Shortly after World War II started, Leitz found itself in a sort of a predicament. The foreign shipments of shutter cloth material had seized due to the outbreak of the war. All that was left in stock was an experimental shutter cloth, which had different rubber layering and was red in color. Cameras that were ordered by the German Army, Navy and Air Force had to be delivered to Berlin, they were part of the war effort that German companies had to make.

Leitz decided to use the red shutter curtain material, even though there were doubts on its durability. And over time it became clear that the shutter cloth indeed gave in, the rubber started to desintegrate and left sticky black spots of goo on the shutter.

As a result, wartime cameras with red shutter curtains are pretty rare nowadays. 

 This particular camera is a red curtain Leica IIIc, which also had a seldom-seen 'N-L' engraving on the top plate. It is believed that these cameras were delivered to the German Heer (Army) in The Netherlands (die Niederlande), although that does not explain the dash in the engraving...?

The history of the Komura brand lenses is little-known. Information on the company and the lenses it produced is difficult to find online. But, many of the Komura lenses are very good, both in build quality and in optical results!

The company started out with making lenses for Large Format cameras. But in the 1950s they also started manufacturing rangefinder lenses for Leica thread mount cameras, and switched over to making lenses for Nikon rangefinders in the 1960s. Later, they also manufactured enlarging lenses, lenses for various medium format systems and also briefly produced lenses for various models of SLRs. Komura probably was the first brand to build a 1.4/85mm lens in Nikon F mount!

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 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 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 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!' 

Medium Format is the bee's knees for film shooters. It's where you can shoot film and rival the image quality from digital files, while retaining the signature lower contrast film look. And did you know that 6x7 is the designated press and artist's format! This article extensively discusses your 6x7 options!

At the end of the Second World War, the cover of an American comic depicted a female Army photographer named Linda Lens hitting a German soldier knock out with a Kodak Medalist on a strap.

Impressive for sure but to make a real impression (on a soldier's helmet or elsewhere), I'd advise the Mamiya RB67.

The Horseman Convertible 842 camera was made in the early 1970s. This Medium Format camera with a 62mm wide angle lens was a novelty. It equals a 32mm or even a 25mm wide angle in the 135 format! The camera remains a rarity to this day, sometimes these cameras surface on eBay or on camera shows. Judging from serial numbers on the lenses, there were less than 5,000 cameras made.

The Super Ikonta series from Zeiss Ikon started their life in 1934. In that year, Zeiss Ikon released three Super Ikonta cameras for the 120 format. They were remarkable cameras and continue to be so until present day. A good Super Ikonta has unprecedented image quality, they are the Rolls Royces in build quality when it comes to medium format folder cameras. 
 
The three cameras that were launched in 1934 very nicely had their own strengths and there was a model for every wallet.
 
 
Read on to see if the Super Ikontas fit your bill!

The Ricoh GXR is a remarkable camera. It is built by a unique concept, where changing a lens means you also change the sensor.

Ricoh Launched the GXR in november 2009. It was designed to be a Compact System Camera (CSC), which means it is a small camera and it featured exchangeable lenses. But Ricoh decided to not just manufacture exchangeable lenses, but incorporate lens and sensor in a single unit, called a 'lensor'. The idea behind this was simple: different lenses could benefit from different sensor sizes.

The A12 GXR Mount lensor isn't quite a lensor, in that it has no lens incorporated! Instead it has a Leica M mount in the unit that also houses an APS-C 12MP sensor.

Mirrorless camera adapters article

With the modern day new mirrorless cameras like the Fuji X-T2 and the Sony A7-II, there's great fun in finding less-than-usual lenses in abandoned lens mounts, and adapt them to fit the camera of your choice.

There's a lot of adapters available for peanut prices if you want to try something exotic and this article lists a lot of options to get your lens and camera connected.

Don't forget to get a bunch of macro rings to add between camera and lens if that is your thing!

In this article I try to compile a comprehensive guide to adapting lenses to various types and brands of cameras and lens mounts. As you will have found out by now (or you wouldn't be reading this article), most camera manufacturers used their own, proprietary lens mounts to make sure that once a customer (that means you) bought into a system, they'd be hooked forever.

After I discovered online that the 1940's American Perfex Deluxe rangefinder was also available in a version with a Wollensak lens in a 38mm screw mount, I decided to buy one and find out if it would fit a Leica.

Only when it arrived I found out that the focussing unit of the Perfex is on the body, not on the lens. A bit like a really unsophisticated Contax focusing system. So much for easily adapting the lens for Leica, I thought. The camera sat on a shelf for quite some time. It wasn't a feat of engineering either, using it was like photographing with a brick, both in ergonomics and in results. I didn't even try, it was too obvious.

Maybe you're old enough to remember what it felt like to have a stack of prints, negatives or slides in your hand as the result of your photographic labour. Or maybe you're less of a fossil than that and your results reside in a folder on a hard drive, on or off site. In either case, as a (semi) professional photographer you need to have a filing system that will allow you to locate a file, negative or print quickly and have some details on lens used, camera used, film or (digital) processing used, etc. so you can re-create an iconic image with some consistency. 

This blog post shows you my MO when it comes to keeping tabs on what I did and where the results are stored.

So you've been looking for this very special lens that will make your Nikon / Minolta / Canon / Zeiss-Ikon (choose your brand) contemporary-correct camera kit complete, but the only specimen you can find has a bent filter rim? Despair not! For today I'm offering a simple DIY tool to straighten filter rims, provided they are made from metal that can bend back into shape.

Konica has always been a company with its own master plan on photography. The release of the Hexar in 1993 came as a suprise to the photography community. The Hexar was shockingly good, despite its quirky button use to set the cameras functions with. It was hailed as the viable alternative for a Leica M6, and AutoFocus too!

 

Johan Niels Kuiper, fotograaf in Assen, Drenthe - Konica Hexar AF 

 

 

In this digital day and era, I feel safe to say the Hexar is the best compact film camera ever produced. Full stop. What, you don't believe me?