Leica invented autofocus, then abandoned it

Leica invented the autofocus camera system with the Correfot in 1976.
Leica invented the autofocus camera system with the Correfot in 1976.
Photo: WestLicht Camera Auction

Legendary German camera maker Leica spent nearly 20 years patenting technology that would take focusing out of the hands of photographers. As with the 35 mm still camera the company created in 1925, Leica stood ready to once again revolutionize photography, this time with an autofocus system.

But after spending the last part of the 1970s working on prototypes, Leica dropped plans to bring autofocus to consumers. Leica figured its customers already knew how to focus their cameras.

“There’s an element of truth in that,” said Heinz Richter, who was a member of the Leica Historical Society of America when he held one of the first autofocus cameras at a meeting in Minneapolis in 1980. “Leica used to be an extremely conservative company. The autofocus mechanism as they were available then didn’t fit into the company’s ideal of precise focusing.”

If you think Apple’s packaging is good, wait until you see these

Apple doesn't have anything on the packaging for these products.
Apple doesn't have anything on the packaging for these products.
Photo: Stephen Smith/Cult of Mac

Opening a new Apple product for the first time is pretty close to a holy experience. Part of that is because Apple spends so much time perfecting product packaging so it’s simple, elegant and secure without compromising on intuitiveness.

However, it’s a mistake to think Apple is the only company that pours thought and care into something as basic as a box. In light of the recent rumor that Apple will be working with third-party accessory makers to co-design packaging for their products in Apple retail stores, it’s clear many other companies care as well. It’s about being eye-catching without straying from uniformity, it’s about being simple yet still adorned.

With this spirit in mind, take a look at some of the other electronic companies out there getting extremely creative with their product packaging. The goal for these seems to be making the boxes as gorgeous as the products themselves – and they succeed.

Using this camera with Apple Photos could destroy your photo library

If you have this camera, don't use Apple Photos. Photo: Leica
If you have this camera, don't use Apple Photos. Photo: Leica

If you’re an owner of a new Leica M Monochrom camera — a beautiful digital camera specializing in beautiful black-and-white photographs, which Leica released on May 7th — you may want to avoid hooking it up to your Mac right now.

According to a new advisory, a nasty bug affects the Leica M Monochrom which can cause it to destroy your entire Apple Photos library. Whoa!

Lenny Kravitz adds rocker aesthetic to new Leica camera

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Rocker Lenny Kravitz helped Leica design a limited edition camera that has been deliberately aged by hand. Photo: Leica
Rocker Lenny Kravitz helped Leica design a limited edition camera that has been deliberately aged by hand. Photo: Leica

Lenny Kravitz has designed a camera for Leica and you are going to need rock-star money to afford it.

Kravitz, whose life-long love for photography is evident by the Leica camera often slung on his shoulder, has collaborated with his favorite company to design a limited edition Leica M-P Correspondent digital rangefinder.

The “design” comes in the form of areas of the camera’s black enamel finish where the paint has been deliberately worn away to reveal flares of brass. It has the vintage appearance of a well-traveled workhorse that came from the bag of Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Gadget Watch: Phones with Leica lenses, and Leicas without LCDs

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Gadget Watch: Sept. 20, 2014

The mammoth Photokina photo fair is going on this week, and that means tons of photo goodies. Small, manual cameras with big sensors are the game this year — unless you’ve got $20,000 to burn, in which case Leica’s new novelty camera might be up your street. We round these out with Gadget Watch's usual collection of bags, cases and gadgets.

Panasonic LX-100

The sweet-looking LX-100 is Panasonic’s take on the Fujifilm X100, only it comes with a zoom lens instead of a fixed one, and a plain EVF instead of the X100-series’ amazing hybrid viewfinder. It packs in a big Micro Four Thirds sensor, has manual dials for everything and the 24-75mm equivalent lens runs from ƒ1.7-2.8. $900

Bison Wallet

It looks like a sunglasses case crossed with a taco, but the Bison Wallet is in fact an iPhone case that manages to carry some cards or cash in a minimal, almost unnoticeable pocket formed from an extra flap of leather. It’s a clever take on the wallet case, and one which doesn’t leave you with a wedge of crap on your back jeans pocket. $75

Booq Taipan Shock

The biggest shock about Booq’s Taipan Shock is the price. For $95 you get a great bag with Booq’s great organizational design, which gives you tons of pockets and sleeves for your gear, but somehow doesn’t force you into one way of using it. There’s a section for a MacBook, an outside pocket for an iPad, plus all kinds of spaces inside for bottles, clothes and accessories. $95

Rickshaw reflective tweed bags

Rickshaw makes some of the finest bags known to man, and now it also makes them reflective. See-me-in-the-dark Reflective Performance Tweed is a shiny variant on the regular Performance Tweed, a classy fabric made from recycled water bottles. Backpacks and messenger bags can be had in solid or striped variants, and they’re all as ultra-light and ultra-tough as ever. From $59.

DoDocase Apple Watch charging stand

Who wants to toss their Apple Watch onto their nightstand while they sleep? Not you, and not me. No, we want the DoDocase charging stand, carved from walnut and with a cable router to keep things tidy. I like that you can just hang the watch on here and charge it. You can even have the thing monogrammed, rendering it tacky as hell. $80

Leica M Edition 60

$20,000 will buy you a digital Leica with no LCD, no autofocus, not even automatic exposure. You get a shutter release button, a shutter speed dial, an ISO dial and the aperture and focussing rings around the lens. That is it. It’s a rangefinder camera with all the limitations of film. You can’t even chimp to check you got the exposure right. Loaded hipsters are ecstatic. $20,000

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Panasonic CM1 phone camera

Panasonic has put a one-inch sensor and a Leica lens in a phone. To be fair, it’s more of a camera with a phone built into it, but seeing as my iPhone gets used more as a camera than anything else, that’s not a bad choice. That’s the same sized sensor as in the Sony RX100, paired with a 28mm (equivalent) ƒ2.8 lens. There’s even a physical click-wheel around the lens. It’s just a shame it runs Android. €900

Tassel Charging Cable

If you hate on-the-go iPhone-charging hassle, then you need the Photojojo keychain charging Tassle, a Lightning or microUSB cable that dangles from your bag or keys until needed. Outside it’s leather, inside there are your charging plugs, kept safe with a magnetic closure. Comes in pink or brown, for $60