Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/06/29

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Leica technology, creative control
From: Alan Ball <>
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1998 08:32:40 +0200

Jim Brick wrote:
> I taught a Leica Workshop this past week. A couple of evenings and all day
> Saturday photographing San Francisco. Even though most people had a
> reasonable amount of Leica hardware (and Tom Brichta, the Leica rep,
> supplied them with more stuff) it was evident that most of them did not
> understand how depth of field is controlled, what hyperfocal distance is,
> or how to use long lenses and slow shutter speeds.
> ......<CUT>.......
> Even though they have Leicas,
> their mind set is P&S....<CUT>.....


Educative workshops are a good thing. The tools you use are manufatured
by Leica. Good for you, good for Leica. To go back to our debate, I put
forward the argument that you could have given the exact same workshop
with gear manufactured by Nicapentolta. Aperture control remains
aperture control if the control interface is a mechanical ring on the
lens or an electronic dial on the body (the latter being less intuitive
IMHO). Speed control remains speed control weither it is a knob on the
top of the camera or a dial at the back of the camera. Focus control
remains focus control weither it is managed by turning a barrel on the
lens or by triggering an electronic focus mechanism by half depressing
the shutter release or any other button.

Some interfaces and technologies allow faster and more reliable (as in
idiotensicher) action. These should not be frowned upon out of

Good for you if you work more efficiently with the traditional
analogical interfaces. I argue that the market requires today interfaces
that enable dramatic increases in productivity and success rate. I argue
that these interfaces exist outside of the Leica world and that they are
still progressing. I argue that Leica makes a commercial mistake by
relying so exclusively on traditional behaviours.

While there is a (small) market of high end amateurs who seek their
pleasure in the very high end touch and feel of Leicas, and while there
is a market of pros who have very little choice outside of the M system
for certain types of applications, I argue that the SLR power user,
weither pro or enlightened amateur, is massively requiring more and
better technology. Even at the interface level.

I chose Leica M for its size, its discretion, its quality, and for the
pleasure it brings. If the AF of the G system had been more modern (usm)
and more efficient (larger base), I would have stayed with the G system
instead. Leica M won for me because the competition is/was not modern
enough. Not the opposite.

Even though this list often promotes unconditional devotion to a small
old fashioned German company, and that this devotion has nice qualities
to it, I do not believe that installed base devotion is enough to give a
future to that company. Due to the volatile situation of Asian markets
and the consequences of this volatility on the sales figures of Leica, I
believe the coming Photokina is definitely crucial. I forecast - or at
least hope for - spectacular announcements...

Friendly regards,