Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2002/04/13

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Subject: [Leica] A party for Erwin
From: Howard Cummer <>
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002 10:51:16 +0800
References: <>

Dear Luggers,
Think of what a great time we could all have if we gathered in 
Holland at Erwin's favorite bar - all the people who loathe him and 
all the people who love him - and we had a party. I suspect a good 
time would be had by all - well, at least most, and at the end Erwin 
might feel better.

I think Erwin is thin skinned for a public figure. I have his 
book(although dismayed initially by the diagrams instead of photos of 
lenses - and disappointed by the typos) and refer to it regularly. It 
represents a tremendous amount of work. Also I subscribe to his APMEC 
list and although I find some of his opinions not applicable to my 
real world shooting (tripods and slow film to extract the maximum 
resolution from Leica lenses for example) his newsletter is always 
interesting to me and well worth a read.

Erwin has set himself up as an expert, he offers his opinions with
little or no qualification and over time, when he changes his opinion,
because he is a public figure, (his website, his archived musings on
the LUG, his closed list, makes him that in my opinion) it is the
nature of today's society, both on and off the internet, to point out
the inconsistencies of public figures. For example in Erwin's case, on
Greenspun's photonet someone went after Erwin for loving the M7 for
its AP mode and yet not liking the Konica RF for the same thing.

That spilled over into the LUG. Of course, the Konica review is over a
year old and then the RF perhaps represented a threat to the
unautomated M6. Another example, Erwin said the 50mm Summicron M and
the 50mm Summilux R were the best 50's for micro contrast and
resolving power. Then he retested the Tri Elmar and concluded that at
50 it was better than his earlier choices. This change in
recommendation brought him more criticism - which he responded to on
the APMEC in another article saying he should be able to change his

A third example, on the LUG Ted Grant said that he thought the new
Leica R wide angle 20 -35 F4.0 zoom might be too slow for his work and
shortly thereafter Erwin had a short article in the APMEC saying that
with fast film the zoom would be fine.

Fourth and finally there was the back focus controversy that drove
Erwin from the LUG just about a year ago. He read in Osterloh that the
back focus of the Leica M was 27.8mm +/- 0.02mm and learned from
Konica that the back focus of the Konica RF was 28.0 +/- 0.03mm and
postulated that Leica lenses would not focus accurately on the Hexar
body. I did a LUG survey and 14 Luggers responded that they had no
trouble with focusing even high speed wide angle lenses on the Hexar.
Erwin countered that perhaps the photographers didn't recognize
unsharp pictures - but some of them are professionals and their living
depends on sharp pictures!!. I called Leica Hong Kong and discovered
that the back focus (without film) from bayonet surface to pressure
plate is 27.95mm. I posted this on the LUG and also emailed the
information privately to Erwin who never acknowledged it. Later, on
his website he wrote again about the back focus inconsistency and how
hard it was to get accurate information.

Erwin has set himself up as an expert and a public figure. He has done
a tremendous amount of work to advance the understanding of Leica and
its quality. But, he is thin skinned and like many of us he has
trouble admitting making a mistake, and, in the past, has argued his
point of view past the point of reason. Now when insulted he takes his
marbles and goes home. I expect that Erwin will be back - at least on
his web site and I look forward to his continued contributions, even
if I disagree with a few of them and even when I find the rare error
in them. I would like to have a drink with him some time. I have never
met a Lugger in person that I didn't like. :-)

Howard Cummer.

"To err is human - to forgive divine"

**Editor's note, from Brian Reid: I'm letting this message be the last
  word on the Erwin Puts discussion on the LUG.
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Replies: Reply from "Jacques Bilinski" <> (Re: [Leica] A party)