Where the Heck Are Kevin and Chris?

October 3, 2017 ·

Kevin Raber

Where The Heck Are Kevin and Chris?

Chris Sanderson and Kevin Raber in Wetzlar, Germany

I have had a crazy idea for a while about some new content that I wanted to put on Luminous-Landscape. In short, I wanted to start a series of “Behind the Scenes” articles and videos. The concept is to approach a number of wellknown names in the photography industry and ask them to open their doors to us and let us tell a story about their company.

This would include design, manufacturing, sales, marketing, and just about anything you could think of. Haven’t you ever wondered how a camera was made or how a lens was put together? Frankly, I always wondered what was behind many of the products we use on an everyday basis. We did one of these in 2009, when Michael and Chris visited the Phase One headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. The company opened its doors and allowed Michael free access to all things Phase One.

The Leica offices

Almost two years ago I mentioned this idea to some people from Leica at one of the meetings I had with them. At that time it sounded like an impossible dream—lots of logistics and such to work out, not to mention the sensitivity of taking someone from the press essentially behind the doors of the oldest camera company. But – everyone thought it was a cool idea.

Then, shortly after the introduction of the M10, we got more serious about the project, and it started to come together. There were a lot of people involved from both the US Leica group and the German side of things. There were scheduling issues for Chris and me as well as the Leica group. And, finally, we found a week that worked.

So, last week Chris and I flew to Germany to spend literally a full week with Leica. Leica, in all its German efficiency, put together a non-stop schedule for Chris and I that would start on Saturday and end the following Friday. We were given access to every product manager for interviews. That first Saturday we had a walk-about in Wetzlar with Stefan Daniel that was very cool. This was also when we did our first of over a dozen different videos. Stefan started us off with the fascinating history of Leica, from 1914 to the present day. He started at Leica at the age of 15 in an apprenticeship program.

Stefan Daniel and Kevin Raber doing the first of many videos with Chris Sanderson

I read up on the history of Leica before our trip, but to hear it from Stefan was incredible. His passion for the company was the first glimpse we had of the company’s popularity among its employees. This passion would prove to be just as strong with everyone else we met throughout that week. It’s actually something we will do our best to share in the videos and articles, as I have never seen anything quite like it. The morale of the company is incredibly strong. I think you’ll see this when the articles and videos appear.

We were able to visit camera assembly, lens assembly, machining, lens grinding, and even the factory where the amazing Leica Cine lenses are made.

Kevin and Dr. Andreas Kaufmann during their interview

At the end, I had the honor and privilege to sit down with Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, who singlehandedly helped make Leica the camera company it is today. We had the most incredible talk, and that will also be part of our video series.

Inside Camera Assembly

All in all, it was a fun and exhausting week for us. We learned so much. The Leica offices are modern, specially designed buildings. There is a whole additional set of buildings that will be opening next year with galleries, teaching areas, and Leica’s own hotel. We’ll also share a bit about this with you.

The Red Dot, the final step in assembling a Leica

My Visit To Phase One in Copenhagen, Denmark

After our visit with Leica was over, Chris flew back to Canada, where he now has a massive editing project to complete. I then flew to Copenhagen, where I have been spending a few days catching up on what Phase One is doing. Phase One is another one of those companies that has a passion and drive unlike what you’ll find anywhere else.

Henrik Håkonsson and I spent a bit of time talking about the camera industry and Phase One’s products

There is no question that the Phase One XF camera and 100MP digital back have set the bar high as far as camera design and capabilities. But Phase One hasn’t sat back and just stopped developing. Now, they have gone even further and developed a new technology on their sensor called trichromatic color. In addition, they have vastly improved the focus technology in their cameras.

There is still nothing like a whiteboard. Lau Nørgaard explains the new Trichromatic sensor to me.


Niels Knudsen illustrates the color differences in the new Trichromatic back from Phase One

I had the opportunity to meet and speak with the guys behind this technology and design as well as catching up with Henrik Hakonsson, the CEO of Phase One. It’s always a great time sitting down with Henrik and the rest of his team. We’ll have firsthand videos and more to share soon.

I had the chance to spend some time with James Johnson and Jan Hyldebrandt-Larsen discussing my wish list for Capture One as well as learning some new tricks


Drew Altdoerffer shows off some of the new features in the latest release of the Phase One XF camera

All in all, it has been a non-stop two weeks on the road. I am excited to share all of the information we have with you soon. We will be releasing videos and articles as we have them finished rather than waiting for everything to be completed. We hope you’ll enjoy the content coming your way from these trips. We have a lot more projects like this underway, too.

Please enjoy our small little photo collection from the trip below

Lining up the shot with a Leica SL


We became very accustomed to hairnets on our visit to Leica


Kevin and Stefan Daniel admiring a lineup of M Cameras


Chris videoing a discussion on the M series of Leica cameras


Kevin and Chris before we enter the Tunnels Of Wetzlar


Chris Sanderson


I am kneeling on the location where the first ever Leica camera image was taken by Oskar Barnack in 1914 in Wetzlar, Germany. Kind of cool and sacred for anyone with a passion for photography.


Lenses and more lenses


Stefan fills us in on the history of Wetzlar


We’ll have lots of good videos to share soon on how lenses are assembled


A stairway at the Leica offices

Kevin Raber
October 2017

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Photography is my passion and has been for 45 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of pictures taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through Rockhopper Workshops and other projects as well as teaching at my Gallery in Indianapolis.

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