Thursday, October 24, 2013


Today Leica Camera AG announced an addition to the lineup of the Leica D-Lux 6, a glossy finish black or silver version.  All features and pr4ices remain the same as with the other D-Lux models.

The Leica press release states:

Leica Camera expands the Leica D-LUX 6 family with the introduction of the Leica D-LUX 6 glossy black / silver color option. The D-LUX 6 glossy black / silver has a glossy black painted body and a silver painted lens. With this new color combination, Leica is also introducing a soft pouch in black Nappa leather which is easy to use and is based on the wrap-around concept. This new case can be used with any D-LUX 6 camera.

The Leica D-LUX 6 is one of the most popular cameras in Leica’s range of compact cameras and is known for its outstanding image quality. The camera will be available in December and is available to all Leica Stores, Boutiques, and dealers.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Much has been written about how the Leica came into existence with the first prototype, the Ur-Leica from 1913. However, the beginnings of 35mm photography as we know it today began at the Leitz company a few years before that.

The year was 1908 when Emil Mechau, a master mechanic, began work at Leitz. He had been working on a special motion picture projector design that eliminated the flicker of the common projectors at that time. His design replaced the typical frame by frame film transport by a claw with a prism which allowed a continuous, smooth running speed of the film. However, Zeiss in Jena, Mechau’s employer, showed no interest in his design and Emil Mechau contacted Leitz in Wetzlar. Leitz apparently was more farsighted and Mechau decided to move to Wetzlar.

In 1910 it became apparent that Leitz was in need of a master machinist in the microscope research department. Emil Mechau thought immediately of his friend Oskar Barnack at Zeiss and suggested him to the Leitz management. Leitz contacted Barnack on short order, but he was hesitant. Though he seemed dissatisfied with his work in Jena, he answered, “Surely it is not desirable for a company to hire a young employee who still has to familiarize himself with the new tasks and whose health compels him to take a leave of absence of one or two months every year, not to mention the fact that the costs of such cures would be too high for me as a private person.” The answer impressed Ernst Leitz and he decided to hire him in spite of his disclaimers. His assurances prevailed and on January 1, 1911, Barnack arrived in Wetzlar.

Barnack's letter to Leitz

As a master machinist one of Barnack’s first tasks was to design diamond lathes for the lens polishing department. Soon he started work on an all aluminum movie camera, a radical departure from the heavy wooden models of the time. This venture resulted from the company’s need for films to test Emil Mechau’s projector and Leitz did not see fit to buy a camera from another company.

Barnack himself made a number of movies with his new device and samples of his work still exist. Members of the LHSA (Leica Historical Society of America) had the pleasure to view several of these movies during their annual meeting in Minneapolis in 1980.

Barnack working with his motion picture camera

One of the problems of shooting movie film at the time was determining proper exposure. Photoelectric meters were not yet available and the camera operator always ran the risk of losing the whole 200 foot roll to improper lens settings. Barnack decided to build a small exposure testing device that would use short sections of movie stock.

Barnack’s “lightmeter” was equipped with a Zeiss Kino Tessar lens and had a fixed exposure time of 1/40 second, the common motion picture shutter speed. The quality of the results surprised him; in the motion picture film he had finally found a fine enough grain structure to yield good enlargements and he recalled his old idea of making a small negative camera. He decided to give the problem a good try and, in 1913, he finished his first real still camera. This camera, commonly referred to as the Ur-Leica, was the beginning of 35mm photography as we know it today, yet it might never have come into existence without the Barnack motion picture camera. Thus this camera deserves recognition as having been the impetus for Barnack to become the father of modern 35mm photography and the Leica.

The camera became part of the collection of cameras at Leitz. Unfortunately it was heavily damaged in a fire and it was left in its poor condition for many years.

It wasn’t until the mid 70s that anything was to be done about its poor condition.

I recently was contacted by a reader of this blog, Wilf James. He wrote:

“Thanks for your reply to my question about Barnack's movie camera that I posted today.

For many years (beginning in 1974) I worked for Derek Grossmark of Hove Camera Company who also published many of the early books on the history of the Leica camera. Grossmark started Hove Foto Books by publishing reprints of user manuals of early Leica cameras. The first major book was 'Leica The First Fifty Years by Gianni Rogliatti' as I am sure you are aware. My wife at the time was also involved in helping with the manuscript which had been translated from Italian, she has a credit in the first edition to that effect (Eileen James). It was the first time that someone had tried to publish a history of the the Leica camera. Many other books followed!

