Leica invented autofocus, then abandoned it

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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

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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

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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

Gadget Watch: Bags, bags and … bags. Plus, some cool new camera gear

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Gadget Watch: Aug. 23, 2014

Bags, bags, bags. Literally – there are three hot bags in this week’s gadget roundup, and if you buy them all, you’ll be out by around a grand. Or you could buy the ultra-expensive Leica M-P, a new camera so minimal it doesn’t even have the trademark red dot on the front, yet still costs $8,000. Or you can go to the other end of the price range and pick up LensBaby’s new iPhone optic for just $70. And that’s just the beginning…

The Attaché leather bag

H.O.T. Those are the three letters that best describe Pad & Quill’s new Attaché bag, a beautiful leather satchel with unbreakable, high-copper-content hardware and parachute-grade stitching on the outside. Inside, you'll find padded MacBook and iPad pockets, plus orange suede pocket linings.

As a bonus, the marketing copy for the Attaché seems to have been written by Hannibal Lecter, containing this line: “Your taste buds and your liver deserve top shelf [and to be] savored in a glass.” (some words added for comedic effect). How much? $420

Dragon device holder

You can’t get much simpler than the Dragon device holder – it’s a pair of aluminum clips that snap onto the cylinder at the back of your Apple wireless keyboard and slide up and down, letting you space them to fit anything from an iPad to an iPod nano. The clips have a tail at the back to provide stability, and a little lip at the front to hook the bottom edge of your gadget. If you use a full-size keyboard with your iPad, this little gadget should be in your bag. $25

Brooks Hampstead holdall

This bag comes from Brooks, the English bike saddle maker. Weighing in at a hefty 1.6 kilos (well over 3 pounds), it has a roll-top enclosure and adjustable clips that can attach the bag to the rear rack of your bike. The body is “water resistant cotton” and the straps are leather. The price? Around $400.

Leica M-P

In: 2GB RAM (double that of the Leica M). Sapphire glass cover for the camera's rear LCD.

Out: The Leica red dot

Price? $8,000

KERO Power Annex

There’s little to say about KERO’s micro-suction portable battery other than, “What a frikkin’ great idea.” It’s a regular, modest-capacity backup battery (1800mAh, which will get your iPhone back to 75 percent) with a USB port and status-indicator LEDs, but on one side it has a micro-suction layer so you can stick it to the back of your iPhone, over and over. This is so much smarter than having to use a special case to clip the battery on, or just using a case with a built-in battery pack. Or you could do what I do, which is use a regular backup battery and a rubber band. $19

Pyle Smart Bicycling Computer (with Google Maps)

The Pyle PSBCG90 Smart Bicycling Computer tracks your rides with GPS and displays them on Google Maps back at your computer. You can also hook up any ANT+ accessories wirelessly (heart rate and cadence sensors, power meters and so on), and even challenge yourself, Mario Kart-style, using the ghost-route feature. It looks like a decent alternative to something like the Garmin EDGE 500, and it costs only $130.

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Lensbaby for iPhone

Lensbaby now makes a sweet-spot lens for the iPhone. It sticks on with magnets (you need to stick the included ring over the iPhone’s lens) and blurs everything in your photos except a sharp sweet spot in the center. It's just like the regular Lensbabys, only less adjustable and made for the iPhone. There’s another neat feature – the front has a metal ring on it, too, so you can attach any other iPhone lenses you have onto the Lensbaby for some really freaky FX. $70

TenOne Magnus Air

The Magnus Air updates the minimalistical Magnus that originally shipped for the iPad 2, way back in the mists of 2012. Typical of TenOne’s design, it is so simple it almost doesn’t exist, sticking to the Air with magnets and adding an almost invisible stand that holds your iPad at 22 degrees from the vertical, and at 22 degrees from the horizontal if you lay it down to type. And that’s it – an aluminum bracket that looks kinda like a taco shell, for $40.

Cobra Brief

Fact: Cobra Brief is the name I gave to my favorite pair of underwear. And now, it is also the name of a “business laptop” bag from Booq. It has all the compartments and pockets you’d expect, with a space for almost literally everything, plus an outer quick-access pocket for your iPhone and iPad. You can even hook it onto the top of your carry-on trolley, allowing you to be one of those morons who sneaks too many bags into the plane and takes up all the overhead bin space. $295

Machine Crush Monday: Leica M6

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There's still something magical about the Leica M6, a rangefinder camera introduced in 1984. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Who won the Super Bowl in 1984? Apple did. Aired during the third quarter of the big game, the "1984" commercial introduces the Macintosh to an unsuspecting public (and generates a ton of buzz).

Judge Harry T. Stone presides over hilarity in Night Court, a sitcom that starts its nine-season run in 1984.

Any mission, any time, any place: Robo Force's Maxx Steele reports for duty in 1984.

Shape-shifting pop star Michael Jackson bags a record eight Grammys in 1984 for his record-shattering album Thriller.

The rivalry between classical composers Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart captures critics' fancy in 1984 movie Amadeus.

What time is it? Game time. The Casio Cosmo-Flight gives new meaning to the term "wrist rocket" in the mid-'80s.

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Truman Capote, the famously troubled author of In Cold Blood, dies of liver cancer August 25, 1984, at age 59.

Prince double dips with Purple Rain, a movie (and accompanying soundtrack) about a Minneapolis musician. Everybody goes crazy.

Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated on October 31, 1984, a day after her final speech, which included the sadly prophetic line: "I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow. I shall continue to serve till my last breath."

When I worked on my college paper a million years ago, my buddy Bruno had Leicas. This made him the coolest person in the whole wide world.

The cameras were tiny and had the smoothest-operating lenses I had ever touched. They were a feat of German engineering. For me, it was love at first sight. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t stop lusting for one of those tiny black boxes.

I immediately started my quest to get one. I had to have a Leica. And because this was the mid-’80s, I definitely wanted an M6, which was introduced in 1984. Hell, it was advanced. It had a meter. The first real meter in a Leica, if you disregard the much-maligned M5.

This Is The Desk That Jony Ive Thinks Your Mac Should Be Sat On

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Jony-Ive-desk

When you spend thousands of dollars on a new Mac, you don’t want to take it home and put it on anything — you want the desk beneath to look just as good. So, wouldn’t it be awesome if the Mac’s designer, Jony Ive, designed the perfect desk to accompany it.

Well, he has — but you won’t be able to purchase it. Like the special edition Ive-designed Project (RED) Leica unveiled earlier this week, the solid aluminum (RED) Desk is a one-off created by Ive and industrial designer Marc Newson for a charity auction. And it’s likely to fetch a fortune.

This Is What A Jony Ive Designed Leica M Looks Like [Gallery]

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jonydesignsleica

 

Ever since Phil Schiller admitted that Apple considered making a standalone camera at one point, we’ve wondered what the results would look like if Sir Jony Ive’s obsessive attention to detail was applied to a full-framed camera. As part of Bono’s charity auction for Project (RED), Leica unveiled The Leica M for (RED) designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson that will be auctioned off at Southeby’s on Nov. 23rd to fight AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

Jony and Marc redesigned the Leica M by going through a total of 561 models and nearly 1000 prototype parts over 85 days to create the one of a kind camera that features a laser machined aluminum body, and an anodized aluminum outer shell to go with the full-format CMOS sensor inside.

Get a glimpse of all the impeccable details in the gallery below: