Dear rangefinder enthusiasts and classic photographers,
Thank you for allowing us to share some news and random thoughts with you.
Leica M-D Typ 262: Look Ma, No Display!
I love rangefinder photography. Its very simplicity is the key to capturing the world in a direct, unimpeded manner. But appreciating simplicity has its limits. In the case of the Leica M Typ 262, that’s the feeling I get when pondering the premise behind this camera.
The purpose of photography is to create images that inspire and inform. For that, why not lean on all the strengths that should be engineered into a modern, digital rangefinder? I’m not talking about loading up an M with superfluous features, but unleashing its simplicity by providing helpful enhancements that enable the user to achieve superior photographs. If you truly believe there’s something inherently pure and better in owning a digital camera with the rear LCD screen replaced by a film-era ISO dial – so that one cannot check exposure, white balance and focus until it’s way too late to make a correction – the Leica M-D Typ 262 is the camera for you.
As for me, I rarely look at the monitor on either my M9 or Monochrom, but there are times when the success of a shoot is greatly aided by a quick glance followed by the requisite adjustment. Under those very difficult conditions, why would I forsake this clear edge available through digital photography?
A Leica M is a classic camera because it is all about taking better photographs. While I (Jean) argue that there is some merit in this attempt at building a hybrid M incorporating analog and digital elements, Daniel is much more cynical and holds firmly to the opinion that this particular camera is nothing more than a marketing department’s concoction with the removal and rejigging of essential features to ensure its status as a collectors’ special. Ouch!
Winter-Light Contest Redux
After appreciating the quality of photography, applauding the huge turnout at the event and being astounded by the large and enthusiastic participation in the first – we’re already looking forward to next year – Camtec Photo/Fujifilm Canada Winter-Light Contest, it’s impossible not to conclude that the state of photography in Montreal is undergoing a renaissance!
Congratulations to our winners, Line Lamarre (1st prize), Dominick Gravel (2nd prize) and Denis Rancourt (3rd prize). Heartfelt thanks to Mr. Billy Wong, Fujifilm Canada rep extraordinaire and the entire Fuji team for their support and continuing dedication to promoting photography north of the 49th.
Of Nature, History and Photography
Mari Hill Harpur is a naturalist/conservationist and a photographer with an amazing eye. Her recent book, Sea Winter Salmon, chronicles the history and events around the Rivière Saint-Jean on Quebec’s Lower North Shore; the efforts of her grandfather, railway baron James Hill, to keep that land pristine; and the study of the life cycle and migratory routes of the Atlantic salmon.
Mari is a great friend of the boutique who uniquely interprets our wilderness through black-and-white landscape and wildlife photography. We are proudly offering her book, Sea Winter Salmon, at our 26 Notre-Dame Est location and online.
Serendipitous Occurrences Half A World Away
Recently, I made good on a long-standing desire to visit Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun is that and so much more: beautiful nature, beautifully natured people, paradoxical and, at times, incomprehensible. Whether in villages or cities, people go about their lives in meticulous, diligent, but never predictable ways, governed by unique quirks that are both endearing and exasperating.
Photography, if not embraced, is certainly tolerated. Never did I face hostility when my camera was turned towards passersby or on scenes where people were clearly in the frame. At worst, I would receive a polite wave of the hand requesting that I not proceed.
Photographing Tokyo is an overwhelming proposition. I felt like a kid turned loose in the world’s largest candy shop, with engaging and compelling images around every corner. And, of course, it was sakura time: cherry blossoms 24/7. People are in a trance, incapable of satiating their appetites to photograph and be photographed with the pinkish-white flower. Cameras are everywhere. I got caught up in the fervor, trying to capture the happy phenomenon.
I decided not to post any of these photos, ’cause I’m not a nature photographer. I’ll stick with the other nature: human nature! One cannot help but be touched by the civility and the genuinely accommodating disposition of the Japanese. My Welcome to Japan photo gallery.
Serendipity, Leica style: while exploring the Yanaka neighbourhood and cemetery where Nobuyoshi Araki, a renowned master of Japanese photography, had been known to wander, I noticed another person acquainting himself with the surroundings through his M rangefinder camera. Slung over his shoulder was a weathered, Billingham bag and a second M body. “Nice gear,” I said. He turned to me and we struck up a conversation.
