Thursday, November 29, 2018



The latest WestLicht camera auction has come and gone and once again they were able to get some astonishing results.

The 33rd WestLicht Photographica auction for the first time was opened by Leica Camera AG CEO Matthias Harsch and Leica Camera Austria Managing Director Alexander Sedlak.  At the beginning both surprised with some important changes.

The next Photographica Auction will be presented at Leitz Park in Wetzlar under the new name of Leitz Photographica Auction ( in June of 2019, including a new logo.

With the historic name of “Leitz”, the entire know-how of the Leica Camera AG will be used in the future to be able to offer great collectibles and rarities in exciting auctions to an even greater number of interested parties all over the world.


The successful 33rd auction in Vienna was dominated by big name photographers. With a price of 156,000 euros, the Leica M-P black paint "Gérard Bois" scored the highest price. The camera, which started with 80,000 euros, was owned by the photojournalist Gérard Bois. He was known as Gérard Aimé, especially for his photos of the 1968 riots and student protests in Paris.


Another top prize shows the great interest in Leicas of famous photographers: For 72,000 euros, a collector secured the M2 of the lost US war photographer Sean Flynn. The camera (starting price: 30,000 euros) accompanied the son of Hollywood legend Errol Flynn during the Vietnam War, in Cambodia and in the Six-Day War in Israel.


For the complete story of Sean Flynn and his camera go here and here

Shortly after the start the lot no. 4, a Leica I Anastigmat, provided a great surprise. From 30,000 it increased to the price of 120,000 euros.


The complete list of cameras and prices can be seen here

For other articles on this blog please click on Blog Archive in the column to the right

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018


We often hear of some astonishing amounts of money that some rare, collectible examples of Leicas and other cameras have been sold for.  While that is rather impressive, it is of little value for many photographers that are looking for a bargain to augment their camera outfits and even collections.

This is where many of the camera trade fairs come into play, events where cameras, lenses and accessories are sold, traded, and bartered, often at bargain prices.  One such camera fair happens with regularity in Solms, the former seat of the Leica headquarters in Germany.

José Manuel Serrano Esparza visited the latest Solms camera fair and gracefully agreed to have portions of his report published on the LEICA Barnack Berek Blog.


By José Manuel Serrano Esparza

Twenty-two years after its foundation in 1994 by Lars Netopil, the Solms Camera Fair held at the Taunushalle (Taunus Hall) of this city of the Land of Hessen (Germany), located at around 80 km from Frankfurt, has turned into one of the most important photographic fairs of classic and vintage cameras, lenses and accessories in the world, as well as a twice a year landmark international event within its scope, 

by dint of a great effort fulfilled by a number of professional exhibitors from both Germany and many other countries of the globe, sharing a love for their trade and a passion for this type of top-notch stuff featuring an amazing level of mechanical and optical technology, along with second to none standards of reliability, duration in time working flawlessly for many decades and a timeless beauty.

An attendee to the Solms Camera Fair looking over a Leica M3 with a 4 elements in 3 groups Elmar 50 mm f/2.8 lens in bayonet mount.

The Leica M3 is the best rangefinder camera ever made along with the Nikon SP, and with difference the best choice to attach it standard 50 mm lenses thanks to its extraordinary 0.92x magnification viewfinder and an effective rangefinder base of 63.71 mm.

On its turn, the Elmar 50 mm f/2.8 (manufactured between 1957 and 1954) is an exceedingly small and light (220 g) retractable lens with a superb entirely metallic (chromed brass) mechanical construction, excellent correction of distortion and vignetting to negligible levels, and features a circular 15 blade diaphragm resulting in an exquisite and smooth bokeh at full f/2.8 aperture, though its sweeting spots are at f/4 and f/5.6, where both sharpness and contrast are excellent (the latter being particularly better than at f/2.8).

Front top area of the Leica M3 where we can see the window of its 0.92x viewfinder (on far right, providing the main image for the VF and being combined with the bright-line frames, the rangefinder metering field and the LED indicators), the brightline illumination window (in the middle, gathering ambient light to produce in the VF the brightline frames for lenses of different focal lengths) and the rangefinder window (on far left, providing the image for the very bright rangefinder metering field).

