Welcome to Leica
Welcome to Leica! Normally in my other fast-start classes I have short section on the basics of photography, but I figured that the Leica users probably already know the basics of photography, so I completely dropped it from my class. But there are people who are new to Leica, and I wanna to give them a little head's up as to what they are getting into when they are getting involved with a Leica camera. I'd like to do the abbreviated version of Leica history. There's a lot of great information out there about the full history of the company and all the models. We're gonna go through some of the quick highlights here. Originally the camera company wasn't a camera company, it was a microscope company that started in 1849 with Carl Kellner. He hired somebody by the name of Ernest Leitz who later took over the company and renamed it Ernest Leitz. And, the GMBH is the German name for company or it's what they use after their company names. And so he became very instrumental going forward be...
cause it was known as the Leitz Company, and they're still Leitz items out there. Well, he hired somebody by the name of Oskar Barnack and they were working with some movie film and products for the movie industry, and in order to get movie film properly exposed, he wanted to have a small camera that could expose movie film out in the field to test exposures. Now these movie cameras had fairly small frames, but they used 35 millimeter film that ran vertically, and they shot a horizontal image in them. And they used standard Kodak perforations, and it was a 24 by 18 image frame for this movie format. And so he says "Well, you know, we could make a pretty good "still camera, if we double up the image area, "but we don't want a really tall image, "so what we should do, we should take the film, "and we should run it horizontally, "and use the area of two different individual frames, "so how we have a little bit larger area, a 24 by 36," and this is the birth of the 35 millimeter still frame that is still in wide use today in digital cameras known as a full-frame sensor. And so this is where it started way back when about a hundred years ago. So, they eventually became the Leica Company, and that is from the Leitz Camera. They were making cameras at Leitz, and so they decided to spin that off into their own division, and so that is where we get the name, Leica. It's the Leitz Camera. Now, things were moving a little bit more slowly in the development process. There's a lot of events going on over in Europe about this time frame, and it wasn't until that they actually got their first camera out there. And so this one has interchangeable lenses. It uses the old Leica screw mount, and you can still find products around that use this Leica screw mount system. The next version of this had a built-in range finder so that you could actually know exactly what you were pointing your camera at, and you could focus with it as well. 1954 is very important for anyone who owns an M camera. The M3 debuted and this was a bayonet-style lens mount that is the same that is on the current Leica M here. And, this was a very revolutionary camera at the time, in some ways. It was a very popular camera. They sold a lot of these models. It is strange that they began with the M3. Why didn't they begin with the M1? Well, M3 had three frame lines in the viewfinder, the 50, the 75, and the 90, and you were able to switch lenses and have different viewfinder lines for each of those different focal lengths. They came out with the M2 and the M which were kind of stripped down versions of it, but they continued on developing the M line, but they also have several other lines of cameras as well. So for instance, in 1964, they have the Leica Flex which is an SLR camera, so for many, many years, they had an SLR camera, and they had a mirrorless camera. They didn't call it a mirrorless camera then, it was a rangefinder camera, so they had parallel lines of cameras which is important because we see that again today, but in a different way. In 2006, they brought out the first digital, the M8, and they were a company that was kind of teetering on the role of going out of business and bankruptcy, but they really were able to pull things around, and start producing digital cameras in mass that really met the modern needs with keeping some of that classic styling in operation. So, in the world today, right now in the M system, we wanna go back to the beginning, it was the M3 and then the 2 and the which were kind of junior versions. And then we had succeeding models with higher and higher numbers. Now these are all the film cameras. When we go to M8, we switch over to the digital cameras. The M (type 240), and the time that I am recording this class, they have introduced the M10 camera as well. But in here, we're talking about the M, also known as the M (type 240) or the M 240. Now with each of these models, they are often making variations on them. And so, in here you'll find that there are lots of other models. We're not gonna go into the detail of the history of all these different models. They're wonderful, but there are often many different versions of it. So, Leica today, the