been enthusiastically taking photos whenever you can. Next comes the hard part — what do you do with the photos? Even twenty years ago the options were limited. But today, with the internet, there are so many opportunities to share, display and compete with your photos and also to view great photography produced by others.

Leica SL price plummets

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The price of a new Leica SL body is effectively reduced to £3,195 under a special offer valid from now until the end of September. There are also two bundles, one with the 24-90mm SL lens, the other with the 50mm Summilux SL, both at £6,950.

If you trade in any DSLR or compact system camera, in good working order, you will receive £1,300 discount on a new SL body.

A new SL body can now be bought for £3,195, or £6,950 with this 24-90mm zoom lens. You just need to do a bit of jiggerypokery with an old DSLR to get the "trade-in value"
A new SL body can now be bought for £3,195, or £6,950 with this 24-90mm zoom lens. You just need to do a bit of jiggerypokery with an old DSLR to get the “trade-in value”. But make no mistake, this is a thinly veiled discount

All images in this article, other than the Leica product shot above, were taken with the Leica SL and 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit-SL

Repercussions

Most Leica dealers, including Richard Caplan and Red Dot Cameras here in London, and Leica Store Manchester, appear to be taking part in the scheme which started on April 17.

There have been instant repercussions on the prices of used SLs, with around £500 slashed off the tickets already. Dealers will have taken a hit and existing owners will be disappointed, to say the least.

It is now possible to pick up a used SL body for around £2,500 from an authorised dealer, complete with dealer warranty. Private sellers will be lucky to get £2,000, I imagine.

Temptation

Even so, those interested in the SL will be tempted to pay the extra for a new one now they can get it for just under £3,200.

What can we read into this? The most likely explanation is all the new entrants into the full-frame market are making the SL harder to sell. In particular, the announcement of the Panasonic LUMIX S1 with a host of state-of-the-art facilities, including image stabilisation, and the ability to use all the Leica SL lenses, can’t have helped.

Potential SL buyers can read the signs and most had become worried about investing over £4,449 in what they realise is an end-of-line camera. Even if the Panny doesn’t tempt at £2,199, it is clear that the current SL is on borrowed time.

Discounts

And let’s not forget that the Panasonic S1 will soon be discounted, as ever with Panasonic after a short period of stardom. Trade sources I have spoken to tell me that it is not falling off the shelves. I predict that by the end of the summer the S1 will be selling for under £2,000. That’s a lot of camera for the dosh compared with the four-year-old SL design, good as it is.

At the recent Leica Society meeting in Nottingham, Leica MD Jason Heward assured us that there would be no new SL camera “any time soon”. But the date of the ending of the new SL special offer, September 30, perhaps gives us a clue.

Of course, not everyone will instantly desire a more complicated SL2, especially if it is available only with the 47MP sensor seen in the Q2. It will undoubtedly be priced at over £5,000, for starters, and will face stiff competition from the LUMIX models at half the cost.

Both flavours

Without a doubt, the 24MP sensor density of the current model is the sweet spot for many photographers. That’s why Panasonic, Nikon, Sony and Canon offer both flavours.

The 24MP sensor is said to favour videographers but it is also loved by stills photographers who don’t welcome the speed and storage problems associated with today’s ever-growing pixel density. There will be some disappointment if the SL2 doesn’t come in both 47MP and 24MP versions.

If the SL2 turns out to be available only with a 47MP sensor, there are many who will stick with the SL1 or move over to the much cheaper S1. Herein lies a crumb of comfort for the SL fancier.

Time to buy?

All this is a roundabout way of saying that a used SL at £2,500 or even £2,250 which is what it ought to cost, could well be a good buy, especially if you prefer the simplicity of this camera to the complex S1 or a potentially similarly complex SL2.

The SL is still a great photographic tool and features the world’s second-best viewfinder, just beaten by that in the new Panasonics (which will probably also grace the SL2). All it lacks, from an M-lens user point of view, is image stabilisation and we’ve learned to live without that.

All this said, such a huge discount on a current camera well before the introduction of a replacement is unprecedented. It has all the hallmarks of a clearance sale and I do not think it will do Leica’s reputation one bit of good. It will certainly upset a lot of existing owners.

What do you think about this? Have you recently bought an SL body at full retail price? Does this undermine your confidence in Leica as a brand? Should Leica encourage dealers to discount in a free-for-all market?