Sixty-two years after its launching into market in 1954, the Leica M3 keeps on boasting the best viewfinder made in the world hitherto (far superior to the cream of the crop of current digital professional cameras with different sensor formats in the reflex and mirrorless scope alike), followed by the top-notch viewfinders of the also analog cameras Nikon SP, Olympus OM-1, Leica R8 and Leica R9.

A first-rate service and painstaking attention paid to the customers — one of whom can be seen in the background, telling by ear the accuracy of a Leica M shutter, in the purest Peter Loseries style —

(who are allowed to thoroughly check the correct and full operating state of the items together with their cosmetic appearance) as top priority for exhibitors, along with a craving for offering highly competitive prices, make up a very interesting additional bonus for the visitors, who in increasing numbers have gathered at the Solms Taunushalle (venue of this one of a kind relishing rendezvous for any enthusiast of analogue photographic equipment) for more than two decades.

An early black painted screwmount uncoated Leitz Hektor 135 mm f/4.5 lens (manufactured betwen 1933 and 1960) featuring 4 elements in 3 groups, built-in tripod bush and a chrome focusing scale being observed by a visitor. It delivers a great bokeh thanks to its 15-blade circular diaphragm. 

As a matter of fact, the very recent Solms Camera Fair held on November 26th, 2016 has been an outstanding success, with 100 exhibitors from a number of countries (Germany, United Kingdom, France, Japan, United States, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Spain and others) and around 500 attendees who arrived at the Solmser Fotobörse not only from Germany but also from worldwide to have unforgettable experiences and acquire top quality cameras, lenses and accessories.

In this regard, the Solms Camera Fair embodies the trait that has traditionally turned these classic photography professional sphere events celebrated in Germany into world class encounters:

the very good condition (often in A/B, near mint or mint condition and perfect functioning to get pictures at every diaphragm and shutter speed) of a high percentage of the articles on sale, not only Leica ones (though the legendary German photographic firm is the core of the fair) but also from other prestigious brands in the History of Photography like Nikon, Canon, Zeiss Ikon, Ihagee Exaktas, Voigtländer, Rollei, Mamiya, Minox, Kodak, Hasselblad, Zenza Bronica, Alpa, Olympus, Pentax, VEB Pentacon Dresden Prakticas, Linhof and many others.

The presence of visitors from Far East was very abundant during the Solmser Fotobörse November 26th, 2016. Here we can see a Chinese collector and great enthusiast of classical cameras and lenses gleaning information on a black early Leitz Summarex 8,5 cm f/1.5 lens from 1943.

Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 fourth version (manufactured between 1979 and 1994) and sports the same optical formula as the Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Fifth Version (1994-2013).

It is one of the greatest feats in the history of photographic lenses.

Featuring 6 elements in 4 groups and 8 blades, it was designed by Walter Mandler at the Ernst Leitz Canada factory in Midland, Ontario, managing to reduce the weight (195 g) in comparison to the 6 elements in 4 groups and 10 blades 3rd version (200 g), beating the resolution of the Summicron Rigid 50 mm f/2 (1956-1968) and simultaneously improving the contrast a great deal, doing it without any aspherical or floating elements, reducing the manufacturing cost by means of the use of flint glass in the first bigger element in addition to other elements inside the objective in synergy with the last two elements made of top class high index lanthanum glasses, keeping the doublets cemented (taking advantage of the mechanical design advantage that their mounting means), applying common radii all over the lens to foster the use of a very low figure of grinding and polishing manufacturing tools to a limit of four, and stretching the classic Double Gauss scheme to its feasible scientific and physical boundaries, according to the parameters set forth in his mythical dissertation Über die Berechnung einfacher Gauss-Objective at Giessen University (Germany) in 1979.

Metabones Leica M to E Mount adapter. Built according to very high levels of mechanical quality, precision and noble metals, it makes possible to take advantage of the superb full frame 24 x 36 mm CMOS sensors (boasting 24, 37 and 42 megapixels, depending on the model) of the Sony A7 series cameras coupled to the Leica M lenses featuring great luminosity and excellent opto-mechanical performance, making up a very compact binomium able to deliver impressive image quality along with possibilities of enlargements to king sizes without picture degradation. It features a flocked interior to eliminate any possible flare and focuses flawlessly to infinity.

