Why use a Leica screw mount camera today?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by BradS, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. Arklatexian

    Arklatexian Subscriber
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    I remember when the first M3 (double stroke) came out, some Leica users/owners complained that it was not a "true" Leica. Leica, in Germany, were so sure that people would trade complete outfits that they refused E. Leitz, New York's requests to send enough lens adapters (screw mt. to bayonet mt.) to supply the U.S. demand. It took years to balance the demand with the supply.. My how times have changed. We must have had more Leica snobs back then. I was one, with used equipment, of course.......
    Regards!
     
  2. blockend

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    There was an interview with a Canadian camera shop proprietor a year or two ago, who claimed Barnacks were the last true Leicas. I don't know how much of that is rose tinted glasses and what's true, but he owned pretty much everything. What the M series undoubtedly did was make lenses other than the 50 useable, until then it meant supplementary viewfinders, zone focus and killed the spontaneity of a miniature camera. I suspect HCB and his imitators zone focused, helped by positional tabs.

    My Kiev gives me the primitive, quirky camera blast while avoiding the Leica premium and the sharks that circle the brand, and my Bessa L does the zone focus thing. For authenticity nuts (and why own a Barnack if you don't appreciate old gear?) the problem is buying period lenses in good condition without paying through the nose for the privilege. There are lots of beat up, fogged up old Leica lenses out there that will not show why they were so highly prized in their day.
     
  3. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member
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    Yes, but they give that "Leica Glow":smile:

    In the sense that the Oskar Barnack designed cameras are the design that created the miniature camera as a serious tool, I'd agree that they are "true Leicas". If they hadn't evolved into the Ms, Leica as a camera would no longer exist.
     
  4. blockend

    blockend Member
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    Looking at early Cartier-Bresson prints I don't see much glow. A definite softness, and good contrast for the era, but glow is noticeable its absence. I suspect the glow was something Leica lenses picked up in the last 80 years ; )
     
  5. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member
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    Yes, it's otherwise known as"haze" and "cleaning marks that will have no effect on the image".:laugh:
     
  6. blockend

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    Yeah that never fails to amuse. All those amateur optical scientists who are qualified to assess the diffraction and diffusion potential of dog rough lenses, and pronounce the image quality to be as good as new. Reminds of an "excellent" 1.4 Nikkor I once bought whose front element looked like it had been polished with an angle grinder.
     
  7. Ko.Fe.

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    I'm not sure why known photographers who used Leica LTM cameras are called as "imitators" by you. Rodchenko and Frank are in their own league.
    Maier also used Barnack.

    And I think miniaturism and authenticity is urban myth among those who knows too little about Leica and photographers. HCB used not only Leitz lenses. And so did GW for many years.

    And here is how Leica looked at first. And how it was used by many.
    http://vintage-camera-lenses.com/leica-i-model-a/

    [​IMG]

    Dmitri Debabov 1900-1949 Self-Portrait
    [​IMG]
    http://www.aworldtowin.net/reviews/RodchenkoCircle.html
     
  8. Carter john

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    I finished a roll through my IIIf last week, the negatives are so beautiful.
     
  9. blockend

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    I meant people who used a Leica as a street photography camera subsequent to HCB. Lots of people were buying Leica, obviously. Rodechenko was a Constructivist, so not exactly a street photographer. Frank was working in the 1950's, Maier later still. Leica's reputation among "serious" photographers as a street photography tool was largely based on Cartier-Bresson's photographs. J H Lartigue pre-dated HCB in style, but he didn't use a Leica for his most famous work.
     
  10. Dali

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    Nor did Willy Ronis.
     
  11. blockend

    blockend Member
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    Did Willy Ronis use a Contax?
     
  12. Dali

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    Foca if I remember well.
     
  13. Ko.Fe.

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    HCB was not exactly street photographer, either.
    And HCB was a surrealist. Capa advised him to be quiet about his vision and go by PJ instead.
     
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  15. blockend

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    A claim I made on this forum some years ago.
    To a large extent he defined what street photography was. HCB was privileged, patrician, opinionated, sometimes hypocritical, sometimes photojournalistic, but a street photographer he most definitely was.
     
  16. mikemgb

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    My IIIa came with a Summar that has the most amazing "Leica Glow".

    Internal fungus etching will do that. :smile:
     
  17. Ko.Fe.

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    I read about him and his involvement with surrealism movement in the book which was published well before APUG, if not Internet :smile:.

    He didn't defined the street photography. He only followed. Walker Evans has book and exhibition with same street photography in 1938. Eugene Atget made money on street pictures and took people's pictures on the street well before HCB.
    He even took prostitutes pictures well before HCB did... Technically speaking HCB was not the first one in the street photography.
    Only later on the street photography was popularized as inaccurate and very formal cliche attached to HCB. It happened because he was first one to show the world biggest parts of it. Revolution in China, Closed to the West Soviets, India emerging as independent state. It was documentary first and foremost, with portraits, indoor pictures and street. How else you would know how people live...

