Joe Cornish, the great British landscape photographer, advocates taking most of your photographs no more than thirty minutes from your home. So, here's my blog featuring pictures either thirty minutes drive or walk away from my front door or from the place where I'm staying for a few days. I'll also be writing about photography in general from time to time. Please enjoy!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Cambrian Photography Open Day - Leica's Rock!

Having written about Calumet's open day I thought I'd better write a little about another open day I attended hosted by Cambrian Photography back in May. For those of you who don't know Cambrian they are an independent dealership (pretty rare these days in the UK) stocking most major manufacturers of both cameras and accessories. They've a fairly big shop in Old Colwyn in North Wales just off the A55 main route from England into northern Wales. They're friendly, helpful and one of the stores where nothing is too much trouble, in my experience anyway. There were certainly lots of satisfied customers on the day. Here's their web site details:
Cambrian Photography

Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and Leica (surprise!) were present with lots of hands-on opportunities. There was a variety of free workshops throughout the day covering a wide range of topics and there were a few special offers. I'd not gone with any specific queries or purchases in mind; just a day out followed by an overnight stay in Anglesey and some photography thrown in for good measure.

Having wandered about a bit, sampled the excellent cakes and chatted to a few folk I gravitated to the Leica "stand". I've got a little Leica C-Lux 3, which I use as a notebook come electronic sketchpad and I'm very pleased with it. The images are good enough to post on my Fotoblur pages where you can see a dozen or so. Some have done quite well.

Anyway, Mark from Leica, had a small selection of goodies including an M9 and an X1. We chatted about them for a little which and had a touch of hands-on before Mark offered me the opportunity to go out and play for a while. No second asking needed! I don't profess to be a camera reviewer (see my earlier bit about Hasselblad!) but I can at least give you some impressions of what these beauties are like.

First up was the X1; it retails in the UK for around £1,400. It's light, comfortable and a cinch to use. I was impressed by by how quiet it was but because I didn't want to upset the settings Mark had it on I didn't fiddle with the various modes. Suffice to say that I spent 20 minutes firing off pictures left right and centre. I have to say right now that this is an excellent camera. Sure, there are much cheaper options but they don't say 'Leica' on the front. That's not being snobbish - it's just a fact. The build, the quality of the glass, in fact, everything about the camera oozed class. Although I can't talk to you about lens aberration, accuracy of shutter speeds and exposures, I can show you what it's capable of:

Click the picture for the bigger image

Click the image for the bigger picture

Having rather reluctantly returned the X1, which I now covet, I had the great pleasure of walking out of the shop with about £8,000 worth of Leica M9 round my neck; deep joy!

You'll know from reading an earlier posting here that I've slowed my imaging right down; the X1 forces you to go slower still. It's been a very long time since I last used a rangefinder camera (a Zorki 4 if you must know - what a great little camera they were!) but it all came flooding back very quickly. This is a seriously brilliant camera; it felt heavy but that's because it's superbly engineered; it was as smooth as silk; basically, dear reader, it was a dream to use and if I coveted the X1 imagine how I felt towards the M9!

It's difficult to tell you just how good this camera is and it just felt right. It fits snuggly and unobtrusively in your hand; the controls are easily accessed; the viewfinder is bright, the LCD is bright and quite vibrant; everything works just so. Just as with the X1 I can't tell you how accurate everything is but I can bet that everything will be damned near perfect on it. Being set on .DNG image recording made it easy to process the images from the M9. The first image appeared on my Fotoblur pages and was very well received:

Click the image for the bigger picture

This next image is previously unpublished:

Click the image for the bigger picture

So there we are; an excellent day out with the chance to play with some dream toys. I should point out that I have nothing to do with either Leica or Cambrian other than being a satisfied customer of both.

Thanks to Cambrian for organising their open day and to Leica, especially Mark, for making the day rather special and letting me play.

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