The Leica "Professional" versions of digital rangefinders are mainly cosmetic updates. But some P models also have updates as a result of user-requests, as well as features first introduced in limited edition cameras.
What a Professional Leica M10 should have
The Leica M10 is a great camera that wins with practical use in the field. The simplified menu, the slimmer body and the fact that it just works and gets the job done is something you come to appreciate more and more each day that you use it. So, what should a Professional edition have?
The quietness of the Leica is legendary and has been what made it the preferred camera for presidential photography and other reportage work. It was one of the few cameras you could sit next to the President and take photos with, without anybody in the room noticing the sound.
Platon found a reflective moment when George W. Bush sat down in his favorite chair. Looking into the lens of a simple Leica.
Mirrorless cameras have come about which are soundless, as they have no shutter. What made the noise in the past, when we had film cameras, was the shutter, the mirror slapping, (and sometimes the aperture mechanism being adjusted), as well as the motorized rewind of the film.
A quiet shutter, and a faster one would be a wish for a "Professional" model. The Leica M still has the shutter and is unlikely to have a shutter-less sensor anytime soon. So is there a workaround?
A shutter-less camera, meaning one that uses a digital shutter, may sound as the ideal to many because it's completely silent and the electronic shutter reaches very high shutter-times of 1/12,000th or 1/16,000th of a second, where mechanical shutters simply can't compete. The fastest mechanical shutter we have seen in a Leica M was 1/8000th second in the Leica M8, but that one was noisy and was downgraded to a 1/4000th second shutter in later models.
But the weakness of a digital shutter is that the sensor "collects the pixels" almost in the same manner as your grandmother opens her Christmas presents: one slice of paper at a time. Even though the sensor works much faster than your grandmother, the CMOS sensor records the image in stripes during exposure.
This results in stripes showing up in the pictures when the light has changed during the "electronic shutter closing". Much of modern light does exactly that: it flickers.
Many of the light sources we encounter at low shutter speeds are low-energy light sources, which means LED lights, low-energy light bulbs and fluorescent lamps. These all turn on and off at really high speeds that the eye usually doesn't see. But the for the sensor if means that the light changes on and off several times while the CMOS sensor is collecting the picture across the sensor. Hence, stripes.
For most cameras, the solution is to use mechanical shutter for speeds up to 1/2000 or 1/4000 and then electronic shutter for speeds faster than that. But many new cameras, such as the Leica Q, offer a choice to use electronic shutters at all times. Which is all fine, except when the light flickers at slower shutter speeds.
The Leica M10-P released August 21, 2018 has a softer feeling shutter release button, and the sound is very quiet in real life. More damp and soft than shown in any video (because the camera is at a distance in real life, whereas the videos record the sound close by). Nevertheless, this video with sound comparison made by Leica Store San Francisco gives a good idea about the differnce between the Leica M10 and the Leica M10-P:
A fast mechanical shutter
It's unlikely that the Leica M will have a digital shutter anytime soon. It's a matter of the sensor used, and the Leica SL sensor can't just go into the Leica M model.
But a faster shutter curtain would be a solution; and one that doesn't make as much noise as the 1/8000 shutter curtain that was in the Leica M8.
A real Professional solution then would be a mechanical shutter that moves with high speed, and does so soundless. This is, as stated above regarding electronic light and stripes in the image, the optimum solution for any light condition you encounter.
The only problem in making an optimum mechanical shutter is that fewer and fewer cameras require a shutter. This becomes important when Leica has to find someone who can produce shutters for them. It becomes a more and more expensive part, simply because less are made. It's moving towards trying to make a perfect VHS player when everybody else has moved on to digital downloads.
The solution would be to make an electronic shutter (sensor) work in the Leica M10, or do as Leica did with the Central Shutter in the Leica S: invent their own perfect shutter.
Another wish for a faster shutter is that we (mainly I) are tired of filters.
With low-light performing lenses that you use in daylight and sunshine, not for speed, but for "composition in the third dimension" by using selective focus, and often extreme narrow focus along with artistic use of "bokeh" (the way the out-of-focus areas look) you need a fast shutter speed not to get over-exposed photos.
So far, the solution has been ND filters that reduce the amount of light, without changing colors or contrast (hence the name "Neutral Density" filters).
But no matter how excellent the filters, they will always leave a trace of color cast, add less precision to the exposure (because a 3-stop filter is seldom exactly 3 stops). But mainly they are dark glass that can cause internal reflections within themselves (especially variable ND-filters which are two layers of glass), as well as visible reflections into the lens: Often seen as a softer image when dealing with backlight in the photo; or even picking up strong light from outside the frame, which would milk out the photo and result in lower contrast.
To use a f/0.95 lens on a Leica M at 100 ISO, you need a shutter that works at 1/12,000, which the Leica M never did (as its fastest shutter speed was 1/4000). The Leica SL fits this criteria as its fastest shutter speed is 1/16,000 at electronic shutter.
