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Old 05-21-2013   #1
rjschell
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I must apologize to all of you who like to fondle your Leicas. (I had an M3 for about 25 years until it was stolen.) In this modern world of molded plastic, software, and now cloudware, finely crafted things are a rare beauty and to be appreciated. Aesthetics is a lost art. The title references a song by Guy Clark (who, by the way, makes his own guitars).
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Old 05-21-2013   #2
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Certainly, I have had Leicas, Rolleiflex, Hasselblad, Zeiss etc. All of which have been out of production for some time. Then you go into a shop and try out the latest things, like Samsung compacts with touchscreens and Facebook upload. How on earth this can be called progress is a mystery.

I guess because these changes are separated by generations, many people will never be able to compare the stuff you buy now, to the stuff you could buy 30-50 years ago, so they'll never know what shoddy rubbish is being passed off to them now.

But it's not all bad, Leica, DHW Fototechnik, Voigtlander, Alpa, Walker etc. are all still making wonderful cameras for those who want them.
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Old 05-21-2013   #3
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I must apologize to all of you who like to fondle your Leicas. (I had an M3 for about 25 years until it was stolen.) In this modern world of molded plastic, software, and now cloudware, finely crafted things are a rare beauty and to be appreciated. Aesthetics is a lost art. The title references a song by Guy Clark (who, by the way, makes his own guitars).
A year or so ago, I had a rant about the ugliness of current Canikonpentolympetc cameras. Nikon was my first love of cameras back with the advent of the FM. Used them professionally for many years up through the D2x.

My point was how "unaesthetic" the current DSLRs really are. They are the same melted blob as they were decades ago. Impressive performers but ugly and they continue to stay that way.

I sold them all and don't use DSLRs anymore, preferring Leica cameras totally. What few Nikons I have left are MF, including the F2 and FE2s. I hope my grandchildren will appreciate the timeless beauty and craftsmanship of the M3 and possibly even my R4 and IIIF.

Maybe in another 20 years, Nikon will morph into some other form. I hope so as the current long-in-tooth design is so boring, too complicated and well, nuff said. And the incessant consumerism appetite is insatiable so they continue to produce the same ol same ol.

But, I don't hold out much hope for my own children to appreciate my lifelong work outside of a couple of pictures if that, let alone my gear. Their lives are wrapped up in smartphones, FB and every conceivable gadget and consumer product imaginable, but NOT in the important things.
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Old 05-21-2013   #4
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Recently,I remembered my Hassleblad 500C with a silver 80 planar.
I had to sell it long ago, money problems...

I felt a pang of pain, deep and cutting, like remembering a long lost perfect girlfriend. Close to weepy.

It feels silly, but apparently I can have strong emotional attachments to objects.
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Old 05-21-2013   #5
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I'm actually starting to think the un-attractiveness of modern cameras is deliberate, for two reasons.

Men feel like pros if they have a massive lump of black plastic around their necks, they don't want 'refined', they want big screens, specifications etc...

Number two, they don't want to sell you a camera, they want to sell you many cameras over your life. Back in the day, when Leica, Olympus or whatever sold you a camera, they expect to you to use it for decades, an M3 or a Rollei was considered to be a lifetime investment, and they built them accordingly.

