Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/07/22

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Subject: [Leica] Technology over talent (was: Old farts ... )
From: Dave Munroe <>
Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 11:23:27 -0700

Jim Laurel wrote:

> ... we are becoming a "throw-away" society (at least in the West)
> and that quality doesn't count for much. 


> Nor do they seem to care that the Optura will be totally obsolete
> sometime next year when Canon builds the next thing that everyone
> just has to have.

Well said, Jim.  Another thing I've noticed is a strong trend which
I call "technology over talent".  This is where people don't want
to learn the necessary skills to do something well, they want an
immediate technological solution.  The matrix metering, the autofocus,
the programmed modes, they'll all do the job and they'll do it well,
but is the result a reflection of their skills or is it more the work
of the engineers who designed the camera?  I think more highly of a
photograph that might be a little flawed technically, but was totally
crafted by someone choosing the focus, shutter speed, and f-stop by
themself.  That is truly their very own work, a reflection of what
their skills are, and, hopefully, how they visualize the photo.
"Well," someone is going to ask, "that photographer didn't design the
lens and the film, so how much credit should he get?" I suppose the
answer relies on the intent.  Lens and film obviously have to exist.
Many of these technological innovations are created with the intent
of appealing to the mindset of "this feature will make me a better
photographer, this feature makes my camera more impressive than the
other guy's", or, more simply, "you need this feature in order to
make good photographs".

I see this same thing with cars.  At the track, I know drivers that
are so smooth and are so skilled in understanding balance and handling
that year after year they drive their underpowered Cortinas sideways
through the turns, getting ahead of and staying ahead of drivers whose
cars have a 200 bhp advantage.  As someone once said, "power is no
substitute for skill".  For those cars that have computer controlled
anti-skid, anti-slip, anti-whatever, I again have to ask: to whom does
the credit go?  The driver or the engineers in the lab?

I see the same thing happening in ham radio and even in the shooting
sports.  Anyway, I didn't want to turn this into a rant - I really
don't care or mind what other people choose for equipment so long as
I'm not forced to buy something with features I don't want.

- -Dave