Friday, May 31, 2013


Today Leica made the following announcement:

Leica Camera is pleased to introduce the Leica S-Adapter C which will be available from this June. With this adapter, Contax 645 lenses can be used with the Leica S (Typ 006), Leica S2 and Leica S2-P cameras. The adapter enables owners of the Contax 645 system to switch effortlessly to the Leica S System.

The Leica S-Adapter C when used with Contax 645 lenses on any of the Leica S cameras offers the following:
Autofocus and manual focus with focus confirmation
Automatic aperture
Using the EXIF data of lenses of Contax 645 system
Use of corrective lens profiles for the Contax 645 system when converting the RAW files in Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop.
When using the adapter with Contax 645 lenses, the aperture is selected with the manual mode or the automatic setting of the camera.

Stefan Pick, Contax photographer for many years, was the first to test the S-Adapter C in conjunction with the Leica Stand Contax 645-lenses. Stefan Pick said, “Initially, I was pessimistic about the adapter solution, but already from the first use I was enormously surprised how quickly and how well the auto focus on the Leica S works - faster than on Contax system in the past. The image quality as a result of the combination of Contax lenses on the Leica S is gigantic. Therefore, the connection of the Leica S with the Leica S-Adapter C is an extremely affordable entry-level solution to the Leica S-System and a better quality solution as a digital back, for photographers who own the Contax lenses from the past.”

The Leica S-Adapter C supports the following lenses from the Contax 645 system:
Distagon T* 3.5 / 35 mm
Distagon T* 2.8 / 45 mm
Distagon T* 3.5 / 55 mm
Planar T* 2.0 / 80 mm
Apo-Makro-Planar T* 4 / 120 mm
Sonnar T* 2.8 / 140 mm
Sonnar T* 4 / 210 mm
Tele-Apotessar T* 4 / 350 mm
Vario-Sonnar T* 4.5 / 45-90 mm
Mutar 1.4x T*
Auto Extension Ring 13 mm
Auto Extension Ring 26 mm
Auto Extension Ring 52 mm
The Leica S-Adapter C does not support auto-focus for the following components:
Apo-Makro-Planar T*4 / 120 mm as it is a MF lens
Automatic bellows

Shipments will start in June of 2013 at a cost of $1,950.

Leica S with Zeiss Distagon 45mm f/2.8

For more on the Leica S go to:

Thursday, May 23, 2013



As I usually do every morning, I seek whatever Leica news I can find.  Today, the official Leica website ( did not disappoint.  It reports of a new camera to be introduced on June 11, at this point referred to as the Leica Mini M.  It is thought to be a model placed between the Leica M system and the Leica X and it is thought not to be a rebranded Panasonic camera but a model made in Germany.

Rather than exercising all sorts of guesses of what that camera might be like, I chose to wait until the 11th of next month to see what Leica has up their sleeves.

I like the timing because it allows me to take a close look at this new Leica product on my visit to Solms in July.  You can be sure that an in-depth report will follow on these pages.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


We have discussed the cost of Leica prices here on several occasions, with the main reasons being the extremely tight tolerances that Leica applies to their equipment, and the fact that mass production is totally absent at Leica.

Quite often we can see people argue that Canon and Nikon equipment is so much less expensive, that Leica is just charging more because they established themselves as a luxury brand.

It is interesting that just recently both Nikon and Canon have proven the argument that they would have to charge similar prices like Leica if any of their equipment were made in rather limited numbers.  Both companies introduced lenses which, by their very nature, cater to only a limited market.  For that reason mass production does not enter the discussion.  Thus the cost of these lenses is rather high.

One of the lenses is the Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS USM 1.4x lens with a cost of $11,799.00 and $649.00 for the custom case.  Nikon introduced the Nikkor 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR lens at a cost of $17,896.95.  That puts either one of these lenses solidly in the price category that Leica is so often criticized for.

Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS USM 1.4 lens with fitted case 

Nikkor 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR

I have often argued that neither Nikon or Canon are able to perform miracles, that their equipment would sell for similar prices as Leica equipment does if it were made along the same guidelines as Leica.  These two new lenses from Nikon and Canon (Nikon makes as many lenses in one day as Leica manufactures during a whole year) seem to prove that point.  As a matter of fact, the high sales volume of most of their lenses allows both companies to regain the development costs of these two lenses faster than is the case with Leica, otherwise they would be even more expensive.

The old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ still is true today, and it is good to see that Leica is applying their high standards across the board.

Friday, May 17, 2013



Leica News and Rumors reports that Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Leica Camera AG and majority shareholder of Leica Camera AG, has acquired a 25.1% stake in the Internet platform “I-shot-it”. For a small fee, enables photo-enthusiasts—from amateurs to professionals—to take part in photographic competitions. An independent jury of internationally acclaimed photographers selects the prizewinners and in the open competitions, members of the “I-shot-it” community select the prizewinners by direct online voting.

Dr. Andreas Kaufmann

“Many amateur photographers, and professionals, too, think our platform is great, because this is where their work finds the recognition they would otherwise often never find”, explains “I-shot-it” founder Hartmut Hennige. “The majority of photo competitions are so restrictive or have such strict rules that many photo enthusiasts are barred from entering right from the start. We let everybody try their luck. The jury members, all independent, acclaimed photographers, know nothing about the entrants or the camera they used to take the pictures.” According to Hartmut Hennige, around five million pictures have been uploaded so far. Around one half of these were submitted as competition entries.

Winners of the online photography competitions receive cash prizes –financed by the charges due for uploading image material—and a Leica camera. The current thirteen categories include genres such as wildlife, landscapes, black and white, cars, transport, flowers, street photography, sports, food and more.

The majority of visitors to the “I-shot-it” Web site come from the USA with more than 132,000 visits and 1.85 million page views. Dr. Andreas Kaufmann from ACM in Salzburg, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Leica Camera AG, reckons with high growth rates in the coming months. “There has been a tremendous upswing of interest in photography over the past few years. The wish to be able to present your own photos to a virtually unlimited number of people in competitions is widespread”, says Dr. Kaufmann. “The growing numbers of fans and users shows just how enormous the demand is amongst photographers around the world. We intend to satisfy this demand.”

Monday, May 13, 2013


St. Paul Winbter Carnival 1992 Ice Castle
Plaubel Makina, Anticomar 100mm f/2.9
Agfacolor Optima 100, 10 sec, f/2.9

This terminology is self-explanatory; photography with whatever light is available.  During daylight hours, this is no problem.  Difficulties arise when light levels are quite low.  Under such circumstances faster lenses or higher ISO settings often become a necessity.  With film, higher ISO settings generally are accompanied with coarser grain and ISO 3200 is a limit that is hard to overcome.  Here digital technology offers considerable advantages with some cameras offering ISO levels of 10 thousand or even more.

This has created another performance evaluation besides camera resolution in megapixels.  Some individuals are definitely of the opinion that a camera isn’t worth considering unless it excels at super high ISO levels.  There is definitely an advantage to be had, but are levels of 10 thousand ISO or more really necessary or helpful for that matter?

I have been involved in several discussion about this and thus have come across examples where anything less than 10 thousand ISO just doesn’t cut it.  My enthusiasm of this is far more measured, but then I don’t photograph black cats in a coal mine very often.

"Boltergasse" Barntrup, Germany
Linhof Technica 70, Schneider Symmar 100mm f/5.6
Ilford FP-3 10 minute exposure

Lou Bellami, Penumbra Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota
Leica M6, 135mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M
Ilford XP-2 Super, ISO 800

The beginning of my photographic education is solidly anchored in the film days.  Over the years I have certainly done my share of available light photography, yet rarely did that necessitate ISO levels higher than 800 or 1600.  As a matter of fact, I am hard pressed to imagine a photographic situation where anything substantially higher is necessary, although I should add that the coarse grain of very fast films is often used as an artistic element.

