Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1996/04/16

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To: <>
Subject: Re: Phillistines who own Leicas
From: Charles E. Dunlap <>
Date: Tue, 16 Apr 96 19:31:17 -0700

>I assume the flat, unsharp, low contrast pictures you are describing are
>prints. Depending on who's doing the printing, you can get good or lousy
>prints from a good negative. So, get a local photographically knowledgable
>person to look at the negatives with a magnifier to see if they're good
>quality negatives, or if they're underexposed (good source of poor
>contrast), or if there is camera motion (good source of unsharpness)
>Starting with color is not a bad idea either, not because color is better
>than black and white, but because there are a zillion automated 1-hour
>commercial color labs out there, and some of them make surprisingly good
>snapshot prints.  Again, ask your local photographically knowledgable
>person which local color labs seem to have the highest mimimum standard of
>quality. This will help you evaluate your work better. 
>Finally, the biggest degrader of image sharpness is using too slow a shutter 
>speed. While you're learning, try to stay above 1/60th sec.
>At least don't blame your Leicas/lenses until you have done the above.
>Michael Volow, M.D. (
>Department of Psychiatry, Durham VA Medical Center, Durham, NC
>919 286 0411 Ext 6933

In order to elminate any distortions introduced by printing I would 
suggest that you shoot color slides. You'll be able to tell quickly 
whether you've made an exposure error (E6 processing is usually 
consistent, unless I've just been lucky). You'll also be able to evaluate 
contrast and sharpness if you use a good loupe. Actual color cast is more 
difficult to evaluate at first since each slide emulsion will have its 
own peculiar response.

Take a roll of film, bracketing your shots, and take notes on what you're 
doing. Once you're comfortable that you're making good exposures, that 
focussing is working ok, etc. then you can begin to explore other areas 
with confidence.

Good luck, and check back in if that 30 year old Leica still isn't 
producing better results than your point and shoot.


Charles E. Dunlap
Earth Sciences Dept.
University of California
Santa Cruz, CA 95064