My theory is... Canikontax is making cameras poor on purpose, so they can sell you the next one which isn't quite as poor, they don't want to make the 'definitive' camera.
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Old 05-21-2013   #6
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I had a chance to show my son and his girlfriend (both mechanical engineers) my Leica's this past weekend. They were both impressed with the mechanical smoothness/machining etc of the cameras.
I think there's hope for my stuff after I'm gone.
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Old 05-21-2013   #7
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Great thoughts here. I think new style cameras are simply designed to be disposable after a period of time. It's how our commercially based system of profit making monetary madness thrives. a solid mechanical film camera will and has out lasted all recent digitals, not to mention their digital files.
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Old 05-21-2013   #8
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two days ago i came back from a pushbike ride and laid my backpack beside the car. after stuffing the bike into the trunk i moved the car to get more lateral space from the neighbour´s car. rolling forward again there was a resistance and the right front tire was lifting. oh ****, forgot my backpack, the leica m9 being the only item in it that could cause the tire to lift. after digesting the awful shock i tried the cam. software function perfect, focus perfect, everything working flawlessly. isn´t that amazing? the best of two worlds.....
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Old 05-21-2013   #9
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My theory is... Canikontax is making cameras poor on purpose, so they can sell you the next one which isn't quite as poor, they don't want to make the 'definitive' camera.
People want cheap cameras, manufacturers deliver cheap cameras. Long living cameras cost more. No consumer would pay more money for a camera that last probably 15 years instead of 5-8 years because they replace the camera after 3-5 years anyway.
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Old 05-22-2013   #10
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The development of the technology will surely plateau at some stage and/or buyers will tire of the endless upgrade cycle. At that stage perhaps people will value quality more, but there seems to be some signs that some makers are beginning to deliver more attractive and better made cameras - Leica has been doing this as a matter of course (at a hefty price), but the likes of Fuji and Olympus seem to be edging towards producing some very accomplished kit that seems to do all that anyone could need. Whether these will cure GAS for all time is highly improbable, of course!

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Old 05-22-2013   #11
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The development of the technology will surely plateau at some stage and/or buyers will tire of the endless upgrade cycle. At that stage perhaps people will value quality more, but there seems to be some signs that some makers are beginning to deliver more attractive and better made cameras - Leica has been doing this as a matter of course (at a hefty price), but the likes of Fuji and Olympus seem to be edging towards producing some very accomplished kit that seems to do all that anyone could need. Whether these will cure GAS for all time is highly improbable, of course!

Ray
I think there is already a plateau in terms of actual capability of computing and digital camera technology. For example, the iPhone does not really do any more than PocketPC devices did 5 years ago, in many ways they do less. A tablet does a *lot* less than small laptop.

Manufacturers have become extremely adept at adjusting expectations though. Most people have been convinced that a touch screen keyboard is better than a real keyboard, that App Stores 'keep them safe'.

Digital camera sensors have been good enough for years, but makers find it easy enough to convince people that whilst 6MP was great 5 years ago, it's next to useless now.

Technology does not need to get any better, you only need to convince people that newer is better, and that seems to be trivially simple to companies all over the world.
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Old 05-22-2013   #12
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I wonder how many "actuations" my shutter on my M4 has?
LOL...
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Old 05-22-2013   #13
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Another old man thread? (joking)
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Old 05-22-2013   #14
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Another old man thread? (joking)
Oh John, I beg to Differ
It has nothing to do with Age...Just the Love of Superb Craftmanship & Quality
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Old 05-22-2013   #15
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I think I'm succeeding in transmitting a love of craftsmanship to my children. My 9-year-old daughter, at least, shares my love of vintage lenses -- she gets mad at me every time I sell one, as she's planning on inheriting them from me.
I've also taught her to appreciate the difference between a finely bound book, printed letterpress on handmade paper, and the terrible POD books we get from Amazon, that stink of solvents on grey pulp with smearing ink.
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Old 05-22-2013   #16
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The M9's Asthetics and haptics played a large part in my decision making progress when I decided upgrade my equipment six months ago .

One could argue that I was wrong and that a camera is merely a tool , and that I should have gone for the most capable machine availible for my budget ( clearly not he M( with its poor ISO , slow burst rate , high cost etc etc ) .

However I don't think you can overlook the importance of asthetics and haptic feedback. This camera actually wants to make me pick it up, I want to hold it and in turn take it out and shoot it . This in turn has improved my photography by virtue of experience alone in terms the amount of time I have invested in the hobby since I got the M9. If I had got a much more capable tool like a DSLR I can guarantee that it would have stayed at home 80% of the time in the last six months.

