Cameras have fascinated me all of my life. I do not remember a time before I loved them. Even as a small child my Dad’s Brownie was something I couldn’t keep my hands off. I struggled to correlate that this small item could record happy memories of relatives and holidays forever. Like most small boys, I was fascinated by dinosaurs, insects trapped in amber and time travel. Film became my amber, and the image contained on the negative was the insect. The camera of course became the time machine. Immortalised by the medium, our past is recalled in more detail than human memory alone permits. My Dad also had an old TLR camera which he allowed me to play with until I broke it (Hopefully it wasn’t an expensive one). Hopelessly I peered through the viewfinder wondering if I could see directly into the past and glimpse the same world from which the photographs were created. I don’t ever recall this being disappointing and it certainly didn’t cause my interest in cameras to wain, which is surprising considering the world of distractions that comes with growing up. But somewhere in those playful sessions long ago a deep rooted seed was embedded in my psyche.
A welcome addition to our Leica lens arsenal is the Summilux-SL 50 f1.4 ASPH, which we took delivery of just a couple of weeks ago. As we only have APSC L mount camera bodies to attach it to at present, this particular choice may seem a little odd to some. Yep, it is large. Yep is has considerable ‘heft’. And yep, the APSC bodies are dwarfed by it. But it provides a very useful short telephoto perspective (75mm) with a fast aperture, giving me some of my favourite shooting parameters. It also aligns nicely with future acquisition plans to fully embrace the L mount system from a 36x24mm sensor perspective.
It has been fascinating to watch how phone camera technology has evolved over the years and the latest iterations of most manufactures models have continued to focus (no pun intended) on pushing the boundaries of their phone technology, threatening the existence (or need) of compact cameras. It is difficult not to notice the lack of ‘true’ cameras when out and about; You only have to look at what people are using when wondering around cities or on a beach holiday, to notice that the dominant photographic species is a smartphone… a paradigm shift when comparing the same locations some 25 years ago.
Leica’s T series cameras have polarised opinions regarding camera design and interface since the original T was released in 2014 and it is the vocalisation of these opinions that help to keep the camera series in the limelight, forging love/hate relationships from users and non-users alike. There is little doubt that Leica took a very bold step when developing the system as even today, there is little else out there that looks quite like it. I must admit that when I first laid eyes on the original T, I was unimpressed – it seemed a step too far, and the innovative touch screen interface was the exact opposite to what I was used to seeing in a camera.
I thought I would share a story regarding a recent trip to Halkidiki in North East Greece.
We spent 16 nights walking and cycling much of the Kassandra peninsula, with occasional forays to other areas such as Vergina and Sithonia. Typically at this time of year, the weather was hot and humid, so our walks rarely exceeded 11 miles and cycling was limited to approximately double this. It is incredible how much more difficult physical exercise is once the temperature hits 35°, particularly when unaccustomed to high temperatures. As usual my camera accompanied me on every journey we made, enduring heat and dust while getting covered in sweat, sun tan lotion and sea spray. The sensor required cleaning on more than one occasion, thanks to reluctantly changing lenses in exposed areas. At one point, the touch screen stopped working, leading me to momentarily question the camera’s durability - until I realised that it was the sheer amount of sun lotion on the screen that prevented it working! Each evening I cleared off the day’s debris while enjoying a glass of chilled Retsina.
Over the years, our loft has become a dumping ground for a whole pile of stuff that, through nostalgia, laziness and lack of space, has reached tipping point. Its steady encroachment from the outer reaches of the eaves, subsequent invasion of the central area and onwards toward the loft hatch means that I can no longer climb into it. From the top of the ladder I peered in, surveying the landscape with the aid of a small torch, while cold air rushed down into the house, carrying with it the roof space’s signature smell of slightly damp wood, age and insulation. With Howard Carter like trepidation I scanned the shadows for spiders, mice and a plethora of other fictional creatures which exist only in horror films.
2018 marks the fifth year of the Photography Show at Birmingham’s NEC. Born from the ashes of the annual Focus on Imaging event, each year offers the chance to try out all things photographic. From brands that for decades have been cornerstones of the industry to the rise of new and innovative businesses, there is something for everyone. It is not just about kit though; anyone who takes time out from the allure of trying out exotic optics or handling beautifully engineered camera bodies (this means you Hasselblad!) can spend hours attending presentations by some of the best names in the business. One thing is for sure though, whatever you do with your time at the Photography Show, you will leave feeling inspired (and possibly a little lighter in the wallet).