These are exciting times for fans of legacy film lenses. Since the advent of mirrorless technology, photographers have adapted their old rangefinder and manual focus SLR lenses, but there have remained some wonderful optics that were for the most part, off limits. During the 1990s, camera makers were producing high end film compacts for discriminating professionals and enthusiasts. Cameras like the Leica Minilux, Contax T3, Konica Hexar AF and the Ricoh GR fit in a jacket pocket but rival the quality of larger SLR or rangefinder systems. While they continue to be used today by film aficionados, it is a sad day when they suffer from an electronics failure that can no longer be repaired.
Being a fan of compact film cameras like the Contax T2, Ricoh GR and the Leica Minilux, I couldn’t pass up a chance to test out the new conversion kit from MGR Productions that repurposes the Summarit 40mm f/2.4 lens from a Leica Minilux into an M-mount for use on my Sony. Check back for a full breakdown of the conversion process and samples.
The upside to having an eleven-year-old that is plane crazy is that I get to relive my own childhood love of aviation. A couple weekends ago we headed out to a vintage car and airplane show in Georgetown, TX with cameras in tow. My son had a little Konica A4 loaded up with some Kodak ProImage 100 while I grabbed the RX1RII and the a7RII with Touit 12mm. Click through for a gallery of our good times.
When mirrorless first emerged on the market back in 2008 with the Panasonic DMC-G1 – not counting the earlier and more esoteric rangefinders from Epson and Leica – the concept of a smaller camera performing at the level of a dSLR was quite foreign to photographers and if we are fair, still a few years off. As Olympus, Fuji, Leica, Ricoh, Pentax, Sony and eventually even Canon and Nikon jumped into the nascent format, all the early systems were small, with lenses that matched the diminutive bodies. Those early systems like the Olympus Pen, the Sony NEX and the Ricoh GXR were a revelation to photographers sick of the ever expanding waistline of their dSLR kits.
In 1988, The Sugarcubes debut album “Life’s Too Good” was getting heavy rotation in my cd player and served as an introduction to the quirky band’s native Iceland. Over the years other Icelandic bands like Sigur Ros and Of Monsters and Men, continued to sonically and lyrically paint an enticing canvas of their native homeland, further cementing the small country on my bucket list of places to visit. So this fall, while friends planned their winter vacation to warmer climes, I pitched the family on an adventure in the land of Ice and Fire. My wife has come to accept my odd predilections and the kids were just happy to get passports so we booked the flights and began our planning.
These days Sony users are feeling the love from Zeiss with the company’s highly regarded Batis lenses and the smaller rangefinder style manual focus Loxia line. While the Batis and Loxia (Zeiss names their lens lines after bird species – due to their visual acuity) are excellent native options, the beauty of the Sony mirrorless system is that we can mount nearly every lens developed for a 35mm sensor. So when I was looking for a 21mm loaner from my friendly Zeiss rep at Precision Camera, he advised that I give the new Milvus 21/2.8 a try.
Over the past few years Sony has disrupted the DSLR industry with their full frame a7 mirrorless line, but the camera that started it all was the original RX1. Regular readers will know that I’m a longtime user of the Sony RX1, – I’ve written about my extensive history with the original here on the blog. Even with the excellent a7 bodies in my bag, I still prefer the concept of a compact, FF camera to have by my side for those definitive moments. Since its release in 2012, the RX1 has been labeled a modern classic – a full frame compact that you could use as your main tool without compromise. But technology moves fast and today there is competition in the space from both the Leica Q and the just released update to the RX1, the RX1RII.
Click through for thoughts on how the Q stacks up to the Sony cameras.
Celebrating its ten year anniversary, FFF Fest proved yet again why it is one of the best festivals in the nation. With headliners such as Jane’s Addiction, performing their 90s classic Ritual de lo Habitual in its entirety, and a resurgent Ms Lauren Hill topping Sunday night in a big way, FFF provides the alternative to overgrown festivals recycling the same lineup of whatever acts are on tour.
Mammoth gallery of all three days after the jump.