My M9 and recent M6 purchases are indeed things of beauty , beautiffuly crafted and as such get used .
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Old 05-22-2013   #17
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My theory is... Canikontax is making cameras poor on purpose, so they can sell you the next one which isn't quite as poor, they don't want to make the 'definitive' camera.
FWIW, I don't feel like my D700 (or any of the D1/2/3/4) bodies is poor or lousy quality. I concede it definitely doesn't have the fine craftsmanship of my M6 TTL, and it definitely won't continue to function as long as an M3 or any other fully mechanical camera, but such are the limitations of advanced electronics.
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Old 05-22-2013   #18
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Pure nostalgia trip.

In fifty years, people will be comparing the 2013 Canon or Nikon with the latest optical implant image storage chip and moaning about the passing of fine craftsmanship.

The past is always a golden age and the present is always rubbish...

Not sure if that's always the case. I've had a Leica IIIf and a M3, I think the M3 is the better camera. I also think the Zeiss Ikon is a better camera than a IIIf. It's not that the IIIf is bad at all, far from it, but small modernities add up and in the end, make the ZI (or Bessa R4A) a product I'd rather have.

I also prefer my Rolleiflex GX to the 3.5E I used to have, I prefer the build of the GX (not saying it's better, I just prefer it), and the great meter for slide film etc.

I think modern systems like Netflix have enhanced television more than just about anything has.

There are countless modern things which are superior to what came before, but also countless things which are not. I just don't like the assumption that newer is better, as products are not made to improve upon what came before, they are made to sell. I can probably think of 10 computers companies off the top of my head which failed by making something better and 10 which succeeded by making something worse.
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Old 05-22-2013   #19
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I appreciate all comments, but we're showing our age. Every generation thinks the next generation will be the downfall of civilization, and in some ways those worries are true. In other ways civilization is always improving and change can't happen if the next generation isn't somewhat oblivious of the one before. Also, there was lots of drek produced back in the day that we have conveniently forgotten. There are always a few good things being made. We may not understand what those things are or what's great about them now, but they're there. All that said, yes, I don't think I'll feel the same way about my NEX 7 in 20 years as my pile o' funky film cameras.
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Old 05-22-2013   #20
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I find I am most attracted to things (cars, bikes, cameras, graphic design etc) current around the time I was born, which in my case was 1964. The only real exception is music, where I think 1981 is the best year - almost certainly because I was in my teens.
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Old 05-22-2013   #21
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I don't think it has to be either or. Sure, many of us here love our old mechanical cameras. But it's not as if this is a letter-writing forum, where we communicate through paper and pen. We use the modern internet to do that. Also, how many of us are using new(ish), modern lenses on those old cameras? Yes, I have some old vintage lenses that I really like to use, but most of my go-to lenses were made in the last decade.

I am 36 (for a couple more days, anyway) and am sometimes a bit of a Luddite. I own tons of CDs, but also still buy and play vinyl records. I love my old cameras, I like to cook and bake from scratch, and I prefer "real" books to e-books. I appreciate how things used to be. I do believe that most things were made more solidly back in the day than they are now. But I also like my iPhone and my flat screen TV and my Macbook. I always have a jar of sourdough yeast on my kitchen counter for making bread and pizza dough by hand, but sometimes I am in a hurry and I cheat and use a package of active store-bought yeast and whip it up quickly in my Cuisinart.

To me, it's not so much a matter of which is better. It's being able to appreciate the way things used to be, and try to use modern technology to still enjoy some of those things. My grandmother's Victrola is the corner of my living room. I enjoy playing her old records on it. But I'm not throwing my iPod away anytime soon. They both serve their purpose in my life.
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Old 05-22-2013   #22
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Choose one:

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Old 05-22-2013   #23
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Choose one:
Aww, c'mon! I'm 23 and still share the thought that the things were much better built 50 years ago, yet far more aesthetically beautiful than current. I'm speaking about everything: modern cars look just like ****, modern gadgets - mobile phones, tablets, computers - are all without a spark. A few exceptions only confirm the rule. And curiously, the modern things that I like the most are the things designed in retro. Again, I'm just 23, I could be considered the current generation, yet I am unhappy with what surrounds me. So it's not just nostalgia, you know.

P.S. Want a M3...
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Old 05-22-2013   #24
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I'd choose one if it had a ball head on top.

