I went to the Leica Club at Shoot Photography this week and was greatly entertained...
The entertainment included good things to eat and drink, of course, and a chance to see some of the newest Leica cameras and lenses...and the chance to try out a novelty; the Leica SOFORT.
We've mentioned it here in the column before but this was the first time to get it into action... I was chosen as first experimenter...and I discovered that there is more to the SOFORT than meets the eye.
To start with, the name. SOFORT is rendered as " immediately " in the Google translator. Immediately turns out to be about 5 minutes...but " fünf Minuten " does not look quite so well rendered in the font that Leica uses for their cameras. In any case the camera does eject the newly-shot picture immediately and you just have to wait the 5 minutes for the full picture to develop.
To be fair, what is happening under the pure white outer case of the Fujifilm Instax film that you are holding in your hand has been described as a silent tornado of chemical reaction, so we really should be respectful of both the Fujifilm people and Dr. Edwin Land.
Okay, back to using the SOFORT. Point it and shoot and it delivers a good on-camera flash result. As the flash is situated on one side of the lens there will be a bias as to where it goes - remember this when you position people near reflectors. No.3 in the composite shot shows that I should have reversed my position to get away from the wall
The interesting thing that Connor McGill, the Leica Area Manager, pointed out is that the flash can be altered separate from the exposure of the shutter. This was tried by Don with a no-flash shot of the drinks tub to see what the dynamic range of the result can be. See No.4 in the composite shot. Pretty good.
The other thing that was evident was that the Fujifilm Instax film that this is loaded with has a very good skin-tone response. Even under the quizzical white balance of the Shoot premises there was a good colour to it.
Of course the SOFORT is intended as a fun camera - you will get a lot of that out of it in shooting give-away shots at events. And you will make more useful contacts and more friends doing so than just banging away with a standard digital camera and then taking the results home. People like having you take their picture when they can take that picture away themselves.
Part of the fun with this is selfies. Now I am not the sort of person who stands in front of famous buildings or objects to have a selfie - if I see something and take a good picture of it I think it evidence enough that I was there. And there are a lot of places in the world that I do not want to have evidence about...but there are those who like to take them.
To this end, Leica have put a small mirror on the front of the SOFORT to help you compose the result. It is just large enough to encompass two maniacs, as the No.1 picture in the composite will prove. Maybe a Godzilla or and Eiffel Tower in the middle...I'll leave the aesthetics up to you. The point is you can get a selfie in 5 minutes that is as good as any digital one. and you need not do it on a stick.
One thing, though, note that N0.1 and N0.2 on the composite are both upright pictures. But one was taken facing back - one facing out. The pictures both look good, but they are orientated 180º to each other on the paper. You'll need to remember this if you are intending to put the result into a special Leica album for display.
Thanks to CE and Connor for a good entertaining night and to Don and Mark for being good-humoured models.
See more about the Leica SOFORT here
A reminder that CE's 12 days of Christmas sale is happening right now! Day 5 is 25% off Fstop, Ona, Lowepro, Pelican and Think Tank bags. See the full list here.