Posts Tagged ‘equipment’

Falling apart – Part 2

Monday, December 21st, 2009 by

First, my apologies for yet another long radio silence. I’ve been renovating my new home, so I haven’t been taking a lot of pictures, and haven’t been close to a computer either.

Second, the follow-up to the missing-lever-problem I described three weeks ago. Back then, I mailed Leica’s spare parts service1, and within a few days got a reply that if I supplied them with my postal address, they’d send me a replacement lever free of charge2.

The new lever promptly arrived a few days later, so I can now once more preview how a picture would look with a lens I haven’t got…

Tomorrow, I’ll finally post another picture.

  1. I also contacted Will van Manen, the Dutch Leica repair technician who serviced my camera before I bought it, who also replied promptly that he could supply and re-attach the part, even if the inner coupling had gotten dislodged. []
  2. Leicas may be expensive, but the service is great: Free parts on a second-hand, 54-year-old camera. []

SOOKY-M manual

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 by

Just a quick note: As I already stated on my lenses page, one thing that bugged me when I was looking into the SOOKY-M (SOMKY) device, was the distinct lack of info available online. I’ve therefore made the manual available as a download.

Falling apart

Monday, November 30th, 2009 by

Well, this sucks.

Sometime last saturday, the screw keeping the frameline-preview lever of the M3 in place unscrewed itself. I found the screw again, luckily it fell out indoors, but I’m afraid the lever itself fell off later, outside, and I haven’t been able to find it again.

Luckily, this is the only control on the camera that isn’t needed for actual shooting, but it’s still annoying.

If anyone has suggestions on where to get a replacement, please let me know in the comments! I’ve looked at DAG but he currently only has the (fugly) M4-style levers in stock.


Friday, November 13th, 2009 by

As I mentioned back when I explained the lens I’m using for the Leica Lessons project, I was really tempted by the Dual-range Summicron. In the end I decided against it, but mentioned in the footnotes that if I would end up missing the close range too much, I could always get a SOMKY adapter.

Well, I just did.

I love using the Leica, and it does pretty much everything I want from a camera. I’m surprised at how little I miss my Canons, quite frankly1, but one thing keeps bugging me: The lack of close focus. Product shots, and of course flower photography are hard or impossible without excessive cropping, so in the end I caved.

I managed to find one in excellent condition, with manual2 and in the original red box. I’ll be testing it out over the coming period, and keep you posted. I already posted some info on the lenses page.

  1. Which bothers me a bit, as I have quite a bit invested in that system. []
  2. Which was pretty important, as there is frightingly little info on this device available online. []

The lens

Thursday, August 6th, 2009 by

In addition to a camera, I also needed a lens for the Leica Lessons project. In the rules I specified this had to be a Leica lens, and as I mentioned yesterday, I’ll be using a 50mm lens.

That still leaves a lot of options.

A site that was of much value to me was this one, which list pretty much all M lenses ever made.

With mount and focal length set, one parameter left was the maximum aperture. I’ve always had good experience with the `slightly slower’ fifty, the model just below the f1.4 mainstream lens, like my Canon 50mm f1.8 or my Pentax 50mm f1.7, which strike a nice bargain between light, size/weight, image quality and price. The Leica equivalent here is the fabled Summicron.

Vain as I am, I preferred a chrome lens to go with my chrome body1. I also wanted a compact lens (one of the reasons I went for a Summicron over a Summilux).

My fondness of flower photography first had me looking seriously at the DR Summicron, but in the end I decided against that for several reasons2:

  1. It’s too good. It’s often hailed as the best Leica 50mm. I felt using the best of the best contravenes the spirit of the project.
  2. It’s complex. The dual range aspect of the lens practically turns it into two lenses. As the assignment says one lens, that feels like cheating.
  3. It’s expensive. The high quality of the lens make good copies highly sought-after.
  4. It’s big. As I have to carry the camera everywhere, I wanted something compact. The DR is the biggest 50mm Summicron to date.

This led me back to a series of lenses that intrigued me even before I learned more about Leica lenses: Collapsible lenses. As an SLR shooter, this concept has always seemed genius to me: The ability to simply slide the lens back into the body of the camera, giving a near-flat package for transport.

Looking around, these are considered good, if slightly dated lenses, and available for reasonable prices as well. So here she is:

Leica lens 1192418, build in Wertzlar in 1954. Unlike the camera, I got this from a seller in the States, so I did get to pay a nice customs premium, but it’s in excellent condition, and came with original front and back caps3. Only downside of the American heritage is the fact that the distance scale is in feet instead of meters. However, I was always pretty good in guestimating distances in feet when I played (British) table-top games, so I don’t think it’ll really matter in the end.

  1. Although I didn’t have the body yet when shopping for lenses, I was pretty sure the collectors’ premium on a black M3 would be pretty pointless, and out of my target price range. []
  2. Should, during the coming year, the lack of close-focus ability become too big a bother, I can always look around for a SOMKY adapter []
  3. Interestingly enough, the ad specified it only came with a rear cap. After I bought the lens, when it was still in transit, I contacted the seller if it really didn’t come with a front cap, since I was shopping for a lens hood and matching cap. The seller confirmed it didn’t come with one, yet when it arrived, there most definitely was a front cap on it. I’m not complaining though. []

The camera

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 by

Of course, to do the Leica Lessons project, I needed a Leica film rangefinder.

As I had no Leica camera, nor a rangefinder camera, I was completely free in my choice, so the first thing I did was dive into Wikipedia and find out what choices I had.

I then went over my requirements, and started scratching off options that didn’t fit:

That leaves out the M8.
Leica rangefinder
No CL, which is not a Leica1 and no M1, which has no rangefinder.
Scratch the M7, the MP, and possibly the M6
No meter
Anything from the M5 on is out.

That left the M3, M2 and M4.

After I then decided that my One Lens2 would be a 50mm, the choice became pretty easy. After all, only one camera had a perfect for 50mm 0.92x viewfinder magnification: The Leica M3.

To Ebay!

And here she3 is: Leica M3 number 1067131, made in Wetzlar, Germany in 1963, she’s nearly 20 years my senior.

The reasons I went for this one:

  • She had been CLA‘d just before sale.
  • She’s a bit beaten up (there’s a nice big dent next to the rewind knob, for example), which meant she was of no interest to collectors, keeping the price down4.
  • She’s one of the later models, with a single-stroke advance lever and the less fragile metal pressure plate. Both things I consider preferable in a camera bought for shooting, as opposed to antiquity value (made it cheaper again).
  • The seller was located in the Netherlands (like me), which prevented excess shipping costs and risks.
  1. If you’re using a Leica, you might as well behave like a Leica Man. []
  2. To rule them all. []
  3. All cameras are female of course: Expensive, incomprehensible and if you push the wrong buttons, things will look dark for you. []
  4. I don’t care, I have a tendency to damage my cameras just so I can stop worrying about damaging them. []