"As we moved off I climbed up between two carriage & got two photos of them waving good-bye, a pasty faced snapper yelled out at me to get down & I got a photo of him gesticulating at me..." PP War diaries, 1941
Peter lugged his trusty camera around to many parts of the globe from his earliest travels hoboing and riding the rattlers after leaving school in Australia, to the very edges of Lapland some years later. His favourite was a Leica.
The Leica camera went with him when other luggage did not. These photos of life as he saw it 'on the street' while travelling & working with a huge variety of people and enterprises are rare for the fleeting moment they record and for the way they were recorded. Not too many other white fellas taking candid shots over dinner with isolated tribes of headhunters in Burma, or on set with the Chauvels in 1949, unofficially recording the making of Sons of Matthew.
Leica Cameras - An Overview
With a long and illustrious history that stretches back to 1913, Leica cameras have built for themselves one of the most iconic and respected brands in the photography industry. Ever since Oskar Barnack assembled the first prototype Leica, intended as a compact tool for landscape work, the company has cut a path focused upon providing consistent, discreetly designed cameras of the highest quality. Indeed, though the brand is almost a century old and has released a number of different models of camera, comparison of the first mass-produced Leica (the Leica I) with today`s modern Leica M9 reveals astonishingly few changes in aesthetic design, though the internals are drastically different.
Used by many professional photographers over the years, Leica cameras developed something of a reputation as the photographer`s friend; their simplicity of design and emphasis on quality construction ensured that they remained functional even in the harshest environments. For this reason, Leica rangefinders such as the Leica II and Leica III soon became the go-to camera of photojournalists the world over. Henry Cartier-Bresson, for example, when working for Magnum Photos, took his trusty Leica to cover the action in post-WWII China and India.
Though Leica is a brand steeped in rich history, the company has stayed abreast of modern technological innovations and reinvented itself with remarkable success. With the Digital-Modul-R for the R8 and R9 SLR models, Leica entered the world of digital photography, but it was not until the 2006 release of the M8 digital rangefinder that the company really found its place in the post-analogue world. However, this has since been superseded by the M8.2 and more recently the M9 – the latest genesis of Leica`s fifty year-old M line.
The M9 is remarkably compact given the technology it contains, remaining pocketable despite being possessed of a 35mm full-frame sensor; in fact, just a few years prior to the release of the M9, Leica stated that it would be technically impossible to place such a sensor into an M body. Additionally, as it uses the traditional Leica bayonet mount, the M9 will accept Leica lenses dating all the way back to the fifties, resulting in a large pool of high quality optics being instantly available for owners of M bodies.
Though Leica caters for the general consumer market with such compact cameras as the V-LUX 1, D-LUX 4 and most recently, the more advanced X1, it is the company`s very recently released S2 model that currently has industry insiders talking. The camera is the start of an entirely new model line for Leica, sitting at the top of their catalogue as the top-grade choice for those with money to burn. With a sensor that is 60% larger than full-frame, the S2 comes close to offering medium format performance in a rugged SLR body – a step that has the potential to revolutionise the professional photography field and, moreover, one that seems fitting with Leica`s aspiration to produce the very best cameras on the market.