Leitz/Leica Focomat V35 model numbers

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Mike Bates, Mar 21, 2017.

  1. Mike Bates

    Mike Bates Subscriber

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    I'm in the market for a Focomat V35. I want one of the newer models with the double condenser light box and the Philips 13169 bulb.

    Finding one locally is unlikely, so I'm scouring ebay, craigslist, apug classifieds, and other places. Most of the ones I've found for sale are offered by the offspring of someone who passed away or are otherwise not the actual enlarger user. I'm having difficulty getting them to accurately determine whether the enlarger is a later model or not. Simple things to me, like open it up and look at the light box, seem out of the question for some of these sellers. Of course, I don't want to push them to do something they're uncomfortable doing. I don't want them to break it or not know how to reassemble it properly.

    So, about model numbers. Can anyone confirm or deny whether the model number is an accurate indication? I've seen two model numbers among the enlargers so far: 042-823 and 042-823.002.

    I'd like to believe the 042-823.002 indicates the later model, but one person who has such a model claims to have a spare Philips 6604 bulb, which would lead me to think it's actually the early model.

    Do the model numbers tell me what I want to know? Is there another way to determine which model without taking things apart?
     
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  3. ~andi

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    I think the change in the lamps does not correlate to the product versions. It may have been changed mid-cycle. The 6604 bulb is definitely the old one. You can get an adapter to the 13139 bulb from Kienzle (expensive). I'd go for a -002 version, unless you plan to install a LED lighting system or replace the power supply with a stabilized one. The reason is that the -002 Version has a transformer with multiple windings supporting various input voltages via a switch (110,120,220,230,240,250). In germany we used to have 220V later changed to 230 (we have mostly between 230-240 where I live). I think the same is true for the US 110->120V. The earlier Focomats only support 110/220V and since the power supply is not regulated (simple transformer) it will blow the 12V lamps sooner as they will burn hotter. In the beginning I had the switch at 230V and blew a lamp every other session. Since then I changed it to 250V and the lamps work for years.

    I can't give you a definite answer as to product numbers, but I've seen about ten V35s personally which I've distilled to the following nomenclature:

    1. First version. Black labelling on the head "FOCOMAT V35 / AUTOFOCUS". Stock config: 110/220V transformer, old lamp, old mixing chamber. Many have been upgraded by the user with the new lamp/mixing chamber.

    2. Middle version. -002 in the type number. Grey labelling on the head "FOCOMAT V35 / AUTOFOCUS". Multi-voltage transformer and rotary voltage switch on the back side. Some with old some with new mixing chamber/lamp housing. I think it was chanced mid cycle. The later ones in the series have power switch which is rounded off on the edges. The earlier ones have a sharp edge rocker switch.

    3. Late version. Black "LEICA V35" on the head (1989-1995 or so). Also the red dot logo is not solid but just a very thin plastic disc offset from the head which is easily scuffed. Came stock with the mv-transformer, new mixing chamber and new lamp housing, rounded rocker switch. I'm not certain if it had a -002 or -003 in the type number. It may have been a -003. Maybe Chris Lange could validate this details, as I believe he owns that model.

    The only one to stay clear form (personal opinion) is the one with "LEICA V35" on the front. I've had two of these and sold them, the build quality is about two notches below the older versions. I would not go as far as saying the build quality is bad, it's still a very very good machine. But compared to the other eight older V35s I had, the lower quality was definitely noticeable, especially in the plastic parts.

    The again it also depends on how the machines have been used. A new one barely used is better than an old one beaten to death in a news agency darkroom.

    Of course, all this is derived from a sample size of ten and it might not be totally accurate. The definite answer to model numbers and design changes can probably be given bei Leica only.

