Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/05/10

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Subject: Re: [Leica] shall I compare thee to a Summilux? :)
From: "adrian bradshaw" <>
Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 09:14:54 +0800

Ben (...) wrote-

>Yeah, why not the 50/1.0. It's in the same price bracket. But there is
>another option - The manual focus Canon 45/2.8. Oh, and you get
>tilt/shift thrown in for free.
Well of it is unfair to compare zooms with primes then is it not unfair (or
at least unrealistic) to compare a 50/1.0 or 45 TS-E with a leica 50/1.4?
Both former lenses are specialist optics designed for a very different set
of applications to the 50/1.4 - besides they are huge and heavy. You might
just as well compare a Leica $2500 lens with a Hasselblad or Mamiya lens if
price point and image quality are the criteria (the weight is not so
different either).
>Serious omissions? Well there are basicly the same number of Canon L
>lenses as Leica R lenses. Therefore if there are omissions on the Canon
>side there must be at least as many omissions on the Leica side.

The serious omissions are of standard focal length and aperture lenses built
to professional standards - e.g. between super wide (say 17mm) and 100mm. I
would rather have a 50mm f1.8 built to L standards than the current
offerings in that focal length which are either too flimsy or too big and
heavy (and not too sharp either - that 50/1.0). I do not want a 24/1.4 as
much as a wide angle with sharp even coverage from corner to corner at
normal working apertures: none of the Canon wides whether zoom or fixed
manage to do that consistently or at all. Now I admit that the 24/1.4 is
about the only Canon EF wide I have not tried but the (Canon) published data
indicates it is not so sharp in the corners (similar to the 17-35). Leica
manages to produce a whole selection of practical lenses that perform
consistently across the field and over the normal working apertures that
makes them remarkable and highly attractive to a quality-conscious pro. The
Canon L series includes some remarkable and practical lenses indeed but many
are remarkably impractical or specialist in application. That their L zooms
are  frequently compared with other mfrs' fixed lenses is a reflection of
the fact that these are the most practical and usual choice from the range
for working pros: and it is as a working pro comparing practical options
that the comparisons are valid not as optical engineers compiling data.

>Perhaps, but then Nikon lost enormous market share to Canon purely on
>the basis of AF. It's hard to argue that an advancement that people
>clearly want is a "ploy".

At the risk of contradicting myself I believe the range of lenses Canon
offered has/had a lot to do with it plus reliability concerns with the Nikon
AF equipment. I am not against AF but I do not think that AF cameras -
particularly aimed at pros - should need to be more difficult to focus in MF
(this was the issue I raised - not the merits and demerits of AF). Since it
has come up I think AF is great in the same way as other forms of automation
are great - such as motordrives and AE. They each allow the skilled
photographer to get photos in situations that would otherwise be impossible
or up to luck. OTOH they are all capable of screwing things up royally by
making what should be straightforward (i.e. most picture taking) more
complex than it needs to be: foregoing the possibilty of some of these
'aids' is one approach but IMHO the better approach is to provide them as an
option, built-in or otherwise without compromising the basic operation. 
Whether Leica or Canon or any other manufacturer offers the best set of
compromises is up to the individual to decide but it doesn't hurt to say
where we would like each to concentrate their efforts for the future does
it? Well perhaps it does to those who treat brand loyalty as an article of
faith (a distressingly large and vocal minority it seems...)

Bests and good light to you!