The perfect Leica M11 menu setup
By: Thorsten Overgaard. January 27, 2023.Most recent edit September 1, 2023.
This is Page 4 in a continuous review from Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and continues on Page 5.
You can set up your Leica M11 following the screen shots in this article and you will be fine. “Set it and forget it” as we say. My ideal for any camera is simplicity, speed of operation and high image quality.
Start here: The hidden menu
Have your Leica M11 ready by you to do thisstep by step.
Let's start with a “hidden menu”, the Capture Assistants that you easily forget but which contain some things you later would wonder how to change when their behavior annoys you.
Press x 4 (so you are on screen 3 of the menu) and then scroll down to Capture Assistants > Info profiles > Info profile 1 > Right click the arrow > and set it like this:
1 2 3 4 5
Capture Assistants >
Info Profile 1 > On
Info bars > On
Grids > Off
Clipping > Off
Focus Peaking > Off
Level Gauge > Off
Histogram > Off
Then press to get back. If you revisit the path Capture Assistants > Info profiles > Info profile 1 >
you will see that profile 1 is now On. (Had you turned all of the choices off, the Info profile 1 would be Off).
The two most important choices in the "secret menu"
1. Focus Peaking > off is to avoid a red outline around sharp edges. If you use a 21mm, 24mm, 28mm or 35mm f/1.4 the focus peaking will obstruct your view by giving you red outlines before the picture is in actual focus (as the lens is crisp enough for Focus Peaking to turn on, but far from perfect focusing).
Turning it off, now you see the image as it is, without any disturbing lines. Much easier to see when something is in focus!. The rule looking at a preview of a photo is that, “when it looks right, it is right”.
Video on how to turn off Focus Peaking on the Leica M11:
2. Clipping > off is to avoid the (damn) blinking in the viewfinder when something is overexposed or underexposed. The reason this feature is annoying and useless is that in most cases, you couldn’t care less if the out of focus background or some detail in a photo is over-exposed. You are exposing for the center of interest, usually what is in focus.
As an additional note on "blown out white" exposure, you can correct this in post processing in Lightroom or Capture One. Or Photoshop as needed. To avoid that the white sky in the above photo is white as the paper/screen, I adjust the Levels in Photoshop to 5/245 by which the black is made "almost black" and the white "almost white". Thus there is a separation between the white paper/screen and the sky so the image doesn't "float out on the page".
In Photoshop you can adjust Levels to 5/245 (or 3/250) so the black is not entire black and the white is not entire white. This so that the black in print doesn't "close" and so that the graduation from grey tones to white looks pleasant and doesn't "break" into white screen or white paper.
Video on how to turn off Clipping in the Leica M11:
The info bars are the top and bottom lines with information about settings.
As for the rest of the settings, I leave Info bar > on as it is the bar above and below the image that shows all the settings like shutter speed, white balance setting, ISO setting, file format, imager number and so on. It’s good to have sometimes, and when not; press the thumb joystick and it disappears (press it again and it reappear). Aha!
Grids off is not to have the 3x3 or 6x4 grids across the screen. If you want them so as to be able to compose when taking a photo, turn them on. They can be damn fine to ensure straight lines in a photo, but I usually use the edges of the frame to get my framing straight.
Level Gauge > off is that you turn off the ability to balance the camera 100% horizontal by using level gauge. If you want that feature, turn it on, but it will be there all the time and I find it disturbing as it is mostly a landscape photography feature. Before Level Gauge became part of the digital camera menu, you would buy a level gauge to mount om top of the camera in the hot shoe to ensure level in photos.
Histogram off is because I never use histogram. If you like to see, and like to use histogram, maybe even know how to read a histogram, set it to > on.
Most things necessary for a photographer can be done from the outside of the Leica M11 camera and in the quick menu:
The outside of the camera has the possibilities to adjust focus, aperture, ISO and shutter speed (see below in the article) and the quick menu:.
One press at the button and you see a great overview on the touch screen where you can check that everything is right (mainly that exposure compensation is off), and with a touch change white balance and speed of frames per second as the two most prominent settings worth changing to fit the occasion.
"Set it and forget it" menu settings
for Leica M11
By Thorsten von Overgaard
Once you have set up the following five menu screens, you can mostly just use the outside controls of the camera.
Menu Screen 1 settings:
1 2 3 4 5
Continious Low Speed
0 EV >
ISO 12500 >
Auto ISO Settings
Max 6400 > Min 64 ISO
Speed min 1/125
Menu screen 1 of the Leica M11 explained:
A 6-bit code on a Leica M lens
EXIF information as seen in Lightroom
Lens detection is that the camera reads the bit-code of the lens and show in EXIF data which lens was used (and if a lens profiles exists, it can be applied in post processing in Lightroom or Capture One).
All newer lenses have the 6-bit code engraved, and most older lenses can get one engraved by Leica Camera AG for $300 or somewhat that price. Only some older lenses which have screws where the code should be engraved cannot be engraved by Leica Camera AG (such as for example the 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 Version II from the 1960's).
If ther is no lens code detected you can manually set up in the menu which lens it is. The camera will select that lens you choose last time whenever there is no 6-bit code, so you will have to change it for that specific new lens.
Drive Mode Continuous > Low Speed means you shoot 2.7 frames per second when you hold the release button down, but a single photo at the time if you just press the shutter release. A good all-round setting for singles and series.
Exposure Metering I set to Center-Weighted is the classic way of metering light off of the scene. A center of about 2/3 of the frame is supposed to be mid tone to be correct exposed. This will work for most scenes; but in the cases where you are photographing a person with strong backlight, you will know that the light meter collects so much light from behind the person that it will under-expose the whole frame. If such is the case you simply point the camera down so the 2/3 center of the frame captures an area of mixed tones and colors, with the same amount of light as the face, then lock that exposure setting that the camera have calculated by holding the shutter release half down – then recompose to the face and take the photo by pressing the shutter release the rest of the way.
Any scene with "not normal light" will always confuse the light meter (or rather, confuse the user) because the picture is too dark or too bright. The trick with moving the camera is one way to do it. Another and very safe way is to look at the picture and the shutter speed in the bottom right of the frame and then use the shutter speed dial to adjust it to a more likely correct exposure time; take a photo and look at the preview again. Once you have the shutter speed right, the photo will be perfect.
A light meter judging this scene would just register a lot of light, and thus underexpose the entire frame in attempt to make it look pleasant mid tone. You as the user know that it is not the bright background but the scooter and person in the foregrpound, and then set exposure to make them look correct no matter how much or little light there is behind them.
All is adjusted so the center oval is mid tone.
All is adjusted so the highlight is 1% black
(not 100% white)
All is adjusted so the spot is mid tone.
All is adjusted depending on what the algorithm in the camera think it is..
“Spot” metering is the same as center-weighted, but only a spot in the center of the frame measures the light. Very effective to read light if you know what you are doing, very confusing if you don’t: The camera sets the overall exposure based on whatever the spot is pointed at. If an open door into a dark hallway in an else sunshine street, the overall photo will be over-exposed (but the dark hallway correctly exposed). If the spot is pointed at the horizon on the beach with lots of light, the rest of the beach will be under-exposed. But if you know where the point is, and how large it is, you can use it to measure the light coming off from different surfaces, in the sun and shade and get an overall idea of how much light there is.
“Highlight-weighted” is the fairly new option that sets the overall exposure so that the highlights stay 2% black and never gets over-exposed. I don’t see that as a general preferable option as there are many scenes where a blown highlight is ok and is not valid to be determining the overall exposure of a photo. It is, however, an exposure mode that is a good pastime activity for people to go on online forums and discuss how they think it works. Nobody knows, so any guess is a good guess and can be argued against or for. So it can go on forever, being a highlight in discussions. For picture making, less usable, in my humble personal opinion.
“Multi-field” is a ‘intelligent’ mode where the camera’s algorithms figure out the correct exposure based on highlights and shadows in the image. It would be my second choice and works most of the time. When it doesn’t you will never know what the camera through it was seeing, and thus never be able to correct it. It’s a lazy mode, and when wrong, you can blame the camera and not yourself.
Exposure Compensation I set to 0 EV (EV means Exposure Value) as I don’t want to use the Thumb Wheel to adjust exposure. I aggressively argue that if one wants to change exposure, do so by using the Shutter Speed Dial on top of the camera. The EV adjustment using the thumbs wheel is a fairly new (meaning 10 years) feature in a Leica M, borrowed from Japanese brands as Fuji, Nikon and Canon. What it does is that if you turn the wheel to the left to for example -1 EV, the measured exposure of 1/250 sec till be reduced to 1/500. 1 EV is the same as 1 stop, which is the same as reducing to half, or doubling if it is +1 EV.
Exposure compensation is a very easy way to correct the image exposure, but is made for the unenlightened user who doesn’t know he or she can simply do so by turning the Shutter Speed Dial (or the ISO or Aperture) for desired exposure. The exposure compensation complicates what he or she already doesn’t understand. Even for me that sometimes know what I do, I have hard time knowing if camera choose to adjust the exposure by changing the ISO or the shutter speed. I could live happily in oblivion, having just performed an satisfactory exposure. But the right way is to know what is where of the settings. Changing ISO from 200 to 400 is potentially more damaging to the image quality than changing the shutter speed from 1/250 to 1/500, which has no impact on the image quality. I am sure we could have a heated discussion about this over dinner, but that is why you have your camera and I have mine and we can set each to our own beliefs of what is right.
M-ISO is what the ISO is if the ISO dial on the top left of the Leica camera is set to M(anual). Setting it to 12,500 ISO means that if and when you need 12,500 ISO for a very dark scene, you don’t have to go into the menu but have “expanded” the ISO dial from 64 - 6400 ISO to also include 12,500 ISO at the M mark.
AUTO-ISO is only in effect if the ISO dial on the top left of the camera is set to A(uto). As this is basically to throw the reins and let the horse decide where we are going, I don’t recommend it. The Leica M is so enjoyable simple to operate, one hardly need to ask a firmware to do it for one. As implied, horses and cameras can go to exciting places you would never else think of existed, but it can also go to places you didn’t want to go. In any case, this is another setting that make it possible to blame the camera and not yourself whenever something doesn’t go as planned, because you truly never know where it takes you. The sub-settings under the AUTO-ISO however, allow you to set the boundaries for how off-road you will allow the madness to go (a feature I wish could be installed in teenage children). Even I never use Auto, I did set the settings to 64-6400 ISO range (no noise) and 1/125th of a second as the slowest shutter speed (no motion blur). With these settings, nothing can go really wrong.
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Menu Screen 2 settings:
1 2 3 4 5
Film Styke > BW NAT Monochrme
Menu screen 2 of the Leica M11 explained:
White Balance is the “color temperature”, and often referred to as “Kelvin” because it was the Scottish-Irish physicist William Thomson Kelvin who defined color temperatures for light and other things. Most visible to you, a sunset is very warm and orange, whereas a cold winter day, the light is not warm.
However, to a camera sensor, color temperature very influential for how the overall color balance looks. A candlelight is 1200 Kelvin (very red in a photo), an tungsten lamp in a living room, office or restaurant is 3200 Kelvin (very yellow-orange in a photo), sunlight in the day is 5400 Kelvin and is called “white light” or “daylight” because it is in this light, the standard for how colors looks is set or perceived. In the shade of a building or a tree, or indoor, during a sunshine day, the Kelvin is 7300 (colder blue in a photo), and towards sunset the overall last daylight raises quickly from 8,000 to 12,000 Kelvin overall while the sunlight itself is very warm.
For the human eye, all light looks white, unless you pay particular attention. We adjust constantly for color temperature and see almost any scene in correct “daylight” colors. Therefore it is often a mystery for people why their photos look orange from last night inside the restaurant.
The answer is simply that the camera doesn’t automatically adjust to see all colors right, as the eye do. But the solution is near, because a digital camera has the possibility to set the Kelvin “color temperature” to match the light – so as to calibrate what the sensor sees to the light. The result will be clean and clear, correct colors.
As colors are the most important aspect in making aesthetically color photos with clarity and refinement, Kelvin is quite an important feature to master.
AWB means Auto White Balance and as anything "auto" it cannot always be trusted because auto means (that the camera does it by her-) “self”. But in the case of the Leica M11, the Auto White Balance does a quite nice job in almost all cases, and when it doesn’t it is usually because there is a mix of different light sources in the same picture frame (which is always impossible to combine without working on the color balance and color channels in post processing).
Other cameras, particularly older models, are not always as great in hitting the right color temperature in Auto White Balance. And in that case one solution can be to set the camera to 5400 Kelvin in the daytime and 3200 Kelvin at night and indoor where Tungsten and similar artificial light sources are dominant.
Color film used to be (and still is when used) balanced to daylight 5400 Kelvin, which is why most photos in daylight looks satisfactory. Hence, the same route can be taken with a digital camera when you are not happy with what the Auto White Balance setting delivers you.
The Leica M11 has a problem with that the manual Kelvin settings in the camera does not match in post processing. If the camera is set to 5400 Kelvin, it shows up as 5000 Kelvin in post processing, and that is not good. But I think we are just having such a swell time here that we will not go deeper into that problem for now.