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What a fool says he

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All the same flowers were in bloom. It's a pity the photographer wasn't in bloom as well

Yesterday I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done before and I feel like a fool. Indeed, I begin to think I am.

7Artisans 55mm f/1.4 TL unboxing

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No sooner had Don Morley piqued my interest in the fast 7Artisans 55mm prime than I was hitting the Amazon buy now button. It was the promise of a native TL mount lens for use with my CL that was the deciding factor.

Typewriters and the Mueller touch

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According to the internet, a gentleman named Mueller has written a report. I’ve not read it and have only the haziest notion of its content, gleaned from the Twitterati.

Is this the least expensive native L-mount lens for your Leica CL?

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Probably yes, but I haven’t done the necessary research to prove it. Whatever, the 7Artisans 55mm f/1.4 TL lens is definitely one of the cheapest you can get. And it ain’t half bad, as I am finding out. In this case, cheapness is definitely not synonymous with nastiness.

55mm f/1.4 TL prime: Worth a punt at £139?

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I woke this morning to an email from my old friend Don Morley. He has just bought a 55mm f/1.4 lens for his Leica CL, in L mount format. Sigma Art, perhaps? No, of course, it isn’t. But for £139 it is certainly a bargain. It’s from 7Artisans and the big draw for us is the TL mount.

Fast prime, L-mount, hood, pouch and cleaning kit, all for £139. Some competitors charge as much for a spare hood — and some don’t include them as standard, let alone offering free accessories

This lens has been around in other formats for a couple of years and it belongs to the 7Artisans’ “cheaper range”. Several friends have bought more expensive M-mount lenses from the company in the past and have been satisfied. But £139? You know the old saying about something being too good to be true. But this time we might have to rethink our prejudices.

I quickly found that Hamish Gill over at 35mmc bought the E-mount version of the same lens in 2017 and paid only £107, including tax. He also reproduced an article by Iurii Zvonar’s experiences with the Fuji-X version of the lens.

Look, Ma, no mount adapter. Weighing 272g, the 7Artisans 55mm f/1.4 looks like it will complement the CL perfectly.

Lightweight

The thing that grabbed my interest in Don’s email was that the lens is uses the TL mount and, at 272g, offers a lightweight high-performance optic for the TL2 or CL. It’s an APS-C lens, of course, and would also work on the SL or Panasonic S1/S1R cameras, but with a substantial crop to the sensor.

I have a number of 50mm M-mount lenses that would probably do a better job on the CL than this bargain-basement 7Artisans optic, but let’s reserve judgment on that for the moment. However, it does have a big weight advantage: A Summicron plus the TL/M adaptor tips the scales at 430g, around 63% heavier than the 7Artisans.

Don received his lens only yesterday and, apart from a few test shots around the house, hasn’t had the opportunity to put it through it paces. In general, though, he is initially impressed, both by the few initial images and by the build quality. That’s good enough for me.

Racy little number

No one, I imagine, would suggest that this racy little number will out-perform a full-frame Leica, Zeiss or Voigtländer equivalent M-mount lens when used with the Leica adapter.

The lens also begs the question of where it fits in (or doesn’t fit in) with the L-Mount Alliance. I was under the impression that the L-mount was owned by Leica and licensed to members of the Alliance. So far, there has been no mention of 7Artisans joining, so a little more investigation is necessary — not that this affects the operation or our sense of having pulled a fast one at a bargain price.

But for £139 it would be churlish not to give it a whirl. I’ve placed my order and the lens should arrive tomorrow, in time for my Motor Cycle Industry club run at the weekend. I’d already decided to take along the Q2 and CL, so a little bit of 80mm-equivalent primery will be a welcome addition.

If you’d also like a punt on this little number, you can order it here at Amazon.

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Happy St. George’s Day

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It’s April 23, St. George’s Day — our English national day — and Macfilos sends good wishes to all our readers here in England and throughout the world.

Leica X Vario – The Dance of the Seven Veils

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Something in the Outback made me decide that mud and dust and dirt wasn’t really the place to inflict on a German classic, in my case the Leica X Vario

In a recent Macfilos article I was named, but not too shamed, as a “once-upon-a-time-but-no-longer” X Vario owner. It’s true, and it cannot be denied or dodged.

The camera that dare not speak its name

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Our favourite camera brand is in hot tea this weekend in one of its most important markets. For the record, this furore is likely to be one or other of the following (choose your own language, stir twice and let it brew for three minutes):