miércoles, 28 de mayo de 2014


The Leica 100 Years Celebration and Inauguration of the Leitz Park in Wetzlar events that took place during the morning of May 23, 2014 were followed in the evening by an unforgettable Ceremony event and dinner inside the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar.

Rittal Arena of Wetzlar before the start of the 100 Years Leica Ceremony Event held in the evening of May 23, 2014.

Leica 100 Years Celebration Ceremony beginning inside the auditorium of the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar. A number of unforgettable and thrilling moments developed through the whole event with attendance of people arrived from all over the world.

The audiovisual displays inside the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar during the Leica 100 Years Celebration Ceremony  event featured a top-notch quality of image and sound handled by an experienced professional team, whose skill brought about the relish of the spectators.

Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Leica Camera AG, speaking on the stage of the Rittal Arena Auditorium at the start of the Leica 100 Years Leica Photography Celebration Ceremony. The key figure of Leica Renaissance in the XXI Century ( through a seamless transition to digital of the Leica M System of cameras and Lenses along with the creation of the medium format S-System and the just born APS-C Leica T-System) gave a speech elaborating on the 100 Years of Leica, 90 years of camera production and 60 years of the Leica M System, together with the history of the brand, its unique quality manufacturing product philosophy, the most important milestones of its evolution and the successful integration of the values that have always defined the identity of the firm as well as having been significant to photography, being currently experiencing a remarkable blossoming within the digital era, including an amazing expansion of the M-System embodied by the 24 x 36 mm format digital Leica M 240 as core of a universal system able to attain everything that was possible with both the classical rangefinder M and reflex R cameras and the added bonus of top-drawer HD video recording as a choice. 

Leica has greatly reinvented itself since 2006 and has become a highly versatile full-fledged digital firm in the photographic domain, having likewise managed to create the Summilux-C Leica f/1.4 cinema lenses, the most high quality ones ever made, a quantum leap in this scope, delivering an exceptional image quality as to contrast and sharpness throughout the entire frame and practically non existing falloff even beating the extraordinary Zeiss Master Primes and Cooke 5/i and featuring a staggering level of miniaturization (with a front diameter of 95 mm and very small size and weight bearing in mind the common great aperture of the eight lenses with focal lengths between 18 mm and 100 mm) to such an extent that 20 sets of Summilux-C lenses have been acquired by Otto Nemenz International hitherto.

The great performance of the Simon Bolivar String Quartet classical music ensemble playing famous melodies was one of the highlights of the 100 Years Leica Photography celebration inside the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar.

Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Art Director and General Manager of the International Leica Galleries of Austria, in a moment during her speech at the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar during the 100 Years Leica Photography Celebration Event.

One of the most unforgettable and touching moments of the event is about to happen. Karin Rehn-Kaufmann asks the legendary Associated Press photojournalist Nick UT and Dr. Andreas Kaufmann to go up to the stage.

Suddenly, in an utterly unexpected way, Nick Ut gives something to Dr. Andreas Kaufmann. This is a nice surprise.

Dr. Andreas Kaufmann begins reading the present and gets increasingly moved while Nick Ut watches him.

In very few seconds Dr. Andreas Kaufmann realizes what it is and becomes astounded.

It´s a commemorative diploma bestowed to Leica Camera AG by Los Angeles City (State of California) as a recognition to the 100 years of existence of the German photographic firm, signed by Herb J. Wesson Jr ( President of Los Angeles City Council) and Tom Cabonge (Council member 4th District).

Andreas Kaufmann and Nick Ut hug each other while Karin Rehn-Kaufmann and the attendees filling the Rittal Arena auditorium burst into applause.

Emotions skyrocket. Nick Ut is about to cry. He´s been a Los Angeles City resident for many decades.

48 years have elapsed since he joined AP in 1966 (one year after the death of his brother Huynh Thanh My, also a photographer for AP, choosing to use two Leica M2 that he loved) and 42 since he got the iconic picture of the nine years old Vietnamese girl Phan Thi Kim Phuc on June 7, 1972  running naked and burnt after a napalm bombing of Trang Bang, her village, during the Vietnam War. A lot of remembrances come to his mind.