As we started talking, we exchanged glances at each other’s cameras and asked in unison, “Is that an old, Canadian 35mm Summilux?” We had twins of this rare lens, complete with identical, round, broken-in hoods! What are the chances? He was walking with an M4 and M6 with that 35mm and a 28mm Elmarit. I was using my M9, the 35mm Summilux and a 50mm Summicron. I was travelling with a Monochrom and 21mm too but, more often than not, would go out with one camera and two lenses.
David Hendley is a British photographer, teacher and lecturer on photography at the London School of Art. A true gentleman, genuine and generous, he is a strong proponent of the simple, small camera we find so endearing, and around which gathers a society of worldly, like-minded individuals. David is a frequent visitor to Japan and Tokyo in particular. He was kind enough to show this newbie areas which are well off the beaten track.
For three days we did our own, impromptu Tokyo M walks, all the while sampling excellent local fare. We were joined by another friend, Montreal-based photographer Takashi Seida, who just happened to be in Tokyo at that time. That’s the magic of Japan, a place where one can marvel at the exotic and unfamiliar, surrounded by new and old friends.
The Culture and Art of Photography are Alive and Well at Fuji
My trip to Fujifilm headquarters remains a high point of the time I spent in Japan’s busy capital. In one of the world’s most expensive cities, Fuji has dedicated several thousand square feet of prime, street-level real estate to various photographic galleries and one unforgettable museum that, incredibly, offers free admission. In an era where shameless promotion has no limits, it is indeed refreshing to note that the galleries feature the work of great photographers (whether Fuji users or not) and the museum, which chronicles 100-plus years of manufacturing and improvements in cameras, lenses and all sorts of photographic equipment, includes displays recognizing the contributions of Nikon, Rollei and Leica.
An aside to my visit was an interesting conversation I had with Mitsuo Takahashi, technical advisor to Fuji, curator, cheerleader, host and museum guide. He has an infectious passion for photography and is a great Leica aficionado. When he spotted my Monochrom, he pulled me aside and asked to look through its viewfinder.
The Leica SL: Designed for Peregrinations From Patagonia to the Pampas
Doug Ball, Montreal industrial designer and photographer, faithful client and committed M user, was one of the initial purchasers of the SL. He had intended to use it with his kit of rangefinder lenses but, as he was planning a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Argentina, became sorely tempted to try the all-in-one, Leica Vario-Elmarit SL 24-90mm f2.8-4 ASPH autofocus zoom lens.
Recently, he was gracious enough to stop by the boutique with a portfolio of 13 x 19 prints from the trip. Wow! I can see why this talented and prolific photographer who has used all types of equipment from medium format to 35mm film and digital, was blown away by the combination of SL and zoom lens. A natural colour palette, classic Leica tonality and perfect, eye-pleasing sharpness has Doug rightly maintaining that this mirrorless camera and zoom combination match or surpass anything that he’s used in the past. Sure, the Vario-Elmarit-SL on the Leica SL looks goofy, but see past that and you will enjoy peerless performance and unrivaled results.
Tom Abrahamsson: Rangefinder Royalty Visits Montreal
A short while ago, I was surprised to see the always active and chipper Tom Abrahamsson and his lovely wife Tuulikki walk into the boutique for a visit. Tom, a legendary industrial designer and fan of everything rangefinder, created a line of high quality accessories including the M rapid winder and an assortment of Softie shutter releases which we happily stock.
Tom has a longtime friendship with Cosina’s Hirofumi Kobayashi and is instrumental in the development of Voigtländer rangefinder lenses. His input helps make these lenses the groundbreaking, ingenious and desirable optics that we enjoy today.
Mike Hayes: Photographs from Our Planet that are Out of this World
We’ve covered a fair swath of geography in this newsletter, but I’m confident you didn’t see this one coming: the Outer Hebrides.
Move over Buzz Lightyear! To infinity and beyond seems so pedestrian when compared to the latest destinations reached by bicycle and sea kayak by our favourite adventurer and truly exceptional photographer, Mike Hayes. (By the way, he also wrote the code for and designed our website.)
Mike is a Fuji X user who counts on the speed and sharpness of his prime lenses to help capture unforgettable images. These photographs – be certain to view several of the posts – can’t help but motivate you to reach for your camera and head for the great outdoors.
Always looking forward to your comments.
Jean Bardaji and Daniel Wiener