ElCan lenses & cameras

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by tom_abrahamsson, Jun 19, 2004.

  1. Somebody asked about Leica Canada lenses and cameras. I can't find
    the posting, but here's is what I know (just off the top of my head).
    ElCan (Ernst Leitz Canada) was set up in 1952 and the factory was
    finished in 1953. Production was aimed at producing both civilian and
    military optics/cameras. In the late 1990 the plant was sold to
    Hughes Aerospace and later Rayethon took over. The last Leica camera
    lens produced was the Noctilux (they still supply optical assemblies
    for these lenses to Leica Germany.
    Here is my,incomplete list, of ElCan produced Leica stuff:
    Leica IIIf and IIf engraved Leica/Midland
    Leica 72 (half frame) Made in Canada, but some had Made in Germany
    top-plates on them. It was a camera designed for scientific work and
    German universities were encouraged to by Made in Germany products.
    Stereo Elmar (35mm and 33 mm)
    Summarit 50/1,5 Engraved Leica/Midland
    Hektor 125/2,5 Some were engraved Leica/Germany but they all came
    from Canada.
    Summicron 90/2 SOOZY version screwmount with adapter for M
    28/2,8 Elmarit M
    35/2 Summicron
    35/1,4 Summilux (non-aspheric)
    50/2 Summicron
    75/1,4 Summilux
    90/2 Summicron M-mount (until the 90 Apo/Aspherical
    135/2,8 Elmarit (the "goggled" one)
    200/4 Telyt (Viso lens)
    280/4,8 Telyt (Viso lens)

    Prototypes for M's
    75/2,4 Apo-Elmarit M
    28/2 Summicron (in 1970)
    and there are many more of these prototypes around. Many are stuck in
    desk drawers of retired Leitz Canada employees

    M2 engraved Leitz Canada
    M3 engraved Leitz Canada
    1/2 frame M2's
    M4 "Midland" - some of these had Leitz Germany top-plates, but most,
    if not all were made in Midland
    M4-2 All were made in Midland.
    M4-P All made in Midland
    The early M6's also came from Canada.

    Leica Canada also made highly specialized optics for the US Military'
    180/3,4 Apo-Telyt (6-7 were made in M-mount with goggles - the rest
    were R-mounts)
    66mm/f2 Ultra high resolution lens in M-mount - not coupled to the
    50/2 Elcan for the KE-7 Military M4.
    There is also a whole series of lenses made for photogrametrical
    imaging. Most of these are small runs of orders. I have seen
    560/5,6 "clusters" (4 lenses covering 5x5 each - mounted on a 10x10
    plate and attached to a Wild/Leitz 10 inch aerial camera.
    250/4 designed for infrared - one element is a ruby red glass or
    90/1 Elcan in M-mount. No helicoil as it used rings to set the
    focussing distance.
    6"/f2,8 Aerial lens. Quite common, often seen adapted to old 6x9
    Speed Graphics.
    2"/2 and 1,5"/f2 Aerial lenses (these were fairly extreme wide-
    angles covering 120 film or 70mm perforated film. Big, heavy cameras
    and many were used on Harrier jets during the Falkland war in
    1982.Some can be adapted to other cameras, but the film to lens
    flange distance was very short.
    There was also a series of R-lens prototypes, including a 75/2 Apo.
    ElCan also designed ultra high reolution enlargers, the ElCan 121 -
    it will resolve 275 lines/millimeter on the easel! About 6 times what
    you can get with a conventional enlarging system. Probably less than
    10-12 made. It came with a series of lenses, a 25mm, a 50/2 and a
    75/2 enlarging lens. The 50/2 was a modified DR Summicron.
    There is a reason why most Leica M advertising from the 60's until
    late 90's always showed a 50 Summilux on the body. It was virtually
    the only M-lens made in Germany since 1960 until the Aspherical
    Midland had the benefit of Dr Mandler, one of the foremost lens
    designers ever and also that they were outside of the heavily
    bureaucratic Wetzlar plant. If Midland wanted to make it, they just
    went ahead and did it and never bothered Wetzlar with corporate
    discussions. A lot of strange M cameras came out of there, 1/2 frame
    M4-2's, some 1/2 frame Md-2's, 30 chrome M4-2's and the "Israeli Tank
    Command" olive green M4-2 version. Some of these were made
    for "friends" of the company and some were bona fide special order
    The Wetzlar plant stagnated in the 70's - very little creative
    design was done there. Midland was the creative source in many
    aspects. There is very little research being done on the Midland
    production. Leica Germany is not too interested in it and the current
    management of ElCan/Rayethon bluntly tells you "No" to any request
    for information. They make satellite imaging stuff and super
    sophisticated gun sights and understandibly cant be bothered with
    some Leica fanatic trying to unearth obscure lens or camera
    information for old stuff. For a good 25 years, 1965 to 1990 Midland
    was probably the top optical facility in the world, both as designers
    and manufacturers.
    Occasionally you hear "I prefer the German Summicron to the Canadian
    one". Sometimes they even carry a price premium! Most of these lenses
    were made in Canada and shipped to Germany minus the front ring and
    rear mount = labelled as "parts" and with far less duty than a
    finished lens. Wetzlar put on a rear mount and a front ring suitably
    engraved Made in Germany - and they were, both the rear mount and the
    front ring! The parts that really counted were all made in Canada.
    Tom A
  2. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

  3. Very interesting, Thank you Tom. I like Canadian stuff, my wife was made in Canada :)
  4. Tom, very interesting Leica historical information. May be you should
    consider writing a book about this facinating period of Leica history
    by interviewing retired former Elcaners. A book with history of Elcan, Dr. Walter Mandler biography, his epoch making contribution to lens design, Elcan lenses with pictures, serial numbers, production dates, Elcan Leica bodies with pictures, serial numbers, production
    dates, Elcan special projects; bibliography, including a list of
    Dr. Mandler's articles....
  5. Tom, thx for your very useful info on LEITZ/ Leica-Canada.

    I like to believe you every single sentence of it, exept the two last ones. Never heard this before and would not mind if this is just a roumor ...

    Have a good Leica-time and best regards
  6. gib


    I asked the question about Leica in Canada. thanks for your detailed answer.
  7. Thanks for the interesting info! One other lens you didn't mention is the 90 Tele-Elmarit... I have one of these in black finish marked "Canada", purchased new in 1968.
  8. Fascinating, thanks Tom.
  9. I realize this is a late response, but I recently came by three Elcans made for Vinten F95 aerial cameras as flew on, among other aircraft, Harriers -- 1.75"/2.8, 3"/2.0, and 6"/2.8 -- and have a little to add about them. I got my Elcans with the intention of using them on a 2x3 Speed Graphic.

    The 1.75" is an easy fit. Its rear section passes through the lens throat with a little room to spare. It focuses to infinity with the front standard on the inner rails. It can, in fact, be focused well through infinity on my camera.

    The 3" and 6", however, can't be used on my camera. Their barrels are too large to clear the front standard and both have back focus shorter than the camera's minimum flange-to-film distance.

    Tom was mistaken about 6" Elcans on "6x9 Speed Graphics" or was thinking of a different lens than the 6"/2.8 I have.


  10. Does anybody where i would be able to get my hands on a manual for A KE-28B? Either print or electronic will do.

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