Children's Day Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Leica Digilux 2, ISO 400

Newton Fork Ranch, Hill City, South Dakota
Leica Digilux 2, ISO 100

Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul, Minnesota
Canon 5D Mark III, ISO 1600

I have always tried to keep film grain as small as possible which is the very reason why I used to shoot quite regularly with film speeds of ISO 25.  Obviously, that is quite limiting.  Combining small grain with a variety of film speeds led me to chromogenic films, mainly Ilford XP-2 and its successor, the XP-2 Super.  Unlike other black and white films, these have the advantage of offering a relatively wide range of ISO settings without the need of developing adjustments.  I regularly used the XP-2 and XP-2 Super at ISO ranges from 100 to 800.  This would be of no consequence if there were no apparent difference.  However, at lower sensitivity setting these films display a noticeably finer grain.  Since no development adjustments are necessary, there is the advantage of being able to change the film sensitivity as needed and take advantage of the finer grain at the lower speeds, all on the same roll of film.

Office Building Minneapolis, MN
Leica Digilux 2, ISO 100

Brentwood Estate, Alexandria, Minnesota
Leica Digilux 2, ISO 100

Private Japanese Garden, Plymouth, Minnesota
Leica Digilux 2, ISO 100

former principal violinist St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, St. Paul, Minnesota
Leica R4. 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R
Ilford XP-2 Super, ISO 800

Of course such considerations are of not much consequence with digital cameras.  Here we can change sensitivity setting at will, although the greater noise at relatively high settings, which does look very much like film grain, is something to consider.  Thus I still follow my old habit of using relatively low ISO settings in order to get the most out of my cameras and lenses.  With my digital cameras that generally is ISO 100 or 200.

Available light photography is considered by most as photography under relatively low light levels.  This naturally can result in fairly slow shutter speeds unless higher sensitivity settings are utilized.  Of course a tripod can be of great help when slow shutter speeds are necessary, although no tripod can overcome the need for faster shutter speeds with fast moving subjects.  I also consider a tripod very restrictive in the way I can use a camera.  I much prefer to use my cameras hand held.

Cindy Hillger, Don Shelby
Live Newscast WCCO TV Minneapolis
Leica M6, 50mm f/2 Summicron-M
Ilford XP-2 Super, ISO 800

For that reason I still employ the old formula that I learned in the film days, to use as the slowest shutter speed a setting which is the equivalent of the focal length of the lens.  With other words, the slowest shutter speed that the average person can safely hand hold with a 50mm lens is 1/50 (1/60) sec.  Subsequently, 1/250 sec would be the slowest with a 250mm lens, 1/30 sec with a 28mm etc.  This approach has served me well over the years. 

Would higher ISO settings be of an advantage?  Of course!  As long as the image quality does not substantially deteriorate, why not?  But I would not make high ISO capabilities a major factor when deciding on a camera.  As long as my camera equipment offers good performance at ISO 1600 or 3200, I feel unrestricted.

Finally, I must comment on another advantage of digital cameras.  With relatively long exposure times, they don’t display reciprocity failure.  This is a definite problem with most films and, unfortunately, it differs from film to film.  As a rule of thumb, we can safely assume that reciprocity failure is of no consequence with exposure times up to one second.  After that the exposure response is not linear anymore and films require an increase in exposure.  Unfortunately, there is little choice than to consult the reciprocity information that should accompany the film.

Don Stolz
Old Log Theater, Excelsior, Minnesota
Leica M6, 50mm f/2 Summicron
Ilford XP-2 Super, ISO 800

All in all, photography in low light is no problem, as long as we take the necessary measures to overcome the problems associated with this.  Digital photography has the added advantage of allowing to experiment without adding to the cost of film and processing.  The results can be outstanding photographs, much beyond the usual daylight snapshots.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Some Leica oriented blogs and websites seem to be an irresistible magnet for the Leica haters.  The moment a new post appears, they come out in droves, only to spew forth their venom.  I have decided to report on this here from time to time.  This is not an attempt to whitewash any valid criticism, however, it is meant to highlight how ridiculous some of these comments are.

A few days ago one of the Leica blogs reported on the Leica Gallery in Salzburg showing works by Leica photographer and Jazz trumpeter Till Bronner.  Because of the severe negativity of the comments accompanying this article, I will refrain from posting a link. 

