Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Leica M

The Leica rumour mill is running at full speed with the imminent launch of the M9 full-frame rangefinder camera.
This has led to some of my work colleagues discussing the joy of holding such a beautiful optical instrument as the Leica camera in all its forms. For many photographers it is a dream to own a Leica, however, during four years with an M5 alongside my Nikon F100, I rarely picked up the German gem preferring the rugged reliability and ease of use of the Nikon SLR.
Loading a film in the Leica is a pain, while it may have been a good system at the camera's birth, 50 years later it was anything but simple compared to dropping a roll in the Nikon and pressing the button for autowind.
Yes the rangefinder focusing system is dead accurate but so is an SLR combined with its own electronic rangefinder for manual focus. The lenses are wonderful but so are most Japanese optics whose build is based on German optical secrets exchanged during the Second World War.

Monday, September 07, 2009


Recently I discovered colour transparencies of my mum and dad's wedding, in North Wales, shot in February 1962 on Kodachrome. This led to some detective work to discover the picture's origin.
Most amazingly during my parent's lifetime we were never shown these pictures, there are only about 20 in a slide tray. Immediately I discovered them questions popped up in my mind as to who had taken the pictures. They did not appear to be the work of the wedding photographer as his were all in black and white, which is typical for the period.
A chance conversation with an aunt revealed that she had owned a Leica, bought on my father's recommendation, he had a Semi-Prince, which I think took 645 images on 120 film. During his wartime service in the far east in the RAF he always hankered after a Rolleiflex but probably the camera was too expensive for a sergeant.
Another conversation with my father's cousin, John, disclosed that he also owned a pre-war Leica IIIB and Zeiss Ikonta, he shot b/w on the Zeiss and slides on the Leica, but was not at the wedding, he thought an uncle might have taken the shots.
I became interested in photography at the age of 9, after being introduced to darkroom craft by a teacher at school.
Strangely my father never told me of his own fascination with photography from wartime until the late 1950s. An album has also turned up of trips that he made to Europe and northern Scotland. The pictures are perfectly presented in photo corners and have captions on the back, the album must have taken some time to complete.
The slides were perfectly exposed and the colours are still as good today as on the day they were shot. This is a strong argument for using this now discontinued material for colour work.
I plan to have the pictures scanned and will upload one in the future...........