LEICA

Alternative views on the Leica world by Erwin Puts

Summer musings

The last few months I have been taking pictures with a 50 mm lens, almost exclusively! The Apo-Summicron 50, the modern workhorse, is my most used lens (the next one is the current SX 50). Both lenses are very well suited to a style of photography that may be called ‘producing documents’. A document is a source of information and should be neutral, devoid of subjective intention. Most persons would think of the decisive moment as the iconic method for documentary photography. It is remarkable that the original French title of his book (Images à la sauvette) in correct translation means “pictures in a hurry” which is quite different from the idea of a creative and conscious decision to wait for all picture elements to fall harmoniously in place. ‘In a hurry’ refers to the vernacular snapshot style of photography, the document par excellence! This style and the kind of photographers using it are diametrically opposed to the other extreme of the spectrum: the art photography. One can discuss and even speculate about the possibility that a mechanical instrument, like the camera, can ever been capable of producing art (Szarkowski would claim that it can!). The theory of photography that assigns a heavy weight on the influence of the operator on the final result (injecting intention and meaning) disregards the chance element of photography. No one is able to see exactly what happens in that tiny part of a second (1/50 to 1/1000). Photographers with digital cameras use prolonged bursts of pictures to get the one they need or like.
But I am digressing. My choice of the 50 mm lens implies that a range of lenses I own are no longer needed: originally bought as companions to the M8, the Summarit range 2.5/35-50-75-90 was intended as a travel set: very high quality and with a compact size that takes little space in a photo bag.
I am now selling this set of lenses, complete with pouches and lens hoods.