Sunday, 19 July 2020

The IFF Auregon - Chapter on

When I wrote a Blog on 16/5/19 I realised I had found a rare enlarger-in the UK at least-but research found a few on Auction sites that had Italian sales. The only British reference found was to the late Barry Thornton who had published a photograph of his darkroom with a black paint version of my acquisition.  He shared my confusion as to the auto focus side of the machine. The Auregon (Automatique) had, in both cases, arrived without a matched 50mm lens but could be used as a manual machine without difficulty. The manufacturer being no longer able to help on the Auto focus problem.

Since 2019 I have been trying to sort out the lens question and think that 'lock down' has provided enough time for thought, and tinkering, to solve this.

Illustrations from Italy often show a modern lens fitted such as Schneider or Nikon lenses but the fitting looked strange. In the event it became clear that the lens was fitted into a slim extension ring that probably lived with the lens. When removed this left a 39mm threaded plate similar to almost all modern enlargers. The lens therefore required a short extension or lowering to engage the Auto Focus with accuracy. A trial and error search of all suitable 39 mm rings (standard Leica thread) then took place and in the end a 8 mm ring was found. This is very thin but is probably the second ring in the FED range of extension tubes that are easy to find, designed for the obsolete range of Russian/ USSR/ Ukraine FED and Zorki cameras. Having the correct thread at each end it instantly paired up with a Nikon 50mm f2.8 (First Type) and 'lo and behold' I had automatic focus.

A special note- a 7 mm ring also exists which does not work, at least with the machine I have. There is another small point to check. Sharp focus may only be achieved on three sides of the empty film frame which is simply adjusted. The enlarger has a unique negative holder with a separate mask that can be used to display negative margin numbers. This mask can be rotated in its holder to conceal such numbers - as I prefer to work.  The mask is not locked horizontally and can be slightly adjusted by hand for those who are after margin printing effects. By and large, it's just an annoyance that is easily removed and in any case it would be hard to get the full 25mm x 37mm 'Leica' edge in prints.This small problem results from the edges in the carrier being at very slightly levels unless adjusted and the effect has no bearing on negative focus.

There are two important cautions here. Firstly, The figure of 8 mm is the measured depth of the ring taken from each bearing face, ignoring thread depth. With the ability to reproduce the odd Leica thread pattern it would be quite possible to introduce a small degree of fine tuning to a custom adapter with set screws but, for me, the solution as stated seems to work!

The second caution is rather more simple. The Auregon is provided with a basic means of manual focus. To allow the Auto focus cam to work fully the sliding bellows adjustment should be moved to it's lowest point against the final stop at the base of the vertical slider that supports the bellows and locked out of the way.

Examination of the cam wheel suggests that only one shape was produced and made to work for all (nominally) 50 mm lenses, possibly by shims,or custom adapters.

Hope the above helps any reader with a similar problem!  

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

The Little Leica Man

Throughout the history of Leica and The Leica Society there has been an image of a little man with a camera. This familiar figure( and various amendments) has appeared in magazines, Society stationery, and publicity but, no doubt, with the 1930's connections, has eventually become rather rare and suggestive of all that the commercial side had left behind!

However I am kindly reminded of our use of advertising and publicity drawings by a note from Philip Gray, the Editor of our Society Magazine distributed quarterly to members. Philip has supplied me with a print of a what I can call- possibly incorrectly-a draftsman's sketch of a similar nature.

I have been looking at this in the light of the original sketch and feel that whereas the first little man has an air of the 1930's this version may have a suggestion of German advertising from 1950's, but I could be right off the mark.As ever the comment box awaits reactions.


Sunday, 5 July 2020

Mystery ,or Enigma ?

Today's Blog arrived in the time of lock down and is more of a request for research or further information than an attempt to impart words of wisdom.

