Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/03/18

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Generations of Leica Equipment, and Quality
From: Douglas Cooper <>
Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2001 13:31:48 -0500

On 3/18/01 3:01 AM, Leica Users digest expressed the following:

> 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?

A test, as any good scientist knows, is only as good as the parameters set.
Perhaps "failure rate" is not a particularly good test, when we're
evaluating construction quality.  A Jaguar XKE spends about three quarters
of its time in the garage being fixed up or tuned, whereas a new Ford can
run for years without failure.  Is the construction quality of the Ford
somehow "better"?  Only if you take that as your sole criterion.  If, on the
other hand, you're concerned about crafstmanship, the quality (not
durability, but *quality*) of materials, fit and finish, etc., the Jaguar is
in an entirely different league.  Just as an M3 is in an entirely different
league from the current M6.  No contest.

If you'd like a more quantifiable criterion (and scientists are always
guilty of this -- rank positivism), then try this:

Set up identical acoustical environments, and test for the loudness, in
decibels, of the shutter release on a double stroke M3, as compared to an
M4-2, M4-P, or M6.  And tell me that the later Leicas are as
"well-constructed."  And if this strikes you as a meaningless test, that is
only because you think that Leicas, designed to be a surreptitious street
camera, ought to be mounted on massive tripods.

The scientific method has its place, of course.  As does syllogistic logic
(as evidenced in a recent defense).  If you read Aristotle, however -- who
was the first to define both -- you will find that he considered both
somewhat less important than various other modes of reasoning.  Formal
logic, for instance, was considered a *preparation* for philosophy --
something you learned before entering into the more serious task of
reasoning (which is much less formal, and much more subtle).  In fact,
Aristotle made a distinct point of emphasizing that it is a cardinal error
to expect the wrong degree of precision in a science -- his example was
politics, which should not be subjected to the formal rigors of mathematics,
or formal logic.  Each discipline has its own appropriate level of rigor.
And using statistical analysis as the sole criterion for the determination
of quality in construction, is just such an error.  The M3 is a work of art
- -- one of the finest pieces of industrial design ever produced.  The M6

Douglas Cooper

Oh, and while we're on this subject, I've noticed that my brand new 90mm
Elmarit-M -- the only piece of Leica gear I own from the fallen period --
seems to suffer from less than perfect quality control.  The cylinder behind
the aperture ring -- which should be fixed to that ring -- was spinning
freely last night.  I turned it a few times, and it now seems to be lodged
tightly where it should be.  This is a bit disturbing in a thousand-dollar
lens.  Also, there is the slightest amount of play in the focusing; you can
turn the focusing ring a fraction of a degree without getting any change in
the viewfinder (and you can hear this).  Lastly, the front barrel is just a
touch loose -- you can wiggle it ever so slightly from side to side, and you
can rotate it ever so slightly.

Is this normal for a new Leica lens?  (Perhaps it is.)  If it is, that is a
sign of less than perfect construction.  If it isn't, that too is a sign of
less than perfect construction.  My Dual Range Summicron, after some forty
years of use, exhibited none of these flaws.

Quite possibly this sort of thing isn't evaluated in the statistical measure
of failure rate, by the way, as most users would not report it.


Replies: Reply from "Julian Thomas" <> (Re: [Leica] Generations of Leica Equipment, and Quality)