Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/05/08

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Subject: RE: [Leica] "State of the Art"
From: "B. D. Colen" <>
Date: Fri, 8 May 1998 11:53:03 -0400

.  Does it define the State of the Art in 35mm
>rangefinder camera design?
Jim- I think we may be mixing apples and oranges, or mechanics and
electronics, here. Do refinements define "state of the art"? Yes. In SLR
photography, the Nikon F5 is "state-of-the-art," in that it has the most and
best of what there is out there for the photographer to use or not use. In
rangefinder photography, the same thing could be said of the G-2, although
the lack of true manual focus on the G-2 could argue that it is not really a
range-finder camera in the truest sense.

That said, one comes to the fact that what is state-of-the-art is not always
necessarily best in a given circumstance. What kind of photography are we
talking about, and under what circumstances? There are clearly situations in
which the M-6, or R-8 is the obvious camera of choice, There are also
circumstances in which autofocus, autoexposure, and rapid winder can mean
the difference between getting or losing the shot.

Photography, I would argue, has far more to do with the eye and vision of
the photographer, than questions of what was done automatically and what was
not. HCB's photos have been, are, and will remain, benchmarks in the field
of what might be called observational photography. What matters is what HCB
saw that most of us wouldn't, and the fact that he was able to capture it on
film. His photos would be no less magnificent had they been shot on
autoexposure, autofocus, and high-speed advance with an F5. And they would
still reflect his choice of the decisive moment. Yes, the fact that he also
had to measure or guess the correct exposure, and focus, says a great deal
more about him as a photographic technician than would be said had the
camera done those things. But does it say more about him as an artist? I
don't think so. Which doesn't mean that I don't love my M-6 and wouldn't
trade it for an F5 for all the Nikon equipment at B&H.

B. D.