I recommend using AWB, and when and if the colors looks a bit off, use the WB Picker in Lightroom or Capture One to pick the grey sidewalk, the white in the eye, a grey shirt, a white wall in the scene, or any other “color neutral” spot hit by the dominant light in the photo. This will usually adjust the photo to a slightly warmer (or cooler) color temperature, and then you can use the Kelvin slider in the software program to adjust the color temperature to where it looks pleasing to you.
Using the WB Picker usually, as far as the Leica M11 goes, cause the Tint to adjust with minus 6-8, which means the image is adjusted to have less magenta and more green color tint overall. This is something we will also not get more into now, other as a fact of living.
Here is the original photo at 400ISO and 5029 Kelvin, adjusted to 7086 Kelvin, and in doing so the Tint went -5 to the left (+5 green, -5 Magenta tint). As you can imagine, a scene like this is open for interpretation. You have the artistic freedom to adjust it to as warm or cold colors as you like for the overall scene to look exciting and pleasing. The skin tone, however, is always the main “correct” guide as to how cold or warm a color temperature should be set.
– "The colors of the Leica M11 are strange.”
– “I’m glad you say so, because I feel the same. But then again, I am a bit color blind.”
– “Even if you are a bit dyslectic, you can still tell a Hemingway from a not very good text.”
Heard on the street in my photo workshop
File format should be set to DNG, Digital NeGative, a raw format made by adobe that – unlike raw files that consist of two files – keep all data in one file. The DNG file is a complete dump of all data the sensor captures, into one big file. This allow for severe changes of exposure, colors, shadow details, highlight details regained and more, all based on raw data.
A DNG or raw file upon import will look a little dull, and that is how it is supposed to be. So some editing is required to make it sing and have punch. Once you are done editing your DNG photos in Capture One or Lightroom, you export them as JPG files, ready for use on screen, email, print, etc.
You can set the camera to record both DNG+JPG, but I don’t bother. The JPG is a flat interoperation decided by the firmware and seldom hold as much detail as to tonality as the DNG.
For a while I tested with setting the camera to DNG+JPG and setting the JPG to be the black and white version. But I didn’t like the black and white JPG files from the M11, the red tones (and Magenta) are translated too dark, making particularly faces look worn and old (which is what happens if you add contrast to any photo of a person’s face).
DNG resolution I set to L-DNG, which is Large DNG. That is the full 60MP the sensor is able to produce. I don’t see any reason to downsize to 37MP or 18MP, which is a unique possibility of the Leica M11. From user surveys, 95% of users shoot in 60MP and only very few bother to downsize the file in camera. There was a rumor when the Leica M11 came out that downsizing to 37MP would result in more dynamic range, but as far as I know, nobody have been able to see it.
JPG Settings controls the look of the JPG file. But more importantly, even if you do not shoot DNG+JPG, this setting controls how the preview looks in camera. Thus I set this to Film Style > BW Monochrome High Contrast (and sometimes to BWnat Monochrome, which is more natural – Which one doesn’t really make a big difference, just pick one of them). This gives me the black and white preview of the photo, and that makes life simpler in this way: All I want to see in a preview is exposure, framing and focus. It is so much easier to judge these things in a black and white preview than in a color preview. Also, digital color previews on a good but far from accurate screen make me les enthusiastic about the photos I take. The simply look like color photos faded in the sun. This setting of black and white gives me a feeling of still imagining the final photograph, which is very traditional for the Leica M rangefinder style where you never really know what you got till you get home and look at the pictures on a big screen. The reason that it is lovely is that you mostly get pleasantly surprised how much better they are than you expected. And maybe it makes you try harder when out in the field, looking at the not-that-perfect previews.
Auto Review > Off because a preview blocks your view for the duration of the preview (1-5 seconds), and if shown on the back screen it is usually gone too soon for you to look at it. Set it to Off to not have the screen lit up and tell everybody that you just took a photo. If and when you want to look at a photo to check it, press PLAY and see it.
The exception, maybe, is when you want to quality control each photo you take as you move on. Then a 1 second review in the EVF can be helpful, even it delays you because you cannot see the scene till after the preview has gone. Then again, when using and EVF, you already saw the preview of the photo, so you know how it will look. So, really no need for both a preview and a review.
Noise reduction that is found under JPG Settings is set to 0.
Info Profile 1:
Info bars > On
Grids > Off
Clipping > Off
Focus Peaking > Off
Level Gauge > Off
Histogram > Off
Menu screen 3 of the Leica M11 explained:
Shutter type is one of the real new features of the Leica M11 because you set it to Hybrid. This is a combination of mechanical shutter up to 1/4000th of a second, and any faster speeds above that is turned over to be performed by the electronic shutter. You will have to get used to the fact that sometimes the camera sound like it didn’t take the photo. It did, it is just that the only notice you got was a small blink of the red LED light in the rangefinder, or a blink in the EVF. Once you get used to it, you somehow don’t notice. You know the picture was taken all right.
In the future I am sure we will get absolutely soundless electronic shutters that are perfect. And by that I implied that this electronic shutter is not perfect. While absolutely silent and very fast, the electronic shutter – believe it or not – is slow to record the picture. Another thing to get used to: When you photograph something moving, or even photographing a portrait, you may experience that the photo slide or “warp”. What is the case is that the picture is taken at 1/6000th of a second maybe, but the picture is read off the sensor at 1/20th of a second. If you don’t think too deep about it, it’s rather easy to grasp. The sensor records the light at a fast shutter speed, but the shape of things is recorded rather slow. And as the CMOS sensor reads line by line very much like you read this text, if the subject (or camera) move in that 1/20th of a second, the shape of it is altered or “warped” in the final picture. It can get to look very strange, almost psychedelic shapes of faces or buildings.
But the shutter should be on Hybrid, and then you have to get used to a photography pattern where you hold the camera still also for a second or so after the last photo. I typically experienced this with slow shutter speeds, that I would take a series of three photos, and I would try to hold the camera very still to avoid camera shake. What you see is that the first photo has a little bit of camera shake because the shutter release was pressed, the second looks the best, and the third has camera shake – because you are already anticipating that you can now move then camera. So even you didn’t not actually move the camera, your fingers and hands already started the preparation for mobbing it. Result in motion blur and camera shake.
What I am getting at is that in the same manner you can learn yourself to keep the camera still for a second after the last photo. Almost an afterthought. You can tell yourself to enjoy the moment. As long as you don’t hurry to move the camera.
Which by the way is a good thing. I am very for that you observe something and decide to take a photo. Then you take the camera for your eye and compose, and when you have done that, you take the photo. And now the new thing; you keep the camera there for a second.
The other way of doing it is to take the camera to the eye, frantically try to compose the scene through he viewfinder (or simply shoot without any further thought about what will end up in the image), and then move on as if there was nothing more to explore. Got that, moving on …
The thoughtful, deliberate observation, planning, execution and stay a little to see if there might be another shot – is not only right and better, it is also more delightful.
Flash Settings > Start (+ Shutter Speed Limit (Flash) 1/f s) is only relevant if you use flash with the Leica M11. Not many do, but if you do you chose the flash to go off either at the beginning of the photo, or at the end. The moment the flash goes off, it freezes the motion.
Digital Zoom > OFF. This is a feature where the camera crops the image in-camera. Not really that relevant in my opinion, because you can do so in post professing. Using digital zoom will make it appear as if a 90mm lens is really a longer tele, but it is only appearance. What the camera does is the same as you can do later in post processing; to crop the image to a tighter crop. As the file size is 60MP, you can crip quite a bit and still end up with a decent resolution.
Perspective Control is a rather smart feature, if and when you need it. It does require a 6-bit coded lens so that the Leica M11 can recognize which lens is being used on the camera. What is does is that it adjust tilting lines in a photo so that skyscrapers, door entrances and more is straightened. This is something that you used to do in post processing in Lightroom or Capture One (and can still do easily). But now it is in the camera. I must admit I do not use it, I still use post processing adjustment when I need it, and I do find the constant adjustment attempts on the camera screen a bit of an intrusion in choice of composition!. But that is me. If you are doing architecture photos in New York, taking interior photos of your home, or visiting an old town in Europe, turning on Perspective Control will adjust all buildings, windows, door openings, street lamps and other lines into a very neat pattern of straight and orderly lines. It’s a neat feature that would require a tilt-shift lens and a lot of manual adjustment in the past. Now it is done in-camera in an instant. Only thing to be alert of is that perspective control is only applied to the JPG. Once you import the JPG an the DNG, the DNG will show the uncorrected image. In Lightroom you then go to Develop > Transform > Guided and the picture will straighten based on the in-file data on perspective control. In Capture One you will have to apply Keystone Vertical adjustment yourself to get the same result. The look will be the same.
Customize Control is where you choose that the Thumbs Wheel has no function. You should not use it for anything else than scrolling through menus. Set Customize Wheel > No function.
Only if you really, really, really want to use it for exposure compensation, you can do so. But in my humble option, you use the shutter speed dial better and more directly for that.
Capture Assistants was covered first in this article under “the secret menu”. But also under this menu you find Focus aid, which should be Manual. My reason for this is that if I want Focus aid, I press the small Fn button next to the shutter release. This small Fn turns on the EVF, one more press and it zooms in (focus aid) without delay. If I activate Focus Aid to be Automatic, every time I touch the focusing ring on the lens a tiny bit, the EVF zooms in after a short delay and I lose the full frame overview. It blinds me, so that is why it has to be set to Manual. With the Fn button instead I control when I want to zoom in to focus and when I do not need it. In real life, very often you don’t need to zoom in to fine-tune the focus, it is clear enough that it is in focus.
Power Saving Mode > 10 min
USB Charging > ON
Edit File Name > M*****
Menu screen 4 of the Leica M11 explained:
User Profile is the possibility to set up different profiles for different users. A bit like in some cars where you can store the settings of the seat for different drivers. But in a camera, when used, often used to set up different menu settings for night/day and different lenses. I personally never do this as the main quality of the Leica M is that you have the controls visually on the outside and always know what the settings are. So I see no need to preset and save different profiles, on the contrary I often see that people who do, forget to change to the correct profile. In any case, it’s a matter of taste. Some like the idea of programming everything into systems, others like the simplicity of changing the settings as the light changes, or the lens changes. Default profile is my choice and simply means that the profile is whatever you set the camera to, and when you change the settings, you change them.
Display settings is the brightness of the display/EVF, and which is used when. I have set the EVF-LCD to EVF Extended, which means that when an EVF is attached, the preview and focusing is only in the EVF. The screen is never lit up. Only when you press MENU or PLAY is the screen on the camera back activated for these views.
Set brightness to minus 4. Another curious detail is the brightness of the screen and EVF. In both case they have to be set to minus 4, which is almost as dark as they can be. Reason being that you want to judge the actual exposure on the screen or in the EVF.
For a while in the beginning I was baffled that my images were rather dark when imported to the computer. So I performed an experiment where I compared the photo I saw on the computer screen to the one I saw in the EVF. And clearly, the EVF was so bright that what looked correctly exposed, was “correct” only because the EVF was so bright. To match what the EVF or screen shows, to what the image will look like when imported to the computer, the brightness must be set to minus 4.
You could say, and that is true, that if the screen and EVF is brighter, they’re easier to see when you are outside in sunshine. But the impression of the exposure is false.
You want to be able to judge the exact exposure in the EVF, which is why it should be calibrated to how it will look on a computer screen and in print. The Leica M11 screen bridghtness and EVF brightness has to be set to -4 to align with the final result.
Leica FOTOS is an app you can download online, and once it is on your smartphone or iPad, you simply open Leica FOTOS on the camera and connect it to the app. This allow you to download previews of photos you have on the camera, so as to post them on social, or to send them in email. The app also allow you to remote control the camera, as well as update firmware via the phone. Leica collect exit data from the photos and use it to know what settings people use.
As a side note, the Leica FOTOS app connects to any and all Leica cameras you have. If you have a Leica Q or Leica SL that does videos, you can remote control video recording via the smartphone or iPad. You can put the camera on a tripod and click the focusing point to your face and record a video that will stay in focus on your face. I’m just mentioning this as you see many vloggers who use a Fuji or Canon and the focus goes in and out during their video. Not with Leica where you set the focus point in your remote position (in front of the camera) and it stays in focus.
Storage Management > Storage Options > SD First. I always use an SD card in the camera, and I store my images there. But this menu option allow to make backup-storage in the internal memory (should the SD card fail or get lost). It is also in the menu that you can move stored pictures from Internal memory to SD-card (IN>SD) in case you used the internal memory. I find the internal memory great to have, but sticky to use. It is often a mystery how to get them off the camera once I have moved them to the computer. But fundamentally, you take out the SD card, click PLAY and then MENU and select Delete all. This cleans out the internal memory. You can also go into Storage Management > Format storage > Format internal memory > YES which will delete the stored photos.
A privacy note in relation to memory cards is that it is rather easy to restore previously deleted photos from digital memory. Which means that you can use an app like SD Formatter to format an SD card complete so no data can be restored. When sending in a camera for repair, or selling it, the SD card should not be enclosed and the internal memory should formatted using the Storage Management > Format storage > Format internal memory > YES.
In Camera Settings the most important setting is Power saving mode > 10 min which means that when the camera hasn’t been used for 10 minutes, it shuts down and go to sleep. The Display standby should be set to 30 seconds which means the EVF or screen goes to sleep after 30 seconds of inactivity.
