2016 was a big year for us in terms of building new, and extending existing camera systems, and I cannot believe that a year has passed by since my infatuation with Leica’s TL system began. It would be fair to say that the 2016 Photography Show had a huge impact on my decision and is conclusive proof that such events help greatly when evaluating new systems.
This is the first lens I purchased for my T camera and just the second zoom I have owned in 28 years. Before this, my experience of zooms was limited to budget third party models that often disappointed in both optical and build quality. These memories are probably the reason I rarely strayed into zoom territory, preferring instead high quality primes. A lot has changed over the decades and the performance gap between zooms and primes is now minimal.
Inevitably, the purchase of a new camera system has triggered the shift towards a new bag in which to store and transport it. Post Leica T purchase, I found myself once more lusting after something more utopian that those I already own. Having just used a Leica X for the last few years, I always found my Clik Elite Cloudscape and Vanguard Arlen 49 back packs suitable for the job as they did not need to house much in the way of additional lenses and equipment. At present I could still use either of them as my system is still small (one body and two lenses) but looking ahead I can see myself with at least one, if not two more lenses as well as a few more peripheral items. Additionally, my TL 35mm f1.4 lens is pretty large when the hood is attached and this really does impact on its storage at the moment. Given one of my future purchases is likely to be the 60mm f2.8 macro lens, which has the same size hood, I will soon be running into problems. I also have a Billingham 335 bag which will house the system going forward, but I find shoulder bags heavy and cumbersome.
The recent rediscovery of some images taken for a photo restoration project prompted me to write this blog article. I get great satisfaction from taking an old, damaged picture and restoring it to its former glory, although I have spent less time working with this kind of material than I would like recently. Other more recent work seems to get my attention leaving this corner of my interests to gather dust.
So I finally committed to a new camera system after many months of evaluating what the market has to offer. I decided to buy into in the Leica T or TL system as it is now known. With very few exceptions I have never been the kind of person to jump at new technology, preferring instead to remain behind the curve and reap the benefits of a debugged product that usually has the added bonus of reduced pricing. My purchase of the T is no exception and finally found its way into my hands more than two and a half years after its release. Such a long time in the market place has resulted in huge discounts, particularly as I timed my purchase with the announcement of a slightly updated model, the TL. Given the small generational differences between the two (32GB instead of 16GB internal memory) faster autofocus in C-AF mode (which will probably trickle down to the original T in the form of a firmware upgrade) and a pretty new titanium finish with bevelled edges, I am more than happy with the choice made.
Having recently acquired a brand new Leica T, I was surprised to see that it was still running v1.1 firmware and would not recognise my 11-23 zoom lens. I thought I would update the camera to the latest firmware version (1.55) to fix many of the bugs reported over the last couple of years, and also to provide compatibility with all lenses, including the newly released 60mm f2.8 macro.
Readers of the PhotoArk blog will be aware that I have been evaluating different camera systems for the last year with the intent to buy into and build a new system for personal use. Having no commitment to any existing system at present made this job a little easier, as I have very little legacy equipment that I wish to continue using. For the last 18 months I have been using the Leica X and before this, Leica’s X1. Both cameras are excellent performers but I have felt a longing to return to wider and longer focal lengths. The X series camera’s I use have fixed 35mm equivalent focal lengths, excellent in their own rights and one of my favourite angles of view. Both models have provided years of use as my primary cameras and I intend to keep using them well into the future, due to their stunning image quality and portability.