Through Leica M adapters, this tiny lens has proved its great symbiosis with professional digital cameras, both in the 24 x 36 mm format  (Sony A7, A7II, A7R, A7RII, A7S, A7SII, Leica M9, Leica M, Leica M Monochrom and others), APS-C (Fujifilm XT-1, Fujifilm XT-2, Fujifilm X-Pro 1, Fujifilm X-Pro 2, Fujifilm XE-1, Sony NEX-5, Sony NEX-6, Sony NEX-7, Samsung NX series) and Micro 4/3 ones (Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus OM-D EM-5, Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mark II, Olympus PEN-F, Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4, Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7, Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8), delivering superb image quality, even at maximum f/2 aperture, with high contrast and crisp detail on almost the entire picture area, in an stunningly compact and light combo resulting in very comfortable handheld shooting throughout many decades of intensive use, thanks to its first-rate mechanical construction.

Needless to say that coupled to analog rangefinder 24 x 36 mm format Leica M cameras like the Leica M3, Leica M2, Leica M6, Leica M7, etc, it also renders extraordinary results with chemical b & w and colour films alike, having traditionally excelled among others with the Kodak Tri-X 400.

Novoflex Leica R to Leica M adapter. Made in Germany. This long standing firm has always excelled in its products, and its adapters are not an exception: made with painstaking workmanship, peerless accuracy and choosing the best available metals, enabling utter accuracy at infinity focus and featuring the 6-bit coding. 

Leica M7 Test Camera from Belgium. Its main difference with respect to vast majority of M series 24 x 36 mm format analog rangefinder models boasting mechanical escapement was that it pioneered the autoexposure in aperture priority mode, id est, the photographer sets manually the aperture on the lens and the camera chooses the shutter speed.

Therefore, the shutter of the Leica M7 (redesigned with two different levels of pressure: one to lock the automatic exposure reading and the other one to release the shutter) is electronically controlled, though the mechanically operated speeds of 1/60 s and 1/125 s have been preserved to be able to keep on getting pictures if the battery fails.

Launched in 2002 by Leica Camera AG, it can be considered an evolution of the Leica M6 TTL (they´re almost identical in look), and as a matter of fact, the exceedingly reliable and quiet cloth focal plane shutter inherent to the analog Leica M breed of cameras goes on being essentially the same, and only the speed control mechanism is electronic, though Leica made a commendable effort with the viewfinder of the M7, which is clearer, more brilliant and more contrasty than the excellent VF of the Leica M6 TTL.

The Leica M7 includes more than a thousand components and its assembly takes approximately 16 hours, with a further thorough calibration of the viewfinder on a measuring bench.

Needless to say that the manufacturing methods and technologies to make this camera (in the same way as the rest of analog Leica M models) are state-of-the-art, with all the metallic pieces being put together mostly by hand by highly skilled and experience employees, in synergy with CNC controlled milling machines and highly complex mechanisms like the ones featured by the mask frames whose bright-lines for the chosen focal lengths are reflected into the viewfinder, with different positions of them with respect each other, so variously sized windows are generated and a pair of luminous frames is visible at the same time.

Leitz Focomat Ic 35 mm enlarger, a masterpiece of German engineering. This fabulous and very sturdy device exuding a highly appealing retro look was manufactured between 1950 and 1977. Built like a tank to endure a lot of decades of hard professional use, it still works like a charm well within the XXI Century and will provide great satisfaction to its owners, particularly the enthusiasts of black and white.

Entirely made of metal and wood of the highest leve, it was the common choice of the foremost illustrated magazines and newspapers worldwide (id est, it became the photographic industry standard for 24 x 36 mm format in contexts where maxium feasible image quality and speed of operation were of utmost significance) during the second half of XX Century.

Both the Leitz Elmar 5 cm f/3.5 and the Leitz Focotar 50 mm f/4.5 (enlarging lenses that can be used with the Focomat Ic, in addition to the Focotar 40 mm f/2.8 originally created for the Leica Focomat V35 enlarger, Schneider Componon-S 50 mm f/2.8, EL-Nikkor 50 mm f/2.8 and others) get superb image quality in synergy with the stalwartness and precision of the overall mechanism, the simplicity, elegance and smoothness of the whole device, the top-of-the-line Leitz condenser and the impressive quality of light source (being born in a large domed housing half of which has a matt semi-silvered inner area and is directed onto the negative via the single focusing condenser, which simultaneously acts as a pressure plate) resulting in a praiseworthy balance between very enhanced sharpness and tonality (though dust specks, scratches and negative defects will have to be more painstakingly removed than with diffuser enlargers) which has been of invaluable help for many of the best printers in the world (having also been extensively used by world-class photographers like Jane Evelyn Atwood), specially in the black and white sphere.

