Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/03/07

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Leica R Reliability
From: Eric Welch <>
Date: Sun, 07 Mar 1999 07:28:55 -0600

At 03:00 AM 3/7/99 -0800, you wrote:
>I just read an interesting article on James Stanfield (of National 
>Geographic fame).  In it, he states that he switched from Leica to N***n 
>because his Leica bodies kept failing on him.

They were R4s bodies. He had them specially modified by Leica to have the 
shutter speed visible in the viewfinder. This was probably one reason Leica 
dreamt up the R4sP. But anyway, Jim was always a Nikon user anyway. He used 
them before he got Leica, and for focal lengths he didn't have when he used 

He does not like rangefinders. His desire for accuracy in composition 
requires an SLR. He was very hard on cameras. Bob Gilka (his boss for many 
years at National Geographic) told me Jim was the most technically gifted 
photographer at Geographic. If they had something difficult to photograph, 
like the mines in South Africa, or Rats, or a story about Sulliman the 
Magnificent, Jim was the man. That means hard travel. His favorite focal 
lengths were 24mm and 180 (he used the Apo Telyt).

Anyway, R4s cameras were breaking down way too often for him. Three or four 
at a time, and it was too much of a hassle to get them sent to Leica when 
he was in the field. It sure wasn't the lenses. One time he said to me 
"Eric, don't quit Leica, their lenses have a brilliance that others just 
don't have."

But one can only put up with so much. When he flew in the WWI bomber around 
the world in the front gunner's seat, there certainly wasn't room for 8 
bodies! It's too bad if he hasn't tried the R8. I think he would love it. 
And no, he doesn't often use a motor.

How do I know this stuff? I spent a weekend with him and his ex-wife 
Barbara at the University of Missouri when he won Magazine Photographer of 
the Year at the Pictures of the Year contest. (Current year's results were 
just announced at -  A bunch of magnum photographers won this 

Eric Welch
St. Joseph, MO

My Karma ran over my Dogma.