Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/12/01

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Subject: [Leica] Re: (Leica) God, no Canon vs Nikon
From: "Rod Fleming" <>
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 09:15:42 -0000


Let me introduce myself. first. My name is Rod Fleming, and I am a freelance
photographer and journalist in Scotland. My first camera was a Leica 111,
and I've always had one somewhere. That gets that out of the way.

As for the Canon/Nikon thing, someone wrote

> Nikon's biggest blunder - when it comes to executive decisions - was
> designing the auto-focus system around the old mount in order to make new
> bodies compatible with the manual lenses.

I'd just like to say that, speaking as a pro who has done a lot of action
work, including over 15 seasons of Premier League soccer, including night
work (hey, you think using a 300mm F2.8 wide open at 125th on 3200 iso in
pouring rain is so easy...?) not to mention just about every other sport
they do here, I for one am very glad that Nikon did not change their mount.

Believe me, both as a newspaper Picture Editor and in running my own agency
I have commissioned enough work from other sports photogs to be highly
sceptical of the benefits of AF- and I mean Canon AF, 'cos no-one in their
right minds would rely on Nikon's efforts, at least for moving subjects.

Last year I went out with a friend who is a well known wildlife photog
because we were doing contrasting "Day in the Life" features for a UK mag
(Photo Technique). My friend was using a Nikon F5 with the latest 300 & 500
lenses, yet when snapping (sorry, since Dunblane I have a thing about the
term "shooting" when applied to cameras) seabirds in flight, I, using an F4
and manual lenses, had better results. You should try photographing wheeling
seagulls with a tele from the top of a 300-ft cliff, BTW. It's enlightening.

That is because the process of making pictures involves the interaction of
hand, eye and brain, and for me, the best brain is the one between my lugs,
not the microprocessor in the black box I'm holding. My brain has 30 years
experience taking pictures, and there's no digital substitute for that.

Can an AF system predict which way a footballer will kick the ball? Or which
way a seabird will jink? I think not. Call me a luddite if you like, but
Nikon got it just right. I can still use my excellent MF lenses, and yet
when working in total darkness with a flash I have the IR autofocus to back
up my guesstimate- which is reassuring, trust me......

What got Nikon was fashion, not real-world ability.

Thanks for a very interesting group