But albeit buying this true engineering tour de force profesional 35 mm enlarger can currently often be a bargain compared to the steep prices it reached throughout its halcyon days, it is very important to previusly check the condenser condition (specially the bottom area landing on the film, which mustn´t have any scratches or nicks) before making any purchase.

Upper view of a Leitz Wetzlar 90 mm f/4 lens head on a OUAGO/16467 focusing adapter for use with Leica Visoflex II or Visoflex III reflex boxes. It was manufactured between 1959 and 1983.

Lateral view of the same 3 elements in 3 groups Leitz Wetzlar 90 mm f/4 lens head on a OUAGO/16467 focusing adapter in Leica M bayonet for use with Leica Visoflex II or Visoflex III and enabling the focusing from 1 meter to infinity.

This combination is a masterpiece of German optical and mechanical expertise and its cosmetic appearance can only be defined as exceptional, enhanced by the painstakingly accurately made scalloped focusing ring and the amazing machining precision of the Visoflex helical focusing mount of the OUAGO adapter.

It delivers a first-class image quality (very sharp, with good contrast and great colour rendition) even to today standards, both with analog and digital cameras, and its exquisite focusing smoothness, small size (length of only 3.5 cm, diameter of 5.9 cm) and low weight (174 g) turns it into a very interesting choice for Full HD and 4K recordings.

Top and upper front areas of a Leica M2 in near mint condition.

This is one of the most representative models of the M lineage of rangefinder cameras.

On the lower half of the image can be seen from left to right: the window of the rangefinder, the luminous frame-lines for 35, 50 and 90 mm lenses and the viewfinder.

Manufactured between 1958 and 1967, the utterly mechanical Leica M2 features a 0.72x magnification vewfinder designed by Willi Keiner in early fifties and optimized for its use with highly luminous 35 mm lenses — with specific bright-line frames — , the most widely used in photojournalism, so it greatly fostered this photographic genre during late fifties and the decade of sixties through the synergy between the photojournalist´s know-how, acquired sense of anticipation and the advantage of using a 35 mm format mirrorless Leica rangefinder camera featuring a crystal clear 0.72x magnification direct optical viewfinder integrated with the rangefinder boasting an effective base length of 49.32 mm.

It all enables the photographer to see exactly what is happening while pressing the shutter release button at the moment in which the image is imprinted on the chemical emulsion (unlike a reflex camera in which the sight is lost when the mirror´s up) and composing in a geometrical way, with the added bonus of the exceedingly silent noise brought about by the mechanical shutter of the M2 and its amazingly short 12 ms shutter lag, all of these aspects being insrumental to hold sway over the control of te moment and get the pictures.

It is important to say that though the Leica M3 manufactured between 1954 and 1966 has been the best Leica M ranfinder camera ever made (with an exceptionally accurate RF — designed by Willi Keiner, Heinrich Schneider and Erich Mandler — made up by more than 150 high-precision parts, entirely made of top-notch glass and whose 0.92x viewfinder magnification effect on the effective measuring base delivered by far the greatest accuracy ever attained with 50 mm, 90 mm and 135 mm lenses), its production cost was very high, so the Leica M2 turned into a more affordable alternative, and the Leica M2 design style has defined the appearance of every Leica model since 1958, both in the analog and digital era, including the Leicas M9, M9-P, M Monochrom and M10.

One of the diachronic prides of the German photographic industry: the exquisite Leica CM manual compact camera for 24 x 36 mm format film, produced between 2004 and 2006, a benchmark of design and craftsmanship.

It was created by the Berlin Art University and member of the German Design Council Achim Heine, whose constructive keynote was to achieve a great compact camera excelling at its contours profile, stemming from plenty of handmade manufacture and fitted to a superb 6 elements in 4 groups 40 mm f/2.4 lens noticeably improved through multicoatings at the forefront of technology.

