Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/06/21

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Subject: [Leica] Is the Leica an endangered species?
From: Doug Herr <>
Date: Sun, 21 Jun 1998 21:31:14 -0400

On Sun, 21 Jun 1998, Erwin Puts wrote:

>what this group (especially the large silent majority) thinks are the re=
virtues >of Leica photography and how or in what way Leica pictures are
different from >others.

Great topic, Erwin.  I'm an R user.  I've never used an M (never even hel=
one until this year) and only used a SM Leica for a few memorable months =
1970.  Compared with te N****s i was familiar with, the tangible advantag=
of the SM Leica were its silence and quick handling and the ability to us=
it discretely.  The primary intangible was the confidence in focussing
accuracy which allowed me to capture the proper moment rather than spend
extra time hunting for accurate focus.

With my present R-cameras I'm still astonished with the image quality, ev=
after nearly 20 years of use.  I love the color quality and 3D-like image=
of the 400 f/6.8, and each new Kodachrome made with the old 90mm
Summicron-R of my daughter makes me swoon (has nothing to do with the
subject matter!).  The color quality, brilliance and 3-dimensional qualit=
of the 90's images are remarkable.  The 60mm Macro, likewise, is a deligh=

I'm also using a Micro-N***** 55mm f/2.8 AIS and 300 ED f/4.5 AIS and whi=
their imaging performance is excellent I still prefer the Leica images. =

I'm not sure I can quantify the differences; the 60, compared with the
Micro-N*****, gives cleaner colors, brighter images and a color "depth"
that goes beyond test-chart resolution.  The 300 ED is incredibly sharp
with eye-popping color saturation but I still prefer the 400 Telyt's imag=
because the 300 seems too harsh.

Aside from the on-film performance, the handling of the Leicaflex SL is
intuitive where with other equipment I've used I have to think about how
the equipment (particularly the meter) is responding to the scene; the SL=

is simple in that I always know how the meter is working; the viewscreen =
simple and uncluttered, and it's easy to see what part of the image is in=

focus.  There's less machinery between the subject and myself.  The
sliding-focus mount of the 400 and 560 f/6.8 Telyts is IMHO far easier to=

use with active subjects than the standard turn-the-ring focus.

My technique:  IMHO, 35mm photography is hand-held photography, for activ=
and/or fleeting subjects.  My tripod-based photographs are less fluid, mo=
posed; while the technical quality of photographs made with a
tripod-mounted camera may be higher, my images made with the hand-held
camera are the ones that excite me.  I'll strive for the highest quality
images I can make but I'd rather make an interesting image of sub-optimal=

technical quality than make a boring image with perfect technique.  Among=

SLR cameras, the SL excels in responsive handling.

- -Doug