After one of their most dramatic marketing build-ups in recent times, Leica unveiled the X Vario camera on June 11. I was fortunate to get a working sample—for just a few days—and put it through its paces. Here are my impressions.
It’s a good thing that early photographers didn’t have to pass through airport security with their flash equipment. The pyrotechnics they used to light a scene would surely have merited more than a pat down. Many years ago, long before the flash tube or flashbulb, a century or so before the Flashcube, cameramen used a flash powder called thermite.
When Olympus and Panasonic launched the Micro Four Thirds system they offered adapters that enabled the use of regular Four Thirds lenses. Smart move, because it immediately expanded the library of available glass. The goal of Micro Four Thirds is smaller and lighter SLR cameras. The unanticipated benefit is compatibility with tons of lenses we all thought we’d never use again.
When I say filter, your first thought may be a Photoshop plug-in. That’s natural, especially if your first good camera was digital. But folks who cut their photographic teeth shooting 35mm film know all about the light-bending qualities of glass screw-in filters. Physical filters were once the best (and sometimes only) way to get certain types of creative shots. Although still as effective as ever, they’ve fallen from favor for several reasons.
Almost 20 years after the dramatic success of the first autofocus 35mm SLR, the Minolta Maxxum 7000, Minolta introduced “body integral” Image Stabilization (IS) to the world in the DiMAGE A1, and the game changed. Advanced photographers recognized the value of stabilization. That was back in 2003, but it wasn’t the first attempt to quell camera jitters. Previously, IS had been performed optically. Minolta did it in the camera body by physically moving the sensor to counteract camera movement. We called it Anti-Shake, and I was a member of the team that brought it to market.
Partly because I own some great Minolta glass (including a 17-35mm G-series zoom) and partly because one of my best friends in the whole world, Mickey Iwata, a former PMDA Technical Achievement Award winner, is in charge of the Sony Alpha DSLR/SLT accessories, I bought a Sony Alpha 55.
We all need a second camera, one that travels with us when the heavy artillery stays at home. There are many premium models to choose from, and most yield results on par with their larger brethren—under certain circumstances.