Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/01/30

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Subject: Re: [Leica] R8 and Japan - Correction
From: "Patrick G. Sobalvarro" <>
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 1998 22:57:05 +0000

On 30 Jan 98 at 21:46, Erwin Puts wrote:

> >
> >Specifically, from Jonathan Eastland's "Leica R8," Hove Books, page 7:
> >
> >"The main Central Processing Unit (CPU) is based upon a 16 bit Mitsubishi
> >chip with 2K RAM and 60K ROM operating at a clock frequency of 8Mhz. The
> >special software required to run the R8 uses more than 50K ROM."
> Mr. Eastland is not famous for accuracy of statements. 'Based upon'
> is one of those journalistic non-info statements that convey no real
> informational value. It is techno-speak. The projectmanager and body
> designer of the R8 (Mr Henrichs and Meinzer) whom I could interview
> a few years ago, told me that the design of the electronics has been
> done by the Leica (German) design team with the help of university
> people. It is more than logical to buy one of the many industrial
> chips available and not invent the wheel again. This tells you
> absolutely nothing about the quality or functionality or
> originality. NO one would say that Leica lenses are Japanese because
> some of the glass used is bought from Hoya. The computers that run
> their optical programs are Intel based. Gives you a very good
> insight into the origins of the Leica designs, does it? Erwin

Let me agree with what Erwin said and add the following: it is
ridiculous to think that Leica's use of a Japanese processor in the 
R8 makes this a Japanese camera, as someone stated earlier.  Do you
have any idea how much it costs to run a state-of-the-art chip
fabrication line these days?  It costs literally billions of dollars
to bring such a fab online, and then to recoup costs one must keep
it busy all the time.  To suggest that a camera company that does
not fab its own processors is not making its own cameras is
ludicrous.  It's like suggesting that they should have a steel mill
to make the steel used in the chassis.

What matters in terms of creativity and providing unique
capabilities in a modern camera is not the particular
microcontroller used -- one microcontroller will often do instead of 
another.  What matters is the software and the high-level circuit 
design. Engineers who can do these things can be found in any 
industrialized country, and of course Leica have or could hire their 
own.  The fact that the R8 has its own capabilities, different from 
those of other cameras (such as its particular, unique flash metering 
capability) is enough to make it clear that Leica are not using some 
off-the-shelf design from another company.

- -Patrick