An f/2.0 lens on a Leica M10 with 100 ISO; you can get away with 1/4000, though sometimes you have to stop the lens down to f/2.4 to make sure you don't over-expose (or "blow out") highlights in the photo.
With a shutter speed at 1/8000, with a mechanical shutter, you can photograph wide open with an f/1.4 lens in bright sunshine at 100 ISO - without using an ND filter. With a 1/12,000 exposure time you can do it with a f/0.95 Noctilux lens.
It's coming. It must.
Get my Leica Presets
for Lightroom and Capture One
Overgaard's Leica Presets for: Lightroom CC Classic (7.4 -->) Lightroom CC (version 1 through 7.2) Lightroom CC (cloud-based 1.0)
I have made a few essential Presets for Lightroom which do minor adjustments to the Leica files, so as to get the tones exactly how I want them.
The Presets have as their ideal, the Leica M9 sensor, as well as the Kodachrome film (which also happens to be the ideal for Leica, when they developed the Leica M9 sensor). Not that it matters much, but that is the reason why I made my own Presets: To get the that look, rather than a “digital sensor look”.
I have made a few essential Styles for Capture One that does minor adjustments to the Leica files, so as to get the tones exactly how I want them.
The Styles have as their ideal, the Leica M9 sensor, as well as the Kodachrome film (which also happens to be the ideal for Leica, when they developed the Leica M9 sensor). Not that it matters much, but that is the reason why I made my own Styles: To get the that look, rather than a “digital sensor look”.
Read more about my Lightroom Workflow on this page
Read more about my Capture One Workflow on this page
The Leica M is a very compact professional camera. This may esily be forgotten if you use a Leica M every day, but speaking of cameras generally, only tourist cameras and the so-called "mirrorless" cameras are as small as a Leica M.
Every other professional performing camera comes with a footprint that doesn't allow you to casually "wear a camera" or sneak it into a place without getting noticed by security or people.
Even within the ranks of the Leica camera models, for example the Leica CL and Leica TL2 "mirrorless" models are quite compact cameras - but come with lenses that far exceed the size you are used to as a Leica M user.
With the Leica M10 we got a smaller body as the design of the Leica M body returned to somewhat the size of the classic Leica M film cameras. Before the Leica M10, the need for a screen and a sensor behind the shutter curtain required more space than film. With the Leica M10, the electronics got re-designed to take up less space.
With two more millimeters taken off the thickness of a digital Leica M, we're back at the exact size of the film Leica M. It likely will never be smaller than that as that's the ideal, classic size of a Leica M.
Coffee in Brussels. Note how many seconds it took before you noticed the camera.
Photo: Patrick Verhulst.
I feel that the ISO-speed of the sensor (the light-sensitivity) has been accomplished, maybe even exhausted. If you can't get 3200 ISO to work for you, then you should look at what you do, and how you do it. Professional photographers in the past worked with 100 ISO film and with f/2.8 lenses and made it work for even night or low-light photography at 1/8th or 1/15th second.
Now we have 3200 ISO and f/1.4 lenses (or f/0.95 if you want to go extreme), which makes things 7-8 times faster than previous.
Dr. Paul Wolff's photo from the 1930's using a Leica Elmar 35mm f/3.5 lens and 25 ISO film. Exposure was 20 minutes.
In numbers, what a photographer required back then to make things work handheld at 1/8th second, you now have 1/500th second to accomplish.
Have no worries, though. No matter whether you ask for it or not, ISO speed will keep raising with 1-2 stops every four years, which means that in 2028 you will be able to do night photography not at 1/8th of a second, and not at 1/500th second, but at 1/4000th second!
Just because touch screens exist, doesn't mean you have to implement them everywhere. This must be one of those features that many ask for and which keep the development team at Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar spinning. Not even Apple has given in and provided a MacBook with touchscreen.
The idea of touchscreen goes forward in time, reaching new users accustomed to touch-screens, but on a camera that goes back in time, and which 'classic' users seem to demand stay old-school.
Touch screens should be used when they serve a purpose. As in the Leica T/TL/TL2 models where the whole concept of the camera is a touch screen used instead of buttons and wheels. And at the same time, the introduction of a touch screen on the Leica TL2 isn't used to make it more advanced with even more gestures and possibilities; but to simplify the whole operation of the camera.
The Leica TL2 is also a re-thought concept of a traditional camera, made into a logical user-interface for a new generation of photographers who use screens to observe, navigate, control and review.
The Leica TL2 touch screen experience is so simple that you could easily fail to notice the strength of its simplicity. The art today is not making a touch screen, but making a camera that is simply and intuitively operated by a touch screen.
In other words, don't look to a Fuji camera with 750 menu items and hope you can touch your way through them. Look to a Leica TL2 and notice that you can control everything with very few choices.
There's not much point in a touch screen, if there isn't any philosophy behind it. The Leica TL2 is hands down the best use of touch screen on a digital camera. Not just a feature, but the entire concept of the camera.