In previous cameras the power saving mode was preferable 2 min, but the Leica M11 uses so little battery and performs so many things (like opening the shutter) at startup that it is to prefer to let it stay powered on so that, when you use it, it doesn’t stop and restart inconveniently often.
When the Leica M11 is on, the shutter is already up, and the display goes to sleep after 30 seconds. So the only battery-consumption is the light meter (which is built into the sensor pixels).
Camera Information is mostly the things “written with small letters”, but it is in this menu that you update firmware now and then when a new firmware is released. To install a new firmware, you download the firmware from leica-camera.com, copy the file to your SD card and then when the card is in the camera, you go to Camera Information > Camera firmware version > Firmware update and the camera will install the new firmware.
Once the menu has now been set up, everything except white balance can be adjusted using the outside controls of the Camera: The “Exposure Triangle” is readily available on outside controls of the camera. This makes it very easy to stay in the know at all times what the camera is set up to, and to change the settings in a split second.
Shutter Speed Dial
This is the main control of the Leica M11 to get the exposure right. The shutter speed dial on the top of the camera can stay at A (Aperture Priority; which basically makes the camera automatically select a shutter speed to det the right exposure). This should be your main adjustment of the exposure because it is easy to “go manual” by changing the shutter speed, and it is nondestructive. It doesn’t add noise, it doesn’t change the depth of field. It just changes for how long the shutter curtain is open so the sensor can be exposed to light. The more light, the faster shutter speed.
Only thing to know about shutter speed is that when it gets slower than 1/125th of a second, you may start experiencing motion blur. That for example a car driving by is blurry because it moves faster than to be frozen by 1/125th of a second. In the other end, when the exposure time should be faster than 1/4000th of a second, the mechanical shutter curtain cannot go faster so the exposure time becomes electronic shutter where the sensor “turns on and turns off” in 1/8000th of a second or up to 1/16.500th of a second.
The way I use shutter speed is that I have it on A and the camera suggest a shutter speed. I will often take a photo, look at it on the screen, and then if too dark or too bright, I will adjust the shutter speed dial accordingly. If the camera suggested 1/250 and the result is too dark, I can set the shutter speed dial to 1/180 or 1/125 and get the light right. I control it now and can fine-tune the exposure. When I’m done with that photo, I will set the camera back on A as that is the starting point that will work for maybe 80% of the photos I do without further adjustments.
The ISO dial on the top left of the camera is a dial that adjusts the ISO setting in the camera via magnetic connection. I suggest to “lock” the ISO to a daylight setting or an evening setting: For me it is 64 ISO in daylight and 3200 ISO in the evenings. Occasionally, if I have a slow lens on and it is overcast or heavy rain, I may turn to 200 or 400 ISO for my daylight setting.
I don’t constantly change ISO. I set it in the morning, and then when it gets I change it to 3200 ISO. If I walk in a city and for a moment walk inside to have a coffee, I wil change the ISO to 3200 before I walk in the door, and back to 64 ISO the moment I am stepping outside again. I never consider “what ISO to use”, I have it set so the camera is always ready for the location I am in. If the ISO dial is set on A(uto), the camera will determine ISO setting itself, which could be considered convenient and “always ready” but also means that you never know what the ISO is.
I often pull up the ISO dial, change the ISO and don’t bother to click it down again. This can be done, and it is not very sensitive to rain or dust as there is no connection between the dial and the camera (it’s magnetic connection through the body). I only had problems with an ISO dial once, and that was on an original M10 in 2018 were the magnetic contact was kaput and was fixed by Leica. This Leica M11 is my 7th Leica body with a ISO dial, and I have used and abused them all a lot.
Each “step” in ISO either reduce light to half, or doubles it. Going from 200 ISO to 400 ISO makes the sensor twice as sensitive to light, and going from 400 ISO to 800 ISO doubles the sensitivity once again. And so on.
ISO stands for “International Standardization Organization” and is simply an agreed-upon standard for how light-sensitive a sensor is.
The aperture ring on the lens that regulates how much light cones through the lens. Each step (called “f-stop” or “EV”) reduce light to half, or double the light intake. The numbers on the aperture ring, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0 etc. each stand for focal length divided with f-stop = diameter of the aperture hole.
A 50mm f/2.0, the hole is 25mm in diameter. Stopped down to f/4.0, the hole through is 12.5mm. So as you can see, the numbers in themselves does not give a light value, but simply tell how much the focal length is divided with. So stop looking at the numbers, and just know that for each change of f-stop, the light is halve or doubled.
Aperture means “hole through” and is how large or small a hole there is in the lens for the light to pass. The smaller aperture, the less light. The wider aperture, the more light comes through. So much for control of light for exposure. The Aperture also determines depth of field in that the smaller opening (the smaller hole through), the more dept of sharpness there is. For narrow depth of field and dreamy out of focus background, a f/0.95 of f/1.4 lens is perfect. For everything sharp and in focus, f/5.6 or f/11 should be the choice.
The thumbs wheel
I have disabled for exposure control and other, so now it serves a few other functions: First of all the thumbs wheel can be pressed in so it acts as a button. This makes it perfect to scroll through the menu and click on the wheel to select a choice.
When pressing PLAY and looking through pictures, I can use the wheel to scroll through the images fast. If I select one photo, I can use the thumbs wheel to zoom in and out (but will mostly simply double-tap on the screen to see a detail in a photo).
When I am using the EVF I can use the thumbs wheel to zoom in and out of a photo so as to better focus the lens. Not activated by accident: The thumbs wheel rest against the body when I walk with the camera, and thus it can be activated. But as I have no exposure compensation activated in the wheel, the exposure is never changed unknowingly by accident.
The Fn button
The small Fn button on the top right of the Leica M11 is my control of Live View and EVF view. It’s rather genius that it sits right next to ther shutter release, because when I lift the camera EVF to the eye, I press the Fn button once and the EVF turns on. I press the Fn again and the EVF zoom in so I can focus (and I can use the Thumbs Wheel to change the zoom ratio). I’;ve done this for so long that it sits in the fingers, I don’t think about it anymore. Only when I grab another Leica M10-R or M10, I realize I am pressing the Fn button but those cameras doesn’t have it.
As I never use the FN button on the back of the camera, I would program that one to have another function (like WB), but I never bothered to do that. I simply don’t need any more functions. Fn is short for Function button, which are the unassigned buttons and wheels on any camera that can be assigned in the menu to have certain functions.
Video on using the Fn button Leica M11 for Focusing Aid (zoom in to focus):
If you asked me, I would say I always leave the camera on and let it go to sleep by itself. But that is probably not true. I think it is more correct to say that I turn on the camera in the morning, and when I am done using it and put it down, I turn it off. The on/off switch is one of those things that sits in the fingers, so I hardly think about it. But I probably turn it off even when I put the camera down while having a coffee or lunch.
Factually speaking, the camera should be turned off when you travel, because if the camera is in a bag, the shutter release button could be pressed, leaving the camera is constantly on and using battery, and it might even take photos inside the bag. But the rest of the time, if I left it On, it wouldn’t drain battery and wouldn’t do a thing.
If you were not me, which accidentally is true in this case, you could also decide to do it entirely your way. Let’s for a moment experiment with the daring idea that you would disavow my advice and use Auto ISO all the time. A choice that would clearly leave me sleepless and with cold sweat for days if I knew about it.
But let us just say you set the Leica M11 to Auto ISO so the camera decided the ISO at all time. And then you could set your Shutter Speed to 1/125th of a second as the only speed you would almost always shoot with.
In real life, this might work, and if it does, it would work this way: The camera would select an appropriate ISO, and only in the case if strong sunshine, going down to ISO 64 and shooting at 1/235th of a second would result in overexposed photos. In that case you would have to either move the shutter speed to A(perture Priority) to allow the camera to go to 1/12,000th of a second. Or you could choose to stay at 1/125th of a second and instead adjust the Aperture to f/16 and save the exposure. See, this is a strangely daring and different approach.
Another than you and I might decide to set up the Leica M11 as an iPhone and not care at all what they settings end up in. Set the camera to A(uto) ISO and the Shutter Speed Dial to A(perture) Priority and keep the lens wide open. This way, all the person has to do is to adjust the focus and press the shutter. In every case the camera would dial itself to a appropriate ISO and an appropriate shutter speed and get the image as right as it could. Like an iPhone. Every photo would be taken with simply a click, and some would work, others would, and nobody would really know at what ISO and what shutter speed. Because, maybe it doesn’t really matter.
I think everything is allowed and right, as long as the decision is consciously made and make things simpler. Play with it…
In this article I went over how to set up the menu of the Leica M11 so it works. I tried to go over the consequences are of the choices. What you need to know, and what you need not to know about.
A stupid man buys a camera so advanced he cannot comprehend it. His stupidity consists of considering himself so wise that he cannot comprehend his own stupidity.
A wise woman buys a simple camera that she know she, with some time dedicated to the project, might be able to get to work and have fun with. Her wisdom consists of considering there are many other things to do in life than learning a stupid camera
The incomprehensibility of photography
Photography is simple. If you know how to do it. What is not known and not understood, is incomprehensible … by the simple fact that it isn’t known. Because, If you knew it, it wouldn’t be incomprehensible, right?
It’s a blessing to know all the is to know, and know that one does in fact know all there is to know about it. To know enough to get the show on the road is where I set the bar.
The irony of the simple subject of photography is that it is sometimes being made incomprehensible with the deliberate advancements and additions of new things that obscure the straight-forward simplicity of the subject: Set the exposure right and press the shutter.
To make the subject of photography even more oblivion, the features have over the years been named with strange terms which then are made intro abbreviations or symbols to ensure extra high density of complexity. Because, some thinks that complexity means being far ahead in progress.
When cameras were pieces of metal someone had to mold by hand, every feature function had to be innovated, designed, shaped in metal, assembled, lubricated and tested. Each thing took resources, why it obviously limited the enthusiasm to add more than necessary.
Technology should make things easier. But with digital cameras a screen was introduced, which now allowed for countless lines of menu items. New features (complexities) could and can be added with – literally – the touch of a keyboard. The enthusiasm to do so sometimes seem to have no limits. As seen in a Fujifilm camera with 750 menu items, and the Leica M with 120 menu items. In the Leica M11 the Perspective Control is fascinating, yet does not belong in the camera body.
What manufacturers of cameras seem to forget is that the more you add, the more can go wrong that require firmware updates when features collide and the whole thing freezes. And then of course there is the support for the confused users who is rightfully confused. One must remember that as a user and consumer, you buy cameras, cars, washing machines, smartphones, music systems and many other things. As these products increasingly and enthusiastically have wireless, apps and all sorts of features added, it becomes a headache to acquire and out into use new products.
Which is why some of us find joy in simple, straight-forward product that just gets the job done without any demands of our time to entertain an apps or reading manuals. And even when exorbitant priced, we love simplicity more than complexities.
Technology is supposed to obey and service you, but often you may find that you obey and service the machines. As an example, having a smartphone can sometimes feel like having an extra child.
All this to make you understand how I set up the menu of a camera like the Leica M11 so it works for me, and what the consequences are of those choices.
Can it make a photograph? That is what it’s about.
1:2/50 the description says.
But what does it mean?
1: = Basically means 1 divided with. On the lens to the right, it means that the diameter of the hole throught he lens is 25mm.
We would normall call it
a 50mm f/2.0 lens. The writing of 1:2/50 is a tradition from the 1800's of specifying a lens, which reveals quite a bit about the construction: Focal length 50mm simply means that the distance from center of focus inside the lens to the focusing plane (the sensor or film) is 50mm, and the aperture of f/2 or 1:2 means that the diameter of the hole the light comes throught is 25mm (50mm divided with 2 = 25mm).
In traditional lens design, one could usually tell from looking at the length of a lens if it was a 400mm, 100mm or 35mm. Newer designs with mirrors (in tele lenses) and more corrections (in wide lenses) can make the size of the lenses shorter or longer, but the distance from center of focus to sensor in a modern 50mm lens will still be 50mm for a 50mm and 400mm for a 400mm, and so on.
See Focal length and Aperture further down for more.
a) 35mm lens is a lens that has a viewing angle of view is 63°vertically, 54° horizontally and 38° vertically within a 35mm film frame or "full-frame" 24x36mm digital format. See Focal length further down.
b) 35mm focal length: the distance from center of focus inside the lens to the focusing plane (the sensor or film) is 35mm.
35mm film format (also known as full-frame)
c) 35mm film format (also known as full-frame in digital sensors) was a standard film format that came about in 1892 where the width of the film roll was 35mm, and it's been the most used format ever since. Only a format of 24 x 36mm is used for the photo on the film roll.
35mm film format was first used in 1892 by William Dickson and Thomas Edison for moving pictures with frames of 24 x 18mm, using film supplied by George Eastman (Kodak), and this became the international standard for motion picture negative film in 1909. Later other motion picture formats came about, such as Academy Ratio (22 x 16 mm), Widescreen (21.95 x 18.6 mm), Super 35 (24.89 x 18.66 mm) and Techiscope (22 x 9.47 mm).
