April 1, 2021, tomorrow, Leica raises the prices on most of its digital cameras, including mine. This post offers earnest appreciation for making what I own more valuable. I don’t plan on selling anything, but […]
One year and a few days after receiving Leica Q2, I am finally writing a review, with emphasis on benefits—not features, although both are related. Don’t confuse the two as being the same. My favorite analogy: The holder that wraps around your take-out cup of hot coffee is a feature. Protecting your hand from being burned is the benefit. See the difference? That’s where my 12-month take will focus.
Meanwhile, I oddly added another member of the Q family to my stable of (now) two cameras. Leica Q2 Monochrom arrived on Dec. 28, 2020. Some people will wonder why, when the other model shoots color and black and white. The difference for me is RAW, photo sharpness, and exceptional low-light performance. I have plans for the all-in-one that will be obvious over time.
Lesson learned: Sigma makes cameras that are innovative but idiosyncratic. As I have often expressed, balance is the hallmark of good product design—whether the physical handing, how features/benefits mesh together, or, most often, combination of both characteristics. For me as an arguably amateur photographer, Sigma DP1 and DP2s didn’t measure up, and I parted with both. Now, many years later, the company’s marvelous full-frame shooter joins them. I ended the decade by sending back Sigma fp and its accessories for refund. Strike three!
Perhaps if I were a videographer, Sigma fp would be perfect. It is tiny, shoots hours of uninterrupted footage, and can be rigged by expansion to need. As a still photographic tool, the fp charms by capturing photos with rich colors and crisp contrast from a 35mm sensor packed into the smallest interchangeable body available anywhere. The rear controls are conveniently and intelligently laid out, particularly those placed below the LCD screen. But, and here it comes, the shooting experience—at least in my hands—disappoints. Like its predecessors, Sigma fp is (being polite) somewhat unbalanced, with respect to end-user benefits and overall device handling.
Torrential rains and overly-gusty winds pelt San Diego this Thanksgiving Day. I mark the moment with the first photo from Sigma fp and 45mm F2.8 DG DN | C lens. The last letter refers to “Contemporary”. The kit arrived last week, but I waited to take the first shot—so that it would be memorable, which it’s not. I put the quest for the Holy photo behind me and set instead to practical matters.
The Featured Image is a nearly 100-percent crop of the companion pic. The water droplets on my home office window serve as a quick test of the fp’s autofocus capabilities and image quality—how much detail is revealed. The Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, which I sold over the weekend, spoiled me with respect to IQ. The Sigma shooter satisfies so far—not that one pic is much of a measure. But, hey, miniature palm trees within the droplets encourage me.
Yesterday, I sold my medium-format camera to a fascinating Millennial living in Oceanside, Calif., where we met at his family’s small business to complete the transaction, which included my receiving a 2020 wall calendar with illustrative photos that he had taken (oh, they’re impressive). Yep. My Fujifilm GFX 50R is gone.
I had considered letting go the digicam for some time, reluctantly. While the 50R’s image quality is magnificent, the massive camera and attached Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens often scares off animals or intimidates people (e.g., I get suspicious reactions). Time had long-ago come to go discreet, for the street.
I never expected to part with Leica M10 six months after acquiring it. But such was the circumstance on Oct. 5, 2018. So shocking the suddenness, I waited three months to explain. The camera was my dream shooter—a magnificent manual rangefinder that fit my personality. Problem: Too often I couldn’t focus fast enough, or with appropriate precision. Perhaps another six months of use and practice would have made perfect.
But my wife and I were looking at possibly moving from San Diego to Julian, Calif. So serious our intention that we had put down an offer on a house, where we went for formal inspection that fine Fall Friday. Thinking about living in the mountains in nature, I couldn’t imagine using the M10. For the wild woods, autofocus and telephoto lens would be better. So I had posted the camera for sale, with intention of replacing it with a Fujifilm mirrorless.
Yesterday, before 10 a.m. PST, UPS delivered a package from Leica Store Miami containing the M (Typ 262) digital camera, Summarit-M 50mm f/2.4 lens, limited-edition Oberwerth bag, and two SD card holders—one black, the other cognac. My main interest is the rangefinder and 50mm glass. The Oberwerth Set, if you can still find it, is entry into the M system for essentially the lens free with cost of the camera. The Miami shop sent the last kit available, at least presently.
With no immediate plans to part with my beloved Leica Q, I will expand my photographic horizons by reducing technology. While the M262 is full frame, the camera also is in many respects no frills. There is no autofocus, live view, wired ports, or wireless connectivity. I’ll be screwing off the bottom plate to remove the storage card to transfer photos to my MacBook Pro. The menu system is two main pages plus one. The M262 is all about manual settings from dials, except ISO, which I typically leave on auto anyway.
It’s beautiful but bigger than it looks. I ordered and returned the Bolton Street this week, fulfilled by Amazon from one of its retailer partners. Words cannot express how much I wanted to keep the backpack. The craftsmanship is fine art, attention to detail is finer still, and quality of materials is outstanding. But the thang doesn’t fit my digital lifestyle or my back. Depth is the problem.
My story starts on July 9, 2015, when I walked out of Best Buy with a ridiculously fantastic deal: Fujifilm X-T1 kit body and 18-55mm lens, discounted $250, bundled with the XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS for another $100. The second lens alone retails for $699. My previous digicam, the Fuji X100T, is so compact that I didn’t use backpack or other carryall. But interchangeable lens camera changes everything, so I started looking for an appropriate backpack.
Someone please explain the mysteries of retail marketing and sales, because they baffle me. Last week, I quite unexpectedly purchased the Fujifilm X-T1, which got clumsy break-in during San Diego Comic-Con 2015. The story I tell is true, a point necessary to emphasize because I wouldn’t believe it if not for my real-life experience.
Last November, I asked: “Fujifilm X100T or X-T1?” After making comparisons, seriously evaluating my budget, contemplating my past experience using the X100, and considering the benefits of nearly-silent leaf shutter and ND filter to compensate for the Southern California sun, I chose the fixed-lens camera. Besides, I have used only mirrorless digicams since Sigma DP1 in early 2008 and, with brief Olympus PEN sojourn, only non-interchangeable lens shooters.