Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/03/17

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Subject: [Leica] The scarcest resource on earth?
From: imx <>
Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2001 00:02:39 +0100

Would oil or unpolluted water be a candidate for being selected as the
world's scarcest resource? Maybe. Following the LUG discussion in the
previous week I would feel inclined to select the capacity for a civilized
and rational discourse to be on the eve of destruction.
As a journalist for several photographic magazines, I am constantly exposed
to the tricks of the trade. When Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Kodak or Tokina or
Cosina or (fill in any name) announce a major new product, they assemble the
press at luxurious locations. They often pay the airtickets, hotel expenses
and you get lots of equipment to use , often to keep. The car industry does
the same: why is every new car available for a test drive only in Cannes,
south of France? Air charters are ready for take off and hundreds if not
thousands of journalists are invited (and they all accept!!).
Does this state of affairs make them suspicious of being bribed and thus
churning out  only favourable reports from their laptops. How naive can you
What is more valuable: a badly executed individual 'test' of a car, lens,
camera (...) by a person who has no relationship with the manufacturer of
the product other than buying it or an expertly done test (with figures,
stopwatches, benches or whatever) by a journalist who happens to get a
dinner from the manufacturer?
Of course there are professional journalists who take the easy way and
rephrase the press reports issued by the manufacturer as their own
experience. But there also individuals who are so frustrated by a product
that they will lose any modicum of relativity. Which is worse?
Is a journalist who writes a glowing review of the BMW M3 an idiot if after
three years the company has to acknowledge that there are problems with the
gears in the steering wheel unit?
Any individual who gets a lemon ( a faulty car, a non functioning camera, a
lens with defects) will be angry and rightly so: but the very essence of
mass production will guarantee that some products will fail. But we can not
glorify the past of fine craftmanship: the old laws indicate that a builder
of houses would be killed if his edifice would collapse within five years.
Would such a law be necessary if all was fine in those days of individual
If I report that current Leica lenses deliver the best image quality they
ever have attained, does this make me suspect? Why could it not be possible
that such a state of affairs would occur. Why should we stubbornly and
without facts assume that this cannot be the case?
If I note that the statistical failure rate of M6 bodies is equal to that of
the M3's, why am I suspect by saying so. Because one do not want to hear it
as it wil shatter one's beliefs?
Because it does not fit into one own's perceptions or expectations?
If Tom A is raving about the qualities of Cosina products  he must be paid
by them for this? Why? Because he is raving? Maybe he is right and one's
preconceptions are wrong!
The point I wish to make is that getting a free lunch from a manufacturer
does not imply that one cannot be able to give a realistic assessment of the
Bottom line is the issue of integrity: you can be fully qualified to do a
balanced assessment while being in an hotel paid for by the manufacturer and
you may be far beyond the credibility issue when claiming that the product
you have is so far below your expectations that the company must be sued.
The Greeks had this insight already: they deplored the fact that the
messenger was killed because the King did not like the message.
If you as an individual do not like the message, why try to kill the
messenger by noting he is being paid by the manufacturer, he is not
qualified, he once made a mistake or whatever.
Why not engage in a rational discourse? Ask questions and be prepared to
shift your view if necessary, when facts and arguments force you to do so.
A rational discourse also implies to stay on topic, that is within the
original assumptions and premisses.
The recent Lug discussion does indicate that civilization, openness and
willingness to ponder viewpoints that are alien to one's own position, and
rational discourse are scarce. This is a bad state of affairs for the spirit
that is enclosed in every Leica product: the Barnack idea of free spirit and
the willingness to explore new ideas and solutions.


Replies: Reply from "B. D. Colen" <> (Re: [Leica] The scarcest resource on earth?)