The inventor of the Leica camera, Oskar Barnack, built his prototype Ur-Leica in 1913 as a device to test film stock and\ motion picture lenses and had it patented. Putting 35mm film format into a small camera gave him the idea "small negative, large print" and he decided to increase the size of each frame on the 35mm film to 24x36mm (for more detail and sharpness), and then invented an enlarger to make large prints from the small negative. The length of a film, 36 pictures, is said to have become the standard because that was how far Oskar Barnack could stretch his arms (when cutting film from larger rolls to put them into film rolls for the Leica camera).
d) 35mm equivalent is often given as a standard when talking about lenses in small compact-cameras or large format cameras with other sensor/film format than the 24 x 36mm frame. Example: A camera with a 12 x 18 mm sensor has a 14mm lens on it, and even the lens is actually a 14mm, it is specified as a 28mm lens because the viewing angle that ends up on the sensor is equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm of full-frame camera.
The Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M
ASPH f/2.0 lens
a) 50mm lens is a lens that has a viewing angle of view is 47° vertically, 40° horizontally and 27° vertically within a 35mm film frame.
b) 50mm means there is 50mm from the center of focus inside the lens to the focal plane (sensor or film).
c) 50mm lens is often compared to the human eye. Not because of viewing angle (how wide it sees) but because of size ratio (how it sees). The 50mm lens is the lens that comes closest to the size that the human eye see things. Whereas the human eye has a much wider angle of view [120-200°] than the 50mm lens [47°].
AEL = Auto Exposure Lock. This is a function that can be used when you want to reframe the scene, but keep the current exposure from changing.
AF = Auto Focus. The idea is that the camera does the focusing itself (the word auto comes from Greek "self").
AOV - angle of view = Is the angle a lens 'see'. A 35mm lens has a 54° angle of view horizontally. Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120-200° angle of viewn ags.
Aperture = The same function as the iris and pupil has in the eye. The pupil in the eye is the dark circular opening in the center of the iris of the eye, varying in size to regulate the amount of light reaching the retina (the sensor area inside the eye).
Aperture on a camera is the f/ stop on the camera that regulates how much light passes through the lens by increasing or decreasing the hole through the lens. On a f/2.0 lens the lens is fully open" at f/2.0. At f/2.8 the aperture inside the lens make the hole through the lens smaller so only half the amount of light at f/2.0 passes through. For each f/-stop (4.0 - 5.6 - 8.0 - 11 - 16) you halve the light. The aperture of the lens is basically the focal length divided with the f/-stop = size of the hole (50mm divided with f/2.0 = the hole is 25 mm in diameter).
Besides regulating the amount of light (so as to match the correct exposure), the aperture also affects the dept of field: , which is how deep the sharpness is. To get the sough-after photos with narrow depth of field where the background is blurry, the lens has to be wide open at f/2.0 or so. Stopping the lens down to f/8 or f/16 will result on more depth of field, meaning the background will start becoming in focus. To maintain narrow depth of field, one can use the ISO sensitivity and/or the shutter speed to match the correct exposure (as aperture is only one of three ways to control the exposure; the correct amount of light). ORIGIN: Late Middle English : from Latin apertura, from apert- ‘opened,’ from aperire ‘to open’.
Aperture Priority Mode = When the shutter speed dial on top of a Leica M camera is set to A, it is short for “Aperture Priority” and allows the user to set a specific aperture value (f-number) while the camera selects a shutter speed to match it that will result in proper exposure based on the lighting conditions as measured by the camera's light meter. In other words, you set the aperture as priority (f/1.4 for example), and the camera calculates a shutter speed (1/250 of a second) that matches that. If you change the aperture to f/2.0 by changing the aperture ring on the lens, the camera will re-calculate the speed to 1/125 so as to get the same amount of light to hit the sensor (f/2.0 is half the light through the lens as f/1.4 and 1/125 if twice the amount of light on the sensor as 1/250).
APO corrected basically means that the red, green and blue has been corrected to meet more precisely in the same spot. Clarity of colors and definition of details would be the result.
APO = in lens terminology stands for "apochromatically corrected". In most lenses, optical design concentrates the focus of blue light and green light into a single plane, but red light falls slightly into another plane of focus. In APO lenses, the design and expense has been put in to making red light focus on the same plane as blue and green. Under a microscope you would see that all light subject is now in focus, creating a sharper image overall. Many manufacturers offer APO designs, but in most of these only the very center of the lens is APO corrected. Leica prides itself on making most of the frame APO corrected.
APo-correction has traditionally been used for long tele lenses (and periscopes), but in recent years APO-correction has been applied to 50mm and wide angle lenses as well. One will notice that the colors are really bright and alive, almost more real than to the eye, in lenses like the Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 and 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.
Apochromat; ORIGIN early 20th century, made of the two words; apo (Greek origin, away from) and chromatic (Latin origin, meaing relating to color).
ASPH = (Aspherical lens) stands for "aspheric design".
Most lenses have a spherical design - that is, the radius
of curvature is constant. These are easy to manufacture by
grinding while "spinning" the glass. This design
however restricts the number of optical corrections that can
be made to the design to render the most realistic image possible.
ASPH lenses (a-spherical, meaning non-spherical), however, involve usually 1 element that does
*not* have a constant radius of curvature. These elements
can be made by 1) expensive manual grinding, 2) molded plastic,
or 3) Leica's patented "press" process, where the element
is pressed into an aspherical ("non-spherical")
shape. This design allows Leica to introduce corrections
into compact lens designs that weren't possible before. Practically,
the lens performs "better" (up to interpretation)
due to increased correction of the image, in a package not
significantly bigger than the spherical version.
There is another Aspherical lens manufacture technique: an uneven coating layer is applied to a spherical lens. The coating is thicker on the edges (or on the center, depending). Canon "Lens Work II" calls these "simulated" aspherical lenses. Simulated and Glass-Molded (GMo) asphericals show up in non-L Canon lenses, while the L lenses have actual ground aspheric elements.
A- means non, or without.From Latin, ex. Sphere: ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French espere, from late Latin sphera, earlier sphaera, from Greek sphaira "ball".
Normal spheric lens (grinded)
ASPH (note the shape of the glass as result of pressing rather than grinding)
Auto- means “self”. The idea is that when a camera has auto-(something), it does that (something) by itself.
Banding = Noise in digital images. Horizontal lines in a horizontal picture (if the camera is in portrait mode/vertical, the lines will obviously be vertical). It's simply noise; the result of uncontrolled algorithms working overtime with an image the sensor really can't see because it's very dark. (If your image has vertical lines in it, it is more likely that the sensor needs remapping).
This image at 6400 ISO, underexposed and then brought up to correct exposure in Lightroom, displays banding: Horizontal lines in the image. Leica M-D 262 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.
Base ISO = The ISO the digital sensor was born with. Even a digital sensor goes from say 50 ISO to 25,000 ISO, it only has one base ISO. Any other setting is an algorithm that figures out how the image whould look if there was 64 times more light, or half the light, etc.
When you go down from Base ISO (for example 200 to 100 ISO), you can expect a
decrease in quality. When you go up, the decrease is much less. For some sensors, you loose 2-3 stops by going down 1 step in ISO, but can go 8 steps up and only loose 1 stop in dynamic range. Basically, your ISO range should be from Base ISO and as far up as you can, before you see visible decrease in quality (mostly 3200 ISO - 6400 ISO).
Base ISO for Leica M9 is 160 ISO, for Leica M240 it is 200 ISO. For Leica M10 it is around 160 ISO.. For Leica M11 it is 64 ISO. For Leica M Monochrom it is 320 ISO. For Leica Q and Leica Q2 it is around 100 ISO. For Panasonic Lumix S it is 200 ISO. For most Canon cameras the base ISO is around 100, for most Nikon cameras it is around 200 ISO.
Max Berek (1886-1949) was lens designer who joined Ernst Leitz Optische Werke in 1912 and became the head of the microscope development where he also designed the first lenses for the company's new adventure into photography, the Leica introduced in 1925. In particular, he calculated the Elmax 50mm f/3.5 lens for the so-called Ur-Leica.
Bizofurex = A Leica Visoflex electronic viewfinder name for the new electronic viewfinder thatr was planned to be made for the Leica M10 introduction in 2017. Dues to too high expenses molding a new viewfinder, Leica decided to stay with the Leica visoflex EVF 020 that was originally med for the Leica T.
Bokeh = The visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens: It's a matter of taste and usually photographers discuss a 'nice' or 'pleasant' bokeh (the out-of-focus area is always unsharp, which is why the quality discussed is if one likes the way it renders or not by a particular lens). The closer you get to something, the 'more' bokeh' you get (in that the focus becomes less for the background and foreground at close distances than at long distances). ORIGIN from Japanese 'bo-ke' which mean 'fuzzines' or 'blur.'.
BSI = Backlit sensor = Back-Illuminated Sensor (also known as BI = Backside Illumination) sensor that uses a novel arrangement of the imaging elements to increase the amount of light captured and thereby improve low-light performance. These sensor types were first used for low-light security cameras and astronomy sensors, and then was brought into wider use, in the A7 II (2015), Nikon 850D (2017), Leica SL2-S (2021) and Leica M11 (2022), to increase the cameras performance in low light (high ISO).
Camera comes from Chambre, mostly in relation to Spanish soldiers’ rooms. Obscura means 'dark', so a dark room is basically the derivation for the word camera.
Camera -is today’s short name for Camera Obscura (meaning “a dark room”). CamerameansChambre and was used only as a Latin or alien word, actually only for Spanish soldiers’ rooms, until popularized in connection with photography in 1727: “Camera Obscura”. In 1793 the slang term “camera” was used by Sterne Tr. Shandy: “Will make drawings of you in the camera” and by Foster (1878), “The eye is a camera”. Camera Obscura was described by Iraqi scientist Ibn-al-Haytham in his book, “Book of Optics” (1021) and by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500; popularized and made widely known in 1589 by Baptista Porta when he mentioned the principle in his book “Natural Magic”. Johannes Kepler mentions Camera Obscura in 1604.
Camera = chambre (room), Obscura = dark (or cover).
Why is it called a "camera"..?
The word Camera is today's short name for Camera Obscura (which originally means “a dark room”).
Origin of the word Obscura means "dark" or "covered", and the word Camera meansChambre and was used originally only as a Latin or alien word, actually only for Spanish soldiers' rooms, until popularized in connection with photography in 1727: “Camera Obscura”.
In 1793 the slang term “camera” was used by Sterne Tr. Shandy: “Will make drawings of you in the camera” and by Foster (1878), “The eye is a camera”.
Ibn-al-Haytham mentioned Camera Obscura in his "Book of Optics" in 1021.
The concept of Camera Obscura was described by Iraqi scientist Ibn-al-Haytham in his book, “Book of Optics” (1021) and by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500; popularized and made widely known in 1589 by Baptista Porta when he mentioned the principle in his book “Natural Magic”. Johannes Kepler mentions Camera Obscura in 1604.
Camera = chambre (room), Obscura = dark (or cover).
CCD sensor (as used in Leica M8, M9, Leica S)= (Charged Coupling Devices) - The first digital cameras used CCD to turn images from analog light signals into digital pixels. They're made through a special manufacturing process that allows the conversion to take place in the chip without distortion. This creates high quality sensors that produce excellent images. But, because they require special manufacturing, they are more expensive than their newer CMOS counter parts.
An acronym for "(C)lean, (L)ubricate & (A)djust", whereby the item is merely re-lubricated, fine-adjusted and calibrated rather than repaired. "I just got my equipment back from CLA at Leica"
CMOS sensor (as used in Leica CL, Leica T/TL/TL2, Leica M10, Leica M 240, Leica M11, Leica M Monochrom Typ 246, Leica S Typ 007, Leica SL, Leica Q, Leica Q2, Leica M10, Leica X, Leica D-Lux, etc.) = (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) chips use transistors at each pixel to move the charge through traditional wires. This offers flexibility because each pixel is treated individually. Traditional manufacturing processes are used to make CMOS. It's the same as creating microchips. Because they're easier to produce, CMOS sensors are cheaper than CCD sensors. CMOS allow Live View and use less energy than CCD.
Collapsible - Usually refers to a collapsible lens such as the Leica 50mm Elmarit-M f/2.8 Collapsible, or Leica 90mm Macro Elmar-M f4.0 Collapsible, etc. A collapsible lens is one that can collaps into a compact lens when not in use.
Compact Camera - A camera that is compact, usually the same as a point-and-shoot or beginners camera. See my article Leica Compact Cameras.
Contrast - The degree of difference between tones in a picture. Latin contra- ‘against’ + stare ‘stand.’
Normal to low contrast
Depth - Distance between front and back. Distance from viewer and object. See DOF in this list.
Digilux (Digital Lux) = A series of compact digital cameras by Leica Camera AG developed with Fuji from 1998, and then with Panasonic since 2002. The first models, Leica Digilux (1998) and Leica Digilux Zoom (2000) and Leica Digilux 4.3 (2000). With Panasonic, Leica Camera AG made the Leica Digilux 1 (2002), Digilux 2 (2004) and Leica Digilux 3 (2006). See my article Leica Digital Compact Cameras for more. Lux comes from Latin and means Light.
