PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux


Oh, Ken

I’m not sure if I should be happy or sad that Ken Rockwell recently discovered Leica. Oh yes... I’m afraid he’s fallen in love, our Ken. He’s not clear on whether he likes or hates the M8 though, I'm getting mixed signals there.

Don’t panic, he’s still the same old Ken we know and love/hate. He’s very good at stirring debate and generating traffic for his site, intentionally or not.  Now with his Leica comments there's a whole new world of lens connoisseurs for him to tick off.  [Reminds me...  don't miss the latest hot article. He’s just figured out that you need to square the crop factor to get the area ratio. Go Ken!]

His review of the 28mm Elmarit-M ASPH is okay.  I'm not sure I agree with his opinion of the Summicron.  I wouldn't get into a fight over this.

There is something that irritates me for real though... he's published some shallow opinions which I think show lack of research on his part.  While he may be right on the average, each design must be judged on its own merits.  This is one of the essential lessons I retain from my own Leica research, over the last couple of years.  When you look at the evidence on either side, the relationship between Leica/Zeiss is closer to the one between Nikon/Canon than Nikon/Sigma.

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  1. The relationship between Leica and Ziess was not very close, rather Ziess/ Nikon is closer. At the end of the second world war, the allies released all German patents and the race was on. Nikon used many Ziess patents to engineer their lenses such as the 180mm F2.8. Leica patents and blueprints were taken by the British who produced a leica copy under the Reid Brand. Ziess eventually ended up in Eastern Germany, while Leica remained in Wetzlar in the west. Durning the cold war and the instability growing between the East /West German border, Litz looked to move the operation to protect it in case of further tensions, so they looked to North America. Litz did not feel comfortable setting up in the United States, as it was one of the allies that stripped all German patents after the war, so it moved some of it’s operation to Midland Ontario Canada. Nikon did have a relationship with Canon as to supply lenses to Canon for its first production rangefinder cameras.

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