Leica 1a still working fine

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by anthony_brookes|5, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. Just got back from a holiday in South Africa where I took my Leica 1a loaded with Ilford XP2. Everything seems to
    work as it should. Not bad for a camera 84 years old.
  2. I'll try again.
  3. Anthony--wow!
    Great photo!
    What lens? Very sharp and contrasty..
  4. Great pic there is nothing like shooting with an old Leica I love mine..Dont display just use it as it was meant to be..
  5. Paul - the fixed non-interchangeable Elmar. 5cm. This is the camera.
  6. Anthony--thanks for the info.
    Clearly, I don't know the old Leicas!
    Thanks again.
  7. I don't have a Leica Ia, but I have two IIIf, one is a black dial and red dial the other one. This cameras are from 1951 and 1952, and the only work that I've had to do is change the curtain.
    I have the same version of the Elmar too and I must say, that it's my prefer!
  8. Tony, nice crisp image. Has a very 30's feel to it. Did you do your own developing and what is the film? The Elmar 50 can do a great job even if it is uncoated. I agree with Drew, I still use an uncoated Elmar 50 with hood on a IIIc. This model Leica was my Dad's first Leica, bought used, and a whole lot of rolls went through it from 1935 until 1961. Wish I still had it.
  9. Add a surround for the shutter button and it will be complete. The Elmar can be used without a range-finder in the free shoe.
  10. Christopher - I mentioned in my first entry that I use Ilford XP2 (developed in Tetenal Colortec C41) I like the latitude of the film for 100ASA to 400 ASA without altering development. As it is chromogenic there is virtually no grain even at 400ASA. I never shoot below 1/200 sec with XP2.
  11. Thanks Tony, I missed your info in my first read. No grain and 1/200th sure worked well together. I've yet to use XP2 but with results like yours I'll give it a try. Mukel is right, no need for a rangefinder unless you are working very close opened up. I still have an Instamatic 500 that has a marking for the film plane, so I had a carpet thread marked off in inches tied into the strap mount so I can accurately measure for close ups. Stopped down it worked pretty well, even within 2'.
  12. Christopher - my Leica 1A is the close focus model which focuses down to 18 inches - and it works well at that range. None of my other Leicas will do that..
  13. Anthony: Congrats! Looks like you got a hazefree one? Is this a four digit sr nr? Does it have the little plugged up hole in the back: always intrigued me. Was that meant as an entrance hole for a tool? How easily does the lens come off?
  14. Love the old Leica screwmounts -- got 6 of 'em!!!!!!
  15. Jean-Marie, the plugged hole on the back of the camera body was used for setting proper infinity focus utilizing shims behind the lens mount. This was accomplished with an instrument that utilized an aerial image. Once infinity focus was achieved the hole was plugged. If the lens is removed and the shutter held open with a bulb or time setting you would also see a matching hole in the pressure plate.
  16. RICK Enigma solved! Thank you. I have used a Leica II (94XXX) that had the plug as well. Does it mean that Leica I bodies were used after the camera was discontinued? And do all Leica I bodies have this hole? Looks like that when the camera's 'jacket' gets renewed, the plug can be disappears under the new cover?
  17. Oeps, 'can be disappears under' should read 'can be disguised under'. Sorry, me Anglish are not usually that bad! :}()
  18. Tony, your 1a story is a real trip back for me. Dad's was also a close focus version. He did a lot of Kodachrome 35 batch testing with the camera and I still have boxes of close up baby and rose slides. I'm amazed how well Kodachrome color held up since the late 30's. Just think of the Kodachrome gems that must be in National Geographic's archive vault. Jean-Marie and Rick, if I read the post correctly, Tony's 1a close focus 50 Elmar is specifically matched to his camera body and is permanently mounted, it is not an LTM body or lens, those came a little later.
  19. Christopher - Was the close focus a special/rare/more expensive variant? I only know the 3,5cm elmar close focus which is rather uncommon. I suppose this a 4 digit sr nr? When the 'fixed' lens is removed for cleaning would that affect its performance?
  20. Although I don't own a close focusing Elmar 50, my understanding of the Leitz close focusing capability works as follows. Both the lens camera mount helix and the matching lens focusing mount are designed and built so that the lens can be extended further out of the camera mount. For instance if the lens mount could be rotated several degrees more than the standard mount the lens optical unit would extend further. You would then be able to focus as Tony mentioned inside of the standard Elmar's 2' or more minimum focus distance. However as you focus closer, your depth of field shrinks and you will need to stop down to maintain or gain back lost depth of field. Very close focusing with standard lenses may introduce other optical problems due to field curvature, distortion and vignetting. Leitz addressed close focusing photography with both the Visoflex system and the post WWII Dual Range Summicron lens and it's close focusing mount. However the early Visoflex system was introduced several years after the Leica 1a and requires an LTM body. Tony is fortunate in having a "built in" close focusing solution, early though it is in Leica history.
  21. Thanks Christopher - Elmars could also be used on enlargers. I wonder if the close focus feature was perhaps designed with that particular function in mind. Just a thought.
  22. Elmars were just a good all purpose design; good for infinity, good for close ups etc. The 65mm Elmar for Visoflex functions pretty much as well as most good macro lenses, as well as an all purpose lens. Erwin Puts, if I read him correctly, doesn't seem to think the lens quality changes much over what must have been around 35 years, despite computing for different lens glasses, and it was of a lens type that gained less from coating.

