Welcome to Leica
This is a section I call welcome to Leica. If you've seen some of my other fast start classes I do something called photo basics. And I thought that most Leica users probably don't need little tips on photo basics. But there are people who've been in photography for awhile that are new to Leica. New to owning Leica. So I just kind of wanted to go through, a little bit about Leica, before we dive in too far into the camera. So, this is the abbreviated version of Leica history. There's a lot of great resources online. Videos, PDF's, websites that go into the full Leica history of the company and the models that they produce. This is the two minute version of it if you will. The company originally started in 1849. Carl Kellner, founded a microscope company, and he called it The Optical Institute and so it had nothing to do with cameras especially a camera like this. This is a very different optical company in Germany. He hired somebody by the name of Ernest Leitz who kind of worked his wa...
y up through the ranks of the company. Eventually becoming the president of the company and changed the name to the Ernest Leitz Company. The GmbH is how they name companies in Germany. And then Ernest Leitz hired somebody by the name of Oskar Barnack who became very influential and important later on in the company's history. And they were working on movie films and different optical devices for movie cameras. And they needed a camera to shoot still photos to test exposure and so he was designing these prototypes of a very small camera that could utilize movie film. Now this is where the invention of 35 millimeter film and the 35 millimeter frame and the full frame that we currently talk about in the digital world comes from. So there was this movie film that was 35 millimeters wide and had these horizontal frames that they would shoot movies through. And they used Kodak standard perforation so that they would fit in a variety of devices that could drive the film. And so this was the size of movie film. Now, they wanted to get the largest image size possible out of this particular film and this was still pretty small in those days. It was pretty grainy. They didn't have a lot of great film technology back in those days. And so they wanted to make it a little bit larger. So he thought well if I ran the film sideways and ran it across two full frames, I would get a fairly large image area for a small camera. And this is the birth of the standard 35 millimeter still frame which is 24 millimeters by 36 millimeters in size. So eventually, the camera became, Leitz Camera became Leica Cameras. Because the Leitz Company was producing cameras and that's how we get the name Leica. So it was a special division especially devoted to building cameras. Now it took 'em quite awhile. There was a lot of things going on in Europe at this time. Development was a little bit slower than it is in modern times. And it wasn't until 1930 they came out with their first camera. And it had interchangeable lenses. It had no viewfinder. But it did have the M-39 screw mount lenses which you can still use with adapters on modern cameras. 1932 they came out with the Leica II and this one had a built in rangefinder so you could actually know what you were focused on and what you were pointed at. And so it made things a little bit easier to work with for the average consumer. 1954 is a hallmark year for the rangefinder fan from Leica of course because that is when their M-mount, this is there M-mount that they still have on their cameras today. And you can use lenses back to with only a few exceptions in there. And so the M-3, this M series, we'll talk about here in a second was the number three. They started with the number three which seems strange and that's because it had three frame lines in the viewfinder. If I recall correctly it had the 50 the 75 and the 90. It had one of the largest viewfinders and this camera sold quite well. There were a lot of these models made. You can find them very easily or at least pretty easily on the used market. And there's a lot of Leica fans that still covet and love this more than any other Leica that has been made. They have been making a wide variety of different products over the years and you'll see their current spread of different products they have here in just a moment. But they had a whole SLR series for instance that ran parallel to their rangefinder series. So they had two cameras that had the same image size and used completely different sets of lenses to address different types of photographers and different types of needs. They finally got into digital in with the M8 digital rangefinder. And they tried to incorporate as much of the traditional Leica M camera as that as possible. And since then they've been going through a number of iterations improving on each generation of the camera. If we were to look just at the M system, as I mentioned, it started back with the M and then they made junior models. So they kinda went down in numbers to the M2 and the M1, slowly stripping off additional features to be able to sell the camera at a lower price. And then they came up with successors of the M4, M5, M6. And then once again they went digital with the M8, M9. The M Typ 240. A little naming change but they went back on that to the M10 which is where we are today. Now with the modern cameras, what they've been doing is they've been making a lot of variations. And actually they've been doing this for quite some time. And so you'll see what they've done is they've taken any particular model, and they've taken off or they've added or they've made some changes to it to get a derivative model of that. At the time that I am recording this class, the M10 is unique. There are no derivatives of this, but anyone who knows Leica knows that they're gonna come out with some derivatives of this and it's something that we can fully expect in the future. And I imagine those will have, either a few less features or a few more. But for the most part, the main components and operation of the camera will be virtually identical. The way Leica is today in their collection of cameras, we do have the M10 which is of course what we're gonna be talking about. The predecessor to this is the M Typ 240, a very good camera. Actually has some more features in some ways. Less in others. But still being currently made. The M-P which is their professional version, which actually has a little less logos on it. Little bit more discreet. They've made a few minor changes in there I'll talk more about in a moment. But it's just a slight derivative. They have the 262 which has taken off the live view and a number of other features to simplify the camera a little bit. So it can be sold for a little bit lower price. They have an M-D which is a really unusual camera 'cause they've taken off the LCD on the back of the camera to simplify the process even more. You'll find that Leica fans love simplicity so they're really pushing the boundaries of how simple and basic they can make a camera in some ways. They've taken out the color and gone with a completely monochrome version. And, all of these M-D's, the M 262, these are all based off of the M Typ 240 camera and they're derivatives of that. Now they do have a different full frame system that uses auto focus and has stabilization available to it. The SL system. And so it's kind of interesting having two cameras. Full frame. They are both arguably mirrorless cameras, but they are designed for different types of users. And this SL system, at this point in time is still fairly new. There's not many lenses. But it's a slowly growing system. To address some of the higher end users they do have a medium format camera. Their S series camera. And so if you want a larger sensor size, that is available as well. They do make smaller sensor sizes as well with interchangeable lenses like the TL2 and the CL. And these are all digital cameras. They also I believe are one of the few or the only companies making film cameras anymore. And so the M7 and the MP and the MA are all slightly different versions of film cameras. And so if you like shooting film you can share lenses back and forth. Digital in film with Leica very very easily. As you just saw in the last side there's a lot of different sensor sizes. So I just wanted to lay that out for you in one slide right here. And the M10 uses a full frame sensor. 