To properly grasp the qualitative and visionary gist of this camera, suffice it to say that its viewfinder display was built using the Leica M7 VF as a reference, and all the significant functions can be operated while looking through the viewfinder.

Moreover, the camera body is made of solid titanium surrounded by a leather cover in two thirds of its front, lateral and back area.

Visoflex II and III OTVXO simple 5x magnifier 16461 vertical in its original box.

It is a finder with focusing eyepiece for the compensation of visual defects within the range of + 1.75 to - 2.5 dioptres.

The superb mechanizing of the metallic anodized surfaces and the top fluted chromed round area along with the outstanding accuracy of the Leitz Wetzlar Germany letters speak volumes abour the thoroughness with which the legendary German photographic firm makes things.

Number 3 of VIDOM, the great magazine of the Leica Historica e.V Deutschland. This lavish illustrated publication started some decades ago as a small black and white bulletin with few pages to subsequently become the worldwide reference-class editorial item in its scope, featuring 80 colour pages with top quality paper, gorgeous photographic quality of images and extraordinary articles written by recognized experts in the Leica brand like Dr. B. Bawendi, Lars Netopil, Stefan Thonesen, Herbert Mouget, Knut Kühn Leitz, Hans P. Rajner, Claus Walter, Dieter Dosin, Michel Specklin, Ottmar Michaely, Georg Mann, Carsten Schouler, Jerzy Wasowicz, Axel Rosswog, Hans-Günther von Zydowitz, Wolfgang Sauer, Alexander Decker, Norbert Oertel, Marc Hoch, Georg Steinmetz, Olaf Nattenberg, Dr. Heinz-Georg Nordmann, Dirk Daniel Mann, Rolf Adam, Walter Michel, Ulrich Möller and others.

On the right of the image you can see the silver metallic cylinder with ball and socket head set of a Leica tabletop tripod, which provides effective stability with low speed shots under 1/15 s and has three robust extending legs (out of image).

It is a sturdy and compact very high quality item made of aluminum and can be easily set up in a wide range of places.

Leitz Visoflex II reflex housing for Leica M rangefinder cameras.

It fits on any Leica M rangefinder camera like an interchangeable lens.

With the Leitz Visoflex System Leica tried to enhance the versatility of its RF cameras by adding a mirror housing, turning them into a kind of SLR models provided with ground glass viewing and focusing inserted between the camera body and either special short Viso mount lenses or the lens heads of different rangefinder coupled objectives, as well as enabling the use of long focal length objectives.

Manufactured between 1959 and 1962, the machining and finish of the anodized metallic surfaces is first-string in the same way as its smart appearance, with a painstaking manual grinding work until getting those admirable rounded contours, particularly on its upper area.

On middle top of the image you can see the release lever of the Leitz Visoflex II mirror reflex housing, milled with utmost care and thouroughness, in the purest " Made in Germany" style and perfection.

The distance between this release lever and the camera release button must be approximately 1 mm to make sure that the mirror always swings out of the way before the shutter runs down, even when releasing quickly.

It weighs 480 g and sports an optical depth of 40 mm.

On top left of the image: Leitz Entfernungsmesser " Fokos" in its original box.

This type of attachable rangefinder was introduced in 1933 with a short base of 7.5 cm for horizontal mounting on the Leica Standard, subsequently being manufactured in eight different versions, all of them giving a good approximation of the zone focus.

You must use the window beside the wheel for focusing, and there is a bright circle in the middle showing two images, which will eventually coincide on turning the wheel, and if the photographer doesn´t see the bright circle at first, he should move his / her eye position to reveal it.

Under it there´s an E. Leitz Wetzlar 35-135 mm Universal Viewfinder VIOOH Lyre Shape.

This viewfinder replaced the VIDOM and was introduced at the Leipzig Fair in 1940, being taller and shorter than its one prism predecessor.

It has two prisms in the eyepiece, so that the image is both upright and right way round, not being necessary to rotate the eyepiece to get upright pictures.

In addition, it is fitted with a parallax adjustment lever.

It was the Leitz universal finder until 1962/1963.

Leitz Hektor 135 mm f/4.5 in Leica M bayonet mount showing its socket for tripod. Manufactured between 1954 and 1960, it has 4 elements in 3 groups. It is a long lens design with non rotating lens head during focusing and click-stop diaphragm.

