Dear rangefinder enthusiasts and classic photographers,
Thank you for allowing us to share some news and random thoughts with you.
Leica M, Leica S, and Leica T (Shirts!!) in a Selection of Colours
What do Oskar Barnack and Karl Lagerfeld have in common, outside of their country of birth? Not much! So, why does Leica, a company that made engineering excellence its raison d’être, hire a marketing expert (Oliver Kaltner) plus several executives imported from the apparel world, to replace outgoing CEO Alfred Schopf? The marketing-driven apparel business has long championed pricing goods according to perceived value. This practice helps explain why one well-made shirt with well-known logo can sell for $500, while another, without brandname cachet, will sell for under $50. Traditionally, Leica does not fit this marketing paradigm. I, for one, will happily pay $3000 for a lens knowing its cost is rooted in superior engineering and small-scale manufacturing that ensure the highest level of optical performance; not because a slick ad campaign makes me want it!
Leica is rightfully considered the apogee of achievement in photographic equipment. When products are this good, you need little or no marketing. They will sell themselves. I would dare say that the worldwide community of Leica users aged 18 thru 90, became aficionados purely on the basis of how well the lenses and cameras perform their stated task. Which brings us to another area of concern: the growing number of non-photographic accessories popping up in the catalogue. Decidedly pricey key chains with Leica logo, extremely pricey umbrellas with Leica logo, especially pricey credit card holders with Leica logo and somewhat pricey T-shirts with – you guessed it – Leica logo, spearhead a shift from perfectly engineered photographic equipment to trinkets and schmatas.
At Camtec Photo, we’re not about to replace our display cases with changing rooms. Is it too much to ask the world’s foremost producer of quality photographic equipment to rededicate itself solely to engineering and manufacturing great cameras and lenses, and let quality govern the marketplace?
Nearly every day, a customer comes into the store weighted down with a backpack. Before he emphatically lowers it onto the counter, I can anticipate his opening statement. He is looking for something not quite so heavy, perhaps a Fuji or Sony.
Well, long before these companies jumped on the mirrorless bandwagon, the Leica M stood as an alternative to heavy, single-lens reflexes. And today? More so than ever!
On a recent trip to Portugal, my M9, Monochrom, 50mm Summicron and 21mm Elmarit fit easily into a small bag.
If you are ready to leave the mirror behind and embrace the freedom of a compact camera along with the beauty and peerless image quality that comes with prime lenses, by all means investigate the excellent Fuji-X system and Sony E-mount cameras, but be certain to put Leica on that shopping list! The APS-C Leica X cameras are unusually compact, with performance that belies their small form. The Leica T system is ideal for travel, street photography and a whole lot more, while the Leica M lineup, whether represented by the M 240, M-P, or Monochrom, will produce digital files that have no match.
Minha Portugal (in Mono and in Colour)
In case you were lucky enough to have missed it, here’s a snapshot of Montreal’s winter of 2015: we scraped, we shovelled, we slipped and slid and braved the iciest February since 1889. In early March, fed up with trudging through the urban tundra, Rita and I jumped over to Portugal for a week of relaxed walks, rest and photography. We landed in Lisbon, a city steeped in old-world charm, storied avenues and establishments and, graças a Deus, a culture of street life that is second to none.
My M9 captured the aesthetic kitsch and brilliant colour, while the Monochrom performed flawlessly in the narrow alleys and at night, recording texture and shadow in its own, inimitable manner. I routinely cranked the ISO up to 3200, reaping the benefits of extremely high-quality digital files where, previously, I would have had a collection of grainy souvenir snaps. Lisbon and Porto are cities built to a human scale with plenty of public places where citizens gather to socialize. Locations serve as backdrops for the theatre of life and I found myself returning to previously visited spots, occasionally photographing the same characters at different times and from different perspectives. Portuguese street photography is about the Decisive Moment as seen from a myriad of angles!
Musicians, cafés infused with character and filled with characters, old women with chiseled faces hanging out the laundry, handsome and pretty young people who, despite economic hardship, remain enthusiastic about their country and find joy in small moments; these are parts and parcels of the Portuguese panoply that make us determined to return.
An Evening with Carl Valiquet
For over seven years, Carl Valiquet has made Indonesia his home and his muse. This vast country of over 17000 islands became an endless source of inspiration. This passionate and indefatigable photographer has dedicated his career to portraying documenting the lives of The Working Man.
In his latest project, Carl has focussed on bechak (trishaw) operators In the Java city of Solo. These anonymous labourers who provide the brawn that powers the economy. Documenting the strenuous, unforgiving work they do, Carl captured them exhausted, grabbing a few moments of sleep whenever they could. He then returned and produced proud and respectful formal portraits of these workers. The juxtaposition of the approaches is not jarring, instead providing presence and personality to his subjects.
Please join us at the 26, Rue Notre-Dame Est boutique on Thursday, May 21 17:00 to view this latest project. You’re invited for an evening of discussion and good cheer.
Mark Tomalty’s Montreal
In case you’ve missed our announcement about this exhibition of Mark Tomalty prints at the boutique:
It’s another dark, damp, cold and blustery night in this endless winter. There’s either black ice or rivers of slush making every step treacherous. If you are like most of us, you’re looking to get inside, get warm and curl up for the evening. Well, Mark Tomalty is not like most of us! For this prolific and talented visual artist, these conditions are just perfect to grab his camera and hit the city streets.
Through his camera’s eye, familiar roads and neighbourhoods are revealed in a subtle and beautiful light enhanced by the snow. Mark uses his great capacity of seeing and understanding light, shadow, colour and symmetry to create photographs that encapsulate the essence of Montreal. These are signature Tomalty images: technically perfect, with a beauty and simplicity of composition that belies the extraordinary effort involved in capturing just the right moment.
I invite you to appreciate Mark’s artistry on the exhibition wall at the boutique. Beautifully printed on Exhibition fiber paper, they are guaranteed to inspire and, yes, they look much better printed than on the screen! Limited Edition Prints are available for purchase. Please contact Mark for details.
A True Rite of Spring
It won’t be long until the river ice will break up; the sap in the maples will start to run; the snow geese will return on their migration north; where black ice once made for treacherous driving conditions, world-famous Montreal potholes will make for treacherous driving conditions; and crocuses and daffodils will push through the thawing earth. If you’ve spent this winter in a state of photographic hibernation, it’s time to grab your favourite camera and embrace the joy of photography.
Always looking forward to your comments.
Jean Bardaji and Daniel Wiener