Alfred Schopf, CEO of the Management Board of Leica Camera AG during his speech in the Ritter Arena explaining what the new Leitz Park Wetzlar will mean from now on for the future of the German photographic firm both in terms of returning to its birthplace and a manifold growth as to a number of different sides as a full-fledged forefront digital firm, along with its role as a manufacturing plant, research center, Leica store and international picture gallery.

The spectators became particularly enraptured by the Leica black and white images continuously being projected while different melodies sounded in a gorgeous show.

The wise distribution of spaces of the Wetzlar Rittal Arena auditorium with wide lanes separating the central rows of seats, the abundant room between them and the adequate sloping of the lateral stands enabled the full watching convenience from every location, it all being enhanced by a superb lighting.

Karin Rehn-Kaufmann introducing the Leica photographers of the 10 x 10 Exhibition, the first one held inside the Leitz Park during the celebration of the 100 Years Leica Photography as a project created to commemorate its centenary showing contemporary images looking to the future but simultaneously being linked to the past.

Amedeo Turello, Saga Sig, Craig Semetko, Dominic Nahr, Jing Huang, Kirill Golovchenko, Julia Baer, and Evgenia Arbugaeva (photographers of the 10 x 10 Exhibition) being greeted by Karin Rehn-Kaufmann on the auditorium stage of the Rittal Arena. 

Markus Limberger, Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Board of Leica Camera AG. A highly experienced and talented world class expert as to industrial engineering, optomechanical and optoelectronic systems who began his career in 1994 in Rodenstock Präzisionoptik where he held a number of management positions in Logistics, Procurement and Production, until 2007, when he joined Uwe Weller Feinwerktechnik GmbH in Wetzlar as Managing Director.

A passionate man on the history of optics and lens designers, he was very touched during his speech inside the Rittal Arena of Weztlar 100 Years Leica Celebration on being one of the presenters of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2014, when as well as explaining the crucial role to be played in future by the new Leitz Park in Wetzlar for the company´s success (fostering even more the economic stability and continuity in the coming decades maintaining uncompromising high quality standards and careful manufacturing), he mentioned Max Berek and other great lens designers and achievements accomplished by Leica during a century.

Dr. Andreas Kaufmann reads the name of the Winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2014 (Martin Kollar, from Slovakia) and the Winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award (Alejandro Cegarra, from Venezuela).

Members of the jury of the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2014 presided by Karin Rehn-Kaufmann.

The names of the winners of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2014 appear on the large screen of the Rittal Arena auditorium.

Dr. Andreas Kaufmann reads a significant message delving into the importance of Leica Oskar Barnack Award for photographers

Dr. Andreas Kaufmann on the stage of the Rittal Arena auditorium welcomes Martin Kollar (Slovakia), Winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2014.

Dr. Andreas Kaufmann greets Alejandro Cegarra (Venezuela), Winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award 2014.

A panoramic view of the inner area of the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar during the dinner after the Leica 100 Years Photography Celebration

Hiroji Kubota, legendary Magnum photographer, talking to a friend during the dinner inside the Rittal Arena. 

Another view of the inner space of the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar during the dinner following the Leica 100 Years Celebration Ceremony, with lavish presence of LCD screens displaying the Leica Das Wesenliche concept.

Attendees coming from all over the globe gathered inside the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar, providing an exotic atmosphere to the event.

From left to right: the photographers Saga Sig, Alejandro Cegarra (Winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award 2014), Dominic Nahr (Magnum Agency), Andreas Kaufmann (Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Leica Camera AG) and Martin Kollar (Winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2014) talking friendly during the dinner inside the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar. In the background can be seen Qaiser R, Malik, Vorsitzender des Vorstands and CEO of Foto-Rahn and Leica Gallery in Frankfurt.

Throughout its history, Leica has always had talent to spare. That tradition keeps on nowadays: Maike Harberts (Product Manager for the Leica T), Stefan Daniel (Director of Product Management at Leica Camera AG), Jesko Oeynhausen (Leica M Product Manager of Leica Camera AG) …

A crowd of attendees assembled around the main entrance of the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar after the dinner, chatting to one another for a long time.

The great Italian photographer Gianni Berengo Gardin with his mirrorless 24 x 36 mm format digital Leica M with which he got a lot of pictures during his stay in Wetzlar on May 23, 2014, walking near the main entrance of the Rittal Arena after the dinner.