Wilf James at Hove Camera in the mid 70s

At that time the foremost expert on the repair and restoration of Leica cameras was Malcolm Taylor. He and I worked together for a number of years before he left Hove Camera Company to set up his own business. Sometime between 1976 / 78 after he had visited Wetzlar a number of times he was asked to do the restoration work on Barnack's movie camera. This was completely separate from his employment with Derek Grossmark. He did the work in the evenings and quite often I was in the darkroom next to his workshop as he did the restoration work. After the work was completed Malcolm and I took the cine camera down to the beach area of the town of Brighton in southern England, which was only a short walk from the camera store, and I shot a number of frames trying to recreate a similar image to the one with Oscar Barnack operating his cine camera. I'm not sure I quite managed recreate the image but somewhere in my negative archives are those shots created 35 years ago.”

The pictures shown here have never been published before

Malcolm Taylor with the Barnack cine camera at Brighton Beach

Wilf James later purchased Hove Camera from Derek Grossmark and was the owner of the company until he sold it several years ago. Wilf currently lives in France, running World Photo Adventure

Wilf was very helpful in contacting Malcolm Taylor and getting his permission for me to call him to get more information about the Barnack cine camera.

As Wilf mentioned in one of his emails, Malcolm Taylor had visited the Leitz company sometimes in the latter part of the 1970s. It was at that time that Ernst Leitz III asked him to try to restore the Barnack cine camera. This turned out to be substantially more complicated than he ever imagined.

The restored camera in Malcolm Taylor's workshop

There are no technical drawings or other information about this camera at all. All Taylor had to work with was the camera, nothing else. He explained that he carefully began to disassemble the camera, keeping exact records of the various parts and their location within the camera. As he explained, he tried to get “into Barnack’s head,” trying to think as he did to get a better understanding of how the camera worked.

The inner mechanism of the camera

Besides trying to figure out the operation of the camera, it was extremely difficult to work on the camera. Because of the fire, parts were so badly damaged that removing them easily caused additional damage. For instance, in some cases removing screws resulted often in the screws disintegrating, or the screw holes losing all of their threads.

Malcolm Taylor was very careful to keep the camera in as much of its original design as possible. This resulted in a lot of very detailed work. In cases where it was possible, he restored the deteriorated threads or, when impossible, enlarged and rethreaded many of the screw holes. This required also larger screws to be installed. In these cases he manufactured the larger screws, but was careful to keep the heads of the screws in their original size to assure that the outward appearance of the camera did not change.

He also found that Barnack had used paper shims in several places to keep the necessary tolerances.  To keep the camera as close to its original condition as possible, he replaced these deteriorated shims with new ones, of a similar paper stock.

The original film magazine of the camera was totally destroyed. Taylor had to make an entirely new one. Here he used some old pictures of the camera to manufacture a new magazine as close to the original as possible.

The new film magazine

Since Malcolm Taylor was only able to work on the camera outside his duties at Hove camera, it took a long time to finish the work. He doesn’t remember exactly how long, but the result is that Barnack’s cine camera is in good working condition once again.

To this day he is in awe of the design of the camera, and he feels very fortunate to essentially have become an extension of Barnack’s genius. As a matter of fact, this extended beyond the cine camera when Ernst Leitz III asked him to work on the Ur-Leica as well. For instance, he explained that the winding knob of the camera is not original. Taylor replaced it with a new one he manufactured. But that is a story for another time… 

These days Malcolm Taylor is enjoying his retirement in the England countryside.

Please note the Ur-Leica replica over Malcolm Taylor's shoulder

Special thanks to Wilf James for making the previously never published pictures of Barnack's camera available.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Represent your city for a chance to win this fantastic camera!

Experience the Leica X Vario in this creative challenge for 120 participants in 4 cities. The Leica X Vario City Challenge is a coast to coast Leica Camera photo competition with a twist! Leica fans in four cities— New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Miami—can compete for the chance to win a Leica X Vario among many other valuable prizes. 30 lucky participants in each city will be invited to shoot with a Leica X Vario during the City Challenge. Sign up quickly, be creative, select your favorite image, and submit it to the competition. #XVarioChallenge 

For more informations head over the Leica Blog.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Over the years I have witnesses many false claims made by camera manufacturers.  For instance, a few years ago Pentax claimed to be the first company to market a 50mm f/1.2 lens.  The fact that this claim was made after the original Leitz Noctilux 50mm f/1.2 had been discontinued already apparently didn’t matter.

Just this morning I came about another such false claim.  An internet site boldly announced that “Sony did it: A7 and A7r are the first modern full frame mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.”

Sony a7r full frame mirrorless cameras

That claim totally ignores the Leica M.  Just like the Sony A7 and A7r, the Leica M is a full frame camera and it has interchangeable lenses, with a whole load of additional features that Sony cannot match.  The fact that the Leica M was announced at the last Photokina in fall of 2012 apparently did not prevent the above claim.

Leica M with Leica Vario-Elmarit-R 70-180 f/2.8

Leica M with Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4

Leica M with Vario-Elmarit-R 28-90 f/2.8-4.5

Leica M with Canon lens

I thought there was supposed to be truth in advertising; that seems to be dependent on who is doing the advertising.  Some manufacturers and their cameras simply do look a lot better if they ignore Leica.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Leica M Firmware Version - Now Available

There is a new update for the Leica M that will improve performance of the camera. Version includes improvements in video quality, performance of white balance, stability using Live View, both with and without EVF-2, and minor bug fixes.

The update is in response to customer feedback that we got online. The new software has also been tested on users from Leica Forum who experienced the issues initially, and we send our thanks for their time and insight.

The firmware & installation instruction can be found on the Leica M webpage under “UPDATES.”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Today Leica Camera AG announced the following in their latest press release:

Leica Digital Rangefinder Camera designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson to join more than 40 rare and exceptional objects in (RED) Auction at Sotheby’s New York

Money raised through the (RED) Auction will go towards the fight against AIDS in Africa

A truly unique Leica Digital Rangefinder Camera designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson will join more than 40 other rare and diverse items in the (RED) Auction on November 23rd 2013. Based on the Leica M, the camera will be auctioned to raise money for The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Hundreds of models and prototypes were made in the development of The Leica M for (RED). The body and lens ultimately being machined from a custom engineered alloy. Presented with a perfectly textured anodized aluminum outer shell, the traditional leather waist, synonymous with Leica, has been replaced with a laser machined aluminum body. More than 21,000 hemispheres create a new and extraordinary aesthetic, while a total of 561 models and nearly 1000 prototype parts were made during the 85 days it took to create of this incredibly special camera. Delivering an uncompromised photography experience, the camera features a full-format CMOS sensor, high performance processor and new Leica APO-Summicron –M 50mm f/2 ASPH lens.

Jony said; “Leica represents the confluence of precision engineering, world-class lens technology and design principles which elevate both function and form. Designing this very special camera for the (RED) Auction has been a privilege for myself and Marc, and its sale on November 23rd will generate funds so critical to the fight to end AIDS.”

“With nearly 1000 prototype parts and more than 725 hours of manufacturing time, the winning bidder will own a piece of exquisite imaging history. The attention to each and every detail of this camera – from its outer shell to the magnificent optics – will delight a collector who appreciates the absolute pinnacle of craftsmanship”, said Marc Newson.

Dr. Andreas Kaufman, Chairman, Leica, said: “We loved the collaboration with Jony and Marc. Their design sets a new and unprecedented standard in modern photography. As the only one ever to be produced, and boasting their unrivalled aesthetic, this Leica camera will truly create its own historic category when it goes under the hammer this winter.”

The fundraising auction comes as the war against AIDS faces a critical battle: to deliver the first AIDS Free Generation since HIV was diagnosed 32 years ago. In 2003, new childhood HIV infections peaked with more than 1,500 babies born with HIV every day. For only 40 cents a day, mothers can be treated to prevent transmission to their unborn children, and just over 900 babies are now born daily with the virus. By 2015, that number can be almost zero.

The main differences to the conventional Leica M are:

>No hot shoe and no port for the electronic viewfinder
>No movie button
>No microphone connection
>The dial in back of the camera was replaced with an Up/Down button
>No cable release connection
>No integrated thumb rest

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

OCTOBER 8, 1913

This date has a special significance.  It was 100 years ago that my father was born.  He was a Meisterfotograf (Master Photographer), and it was through his influence and teaching that I set out on a career as a professional photographer myself.  To this day I am still influenced by what I learned from him.  Even this blog most likely would not have materialized without him.