Digital rangefinders= The Leica M camera originates from 1925 and have been existing as film camera in many models. From 2006, the first Leica M digital rangefinder was launched, Leica M8. The Leica M7 (2002) is a film camera, so the new mode was Leia M8 and the main difference was that it had a crop digital sensor. The Next Leica M9 had a full-frame 24x36mm sensor. The Leica M240 had many features supposedly requested by users, the most noticeable was live view via a CMOS sensor, electronic viewfinder and video recording. Leica M10 was a return to the original Leica simplicity, including being a smaller body resembling the film cameras, and video and other features and buttons had been removed, a simplified menu created, and most noticeable an ISO dial to set the ISO on a wheel on the top left of the camera, very similar to the similar looking dial on older Leica film cameras where this dial was a rewind function for the film. Leica M11 (2022) was simplified even further, with a new sensor design that was designed to resemble classic color photography closer (Kodachrome and Leica M9 colors), yet featuring new technology such as triple-resolution sensor (where the sensor as a fourth function is also used as light meter), digital shutter and a new design where the battery is part of the bottom plate (no battery door, and no more bottom plate).
Digital Shutter = Electronic Shutter (see in this list).
Lens distortion looks like this. The lines are not straight. Our eye uses distortion correction. Lens designers can design lenses so they have very little distortion, or they can make less complicated lens designs and "fix" the distortion in software.
Distortion = In photo optics/lenses: When straight lines in a scene don't remain straight because of optical aberration.
Lens designers can correct for distortion to a degree so the whole image field is perfect corrected and all lines remain straight. In modern lens design many designs rely on Software Distortion Correction (SDC).
The eye adjusts for distortion so we always see vertical and horizontal lines straight when we look at things. Even when you get new prescription glasses (if you use such), you will often experience distortion in your new glasses. After a few days they eyes have adjusted for the glasses and the distortion you saw to begin with is now gone. Software Distortion Correction (SDC) is far behind what the human eye can perform of adjustments. (Also see my definition on Perspective for more on the eye and optics)
DNG = Digital Negative, an open standard developed by Adobe. It is a single file that contains the raw image data from the sensor of the camera as well as date, time, GPS, focal length, settings, etc.
The alternative is a RAW file + XMP file where the RAW file contains the image information and the XMP contains the rest of information about where, how and when the picture was taken, as well as editing data when the photo is edited in Lightroom or Capture One.
A Camera Raw profile (that is specific for that camera) in the computer helps the software program, for example Adobe Lightroom, to translate the RAW data into the image. Camera producers provide a Camera profile with their camera, and Adobe makes their own 'refined' Adobe Raw camera profile for all new cameras.
A raw file (or DNG) is simply the full recording of digital data (1's and 0's) from the sensor. In the computer, the sensor data is translated into the exact colors, via a camera profile.
The lines on this 28mm lens indicates the DOF. Here the focus is on infinity, and if the lens is stopped down to f/1.6, objects from 1.8 meter to ininity will be 'acceptable sharp'.
DOF = Depth of Field (or Depth of Focus), an expression for how deep the focus is, or (more often use to express) how narrow the area of focus is. This is how much of the image, measured in depth or ditance, will be in focus or "acceptable sharp".
The appearance of the DOF is determined by:
1) aperture (the smaller the aperture hole is, the deeper is the depth of field, and opposite, the wider open a lens you se, the more narrow will the DOF be) and
2) distance to the subject (the farther away, the larger area is sharp; the closer the subject in focus is, the more narrow the DOF gets)..
The DOF scale measurement on top of the Leica lenses shows lines for each f-stop that indicates from which distance to which distance the image will be sharp. Shallow DOF is a generally used term in photography that refer to lenses with very narrow focus tolerance, like f/1.4 and f/0.95 lenses, which can be used to do selective focus; making irrelevant subjects in the foreground and background blurry so only the subjects of essence are in focus and catches the viewers eye).
in modern cameras like the Leica SL2, the camera has a DOF scale inside the viewfinder. As DOF is the same for all lens brands and designs, only depending on focal length, distance and aperture f-stop, the camera can calculate it and show a 'digital DOF scale" in the viewfinder.
Depth Of Field scale from Fujifilm, same lens with different aperture settings from f/2.0 to f/8.0.
Leitz Summicron DR (Dual Range) f/2.0 (order no SOOIC-MN).
DR = Dual Range lens. This is a type of Leitz/Leica lens that works as macro (near focus range) and normal lens, and comes with googles/"Eyes" for the macro function. The 50/2 Dual Range Summicron was made from 1956 to 1968, only in chrome, with a near-focusing range as close to 478mm.
You mount the googles/"Eyes" to focus at close range. If you use the lens in normal range, you can take off the googles/"Eyes"
The googles/"Eyes" can be critical for which camera the lens fits on. the Leica M6 TTL requires that the plastic tab onthe eyes is removed; and other Leica M models likewise. It fits on the Leica MP, M2, M3 and oterh models. .
Dynamic range. The grade of ‘contrast range’ (or number of tones) a film or sensor, or simply a photograph, possess between bright and dark tones. The human eye is said to have a dynamic range of 10-14 ‘stops’ (but because we scan area by area and compile a concept of the overall scene, they eye is often thought to have a much higher dynamic range), Film used to have 7-13 ‘stops’ and some modern sensors have up to 15-17 ‘stops’.
E - Diameter in Leica filters and screw diameter, as in E46 which means that the filter diameter is 49mm for this lens. In general language, one would see Ø46 used, as Ø is the general symbol for diameter.
Electronic Shutter = A shutter that operates silently by turning the cameras imaging sensor on and off to control exposure, rather than a traditional shutter where a foldable metal curtain keeps the sensor in the dark and goes up for a brief moment moment, like 1/125th of a second, and exposes the sensor to light. In the Leica TL2 (2017), there is a mechanical shutter curtain from 30 sec. to 1/4000 shutter times, and digital shutter from 1/4100 to 1/40,000 shutter speeds. In the Leica M11 (2022) an electronic shutter can be activated from 60 seconds to 1/16000th second while a mechanical shutter goes from 60 minutes to 1/4000th second..The word shutter simply means to close something, like with a curtain. It comes from "desist from speaking" (14th century).
Electronic ViewFinder = See EVF.
Elmar = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f3.5 . Historically derived from the original 1925 50mm f3.5 Elmax lens, which was an acronym of (E)rnst (L)ieca and Professor (Max) Berek, designer of the original lenses. Later that year the 50mm f3.5 Elmar superceded the Elmax, which was discontinued due to its complexity and high cost of manufacture.
Elmarit = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f2.8 . The name is obviously derived from the earlier (and slower) "Elmar" designation. Not every f/2.8 lens is called an "Elmarit" though, the most obvious current exception being the 50mm f2.8 Elmar-M collapsible lens which for nostalgia and marketing reasons has kept the original 1930's Elmar name (the 50mm f3.5 collapsible Elmar, manufactured 1930-59, was one of Leica's most famous and popular lenses). Vario-Elmarit (and Vario-Summicron, etc) is Leica Camera AG's name for zoom lenses.
Elmax lens named after = Ernst Leitz + Max Berak. Ernst Leitz was the founder of Ernst Leitz Optical Industry which later became Leica. Professor Dr.Max Berak was employed at Leica in 1912 and was the architech of the first Leica lens which Ernst Leitz asked him to design for the "Barnack's camera" (the 1913-prototype named after Oscar Barnack who invented it). The lens was a f/3.5 50mm and was known as the Leitz Anstigmat and later the Elmax.
The Leitz Elmax 50mm f/3,5 (1925-1961) on the Leica A camera (1925) camera. Photo by Marco Cavina.
EVF = Electronic ViewFinder. A viewfinder where you look at a small screen through optics/prisms. The advantage is that you see what the sensor sees. Some cameras have built-in EVF (Leica CL, Leica SL, Leica Q, etc), others you can attach an EVF (Leica TL2, Leica M240, Leica M10, Leica M11).
Traditionally a viewfinder is adeviceon a camerashowingthe fieldofviewofthe lens, used in framing and focusing the picture. Some rangefinder cameras simply have optics that show an area in front of the camera with frames indicating what will be recorded on the film or sensor. SLR cameras have mirror and prisms so you see theough the lens of the camera. Electrnic viewfinders show on a small display inside the viewfinder what the sensor see.
The EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) on the Leica SL.
EXIF =Exchangeable Image File, a file generated in camera and enclosed in the image file that contains recording information on the image such as shutter speed, exposure compensation, what metering system was used, aperture setting, ISO setting, date and time the image was taken, whitebalance, which lens was used, camera model and serial number. Some images may even store GPS information so you can see where the image were taken. The data from the EXIF file continues to follow any later editions of the image and can be read in photo editing software such as Capture One and Lightroom, as well as Photoshop (go to the menu File > File Info). There is also software available that can read EXIF data from any file, like Exifdata.com.
The EXIF data is all the information about shutter speed, metering method, ISO, etc. - and then some more that you don't see on the screen (such as camera model, serial number, lens used, etc).
Exposure Bracketing = The possibility to set the camera to automatically record a series of images where the exposure is above and below what the camera measures. The idea is that at least one of the images will be correctly exposed.
f/ (f-stop, also known as aperture).
f- (focal length). Often given in mm, for example 90mm. In the past they were often given in cm or inch, for example 9.5 cm or 3.2 inch.
f/1.25 is the size of the "hole through" the lens, the aperture. f/1.25 means focal length divided with 1.25. In the Leica 75mm NoctiluxM ASPH f/1.25, the "hole through" the lens at f/1.25 is 60mm in diameter. At f/1.4 the "the hole through" is 53.5mm in diameter. At f/4 the "hole through" is 18.75mm in diameter.
Each step smaller from f/1.4 to f/2.0 to f/2.8 to f/4.0 and son on is a reduction ofthe light to half for each step. The Noctilux f/1.25 therefore lets 50% more light in through the lens than a 75/1.4 Summilux.
f-stop = the ratio of the focal length (for example 50mm) of a camera lens to the diameter of the aperture being used for a particular shot. (E.g., f/8, indicating that the focal length is eight times the diameter of the aperture hole: 50mm/8 = 6,25 mm); or the other way around, the hole is the focal length divided with 8).
ORIGIN early 20th cent.: from f (denoting the focal length) and number.
One f-stop is a doubling or halving of the light going through the lens to the film, by adjusting the aperture riing. Adjusting the f-setting from f 1.4 to f.2.0 is halving the light that goes through the lens. Most Leica lenses has half f-stops to enable the photographer to adjust the light more precicely.
Filters = Glass filters you put in front of the lens. A much used filter is the claer UV filter that is supposed to protects the front of the lens. Other filters are color filters that add effects to black and white photography by changing the color balance. Other filters are ND (Neutral Density) filters that reduce the amount of light coming through (used for for example video recordings as video is usuallu filmed at 1/50th second shutter speed and thus most lenses are too bright wide open. Or they are used for long exposure photography in order to record for example stars movements over the sky. Other filters are filters that create star effects, or blur the view, and almost any effect you can think of.
A traditional Yellow filter in 49mm diameter to screw onto the front of the lens. The yellow filter is used for black and white photography where it slightly darkens skies, helps to cut through haze, and improves overall contrast. Yellows and reds within the scene are also lightened.
Flare = Burst of light. Internal reflections between (and within) lens elements inside a lens. Mostly, flare has a characteristic "space travel" look to it, making it cool. Particularly in older lenses with less or no coating of the glass surfaces to suppress this, it can be a really cool effect. In newer lens designs, the coatings and overall design try to suppress flare and any reflections to a degree, so that there is seldom any flare to be picked up (moving the lens to pick up a strong sunbeam), but instead a "milking out" (or "ghosting") of a circular area of the frame; meaning simply overexposed without any flare-looking flares.
Sunlight creating (fairly supressed) flare in the bottom right quadrant of the image of a modern lens.
Lens Flare in Star Trek (2013). JJ Abrams famously said, "I know there's too much lens flare ... I just love it so much. But I think admitting you're an addict is the first step towards recovery (ha ha)"
FLE = See "Floating Elements"
Flickering = blinking light. This may result in "banding like" horizontal stripes in an image, or simply that the light you see isn't in the picture, or it looks different. For example, you take a photo in light, and the result you get is darker. You take another, and now it is all right. The reason is that some light blinks. Here's the difference within one second (notice how the light in the room, the wall light and the sign light all flicker):
Flickering light causing different result in each frame becasuse the light blinks faster than the eye sees, but slow enough to be caught on camera. Here at shutter time 1/1500 sec, four pictures within a second.
Often you will see that you take a portrait indoor in an office, and from frame to frame the person has shade on one side of the face in one photo, but not the next.
Flickering ligh is a new challenge that photographers face, which is flicering light that looks good to the eye, but result in different results in a photo. Through cinema and photography history, the three standard high-quality light soruces have been daylight (from the sun), daylight HMI (5400 Kelvin Hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide lamps) and tungsten lamps (3200 Kelvin). When I say high-quality, it's because those are the light types that ensure high color quality (see the definition of CRI - Color Rendering Index in my "Leica and Photography Definitions page") and how quality light traditionally has a score above 90 CRI).
In recent years we have seen "light that flickers" because it has a pulse, such as stage light, photo lamps, video lights and of course indoor and outdoor late night lamps using LED (Light-emitting diode), compact fluorescent lightbulp-shaped lamps and other low-energy lamps (such as halogen). These light also generally have lower CRI (Color Rendering Index) below 90, and even lamps that are stated to have 90 CRI or higher, may mis out on the important red and blue tones, which will make it impossible to get the colors right, espoecially skin tones). If a stage has one or more low-quality lights (which they thend to have), these will pollute the colors of the scene to some degree.