The perspective of touch screen on the Leica M goes in two directions: Design and usability. It also goes forward in time, reaching new users accustomed to touch-screens, but on a camera that goes back in time, and one which 'classic' users seem to demand stays old-school.
Which way to go?
With a touch screen menu, it would be possible to rethink and simplify the menu items, which currently constitutes four screens within the menu. (With all possible choices, the Leica M10 has about 200 possible menu items compared to the 750 of a Fuji). But before one starts looking at a possible touch-screen, one should notice that the Leica M already has all the essential controls on the outside of the camera: ISO dial, aperture ring and shutter time. The screen is for setting the camera, not for operating it.
With a touch screen, you can remove the PLAY button from the back of the camera as PLAY can be simply a gesture across the screen (vertical to see pictures, horizontal to scroll through them, and double-tab to zoom in and out when previewing pictures). Also, the viewing on a touchscreen would make it easy to include other features such as "Send to phone".
The Live View (LV) button can also be removed as the choice of Live View would be made in the menu and activated (or not, depending on the choice of the menu), when the camera is turned on.
The MENU button could be the only button - or even be removed too; replaced with a gesture.
The "joystick" to the right of the screen could in theory be removed too, except it might be nice to have the arrows and the "set" button.
But essentially, this make it possible to remove all buttons from the back of the Leica M and replace it with a screen. And if the engineers at Leica can shave another 2 mm off the thickness of the screen, we'll be looking at a Leica M with a flat, even back. Which would be quite a piece of equipment.
Now, the art of making an analog-feeling touch screen - that's the trick. It's hard to see the traditional Leica M user who would want a "digital feeling" Leica M.
The Leica M10-P has a level gauge, which is a help on screen (or in EVF) showing when the camera is in level. Very useful for landscape and architecture photography. The level gauge was omitted in the Leica M10 and is a feature depending on hardvare. Photo: Macfilos.
Leica Safari M10-P
January 26, 2019 Leica Camera AG announced the Leica M10-P Safari that is made in a limited run of 1,500 pcs. (Euro 7,800) there is also a Safar edition of the good old 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 (Euro 2,500), which is an overseen diamond amongst the Leica lenses - a 1980's design that still holds up in a compact, economic and simple lens.
Traditionally, the Safari editions have been much-loved editions that has gone up in price. The Leica M8.2 Safari from 2008 sells for between 90% and 200% of new price, depending on condition.
Leica M10-P announced in limited run of 1,500 pcs. Camera is 7,200 Euro, 50mm Summicron-M Safari f/2.0 lens is 2,500 Euro.
Screen-less Leica M
The next step - now that we're dreaming and demanding - would be to remove the screen. Yes, simply remove it and have no screen. The ultimate simplicity for those who basically want to have a film camera, but do prefer the easier and faster workflow of digital files.
This was done on the Leica M-D 262, and was an elegant solution. The pleasure of putting your thumb on the leather-covered back of the camera, rather than feeling the glass of a screen, or the buttons on the back of the camera, is close to nirvana!
In modern times the most interesting thing seems to be what is happening on the back of the Leica M. In the case of the Leica M-D 262, the back is reduced to an ISO dial. A Leica M-D 10 version would have nothing as the ISO dial is already on the top of the camera.
Where the Leica M-D 262 is the size of the Leica M240 body, a Leica M-D 10 would be as slim as a film Leica M.
Obviously, this is a simplified camera. That's the point. Even though there is not a great demand for it, it's one of those things you must do - because you can.
And then we haven't even talked about the Leica M10 Monochrom!
The perhaps most important feature of a Leica M10-P, or any Leica, is the feeling that you connect with this camera and it's yours.
There's consumer electronics, toilet paper, milk in the fridge and all that. We buy, we use and we forget about it. But then there are the few things we really connect with; some of us had a VW Beetle back when, which we never really left, some of us had a typewriter we wish we still had, some of us had a Nikon F3 that brings a smile to our face when we think of it. Some of us a Bob Dylan record we picked up the morning it arrived at the record store.
Sometimes you keep those things, but they become less relevant or too difficult to fit into modern living. Sometimes you sell them, but then buy them again later, seldom able to get into the feeling again. It's as if that typewriter back then had a soul you connected with, and any similar model - even the exact same color and model - doesn't do it for you. The Bob Dylan album on Spotify doesn’t give you the same sensation as the vinyl record did.
In modern consumer societies where we "solve things and needs by buying stuff", finding the one thing that you really connect with, is quite something. It's rare and unusual.
The Leica M is unique in that many people I meet say "it just felt right" when they picked up a Leica for the first time. I have this engineer in Norway whom I was sure had taken the Leica apart to study it, but when I asked, he said, "No, I never touched a screw on it. I just knew when I held it that this was great engineering".
We all have our personal token. For some it's the Leica M3, for others the Leica M-D 262, for others it's the Leica M9. Whatever the connection is, and for whatever reason, that is our camera.
How do you make new cameras that are relevant in our time and age, that connect with current devices and technology, that provide the quality we’ve grown to expect, and at the same time become a personal token for us?
