Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/01/31

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Re: digital Leica (WAS Beth Keiser Shoots B&W 4x5 ForCampaign Coverage)
From: Mark Rabiner <>
Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 21:31:48 -0800

A few ideas on this:

All of a sudden people are shocked that something with a red dot on it would
not pay a premium. I cant figure that out. Of course the proof is in the
pudding and if the people with the G3's are pulling consistently better A3's
that the people with the Digital 2s then we can see Leica has hit a snag in
the modern digital world. For whatever the reason; glass or electronics or
both. I donıt think it has or will. I think our A3's will look better than
the ones from the G3's. And the G4's.

I think if there is a problem with the Digital two its sure not going to be
the lens. The lens would be the last that thatıs going to make anyone not
get that camera. In many cases it will be the major reason people DO spend
the extra money for this camera.
Although it looks to me in the pictures like A CL with a Noctilux on the
front of it but everyone whose handled it says the handling is a major plus.
So all that stupendous and profuse Leica glass which you've got your paws on
in the front of this camera has no minuses. A tad flashy. As is the red dot.
It tends to be the brand of flash I'm a sucker for.

- ---

If the picture in the example being spoken about is that one of the
buildings then I cant see that one.
First of all if you look at that shot it is a photographic test for mastery
with a Sinar P camera system. Not the type of subject matter we try to
capture causally with a point and shoot.

On the right side of the picture we see the straight lines of the building
agast the edge of the frame converging inward and also slightly bending
inward., to the left. A sign of barrel distortion IF ALSO on the left side
of the picture the lines are not also bending inward. To the Right. But they
are not.
They are also bending to the left to the outside of the frame.
Everything's bending in the same direction.
Thatıs not what a barrel does. A barrel has a symmetrical thing going on.

If this was shot with a non retrofocal lens like a Hasselblad superwide
Biogon 38 or a Schneider super Angulon 3.5 on a Leica I'd expect these lines
to be straighter and otherwise more satisfying.. Converging maybe but not at
all bowing ... or wowing. Or certainly with a view camera such as a ten
thousand dollar Swiss Sinar P or F, an architectural photographers tool of
choice. You'd take the convergence out as well. Leave a little in perhaps
for flavour.

I think what we are seeing is some natural distortion youd normally get when
your regular point your wide angle retrofocal lens upward at a bunch of
straight glass buildings. Probably in effect a 28. And made even more less
perfect as Frank says by the fact that this is a zoom lens.

This year I got a 12-24 f4 lens for my nikon DSLR but for more demanding
architectural stuff I got an exotic fixed 14 which translates in digital to
a 21.

In a way maybe I wasted my money. Most of my casualty taken images from the
past involving a lot of converging or otherwise just not right lines "those
lines aint right" have been easily corrected in Photoshop.
This is done with the cropping tool with the perceptive square check marked.
Barrel distortion can easily and just as funnily dealt with with the filter
of the appropriate name. Its fun for 5th graders. Ask them and they will
teach you how.
I say this because traditionally we used view cameras with ample swings and
tilts, rises and falls, for demanding architectural stuff and now I think
we'll see those shots done with fixed medium format or digitally but as I
said, corrected in software, Photoshop.
All lines can be parallel with the edges of the frame. Its as simple as pie
and fun too. You are not left with funny artifacts. Mayan or Incan.

So again I'm saying if there's a problem with the new digital 2 its sure as
hell is not going to be with the glass. Glass is Leica's thing.
If Leica can't design a lens of these parameters (28-85 35mm zoom
translation) on an image circle of this handily modest size then I'd not buy
it's next M or R lens burnt offering either as the company has totally lost
it. This is of course not the case, I think Leica is doing great.

Mark Rabiner
Portland, Oregon

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