People who collect Leica M rangefinders or use them as luxury fashion accessories take great care to keep their cameras in pristine condition. Photographer Blake Andrews is not one of those people. He has been doing film photography since 1993, and his trusty M6 has plenty of battle scars from seeing heavy use over the years.
If you want to see what a Leica can look like when it’s used as a camera rather than an accessory, Andrews has published a series of interesting graphics in which he treats his M6 as an artifact, pointing out various features that you definitely wouldn’t see on a babied camera body.
Leica’s new flagship digital rangefinder, the Leica M, was announced more than a month ago, but things have been very quiet in regards to sample photos demonstrating the camera’s capabilities. If you’ve been dying see actual photos shot using the camera, today’s your lucky day. Pandachief over at the forum HK LFC has published quite a few sample photographs shot in a low-light environment (it appears to be a dinner party).
Is there or isn’t there a new line of compact system cameras (CSC) up Leica’s sleeve? Well, it depends on who you ask.
The camera maker we know as Leica, officially known as Leica Camera AG, is now 100% privately owned. The main shareholder, Lisa Germany Holding GmbH, announced earlier this week that it had successfully bought out the 2.44% of stock still in the hands of third-party shareholders, paying a set price of €30.18 (~$39) for each of the shares.
The stock will also be removed from the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as a part of this plan, a move designed to save the company time and money — the management will no longer need to worry about all the hassle that comes with being a publicly traded company.
Here’s something that’s a bit strange: Leica filed a trademark application for “M11″ this past May, just a few months before announcing the Leica M — a camera that did away with the company’s number-based naming strategy used since 1954.
Watts Martin of Coyote Tracks has an interesting piece titled “Iconic” that discusses the idea of trade dress — the reason why Apple doesn’t have any branding on the front face of the iPhone:
You don’t need to see the name plate on a Ford Mustang or a Corvette or a Porsche 911 to recognize one. Or a Coke bottle. Or, once you’ve seen one, a Tivoli Audio tabletop radio. Or a McIntosh amp. These products have a design language that’s become part of their brand identity [...] That’s what Apple wants, too: products that look like Apple. They’ve nailed it. You can look at a computer or a tablet or a phone being used in a coffee shop and you can immediately tell Apple or not Apple even if you can’t see the logo. And this is virtually unique in their industry: you’ll usually need the logo to know exactly what the not Apple product is.
This is why trade dress battles are so important to Apple. Try introducing a soda in a container that’s easily mistaken for a Coke bottle and see how far “har har har, you can’t patent curved glass!” gets you as a defense. If somebody makes a product that can be easily mistaken for an Apple device, then Apple is going to do whatever they can to get that product either off the market or changed.
DSLRs are pretty uniform in their appearance, so we don’t see much fuss about trade dress in that sector, but it’s interesting that there isn’t more tension between Leica and Fujifilm — two companies that both offer cameras without front branding.
Iconic [Coyotke Tracks via Daring Fireball]
When Leica announced at Photokina last week that future M and S cameras won’t have numbers attached to the model name (e.g. Leica M), I wrote that the company seemed to be taking a page from Apple’s book by having generations rather than models. Turns out that’s not the case. Leica doesn’t want to be what Apple is to the gadget industry, but what Porsche is to the automobile industry.
Wealthy people who want to flaunt their wealth are attracted to shiny and pricey things. It’s no surprise then, that more and more Hollywood celebrities are gravitating toward one particular brand for their photographic needs: Leica. Alex Williams of The New York Times writes that the stars aren’t simply adopting the revered marque — some are learning how to use it too:
“If celebrities are going to be seen with a camera, for better or for worse, Leica does lend a certain cachet,” said Michael Holve [...] “It seems a Canon or Nikon is somehow bourgeois, or even pedestrian, by comparison.”
The swelling ranks of famous M-system devotees reach beyond those with a well-chronicled affection for the camera, like Brad Pitt. In recent years, Daniel Craig, Jude Law, Louis C. K., Miley Cyrus and many other celebrities have popped up in paparazzi shots toting Leicas.
[...] It is easy for cynics to sniff, but many Leica-toting celebrities take their photography seriously. Brendan Fraser, an aficionado, has had his work featured in the prestigious Leica Gallery in New York. And Mr. Pitt, who has appeared on the cover of Interview magazine holding a Leica M7, earns praise from photographers in Leica forums for his work, including a cover shoot of Angelina Jolie for W a few years ago.
Williams also makes the observation that the camera’s minimal features and manual controls naturally divide the celebrity owners into serious photo enthusiasts and posers.
Click if You Can Afford It [New York Times]
Some weeks ago, I received an invitation from Leica for a special launch party they were planning to hold the day before Photokina 2012 opened. The event was titled LEICA – DAS WESENTLICHE, which translates to “The Essentials”. Aside from stating that there would be product premieres and “photographic and musical highlights”, the invitation did not reveal much else about the event, which went down this past Monday. Here’s a first-hand account of what it’s like to attend one of these Leica parties.
Announced on Monday, Leica’s new M rangefinder does away with the classic numbering system and simply goes by its model name. We got a chance to handle one a couple of times after the initial announcement… after fighting through the hoards that were clamoring to get a peek.