He has been one of the most influential photojournalists of XX century after he made contact with Robert Doisneau, Édouard Boubat and Willy Ronis in 1954 when he moved to Paris. 

A Leica M-System photographer for 60 years, World Press Photo Winner in 1963, Brassai Prize 1990 in Paris and Leica Oskar Barnack Award in 1995, Berengo Gardin is the embodiment of master use of wideangle lenses (particularly the 28 and 35 mm ones) in photojournalism to tell the stories better and give more information about what is being shot.

He has published more than 200 books and has made assignments all over the world, being specially well-known his classic work India of the Villages (1980), product of some visits made by him to central India between 1977 and 1979.

He´s also mounted hundreds of exhibitions both in Italy and abroad, including the great anthological exhibitions in Arles (1987), Milan (1990), Lausanne (1991), Paris (1990 and 1997), Milan (2005 in Forma), Paris (2005 in MEP), in Leica Gallery of New York (1999), at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome (2001) and has likewise displayed his works at the Photokina Köln, Montreal´s Expo and the Biennal of Venice.

Alfred Schopf, CEO of the Management Board of Leica Camera AG. Four years after his arrival to Leica, he has been one of the key factors of its expansion within the digital scope with a painstaking labour as to product management, marketing and communication, sales division customer care and a further fostering of the Sports Optics division.

He´s an authority on industrial production components and systems and optoelectronic systems, having previously been Managing Partner of K + H Armaturen GmbH between 2004 and 2010 and member of the Advisory Board of EOMAX Corporation (Toronto, Canada), as well as having been between 2001 and 2004 head of management and CEO of ARRI (Munich), the company leading the world market in motion picture cameras and lighting systems for film sets and film and TV studios, along with laser-based digital intermediate systems.

Alfred Schopf is currently one of the greatest worldwide experts in digital image, with a further comprehensive previous background as responsible at Jenoptik AG for the Optics, Optoelectronic Systems, Laser Technologies and Image Processing divisions, having been an instrumental man in the consolidation of Leica within the digital domain.

The legendary Rolf Fricke, one of the most significant personalities in the History of Leica. Founder of the Leica Historical Society of America (1968), Leica Historical Society of United Kingdom (1969) and Leica Historica Deutschland (1975), having also been for a lot of years Marketing Director of Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester. Personal friend of the great Leica designer Walter Mandler and Rudolf Kingslake. His presence in Wetzlar during the 100 Years Leica Celebration was one of its greatest highlights.

Christian Skrein, Member of the Management Board of CW Sonderoptik GmbH.

A professional photographer and filmmaker, he was in 2005 the conceptual father of the Leica Summilux-C Lenses, along with Otto Nementz, also a foremost world class expert in cinema lenses and owner of the Hollywood rental house Otto Nementz, after which Dr. Andreas Kaufmasnn became the driving force of the project, founding CW Sonderoptik GmbH in 2008, based in Am Leitz Park Wetzlar. making up a formidable team including Ian Neill (best designer of cinema lenses in the world and creator of the extraordinary Summilux-C telecentric cinema lenses)), André de Winter (best mechanical designer of photography and cinema lenses on earth), Gerhard Baier and Erich Feichtinger (Managing Directors of CW Sonderoptik) and others, who began the design and develop of Summilux-C lenses (the best large aperture cinema lenses ever created as to size, performance, mechanical thoroughness and optical features) in 2008, with the first sets of Summilux-C lenses being delivered in early 2012.

On the other hand, Christian Skrein made an amazing photographic career of only ten years but highly productive during sixties, working as a photographer with a Leica M3 rangefinder and getting some iconic pictures as the famous image of the Beatles descending the boarding ramp of the Bristish Airways plane after landing in Hamburg in 1965, Sean Connery in 1964, Jochen Rindt skiing in Kitzbühel in 1964, Andy Warhol and others, proving his versatility in a wide range of genres like fashion, staged advertising, street photography and documentary work, without forgetting his ability to generate a rapport with rocks stars, models and artists during his frequent stints in New York and Milan.

Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, driving force of Leica Camera AG, talking to some Asian visitors by the main entrance of the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar after the dinner.

