Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/08/23

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Why Minolta?
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 13:03:06 EDT

In a message dated 8/22/00 8:51:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

<< It is true that Minolta makes a slew of budget minded
 > consumer oriented lenses (as do Nikon and Canon etc.), but their "serious"
 > lenses (such as the 100/2.8 macro, the 200/2.8 APO, all their 50s, their
 > 85/1.4 etc., etc.) are excellent lenses,  >>

In my experience, it has been impossible to draw firm conclusions about the 
merits of lenses other than Leica, precisely because of the example cited by 
Sal, with reference to the 80% rejection rate of Minolta zooms by Leica.  I 
have found very little, if indeed any, observable differences among samples 
of Leitz or Leica lenses I have used.  
My method is simple.  I use the same slide films - Kodachrome 64 or Elite 
100, all developed by the same processors.  I view slides under 30x 
magnification on a light board and project them.  On color differences, I 
usually defer to my wife.  In comparison tests, she almost always prefers the 
Leica slides to those made using other lenses, as do I.
When using other systems, and there have been many, I have found quality 
control to be quite lax in comparison to Leica.  Numerous samples of a given 
lens - a Nikon 50/1.4, produce markedly different observable results.  With 
zooms, the differences can be, understandably, even more striking.  I find it 
easy to believe that the commercial "slick" photo magazines test successive 
samples until they find one about which they can say something positive.
The reputations of most, if not almost all, other manufacturers are based on 
these potentually misleading test reports, plus the anecdotal evidence given 
by numerous photographers who either were lucky enough to have bought the 
best examples of a given lens or don't know the difference and simply repeat 
what other "cult" members have told them about certain "legendary" lenses and 
So I raise what I have found to be the distinct possibility that a given 
sample from another manufacturer can indeed rival what we characterize as 
Leica quality.  On the other hand, you could get a lemon.  The probability is 
that a buyer will end up with something mediocre, neither the best nor the 
worst.  Not so with Leica, as far as I have seen.  The quality control 
assurance given by Leica appears to be at least partly accountable for the 
premium prices demanded.  To that extent, I believe the high prices are 

Joe Sobel