The Mystery Of Soviet Digital Science

The chiefest mystery to me in regard at first to Soviet, and then to post-Soviet science in the field of optics and digital photography is the apparent inability of the nations that professed to make up the USSR to actually enter into the field.

I may be wrong, but I did have a chance to see some of the older Soviet photographic goods in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and even with the collapse of the political system I should have expected them to take up some of the torch with digital work. But all I saw from them in the 8 years I served in the retail photo trade was childish and valueless nonsense.

The Lomo toy cameras promoted as art…the junk manufacture of the last of the film cameras…the sad attempts to make propaganda serve where actual design and manufacturing were missing. They were all ploys unworthy of people who can be as brilliant, scientific, and artistic as any in the world.

I do laud and celebrate the artistry of such people as Retro Atelier in Kiev, but that sort of thing is art…not the sort of general science that the Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese people brought to revitalise the industry. Make no mistake…Leica and their red dots of expense notwithstanding, all the rest of digital photography, and that is all of photography, is an Asian business success. And the puzzling thing is that the exSovs should have had no hand in it. They might have been bolting together rockets to shoot down airliners with but they damn sure missed the boat with photos.

All that said, what can I think about Kodak? Or the Land Corporation? Both of whom managed to sit in board meetings of business experts and watch their entire fortunes be taken over by Asian companies…Their lawyers and MBA’s were worth less to them in the end than the skill of the lowliest lens polisher in Yamagata.


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