M10 is the most current camera. The M (Type 240) is still being sold. It's still a very popular camera, and there are many different versions of this. The M-P they've taken off the red dot, they've put on a sapphire glass on the glass on the back. They put a little bit more RAM memory in there. They have a basic model that doesn't have live view, a few less features. They have a version of it that has no display on the back of the camera. They have a black and white model as well, and these were all based off of the M (Type 240). There is a completely separate system that also is a full-frame sensor, the SL system, and they're developing new lenses that are coming out for this. This is a rather, new, more modern, mirrorless camera. These are both mirrorless cameras, but this has the rangefinder aspect to it. So it is different in that regard. They also have a medium format camera, the S, and type 007, so if you want something for commercial and product photography, they do have a larger resolution and great detail. They do have a couple of smaller cameras which are very good for travel photography. The TL, the TL2, and the CL, these have interchangeable lenses, and of course, they are still manufacturing film cameras, M7, MP, and the MA. Still offer some new options for those of you shooting film and like that classic look and style of the film camera. One of the big differences between these cameras is the type of sensor that they are using in there. And so this is using what is modernly known as a full-frame sensor. They have the CL which is using the crop-frame APSC sensor in it. Now in the point and shoot world, which means you can't change the lenses on these final two cameras, the D-Lux and the V-Lux series, they're gonna be using a Four Thirds or 1 inch sensor. And then of course, they have the medium format sensor which is larger than all of those. So Leica is working with more different sensor sizes than I think any other camera company out there. They are kind of covering all their bases, if you will. Now within each of these systems, they're gonna have different unique sets of lenses. So with this camera they're gonna have about 29 different lenses. The S mount, you're gonna have about 16 different lenses. On the smaller TL lenses, you're gonna have just a few lenses down here and they have two full-frame mirrorless cameras, you can say. The SL system is a more modern auto-focus option with image stabilization, shooting movies, is a very, very modern camera, but there are those who like a classic look, styling, and interaction with using a rangefinder camera, so that's what we're gonna be focusing on here. But Leica does have a wide variety of products out there, depending on your needs. So they've made the M (Type 240) in many different styles. And so as I've mentioned, they have the M-P which is quote on quote their "professional model" and they've done this with a lot of the versions in the past and they've made some subtle little changes for it just to kind of have a tweaked version of this with a few different things. So they added the frame preview lever, they put on a slightly quieter shutter in this case, and they've moved some of the script and the logoing around on it, so it's a little bit more discreet. The M (Type 262) is one where they've taken off a few of the features. And I suppose I can mention in here the whole naming protocol, because we did go from M3, 2, 1, to the 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and everyone was expecting this to be called the M 10. And, at the time, some people did call it the M because it's kinda the 10th main one in the line, but they didn't want to continue on that line up, and my theory on it, and I have no proof on this, is that they saw what was coming, which is the M13, and nobody has a camera called number 13. There are no cameras that I've ever heard of that has as the main, primary number of the camera. And so I think they wanted to move away from that, and they were just gonna call it the "M", and then they were gonna have different versions of it. The problem was that everyone just said it's the M 240, and that wasn't was what their intention was. And so they went back to calling things the M10 on so forth. And so that's why we have these type numbers in here. They do make a special model, the monochrome, that does not have the AA filter, the bayer filter in front. It's got a special sensor in there, and does an excellent job on black and whites, and so that's been a favorite of a lot of Leica shooters because there's a lot of people who shoot Leica that like shooting black and white. And then the final M-D one is one of the most unusual ones. It's one that doesn't have a display on the back of the camera. So they've really stripped that camera down to the very, very basics, and there is a whole fan-base that enjoys that style of camera. And it's just something that's a little bit different. So, one of the things you'll know about Leica is that they love to make variations on a theme. And so they've taken this 240 camera, and have tweaked it in many, many different ways. They're making special models, limited edition models, all of the time. They have