The answer is to make new models, different models, and to keep them rolling out. Also, the people who make them have got to eat. No one model appeals to everyone, so there is something genuine in the soul of a Leica that must always be present. No matter whether the camera has a display screen or a touch screen, or has no screen at all, or whether it is black or silver, or has a red dot or doesn’t have a red dot, or has a 5MP sensor or a 37MP sensor … the fundamental truth that the Leica seems to carry in its DNA must be intact.
This is the reason to make a Leica M10-P, a Monochrom edition, a version without a screen, and eventually a Leica M11. To keep it relevant, while still presenting what may very well become a personal token with that personal connection that few other things have.
Sometimes somebody puts so much life and creation into the thing they make that those things seem to live on.
In the past, Leica would make professional versions that didn't really have the designations P, but were made for specific professional needs. Alfred Eisenstaedt used the Leica IIIa (for "The Kiss in Times Square") and later models, and as far as I remember, he had the Leica M3 made with single-stroke and a few other tweaks for him - which later became the Leica M3 single-stroke model.
A "Leica M3-P" model does exist, but that is in fact a limited edition made in only 20 samples for the Leica Shop Vienna's 20th anniversary in 2012. Leica never made a Leica M3-P at the time the of the Leica M3.
A beauty to behold: The Leica M3-P is a limited run of 20 cameras made for the Leica Shop Vienna in 2012. Photo: lhauction.com.hk
CEO Dr. Werner Simon with Henri Cartier-Bresson
in 1988, presenting him with a Leica M6.
Leica always was inspired by feedback from users. Back in the day, before the internet forums existed, feedback came by handwritten letters or occasional meetings with selected users like Henri Cartier-Bresson. That was how models progressed and the Leica IIIa (1935) for example got a 1/1000th speed dial as opposed to the mere 1/500th max speed that the previous Leica III model (1933) had had.
In recent years, Leica Camera AG sometimes may have read too much into the twitter on camera forums about what users and potential users might want. The Leica M240 is an example of a Leica M model that included perhaps more than what was good - an example that you should be careful what you wish for. You might get it; and the best Leica cameras, the most classic and most loved ones, have always been the simplest models.
I personally never get tired of the Leica M4 (1967). The silver version sells for around 1,000 Euro at Leica Shop Vienna.
"The Mother of all P models" could be said then to be the Leica M4-P, which was not really a Professional model in the sense of Professional. It was rather an attempt to bring the Leica M back to life.
First came the Leica M4 (in 1967), then the disastrous Leica M5 (in 1971), and then the "popular" Leica CL (1973). And then came the Leica M4-2 to try to pick up the pieces where Leica Camera AG had departed from the line of successful Leica M models. The Leica M4-2 was the Leica M4 with a few improvements (use of a motorized film winder as well as a flash hotshoe). Then in 1979 came the Leica M4-P with and extra set of framelines (for 28/75mm lenses), and that one was named M4-P for "professional".
A discussion has been ongoing ever since as far as whether the Leica M4 made in Germany was the better version than the Leica M4-2 made in Canada. After 50 years off discussion, nobody has arrived at an answer.
The Leica M4-P with its double-red-dotting and a bold Leitz print on the top plate, ironically is the opposite of what the more recent Leica P models became, which are simplified and more discrete editions of their original models. You get a "P" in the model name, but then they take away some other things.
Recent version of the digital Leica M cameras, reissued as -P (or "Professional") versions have mainly had cosmetic upgrades.
The red dot was removed from the front of the camera and the camera would get a classic Leica engraving on the top plate.
Some models woul get a little more buffer memory (the Leica M-P Typ240) and/or a scratch-free screen on the back (thew Leica M9-P).
They are sort of special editions, with small changes from the main model.
They are not limited editions, as the limited editions are not only limited in numbers, but different. Often testing the waters for new technology or different ways of doing things (such as red framelines lit with LED in the Leica M9 Titanium).
A possible regret in life is if you didn't buy the Leica M9-P Hermes edition with three lenses made in only 100 samples. This model is a piece of beauty and goes up in value. You would have gotten paid for using it, had you bought it and sold it a few years later. The camera body is different than the Leica M9-P, and each of the three lenses are specially designed barrels. The first silver Noctilux is included in this kit as well. There were also made 400 sets of this camera with "just" a 50mm Summilux; and that version is experiencing a much less increase in value.
Then there are the real special models, as the Leica M9-P Hermes that came with specially designed lenses, a Hermes bag and a general overhaul of the body design.
The Leica M60 without a screen on the back, and with an overhaul and rethink of the camera body.
Or the recent Leica M10 Zagato which is a complete overhaul and rethnking of the classic Leica M camera body.
The real successful special edition model is the one you don't like when it is released, but fall in love with slowly - just to realize that they are all sold out and only a few are available at much higher prices on eBay. It took me two months to go from not caring about the Leica M10 Zagato at all, to finding myself googling it and thinking about getting one.
Jealous haters seem to hate limited editions of Leica M cameras wholeheartedly, and besides the entertainment value in that attempt to level us all to the same level, the limited models often act as prototypes and testing ground for new ideas.
New ideas are not always popular in a Leica M, but if collectors pay for them, then the best and most popular of the new ideas can flow down into the more "common" future models.
If Leitz could see this
Leica Camera AG is a thriving business. Since Andreas Kaumann took over the company in 2003-2004 it has risen from a near-bankrupt German camera-manufacturer to a thriving business with an ever-expanding chain of Leica Stores around the world, new camera models, new lenses, and even side-kicks such as the Leitz Cine (formerly CW Sonderoptic) that produce award-winning optics for movies.
And let's not forget that Leica also does lenses for Panasonic, Huawei smartphones, and their own line of Leica binoculars. Latest spring-off is Leica watches, which may seem an oddity, except that the Leica factory in Portugal used to be a watch manufacturer until Leica Camera AG took over the factory and it's 1,200 employees in the 1980's.
The Leica Stores, as well as any modern consumer-oriented business, requires innovation and that new models are being introduced ever so often. Look at it this way: The Leica Stores need to sell Leica cameras and lenses, because they have nothing else to sell That alone is a guarantee for us Leica users that Leica Camera AG will keep developing new cameras and lenses that will pique our interest.
So far the Leica M has been launched with new models every 3-4 years, with Leica M-P models halfway in the product cycle (18-24 months after the introduction); as well as special editions to keep the jealous haters busy hating and the collectors happy collecting.
In the last few years we have seen the presentation of the Leica Q, the Leica T/TL/TL2 and the Leica SL. All systems seem to sell well, and so do the binoculars that few of us ever give a thought to (entirely different audience).
The Leitz factory in Wetzlar, 1957.
The Leitz family launched the Leica camera back in 1925 not only because they thought it was a great concept that Oskar Barnack had come up with. They also did so because they wanted to find ways to keep their workforce in Wetzlar busy in times of a great global crisis. Also, the Leitz factory had lost the Russian market for microscopes after World War I (microscopes were the main business of Leitz; a part of the factory that separated from cameras in the 1980's).
The Leitz family were entrepreneurs, as well as factory owners with an almost fatherly concern for their employees. They would be proud to see how Leica Camera AG is thriving these days.
I won't get into that in this article. But here is an overview of the different models. Currently Leica Camera AG offers some discounts on Leica M 240 with lenses that might make that camera the choice while Leica M10 is on waiting list.
AF = Auto Focus. The idea is that the camera does the focusing itself (the word auto comes from Greek "self").
Aperture = (also written as f/) = The metal blades inside a camera lens that regulates how much light passes through the lens. On a f/1.4 lens, the lens is "fully open" at f/1.4. At f/2.0 the aperture inside the lens make the hole through the lens smaller so only half the amount of light at f/1.4 passes through. For each f/-stop (like f/4.0 - f/5.6 - f/8.0 - f/11 - f/16) you halve the light. The f/ fundamentally means "f divided with": The aperture of the lens is basically the focal length divided with the f/-stop = size of the hole (50mm divided with f/2.0 = the hole is 25 mm in diameter, or 50mm at f/1.4 is 50mm divided with 1.4 = the hole throug is 36mm. ). ORIGIN: Late Middle English : from Latin apertura, from apert- ‘opened,’ from aperire ‘to open’.
The aperture blades inside the lens is clearly visible in this photo.
ASPH = stands for "aspheric design".
Most lenses have a spherical design - that is, the radius
of curvature is constant. These are easy to manufacture by
grinding while "spinning" the glass. This design
however restricts the number of optical corrections that can
be made to the design to render the most realistic image possible.
ASPH lenses, however, involve usually 1 element that does
*not* have a constant radius of curvature. These elements
can be made by 1) expensive manual grinding, 2) molded plastic,
or 3) Leica's patented "press" process, where the element
is pressed into an aspherical ("non-spherical")
shape. This design allows Leica to introduce corrections
into compact lens designs that weren't possible before. Practically,
the lens performs "better" (up to interpretation)
due to increased correction of the image, in a package not
significantly bigger than the spherical version. Sphere: ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French espere, from late Latin sphera, earlier sphaera, from Greek sphaira "ball".
Normal spheric lens (grinded)
ASPH (note the shape of the glass as result of pressing rather than grinding)
Banding = Noise in digital images. Horizontal lines in a horizontal picture (if the camera is in portrait mode/vertical, the lines will be obviously be vertical). It's simply noise; the result of uncontrolled algorithms working overtime with an image the sensor really can't see because it's very dark. (If your image has vertical lines in it, it is more likely that the sensor needs remapping).
Bokeh = The visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens: It's a matter of taste and usually photographers discuss a 'nice' or 'pleasant' bokeh (the out-of-focus area is always unsharp why the quality discussed is if one likes the way it renders or not by a particular lens). The closer you get to something, the 'more' bokeh' you get (in that the focus becomes less for the background and foreground at close distances than at long distances). ORIGIN from Japanese 'bo-ke' which mean 'fuzzines' or 'blur.'.