    The close focusing Elmar just couldnt be used on a Leica II with rangefinder, which could only get it down to one metre without a nooky

    It is excellent for a camera that old
  23. JAMES - Hi again, just talked to your double :) I thought I found a close up version of a 3,5cm Elmar once on the internet. Now that you say that the rangefinder couldn't handle this I wonder... Maybe I mistook its name (EKURZ) for 'close up/short' in German? Do you know perhaps anything about this type 3,5cm lens?
  24. EKURZ was just the catalogue name I think. It is possible they made some pre RF 35mm Elmar lenses in 1930 (screw thread with no RF cam) to focus closer than 1m, but I doubt it, and it wouldn't have been EKURZ but LEDTF.
    The 35mm RF lenses with spectacles for the M3 all focused to .7 metre.
  25. Did find the link to the 3,5cm close focus (0.5m). You were right again: it belongs to a non-standardized Leica I. www.mir.com.my/br/photography. There is currently one available on the big bay with reasonable pics.
  26. Great; a coup. Hope the price is good.
    Incidentally, returning to the original question, XP2 is great for this sort of lens. Drop off in contrast etc, if any, is hardly noticeable. These lenses were great. I bought a Dr Paul Wolf pre war photo book a few years ago, much of which was shot on water, into the sun, using 35 & 50 Elmars, with little visible flare.
  27. Both the 5cm and 3,5cm elmars apparently show virtually no softening or image degrading past f6,3 even at the smallest apertures; uncoated glass, amazing. Hope to get a 3,5cm soon. On the other hand, I find that the printing quality of pre-1950's photo books hardly does justice to these lenses (with the exception of some high quality gravure prints). Wouldn't mind the reference to Wolf's book.
  28. Jean-Marie
    A friend tells me the photos were mostly taken in Holland. Text is in German, including a bit about Oskar Barnack who had died that year. I don't understand German so...,
    but photo information is in German, English & French.
  29. Much obliged gov'nor! Googled the book: gravure prints, some sepia toned. Looks gorgeous. Not cheap to get, at least here. When seeing publications like this I wish I lived on the other side of the equator. You see, you buy, you get it delivered at your door the same week. Here you end up paying double the price and wait for 6-8 weeks; then hope the parcel doesn't get lost along the way...Looking at one of those other golden oldies, Herr Summar. Had two, gave them both away because the front element looked like it was cleaned with steel wool. The boxtype hood is more expensive than the lens. The quality of the glass looks always better on the website advert...
  30. The Paul Wolf book I like best is MY FIRST TEN YEARS WITH THE LEICA. It has sections on types of photography from Landscapes to People to Men in Workshops to Animals and Plants and People who Travel. Each photograph has all the camera and film details e.g At Tenerife Lens Elmar 50mm Aperture f4.5 filter Light Yellow Exposure 1/40th sec. Flilm Slow Ortho.
  31. Paul Wolff was a smooth operator. Most of the data in my book says Elmar 5cm or 3.5cm, with most virtually no smaller aperture than f9 and most between f4.5 & f6.3. He recognised the quality of these relatively slow lenses for getting high resolution images.

