One of the great news at Photokina 2016 was that now everybody can afford a Leica
Leica Sofort comes in mint, white or orange. Price is $298.00.Delivery starts mid November 2016.
Much of what German camera producer Leica Camera AG does is based on the original, simple concepts on photography that was often invented by Leica themself 100 years ago.
The Leice Sofort almost goes back to before Leica produced cameras, back when a camera made just one original photo, and in one size. The first cameras exposed a metal plate or glass plate, and as enlargers were not yet a known concept, the only available size was the one the camera made.
Photography in the 1800's. The picture had the size of the negative frame (as you can see he's holding behind the camera).
The Daguerreo-Type camera (1839) photographed on a metal plate, and that was the photo. The development took time and technical skills (and a lot of exotic chemicals).
Later came glass plates (1852), and with them the possibility to make several copies in a darkroom by sending light through the glass negative onto light-sensitive paper. For a long time the size of the print was the same as the negative on glass plate.
With the Oskar Barnack idea, "small negative, large print" (1930's) came the "the tiny camera" Leica M that uses small film, as well as enlargers that can enlarge the negative to a large print in the darkroom.
Reinventing original photography
With the Leica Sofort, Leica Camea AG takes us back to simple photography, but they add the instant film so you can get the results in 30 seconds.
Thanks to Edward Land who invented the instant camera (the Land Camera and later the Polaroid camera), we now get instant gratification.
The film is Leica Instant 100 ISO that comes in color. A pack of 10 sheets cost $13.00. Also Fujifil Instax Mini will do and cost about $12.50 for a pack of 20 sheets. In other words, when you have taken about 5,000-10,000 photos, you are at a point where you can re-consider if you should have bought a digital Leica M instead.
A special package of 10 sheets: Fujifilm instax mini Rainbow Instant Film for $9.00.
34mm wide angle lens
The lens is a 60mm, which in 35mm photography terms translate to a 34mm. In other words, it's a wide angle lens. With a f-stop of f/12.7 it needs some sunshine or flash to take pictures, and sharpness from front to infinity is almost given with an aperture like that.
The lens is called Automatik-Hektor. The "Hektor" in the lens name usually is for f/2.5 lenses in the Leica language (derives from Leitz' lens designer Professor Max Berek's [1886-1949] dog Hektor. He also had another favorite dog, Rex, which inspired the lens name Summarex).
Macro, portrait and landscape focus
The Leica Sofort has three manual focusing ranges: Macro (1.0-2.0' / 0.3-0.6 m), Close Range (2.0-9.8' / 0.6-3.0 m) and Far Range (9.8' / 3.0 m to infinity).
Buying a Leica Sofort
If you want to get your hands on a Leica Sofort, you most likely must wait till mid November 2016. One of the first places to check for new stock would be Leica dealer Ken Hansen in New York. Rumor has it he will be getting early stock (as long as it lasts).
Price of the Leica Sofort is $298, which makes it about $1.00 per gram (weight of the camera is 305 g).
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Leica Sofort Definitions
Aperture = The f/ stop on the camera that regulates how much light passes through the lens. ORIGIN: Late Middle English : from Latin apertura, from apert- ‘opened,’ from aperire ‘to open’.
A 34 mm lens has a 54° viewing angle
Focal length = The viewing angle, which is often given in for example 90° viewing angle for a 21mm lens, 74° viewing angle for a 28mm lens, 6° viewing angle for a 400mm lens, etc.
Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120° to 200° angle of view, but focus only in the center.
Hektor - (as in Automatik-Hektor f/12.7) Refers to the lens aperture - usually f/2.5 - in Leica terminology. The name was apparently taken from the name of Leitz' lens designer Professor Max Berek's [1886-1949] dog Hektor. (He also had another favorite dog, Rex, which inspired the lens name Summarex).
Instax - is a brand of instant still cameras and instant films marketed by Fujifilm since the late 1990s. There are two formats of Instax film and cameras − the original "wide" format which gives an image approximately 60 mm x 99 mm, and a "mini" format of 62 mm x 46 mm used in the Leica Sofort.
ISO = Light sensitivity of a film or camera sensor is given in ISO (International Organization for Standardization). It's a standard that was used in film and is now used in all digital cameras also.
Leica = A compound word derived from " (Lei)tz" and "(ca)mera". Apparently they were originally going to use "LECA", but another camera company already used a similar name in France, so they inserted the 'i' to prevent any confusion.
Sofort - German word that means "immediately".
Type - The "Type" in Daguerreo-Type refers to images typed onto or into something and not "type" as in a model type. If you study early photography, you will see many different sorts of rints referred to as -type. For example Doré-type is a type of photograph made with a thin glass and gold-colored paper behind it. (Doré is French for that means covered with a thin layer of gold)
The Leica Sofort seen from above.
Reviews of the Leica Sofort
(If you feel yours or somebody elses review is missing, please feel free to mail me and I will try to include it)
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish born multiple award-winning AP photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops which cater to Leica enthusiasts. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.