Camera -is today’s short name for Camera Obscura (meaning “a dark room”). CamerameansChambre and was used only as a Latin or alien word, actually only for Spanish soldiers’ rooms, until popularized in connection with photography in 1727: “Camera Obscura”. In 1793 the slang term “camera” was used by Sterne Tr. Shandy: “Will make drawings of you in the camera” and by Foster (1878), “The eye is a camera”. Camera Obscura was described by Iraqi scientist Ibn-al-Haytham in his book, “Book of Optics” (1021) and by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500; popularized and made widely known in 1589 by Baptista Porta when he mentioned the principle in his book “Natural Magic”. Johannes Kepler mentions Camera Obscura in 1604.
Camera = chambre (room), Obscura = dark (or cover).
Central Shutter = Some lenses, for example the Leica S lenses and the Leica Q where a shutter is located in the lens itself. In most cameras there is a shutter curtain just in front of the sensor, and in SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras there is also a mirror in front of the shutter curtain.
In the Leica T/TL/TL2 the shutter is in front of the sensor, but only acts to "refresh" the sensor. In the Leica TL2, there is a mechanical shutter curtain from 30 sec. to 1/4000 shutter times, and digital shutter from 1/4100 to 1/40,000 shutter times. A digital shutter is simply "turning on/off the recording of the sensor.
CMOS sensor (as used in Leica M10, Leica CL, Leica LT/TL/TL2, Leica SL, Leica Q, Leica X, Leica D-Lux, etc.)
= (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) chips use transistors at each pixel to move the charge through traditional wires. This offers flexibility because each pixel is treated individually. Traditional manufacturing processes are used to make CMOS. It's the same as creating microchips. Because they're easier to produce, CMOS sensors are cheaper than CCD sensors. CMOS allow Live View and use less energy than CCD.
Contrast - The degree of difference between tones in a picture. Latin contra- ‘against’ + stare ‘stand.’
Digital Shutter = A digital shutter is simply "turning on/off the recording of the sensor. In the "old days" this had to be done with an actual mechanical shutter curtain; a metal curtain in front of the sensor (or film) that goes up for 1/125th of a second, for example. In the Leica TL2, there is a mechanical shutter curtain from 30 sec. to 1/4000 shutter times, and digital shutter from 1/4100 to 1/40,000 shutter times.
Digital Zoom = In some cameras (but not the Leica TL2), there exist a possibility to enable "digital zoom", which basically means the camera can zoom closer into something than the lens is actually designed to. The way digital zoom works traditionally is that the camera simply crops the picture; so you get closer, but without resolution. In other words, it's the same as if you took a normal photo and then cropped into the center of it.
DIS = Digital Image Stabilization. This is a feature often offered in video recorders and sometimes for tele lens still photography (so as to avoid motion blur when the lens is moving during slow shutter speeds).
Lens distortion looks like this. The lines are not straight. Our eye uses distortion correction. Lens designers can design lenses so they have very little distortion, or they can make less complicated lens designs and "fix" the distortion in software.
Distortion = In photo optics/lenses: When straight lines in a scene don't remain straight because of optical aberration.
Lens designers can correct for distortion to a degree so the whole image field is perfect corrected and all lines remain straight. In modern lens design many designs rely on Software Distortion Correction (SDC).
The eye adjusts for distortion so we always see vertical and horizontal lines straight when we look at things. Even when you get new prescription glasses (if you use such), you will often experience distortion in your new glasses. After a few days they eyes have adjusted for the glasses and the distortion you saw to begin with is now gone. Software Distortion Correction (SDC) is far behind what the human eye can perform of adjustments. (Also see my definition on Perspective for more on the eye and optics)
DNG = Digital Negative, an open standard developed by Adobe. It is a single file that contains the raw image data from the sensor of the camera as well as date, time, GPS, focal length, settings, etc.
The alternative is a RAW file + XLM file where the RAW file contains the image information and the XML contains the rest of information about where, how and when the picture was taken.
A Camera Raw profile (that is specific for that camera) in the computert fact
helps the software program, for example Adobe Lightroom, to translate the RAW data into the image.
DOF = Depth of Field. This is how much of the image will be in focus. Shallow DOF is a generally used term in photography that refer to lenses with very narrow focus tolerance (which can be used to do selective focus; for artistic reasons or for specific storytelling, like making irrelevant subjects in the foreground and background blurry so only the subjects of essence are in focus and catches the viewers eye).
Depth - Distance between front and back. Distance from viewer and object.
Dynamic range. The grade of ‘contrast range’ (or number of tones) a film or sensor, or simply a photograph, possess between bright and dark tones. The human eye is said to have a dynamic range of 10-14 ‘stops’ (but because we scan area by area and compile a concept of the overall scene, they eye is often thought to have a much higher dynamic range), Film used to have 7-13 ‘stops’ and some modern sensors have up to 15-17 ‘stops’.