24 by 36. The CL is using the APS-C which is a very common size these days. They do have a couple of smaller sizes in point and shoot cameras with no interchangeable lenses. And so the four thirds and the one inch censor do not have interchangeable lenses. And on the bigger side as I said before, there is the medium format camera that has an even larger sensor. Limited collections of lenses in those. And so that's one of the big things is how many different lenses are there? The M-Mount system has been around for a long time. And so there's a lot of lenses available new and certainly a lot of lenses available used for this. The medium format is a little bit more of a specialty system. Smaller collection of lenses here. Very high quality. But then, when we talk about Leica we're pretty much talking about high quality everywhere we talk. The smaller sensor the APS-C sensor, they are having few lenses out there. Not quite as many but really nice for some people who want a little bit more automation in a little bit smaller size. And this is where some people might get a little confused because they do have two full frame systems that have independent lenses. You can use the M Lenses on the SL with the appropriate adapter. Leica makes an adapter so that you could use that. Being that they are manual focused lenses they will be manual focus on whatever system you put them on. But it's a growing system. And I imagine that we will continue to see more of these lenses with the L-Mount that work on both the full frame and APS-C as we go forward. One of the things that is very unique about Leica is the terminology that they use, especially when it comes to their lenses. And so when they are referring to different series of lenses they're talking about the maximum aperture. And rather than using a number like f/2, they're using a word like Summicron or Summilux for 1.4 or Noctilux. And the definition of what each of these names means is honestly changing from time to time as they come out with new lenses that fit into various categories. And so, they will often talk about Summarit series when they could be talking about a 2.4 to 2.5 maximum aperture. And so sometimes out of simplicity I will just call 'em f/2's. I'm not trying to offend anybody. I know it's a Summacron. But this is something that you will see in the way that it's labeled and advertised and talked about. And these are trade marked terms so you won't see them being used by any other company out there. Now the M in the M series, comes from this German word, which might not pronounce to easily in English but Messsucher, is what it's called. And it is the combined rangefinder and viewfinder. And so in the top corner of the camera is your viewfinder where you get to view your image. Actually let me go to the next slide for this one. And so we have a viewfinder so that you can see where your subject is. You can get the camera pointed in the right direction. But for focusing, focusing can be done very very accurately if you can view your subject from two different positions. And so by using this rangefinder window, bouncing light over to the main window you get an overlapping image where you can easily focus. Which I will show you in just a moment. Now these viewing and focusing windows are different than where the picture is actually being taken. And so there is a bit of a parallax problem which can become magnified when you are shooting with telephoto and close up lenses. Now the viewfinder lines in the camera do adjust for distance and close up focusing. But they have a limitation as to how far they can go and so as I say macro focusing is a bit of a challenge as is working with strong telephoto lenses. Now there are ways around this, which we will talk about as we get into this class a little bit more often. So what's noticeable about this rangefinder system that is different than really pretty much any other camera out on the market is that you do get this double image in the viewfinder. And for being in the world of manual focus a rangefinder system is the simplest, the easiest and the fastest way to manually focus. It's very very easy to work with. And not having auto focus in this camera in my mind is not a big deal because it is so easy to work with, in a manual sense. The lens is gonna be on that separate axis so you have to be careful with close up and telephoto lenses of course. No one of the great things about this viewfinder is it's always on, it's always available, it's always bright, it's always in focus. And so you don't have to worry about anything else going on in the camera. You know you can always pick up the viewfinder and really work with it very very easily and very very quickly. So the rangefinder system as I mentioned before is measuring the distance to your subject through two different windows. And being able to do that in working with the lenses, with their focusing helocoid they're pushing on the cam in the back of the camera which is adjusting the viewfinder which makes the focusing very very easy. So when you are working with a rangefinder camera, like a Leica what's gonna happen is you're gonna look through the viewfinder, you're gonna see frame lines for the particular lens that you have chosen, you'll actually see two. I'll talk about this more in a bit. And then in the middle of the image you're gonna have a bright patch. And this is you're focusing area. And if it is misaligned you will see a double image. And what you are to do is to turn the lens so that you have one single solid image and then you know that your subject is in focus. This works particularly well with vertical lines. And so if you have a vertical line, you line up that vertical line and you are gonna be spot on perfect. Now one of the problems with this system, is if you don't have a nice real good vertical line right where you want to focus. And so there are a number of tricks. The easiest one is to turn the camera a bit or fully 90 degrees, and then you can focus your lens and clearly see perhaps with a horizontal line, what is correctly in focus. Justsimply line it up, and then turn it back, and you're properly focused exactly where you need to be. And so these are a few hints with working with the Leica M rangefinder.