The article reported about the exhibition and accompanied it with one of Bonner’s photographs.

 Leica Gallery Salzburg shows works by Till Bronner Leica Gallery Salzburg shows works by the photographer and jazz trumpeter Till Bronner

Here are some of the comments:

Oh come on leica, what a joke! another wannabe photographer. give your camera to a true pro photographer and not to musicians who wear your cameras like rolex.

That title photo is really disturbing.

Agreed. Looks like an assh*le. Literally.

Oh yes brother, that's exactly what came to my mind as soon as I saw it.

Yeah except that 'disturbing' would be an's gross...ugh.
The comments below about assh*le is spot on.
What were they thinking?

I'm usually much too much a gentleman to comment on one like this...but it does remind me of the view of the south end of a north bound Pug.

It takes one to know one, I guess.

One might argue that these comments are in regard to the photo, that they have nothing to do with Leica as such.  However, I have been following the comments of this and many other posts on a regular basis.  They usually accompany articles about Leicas.  While these comments were mostly in regard to the photograph, they are generally just as severe when it comes to the Leica company and cameras.  For instance, a while ago several Nikon owners criticized Leica for making some of their equipment in their plant in Portugal instead of in Germany.  One even went as far as saying that all Leica equipment is made in Portugal and that they package and ship it from Germany in order to be able to say that it is made in Germany.  They totally ignored the fact that much of their camera equipment is not made in Japan but elsewhere, like China and Laos.  When it comes to Nikon and Canon equipment, the comments usually are much more professional and on topic.

I can’t figure out why people need to be so hateful about the Leica.  After all, many of their cameras of choice are made by a company that that got its initial impetus because of the Leica in the first place.  To me it shows a good dose of an inferiority complex that seems to create the need for these negative comments.  What do you think?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


A while ago we published an article about the “BIGGEST ENLARGEMENT FROM 35mm”
(  That made me think what the largest picture ever taken might be.  A little research rendered the following result:

The largest picture ever was made with what is certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest camera in existence.  It is basically an old hangar building at the disused El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Southern California, which has been made light tight to ensure no light gets in except through a little pinhole in one side of the hangar. To create the image which is described as "The Great Picture", a huge sheet of made-to-order canvas was suspended inside the hangar and coated with 80 liters of a liquid photo emulsion made by Liquid Light.  This made the entire canvas photosensitive.

The Great Picture Hangar

The exposure time of the world's largest camera was set to approximately 35 minutes, after which the canvas was developed in a pool of 2300 liters of developer.  Needless to say, photography at this scale does not come cheap!  The world's largest photo was 313 square meters (3375 square feet) in size.  That compares to a standard 35mm film frame of 24 x 35 millimeters, which equals 8.64 square centimeters, or 0.00864 square meters.

While this is certainly a very impressive achievement, the camera is definitely quite limited in terms of subject matter.

In 1900, the Chicago & Alton Railway decided that they wanted a mural of their Alton Limited train to hang on the wall of their headquarters.  There was no suitable enlarging equipment available at this time.  Virtually all photographs were contact printed, meaning that the negative needed to be of the size of the final print.  To solve this problem, they hired the J. A. Anderson Company of Chicago to build what turned out to be the largest, portable camera ever.  The camera weighed 900 pounds and was designed to take photographs on an 8 x 4.5 foot photographic plate, which added another 500 pounds to the weight of the camera.  An exposure time of 2 ½ minutes was necessary to take the photograph.  This was the largest photograph ever until “The Great Picture” was taken many years later.

The Alton Limited train picture taken with the Mammoth Camera

 What does this have to do with Leica?  Basically nothing, but it is interesting to see what efforts have been taken by some to go into the opposite direction of Oskar Barnack when he designed the Leica.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Over the years, a myriad of various accessories have been made for the Leica, not just by Leica, but other companies as well.  Many of them were made to offer more accurate focusing for the Leica prior to a built-in rangefinder.  The accessory FODIS rangefinder was a popular accessory that fit onto the accessory shoe of the camera.  Another was the PLOOT, a reflex housing which, when added to the camera, offered accurate focusing for close up and long telephoto work by essentially converting the camera to a single lens reflex.