    On another issue, the internal condition of air to glass surfaces inside old Summars is often very good. Even the rear element is often very clean. It seems that the softness of the front element is more of an issue than mould or decementing. I suppose this may be because those problems make an instant paperweight.
    If the front of these lenses are only lightly scratched all over, therefore suitable for polishing the front element, many will come up really clean by this treatment alone. The saddest thing is to see cleaning mark scratches on internal elements.
    I am not very picky perhaps, but think I have been lucky with Summars. Most are in quite usable condition for black and white.
    I only had the first one polished and it probably satisfied my curiosity, and I ended up giving it to my son along with a nice 3A on his 21st birthday.
  32. James - I also have a 1936 Summar that has never needed any form of polishing or cleaning. I bought it from the estate of a gentleman who was the original purchaser and it had always had caps fitted at each end. Ii has produced and still produces excellent images. It was lucky event for me as I bought all his gear including a Leica IIi in its original box.
  33. Leica made a big deal of the Summar lens in their initial advertising. To catch your attention the Leitz Summar brochure is printed in black and orange and is lavish with pictures and descriptions of the Summar's capabilities. The Summicron's grandfather sure initiated a fine family of f2 lenses.
  34. They even built a special version for use in 'the tropics', the savannah summar.
  35. Go on, I'll bite, tell us about the Savannah Summar.
  36. I was afraid you were... I cannot trace the original source; all I remember is that a limited number were built for scientific work in East Africa.
  37. Found another link: http://www.leica-historica.de/VIDOM_85.pdf. Before you accuse me of having had too many 'Savannahs' last night (local spirited apple cider): its correct name was 'Tropen Summar'. tropical summar. Not savannah summar as I wrongly remembered earlier on. Longer barrel than the normal type. One more front element (7 instead of 6 elements see drawing on previous page). Glass type unknown. Records indicate that several batches left for tropical destinations (Djakarta, Shanghai etc...). They were probably meant to gather data on the effect of tropical conditions (humidity, air pressure) on Leica objectives. The summitar soon replaced the summar and perhaps therefore little is known about the results of this experiment.
  38. I found that link later, and a picture including part of that article in English, but can't find the english version as a pdf. Had never heard of it before.
    Most 'tropical' cameras had components that resisted tropical heat and moisture, so while the layout looks the same, maybe the extra element was of harder and less reactive glass.
    It's a pity its not a Savannah, partly because that would make it a lens curiously suitable for use in grassland, partly because my daughter lives in Savannah GA, and partly because we could have made up a story about Ernst Leitz having a secret family in Savannah, like the designer Max Berek's dogs REX & HEKTOR contributing their names to various Leitz lenses, or perhaps Jesus' reputed visit to Glastonbury UK in his youth.
    Anyway, thanks
  39. Looking at the block diagram, the usual single front objective is now a cemented doublet. With the heat and moisture of equatorial Africa and other like locations, durability issues regarding the glass to outside air and doublet cement could quickly arise. What is interesting about the Summar split front objective is Leitz appears to have confirmed the need to split the front objective for better color correction and reduction of vignetting in the corners. This effort may very well have confirmed they were on the right track which then resulted in the Summitar with an even larger split front objective and eventually the Summicron series. It would be very interesting to see the results of a very careful comparison of pristene 6 element , 7 element Summar lenses and an early good Summitar.
  40. That would be interesting. It is hard to know what lens designers had in mind when designing very low production volumes. If they just saw the extra glass as optically neutral lens protection, it probably would have reduced image quality.
    Decementing of the canada balsam, apparently through environment is, in my experience however, much less common with Leica lenses than, for instance, those from a cheaper production number like Zeiss Contaflex; perhaps better quality control, but maybe Leitz just sealed and blackened the edges around the cemented areas better. The only decementing of Leitz lenses I have ever seen is through impact.
  41. It would be equally interesting to see how one could get the 7000$ (2007 price) required to purchase a tropen summar for your comparative exercise! :)

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