Camera Gear Artikelen

Leica M3 (overview, 1954-1966)

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The Leica M3 was a revolutionary design. It had a combined rangefinder and viewfinder, with parallax corrected frames that matched the focal length of the mounted lens automatically. The viewfinder was the brightest ever made. The M3 was the first camera with an advance lever, instead of a knob. It had a rear door that swings up, to make film loading easier. It featured a new and patented bayonet mount. 

Barnack Leica: true or fake? A comprehensive guide

Every now and then you see them surface, those expensive and rare Leicas. The Leica Luxus, for instance. Only three of those gold plated Leicas were ever made, and only one of those is known to be in existence today. Or the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffen or Kriegsmarine engraved Leicas of the second World War. But most of the time these 'rare' cameras are fakes. How can you tell the true Leicas from the fake ones? A small guide.

Leica: The incredible M4 can take a beating

Featured in this article is a Leica M4 that went through its paces. I always imagine it served in Vietnam, since many photo-journalists who worked there and used Leica's, chose the M4. 

The Tower type '45' camera was a screw mount Leica clone built by Nicca from Japan. It was sold exclusively by Sears in the United States, who commissioned cameras with their 'Sears' brand name with various Japanese and German camera manufacturers in the late 1950s and 1960s.

The second half of the 1950s saw the Japanese camera manufacturers face some difficulties in their production. Many of them (Canon, Nicca, Leotax, even the British Reid & Sigrist) had built their empires on copying the German design of the Leica IIIc. The Germans had lost their patents after World War II and the Japanese and other manufacturers had jumped on the opportunity to create their own versions of what had proven to be very well-built and highly effective cameras. But then, the Germans took the market back by releasing the Leica M3, which was a whole new level of camera and it was patented again too! The Japanese copy-cats were left lightyears behind.

 

But, they quickly figured out that Leitz had filed for a combined patent of all new features and had not filed the single alterations and improvements for patent too. And they set out to close the gap between their own (very capable!) models and the Leica M3.

And it got us some interesting developments. 

On the net you can find all kinds of stories on this lens. Most say its very soft wide open, prone to flare and what else. But most of the time this is merely a side effect from shooting a 50+ year old lens that has gotten hazy inside. Most of these lenses have scratches in the front element coating, which cannot be remedied with this pictorial, but image quality still can be improved a lot by cleaning the lens up.

 

Wanna see how to get the most out of this lens again? Read on!

The Rolleiflex 2,8 FX

 
Rolleiflex 2,8 FX Rollei’s legendary twin-lens single-lens reflex camera with an 80mm Planar f/2.8 HFT lens, protective lens cap, carrying strap and size III filter bayonet.

The leather parts are of brown cowhide with a crocodile-like pattern. The back has chromium-plated edges that give the camera a sophisticated elegance. The logo on the front of the camera corresponds exactly to the one that adorned the Rolleiflex cameras of the thirties. The well-proven carrying strap eyelets of the earlier models have also been taken over.

 

The Rolleiflex Standard, built from 1932 to 1935, was the mother of all Rolleiflex cameras. The Rolleiflex is part of a family of cameras called Twin Lens Reflex, or TLR in short. Simply means the camera has two lenses: the upper lens is used to frame the image, the lower lens is actually a shuttered lens and takes the picture.

The design proved very successful and as a result, many other brands also built TLR cameras. TLR cameras were built in Germany, Czecho-Slovakia, The USA, France, and of course a lot were built in Japan! But, the Chinese also built a pretty good Rolleiflex copy! I will shortly be adding information on the one copy with a 2.8 lens that was ever built, the Beautyflex 2.8. Look for the article in the TLR section of this site.

Below is my former copy of the 1960s series flagship, the 2.8F Planar version. I consider it the medium-format equivalent of a Rolex watch: beautifully made and a precision picture-taking machine! Many of those type-F cameras nowadays have a dead meter and parts are getting hard to come by, but this one had a meter that was checked for accuracy by mr. Hans Klinkhamer in the Netherlands and it was spot-on when compared to three other exposure meters I own, including one in a Nikon DSLR.

 

 

The Beautyflex 2.8 was the only TLR (twin Lens Reflex) camera ever to compete with the high-end Rolleiflex models of the 1950s and 1960s, the only non-Rolleiflex ever built that had a 2.8 lens. The Cantor lens on the Beautyflex 2.8 resembles the image quality of the Xenotar lenses on the Rolleiflex 2.8C.

This is a rarely seen camera. I was lucky to purchase it online a while ago and was totally amazed when I finally found one in good working condition after looking for it for over a year.

There's a few differences between the Pacemaker Speed Graphic and the Anniversary Speed Graphic. I wasn't aware of those (quite essential) differences and bought the 'wrong' camera for a lens on lens board that I own, thus ending up with both models.

Which is your benefit, since it allowed me to do a side-by-side comparison!

 

The Pacemaker camera looks like this:

 

It has a smaller lens board (made from metal) than the Anniversary. It also has a shutter release on the body (the ribbed button on the edge) and a metal ground glass hood that pops open with a 'kaz-zing!'