    Here is some more info, especially about the lamp versions and how to determine which mixing chamber you've got:

    http://www.bonavolta.ch/hobby/en/photo/v35.htm

    Replacing power supply. I have not done this, but as far as my electrical engineering skills go, it sounds reasonable. I'd go with the switching supply mentioned down the page:
    http://www.bonavolta.ch/hobby/en/photo/v35suply.htm

    Oh, an this wiki has some detailed info too:
    http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/V35_AF

    For reference, if you need to align the head. The V35 has a perfectly aligned negative/lens stage. You need a hammer to misalign those two. However, the head/baseboard stage alignment is very touchy and easily misaligned (once its set, it's stays that way in normal operation, but if you accidentally push the arm a from the side or so or during transportation...). If it's only slightly off it can easily fixed by the little hex screws on the top of the column. Otherwise it gets a little more involved. It can be done but it's no fun. Here's a guide how to do (scroll down to the post by user "mpo"):

    https://www.photo.net/discuss/threads/focomat-v35-alignment.286222/

    Cheers,
    ~andi
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
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    Mike Bates

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    Thank you, ~andi. That was very helpful.

    I sent an email to Leica USA support asking if there is a particular model number/serial number that marked the change to the new light box and bulb. I'll report back any response I receive.
     
  5. ~andi

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    Glad I could help. I'm curious about what Leica replies.

    If it should not lead to a satisfying answer: In this thread of a german forum a Leica employee is mentioned who seems to be THE expert for the V35. Maybe contacting her helps:

    http://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/5636-brauche-rat-zum-focomat-v35/#entry54173

    The contact is mentioned in post #4 and the post was written by a former Leica employee (if I am not mistaken).

    Best
    Andi :smile:
     
  6. destroya

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    i found one in great condition but it dod have the old bulb. I ordered the 13139 bulb adapter directly from leica and got new bulbs. i think it cost around $120. i got the seller to drop the price$120 so it cost the same amount. I was lucky that i found it locally via craigslist. keep checking locally as i would not want to ship that thing!

    from what i understood, they only used the older bulb for the first three or four years, so more new styles should be out there. the post by ~andi was great and had all the info thats relevant.

    good luck
     
  7. Malcolm Stewart

    Malcolm Stewart Subscriber

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    I'm in the UK.
    My first V35 was indeed purchased from the daughter of the late owner, it came with the standard colour head, later bulb. My second, purchased for its Vario-Contrast Head, appears to have a near identical light-box, except that its much cleaner (no nicotine stains) and doesn't have any hint of the dimple of which there is a faint hint on number 1. Examination using the light from a laser, shows near identical reflections, and that the condenser lens itself is slightly hazy, and I think both my light-boxes are of the earlier single condenser type. So, what differences might there be? Perhaps weight? The first, with a minute dimple, weighs 90g and the second weighs 92g. A glass plano-convex lens just big enough to cover the exit window of the light box weighs 52g. So, my conclusion is that both my light boxes are near-enough identical, and that the desired, later model with the paired condensers will weigh at least 100g, even assuming that Leitz use plastic for the 2nd. condenser lens.
    (Getting the light-box out and in again is pretty straightforward - no screws, prise open the cover from the rear end, a simple twist spring, and lift out.)

    92g = 3.25 ounces. Perhaps someone with a later twin condenser model could weigh the light box?

    Neither of my V35 enlargers was capable of making a sharp print on receipt by me. Even though supplied with a WA Focotar, the first had been adjusted to the end of its adjustment, so that its helical focus adjuster was tightly closed, invisible in fact. Took me ages to find it, even though I knew it must be there somewhere.
    Initially, the second appeared to give a sharp image on the baseboard, until I checked with a grain magnifier. I found that real sharpness was achieved 2 inches above the easel, with the column set to its "0" position. Adjusting the helical adjuster sorted this one as well. This one had apparently been in use by a photographer who sold prints...

    (I did find that if one overdoes the meddling with the helical adjuster, and unscrews the lower part out of the upper completely, you may need to cool the lower part in a freezer before it can be returned to where it belongs...)
     
