Choosing a camera to invest your hard-earned pennies into can be confusing.
Our Photo Annual is, quite clearly, all about photos. And where would we be without those bloody beautiful machines themselves that can make or break a photo? The camera you use is pretty important, so we decided in our recent issue we’d review three cameras for your benefit: one polaroid, one film and one digital. Taking some fresh-out-of-the-box gear out for a spin was tough work, but someone’s gotta do it.
Leica Q (Digital) by Tim Tregoning
I’m a huge Leica enthusiast, and I can safely say the release of the Leica Q is a step in the right direction for what has previously been a very non-consumer friendly product. Don’t get me wrong, I shoot all my personal stuff with my Leica M240 which I fucking love! And in my opinion, it’s the first true digital success from the Leica family and one of the best range finder cameras on the market.
Being a cinematographer, I tend to be a slave to the look and feel of the image, and I’m not so phased by the complex functionality of a camera, nor the impracticality of these beautiful pieces of German engineering and design. However, the new Leica Q has all the positive attributes of a Leica, and it’s easy to use.
It’s got a whole new look. It’s small, light, and easy to use. Which is a big improvement on its extraordinarily tricky to use, and heavy to hold brother, the M240. But it still delivers the satisfying colour rendition and shallow depth of field we know and love from the Leica family. The new features that set this camera apart are touch screen navigation, WiFi connectivity, fast burst shooting, in-camera cropping, and a lens cap that actually stays connected. It’s perfect at finding small pockets of light, and it captures an image that far surpasses what we see with the naked eye.
Aesthetically, it’s a typical Leica camera, but it’s been significantly upgraded internally to make it perfect for the weekend warrior photog. For those of you who’ve been intimidated by Leica in the past, now’s your chance to jump in and start hitting some frames with all the assistance you could hope for. The autofocus is bang on, and if you want to switch to manual it’s as good as the M series rangefinder. As far as an all-in-one Leica travel camera goes, this camera’s perfect.
Leica M6 (Film) by James Adams
Operating any unfamiliar camera for the first time can feel as comfortable as holding a baby as a teenager. You’ll find your fingers fighting what their muscles have memorised from previous cameras, ensuring you have to stop. And think. And risk losing the shots magic while you fumble with your new machine. If you know the basics of light and photography, the M6 is a smooth transition and comfy fit because it’s so fucking basic. Speed, F stop, focus, shoot. All manual, no bullshit, no trickery.
Its simplicity makes it easy to get used to, its size makes it easy to transport, and the images make you look better than you may well be. Hell, if you manage to compose something tastefully and interpret the light meter accurately, you might just nail the coolest shot’s you’ve ever taken. They don’t make this model anymore and the word is out, so they fetch a pretty penny, but if anyone’s looking to offload one of these babies, I’d be willing to adopt. I’m sold.
Impossible Project I-1 (Polaroid) by Campbell Milligan
Everyone knows polaroids aren’t the most cost-effective ways of taking photos. So we’ll skip right past the realisation that every “I-fucked-up-that-shot” is gonna cost you about the same as a coffee, and get to it. It’s simple to use, with a good design. Shooting with colour film gives you that nice vintage tone, not super perfect and digital, but it bleeds a bit and that’s what makes it cool; the faults make everything work. Each photo takes around 40 minutes to process, which is cool as it hits the happy medium between digital and waiting for two weeks to see the results of your analogue film.
There’s a lot of cameras out there in the same vein, but to appease the gagging-for-tech humans that we’ve become, there’s an app to go with it. You can set shots up using the phone on your camera, set it for slow exposures and a whole range of stuff. That’s the key to this camera, as it sets it apart from the other cameras of days gone by. If you really wanna have that Andy Warhol polaroid thing then it’s worth it. But a word to the wise—you definitely don’t wanna be fucking around learning how to use it, hit the ground running.