Heinrich Richter
Photograph by daughter Marlies Amling

Thus I hope the readers of this blog will allow me this moment of personal reflections. 

My father always encouraged me to take pictures, to experiment, to find my own way.  For that reason he gave me my first camera, a Leica III with 50mm f/2 Summar lens on my 5th birthday.  This used to be his personal camera and some of the photographs in this article were taken with that camera.

He attended the Hamburg School of Photography.  After graduating he worked as an apprentice with several different photographers and finally earned his degree of Fotografenmeiser (master photographer).

St. Pauli Landungsbrücken Subway Station

Hamburg Harbor

Throughout his career, he never specialized, instead his work ranged from portraits and weddings, via architectural work to product photography.  That is something I am quite thankful for because it allowed me to do the same in my own life.

Unfortunately, cancer took him from us much too early.  I frequently reflect on the fact that I am right now at the same age as he was when he died, and on all the conversations we could have had, had he only lived longer.

My sister followed his footsteps also.  She is now a very successful photographer in Weilburg, Germany.  We often talk about what could have been.  For instance, our dad was an incredibly skillful retoucher.  It still amazes me what he was able to do with a brush and some retouching colors.  We will never know what he would have thought of Photoshop, but we are convinced he would have taken to it quite readily.  As a matter of fact, I am sure he would have readily embraced digital photography as well, but I am also convinced that he would have missed the skills that used to be necessary to be a successful professional photographer before the digital age.

I have several of his cameras in my own camera collection.  Just the other day I marveled once again at his Plaubel Peco Universal view camera and it occurred to me that the majority of photographers today probably have no clue how to operate such a piece of equipment.  Digital photography, combined with computers and software programs like Photoshop have virtually eliminated the need for such camera equipment.  Yet I am very thankful that I still learned to use cameras like it, as well as most of the other, “old” skills that were necessary to succeed in the field of professional photography.  For that I am forever thankful, dad.


Please make payment via PayPal to GMP Photography

Please make payment via PayPal to GMP Photography
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Please make payment via PayPal to GMP Photography
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Leica now offers new products in Lifestyle & Culture and Nature Observation.

The Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 and Leica Ultravid 10 x 25 are now also available as Leica Ultravid Colorline versions with coloured leather trim.

The Leica Trinovid 8x42 and Leica Trinovid 10x42 models are now on sale as sets including a Field Station outdoor belt-pack from the Lowepro Optics Series.

New: Leica Ultravid Colorline

High performance binoculars with a splash of color.

The Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 and Leica Ultravid 10 x 25 are now also available as Leica Ultravid Colorline versions with coloured leather trim.

The Leica Trinovid 8x42 and Leica Trinovid 10x42 models are now on sale as sets including a Field Station outdoor belt-pack from the Lowepro Optics Series.


Leica Sport Optics has expanded its Ultravid range of compact, high quality binoculars. In addition to the classic models with black leather trim, the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 and Leica Ultravid 10 x 25 are now also available as Leica Ultravid Colorline versions with colored leather trim. The choice of leather trim options embraces six different colors: Apple Green, Aztec Beige, Pigeon Blue, Capri Blue, Cherry Pink and Lemon Yellow. Elegantly styled and handy, and with superior optical performance, the compact binoculars of the Leica Ultravid Colorline collection are ideal accessories for all viewing opportunities when out and about.

The technical specifications of both Leica Ultravid Colorline models are identical to those of the standard models of the Leica Ultravid line.

New: Leica Trinovid & Lowepro Nature Observation Packages

High-performance binoculars as a set together with a versatile Lowepro outdoor belt-pack.


Leica Sport Optics presents a new option for Leica Trinovid binoculars. The Leica Trinovid 8x42 and Leica Trinovid 10x42 models are now on sale as sets including a Field Station outdoor belt-pack from the Lowepro Optics Series. The combination of a pair of Leica binoculars and a Lowepro belt-pack is the ideal choice of equipment for birding and observing wildlife. For beginners and experienced birders alike, potential buyers of one of these sets benefit in more ways than one: as the Lowepro belt-pack is included at no extra cost, they get more high quality equipment for the same price. The set price is namely exactly the same as the price of the Leica Trinovid binoculars alone.

The set comprising Leica Trinovid binoculars and a Lowepro Field Station outdoor belt-pack are on sale now at authorized Leica dealers.