It features a 15 blades circular diaphragm, so its bokeh is splendid, but its optical formula is optimized for portraits at f/4.5 and f/5.6, so on shooting at those two widest apertures the center is sharp but the performance in borders and corners varies between blurred and soft.

Its mechanical construction is superb, with an awesome cosmetic appearance in the satin chrome of most of its barrel and the vulcanite of its lower third, albeit it is a very prone to flare lens and a shade should be permanently used.

Anyway, for contexts not belonging to the portrait domain (in which it can excel in the hands of an experienced photographer knowing what he´s doing), this lens isn´t a top class choice at all for other manifold contexts, because of its lack of sharpness at the two largest apertures, rendering of dull colors, low contrast and the aforementioned proclivity to flare, though the possibility to couple it to a number of digital cameras in different formats with which photographers can get pictures shooting handheld stopping down between f/8-f/11 at high and very high sensitivities between ISO 800 and 3200 without noise (avoiding shake pictures and preserving very good quality of image thanks to the state-of-the-art sensors), has fostered its versatility,  and a certain revival of this lenshas taken place during recent years, although best results will be obtained doing portraiture at f/4.5 and f/5.6.

Nevertheless, the 4 elements in 4 group Leitz Elmar 135 mm f/4 (manufactured between 1960 and 1965) is a much better alternative as an all-around performer, because of its far superior sharpness at all apertures and its top-drawer 12 blades diaphragm, so it´s a keeper in terms of optical performance, image quality attain and achieved results in portraiture, as well as having a price tag often turning it into a bargain.

One of the highlights of the Solms Camera Trade Fair: a Summilux-M 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH black chrome edition with scalloped focusing ring. Only 500 units of this coveted lens were made, resembling the first non aspherical type of this lens from 1959

It features 8 elements in 5 groups, one aspherical surface (in the fourth element), one floating group and exceedingly small dimensions (length of 52.5 mm with largest diameter of 53.5 mm) and weight (335 g) for its high luminosity and stratospheric performance, it is by far in practical handheld photography the best standard 50 mm lens with f/1.4 maximum aperture created until now in the world in terms of resolving power, contrast and awesome uniformity of performance at every diaphragm, including f/1.4 and f/2.

6 elements in 4 groups Leitz Wetzlar Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Third Version.

It is a very interesting lens created by Walter Mandler in Midland, Ontario, Canada, as a derivative if its 6 elements in 4 groups and 290 g Summicron-R 50 mm f/2 for Leicaflex cameras, having beeen produced both in Wetzlar (Germany) and Midland, Ontario (Canada).

It has a weight of 200 g, a 10 blades diaphragm, minimum focusing distance of 0.7 m and delivers an excellent image quality in which top priority was to get the best feasible contrast and sharpness in the center, at the cost of slightly reducing the resolving power rendered by the previous 1st and 2nd versions of the Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 giving medium contrast and higher resolution which were the best choice for black & white photographers.

The Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Third Version (manufactured both in Germany and Canada) meant a transitional turning point in the history of the Leica M traditional flagship lens par excellence, since it was by Walter Mandler, who with his well-known tremendous optical background, exceedingly comprehensive knowledge of the different optical glass types, an impressive insight and an outstanding grasping of the photographic market circumstances, realized that Leica needed a top-notch quality standard 50 mm f/2 lens optimized for micro contrast and colour film.

And he clearly achieved that goal with this lens, which within time would turn into the technological, mechanical and optical launching platform for the future masterpiece non aspherical 6 elements in 4 groups Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Fourth Version (manufactured between 1979 and 1994, and featuring identical optical formula to the Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Fifth Version made between 1994 and 2014), that would reign supreme as benchmark of optical and mechanical quality for 34 years until the introduction of the stratopsheric Apo-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH in 2013.