Elmarit = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f2.8 . The name is obviously derived from the earlier (and slower) "Elmar" designation. Not every f/2.8 lens is called an "Elmarit" though, the most obvious current exception being the 50mm f2.8 Elmar-M collapsible lens which for nostalgia and marketing reasons has kept the original 1930's Elmar name (the 50mm f3.5 collapsible Elmar, manufactured 1930-59, was one of Leica's most famous and popular lenses).
EVF = Electronic ViewFinder. The Leica M10 and the Leica T/TL/TL2 uses the Leica Visoflex model 0020.
Exposure Bracketing = The possibility to set the camera to automatically record a series of images where the exposure is above and below what the camera measures. The idea is that at least one of the images will be correctly exposed.
Fn = Short for Function. It's a button you can program. On the Leica M10 has a front button that can be programmed to other Fn (Functions).
Focus, in - Sharp and clear in appearance. Focus - “The burning point (of a lens or mirror)”. In Latin the word focus meant fireplace or hearth. The word was probably first employed outside of its Latin literal use as “the burning point of a lens or mirror” in optics, and then came to mean any central point. The German astronomer Johannes Kepler first recorded the word in this sense in 1604.
A 28 mm lens has a 74° viewing angle
Focal length = (also written as f-) = On the Leica 35mm Summilux-TL ASPH f/1.4 it is 35mm and originally referred to the distance from the sensor (or film in older days) to the center of focus inside the lens. Nobody uses that measurement, except those who construct lenses! For users of lenses, focal length refers to how wide the lens sees. The viewing angle, which is often given in for example 90° viewing angle for a 21mm lens, 74° viewing angle for a 28mm lens, 6° viewing angle for a 400mm lens, etc.
Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120° to 200° angle of view, but focuses only in the center.
The Leica TL2 has a APS-C sensor, which "crops" the traditional focal lengths with 1.5X, reducing the angle of view of view with 1.5X.
Full Frame (FF) = The size of the sensor is 24 x 36mm which is the format Oskar Barnack and Leica Camera AG invented with the first Leica that was introduced in 1925. Many other formats invented since, such as APS, APS-C and all usually refer to Full Frame ratio, by which it means what size they have compared to Full Frame.
Full Frame is "king of photography"
The 24 x 36mm Full Frame format is so "king of photography" that it has continued to be the ideal for all cameras. Besides this, there exists Large Format cameras such as 4x5" (100 x 125 mm) and Medium Format 6x6 (60 x 60mm amongst other sizes in that area).
ISO = Light sensitivity of the camera sensor is given in ISO (International Organization for Standardization). It's a standard that was used in film and is now used in all digital cameras also. The base ISO for the Leica TL2 sensor is around 100-150 which means that this is what the sensor "sees". All other levels are computer algorithms calculating the effect as if the sensor could "see" more (hence noise at higher ISO levels).
ISO goes in steps of doubling: When the ISO is raised from 100 ISO to 200 ISO, the camera only need half the amount of light to make the same picture. For each step in ISO to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, etc. the light sensitivity is doubled for the sensor (and the camera sensor only need half the light of the previous ISO to record the same image).
JPEG = A standard for picture format made in the 1990's by Joint Photographic Experts Group). Mostly referred to as JPG as in L1003455.JPG which would be the name for a JPG file from the camera.
Summicron = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/2.0 . There are many guesses how this name came about, a popular one being that the "summi" came from "summit" (summit means the highest point of a hill or mountain; the highest attainable level of achievement) while the "cron" came from "chroma" (ie. for colour). Not so: The name (Summi)cron was used because the lens used Crown glass for the first time, which Leitz bought from Chance Brothers in England. The first batch of lenses were named Summikron (Crown = Krone in Deutsch). The Summi(cron) is a development from the orignal Summar (the 50mm f2.0 lens anno 1933)
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - normally f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In the Leica Q the lens is a Summilux even it is a f/1.7 and not f/1.4.
Leica = A compound word derived from " (Lei)tz" and "(ca)mera". Apparently they were originally going to use "LECA", but another camera company already used a similar name in France, so they inserted the 'i' to prevent any confusion.
Lens - A piece of glass or similarly transparent material (like water or plastic). It has a shape so that it can direct light rays. The word “Lens” is used both for single piece of glass as well as a camera lens with several lenses that works together. From ‘lentil’ because similar in shape.
Lens hood = A tube or ring attached to the front of a camera lens to prevent unwanted light from reaching the lens and sensor. ORIGIN Old English hod; related to Dutch hoed, German Hut 'hat,' also to hat.
Light = Tiny particles called photons that behaves like both waves and particles. Light makes objects visible by reflecting off of them, and in photography that reflecting off of subjects is what creates textures, shapes, colors and luminance. Light in its natural form (emanating from the sun) also gives life to plants and living things, and makes (most) people happier. So far, nobody has been able to determine exactly what light is. The word photography means “writing with light” (photo = light, -graphy = writing). Read more about light in my book Finding the Magic of Light.
