Jeff Gin At Leo's & My Fuji X-E1 Digital CameraFriday, August 16, 2013
|Jeff Gin at Leo's with my Fuji X-E1|
My relationship with Leo’s Cameras Supply Limited (most of us simply say, affectionately, Leo’s) started many years ago.
It was in the summer of 1999 that I especially remember how they saved me from failure in a difficult assignment. I went to the shop in need of quick help. Chris Dahl, the best art director I ever dealt with in my career as a magazine photographer insisted that I photograph a Canadian filmmaker with an expensive Arriflex camera. The filmmaker himself did not have one so I went to Panavision to see if I could rent one for a day. At that time Vancouver’s film industry was humming. All their Arriflexes were out. Leo’s was my last hope. I enquired and I was quickly given a choice of several models. I was then told, “Alex, we know you. You do not need to sign anything. We know you will return it.” And that was that.
|The Leo's Arriflex 1999|
Through the years Leo’s has been the place where I find items that nobody else carries and sometimes I believe that nobody besides me is in desperate need of.
At Leo’s I have found Kodak Technidol Developer, a developer long gone anywhere else. If I need a special kind of right angle cable release? Leo’s naturally.
Today Thursday (I am writing this Thursday night and posting it Friday) I purchased a digital camera, a Fuji X-E1. Some of my friends will say, “Finally Alex has purchased a digital camera. He was a holdout. He is not one anymore.” They would all be wrong.
I would remind them that in early 2006 Leo’s Jeff Gin sold me the Olympus you see here. It was not for me. It was for my granddaughter Rebecca who at the time was 9. We were planning a trip to Morelia, Mexico. Rebecca came along and the Olympus became her first digital camera. She ushered herself into the modern era seven years before her recalcitrant grandfather.
This time around it was Jeff, again who sold me the camera that for better or for worse will change how I see the world through a viewfinder. Jeff Gin is the only person I know that even though he is a master of his Mac and all its ancillary software, he will never tell you, “You have a PC? I can’t help you.” In fact he has never ever told me as many others have, that I could be deemed an idiot because I do not own a Mac.
When Jeff brought the big black box I immediately remember how in 1957 or 1958 a big black box arrived at St. Edward’s High School PX. Brother Emmett told me, “Alex, you have a package from Olden Camera’s from New York.” Inside was my first serious camera, a Pentacon-F with a 50mm F-2.8 Tessar Lens. My excitement was beyond any description.
Today’s excitement was a tad muted. I am an older person. My arthritis certainly prevented me from jumping up in glee. I put my best poker face and Jeff said, “Do you want me to set it up for you?”
For me Leo’s is the last real camera store in Vancouver. Not because I predict a soon demise. Quite on the contrary, what I mean is that this is the only real camera store that to this veteran of camera stores feels in every way like a camera store should feel. It is packed full from floor to ceiling. And I consider myself one of the few lucky ones to have been invited to the second floor to see the vast area of shelving full of goodies that might just go back to cameras that Timothy O' Sullivan might have salivated over. Those black shirted salesmen (there was a woman year's past) all know their stuff and have not simply memorized camera manuals.
The store smells the same as New York City’s Olden Cameras where in the late 70s I bought, in person, my first Chimera soft box. The combination of metal, some plastic, perhaps the cardboard of film boxes, the packages of photographic paper, even the smaller supplies of darkroom chemicals, all combine to create a scent as glorious as Chanel Number 5. It is a scent that evokes the nostalgia of times when a camera had heft and the workmanship was viewable and palpable. It evokes times when circuit boards and firmware were words not in our lexicon.
Somehow Leo’s will soldier on as the place where if you buy anything (or not!), the Leo’s School of Fine Photography will beckon for personal lessons at any time and Jeff, and the others who work at this Vancouver institution, will clue you in.
Will the Fuji X-E1 with its 18 to 55 zoom work out for me? If it doesn’t I can always blame my wife Rosemary who did everything possible except point a gun to my head, to push me into the decision. But experience tells me that Rosemary has always been right so I look forward to all sorts of excitement in the coming months, especially in Buenos Aires where I will be by the end of September..