More talent to spare. On middle right of the image: David Farkas and his wife Juliana talking to Roland Wolff, Vicepresident of Marketing and Corporate Retail at Leica Camera Inc. in United States (on the left).

On middle left is Josh Lehrer.

David Farkas is the resident Leica expert at Dale Photo and Digital, one of the largest authorized Leica dealers in the United States, and owner of Leica Store Miami. He is currently one of the best reviewers of Leica cameras, lenses and accessories in the world. A true genius with a tremendous working ability, he has been able year after year to do almost real time painstaking and highly professional reports from Photokina Köln and other important international photographic fairs and events regarding the new Leica products launched into market, beating the jet lags, stress and accumulated fatigue through his deep knowledge, experience and passion for Leica brand products, turning him into a very reliable and lavish source of information keeping his thousands of readers all over the globe steadily updated.

Josh Lehrer is a Leica Specialist in Dale Photo and Digital. He´s a Rochester Institute of Technology Graduate in Commercial Photography and has a comprehensive background as a photo assistant in New York, consultant and retoucher, as well as featuring extensive expertise and digital tech certifications with medium format Phase One, Leaf, Hasselblad and Leica S2 systems.

Stefan Daniel, Product Manager at Leica Camera AG, has worked in the German photographic firm for 29 years, since he began his professional career in 1985 as an apprentice in workshop when he was 16 years old.

Featuring tremendous technical knowledge and experience, he´s been the key factor man in the development of a number of Leica M cameras, both analog and digital ones.

He´s likewise a pundit on precision mechanics, knowing by heart each and every one of the components and mechanisms of all Leica cameras built between 1954 and nowadays, as well as mastering the turning and milling with lathe, the riveting, solder and welding and having repaired many hundreds of M and R cameras and lenses during the first half of his trajectory, after which he started attending Leica product promotion events where he increasingly gained deep insight with customers, sales people and dealers, simultaneously improving his communications.

Having had his Leitz baptism when he touched a Leica M with his hands for the first time being twelve years old, Stefan Daniel possesses a remarkable combination of staggering technical knowledge, user skills and marketing abilities and has undoubtedly been one of the decisive men in the accomplished Leica M System seamless transition analog/digital through his boundless passion, perfectionism and proved competence to overcome difficulties.

Alfred Schopf (CEO of the Management Board of Leica Camera AG) with Jesko Oeynhausen (Leica M Product Manager of Leica Camera AG). Leica utter support to talent and hard work has been instrumental in the begetting of a very good rapport with highly qualified young top class technological experts who most times find in the German photographic firm not only a means of developing a professional career at the highest level but also a working environment based on the mutual confidence and respect.

Jesko von Oeynhausen has worked with Leica Camera AG for twelve years, having been quality manager between May 2002 and May 2008, Development Engineer and Project Director between June 2008 and January 2009, Senior Project Manager between February 2009 and November 2010 and Product Manager of Leica M System from December 2010 until currently.

He is a world class expert on digital imaging R & D, color management, calibrating and development of electronics and has performed a key role in the creation of the Leica M9, M9-P, M Monochrom and 

M Typ 240, particularly in the scope of optimization of digital image quality, enhancement of performance at high isos, integration of CMOS sensors in M-System 24 x 36 mm digital cameras and specific implementation of the synergy between Leica M lenses and full frame sensor to generate top-notch quality video with the Leica M Typ 240, along with the Live View and the choice of an electronic viewfinder, which has meant a revolution for the M System, greatly stretching its versatility beyond the use of primes and frame lines, being able to work with zooms, medium and long objectives over 135 mm and macro lenses, but wholly preserving the essence and design of the M Typ 240 as a pure rangefinder photographic tool if you don´t want to use the video or live view functions.  

Stefan Schultz, Head of Professional Photo at Leica Camera AG. A key man in the birth and development of the medium format S-System, the most advanced and versatile available, made from scratch for digital and embodied by the Leica S2 and Leica S cameras and the S lenses, the most perfect ones ever made in any format (the greatest optical feat accomplished in the history of photography - along with Ludwig Bertele´s Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5 cm f/1.5 made through manual calculi and logarithms in 1932-, because the level of difficulty to design and manufacture state-of-the-art MF lenses for a 30 x 45 mm CCD sensor and beat the cream of M lenses for 24 x 36 mm format increases geometrically and becomes an almost impossible to tackle tour de force).

