Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/08/15

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: Re: [Leica] BW developments
From: Richard Comen <>
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 14:10:10 -0700

Erwin, I would love to read your forthcoming article in LFI but I do not
know how to obtain a copy. Please let me know how to do so. As to
SchwarzWeiss, it is a beautiful magazine but alas only published in German
and language is not one of my skills.

Your discussion below is beautifully done. I have long wondered how we can
get the most  with our leica equipment towards the final B&W  print and
long ago realized that it is the lens plus the operator plus the film plus
the properly exposed negative plus the enlarger and its allignment and its
lens and its light source and the paper and darkroom technique. I have been
working on the above final print betterment for about 60 years and what you
say below is right on. I would have to mention only one ommision that I
feel you overlooked and that is the use of that amazing film Technical Pan.
I find it unsurpassed for any subject matter we choose. The only problem
with it was the ASA 25 rating and the use of technidol developer. I have
spent the last six years overcoming the slow ASA rating problem and now
have evolved a method of using the film at an honest ASA 100 with full
tonal range, especially with the use of split printing and the new Ilford
cooltone paper, but it works almost as well with most any VC paper.

At 09:57 PM 8/14/00 +0200, you wrote:
>My book will be published by Hovebooks:, wher eyou will
>find all info: price, ISDN etc. Signed copies and all these topics have to
>be discussed with them and I will keep you informed. The history and
>development of the Leica system, optically and mechanically has been
>analysed and documented, in my view at least, only partially and strongly
>biased. The recent discussion about the Summicron 50 versions is one small
>example of the scant factual evidence most Leica topics are based upon.
>In the next issue of LFI I will present the first part of a two part article
>about Leica lens manufacture, which might be interesting to some.
>Now on to a different topic. I did a study on current BW films and image
>quality as related to  current Leica lens performance. (it will be published
>in 'SchwarzWeiss', a German magazine devoted to BW photography). It is a
>part of an ongoing research project into the optimal combination of Leica
>lens quality and current BW-emulsions. It is still the case that BW is the
>best medium for Leica quality, followed by slides and at at a large distance
>colour neg film.
>Focus was the queation if a ISO100 or slower film shows significantly more
>image quality than the higher speed fims.
>Another myth went down. I used Ilford films PanF+, D100, D400 (to be
>replaced at Photokina by a newer emulsion called 400D!) and D3200. Also in
>the line was Kodak PlusX, a favourite of mine  because of its high acutance
>and very fine tonal scale. All films were developed in new Ilford DD-X. I
>had not used this developer before and some may think it rash to use an
>unknown developer for important work.
>I exposed the films as indicated with the exception of D400 (as E320) and
>D3200 (as EI1600)  and according to the times in the leaflet. Result?
>Excellently exposed and developed negatives, so the old advice to do a long
>series of trials to find the correct time may be biting the dust. While it
>is true that some of the negatives would benefit by some fine tuning of
>develoment time, all negatives, even the one that were flashed with an old
>Metz CT-1, could be used without reservation in the darkroom. The fine
>quality of the current VC papers and the Heiland Splitgrade did the rest and
>I ended the day with a series of prints of very good quality.
>What did it show. At 12 times enlargement, the PanF, the D100 are in a class
>of their own, with the PanF having slightly finer grain. Here we see
>outstandingly good reproduction of details and tone values, the resolution
>of the system surpassing 100lp/mm on the negative. The often discussed three
>dimensional close-to-life- quality is very visible. At ISO400, the image
>quality drops significantly, but the sharpness impression is very high, but
>deceptively so. The life-like impression is gone and the image is flat.
>lacking depth and detail. But tonal quality is very good. At ISO1600 this
>impression is even stronger, no detail rendition, and again a flatter image,
>with good tonal range.
>It is evident, that the finer points of the quality of Leica lenses are
>mostly lost when using ISO speeds at 400 and over. I am not discussing the
>use of the Leica camera is situations where a 400ISO or higher film is
>required. The M and R in these situations are redoubtable instruments, but
>image quality as it stands has dropped significantly and I wonder if  in
>these situtions a non-Leica camera would deliver comparable results,
>technically speaking. The picture taking qualities of the Leica camera and
>the confidence and inspiration of use  are a ifferent topic.
>I would always use a Leica in adverse lighting conditions, but I am aware
>that the performance gap with the nearest competitor is narrow and can only
>be widened by expert use of all components of the imaging chain.
>The potential quality of the combo Leica and 100ISO BW will indeed intrude
>into H'blad territory.