  8. ~andi

    ~andi Member

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    Malcolm,

    I'll weigh the box next time I'm in the darkroom. Although weight might not be indicative of versions. The dimple is. If your box has the dimple in one of the corners, it's the second version for sure. I ordered one of the new light boxes from Leica (because my first V35 did not have the old version) and I had them side by side to compare. The dimple is very recognisable by touch and visually. The Leica support guy ensured me dimple=new version/no dimple=old version. Otherwise they look exactly the same. I did not see any difference in the condenser (although I did not laser-inspect them). The second condenser lens of the new version seems to be a very subtle addition. The entire condenser lens part is plastic and it's not clear but matte/frosted by design. Also the glue holding the styrofoam together yellows over time, so does the styrofoam.

    Having trouble to make a sharp print: Is this a problem you have with manually setting the focus (turning the helical mount) or just with use of the Autofocus? The WA-Focotar 40 which was specifically designed to work at an optimum performance with this enlarger's condenser and is capable to produce razor sharp prints. The AF can and should be adjusted once to match the height of the easel or the level of the baseboard (the cm scale on the column is not absolute; setting the column height to 0 does not necessary mean "baseboard"-level). Another problem with AF not tracking might be the small brass roller bearing resting on the AF-cam. It might be stuck. In that case, the AF is not working properly either. Also there have been very few V35s with cams for 50mm lenses (the "amateur"-version came with a 50mm Ysaron), used with a 40mm lens, AF will be off. I don't know how to identify the different cams though, never seen one.

    Cheerio
    Andi
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
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    Mike Bates

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    It was my understanding (but I don't know where I got this information) the lamp upgrade kit from Leica is no longer available. I asked this question in my email to Leica USA support, but haven't yet received an answer.
     
  10. ~andi

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    Hi Mike,

    sometimes they have still suff laying around, maybe you're lucky. When I ordered the mixing-box the V35 wasn't officially supported any longer by Leica. The adapter is still available from Kienzle Phototechnik though.

    Andi
     
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    Mike Bates

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    I've also sent an email to Kienzle asking about availability. It's not listed on their web site among their other Focomat parts and supplies.
     
  12. ~andi

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    There's almost nothing useful on the website. Most parts are listed on their pricelists they send out via email. If you don't get a reply, PM me your email address and i'll forward the last ones I have (2015/16).

    Andi
     
  13. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    The "dimple" indicating double condenser is more like a pin indentation on mine. Look carefully.

    Any voltage reduction device will extend the bulb life. I started with the domestic Leica one. It simple reduces voltage or around $100 new. I later found the better one which starts out at very low voltage and within a second allows full voltage to the bulb . They were $400 new.

    I squirreled away 16 bulbs around 1995. Suggest you find some before investing.
     
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    Mike Bates

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    I picked up a couple of authentic Philips 13169 bulbs, but at a price. I think I can sell them if end up not needing them. Sixteen of them would set me back more than a Heiland LED module for the V35.
     
  16. ~andi

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    Malcolm, i've weighted the mixing chamber I ordered from Leica around 2006. It's 102g = ~3.70oz.

    I'm with Ronald concerning the bulbs. They need to be run cooler to last. It's great that we have many options now besides the Heiland device. If you look closely at Claudio Bonavolta's site there's a chapter "Using LED Bulbs". I've not seen it before, must be new.

    Andi :smile:
     
  17. Malcolm Stewart

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    Hi Andi,

    That's useful information, along with the dimple mention by Ronald. As I thought, I've got two of the early single condenser light boxes.
    So summarising:
    Single condenser V35 light box weighs close to 92g,
    and the later double condenser weighs close to 102g.

    Cheers,
    Malcolm
     
  18. ~andi

    ~andi Member

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    I've attached a picture of the dimple. It might help others identifying it. I've had a hard time understanding the Leica technician when he tried to explain the dimple, called "Körnerpunkt" in german, and the location of it (wasn't aware of the Bonavolta site with the nice schematic back then).
     

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    Mike Bates

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    Thanks for the dimple photos. It's smaller than I thought it was.

