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First Impressions: The Rangefinder Character

Added on by Bill.

It's been a long time since I've used a rangefinder.  My first camera was one, a little Minolta. It was a 35mm camera. I remember when I got it I wanted an SLR. I thought I would prefer focusing on the full image rather than aligning the "dots" in the viewfinder. When I first got it the dots were a bit of a challenge. This approach seemed indirect and abstract to me.  I was about 8 years old.  I got used to it though. I'll have to see if I can find it.  

My second rangefinder was a Rolleiflex, medium format.  It was a hand-me-down.  I looked up the serial number; it was made in about 1945-46. The Rolleiflex was quite a different experience. There were not dots to align; one focused the image.  I liked that. But there was no viewfinder, rather one looked down through the view screen. The image was up-side-down  It was a very different interaction than looking through a viewfinder. I preferred looking through the viewfinder, but I liked the idea of focusing on the image. I also liked the large format. Although it was square. 

My penultimate camera was (and still is) a micro-four thirds style.  Not an SLR, but it does have a viewfinder and you do focus on the image, not some dot.  It also has autofocus.  It is a nice camera, lighter and less bulky than most SLR, or DSLRs. Body and lenses too. Yet, the sensor size is smaller. 2/3s the size of many DSLRs and 1/2 the size of a full-frame camera. The sensor size is partially about the image quality,  but also about the effect that one can get with a larger sensor.  

Now I'm back to a rangefinder.  It has a viewfinder. It's full frame. It has a dot to focus on; may be two if you count the one on the front. 

Leica M9, Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH., ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/25 sec

I read some fellows best practices and he said two things: [1] alway shoot wide open [2] for indoor shots shoot at ISO 800; for outdoor ISO 160 or 200.  The provider of that advice notes that while the lenses of many manufactures achieve optimal performance at 2 to 3 stops above their widest opening, Leica lenses perform across the scale. There may be some dispute here, but for argument's sake I'll accept it.  Setting these two adjustments leaves only one variable: the speed.  This mode will drive a specific character and style of photography.  

I always wondered why people who shot with these types of cameras shot people, street scenes and often in black and white.  May be the best practices above explain it. I've only had the machine for a week or so. May be later on I'll have confirmation.  But I will say I have urges to do the same.  May be its nostalgia. 

First Impressions: Lens Size Leica M9

Added on by Bill.

My reference point for this comparison is a Micro Four-thirds (M 4/3) standard camera, specifically the Panasonic DMC-G1.  Cameras in this class compare favourably against the larger cropped and full-framed Canons and Nikons.  Favourable in terms of size and weight and only favourable if you believe a smaller size and lower weight is preferable. 

One of the arguments of the M4/3 community is that a smaller sensor allows a smaller body and lenses. It all sounds very logical, until one sees the Leica M9.  A full-sized sensor with a body of comparable size and smaller lenses! How could that be?

Lens-size Comparison


A Canadian quarter sets the reference point.

From left to right:

  • Leica Elmarit-M f/2.8 28mm lens (left), 
  • Panasonic Lumix G 14-45 (middle) and 
  • Panasonic Lumix G 45-200 (right). 

This shot was taken in each lens' most compact form, typically used for travel.  


The difference in size is so dramatic to be almost shocking.  But after the shock wears off then one starts to think if Leica can package a full-frame sensor into a small package then why can't the larger manufacturers like Canon and Nikon? Sony has already started with the NEX-3, but they have factored it into a consumer product, not one that offers the controls a professional would like.   I expect that they will come, and when they do, what will be the advantage of the M4/3 system?


Added on by Bill.

The Rand Corporation recently published a monograph on cyberwarfare Cyberdeterrence and Cyberwar (240 pages).

Cyberspace is its own medium with its own rules. Cyberattacks, for instance, are enabled not through the generation of force but by the exploitation of the enemy’s vulnerabilities. Permanent effects are hard to produce. The medium is fraught with ambiguities about who attacked and why, about what they achieved and whether they can do so again. Something that works today may not work tomorrow (indeed, precisely because it did work today). Thus, deterrence and warfighting tenets established in other media do not necessarily translate reliably into cyberspace. Such tenets must be rethought.

The research was commissioned as a result of the Air Force's new responsibilities in cyberspace: "The establishment of the 24th Air Force and U.S. Cyber Command marks the ascent of cyberspace as a military domain. As such, it joins the historic domains of land, sea, air, and space."

The report summarizes the following points:

  • Cyberattacks Are Possible Only Because Systems Have Flaws
  • Operational Cyberwar Has an Important Niche Role, but Only That
  • Strategic Cyberwar is unlikely to be Decisive
  • Cyberdeterrence may not work as well as nuclear deterrence
  • Responses to cyberattack must weigh many factors
  • Military cyberdefense is like but not equal to civilian cyberdefense

The report includes a few tidbits, such as: "Every digital cellphone can be a door into cyberspace" [and thus the host for a 'bot']; "the divergence between design and code is a consequence of the complexity of software systems and the potential for human error"; "They [cyberattacks] are better suited to one-shot strikes (e.g., silence a surface-to-air missile system and allow aircraft to destroy nuclear facility under construction) than to long campaigns..."; and to put the whole question into context the report states "no one has yet died in a cyberattack."

The report concludes that cyberwarfare is not strategic (although that does not preclude some operational value) because unlike traditional methods which will make things worse over time,

"With cyberattacks the opposite is more likely. As systems are attacked, vulnerabilities are revealed and reported or routed around. As systems become more hardened, socieities become less vulnerable and are likely to become more, rather than less, resistant to further coercion."

Makes one wonder if the persistent and unrelenting attacks on Windows are not a part of some broader sub rosa vaccination scheme.  


Understanding the 10th Dimension

Added on by Bill.

Nikola Tesla is quoted as saying [1]:

Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.
So with that in mind, I ponder multiple dimensions; those beyond the first four which I can comprehend. From the book of the same title:

So, if String Theory says there can only be 10 dimensions, and M-Theory says there are 11 ... which is right? Answer: it's all theory.

A cautionary note: The video linked above has received fairly widespread attention, much of it questioning it's validity. As a result I questioned whether I should publish this. But in the end, I decided that this entry is a breadcrumb on my journey to understanding.

Summary of Dimensions (as best I can work out):
0: No dimension (a Point)
1: length (a line)
2: width and length (a plane)
3: height, width and length (a cube)
4: time, height, width and length (a timeline)
5: all possible futures on the current time line ...
6: all possible futures on all possible time lines, ...
7: all possible time lines from the big bang to all possible end states of the universe
8: multiple universes
9: all possible branches of all possible time lines for all possible universes
10: the ninth dimension as a single point as there is no other thing to connect to

According to String Theory, Super strings vibrate in the 10th Dimension