Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/12/02

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Subject: [Leica] Manual and Auto Focus Musings
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 11:01:15 -0800

I bought a new light board the other day. It's much brighter and more color
corrected than the homemade board I've used for the past decade.  I bought
it to reorganize 25-years of slides. While in the midst of that project,
I've learned some interesting trends.

It appears that I was much more careful with focusing early on ('75-'82). I
did commercial work at the time for Chevron Chemical Company. Though I
don't recall being particularly aware of focus, I'm sure I paid close
attention. Much of what I did was published in periodicals, or  in the
Ortho Lawn & Garden book series, so it was carefully scritinized..

After 5-years away from photography I returned as an amateur. I embraced
autofocus in the late 80's. It appears that I got a bit lazy when I
returned to Manual Focus. Looking at slides from the last 10 years I can
clearly see that I haven't been as attentive to focus as I should have
been. I see lots of little errors, not surprisingly when shooting at wider

Ironically, I recall moving away from autofocus because I missed so many
shots. I'd lock onto a background object and the main subject would be
badly out of focus, or the camera would hunt causing annoying delays. (I
know things have come a long way since then). Also at that time AF was
changing so dramatically that new bodies were antiquated in a matter of
months. I moved back to MF -- Contax SLRs and Leica M Cameras. I have a
love/hate relationship with AF. I don't want to go back to faster battery
drain, antiquating equipment, etc. I like the feel of fine MF lenses. I
feel like I have more control, creative and otherwise. I like cameras with
bright, uncluttered viewfinders. As an amateur I can afford the fact that
MF may be a bit slower.

I suppose I bring this up as a reminder to myself  that it takes a good
deal of effort -- practice and careful attention to technique -- to make
the most of fine MF lenses. If I'm not going to put in the effort, I may as
well just buy a Canon Rebel and 28-135 IS lens. Getting the most from fine
Leica lenses certainly is demanding of the person behind the lens. But,
when you get it right it's like fine....well, Scotch (I've been away from
the LUG for 2 months. Hope that simile hasn't run its course). However,
fine photographs are more lasting. It sure is educational reviewing old