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]
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.
With much fanfare, Leica announced its new M and M-E digital rangefinders at Photokina today. The M breaks new ground by introducing some fancy new features that have never been seen before in an M rangefinder, while the M-E is the company’s attempt at offering an entry-level digital rangefinder.
Notice that Leica has done away with its standard naming strategy. Apparently Leica is doing what Apple did with the iPad: leaving out the generation in the name entirely. In future, we’ll be saying “Leica M” with “20th generation” in parentheses rather than Leica M20.
Remember those leaked “spy” shots that supposedly show someone using the upcoming Leica M10 digital rangefinder? Leica Rumors took those images and everything that we know about the camera so far, and created some mockups showing what the camera will likely look like. The most striking feature is the special port on the back that allows for an electronic viewfinder attachment on the hot shoe.
When shopping for a new computer, online shops often allow you to customize the computer and choose the individual components that go into it. If the computing world can offer that, why not the photography world?
Turns out you can with Leica cameras. The company has a website called “Leica à la carte“, through which you can configure a film Leica rangefinder to suit your tastes and needs.
Beauty may be only skin deep for us humans, but crack open a classic rangefinder and there something both nostalgic and beautiful about the components therein. The people behind Ilott Vintage — a Miami-based camera restoration project — know this, and so when they’re restoring an old Minolta Hi-Matic 7 or Olympus 35RD, they sometimes take the time to make a little video showing off the craftsmanship and components we don’t always get to see.
Getting your hands on one of these restored masterpieces will cost you a pretty penny (think a couple thousand), but the classic camera you get will be more than just a collectors item, it’ll actually work. Head over to their website for more info on the company and a look at their selection, or check out their Vimeo page for more classic camera eye candy.
The big Leica announcement in Berlin is only three short days away, and as it draws closer more and more details about the highly-anticipated M9-M monochrome rangefinder are leaking. The most recent updates involve pricing and design. It seems that the new rangefinder will feature an all black body, much like the M9-P, with a Leica Monochrome engraving on the top plate. In fact, Leica Rumors is reporting that the M9-M will essentially be an M9-P with a monochrome sensor and a slightly higher price tag (between $8,500 and $9,000).
In addition to the M9-M, the Berlin announcement is also expected to include a new 16 or 18-megapixel X2 priced around $3,000; and a new 50mm f/2 Summicron-M lens for around $3,300.
(via Leica Rumors)
Remember that monochrome Leica M camera rumor that we reported on last month? The latest rumor pegs May 10th as the announcement date. The new camera won’t be a successor to the M9 — the M10 will likely be announced in September at Photokina — but will instead be a M9-styled rangefinder with a sensor that can only capture black and white. It is also said to have fantastic high-ISO quality and may ditch the LCD screen entirely.
(via Leica Rumors via Mirrorless Rumors)