'Natural' lens coatings.

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by adrian bastin, Dec 11, 2005.

  1. I put this up on a just-previous thread but thought it, maybe, worth
    one of it's own:

    A chap who gave us art students a crash coarse in photography (1960s
    Bristol) believed that old, old lenses aquired a natural coating. I
    can well believe this ; if you have ever dug up a very old bottle, in
    the garden, the glass surface has often begun to stratify giving it a
    rainbow, or even a gold colour,- a perfect looking coating.

    Any thoughts ? Is this why very old Elmars give such interesting
    results ?

  2. I think it is true and is probably how they discovered the benefits of coatings in the first place.
  3. Yes correct, then years where spent trying to do it.
  4. The glass oxidizes to form a film on the surface.
  5. Hi Adrian - I replied on the earflier 50mm thread: fascinating - and very probable. My old 1930 Leica I standard Elmar, however, shows no sign of it, - an I posted a couple of images on that earlier thread - shot almost into the sun on the beach - and I think they show how well this lens captures and registers light.
  6. Adrian - These images with Leica I 1930 - standard 50mm uncoated Elmar. Posted to the earlier thread, but hope it's worth it again - to show the capabilities of these lenses. Rob
  7. Second image with same setup - same place
  8. Thanks very much for all of your respunses. I have read that Taylor Taylor hobson experimented with lens surface textures before coatings were found.

    Rob: thanks for re-posting your photos here. The old Elmar seems to put a little colour into all parts of the picture, and not in an arbitrary way, either. Fascinating!

    Will have a rummage to see what images I can find from my 1(C)

  9. Wouldn't it be ironic if the "cheaper" glass of old was, because of its "lesser quality," more
    oxidation-prone than early Leitz glass?
  10. Gardeners' Question Time on the radio has just given me an idea and I'm off to the garden to bury my Summicrons!
  11. Hmmm - to speed up this process..... Adrian, do you have any cats? Call in to your
    gardening program for furter insight!
  12. Do you really think burrying a cat along with the Summicrons would speed up the process ? - Good thinking.
  13. Just trying to be helpful.
  14. John. It occured to me that that's what had been done previously to all the Summicrons I sent back, when trying to buy a good one, and in Bay-speak are only "200 percent perfect". Anyway, the light this afternoon was too good to waste on chasing the neighbour's cat.
  15. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    This must explain why so much artistic Leica photography looks like it was shot through the bottom of an old coke bottle!

    Wow and this whole time I thought it was the Bokeh stuff.
  16. Agreed. Besides, here in fridgid Vermont, where the ground is already frozen, we need to
    put off such burials until the spring melt - which means that the cats are safe for the time
    being. And do enjoy the light!
  17. Hmmm - interesting segue. And my reference to cats had more to do with their, um,
    digestive by products. But I'm always open to new thinking! (here, kitty kitty!)
  18. Vermont! Robert Frost would have liked this idea.

    Somerset's waterlogged right now.
  19. Just back in from splitting some wood for the fire - and if I look at your posted photo just
    right - I can see, peripherally, the scene of fridgid whiteness out my office window
    juxtaposed against the rich warm greens of your image. Very tempting to be in a warmer
    place right now. And about your photo - judging from the richness exhibited by your
    circa 1930 lens, I'm guessing that it had been buried for quite awhile!
  20. In the Ukraine, somewhere,- at least, that's where it came to me from not so long ago. It's buried in Somerset, now, as I am - figuratively speaking.

    The picture is from a couple of months ago (the "prepared earlier" is from an ancient British childrens' television program wherein interesting things are made from lavatory-paper tubes etc. but a finished one is always produced that was prepared earlier. So a stiff cat, perhaps....) so it's not that green here, now. It's been a slow Autumn, though, and some leaves are still hanging in there.
    Slightly OT, - but in the cause of science, I think.
  21. Your photo brings me back a couple of years - to a scene just outside of Dembidollo in
    southwestern Ethiopia. Having stood for a couple of hours in the bed of a Toyota driving
    over some pretty rough roads, we stopped for a moment, just as the light was falling over
    the trees - just like in your photo. A long day photographing water and medical projects,
    and a food distribution center - dog tired and yet this scene before me gave me some
    solace, and a reason to raise my Leica once again. I'll need to upload some of these to this
    forum soon - maybe over the holidays.
  22. Getting back on topic (if there's anyone still there): is it oxidation that causes the glass surface to form microscopic layers ? It seemss more of a spalding effect than the accumulation of a coating.
  23. Sorry, John - we were writing at the same time. Very much look forward to seeing that.
  24. I have an old lens from a yard-sale purchased Foth Derby that has a very even "oxidation
    coating" on its surface.