One such focusing aid was the Flexameter.  It too fit onto the accessory shoe of the camera.  Unlike a rangefinder, the Flexometer utilized a 50mm Kühn-Rekatar f/2.8 lens which projected an image onto a ground glass where it could be focused.  A flip up magnifier allowed for more accurate focusing.  The subject distance was then read off the lens and transferred to the camera lens.  The Flexameter essentially converted the camera to a twin lens reflex design.

Flexameter on Leica IIIg

Top view with focusing magnifier folded up

Flexameter with original packaging

The Flexameter was made in Wetzlar by the company of Kühn.  The name will be familiar to many that are interested in the history of the Leica.  Frau Dr. Elsie Kühn-Leitz was the sister of Ernst Leitz II.  Her husband Kurt Kühn established a small company in Wetzlar for the manufacture of camera accessories, one of which was the Flexameter in the mid 1930s.  Of course cameras other than Leica could be used with the Flexameter also, but it was mostly sold to be used with Leica cameras.

Today the Flexameter is a rather rare collector’s item with only a few left.  It is definitely one of the more unique accessories for the Leica cameras.  Even though it was made by a company other than Leitz, its uniqueness is further underscored by the connection to the Leitz family and the Leica camera.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Several new aftermarket accessories for Leica cameras have reached the market.  These are not cheap items, but very well made pieces of equipment, worthy to be used on Leica cameras.

The first is a right angle finder for the Leica S line of cameras available from Dale Photo and Digital (

The finder is made from solid metal by M. Leibfritz in Germany. The product description on Dale Photo's site sums it up well:

A new product manufactured by M. Leibfritz in Germany, the Leica S Right Angle Finder mounts to your Leica S or Leica S2 camera to provide right-angle viewing, ideal for macro photography or low-mounted camera work. This product also features a built-in 2x magnifier; flip a switch to toggle between 1x and 2x magnification.

The finder rotates 360 degrees to make for easy viewing no matter how your camera is positioned, and the 2x magnification allows for precise focus adjustment. Additionally, the finder has a built-in focusing mechanism to account for users who need diopter adjustment.

The viewfinder is made from solid metal and has a removable rubber eyecup. It attaches to the camera via the hot shoe; please be aware that with the use of this finder, hot-shoe mounted accessories such as a flash or radio trigger cannot be used.

Next is the newly released base, L-plate and grip for the Leica M camera.offered by Really Right Stuff ( as reported by Leica Rumors ( 

RRS plate for Leica M 240 550x550 New Leica M 240 accessories: RRS plate, Thumbs Up and more

RRS writes:

Remove the base of your Leica M240 and completely replace it with our elegant base that is CNC machined from T6061 aluminum. With integral dovetails, this base allows you to mount your camera directly into a Really Right Stuff quick-release clamp. Far more robust than the stock base, our replacement base delivers a better fit with tighter tolerances. And since you need to remove the base to access the battery and card on this model, we've developed a completely new attachment system that is tool-less. Just turn the built in wingnut closure to secure the base in place (base attaches to camera's integral tripod socket).

Next is the new Thumbs Up EP-10S, also for the new Leica M camera made by Match Technical (

Thumbs Up EP 10S for Leica M 2401 550x456 New Leica M 240 accessories: RRS plate, Thumbs Up and more

Thumbs Up EP 10S for Leica M 240 2 550x440 New Leica M 240 accessories: RRS plate, Thumbs Up and more

Thumbs Up EP 10S for Leica M 240 550x440 New Leica M 240 accessories: RRS plate, Thumbs Up and more

HRR Manufaktur ( of Germany is offering a very well made soft release that screws into the cable release socket of Leica (and other) cameras.

HRR Manufaktur soft release button 550x366 New Leica M 240 accessories: RRS plate, Thumbs Up and more

Finally, Luigi ( is offering a new line of cases for the Leica M

Luigi cases for Leica M 240 New Leica M 240 accessories: RRS plate, Thumbs Up and more