Banding as result of electronic shutter, and often also if the ISO is high.
Flickering horizontal stripes (or "banding"-looking stripes) may appear when you use electronic shutter, and you are photographing with one or more light sources that flickers.
When the electronic shutter is on, you are usually at higher shutter speeds than 1/2000, which means there it would be possible to go down to a lower ISO, and to activater the mechanical shutter. (In some cameras you can choose to use electronic shutter throughout the entire range, which would make the camera completely silent; and this alone may cause horizontal stripes/banding if one or more lights in the room flickers).
Flickering in the EVF is very normal and will apear often without the vertical lines you see in the EVF will be in the picture.
Floating elements (a group of lenses or can also be s aingle lens element). .
Floating Elements (FLE) = Near focus correction in a lens by having a single lens or a group of lenses floating independently of the other lenses. Most lenses are born with poor performance at their closest focusing distance. Center sharpness may be good, but aberrations and corner softness increase when you’re shooting closeups. Floating elements are lens elements outside of the primary focus group that change position when the lens is focused on a close object, correcting aberrations and improving close up performance. Floating Elements originally was coined by Canon in the 1960's and quickly became the general term for this feature. Other brands came up with new names for the same thing, Minolta called it Floating Focusing, Nikon used the term Close-Range Correction (CRC), Leica call it FLE/Floating Elements.
Floating elements are for close-focus improvement of image quality and not for reducing "focus shift". Floating elements by themselves cannot reduce focus shift, but by reducing the impact of focus distance on performance, they give the designers more freedom in other areas - which could include minimising focus shift.
(As a side-note, when a lens "rattler when moved, it is not the floating elements "floating around" but can be the IS (Image Stabilization) elements for elense that has that, AF elements for auto focus lenses, or the aperture cage that rattles (as in the case of the Leica 35mm Summilux-M f/1.4 FLE - if you stop down the Summilux to f/16, the sound is usually not there).
Fn = Short for Function. It's a function button or wheel on a camera that you can program (focus zoom, turning acessories on/off, one-click to set white balance, one-click to call up a particular menu setting).
The Leica M11 has a Fn button on top.
The Leica TL2 and Leica CL has two Fn wheels (wheels you can program to different functions after your likings).
A 28 mm lens has a 74° viewing angle
Focal length = Originally focal length referred to the distance from the sensor (or film in older days) to the center of focus inside the lens (28mm, 50mm, 400mm, etc). Today one call it effective focal length (EFL) as a 400mm lens is not nessesarily 400mm long due to optical constructions that can make it shorter. The 35-420mm zoom on the Leica V-Lux 1 is for example only ca. 135 mm long. Nobody uses that measurement, except those who construct lenses! For users of lenses, focal length refers to how wide the lens sees. 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.
Focus, in - Sharp and clear in appearance. Focus - “The burning point (of a lens or mirror)”. In Latin the word focus meant fireplace or hearth. The word was probably first employed outside of its Latin literal use as “the burning point of a lens or mirror” in optics, and then came to mean any central point. The German astronomer Johannes Kepler first recorded the word in this sense in 1604.
Focus shift = That the focus of a lens shifts as the aperture changes. For example, if one focus a 50mm lens at f/2.0 and then stop the aperture down to f/8, the focus may change, especially noticeable in close focusing. Modern lenses with floating elements (FLE) where the floating elements adjust for image quality in close-focusing may also help avoid focus shift.
Frame lines = the lines inside a viwfinder that indicates the edger of the frame. In a Leica M, the viewfinder always is as wide view as 24-28mm. A mechanical contach on the lens (triggers the camreas frame selector) so the viewfinder shows the frame line of that lens. In the Leica M, the frame lines comes in sets, so there are alwaus twop sets of frame lines shown at any time (see illustration below).
(This is different than in most cameras where you only see what the lens captures: SLR cameras was the evolution in 1940's where the image from the lens was displayed directly onto a matte screen inside the camera via a mirror.
Later mirrorless cameras, the viewfinder shows the exact picture that the sensor sees through the lens).
Frame lines of the Leica M, here showing the set of 35mm and 90mm framelines.
Full Frame is "king of photography"
Full Frame (FF) = The size of the sensor is 24 x 36mm which is the format Oskar Barnack and Leica Camera AG invented with the first Leica that was introduced in 1925. Many other formats invented since, such as APS, APS-C and all usually refer to Full Frame ratio, by which it means what size they have compared to Full Frame. The "full frame" technically deifinition thouhg is a sensor that camtures the full frame in one go (as the early sensors as in Leica S1 scanned the image/senor over a period of time). The 24 x 36mm Full Frame format is so "king of photography" that it has continued to be the ideal for all cameras. Besides this, there exists Large Format cameras such as 4x5" (100 x 125 mm) and Medium Format 6x6 (60 x 60mm amongst other sizes in that area).
Ghosting = Secondary light or image from internal reflections between (and within) lens elements inside a lens. The reflected light may not always be in focus, so overall it looks like a "milked out" image. A subject in focus has brightened patches in front of it that come from reflections inside the lens. the most elementary look of ghosting is when you look in a rear-view mirror in a car at night and you see doubles of the headlights behind you (a strong one and a weaker one), because the headlights are reflected in a layer of clear glass on top of the mirror glass.
Degrees of ghosting from strong sunlight entering from outside the frame. To the right the outside light has been shielded with a shade.
ISO = Light sensitivity of the 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. The base ISO for the Leica TL2 sensor is around 100-150 which means that this is what the sensor "sees". All other levels are computer algorithms calculating the effect as if the sensor could "see" more (hence noise at higher ISO levels).
ISO goes in steps of doubling: When the ISO is raised from 100 ISO to 200 ISO, the camera only need half the amount of light to make the same picture. For each step in ISO to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, etc. the light sensitivity is doubled for the sensor (and the camera sensor only need half the light of the previous ISO to record the same image).
Also see Base ISO in this list.
JPEG = A standard for picture format made in the 1990's by Joint Photographic Experts Group). Mostly referred to as JPG as in L1003455.JPG which would be the name for a JPG file from the camera.
Leica L-mount bayonet.
L-mount = Lens bayonet mount introduced by Leica for the Leica T in 2014 and used for Leica TL, Leica CL and Leica SL. Since 2019 the L-mount has also been shared with Panasonic, Sigma and others who produce cameras and lenses that are compatible with Leica L cameras and lenses lenses, and vice versa.
The L-mount has a diameter of 51.6 millimeter which is big enough for any design we could wish to design, and at the same time compact enough for the L-mount to be used on compact cameras such as Leica TL and Leica CL with APS-C sensor sizes. Leica chief lens designer Peter Karbe spent years calculating this ideal size, large enouhg for any design, yet as compact as possible. Read my article "Small Camera, Large Print" (2019) with interview with lens designer Peter Karbe for more.
After Leica introduced this new bayonet mount in 2014, Nikon (Z-mount 55mm), Fuji (G-mount 65mm) and Canon (RF-mount 54mm) followed with similar new bayonet mounts, but with bigger diameter, making them less able to produce compact lenses.
LCC = acronym for Lens Cast Correction, which is a tool in phtoo editing (Capture One) that can help correct common issues that arise when using wide angle lenses. The "cast" is typical color cast, meaning that the color goes in an unwanted direction; snow in a photo has too much blue, so you correct it to have less blue and look like white snow. In Copture One, one create an LCC master profile which contains adjustment of color cast, dust spot removal and more, and then that LCC file can be applied to any photo in a series (of for example landscapes or architecture photos).
A screen on a camera is often referred to as "LCD Screen" for no particular reason (illustration is the back of the Leica Q2 special limited "James Bond/Daniel Craig & Greg Williams" version (2021).
LCD = Screen. LCD itself means liquid crystal display, which is slightly irrelevant (what it is made of) as the expression is mostly used to simply mean "screen".
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. The Leica name and logo is owned by Leica Microsystems GmbH.
Leicaflex was Leica's first single lens reflex (SLR) camera, released in 1964. It is a very solid, fully manual SLR with an exceptionally bright viewfinder. The Leicaflex SL and Leicaflex SL2 and Leicafles MOT (enabling attachment of motor winder) came after, and then Leica went onto Leica R3 that it developed with Minolta, then Leica R4, Leica R5, Leica R6.2, Leica R7, Leica R8, Leica R9.
My Leitz Leicaflex SL (1973) film camera in black, here with 50 mm Summicron-R f/2.0 from Canada.
The word lens derives from lentil, because of the similar shape.
Lens - A piece of glass or similarly transparent material (like water or plastic) that has a shape so that it can direct light rays. The word “Lens” is used both for single piece of glass as well as a camera lens with several lenses that works together. From ‘lentil’ because similar in shape.
A camera lens consists of several shaped lens elements of glass. The lenses can also be made of simple cheap plastic as in "kit lenses" (sold with a camera as a kit to make a workable cheap package), but it is mostly very exotic glass (that can be heavy or light in weight, very hard or very soft in surface (esay to scratch or very resistant) with each optical glass recipe made to develop very specific qualities in how the glass and final lens treats light. As a general rule, high quality glass is soft, which is why some lenses has as their front and back element, a non-optical lens element that is there to protect the actual optical glass from scratches. As a side noite, Leica made their own glass laboraty, The Leitz Glass Laboratory, from 1949-1989, which deveopled 35 new glass types and took out more than 2,000 patents of glass recipes from more than 50,000 experimental melts of glass. These designs, or recipes, are still used today by the lens designers to obtain very specific optical results. Other lens manufacturers in the world of course have had their glass laboratories, and today one will find an interchange of glass patents amongst production facilities that service Leica, Nikon,, Fuji and so on with optical lens elements.
Lens hood = (also called a Lens shade or Ventilated Shade). A tube or ring attached to the front of a camera lens to prevent unwanted light from reaching the lens and sensor. In the past where lenses were not coated to prevent internal reflections inside the lens, the lens hood was often essential. These days where lenses are coated, the shade serves just as much as decoration and protection (bumper) as well. ORIGIN Old English hod; related to Dutch hoed, German Hut 'hat,' also to hat.
Lens hood or Lens shade or ventilated shade. In the picture is a ventilated shade with clip-on mount to a 50mm f/2.0 lens. Ventilated means it has openings that allow for view from the viewfinder.
Lens names of Leica distinguish which widest aperture the lens has:
f/0.95 - f/1.25
f/ 1.2 (Leica-designed Panasonic lens)
f/ 1.4 - f/1.7
f/2.4 - 2.5
f/1.9 - f/6.3 (used 1930-1960 for screw mount lenses only)
f/2.8 - f/4.5
f/3.5 (only used 1921-1925 for the 50mm Elmax f/3.5)
f/2.8 - f/6.8 (used for tele lenses)
Bubble Level Gauge to mount onto the flash shoe.
Level Gauge = This is a tool in the viewfinder to see if you hold the camera 100% horizontal and/or vertical. You can turn it on in the Menu > Photo Live View Setup > Level Gauge > On.
Before level gauge was integrated as a digitized feature in modern digital camers, it was a Bubble Level Gauge / Spirit Level you put on top of the camera.
The idea is to be able to get 100% vertical and horizontal lines (because if you tilt the camera slightly, the horizon will not be horizontal, and of you tilt the camera forward or backwards, the lines of for example vertical buildings will not be vertical.
Digitized level gauge in a Leica M10-P. You tilt the camera up and down (front/back and left/right) till the level is completely straight.
Light = Tiny particles called photons that behaves like both waves and particles. Light makes objects visible by reflecting off of them, and in photography that reflecting off of subjects is what creates textures, shapes, colors and luminance. Light in its natural form (emanating from the sun) also gives life to plants and living things, and makes (most) people happier. So far, nobody has been able to determine exactly what light is. The word photography means “writing with light” (photo = light, -graphy = writing). Read more about light in my book Finding the Magic of Light.
The "light balance" scale in the camera menu.
Light Balance = That the amount of light is correct, or is under-exposed or over-exposed. Not a common expression, but is used in camera manuals for the scale that shows how the exposure compensation is set, or indicates a scale that shows what the camera thinks the exposure should be adjusted to.
Live View = This is the ability to see the image the sensor see, live, via the screen on the back of the camera, or via an electronic viewfinder (EVF).
LMT - Leica Thread-Mount: Also known as M39, is the screw mounted lenses for Leica cameras. It’s a simple as that; you screw on the lens, and back in 1932, the possibility to change the lens was the big news hwen introduced by Leica on the Leica III. The M39 system was updated with the M Bayonet from 1954 for the Leica M3. The M bayonet is a quick way to change lenses and is the current mount for Leica M digital rangefinders.
M (as in "M3", "M6", "M7" etc.)
A) The M originally stands for "Messsucher", which is German "Meßsucher" for "Rangefinder". The "3" in M3 was chosen because of the three bright line finders for the 50, 90 and 135 mm lenses. Later the numbers of the M cameras were more or less chosen to follow each other.