Live View = This is the ability to see the image the sensor see, live, via the screen, or via an electronic viewfinder (EVF).
MACRO = Macro lens. The Leica 60mm APO-Elmarit-Macro ASPH f/2.8 is both a 60mm lens for portraits, landscapes, etc. as well as a near focus macro. The word macro comes from Greek makros ‘long, large.’
Maestro II - A processor developed first as Maestro for the Leica S2 and upgraded to Maestro II for the Leica S (Typ 007). The Leica M10 has a Mestro II (and the Leica Q a Maestro II Q-edition) processor developed by SocioNext Inc. based on Fujitsu's Mibeault architecture.
mm = millimeter(s), as in a 50mm lens. (Earlier in lens history lenses focal length was given in cm = centimeters; as in a 5 cm lens). For anyone used to centimeters and millimeters, it’s no wonder. But if you grew up with inches, feet and yards, you may have had a hard time grasping what a 50mm lens was. But as lenses were designed first in Europe, the metric system with centimeters and millimeters was used to describe lenses.
The reason a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens is that there is 50mm from the focus plane (the film or sensor) to the center of focus inside the lens. When photography was a young subject, it was engineers who made it all, and the users were expected to understand. The engineers were so into the making of the lenses, that it apparently never dawned upon them that today’s users would think of a 21mm lens as a wide angle lens rather than a lens where there is 21mm from the sensor to the center of focus inside the optics.
Optic = Eye or vision. From French optique or medieval Latin opticus, from Greek optikos, from optos ‘seen.’
Perspective - The way objects appear to the eye; their relative position and distance. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of perspective (also see Three-dimensional). A wide angle “widens” the perspective and makes objects further away appear smaller than they are to the eye, and objects nearer, relatively larger than they are to the eye. A tele lens will “flatten” the perspective and often objects further away will appear relatively larger than nearer objects, compared to sizes in real life. A 50mm lens is the one closest to the perspective and enlargement ratio of the human eye.
S = Single image. In the menu of the Leica TL2 you can choose between single image at the time, or Continuous where the Leica TL2 will shoot series of 20-29 pictures per second as long as you hold down the shutter release. In Single mode it takes only one photo, no matter how long you hold down the shutter release.
SDC = Software Distortion Correction. A correction of lens distortion (not straight lines) applied in the camera and which is part of the DNG file. In Lightroom the SDC of the camera file is applied automatically (and cannot be removed), in software like AccuRaw one can open the DNG file without the SDC correction. Sean Reid reviews have written a good article on what SDC is and does in "Software Distortion Correction".
SDC (Software Distortion Correction): In Lightroom the correction profile for the Fujinon 23mm is applied automatically and cannot be turned off.If you go into Develop mode in Lightroom and look under Lens Correction > Profile, you will see a message in the bottom with an exclamation mark. When you click on that, you get the message above.
Sensor = A device that detects a physical property (like light) and records it. A camera sensor is a plane plate with thousands of small “eyes” with a lens in front of each, which each individually records the amount of red, green and blue light rays that comes through the lens. together Red, Green and Blue form all colors of the spectrum. From Latin sens- ‘perceived’
Saturation: How colorful, intense or pure the color is. Less saturation would be less colorful, more saturation would be more colorful. In today’s photography, desaturating a photo on the computer will gradually make it less and less colorful; and full desaturation would make it into a black and white photo.
Sharpness - See “Focus”
SLR = Abbreviation for Single-Lens Reflex; the lens that forms the image on the film/sensor also provides the image in the viewfinder via a mirror. The Leica Q has no traditional viewfinder and no mirror. the image seen in the EVF is what the sensor sees.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In Leica terminology a Summilux is always a f/1.4 lens and a Summicron is a f/2.0 lens.
Three-dimensional = Having the three dimensions of height, width and depth. In photography and lens design, three-dimensional effect is also the perception of even small micro-details; the texture of skin can appear flat and dead or three-dimensional and alive. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of depth. Also see Perspective.
The "Viewfinder" issue contains user report by Jono Slack, interview on the Leica M10 with Leica Camera AG Global Manager Stefan Daniel and Leica M10 Product Manager Jesko Oeynhausen, and more. Sign up for a print membership or digital membership at lhsa.org (Leica Historial Society International).
Thorsten von Overgaard by Markus Iofce (New York, June 2018)
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish born multiple award-winning AP photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops which cater to Leica enthusiasts. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.
I am in constant orbit teaching
Leica and photography workshops.
Most people prefer to explore a
new place when doing my workshop.
30% of my students are women.
35% of my students dotwo or more workshops.
95% are Leica users.
Age range is from 15 to 87 years
with the majority in the 30-55 range.
Skill level ranges from two weeks
to a lifetime of experience.
97% use a digital camera.
100% of my workshop graduates photograph more after a workshop.