Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Leica SL (Type 601) Review: With Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–90 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH

"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me..."
                                                              - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Rich Boy

It is difficult to enter any discussion regarding Leica without at least once visiting the reality of the prices that they charge. That has never been more true with the SL (Type 601), which commands one of the starkest prices of any Leica south of the medium format S series. For the purposes of this writing, it will remain the elephant in the room.... these days, one merely has a Leica or one does not. It's not rational to justify it. If you come across somebody and this is their camera, then there will probably be some truth to the fact that they will be "different from you and me".

The SL is like the Leica Q in that it is a surprise. The Q is a harbinger of a more automated and user-friendly form of the M-series rangefinder format... the surprise was how willing Leica was to go in this direction given it's history. Likewise, the SL is ostensibly another dive into uncharted waters for the company; the Leica T was one experiment, and the SL feels like another. For a "conservative" company, the SL shows a surprisingly willingness to be modern. That said, even if the concept of the SL feels like a grand experiment, it's form and operation are already evident in the S-series medium format cameras: the SL is that in miniature. This is a camera with a much heft as a Nikon D810 or Canon 5Ds, and it's "kit" lens is just as imposing. As cliché as it is, this is a camera that would not be out of place in a fashion shoot out on the streets of Monaco.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

How Does Light Travel Through Glass?

This will be a bit of a diversion post. Photographer's these days are concerned with many technical things... how many megapixels their cameras are, how much dynamic range they can fit in an image, how many stops of aperture they can manage. On a deeper and more edifying level, there is a lot of science behind how modern cameras work, but perhaps the most elemental is the fact that glass is transparent. "It just is" you may say, but the physics of why some things like camera lenses let light through, and why other things don't, is explained in this link to Brady Haran's excellent Sixty Symbols channel on YouTube. Professor Phil Moriarty explains:

But camera lenses don't just pass light through unimpeded.If if the photons do make it through the glass, they will travel through the glass 40% slower than they would in a vacuum. This is where the concept of diffraction comes in, the basis of how camera lenses work....