Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/07/10

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Subject: Re: [Leica] reliability statistics
From: Alan Ball <>
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 1998 13:40:38 +0200

I have been using various 35mm, 6x4,5cm and 6x6cm systems through the
years, some bought new, some bought 2nd hand and some borrowed or
rented. My personal experience makes me feel very relaxed, optimistic
and satisfied with contemporary photographic hardware suppliers.

Brandwise, the only line of product where problems would regularly pop
up was Contax SLRs and lenses, with repeated linkage problems between
lenses and bodies at the aperture transmission level. 

Otherwise I have never had to send back any hardware whatsoever. That is

My Leica experience is very recent and thus of little relevance, but my
set has been flawless up to now. Nevertheless, each of my M lenses seems
to have a tactile feedback of its own while other brands seem to have a
more coherent touch and feel through the range. 

For example, the aperture control on my 90mm Elmarit clicks loudly and
is not very pleasant to manipulate, while the same aperture ring on my
50mm Summicron is silk smooth. I had a 35mm f2 Summicron where that ring
was too loose and with very little feedback at the various stops. My
current 35mm f2 Asph feels much better in that respect. 

A similar list could be made about the focusing of the various lenses,
though they are all miles ahead in that respect to anything else I've
tried before. 

I do not call these differences "defects" but rather "personality". I
only own one M6 body, so I do not know if each body also has such a
"personality", but I would not be surprised. I find that this adds charm
to the already charming M line.

So, all in all, I am quite surprised when some users seem to concentrate
on their heads bad sample over bad sample. Maybe their bad luck
statistically entails my good fortunes. Maybe some "horror stories"
partly derive from fantasy. And maybe some come from an over obsessional
quest for systematic perfection. 

In the latter case, it is maybe a bad idea to purchase hardware coming
from a production system where intense human intervention entails wide
variations. The Leica price gives access to hand made mechanical works
of art with their load of hand induced glitches, which, up to a certain
level, seem to me unavoidable...