Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/08/31

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Subject: [Leica] Pre-Photokina musings
From: Erwin Puts <>
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 1998 18:48:43 +0200

Enough information is now available to make some predictions about the
future of emulsion based photography (and of Leica) and about our ability
to advance classical photogrpahy into the next millenium.
No I will not give specific details. I agree with the persons who insist
that inside info is indeed inside.
First a sad point. Linhof will close down. Inventor of the ideal medium
format 56x72mm and long time provider of superb press cameras, they failed
to see the light.
On the bright side we will see Ilfords new delta 3200, a four layer
monochrome emulsion (remember that Kodachrome is a 5 layer product). It
will outdistance Kodak and Fuji at least performance wise and will be of
great service to us leica users who would extend picture taking to places
unknown before.
We will also see some new lenses for the Leica-M (and R) that promisses to
deliver breathtaking performance and will give among others the Summicron
name a new meaning.
Coupled with the new delta film we can be excited about the near future.
And the revamped ilford XP2 super at last will give us the sharpness
impression we expect, nay demand from a B&W emulsion.
So can we expect superior image quality in the near future. Sadly no.
Twenty years of automation and 50 years of myth about the basic laws of
photographic imagery have eroded to the level of extinction basic and
necessary knowledge to exploit modern emulsions and optics.
If we want or need (see below) to deliver the quality now brought to us by
the wizards of leica and Ilford (as examples mind you) we must redo our
basics. Zone system knowledge for correct exposure and development is
simply essential, as is solid knowledge about contrast and image quality.
Assessment of luminance, object contrast,and distance coupled with basic
info about depth of field tables  must be based upon really true and
effective knowledge.
For the first time we will witness digital cameras that can and will
challenge the image quality of the emulsion based endproduct in many more
areas of application than we dare to admit. So to compete or offer an
alternative we must again jump to the core qualities of our cherished way
of photography or we will lose out. Quick and fast.
We have to admit that we are offered by the industry the best products
ever, that we are most likely not in the position to shift the frontiers,
and that we are challenged by very competent digital products.
The Photokina event will give us many moments of reflection. We must dare
to admit that we need to re-evaluate our craft if we would like to use ever
better Summicrons in the near future. Leica and Linhof have more in common
than just the 'L'.