    No word back from Leica USA support yet about either serial numbers or availability of bulb/light box upgrades. They may be avoiding telling me bad news.

    Kienzle shows the lamp conversion kit on their detailed brochures, but no price on the price list. I've emailed them again to clarify price and availability. Apparently, they don't have a light box/condenser upgrade. Was that a Leitz-only offering?
     
  20. ~andi

    ~andi Member

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    Mike,

    for the lamp adapter-kit you need Kienzle product V35-114, V35-116 and V35-118 if I am getting it right. The adapter consists of a tube to be screwed in the V35 head, a spring-ring which sits on the front side of the tube, and a shorter tube which attaches over the longer tube and his hold by the spring ring (see pictures attached). I believe these are those parts. I'm not entirely sure though, so better cross check with Kienzle.

    I think there is a lightbox upgrade by Kienzle. Its listed as Nr. V35-106 on the price list. However, I think it's contains clear condenser for a brighter image. To get back to the frosted one, you would also need product V35-108. I might be misinterpreting the price list. Kienzle should know it best though.

    Cheers
    Andi
     

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    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
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    Mike Bates

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    I received a reply from Leica USA support. There is no way to determine whether the condenser mixing box and lamp have been upgraded by the serial number. I'm a little shocked by this. I work in an industry with light manufacturing and the idea of making a product change without accurately recording the serial number of the changeover is unheard of in my field. Of course it's always possible the factory did record the changeover but the records were disposed or lost when the V35 went out of production.

    Leica support said they could still get the lamp upgrade kit from Germany for about $60, but no mixing box/condenser upgrade kits were available from them anymore. At f/5.6, the double condenser mixing box upgrade improved the uniformity of illumination in the corners from ~20% deviation to ~5% deviation according to the document they sent me.

    I think my plan is to continue to search for the right model with the upgraded mixing box and lamp already installed.
     
  22. ~andi

    ~andi Member

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    Too bad they don't have the numbers. You could try contact the german customer service directly. They probably have this recorded somewhere but its so specific and for a product which has been discontinued 20 years ago... its a miracle they still have some parts for it.

    The lamp upgrade kit price is not that bad. The Kienzle one is more than double of that.

    As you said, looking for a good one is probably the best option. There are many crappy ones out there, but the good ones come along once in a while.

    Andi
     
  23. asota

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    ...hello, Mike, quick question - how did you get on with this 'Leica Focomat V35 Lightbox Upgrade' query?
     
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    Mike Bates

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    I've backed off trying to actively find a Focomat V35 with the upgraded light box. I'm sure there are many out there, but unless I'm looking at the enlarger in person or dealing with someone who understands the issue, it's not easy to know if any particular one for sale has the upgrade.
     
  25. asota

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    ...hey, Mike, I am not in a position to advise whether Leitz/Leica Focomat V35 enlargers sold with the upgraded dougle-condenser lightbox had a different Leica catalogue number to the earlier ones, but I can however confirm the following:

    1. I own one of the earlier Leitz V35s (with the "FOCOMAT V35 AUTOFOCUS" legend labelled in black on the enlarger head).
    2. I currently have in my possesion the two types of V35 lightboxes.
    3. I also have the original Leica UK paperwork that came with the double-condenser lightbox upgrade back in 1990. It includes the Leitz catalogue number for the double-condenser lightbox upgrade.
    4. I carried out a couple of simple experiments and may also have found a definitive way of determining if the lightbox in question is a single- or double-condenser version. It is a very basic test that can be carried out by a layperson, but they must have access to the actual lightbox.

    Hope the above makes sense. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks.


    S.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
  26. Malcolm Stewart

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    Sorry for the late reply, but I've now remembered that I was given the part number for the double condenser module as "042-823.260-000".
    This info was from a fellow darkroom enthusiast in the Milton Keynes, UK area. I remember doing a few eBay searches for one last year, but nothing came up.
     
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