many different Leica stores around the world, and sometime they'll make a special camera for just one store. And, they'll do special coloring, engravings, or some other changes to it, and so there are a lot of different, unique Leicas. And so, there's a whole interesting topic of unique Leica's and Leica's in auction and so forth. We're not gonna get into it. We just wanted to touch and talk about it a little bit. There's also the ala-carte option where you can go in and design your own camera. They give you a number of different parameters about the way different colors are on the camera, the types of coatings and surfaces you have, some of the dials and buttons can be changed as well, and so you can create your own unique camera. All of these cameras and the cameras in the previous slide are basically all of the ones we're gonna be talking about. I'm gonna be talking about what I call "The king of the "family", the kind of the first one to come along, and then they have derivatives from this. And so all of them are based off of this, usually with something stripped away a little bit or in a few cases they've added a little something to make it a special and unique model. One of things you'll know about Leica, is that they have a lot of unique names for their lenses. It's based on the maximum aperture of the lens. And so, Noctilux, nocturnal, it's very good under low light. These are lenses that have a maximum aperture of 0.95 to 1.25. Summilux, lux still very fast here is a 1.4 maximum aperture lens. The Summicron's are the F2s, the Summarit's are 2.4s, Summaron's are 5.6, Lmar's are usually 3.4 to 4.0. And so you'll see these names, they are trademark names that Leica uses, and sometimes I'll use them or sometimes I'll just say that they're F2s, it all means the same thing. It's their maximum aperture. So the rangefinder design is kind of unique to these cameras for sure. And this is where the M comes from in the whole M system. It is a German word for combining the rangefinder and the viewfinder, so we have a viewfinder that we're looking through, but we also have a rangefinder that is helping us with focus. So the way that this works is that you're looking through the viewfinder, light's coming into the viewfinder so that you can see what's going on, but there is also light coming into the rangefinder window. And it's being bounced by a mirror over to the main window and creating a double image that will enable you to easily focus and get the sharpest, fastest, manual focus of any system out there. Now of course, that is not the light that is going into the lens to record the image, but for focusing accuracy it is fantastic. For framing accuracy, it's close, but it can be a little bit off when using close up lenses or just focusing close up or using longer telephoto lenses. So, when you look through the viewfinder, you're gonna get a double image and it's gonna assist you in focusing as I will show you in just a moment here. The lens is on a separate access, so you gotta be careful with those close up and telephoto lenses. But the beauty is that the viewfinder is always bright, is always in focus, and it's always available, even if the camera is turned off. And so, you can just pick the viewfinder up and you can have a great view of what your subject is and is doing. So this rangefinder system is exceptionally accurate. It's a very, very good system. It's been developed with close to a hundred years with them, and it is a great way of determining the exact distance of your subject. So, in your lenses as you focus, there's gonna be a focusing mechanism in the back of the lens that moves back and forth that connects up to the focusing connection on the lens. And there's a cam in there that's gonna work with the rangefinder system, and so it is a very, very accurate manual focusing system. When you look through the viewfinder, this is the representation of what you're going to see. Your gonna see frame lines for the image that your shooting with. You'll actually see two frame lines which I will talk about more in a second. But you'll see the frame lines that you are working with for that particular camera and in the middle, you're gonna see a bright patch, and this is your focusing area. What you wanna do, you wanna look for a mis-matched image in here, because that means you are not focused correctly. So you would turn your lens back and forth so that the double image would become one image. And this is something that'll be very, very easy to do with vertical line subjects. And so what you wanna do is adjust your lens back and forth so that you have one continuous line through the image, and through the focusing patch for sharpest focus. Now there are cases where you don't have any good vertical lines to shoot with. And so if you have a good horizontal line, well all you have to do is turn the camera vertically and you can focus in that case and line up your horizontal lines, in this case, they're vertical going through the frame, and it's the same as focusing. And so, it's a very simple system, it's very quick, and easy to use. And so it's a unique system to the Leica, so and mastering that is part of mastering the Leica camera.