LEICA

Alternative views on the Leica world by Erwin Puts

Paradox of automation

Airplanes fly most of the time on automated pilot using so-called fly-by-wire systems. These are translators, mediating between machine and human. When the human pilot initiates a maneuver manually, the system will sense what the pilot tries to accomplish and overrules the action with a more precise controlled series of activities when it assumes that the pilot is in error.
Automation is now everywhere and soon even cars will move by automation. Cameras have been automated before the inclusion of focal plane arrays and the image-processing software. The better the automated systems, the less inclined the human operator will be to exercise basic control skills. The bad point is of course that when the automatic control system breaks down, the human operator can no longer cope with atypical situations. When a modern camera has a battery failure, the whole system breaks down. And even when the battery is functioning, but the software lets you down who can determine the level of exposure or even guess the distance between camera and object when need arises.
Automatic systems accommodate incompetence by being easy to operate (never mind the 300 pages of a camera manual)and by automatically correcting mistakes. Even when operators are skilled, they will use the skill hardly ever and even worse, when a skilful response is required because the automation fails in unusual situations, the operator lacks the experience.

This is one of the reasons why I use the filmloading basic Leica cameras because they require the basic photographic skills to operate.

The other reason to use traditional chemical means to record a scene, is simply fun. It is a kind of existential pursuit of happiness, so brillantly expressed by Robert Penn in his book: “It’s all about the bike”.