Leica Mini-M: the disappointment

Two week ago, Leica started teasing us with the Mini-M.

The Phoblographer has the scoop, just confirming the rumors, and that is a disappointment.

The Leica X Vario will cost over $3200 (more than the Sony RX-1) a little more than $2800, roughly the same as the Sony RX-1. And I had two hypothesis of what it could be, and both were wrong. One was closer thought, but I was expecting a fast prime not a slow zoom lens. No viewfinder (there is the port for an EVF). Nothing. In short you can find a camera that has the same feature set, a faster lens, that can be changed, for much less money. There claim that it took Leica M as a role model is absurd.

The only thing that can be outlined is Leica still continue to push DNG for the RAW files. And they should be commended for that.

Leica is now in the market of making expensive luxury cameras, not performing and robust cameras. I am sure that if a photographer had only this camera he could make it work and take awesome picture, but for the money, I’d recommend something else.

(I haven’t seen the camera, this is all based on paper specs)

Update B&H has it in pre-order, adjusted the price mention to reflect that.

Leica Mini-M teaser

Leica is teasing us with the Mini M. We don’t know anything yet but two speculations:

  • A compact fixed prime lens camera, maybe full frame, with a 35mm equivalent. In line with the Sony RX-1.
  • A micro 4/3 camera, possibly the rumored revamp of the Panasonic Lumix L1 (it was their first mirror-less, with a Four-third Leica lens) in OEM, maybe with some new lenses and an official Leica M-Mount adapter. Leica and Panasonic collaboration isn’t new, and this fall right in line.

We’ll see, but let’s hope Leica goes with a better differentiation than the X2, more in line with the Leica M.

One thing that I’m certain of is that it will not be a film camera.

Leica M typ 240 review

Highly anticipated, the Leica M type 240, aka Leica new M as announced in 2012, is starting to appear in the hands of various photographers.

Ming Thein, a Kuala Lumpur based photographer, reviews the new M:

First off: the M 240 is an enormous leap forward ahead of the M9 in every area; in fact, it feels like several generations have been skipped.

He even ask about the relevance of the rangefinder design, whether it is still the best today.

I actually wonder if the appearance of the EVF on an M camera means that the rangefinder’s days may be numbered; the reality is that the system requires very precise calibration, is prone to drift, is limited when it comes to zoom lenses, long lenses or off-center subjects, and is manual focus only. […] Perhaps Fuji is going in the right direction after all.

In my opinion, the Leica is about the rangefinder, but Fujifilm has shown the way to the best of both world with the X100 and X-Pro1, except it is not yet a rangefinder, and is not as accurate as one. But do we need one or do we just need a good focusing system for mirror less systems?

Also read Thein’s B&W with the Leica M Typ 240.

Why I think the M6 is the best Leica rangefinder

Japan Camera Hunter (aka Bellamy Hunt) tells us why he think the M6 is the best Leica RF (digital shooters will disapprove).

I have been through a lot of cameras in my time, and I have owned a few different Leica bodies. I have also got the enviable position of being able to try out more cameras than you can shake a stick at, and I have come to a conclusion that may put a few noses out of joint.

I think that the Leica M6 is the best M-series analogue rangefinder camera that Leica ever made! Now that I have your attention let me explain myself.

Cultivating my Leica envy I have to agree with that specific point, now that we can get them for less than 1400$ on the used market (body only !), even though I am an aperture priority kind of guy. I wish I actually had one.

Leica M6, Summicron 50mm f2 Lens, Top view
Leica M6, Summicron 50mm f2 Lens, Top view by Shawn Hoke

Leica factory visit

The kind people at Luminous Landscape have an article about a Leica factory visit in Solms, Germany (by Nick Rains).

These [Leica S2 and M9] are hand made products – quite literally. It’s why they are desirable in the first place and the process can only proceed so fast. I’m told it takes 8 hours to assemble an M9 body and having seen the care and precision with which they are assembled, I can certainly believe it.

This should explain why the quality is at the top along with the price.

Open letter to Leica

Lloyd Chambers wrote an open letter to Leica:

The M9 felt like 2 year old technology the day I got it, with many disappointments.

And yes you are allowed to bad mouth Leica. I believed that the M8 was a mishap – evidence that Leica didn’t really know what to do. Apparently the M9 is too. And very expensive. Chambers has already written very extensively about the M9 (sorry, paywall).

And I have read a lot of praise about the Leica M9 too.

Leica 25mm for m4/3 and Panasonic GF-3

News from the micro Four Thirds front:

Panasonic GF-3: more compact than the GF-2, still no viewfinder, even more stripped down:
DC Resource previewDPReview
In July 2011 with the 14mm f2.5 for USD$699. August for USD$599 with a kit zoom.

Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4 DG: fast sharp “standard” lens:
DC ResourceDPReview
Price unknown, for August 2011.

12 film cameras to watch

Popphoto has an article about 12 film cameras worth buying right now.

The tragedy in Japan has made the current DSLR market a scary place, making this a perfect opportunity to get (back) into film.

Their list (in alphabetical order):

  • Bronica SQ/SQ-A
  • Canon EOS 1N
  • Canon AE-1
  • Fujifilm GA645
  • Hasselblad 500c/500cm
  • Leica R-series
  • Mamiya 645 Pro
  • Nikon FM10
  • Nikon N80
  • Pentax 67
  • Pentax K1000
  • Ricoh GR-1

It seems to cover all the bases from medium format, compact to reusing lenses from your DSLR. But the most awkward in the list is the FM10 as I think they should have recommended an older model instead, one solidly built. Also notably absent are TLR or 35mm rangefinders like a Bessa.

What is interesting to see is that Ricoh is still in the same line of products with their Ricoh GR-Digital: highly praised compact camera.