Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/08/30

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Subject: Re: [Leica] m6 v. r7 - sharpness issue
From: Alan Ball <>
Date: Sun, 30 Aug 1998 09:27:50 +0200

Eric Welch wrote:
> But there isn't any
> problem hand-holding with any R camera if you ask me. I used to get
> pictures with an R4 at 1/2 second hand held. Mind you, maybe 2 or 3 frames
> in a roll of film would be very sharp. (If any, talk about indecisive
> moments!) I did noticed an improvement between my R4 (and sP) cameras, and
> the R7. It's much better than earlier models. Overall, I'd rate R cameras
> pretty good at being vibration free. The R8 is great, especially with the
> mirror-up mechanism.

For once I would tend to agree with your message. I have never used a R
setup in my life, but have used plenty of other SLRs. I find that most
of the current offers are very smooth indeed: the mirror is much lighter
than it used to be, the dampening systems have also evolved, the
shutters are much smoother. Whoever the maker, so I suppose it should be
true for Leica as well. This evolution is more evident with the all
electronic offers than with the all mechanical ones (the FM2 for example
is certainly not as well dampened as the F/N90). This does not mean
there is no camera vibration or that one should feel free to shoot at
1/8 sec with a 180mmm without a tripod, but my experience leads me to
believe user vibrations are these days much more of a limiting factor
than camera induced vibrations, at usual magnification ratios.

When I first started to use the M system, I kind of hoped that this
'vibration-free' camera would allow me immoderate freedom with slow
shutter speeds. And I absused of f2 at 1/8 sec trials. Well, I never had
as many blurred pictures due to camera shake. I know of course the shake
comes from me. With a little more experience I found out that 1/15 sec
is usable with all my M lenses but requires concentration with the 50
and 90, 1/8 sec or even 1/4 sec might be usable with wider lenses, but
that means I would need to be absolutely stable myself, and that success
is not guaranteed. I tend to believe that with the same focal lengths
and the same degree of concentration, this is more or less achievable
also with contemporary electronic SLRs. I would maybe say that the M
system may have a 1 stop advantage here. 

To go back to the initial question, the speeds Francesco was using were
very safe. His problem is not a tripod problem, it is a focusing
problem. Which sounds very strange because a 100mm f2.8 is usually very
easy to focus with any 35mm SLR....

Friendly regards