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Old 05-22-2013   #25
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The old stuff has had 40-50+ years worth of filtering the best of the best. I'm sure 50+ years from now, people will be fawning over the cream of the crop from the current era. Same thing happened with music (everyone knows Bach and Beethoven, but there are a lot more composers (some good some bad) from that era. You'd be surprised at how much garbage there is out there -- actually scratch that, everyone laments of the tons of awful images on Facebook and Flickr. Time will forget the worst 95%, leaving future generations with the best from the modern era at the time.
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Old 05-22-2013   #26
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The old stuff has had 40-50+ years worth of filtering the best of the best. I'm sure 50+ years from now, people will be fawning over the cream of the crop from the current era. Same thing happened with music (everyone knows Bach and Beethoven, but there are a lot more composers (some good some bad) from that era. You'd be surprised at how much garbage there is out there -- actually scratch that, everyone laments of the tons of awful images on Facebook and Flickr. Time will forget the worst 95%, leaving future generations with the best from the modern era at the time.
Sure: Sturgeon's Law. But will the crud on Facebook go away?

Cheers,

R.

Last edited by Roger Hicks : 05-22-2013 at 13:37. Reason: Why argue with an ignoramus? (Not you, Spicy).
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Old 05-22-2013   #27
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What bothers many folks is the almost certain fact that much of the photos of today will not survive the passage of time due to degradation of digital media. Even a poorly stored negative can yeild a print but will the same be said of all the current crop of digital captures ?
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Old 05-22-2013   #28
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The past is always a golden age and the present is always rubbish...

There is truth here : every generation has found the next one disappointing, the previous one to be held as an example.
'today's youth has no manners, all they think about is booze and fashion' is reported to be a phrase from Socrates.

On the other hand, it does look very much as if we have reached a plateau in many if not most domains of our culture. A recent study has mathematically demonstrated that music has dumbed down since the fifties or so. From Bach onward to Thelonious or even Zappa, music became more and more complex, interesting. Monk was still looking for the unplayed chord progressions. From then on, it has become simpler and simpler, down to the monotone drone of most rap.
The moment Marcel Duchamp put a urinal in an art gallery, a limit was reached, which could not truly be surpassed. Putting the content of the urinal in an art gallery does not show progress, just repetition. Photography? Where are todays Ansel Adams, Edward Westons, Avedons, Penns, Eisenstaedts, HCB's, Capas? There are of course excellent photographers working today, Salgado comes to mind, but a lot of what I see is trying to do a little better than the old masters. Licking and polishing rather than creating a vision. (I do it myself)
Something similar is going on with computers and software. It's been a while since the amount of hertz's and bits and bytes soared higher and higher, as in the nineties. I've been using Photoshop and Illustrator since '91. Practically every useful function was in there by the early years of the century. Again, it's been a while since upgrades were fun and exiting and delivered brilliant new functions.
Mechanics too show the same sort of stagnation. We got to a precision of 1/100 mm about a hundred years or so ago. We're still there - yes, there are exceptions, but that's exactly what they are : very expensive one-offs. We can do CNC now, but the technology of lathing and milling was mature by the thirties, at a peak of sophistication by the sixties. Almost all the useful and interesting tech for automobiles was invented by the thirties, since then we've mostly been polishing and licking and adapting for mass production.
We've been promised fusion within the next ten years for the last sixty years. Last I looked, it was still at least ten years away.

Today, it may actually be true, that the recent past really was a golden age, and that the present measurably descends into rubbish.
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Old 05-23-2013   #29
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Comparing fine mechanical tools to today's electronics is impossible. Even the digital leica is poorly made compared to their film Ms
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Old 05-23-2013   #30
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I can't agree on the age part, I'm barely of drinking age myself, yet I appreciate Leica and Zeiss glass like every other RFFer. But in mentality I'm different, my parents tried to encourage me to shoot film(they gave me a Canon 500 SLR and 28-70 lens for my 9th birthday) but I always felt that it was too fiddy, unpredictable, I can't discover a caliberation or focusing mistake while shooting, which meant precious moments lost.

