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Friday, 21 August 2020


Like so many of the commenters on your previous thread I wonder how much you really miss the actual gadget versus the young fellow who used the gadget.

Ten+ years ago I had pangs of missing my first cameras, a Canon TLb and a Polaroid folding Land camera. So I found lovely copies of each. They're positively primitive and joyless to use today. That's how I learned what I really missed, something I can't find on eBay. That's also when I realized that photos, not cameras, are the magic time machines.

Other fine descriptions destined for use in the condition hierarchy are:

FF: Factory Fresh
LN+CPBCJMB: Like New with Crumpled Paper Body Cap Jammed in Mirror Box
StS: Scratched to Sh…

…I'll see myself out now.

I almost bought a Leica R back in the day. I was an M user and bought the 90mm Elmarit M, and found it to be optically fantastic. The problem was that I couldn't get along with the rangefinder camera and that focal length. The 90mm frame lines were too small and more importantly, you couldn't "see" the in and out of focus rendering... everything is in focus in the finder.

I found out that the 90mm Elmarit R was the same lens optically, so I toyed with getting an R6 and the 90mm SLR lens. Paired with my M6 and 35mm, it seemed ideal.

What dissuaded me was that I was basically doing this with a Nikon and 105mm, and having two noncompatible systems was not ideal. The wrong camera was always out of film and you couldn't swap lenses, so no advantage was gained.

Two Nikons or two Leicas but not one of each. And mixing an M and an R is just the same as the Nikon / Leica conundrum.

That was truly... Precious! Gotta give props where due- be thankful he was thoughtful enough to leave out Mint++ and Mint+++.

I can tie a few of my own life threads together here.

Tri-X ... I think the emulsion I liked the most was what was shipping in the mid-70s. I was living in London, Ontario and my parents came to visit and accompany me for a steam excursion pulled by the CN 6060 (Canadian National) from London to Bracebridge, Ontario and back.

My dad was lifelong rail worker (agent, then telegrapher, then dispatcher with a perfect safety record,) whose veins ran on steam as much as hemoglobin. He had grown up pre-war alongside the tracks and knew every engine by number and sound of its distinctive chuffing and distinctive pattern of the trucks.

In Bracebridge, one of the loveliest little towns in Ontario, everyone debarked the coaches and the engine made its turnabout to take us back home. As the engine sat idling while we waited at the aged yet still robust little depot, I made several exposures with the OM-1 on Tri-X, later souped in a Kodak developer which shall not be mentioned. One of the frames is probably the favourite photo I have ever made. The 6060 sits on the left of the frame, on the right the platform with the Maple Leaf flying from lamp posts and passengers milling about. Running toward the camera is a young girl fo about 8 years, totally unconscious of the camera or anything else, just free.

The greasy blacks (zones III and below) of the locomotive are full of inky detail, thanks to the combination of EI 200 and the (unnamed) developer. The lens was probably the original “silver nose” Zuiko 50/1.8 - not the sharpest 50 Olympus ever made, but full of lovely character.

The negative is around here ... somewhere. So yeah, it will take some effort to dig it out.

Why not just strive for the penultimate epitome of camera design, ergonomics and... Beauty- The Leica R8! No human alive can possibly resist those sumptuous curves!

Re your footnote on "when my ship comes in": I think of the early Bob Dylan song, "When the Ship Comes In."

"A song will lift
As the mainsail shifts
And the boat drifts on to the shoreline
And the sun will respect
Every face on the deck
The hour that the ship comes in."

Recently, I bought a couple of Leicas R and a slew of lenses on ricardo (Kind of swiss ebay - very small market, but surprisingly cheap at times) to fulfill my dreams of years gone. I missed them very much at that time. They were very cheap, maybe folks had time to look into their closets during the Corona lockout - right now they got more expensive again. They are beutiful and all, BUT: I like bigger formats, so I bought a Texas Leica too, on a whim. I never had it and I never missed it at the time it was made, because I was into SLRs with macro, teles, wides and all then.
It transpired, it is my camera of dreams, inspite it is not part of a system, has only one fixed lens, etc... With Acros 100 it is a formidable camera, which comes in my rucksack on every outings, together with the Nikon DSRL-system. Strange...

Also take a look at a LEICA R8. The camera may look strange [at least different], but I think it is the best Leica reflex camera. The Leica R8 has a beautiful viewfinder, a good grip and all buttons are in the right place.
The LEICA R8 and LEICA R9 are the same cameras, except for the weight. The LEICA R9 is about 100 grams lighter.

Ha ha! You Americans ought to be living in good ol' England. Legend has it that US Tri-X was continually improved but UK/European Tri-X only merited occasional upgrades. This was because of Tri-X's reputation among the US population as a whole plus the dependence upon it for many in the US photographic community.

In another life, location and time, I photographed the Kodak USA Director responsible for Tri-X at Rochester who was visiting the UK. He looked so young, just a kid, to have that huge responsibility on his shoulders.