    I guess, he pioneered the street photography in amount of popularity and technical form. Not the plates, not media format, but thousands of many frames rolls quickly exposed with Leica. It was no limitations due to external viewfinder use,
    Winogrand used them in eighties. Many of us using external viewfinders now. But it was Leica first as fully developed, less quirky and complete system. Including re-loadable cassettes. Those are still on high demand, not because of authentic reason, but because they are made to lasts and be in use.
    And cameras are close to it. Bessa L is known for weak shutter and not so durable exterior. Then it brakes.... Well, you'll buy another for hundred bucks. :smile: But Barnack could be fixed with new shutter cloth material available for 20$ on eBay.
    And it is not something very different from Zorki repair which is totally DIY possible, if pre-F series. So, buying LTM Leica now gives you more for how long you could keep it, use it and maintain it.

    If someone wants it all Leitz, it is actually not so big deal. 50 Elmars and 35 Summarons are available and many are not trashed into the "Leica Glow". Which is also often misinterpreted.
    I had clean Summarit 50 1.5 LTM. It has real "Leica Glow" wide open. It was nothing but optical characteristics. :smile:
     
  18. blockend

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    I think you're confusing the "street photography" genre with photographs on the street. Street photography doesn't have to be in streets, or even in cities. Likewise, photographs on city streets does not make them street photography. Walker Evans shot NYC subway portraits, but they aren't street photography. Atget took pictures of the streets and was a surrealist, but he wasn't a street photographer. HCB was a street photographer who also shot other genres, including photojournalism and portraiture, but he's primarily remembered for his street photography.

    The point with external viewfinders is they restrict the use of the rangefinder. This isn't a big deal, most SPs know where their lens is focused by feel, and they're not generally shooting at a shallow aperture anyway. You don't need a particular camera to make street photographs.
     
  19. Ian Grant

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    My comments are that images made with early uncoated35mm lenses (before WWII) and printed on the contemporary papers of the time have a magic quality, later modern paper prints lose this quality because they are designed for ,any years of evolution of films and developers and most importantly a huge shift in technique.

    I've seen early contemprary Kertesz prints a few times, tiny and jewel like 9small) but superb, modern prints usually much larger are awful, that goes for many pre-WWII photographers. AA is an anachronism he was a poor printer early on on, maybe inconsistent, I went to an exhibition of his daughters collection that toured the UK and was shocked at the poor quality prints - I wasn't the only one there's other thread her about the touring exhibition.

    Being honest I rarely shoot any 35mm these days, and I have a Leica M3 and love it and its 50mm f2 Summicron. I've owned a IIIa for over 40 years but I'd prefer and may some day own a Reid III, but in reality a screw mount Canon is a better/cheaper option.

    Ian
     
  20. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber
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    Although most of my photographs are taken with a Leica M2 (my main camera), a Leica II, Leica IIIc, Leica IIIf are so tactile, they are a joy to hold and use. So M2 for serious work and screw mount for pleasure.
     
  21. E. von Hoegh

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    A few years ago I bought a Contax II, 1936 with the original Sonnar. What a glowy lens!
    Then I took it apart and cleaned 80 years of outgassed goo off the glass, no more glow.:sad:
    About the same time I splurged on a Summitar, 1946 with pristine coating and no internal issues. No glow there either. Guess I got scrood. :smile: Possibly the nicest 50 I've ever seen, certainly the nicest I've had, such a sharp but smooth rendering, I wouldn't trade it for a Summicron.


    edit for spellynge.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
  22. Kodachromeguy

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    Are these pots and cups glowing? 50mm Summitar, Tmax 400 film, Himalayan Buddhist Academy, (Ngagyur Sergon Lungrig Sheddup Zungdel Ling), Serlo, Nepal. I have relearned how nice this little Summitar can be.

    N068_Pots_Academy_Serlo_20171020_resize.JPG
     
  23. Hatchetman

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    Somebody will pull out the ruler and complain about the barrel distortion.
     
  24. Ko.Fe.

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    I think, it is up to each individual how to describe street photography. To me it is with people present. All three - Atget, Evans and Bresson did it.

    As for external viewfinders, here is no restriction at all. Watch how Winogrand did it. He was using rangefinder and external viewfinder. And so did he used scale focusing and pre-focusing. Street photography I prefer was and still done with rangefinder style cameras, but using of rangfinder is just one method. HCB told what his comfort zone was at four meters and more, for street photography. With 50mm lens. Winograd was plowing through with 28 and wider, yet, using rangefinder among with other techniques.
    Street photography is not limited for single method and to single type of equipment. But where are some preferences and style. Maier's photography is different from Winogrand's photography. And so is Herzog's. All three used different equipment. Yet, I often find what street photography I prefer most is done with rangefinder cameras.
     
  25. btaylor

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    Andrew, that's a beautiful scene, well captured. Something I think about when I use my old gear (which I love) is this: are better pictures taken today than 50 or 100 years ago? My answer is no. Different, yes, but better-- not in my book.
     
  26. Craig

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    I have a IIIc that was left to me by a photographer who's work I greatly admired, so it's on my "never sell" list. I don't shoot it much, but I just enjoy taking it out and looking at it occasionally. The value to me is the memories and association it has with it's former owner.
     
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