Walter Mandler accomplished the amazing optical feat of taking the Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Double Gauss formula without any aspherical or floating elements whatsoever to the scientific boundaries of the physically possible (the margin for improving the optical performance of this non aspherical scheme is exceedingly small, as proved by Peter Karbe in thorough research made by him between 1989 and 1991 which proved that going beyond Mandler´s " Uber die Berechnung einfacher Gauss-Objektive " 1979 Doctoral Dissertation at Giessen University was virtually an exhausted way, since the driving force of Ernst Leitz Midland, Ontario, Canada had drawn most of its potential to practical effects, with a continuous sagittal red line of contrast for 10 lp/mm geting a value of 92% in the center, 72% in the borders and 54 % in the corners, along with a tangential discontinuous red line with a value of 92% in the center, 86% in the borders and 80% in the corners, in addition to having achieved simultaneous stellar values of contrast (superior in this regard to the Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Version 3 from 1969) and resolution (similar to the Summicron DR Type 2 from 1956).

The current Head of Optics Development at Leica Camera AG and best optical designer in the world managed to improve Mandler´s 1979 non aspherical Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 optical formula with his non aspherical  8 elements Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Version 6th 1989-1991 Project, increasing its contrast value for 40 lp/mm over 50% at f/2 on the whole image surface, and at the same time raising the ability of detail and nuances capturing at such widest aperture, likewise solving the lack of suitability of highly refractive optical glasses to correct colour aberrations using special kinds of glasses featuring anomalous partial dispersion in the elements 1 and 2, keeping intact the very small size and exceedingly light weight of Mandler´s Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 with only 4 mm more of focal length than it and an optical formula whose elements located in front of the diaphragm resembled the ones sported by Mandler´s Summicron-M 50 mm f/2, while the ones placed behind it would follow the scheme of the Summilux-M 35 mm f/1.4 Asph, reaching an amazing contrast value of 75% at 40 lp/mm in the image center and adjacent areas and more than 50% on the corners, supported by its great colour correction.

But once more, Walter Mandler´s visionary grasping of the affordable manufacturing costs limits according to the market context proved to be decisive, and the Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Version 6 with eight elements was finally abandoned because of its very high production cost and lack of commercial feasibility.

Not in vain, to begin with, Walter Mandler priority was based on an integral philosophy of cost reduction without losing any optical and mechanical quality (even slightly improving them), avoiding the use of the expensive LaK9 glass — replacing it with an exceedingly skillful combination of flint glass elements — and only two types of optical glasses, of which just one (with a refractive index of 1.8) was special and expensive, coming from the Leitz Glass Laboratory.

Mandler could do it with a host of ingenuity, experience and tricks of himself: he applied common radiii throughout the Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 1979 Fourth Version 1979 lens, reduced to four the number of sets of grinding and polishing tools, made identical the first and last surfaces of the lens, in the same way as the outside convex surfaces of both doublets and their inner surfaces, while devising different different diameter, thickness and glass types for those doublets, whose cemented mounting was a mechanical design advantage, significantly dropping the cost of machining and lens elements centering as well as succesfully avoiding internal reflections, glare and flare, in addition to exhibit an stunning optical performance, resolving 40 lp/mm at 60% contrast across the film diagonal.

Another of the most significant mainstays of the Solms Camera Trade Fair is the vast array of illustrated magazines, books, brochures, instruction manuals, booklets and all kind of photographic literature on sale at very affordable prices, particularly related to the Leica firm.

In this regard, attendees can often find numbers of vintage magazines like Curt Emmermann´s Die Leica (edited between 1931 and 1942), Leica Photography (with samples dating back to thirties), Leica World ( directed by Hans-Michael Koetzler) and other ones being more modern like Viewfinder, LFI, M, S, the Japanese Camera Magazine and others.

Here, on the left of the image, we can see the 1960 book Leica und Leica-System, dealing on the photographic experiences and know-how with Leica gear gained throughout years by its author Theo M. Scheerer, who appears on the cover holding a Leica M2 with a Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Rigid Type 2 (manufactured between 1956 and 1968) featuring a scalloped focusing ring.

It is a great 186 pages work published by Umschau Verlag in 1960 and providing any Leica enthusiast with lavish information on all kind of aspects related to the German photographic firm at the time along with his enlightening proficiency on the Leica M System and its virtues.

On the right of the image, out of focus, can be seen an original Leitz Wetzlar box with a 16499P viewfinder for Visoflex III inside it.

Please note:  This article is substantially more extensive, covering not only Leica but many other cameramanufacturers as well.

For the complete article by José Manuel Serrano Esparza please go here.

For other articles on this blog please click on Blog Archive in the column to the right

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