The decision to go all Leica with my 35mm usage was based on a number of factors. My instructor at the Germain School Photography, (The late-great Karl Nemecek, Director of Photography at Metropolitan Life Insurance Company)use to say..."You buy German you buy once...You buy Japanese, you buy every 3 years."Whether you agree with that Uber statement or not, it made sense to me then.
I used 3 Leica R4 SP's plus a Leica M2,for 15-20 years till the changeover to digital. Shooting weekly flyers, newspaper ads,and store signage for the retail trade with such clients as Macy's, Lord and Taylor, and Alexander's, thousands of rolls of film went thru those cameras.
The technique was simple...2 Stylists, my assistant and I would show up in Central Park or some other choice location and meet the models. We had all the clothes and accessories in a van that also doubled as a dressing room. If the lighting was good, reflectors were used, if the lighting was flat, Norman 200B's added some punch. Scenes were proofed with a Forscher Poloroid Back attached to a Leica SL. Film of choice was whatever B&H had on sale with Chrome used for print and color negative used for store signage.
I never had a problem with those R4 Sp's. Simple to use with a great spotmeter built in. The 50 mm F2 Summicron, 90mm F2 Summicron and 180 f2.8 Elmarit were superb lenses that could be shot wide open with beautiful out of focus effects. The focusing screen had a "pop" when in perfect focus. Leitz wide angles for the R's were old designs that you thought were good till you compared them with let's say a Nikkor or Canon 24mm f2.8. But who cared. Nobody looked for sharpness like the do today. Now I have millennial art directors critiquing me at 200%.
Funny thing...I had my 180mm, 250mm and 400mm Telyt's, all converted to Sony A mt's awhile ago. They perform horribly...totally unusable with terrible color shift. What a waste of good glass.

Mike, about 15 years ago, I nearly switched to a couple of Leica R7s with four or five lenses instead of the huge complement of Olympus bodies, lenses and accessories that, along with a Leica M6 and lenses, I had used as a professional. The rationale was having an all Leica 35mm set-up for my last few years before retirement and then beyond as well as clearing some much needed cupboard space as well.

I am now very glad that I did not make the switch. Apart from pleasure of ownership and use, the Olympus makes me smile inwardly and sometimes outwardly, too, when I look at it. I’m sure the Leica outfit would have provided pleasure of ownership and use - while being heavier to carry - but I am not so certain I would admire the design and get the same feeling of joy when looking at a Leica R7. I have probably committed some sort of Leica heresy there but I don’t care.

PS: I think the Leica R8 and R9 are ugly. That’s probably another heresy. Oh, mea culpa.

I really enjoyed the last two posts (and comments) and hope it is okay to respond to both in one message. At any rate, like many folks, I think, my interest in old cameras (especially film cameras) was sparked in part by a desire to use the same equipment as certain of my photographic icons. In my case, these were cameras I was either too young to know about at the time they were on the market, or too expensive to ever think I would have the means to acquire myself.

I purchased my first Leica reflex camera in the mid 2000s when they were dirt cheap after reading about Salgado’s use of the R6.2. It was an affordable way to try a Leica, and the experience of photographing with the 6.2 was just great. I started collecting the reflex Leicas in earnest and have a decent and complete enough collection. By the way, they are all fine shooters, from the original Leicaflex (that I use with the 21mm f/3.4) to the R9 (the hunchback’s younger brother).

In terms of the camera of fond memory, though, that would be the Rollieflex SL66, a camera I was too young to own when it was current, but which existed for me on the cover of my father’s copy of “The Camera” (from the Time-Life series of books). I still own the book and the x-ray image of the SL66 is etched into my brainpan. I recently picked up a copy of one at pennies on the dollar. Shooting with this quirky beast is a joyous struggle. As an added bonus, I recently saw a documentary about Aaron Siskind that showed him working with one. I’m a little bit more aware of what he went through to get his wonderful images and that in itself makes the purchase worthwhile to me. And I am going to be able to use images made with the Rollei in a current project. Anyway, it looks like they will have to pry the SL66 from my cold dead hands!

Your friend sounds like a vinyl enthusiast. "CDs are super sharp soulless devices"

My first impulse was to lament my Canon F1n, but in reality, the camera(s) I will miss most are my EM5 mk1's, that are still going, just, but are soon to depart. Love the files and they are the first cameras in the digital age that I have lived with to their end.

Curiously, I still have virtually all of the cameras that I have owned. The only ones that have escaped my immediate possession are the few that I have given to my kids over the years – and many of those have migrated back to me when they have switched up their choices.

My first real camera, after a Kodak black box and borrowing my mothers various cameras (she was a pro photographer) was a Mamiya/Sekor DTL1000 – which I believe had one of the first spot meters.

I used that camera and a Ricoh (also screw mount) on a year that I bummed/backpacked around Europe when I was 20yrs old – coupled with four lenses and a load of film – circa 1973-1974. Curiously, I lost contact with all of my photos from that trip for over 40 years due to a massive earthquake here in Guatemala in 1976. I had never printed up the images – though I did process the slides – because I was due back to University after my yearlong “sabbatical.” It was great fun to find them after going through my mothers cabinets of images after she passed away. A great forced time capsule and a really enlightening experience to go through and scan and print the old images. Nice to see where one’s eye was so far back in one’s life.

In any event I still have all my Nikons/nikkormats, Olympus OM1/4, most of the Olympus digital line up: Olympus E-20n, E-1, E-3, and too many of the OMD mirrorless series, which I still use along with my Sony system. And all of the lenses that accompanied them ☺

Leitz summicron-r 35 E55, perfectly usable for walking around the streets. Below with Ilford XP2:


Leica appeared on the bezel after the 1986 Leitz split (interesting to compare with the Olympus split of late).

I hope you got your money back via eBay. I got that, just once, when I had a similar situation with a NIkon FM.

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