Mechanische camera's

Kijk op het fotografisch universum door Erwin Puts

Crawley's rules

I am working on a book about Leica optics, as most of you may know by now (the planned publishing period is January 2016). In this book I give detailed information about the approach and thinking of Berek behind the many epochal designs he constructed and/or influenced. One of his important insights is the study of the character of a design and by implication its potential for a range of applications. This is the same approach that L. Kölsch has promoted since his appointment as chief of the optical department at Leica. You have to know about the inherent capabilities of a design before deciding upon its character and its strengths and weaknesses. Every lens has potential but will be definition not be perfect. Studying its character takes some time. It is now popular to look at color fringes as the main criterion of image quality. It is only one element of the complex character of a lens, and in many cases not the most important. It is however a symptom that is very easy to detect when using digital capture media and some techniques of pixelpeeping. Is it relevant? I doubt it but some reviewers, popular on the internet have made it their signature. You can not however define the character of a lens, in Berek’s perspective, by looking at one of a multitude of parameters that as a sum define the character of a lens. The same goes for a complex camera. Here again we have a difference between having an opinion based on a limited period of experience and an analysis and characterization based on use during an extended period of time. It is a curse of the modern media that a scoop is worth more than a thorough analysis and being the first to report about a lens or camera is more important that giving yourself the time to make a considered assessment of a product. The pace of innovation is such that a report of a product may be already obsolete when the report is being published because the product has already been superseded by an improved model.
This was different in the time when Geoffrey Crawley laid down the rules for excellent technical reporting. One of his rules was the requirement to use a camera for a long period of time (at least half a year to become acquainted with the subtle details of is operation). This was possible in a time when a top camera had a life span of at least a decade. The pace of improvement is now much higher but the basic rule of the extended period for a thorough analysis is still valid. No one would now involve in a report about the Leica T or Q, even when these products are highly relevant in today’s scene and I have yet to read a review by some one who revisits or even revises his original verdict about the product because an extended exposition to the often hidden capabilities might reframe his conclusion.
Formulating a series of opinions is a vastly different action that trying to define the character of the product. Crawley noted that a review should be constructed such that after reading a review any prospective user or buyer would know exactly what to expect of this camera/lens and when and if the camera/lens would be useful and an improvement in his/her photographic practice. Reading current reviews about Leica cameras (Leica S, SL, Q, T and son on) I know what the reviewer’s opinions are, but I have no clue what the camera’s character is and why buying such a camera would be beneficial to my own photographic practice and photographic ambitions.
This is one of the reasons why I have not reported on the Leica SL. This is a very important camera and deserves some reflection. One of the main conclusions is that this camera ends the myth of the Leica camera as the basic tool for the technique of the decisive moment as HCB defined it. Why and how will be part of the report. Expect the report somewhere is December 2015.