I told Don that I don't like to get involved in these arguments because they usually go nowhere, and there's no convincing those who argue theory against practice. I don't know how many hundred rolls of high resolution, fine-grained film like Kodachrome 25, Velvia 50, APX 25, etc. gnashings or Robert have put through a Leica on a solid support, but I do know that 35mm Kodachrome shots from Leicas (and I believe other brands) have been used for huge murals in Grand Central Station. I suspect that Don has put a lot of film through both MF and 35mm cameras. I've shot hundreds of rolls of that kind of film through multiple brands of lenses, and many thousands of frames through Leicas.
The problem comes when people apply theory blindly, without regard for practical circumstances, and willfully misprise what someone else has said. I'm not a Leica junkie or collector, but as far as I know, Leica uses both physics and aesthetic judgement, and with fewer cost constraints than other manufacturers, in their lens design process. This is more of a case of physics be exploited with less regard for cost than physics be damned.
Sure, we all can figure out the difference in negative area between 6x6 and 35mm, and know about the attendant difference in apparent grain. Square mm for full frame is a factor of 4, area cropped to 35mm proportions is a factor of 2.8, and linear distance across the long dimension is a factor of 1.67. But that's not the whole story, and you should also consider that Don's really talking about best practice, with enlargements at more typical sizes that don't stress MF, or the best of 35mm. Don's not stupid or inexperienced, even if he is only a photographer.
I also know that data isn't the plural of anecdote, but here's an anecdote for you. I was required in graduate school to take two classes outside my discipline, and decided to do an upper level photography course. I had to petition for entry with a portfolio since I was not an art major. The professor shot mostly MF and 4x5 for the work he regularly exhibited in galleries and museums. When he came to one of my 11x14 prints (a Perrier bottle on a brick ledge with weathered wood, an election sign, and a screened door) he stopped and did the close inspection routine that we all do when evaluating technical quality; you know... the viewing an 11x14 from a few inches routine. After a few minutes he said, "You shot this with a Hasselblad, right?" I told him (truthfully in case you want to question that) it was shot with a handheld CL and 40mm Summicron C. He then asked about film and developer and looked closely for a while longer. So in the real world, at 11x14, with an experienced judge, yes, a Leica lens can rival a Hasselblad, despite the belief that it can't happen because of theory or physics.
I have a number of other similar anecdotes, but of course they too are theoretically and sometimes practically impossible. I know because experts have told me so. Both Don and I, and perhaps others, will likely continue along blindly, doing what we aren't supposed to do. It's about seeing for me anyway, not MTF curves or line counts. I've only been shooting and trying to improve all aspects of my photography for 40 years, at times in professional studios, or making 2000 custom B&W prints a month by hand on two D5s, and shooting with many 35mm, MF, and 4x5 lenses, including Hasselblads and Leicas. So I probably just don't know what I'm talking about and you should take me to task for being stupid.
I'm also not a trained physicist, but I work part time in a physics department these days.
And Alien, if you've read this far, enjoy the new camera and lenses in good health. If you use them to their limits, you'll improve your work, and you'll appreciate what you have every time you see the results.
"That's all I have to say about that." F. Gump
Last edited by Lee L; 02-08-2006 at 08:25 AM. Click to view previous post history.