Both the Leica S2 and S Typ 006 cameras (the latter featuring more than eighty improvements over the original S2) have redefined the concept of medium format, now in the digital domain, and are providing unique levels of compactness, portability, ease of handling and above all unmatched and unheard of in the MF ability to shoot handheld without tripod or monopod, even in dim light conditions, with great reliability, in a very similar way to a professional 24 x 36 mm format dslr camera, to such an extent that featuring dimensions of 160 x 120 x 81 mm it is smaller than the Nikon D3s (160 x 157 x 88 mm) and Canon EOS-1DX (158 x 164 x 83 mm), very similar in size to the Nikon D800 (146 x 128 x 82 mm) and only very slightly bigger than the Canon EOS 5D Mark III (152 x 116 x 76 mm).

Though sporting a 30 x 45 mm 37 megapixel CCD instead of 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 or more megapixels, the Leica S2 and S medium format cameras more than make up for it through the sheer brutal quality of the S lenses rendering stellar resolving power and contrast at every aperture and focusing distance, including the nearest ones, and the very high efficiency of the Maestro Image DSP.  Therefore, the number of megapixels is not the key factor at all.

On the other hand, though the Leica S2 is a medium format camera in terms of sensor size, the image quality it delivers is a large format one with the LF aesthetics of image (smooth transition between the different focused and unfocused areas, exceedingly wide dynamic range, wonderful detail and texture, great tonality, lavish quantity of information in lights and shadows and a very beautiful bokeh) along with awesome sharpness, resolving power and microcontrast much more linked to classical 4 x 5 " (10 x 12 cm) and 5 x 7 " (13 x 18 cm) large format film cameras, as proved by many images of fashion made by photographers like Amedeo Turello, Rankin or the landscapes pictures made by Norbert Rosing, to name only a few examples. 

Attaining this with a 60% bigger than 24 x 36 mm sensor is an impressive achievement revealing Leica´s vast know-how as to digital image and verifying that the medium format S lenses designed by Peter Karbe are even more perfect and sharper than the best Leica M lenses created for 35 mm format. 

This and a number of other sides prove that Leica doesn´t rest on its laurels. 

Christian Erhardt, Vice President of Marketing Photographic Division at Leica Camera Inc. in United States. He´s made highly efficient work making known the new digital Leica products to a broader spectrum of prospective customers, specially the M-System cameras and lenses as an exquisite balance of old and new concepts featuring state-of-the-art engineering, high precision and complete reliability, with continuous presence in different international photographic fairs like Photokina Köln, PMA Las Vegas, WPPI, PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York and others.

Carl Merkin, a prominent member of the Leica Historical Society of America and currently developing a praiseworthy labour with Leica Store New York. He´s been a professional photographer for more than fifty years, using all kind of cameras and lenses: large format, medium format and 35 mm format Leica M and R Systems.

An authority on Leica topics, he displays an unutterable level of passion when speaking on photographic subjects and is a real treat to listen to him.

Here he can be seen with a rare Leica M2 black paint from 1962 with Leicavit MP and Summicron-M 35 mm f/2 ASPH. Many hundred thousands of pictures have been made with this camera for 52 years in all kind of heavy professional use and it goes on working flawlessly at all shutter speeds and diaphragms.

The horizontal travelling focal plane shutter of this Leica M2 black paint with Leicavit MP has continuously worked for more than half a century with unmatched levels of reliability, since it is 100% mechanical. Therefore, this masterpiece shutter (a prodigy of miniaturized engineering linked to a non rotating speed dial, featuring an amazing optimization of its travel cycle and whose origin dates back to 1934) speaks volumes on the immense talent and ingenuity of its main creator: Dr. Ludwig Leitz.

Some hours after the event, abundant attendees were still chatting around the main entrance of the Rittal Arena of Wetzlar, which was the venue of an unforgettable 100 Years of Leica Photography Celebration Ceremony.

© Text and Photos José Manuel Serrano Esparza. Published in FV Photography Magazine Number 236, June 2014.