So I use Leica lenses with state-of-the-art digital bodies. Not the M9 or M240, but better alternatives in terms of giving me total control over what I shoot. I guess what I fail to love, being brought up in the digital age, is the analog medium itself. But the workmanship of Leica bodies and lenses is timeless.
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Old 05-23-2013   #31
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I can't agree on the age part, I'm barely of drinking age myself, yet I appreciate Leica and Zeiss glass like every other RFFer. But in mentality I'm different, my parents tried to encourage me to shoot film(they gave me a Canon 500 SLR and 28-70 lens for my 9th birthday) but I always felt that it was too fiddy, unpredictable, I can't discover a caliberation or focusing mistake while shooting, which meant precious moments lost.

So I use Leica lenses with state-of-the-art digital bodies. Not the M9 or M240, but better alternatives in terms of giving me total control over what I shoot. I guess what I fail to love, being brought up in the digital age, is the analog medium itself. But the workmanship of Leica bodies and lenses is timeless.
I can sympathize with this. Whilst I do like the analog medium, I can see why someone may not, especially in 35mm. For me, film really comes into it's own at 6x6 and bigger. It's not just the resolution, but the tones and overall look.
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Old 05-23-2013   #32
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I can't agree on the age part, I'm barely of drinking age myself, yet I appreciate Leica and Zeiss glass like every other RFFer. But in mentality I'm different, my parents tried to encourage me to shoot film(they gave me a Canon 500 SLR and 28-70 lens for my 9th birthday) but I always felt that it was too fiddy, unpredictable, I can't discover a caliberation or focusing mistake while shooting, which meant precious moments lost.

So I use Leica lenses with state-of-the-art digital bodies. Not the M9 or M240, but better alternatives in terms of giving me total control over what I shoot. I guess what I fail to love, being brought up in the digital age, is the analog medium itself. But the workmanship of Leica bodies and lenses is timeless.
That sounds like a certain lack of experience to me. I am not slating your choice of medium, but I have found, as have many on this forum that film IS predictable. It is what the end user does that is unpredictable, and therein lies the versatility of the stuff !

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Old 05-23-2013   #33
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That sounds like a certain lack of experience to me. I am not slating your choice of medium, but I have found, as have many on this forum that film IS predictable. It is what the end user does that is unpredictable, and therein lies the versatility of the stuff !

Regards, John.
If something takes so much experience that one cannot fully enjoy it without decades of practice, then it's not for me

Having only center-point focus on an RF is the big dealbreaker for me, Whenever I'm using any lens faster than f2 perfect focus is impossible if the object is not in the center of the framelines. I own a Bessa and it's a nice camera for weekends, but far, far more limited a tool than the cheapest M43 EVIL.

As for film, you are stuck with a very small iso range and little error is tolerated in terms of light. It's either hard-won experience or trusting the light meter.
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Old 05-23-2013   #34
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If something takes so much experience that one cannot fully enjoy it without decades of practice, then it's not for me

Having only center-point focus on an RF is the big dealbreaker for me, Whenever I'm using any lens faster than f2 perfect focus is impossible if the object is not in the center of the framelines. I own a Bessa and it's a nice camera for weekends, but far, far more limited a tool than the cheapest M43 EVIL.

As for film, you are stuck with a very small iso range and little error is tolerated in terms of light. It's either hard-won experience or trusting the light meter.
Fair enough, as an 100% film man, I think digital is often 'better' than film, convenient, predictable, huge ISO range. But its just not the same is it?....
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Old 05-23-2013   #35
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pony up for the best today has to offer and you might be surprised how much better it is than what was available even 20 years ago.

the Alpas and Arca Swiss' of the world will last a lifetime too, and are made with machines whose tolerances were a pipe dream of engineers in the early 90s.

and don't forget there is some guy in Taichung or Seoul or Beijing who is eager to show you that his people have advanced so far beyond the cheap crap that his countrymen are selling in huge volumes. Ive got a $40 dollar pen that is easily up to any of my Parker 51s and absolutely shames every modern MB/Lamy/Pelikan Ive ever owned.
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