Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1996/07/17

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Subject: Re: computer-designed lenses
From: "Charles E. Love, Jr." <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 1996 19:41:28 -0400 (EDT)

This whole line of discussion has been very interesting.  It started with a
dispute over my second-hand (but authoritative)  report that the 35 mm.
Summilux f 1.4 (the old one) was the last M-lens "designed without the help
of computers."  It seems to me that the thrust of the discussion now points
to the possible truth of that statement. 

But I don't know that it matters much, at least with reference to the
original point.  Any late-50's computer would have been little help in
resolving complex lens-design questions, surely less powerful than a 1980
hand-held business calculator.  All it could do, I expect, would be to speed
up some relatively simple calculations.

I quite agree that lens design involves some subjective, "artistic"
decisions.  However, computers are necessary today--just for one example,
the dramatic increase in zoom lens quality (including, I am sure, the
already legendary Leica 70-180) could not have happened without them.  But
computers do not make those subjective decisions; there is no
incompatibility between the use of computers to simulate possibilities and
true artistry in lens design.  I have every confidence that Leica designers
are capable of using computers to present alternatives to themselves for
them to think about in the wonderful way they have before, and am sure they
will make fine choices (Yes, I wish I could afford the new zoom!).
Charles E. Love, Jr.
517 Warren Place
Ithaca, New York