The Lion Sleeps Tonight

September 9, 2009 will no doubt go into digital camera history as a defining date that took the evolution of digital cameras into the right — and common sense — path.

After submitting to years of the mega pixel war that sought to cram ever more millions of tiny pixels into tiny image sensors — with the engineers telling us that they got the data to prove they are giving us better pictures [ROTFL] — and years of mindless smile technology, blink technology, slimming technology, and a thousand and one other gimmicks that probably caused many a reviewer to fall into a software-induced comatose state, Leica has sounded the clarion loud and clear that it is bringing digital camera development back to its roots, back to its senses and back to what’s really important in being able to capture a moment in time that we can treasure for years.

Strip a digital camera of all superfluous baggage and we are left with four essential functions, features, elements, call it what you may:
the lens to bring the light in, the image sensor to receive the light, a focusing mechanism to focus the light fast and precisely, and an exposure function that combines shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and white balance for correct exposure of light and colors.

In its latest models, Leica has pared down its digital cameras to these four essential elements, and ensured we receive the best of all four. Just like it did years ago when it introduced the first 35mm camera and revolutionized photography, the new Leica M9 and Leica X1 have set digital cameras onto the right track again.

Though we have yet to see the images from the M9 and X1, the technological hurdle of putting a full-frame sensor in the X9 and an APS size sensor in a compact body like the X1 has been overcomed, and that in itself has to be applauded.

Concerned photographers can all breathe a sigh of collective relief that we will soon start seeing “real” digital cameras coming out this and the years to follow.

Like a lion that, with one roar, quiets the mindless chattering in its forest, Leica can sleep peacefully tonight in the sure knowledge that it is once again at the forefront of camera development.

Well done, Leica!

Addendum: the lion has roared and perhaps awokened some other beasts of the forest that might not appreciate the return of the lion king? I betcha Canon and Nikon will have their versions of the X1 soon. The (digital camera) world is right again.