    I also just did a little google search, and came up with the following: http://
    www.wisner.com/coatings.html and this: http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?
    msg_id=00CPgZ from this forum. A little conflicting info here - with the forum post's
    questions about whether glass can truly oxidize.

    I'm beginning to infer from all of this that my original intuition might be correct - that
    glass with more impurities might be more subject to oxidation.

    As I type this one of my two cats sits and watches me intently - little does she know how
    lucky she is that the ground is frozen!
  25. I don't know if it applies to photography but in painting, landscape seems to be regarded as not relevant, or as escapist and that the problems of the world should be addressed, even if it is just in the style it is painted. That is how it is in the UK, anyway. I don't go for that ; art is a ballance in the world and if it is escapist, it's necessarily so, sometimes.
  26. In my own experience, realizing this balance is crucial if one is to become truly effective at
    dealing with the worlds problems. I recently hung a show of my black and white work -
    half of these being landscapes from the desert southwest US and the Maine coast, all done
    with an L-45A 4X5 prototype, the other half being photos of orphans in Ethiopia, done
    with a Leica M. In my statement, I related how it is the connectedness I feel through the
    camera with the landscape which provides me with a sense of balance - which helps to
    give me the strength to confront, for example, the plight of a young orphan afflicted by
  27. John: Completely admirable. I really had no idea I was speaking to someone who has publically stated an opinion, or personal philosophy, about this. Maybe next year I should send a mission statment along with the 3 paintings which failed to get into the RWA (Royal West of England Academy) Autumn show, this year. The painting is certainly as good as anything that got in ; the subject of droves and green lanes I chose because they are the only unchanging things in a changing landscape, seems to be unacceptable.
  28. That's a personal beef. But I was not going to send anything there again. Maybe I should - that's the point.
  29. Layton L-45A very interesting ! Cheers.

    And for heaven's sake use a neighbour's cat.

  30. Adrian - go for it! Submit the work in this context. It is within the "unchanging landscape"
    - which allows for retreat, meditative contemplation, renewal, and (do I dare say)
    transcendence - that our own seeds for change can gain a fertile foothold. And yes, long
    live both the literal and metaphorical garden - with or without the presence of cats!
  31. I will do that.

    John, I look forward to seeing some of your work.

    This has been an enjoyable thread thanks to everyone who contributed to it.

  32. I have a summar 50/2, uncoated but in excellent condition. By serial number it was made in 1938. It has a slight violet cast to it, much like the color I found in old bottle dumps in fields in upstate New York where I grew up. Anyway, it is not a fast lens to handle--nothing like my current 50 'cron -- but it has great contrast and resolution and a resistance to flare that I wouldn't think was typical ( I don't have a hood for it ). Some of this might be due to the "aging" of the glass? Very smooth bokeh and...something else. I can't put my finger on it, but it produces an image that is to photography what "painterly" is to painting...I just can't think of the word for it.
  33. Peter. sounds like you have a gem. As you can see, I'm no authority on this.

    Some of these pre-war lenses went back to Leitz, post-war and were given an anti reflective coating. I have a 35 3.5 Elmar, the same year as your Summar, that has a very delicate coatng, almost invisible, and it renders colour perfectly and I treasure it. Whether yours was coated or has aquired a bloom of it's own I could'nt say. I wonder if certain storage conditions (other than burrying in earth) can promote it. The Summar is regarded by some as their favorite 'people' lens and though it can give a 'soft' effect, wide open, I've found it can be pretty sharp . Anyway, enjoy it and KEEP it.

