Jefferson Graham offers travel photography tips to make your road photos come alive.
SAN FRANCISCO — Is the traditional camera dead? Smartphones would certainly have you believe the coup de grace is imminent.
Whether you’re holstering an iPhone 7 Plus with Portrait mode or the latest Samsung or Pixel phone, taking pictures — and beautiful pictures at that — has never been easier. Just ask the folks uploading nearly 100 million photos daily to social media sites.
Now with the iPhone 8 bowing in in the fall, smartphone-toting photographers are likely to have even more reasons to rejoice given the Cupertino company’s penchant for having their device double as a photographic scalpel.
In fact, when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs introduced the handsome iPhone 4 in 2010, he compared its solidity to that of a famous German camera maker: “Glass on the front and back, and steel around the sides. It’s like a beautiful old Leica camera.”
Today, there is in fact a very specific Leica camera that offers photographers the very same 28 mm focal length view of the world as the iPhone. It’s called the Leica Q, which at $4,250 sounds like pure folly in today’s camera-in-your-pocket age.
And yet I wanted to see if spending time shooting with this fixed-lens machine could revive this one-time shutterbug’s passion for toting around an old-fashioned camera.
The odds certainly are against the Leica Q, despite the fact that it feels like it was hewn from a chunk of Superman’s spare kryptonite and has a lens that appears capable of peering into the soul. It also features a nose-hair enlarging 24 megapixel full-frame sensor, a light-sucking 1.7 f-stop focal ratio, and ego-swelling brand bragging rights familiar to Rolls-Royce owners.
Digital camera production plummeted to 24 million last year from 121 million 2010, according to the Camera and Imaging Productions Association. Over the same period, smartphone sales rocketed to 1.5 billion from 200 million, according to Gartner.
That said, Leica struts its high-end wares undaunted. Although it makes sub-$2,000 point and shoots such as the TL2, it’s better known for the fabled M-line that costs around more than $10,000, give or take a few…