M-body evolution in chronologic order:
M3 - MP - M2 - M1 - MD - MDA - M4 - M5 - CL - MD-2 - M4-2 - M4-P - M6 - M6 TTL - M7 - MP - M8 - M8.2 - M9 - M9-P - MM (black and white sensor) - ME (Type 220) - Leica M (Type 240) - Leica M-P 240 - Leica M 246 Monochrom - Leica M-A (type 127, film camera) - Leica M 262 - Leica M-D 262 (without a screen) - Leica M10 - Leica M10-P, Leica M10 Monochrom, Leica M10-R, Leica M11.
B) M also refer to M-mount as the M bayonet that couple the Leica M lenses to the Leica M camera. Before the M bayonet the coupling between the camera and lens was screwmount.
M nowadays refer to the Leica M line of cameras rather than the "Messsucher".
The Leica M bayonet on the Leica M10.
M-mount: The Leica M-mount is a bayonet that was introduced with the Leica M3 camera in 1954 and has been used on all subsequent Leica M cameras, as well as on the Epson R-D1, Konica Hexar RF, Minolta CLE, Ricoh GXR, Rollei 35RF, Voigtländer Bessa, and Zeiss Ikon cameras (2019).
Compared to the previous screw mount (M39), the M
mount requires a quick turn of the lens, and ithe lens is mounted. The patent for the M-bayonet ("Bajonettvorrichtung für die lösbare Verbindung zweier Kamerateile") was registered by Ernst Leitz GmbH 10 February 1950 (patent number DE853384). Hugo Wehrenfennig was credited with the invention.
Leica M9 is a model name for the Leica M9 that was introduced on September 9, 2009 (as the first full-frame digital Leica M). It was the latest model designation using the M and a number. From their next model, Leica Camera AG introduced a new model system so each camera would simply be a Leica M but then with a model designation like Typ 240, Typ 246, Typ M-D 262 and so on. The idea was inspired from Apple who name their computers for example MacBook Pro and then it has a sub- model number designation which model it is (and which would define speed of processor, etc).
MACRO = Macro lens. The Leica 60mm APO-Elmarit-Macro-R ASPH f/2.8 is a 60mm lens for portraits, landscapes, etc. as well as a near focus macro lens. The Leica Q lens can be turned to Macro which enables you to go close so as to enlarge smaller subjects. The Leica M cameras becomes Macro when you add a Macro ring "Oufro" or "Leica Macro M Adapter" that increases the lens' distance to the sensor. The word macro comes from Greek makros ‘long, large.’
Maestro III - A processor developed first as Maestro for the Leica S2 (Maestro) and upgraded to Maestro II for the Leica S (Typ 007). The Leica Q and Leica Q2 has a Mestro II (Leica Q edition) processor developed by SocioNext Inc. based on Fujitsu's Mibeault architecture. Leica M10 also has a Maestro II processor, but seemingly developed further for this model. The Leica M11 (2022) has a Maestro III processor.
Mandler, Dr. Walter (1922 - 2005)
Legendary Leica lens designer and CEO of Ernst Leitz Canada (ELCAN) 1952-1985. Read more inLeica History.
Dr. Walter Mandler (center) at the Ernst Leitz Camera factory.
Megapixel (or MP) - Millions of pixels. See pixel further down. How many units of RGB is recorded by a given sensor by taking height x widt. A Leica M10 delivers a 5952 x 3968 pixel file = 23,617,536 piexls. On a screen the resolution you choose determines the size of the image. Say you have a 5000 pixel wide file and your screen is set for 8000 pixels wide. Then the image will fill only the 5000 pixels fo the 8000 and the rest will be empty, If you then change the screen resolution to 5000 wide, the image would be able to fill out the whole screen.
Meßsucher = (rangefinder or distance finder) = Mess = range, sucher = finder. It is always correctly written with the "ß". There are technically not three "s", rather the "ß" and one "s" because it is a word constructed by the combining of two precise words.
mm = millimeter(s), as in a 50mm lens. (Earlier in lens history lenses focal length was given in cm = centimeters; as in a 5 cm lens). For anyone used to centimeters and millimeters, it’s no wonder. But if you grew up with inches, feet and yards, you may have had a hard time grasping what a 50mm lens was. But as lenses were designed first in Europe, the metric system with centimeters and millimeters was used to describe lenses.
(Leica and others made lenses for a while with either meter scale or feet scale; but then eventually started including meter and feet on all the lenses (two scales, usually distinguished with different colors). However, the lens' focal length remained always 50mm, 75mm and so on).
The reason a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens is that there is 50mm from the focus plane (the film or sensor surface) to the center of focus inside the lens. When photography was a young subject, it was engineers who made it all, and the users were expected to understand. The engineers were so into the making of the lenses, that it apparently never dawned upon them that today’s users would think of a 21mm lens as a wide angle lens rather than a lens where there is 21mm from the sensor to the center of focus inside the optics.
a) Stands for Mechanical Perfection, as in the Leica M-P.
b) Megapixels (millions of pixels).
c) Megaphotosites (millions of photosites).
Neutral Density filters are grey filters function as 'sunglasses' for lenses. They simply block the light so that a lens can work at for example f/0.95 or f/2.0 in sunshine.
If a camera is set to 200 ISO and the maximum shutter speed is 1/4.000, this will usually result that the lens has to be at f/2.8 or smaller aperture in sunshine. Else the image will over-exposed. So in order til stay within the maximum shutter speed of 1/4.000 and still use a lightstrong lens wide open, one mount a ND-filter that reduce the light with 3 stops (8X) or 6 stops (64x).
For video ND-filters are used quite a lot (as the shutter speed for video is 1/60), and ND-filters are also used to reduce the light for really long multi-exposures at night (stop-motion video and stills).
ND-filters also exist as variable ND-filters so one can adjust the amount of light going through from for example 1 stop (2X) to 6 stops (64X).
ND-filters also exist as graduated ND-filters where the top of the filter is dark and then gradually tone over in no filter (so as to reduce the skylight in a landscape for example).
The ND filters are called Neutral because it is a neutral filter. It doesn't change colors, only the amount of light.
ND-filters / gray-filters.
Noctilux = Also known as "King of the Night" because "Nocti" means Night and "Lux" means Light. The f/1.0 lenes from Leica are named "Noctilux". The first Leica Noctilux lens was the 50mm Noctilux f/1.2 which shortly after it's introduction was improved to the 50mm Noctilux f/1.0. In the current model the f-stop has been improved further to f/0.95.
"Noctilux" refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.0 . "Nocti" for nocturnal (occurring or happening at night; ORIGIN late 15th cent.: from late Latin nocturnalis, from Latin nocturnus ‘of the night,’ from nox, noct- ‘night.), "lux" for light. The Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 is famous for enabling the photographer to take photos even there is only candleligts to lit the scene. See the article "Leica Noctilux - King of the Night"
The Noctilux "King of the Night" lens. From left the f/0.95 in silver (same on the camera, in black), the f/1.0 in the back and the rare and expensive first model, the f/1.2 in the front.
Number, on this site Leica catalog numbers or order numbers. Some the numbers changed depending on the number of cams in the lens: The Elmarit-R f2.8/135mm started life as No. 11 111, however when fitted with 2 cams for the SL became No. 11 211, yet another No. for the 3 cams lens and a fourth number for 3 cam only at the end of its life. Number changes also applied to M lenses depending on whether they were screw-thread, bayonet or for M3 with “spectacles”. Thus the No. in the Thorsten Overgaard Leica Lens Compendium list is a guideline but not a comlete list of existing catalog numbers.
OIS = Optical Image Stabilization. This is used in tele lenses where blurring motion of the camera from inevitable vibrations are adjusted by the lens. At low shutter speeds and/or with long lenses, any slight movement would result in a picture with "motion blur" unsharpness. The Leica TL2 supports optical image stabilization when A) OIS is turned on in the camera menu, and B) when you use lenses with OIS (the Leica SL longer lenses has OIS). An alternative is EIS = Electronic Image Stabilization, which the Leica T has. Here the problem of "motion blur" is corrected electronically after, which might lead to image degradation. However, the larger the sensor resolution, the less one will notice small 'degradation'.
Optic = Eye or vision. From French optique or medieval Latin opticus, from Greek optikos, from optos ‘seen.’
OSPDAF (sensor type) = On Sensor Phase Detect Autofocus, which is a digital sensor where the main imaging sensor has "focus pixels" added in a layer on top of the traditional image pixels that are used for autofocus. First introduced in 2010 by Fujifilm on F300EXR and used in the first smartphone in 2014, Samsung Galaxy S5.
PASM on a cameras 'program wheel'
PASM = is short for P = Program Mode / A = Aperture Priority Mode / S = Shutter Priority Mode / M = Manual Control Mode. On some cameras, these P, A, S and M are choices on a wheel on top of the camera, or in the menu.
PDAF = Phase Detect Autofocus. Used in canon EOS 5D Mark IV in 2016 where a dSLR camera use mirrors to reflect copies of the main sensor’s light at a dedicated phase detection sensor. Compact cameras and smartphone cameras has the AF sensors built on to he sensor itself so as to be more compact (OSPDAF = On sensor Phase Detect Autofocus). The alternative to PDAF is CDAF (Contrast Detection Auto-Focus).
Perspective = The way objects appear to the eye; their relative position and distance. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of perspective (also see Three-dimensional). A wide angle "widens" the perspective and makes objects further away appear smaller than they are to the eye; and objects closer, relatively larger than they are to the eye. A tele lens will "flatten" the perspective and often objects further away will appear relatively larger than close objects than they are in real life. A 50mm lens is the one closest to the perspective and enlargement ratio of the human eye.
The word Perspective comes from the latin word for optics (perspicere, per- ‘through’ + specere ‘to look’), and so-called Renaissance painting is simply painting done within the framework of optics and the linear perspective it presents.
Vanishing points are the points where lines meet. This is how you make perspective in paintings and drawings (and some times make movie sets or theatre stages appear more three-dimensional than they are)
Painters works with vanishing points, which is where the lines meet, so as to create an illusion of perspective and three-dimensional effect on a two-dimensional painting or drawing.
The human eye corrects for perspective to an extreme degree. We always see vertical lines vertical and horisontal lines horisontal: The eye has a angle of view equivalent to an 8mm wide angle lens, a size ratio equivalent to a 50mm lens and we focus on relatively small area of the viewing field - one at the time. Three things happens that are worth paying attention to:
1) We compile areas of our view that we focus on, to one conceptual image that "we see". Ansel Adams, the great American landscape photographer pointed out that a large camera used for landscape photography capture every detail in focus and sharp so you can view it in detail after; but the eye does not see everything in focus when you try to compose the landscape photography, the eye scans only one part at a time and stitch the idea together. This makes composing or prevision of a landscape photography challenging.
2) We compile areas of our view that we individually adjust the exposure of. A camera adjust the exposure of the whole image frame to one exposure. That's why what looks like a nice picture to the eye of houses in sunshine with a blue sky above, becomes a photograph of darker buildings with a bright white sky: The camera simply can't take one picture that compare to what we "compiled" with our eyes, adjusting for each type of light.
3) Objects (on a table, for example) in the bottom of our viewing field will appear 100% perspective corrected - to a degree that it is impossible to correct in optics, with or without software correction. A wide angle lens, even with little distortion, will exaggerate the proportions of the closet part so it - to the eye - looks wrong.
Perspective correction - In software like Adobe Lightroom and Capture One Pro there is often a feature to correct perspective (and distortion) like seen below. You can change perspective this way, or at least make believe: If you correct a tall building on teh vertical lines, you will notice that the height of the windows doesn't match the perspective. If the building is with straight lines, the windows should all be of the same size. But a tall building seen from below and corrected with software will have taller windows (closer to camera) in the bottom than in the top (further away from the camera originally).
A graphic illustration of the typical Bayer Color Filter Array on an RGB sensor. It's called a Bayer filter because Bryce Bayer of Eastman Kodak invented the technology of filtering incoming light into RGB and distribute it into the the photosites that each read just one color (R/G/G/B).
Photosite - The unit in a digital camera sensor that records intensity of either red, green or blue. Unlike the output of a sensor, measured in pixels (and where each pixel contains RGB), the photosite records only one color each, and it's intensity (how bright it is). A photosite can not distinguish colors, which is why there is a Color Filter Array (basically a prism) above them to filter the colors and send information to the photosite if 's a R, G og B color. See illustration below. In a monochrome sensor (as in the Leica M Monochrom and the Phase One Achromatic), all photosites are recording intensity of light only as there is no concern which color it is, and there is no color filter.
The ratio of photosites to pixels is not a given. Each block of 4 contiguous photosites contains one photosite sensitive to low wavelengths (blue), one photosite sensitive to high wavelengths (red), and two identical photosites sensitive to medium wavelengths (green). So four photosites would be the minimum to create one 'full-color' pixel. Apart from that, depends on the sensor specifications, which is different from brand to brand. Sometimes four photosites (two Green, one Red and one Blue) makes up one pixel, at other times it's more photosites to one pixel; and there is also pixels sampled from photosites across (sort of overlapping patterns).
Pixel - Made up word from Pix (picture) and el (element). A pixel is the smallest full-color (RGB) element in a digital imaging device. The physical size of a pixel depends on how you've set the resolution for the display screen. The color and tonal intensity of a pixel are variable, meaning that each pixel contains RGB. This is different from a camera sensor's small eyes (photosite) that are an intensity of either red, green or blue. You could say that the digital sensor's photosite (where each unit collects just one color; red, green or blue) is the input technology, whereas the pixels on a screen (where each pixel contains red, green and blue) is the output device. So while sensors are measured in megapixels (mega = million), it's their output unit of pixels, and not the input unit of photosites that is measured and stated. See illustration below.
Q - The Leica Q model was released in 2015 as a full-frame 24MP digital compact camera featuring a fixed auto-focus and 28mm f/1.7 lens with macro, amd upgraded with a larger 51MP sensor (same concept) Leica Q2 in 2019. See my article Compact Leica Cameras for more.
R = Resolution, in the name Leica M10-R camera model (2020).
R - Reflex: The Leica R cameras (2009) is the SLR cameras from Leica. The first Leicaflex (1964) feels like a Leica M, built as a tank, and with reflex and fits Leica R lenses. Over the production time of the Leica R system, a number of magic lenses from fisheye to 800mm were made for this system (as well as a made-to-order 1600mm lens for a prince in Qatar). Also a number of zoom lenses was made for the Leica R system. Many of the lenses are being used for cinema in their next life, especially the wide angle and the 50/1.4, but also the 280mm APO f/2.8 tele lens was retrofitted with a PL mount and used for the Joker movie in 2019.
The Leicaflex series (1964 - 1976) was modernized with the Leica R3 (1976) that was made together with Minolta , and then Leica went on with Leica R4, Leica R5, Leica 6.2, Leica R7, Leica R8 and Leica R9. The latter two models got a digital 10MP back made as an accessory in 2004 (CCD-sensor made with Imacon and Kodak). You simply took off the film back and mounted a digital back (and could change back to film if you wanted to). See my Leica DMR article. The Leica R system was retired in 2009 when the production of new lenses stopped. Leica Camera AG said then that the plans fot the R10 camera had been retired as it was not feasible to maintain an SLR system. Though, in 2016 Leica opresented the Leica SL system which is a SLR camera without reflex and instead is mirrorless cameras, and with a new series of L-mount lenses. The Leica SL (and Leica M) can use Leica R lenses via adapter.
"Rattle" = Noise from something moving around inside a lens when moved or shaken, as if something is loose: When a lens "rattle" when moved, it is not the floating elements "floating around" but can be the IS (Image Stabilization) elements for elense that has that, AF elements for auto focus lenses, or the aperture cage that rattles (as in the case of the Leica 35mm Summilux-M f/1.4 FLE - if you stop down the Summilux to f/16, the sound is usually not there).
Rigid - Refers usually to the Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "Rigid" of 1956.
It is called "Rigid" because, unlike the 50mm Collapsible, this one is not able to be changed.
Rigid means stiff, uable to be forced out of shape. Not able to be changed. From Latin rigere, "be stiff".
The name is a little confusion nowadays as all or most lenses are rigid today, but back in 1925-1956, many lenses were collapsible so the camera was compact when not in use. Just like compact cameras today often has a lens that extrudes when the camera is turned on, and collaps into the camera body when the camera is turned off.
(R)ange (F)inder - the mechano-optical mechanism which allows M Leicas to focus.
Alternative meaning - RF is also shorthand for Hexar RF , Konica's motorised "M-lens-compatible" rangefinder camera released in 2000.
S = Single image. When the ring by the shutter release on top of the camera (or in the menu of a digital camera in case it does not have this ring on the ourside) is moved from OFF to S, the camera takes only one photo at the time (Single). The other possibility is Continuous where the camera takes pictures continiously as long as the shutter release button is helt down. (see above).
Saturation: How colorful, intense or pure the color is. Less saturation would be less colorful, more saturation would be more colorful. In today’s photography, de-saturating a photo on the computer will gradually make it less and less colorful; and full de-saturation would make it into a black and white photo.
Sensor = A device that detects a physical property (like light) and records it. A camera sensor is a plane plate with thousands of small “eyes” with (photosites) a lens in front of each (CFA, Color Filter Array), which each individually records the amount of red, green and blue light rays that comes through the lens. Together, Red, Green and Blue form all colors of the spectrum, which becomes a pixel. Sensor comes from Latin sens- ‘perceived’.
SDC = Software Distortion Correction. A correction of lens distortion (not straight lines) applied in the camera and which is part of the DNG or RAW file. In Lightroom or Capture One Pro the SDC of the camera file is applied automatically (and cannot be removed), in software like AccuRaw one can open the DNG file without the SDC correction. Sean Reid Reviews have written a good article on what SDC is and does in "Software Distortion Correction".
SDC (Software Distortion Correction): In Lightroom the correction profile for the Fujinon 23mm is applied automatically and cannot be turned off.If you go into Develop mode in Lightroom and look under Lens Correction > Profile, you will see a message in the bottom with an exclamation mark. When you click on that, you get the message above.
Sharpness - See “Focus”
Shutter speed dial - The dial on top of the Leica M where you can set the shutter speed manually. It can also be set to A which stands for Aperture Priority (where the camera suggests a shutter speed; or when you move the dial away from A, the camera will show arrows in the viewfinder, suggesting which direction to change the Aperture to, to get the correct exposure).
The number on the dial refers to the shutter speeds. "4000" is 1/4000th of a second (one second divided with 4,000).
Shutter speed dial set to A (Aperture priority where the camera automatically suggest an shutter speed based on the aperture of the lens). The other settings are manual shutter time settings. "B" is short for Bulb where the shutter is open for as long as the shutter release is pressed (max 60 minutes in the Leica M11). The little "thunder symbol" between number 250 and 135 is a symbol indicating that this is the flash synchronizing setting (1/180th of s a second).
Six-bit code (6-bit code) - An engraving on the flange of M-lenses that makes it possible for digital M-cameras to recognize the lens that has been mounted. The camera can include information on the attached lens and its focal length in EXIF data and make digital corrections for lens-specific flaws, such as color-cast or vignetting. Six-bit coding was introduced for all M-lenses sold since 2006, but many older lenses can be retrofitted with the code at Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar.
SL = Abbreviation for Single Lens (used by Leica for theeir Leica SL (2015) digital cameras. The point is that there is no Reflex mirror (See SLR in the list).
SLR = Abbreviation for Single-Lens Reflex; the lens that forms the image on the film/sensor also provides the image in the viewfinder via a mirror. Newer camera models has aen EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) that displays in the viewfinder what the sensor sees in real-time.
Leitz Wetzlar Mikro-Summar 42mm f/4.5 lens anno 1910 might be the first lens carrying the name Summar.
Summar - (or a story of name development) The 1933 lens 50mm f2.0 Summar: It started out as Summar(f2.0), then the Summitar (f2.0 in 1939), then the Summarex(f1.5 in 1948), then the Summaron(35mm f.2.8 in 1948, then later f2.0, f3.5 and f5.6 lenses), then the Summarit (f1.5 in 1949 and used again for the 40mm f2.4 on the Leica Minilux in 1995, then again for the 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm Summarit f2.5 in 2007) then the Summicron(f2.0 in 1953 for the collabsible 50mm) and finally the Summilux(50mm f1.4 in 1959).
ORIGIN of Summar is unknown.
The great thing about being a lens designer is that you get to name the lens. Dr. Max Berek who worked for Leitz from 1912 till his death in 1949 named lenses after his two favorite dogs. One was Sumamrex named after his dog Rex, the other Hektor named after his dog Hektor.
Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/1.5.
Summicron = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/2.0 . There are many guesses how this name came about, a popular one being that the "summi" came from "summit" (summit means the highest point of a hill or mountain; the highest attainable level of achievement) while the "cron" came from "chroma" (ie. for colour). Not so: The name (Summi)cron was used because the lens used Crown glass for the first time, which Leitz bought from Chance Brothers in England. The first batch of lenses were named Summikron (Crown = Krone in Deutsch). The Summi(cron) is a development from the orignal Summar (the 50mm f2.0 lens anno 1933). Vario-Summicron, Vario-Elmarit is Leica Camera AG's name for zoom lenses, for example the Vario-Summicron f/2.0 as the one that is on the Leica Digilux 2.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In Leica terminology a Summilux is always a f/1.4 lens and a Summicron is a f/2.0 lens.
Lens nomenclature - short-hand for " telephoto " (tele- is a combining form, meaning to or at a distance) and used in names of instruments for operating over long distances : telemeter. The name has been used for a number of tele lenses from Leica.
ORIGIN: from Greek t?le- ‘far off.’
Thambar Leitz Thambar 90mm f.2.2. At most about 3000 were made, originally, probably in eight batches, starting with 226xxx (built in 1934) and going through 283xxx, 311xxx, 375xxx, 416xxx, 472xxx, 511xxx, and 540xxx (about 1939/1940). But then the Thambar was re-launched in 2018, exactly the same lens.
Three-dimensional = Having the three dimensions of height, width and depth. In photography and lens design, three-dimensional effect is also the perception of even small micro-details; the texture of skin can appear flat and dead or three-dimensional and alive. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of depth. Also see Perspective.
Leica T is the compact camera developed by Leica Camera in 2014 as a touch-screen operated camera that can take the Leica L mount lenses made for this camera and the Leica SL and Leica CL. This camera series was names Leica TL later. See my article Compact Leica Cameras for more.
(T)hrough (T)he (L)ens light metering, usually WRT the flash metering capabilities built into the R6.2, R8, R9, M7 & M6TTL cameras.
V-Lux is a series of compact SLR-like digital cameras by Leica Camera AG developed with Panasonic since 2006, starting with the Leica V-Lux 1 (2006), V-Lux 2 (2010), V-Lux 3 (2011), V-Lux 4 (2012), V-Lux Typ 114 (2014), V-Lux 5 (2018). See my article "Compact Digital Leica Cameras".
To add confusion, Leica also made a Leica V-Lux 20 in 2010, V-Lux 30 in 2011 and a Leica V-Lux 40 in 2012 that was a temporarily renaming of the Leica C-Lux series.
Vario- is the Leica Camera AG name for zoom lenses. Vario-Elmarit, Vario-Elmar and Vario-Summicron and so on.
Ventilated shade on a 35mm of Elliott Erwitt's Leica MP camera.
Ventilated Shade - A shade is a hood in front of a lens that provides shade from light going straight onto the lens from outside what you are photographing, which could cause internal reflections like flare, which would make the picture less contrasty.
The ventilated shade has holes so it doesn't obstructs the view from the viewfinder. In many of today’s mirrorless cameras where there is no viewfinder looking ver the lens, so there is no actual need for a ventilated shade; but they are considered classic or vintage looking and are still in high demand. It makes no difference for the purpose of the shade (to create shadow) if it is ventilated or not.
Ventilated Shade for the Leica Q. I make ventilated shades for most lenses and sell them from here.
Viewfinder a device on a camera showing the field of view of the lens. Also known as the German word "Messucher" (or Meßsucher).
1) A built-in viewfinder in a camera that simply show the frame you get when you look through the viewfinder.
2) A rangefinder viewfinder which is also used to focus the lens. In Leica M cameras two pictures has to meet and lay 'on top of each other' for the picture to be in focus.
3) An external viewfinder, usually on top of the camera in the flash shoe, so as to show the field of view of lenses vider than what the built-in viewfinder can show (15mm, 21mm, 24mm, 28mm etc viewfinders exist)
4) Very simple "aiming-devices" on top of a camera that is simply a metal frame without any optics. Just a frame, as for example very old cameras (the original Leica), or when using cameras in diving where you can't look through the camera.
5) A Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) that shows what the sensor sees "live".
A device mounted between the Leica M camera and a lens, containing a mirror mechanism like in a SLR camera, thus allowing the M user to 'preview' a picture using a tele lens larger than 135mm which is the maximum covered by the framelines in the Leica viewfinder. In 2012 Leica made the electronic Visoflex for the Leica M240, which is an electronic viewfinder (see EVF in this list).
Leica Visoflex EVF2 electronic viewfinder.
You can also use the Olympus VF-2 which essentially is the same.
The Leitz VisoFlex came out in 1951 as a way to implement a mirror on a Leica M. The first version exist for screw mount lenses and M mount lenses.
The black rubberized, textured material used to cover Leica camera bodies prior to the 1980s. It actually was made of vulcanised rubber (hence the name) and was and remains much loved by professionals because of its solid, sure grip.
WLAN = German short for WiFi. In camera menus, Leica may refer to WLAN, which is simply German for WiFi, (and for some reason they refuse to believe that the rest of the world doesn't call it for WLAN like they do). WLAN stands for wirelesslocal area network.
X1 - The Leica X1 was released in September 2009, the Leica X2 in 2012, and Leica X Typ 113 was released in September 2014, all with a fixed 23mm f/1.7 lens. Leica X Vario Typ 107 and Leica X-E Typ 102 was released later. A Leica X-U underwater edition was released in 2026. See my article Compact Leica Cameras for more.
Ø - Diameter. As in Ø49 for example which means that the filter diameter is 49mm for this lens (or if a filter is Ø49, it is 49mm in diameter and fits that Ø49 lens). Leica uses E to express their filters sizes, as in E49 for a 49mm filter size.
Thorsten Overgaard reviews the Leica M11 digital rangefinder and provides real-world user report. Here with his Leica M4.
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish-American multiple award-winning photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops to photographers. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via email.
You can follow Thorsten Overgaard at his television channel magicoflight.tv.
I am in constant orbit teaching
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