Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/05/09

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Subject: Re: [Leica] was "State of the Art" now: Off topic, sr-71
From: Eric Welch <>
Date: Sat, 09 May 1998 08:12:42 -0500

At 03:50 AM 5/9/98 -0400, you wrote:

>>From a web page that seemed quite authoritative:  "The Blackbird,
>code-named Oxcart during its development, flies on a tremendous 65,000 lbs.
>of thrust at an altitude of 100,000+ feet at Mach 3.5, and has a range of

That's the speed they'll admit to. For more detailed information, the book
"Skunk Works" is out there and a good read. The amazing statistics of what
they can do photographically with this airborne camera-carrying airplane is
astounding. I'll bet Leica/Hughes built the lenses for this baby. They can
burn film that would make a thousand Nikon F5s jealous. :-)

But to get back to the state of the art discussion, this plane was
operational in 1959. It's amazing what brilliant minds can come up with.
And I think in that vein, Leica lenses have always had design goals that
were to create the best looking images out there. That they do cut images
that are on the edge of technical feasibilty nowadays. Not all of them, but
the 100 Apo Macro, the 70-180, the 280 f/4 apo telyt... and some newer
ones. They may not have that romantic bokeh of past lenses, but they have
performance characteristics that are simply amazing.

I keep looking at images taken with my 19 Elmarit and think they look like
medium format images on the computer screen at work. I can blow them up so
that tiny details are in view, and I find it hard to believe a 35mm format
lens can be that good. (21 Inch monitor, color calibrated - thus has to be
a Mac.) That's state of the art, even if the R8's meter is technically
second generation. If the exposure is dead-on, the lens is amazing.


Eric Welch
St. Joseph, MO

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