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August 2016

New book Leica lens saga

My new book "Leica lens saga" has been sent to the printer finally. It is a fresh look at the methods of design used for the Leica lens from Berek to Karbe. The information is new and nowhere else available. This is my approach: not repeating what every one knows already and expects to read. It follows the steps from opto-mechanical design to opto-mechatronics designs and from pre-computer to computer supported design. It really shows the backside of the lens.

The example file (content and introduction and part of the first chapter) can be downloaded here as a PDF.

The book will be available end of september at a price of Euro 65 for worldwide shipping (including Europe) and Euro 50 for Netherlands and Belgium and for members of the Leica Fellowship England.

The book is a limited edition and you can inform me of your buying wish at

You can now preorder the book. Please pay Euro 30 as advance money with paypal:

Thank you very much

Erwin Puts

The book series is constructed like this:
Leica Chronicle: a review of the history of the leica company and its products (lenses and cameras) (sold out)
Leica Practicum: the theory and practice of Leica photography related to street photography and zone system (sold out)
Leica lens saga: what it means to design a Leica lens (now available)
Leica photography: techniques of Leica photography digital and film (to be announced).

Comfort Zones

When I was a student at the university, I got advice from several professors about the approach to write my thesis. One told me to start with the conclusion I like to defend and then find in the library (there was no internet then) any books or articles of whatever intellectual quality to support my story. Another one told me to start with a review of my theme and then read books about it and collect as much conflicting information as possible within a reasonable span of time. There are so many books about everything that you can read a lifetime and not even knowing what it is all about.
The first advice is what we now call the comfort zone. This is the most popular attitude on the internet. One has to find persons like oneself to trust and to get advice from. One starts with buying a Leica camera or lens and then you select those reviews that are positive so the buyer feels comfortable with the choices. Then one follows persons who write that they too use the product and like it so much. That is nice to know and makes one feel being part of a group of likeminded persons. Of course the reviewer or commentator will throw in some critical comment to make sure that he sounds serious, because you would never take advice from just some one. And one avoids being confronted with opinions that may not support the good feeling in the comfort zone.
The other approach produces psychological resistance. It is sometimes called the cognitive dissonance, because humans do not like to confront themselves with conflicting information. Still this is the most scientific way to do things. You only learn something when the information is surprising or unexpected. This is the basis of information theory. One adds a bit of information to the knowledge base when the outcome of a choice is not expected. When the outcome is expected you know it already and it will not give additional information. This is then the usual situation: we believe what we already think to know and we look for persons who agree with this view: the continually confirmed vision.
It is not new: in the Middle Ages the villagers chased a person away outside the village borders when he dared to have a different opinion.
Facts are less important than opinions. That is an unsettling view. Facts exist outside a personal domain and can be verified or refuted. They are not owned by an individual but are free floating in the intellectual space.
The Leica management level seems currently only be interested in opinions and is unhappy with facts that contradict their views. It is the classical attitude of German Management, exemplified by the current problems of VW. Critical comments are not welcome in this culture. Some see in this culture a danger for the future role of German innovation and engineering. The innovative power of the Leica company is at this moment in time at a low tide. Leica admirers may adopt every new product with the usual hype but at the core there is not much what one can see that might be classified as disruptive renewal. The original Leica I was truly disruptive as it ushered in a totally new style of photography and a new concept for the photographic camera. Compare this one with the most recent announcement, the SL, and the difference is striking. There disruption and innovation, here mainstream and fine tuning including a sprinkle of optimization.
By the way, my new book is now at the printer in Lithuania.