Thursday, 2 July 2009

Letter from Leica

..otherwise known as "My priceless little Red Dot".

Once in a while you can spoil yourself rotten. Today, I received a letter bearing a Milton Keynes postmark on it, and yes, for those 'in the know', its where the headquarters of Leica UK is located. You see, a few weeks back, I picked up my 50mm Summicron lens from inside my camera bag and did not recognise this piece of lens, it was like a familiar friend had suddenly become unfamiliar, and for the life me, I just cannot see what has changed but change there was.

I couldn't put my finger on it! Literally speaking! Got it!

The little raised plastic red dot on the lens barrel was missing! Shock horrors! Its a Summicron first and a Leica M lens second, or was it the other way round. How can this be. The Red Dot is a signature piece, just like the flying lady in front of Rolls Royces, or the Three Pointed Star in a Merc. Its the the little halved lime you squeeze into a bowl of Sarawkian Laksa. Its the icing on the cake..ok enough, you get what I mean. Without it would mean, utter shame and a let down. A Leica lens would merely be 'another' branded lens.

I searched every crevice and fold deep in my bags, tipped everything out, (found other things unmentionable though) and basically had a clear out but nada. No little red dot. I was depressed for days. My lens was naked like a turtle without its shell.

Beware : Naked Summicron

Then I read in some online forum that if I wrote nicely to Leica AG, they would gladly send me a little red dot replacement. I took the chance of shooting an email off from their website a two days ago, telling them how much I missed my dot. promptly forgetting the whole episode once the send button struck. How silly I told myself. Grow up. A lens is a lens with or without the red dot.

Now those of you that use M or R lenses would understand. Its just not the about the plastic raised dot. Its about execution and finesse. Ah..these German designers long ago were clever engineers. You see, there is a purpose to the little plastic hump on the barrel, as any one who has changed lenses in near darkness or in candle light would testify. Leica's Ms are known for their compact dimensions, solid build, quiet stealth shutters with no mirror slap, and its brilliant fast lenses. All Leica lenses are designed to be shot wide open, as wide as F1.0 with maximum resolution and little flare.

My letter from Leica

The red pimple acts as a guide for your thumb to align the lens to the red release button on the body. (Before any Canon user would jump in now, yes, Canon EF lenses also have a tiny red dots on their lenses, but somehow, I never noticed it, maybe because its smaller, and the barrels are larger, and I have a zoom lens so I hardly change lenses. I can't vouch for Nikon and other makes, contributions please?)

Today, my red dot arrived and my lens is happy, and so am I.

No more nakedness

On the Leica M, all it takes is a one handed, slight (1 cm perhaps, 1/16th ) turn to secure the lens, unlike most makes which make take a 1/4 turn). In fast changing low light situations, this can be a God send in camera handling. Most cameras would require a separate finger to depress the release button and another hand to twist off, and a third hand to hold the camera body steady. I don't have three hands. With my left hand holding the body, my right hand thumb can depress the release button whilst grabbing and twisting the lens off in one swift action. Its really quick.


Clive said...

So now I know how to get little red dots for my CV lenses :-)

teohjitkhiam said...

woooh. cant wait to lay my hands on me very own red dot some day. for now, just salivating. can i safely presume, steven, that you have a naughty-lust 0.95 as well? drool...

svllee said...

Hello Clive, thanks for your visit. Do you have an M8? How do those CV lenses compare. I hope to get a wide someday.

svllee said...

Hi Jit Khiam,

Thanks for your comment. No, I don't lust for the Noctilux, its far too heavy and defeats the purpose of a compact system, and of course its stellar prices. You know, you can get into an M system relatively easy nowadays. Used M's are going for the price of a new DSLR kit, and you can pickup an L-mount lens for not very much. I would say, RM4,000 - 5,000 can get you some equipment. However, it would mean sacrificing AF, matrix metering and all those non-essential stuff that gets in the way!

teohjitkhiam said...

thanks for the clarification, steven. i might not be looking at red dot for now, and am seriously considering bessa 3m and the nokton 40mm, instead.

a small question.

can i safely assume that a manual RF can perform far better in low light conditions vs a manual SLR? i had a few OOF pictures , using manual focus, using an OM2K (no AF with these OM2Ks) at a market in kelantan recently.


svllee said...

Hi Jit Khiam,

I have not used the Bessa before but from what I know, its a great camera very solidly built also. In low light, RF will be easier to handhold at lower speeds, because there is no mirror slap. It depends also on the lens and how well you can hold your breath etc..what low speeds are you talking about? The OMs are pretty quiet and smooth I recall. I had an OM2 all those years ago and really like it.

Also, assuming you will be shooting wide open, lenses generally do not perform well, at those apertures, hence your focussing is very critical. Maybe the CVs and M lenses are better in that respect.

Clive said...

Yes, I have an M8 - the CV lenses are great - light and small. My favorite lens is still the 35mm F/1.4 Summilux. Heavy, but fantastic.

Saya... said...

All Greek to me but sounds like soooo much fun, especially the last part where you describe the swift shot...i think I'm missing something...heheh

Anonymous said...

since they do replacements for lost dots, i wonder if they do replacements for whole lost cameras...

Ivory n Gold said...

I am a Leica user.
Leica is Leica, only the user knows :-)