Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/09/24

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Subject: [Leica] Back from Photokina - Part 2 (long)
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 14:25:20 EDT

 O.K. it is over for another two years, that photographic paraphernalia ex=
named Photokina. Is it only me or does any of the other participants have =
quench the urge to take up charcoal drawing or macram=E9 knotting? Rarely =
so many walked so much and wanted so many new toys! I kept getting lost an=
ended up in the digital printing hall or the hall that was dedicated to
photoalbums and frames. If you haven't been there you  cant imagine the sc=
of the "Kina". There are endless corridors with exhibitors showing things,
everything from digital printers capable to spit out 18ft wide images down=
strange cameras from the east. The Lomo camera (a Russian made Minox 35 lo=
a-like) has a bit of a cult following, similar to the plastic Diana camera=
they had a very strange, almost 60's psychedelic slideshow, complete with
raucous music and screens all over the place, a new definition of hell!
 All right, let's get back to what counts at Photokina; the beer and food.
Leica had a nice booth with good coffee and drinks. Kodak had reasonable h=
dogs and Agfa the best beer! Oh, Leica also showed the new M6TTL and the n=
90/2 Asph-APO (no wonder it takes a 55mm front filter, there had to be roo=
for all that writing around the edges!) and the 135/3,4 APO. The M6 TTL lo=
like a committee designed it and the new Shutterspeed dial is weird. Very
large diameter and it rotates the wrong way. How are they going to convinc=
users who have turned the dial this way to reverse thinking? By now Leica
should know that the M-users are a conservative bunch (to put it mildly!).=
top plate is 2 mm higher to accommodate the extra circuits for the TTL sys=
and the finder has more bright lights in it. A small red dot comes on when=
have "perfect" exposure (in between the red arrows) and there is a flashin=
symbol indicating the flash readiness and function. The new flash is quite
attractive, and if you use the M with flash the new camera is most likely =
good idea. The new 90/2 is very nice, according to the designer it is as g=
as they can make it, it is getting close to the theoretical limit of curre=
optical glass technology and I have had one on order since April 98. Leica
admitted that delivery will be in 2nd quarter of 99 (shades of the R8
winder!). The 135/3,4 feels very nice and balances very well in the hand. =
the M6HM TTL (how many capital letters can one use in a camera name!) it w=
well, with the regular finder the 135 image is still small. I managed to s=
some frames with the 90/2  and the 135/3,4 and once the film is processed =
will look at them critically. They are evidently still fiddling with the f=
design of the 90/2 to give it a smoother looking hood/barrel combination.
Well, I am eagerly awaiting mine.
 The new M6TTL works fine with my winder too. I borrowed one and shot a co=
of rolls with it. When the good people at Leica turned there back I put a
Rapidwinder on and proceeded to try it out. No problems.  Saturday morning=
a gathering of LUGgers outside the Leica booth. Great fun, all these faces=
the names on the screen. There were LUGgers from all over, USA, Canada,
Germany, Holland, Belgium, and Norway. Some of these were LUGgers I had
already met before, Lucien (the only person I know who uses a M6J), Ernest=
and Guido, Erwin, Arthur, Bill R. and Bill E.  And then some of the names =
the screen; Jim Brick and his family, Nathan, Raimo, Jem, Arne, Chris B, C=
Krystow (sorry if I forgot anyone!). This was one of the highlights of the
Photokina to me. However personable one can get on screen, nothing beats
seeing each other face to face. As usual when you have a gathering of Leic=
users, the subject quickly turned to food and drink.What is it about M-cam=
that makes you hungry? A word of warning, when ordering food in Germany,
beware of diminutives, I ordered "hamchen" thinking that the usual "-chen"
prefix indicated a smaller version of the ham on the bone ("Eisbein"), wha=
t I
got was the Tyrannosaurus of pigs. Well. It provided the fellow LUGgers wi=
th a
great photo-op. Now I still wonder how big the non-diminutive piece would =
 Of course wandering around in these hallowed halls you keep running into
stuff you want to have, even non-Leica related items. The Hasselblad Xpan
impressed me mightily and it would make a nice complementary camera to a M=
- -
system. I also had the pleasure of meeting Keith Canham of the Canham came=
fame. Nice 4x5 and larger cameras. Beautiful machining and some interestin=
technical solutions, I think in every photographer/machinist there is an u=
to build a better large format camera. There is something about 4x5 and 8x=
negs that is enchanting. Maybe not for street shooting but for the more
contemplative aspects of photography. 
 We left the "Kina" on the Sunday, after having attended the Swap meet. Mo=
Leica stuff there, I restrained myself and picked up a couple of reloadabl=
Leica cassettes and a reasonably priced 35/2,8 Summaron. 
 We found a nice little hotel in Bad Schwalbach south of Frankfurt, an old
"spa" town. It was just what one needed after Cologne. The water had enoug=
iron in it to set off the security gate at the airport and I still wonder =
you would have to hacksaw the film after developing in it. 
 I also had the unmitigated pleasure of meeting Hans Pahlen in Sweden befo=
Photokina. He could not make the LUG-meet but was there in spirit. His
daughter is taking Photography as a study subject and is attending one of =
schools for this in Sweden. Hans bought her a M2, a 35 and a 90 for this. =
there is a truly benevolent father and of course he is also providing us w=
a new generation of LUGgers!
 Well, that's about it for PhotoKina and I am grateful that it is only eve=
second year; how much beer, wine and cholesterol can a human body handle a=
how many cameras can one fondle?! 
 Also thanks to Erwin and Marc for organizing the Friday evening Leica/LUG=
- -
meet. Not too many embarrassing questions asked and Leica was very forthco=
with information on the new lenses and the TLL M6. I don't know whether it=
truly significant, but there was not a single SLR Leica on the table durin=
the meet. Maybe the LUGgers know something that Leica should now!
 I would also like to thank Roger Horn (Leica USA) and Stefan Daniel (the =
product manager for Leica M) for spending a lot of their valuable time wit=
Bill Rosauer and me on the Friday. I am pleased to know that Stefan is a
trained technician and knows how to assemble and disassemble a M camera. H=
built up his own black M2 from a waterlogged wreck.
 Well, now I have to get ready for the next Leica event, the LHSA meet in
October. Thanks to all of you that I met during this trip and if I don't s=
you before, lets meet again at the Leica booth, Saturday at 10.30-11 am ye=
Tom A