  34. Not 'regent'either - but Reject.
  35. Adrian - that painting - love it. A lot of my refent pics tend to turn out like watercolours or oils. Will post one... But back to coatings: some time back I ran a film through obsuring the lens with anything I could find - plastic sieves, metal, bits of coloured and distorted glass, - whatever - someitmes almost completely blocking the lens - and in every case the lens was able to capture a decent image. Try it sometime; it was lesson that stopped me fussing too much about lenses, and pointed me away from pure representational photography. And keep painting - to hell with the selection judges! Good luck Rob And hey - my email has changed, but can't find how to alter it on photonet. Anyone know how?
  36. another...
  37. Rob, I like this very much and the idea, too. I can see how it can change the way you look at things. The test of a painter, to me, is how reality appears after looking at their work for a while. I like the subtlety of this and it's lack of uniformity, so that you are left guessing what is as it was and what is canged and how much ; not unlike being processed by the eye and hand. And, again, we don't go for Leica lenses because they render reality truthfully but they do it with a quality which we like.
  38. I was wondering how to add to my profile info here, too.
  39. Adrian - yes - the lens is merely the instrument of capturing the moment - and from there I have to let that image lead me on - my eye, then my mind, and then my hand. Painting is the same for me - as the image itself takes over. It can be a wonderfully exciting experience - but sometimes very frustrating. Here are a couple more from the other night in Malta. It was one of those evenings when the images jumped at me.... the one through the tunnel seems like the immolation of the city.
  40. Another - same night - Dockyard Creek, Malta
  41. Need some pretty good paint to keep up with that!
  42. Adrian, I haven't been on the forum since before you put your painting up. Fantastic!
    Transports me - makes me want to be there. Cannot believe this was rejected! Keep it
  43. Rob. Just looked at your larger 1C sea pictures in the earlier thread; that really is impressive. I'd guess the lens is in very good shape. Mine has a touch of all the ailments going. Is that a multi-coated UV filter ? I will certainly try your method. I could do with a new way of getting some interesting images as I can't get out much or go very far, at the moment. Thanks for that.
  44. Thanks John. I came across this quotation just the other day: I love roads; / The goddesses that dwell / Far along them invisible / Are my favourite gods. - Edward Thomas. (English friend of Robert Frost!) and that about says it. These little dirt/grass roads are usually not long but are rich in images.

    I looked your cameras up; what a wonderful instrument.
  45. To segue this back on topic, or to show it never left: I use a little 35mm 3.5 Elmar for these subjects. It goes against the grain, working from photographs but needs must. One reason is that without two eyes trees merge and although the painting is not 3D it can still distinguish elements of a picture by other means. The 3.5 has just the right field of view and perspective for the purpose, though, and excellent colour rendition.
  46. I mean the camera not having two eyes !
  47. Hi Adrian - My Leica I is #26613 is - from 1930. Peter Grisaffi did some work on it for me: it had been under water, (seawater, perhaps?- - it was rusty inside), the blinds needed replacing - and Peter did a chemical clean on the lens although it was not otherwise stratched or marked in any way. It now works beautifully. I can't tell you whether or not the UV filter is multi coated; - it was one that I bought with a lot on ebay - most of which were filters for B&W photography. They came as a set in an numakred box. I'm a real mug when it comes to technical equipment. Until I found this camera I mostly used an old uncoated Summar with my IIIb, and love that lens. Thanks for the comments about the larger beach images. They were taken on the first roll I put through the Leica I, and I was amazed at the results. I deliberately shot contra jour, using an elmar hood, and shading the lenses with my left hand while using the camera with my right. I'll post a couple of my preWW2 Summar images - and must give it a try with colour film. I've not yet used B&W with the Leica I/elmar setup. Landscape is my passion: painting and photography - although I do some portrait and street work. I also sometimes paint from photos; either that, or make quick watercolour sketches, often from sitting in the car. Anyway - this thread has given me a lot of pleasure -thanks to you - and ignore those damned judges rejecting your painting. I'd be happy to have it on my wall!! Rob
  48. Another Summar - in the rain - 'natural coating' - if any...
  49. And one more - portrait shot - IIIb uncoated Summar.
  50. Oh yes ! That says what I have just been trying to put into words, about the Summar.
  51. Rob, if you want a large copy of the painting and you have a fast connection, get my email address and email me. That's if your address is not correct here.
  52. Adrian - love a large copy of your painting - thanks for the offer. But how do I get you email address? I can't find how to change mine on here....

  53. Just click on my name. - I want to add to my profile, there, but don't know how to change it. either.

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