It concerns an enlarger (as ever) known as the Agfa Varioscop 60. This was a heavy machine, painted off white, with turret lenses and auto focus and, judging from the focal lengths chosen, the design brief owes more than a passing debt to the Leitz Focomat 11. I had a chance to examine an old example and was told that it was born of a project to help unemployed young people. Where this idea came from I do not know but is was offered as an excuse for the quality of a rather lower standard than the Focomat and perhaps fitted the post war mindset. However, it had coated condensers! Some web references date this machine to the 1950's.

The machine I saw needed new lenses as an alternative to costly cleaning. I found that the adaption of other lenses would not be the simple job that is often possible. Even new flanges seemed to pose problems. Few are seen on sale in the UK but I would regard it as a good investment if the lenses are spotless. Some spare parts are available new from Kienzle in Germany. These include more modern colour fittings.

The story about the manufacture was accepted and half forgotten  until I started to use an I.F.F. Automatique Colour enlarger (where does he find them?) made until the modern era by IF.F Industrial Photomechanical of Firenze (Florence, Italy) who made lighting and enlargers but have now left the enlarger field.

The Automatique is a rather nice 35 mm machine based on the general layout of the Focomat 1c and finished in off white and blue. Examination of my enlarger in detail reveals-

* Square film holding cups of an unusual type not seen elsewhere
* Many circular heat vents in the base of lamp house
* A semi circular magnification scale, that works as a cam.
* Swinging arm forged to resemble stock parallel bar with diamond    patterns within,sharp square edges.
* Unusual lens mounts- not seen elsewhere.
* Split arm joints that both tighten and grip on the arm pivots.

I had never seen my enlarger before I bought it but a picture did appear in one of the books by the late Barry Thornton who was equally mystified by its origins. It was a long search to trace the history but I am delighted to have the condenser machine that I use in the Circle.

HOWEVER........The Agfa Variscop 60 has all of the above features and it is impossible avoid the conclusion that the larger machine was made in Italy and, if so, is a good solid enlarger.

M'lud,I rest my case!

The above rant should not leave you in any confusion with the Agfa enlarger of the last days of Agfa called the Agfa C66 Colormat which is a Durst 605 adapted with complex exposure electronics in the baseboard. It was sold in the graphics market with a Agfa branded lens. Drawing on corporate memory perhaps, it is also white!

I do have one vestige of Varioscope history in the shape of a two Agfa Colourheads, The latest, which is illustrated below is of a  modern design and does most of the things the last colour heads did. It is entirely mechanical, at mains voltage, with a projector type large mains bulb.

The bulb is around 250 (volt and watts) but the brochure suggests that it should come from the factory, no doubt as it is matched to local voltage over a wide range. Rather pointless I.M.H.O. unless one has a good voltage regulator as EEC voltage standards would have defeated the plan. In the case of this last type of head there is also an adapter plate to Focomat Ic which is of typical Leitz Quality and finish. I can only describe the interior as rather a special case of a small projector. It still works and could be used,with a second condenser being supplied to fit the 1c.

This started as a little reading project in time of Virus,I am glad to have the benefit of the 35 mm enlarger.

Here are the pictures-

The unit as supplied

The Leitz adapter 17775.

Inside view

Finally, should any reader have a IF.F enlarger that is causing
problems with auto focus it may help to tell you, after months of   thought, I started to replicate a ring found in a photo of the   enlarger on sale on Ebay in Italy.This fits between lens and   flange. Taking a Nikon 50mm f2.8 (Original) lens I found that an 
extension ring of 8mm depth made the auto focus work.Small adjustments could, no doubt, be made by altering this ring or shims, -or just use it with manual focus! 

Saturday, 4 July 2020

More thoughts on enlarger earthing

The Darkroom manuals make it quite clear that electrical safety is important in your Darkroom, stressing proper earthing arrangements and safe wiring.

Previous Blogs of mine have mentioned the need for enlarger earthing.  Where possible I have felt that some of the (pre-war?) systems of serpentine time-expired leads passing through the enlarger column are best by-passed in favour of simple leads from lamp to timer.

I came across an unusual aspect of this problem yesterday while fitting in my Kodak Precision enlarger of the 1939 US type which has been out of my darkroom for some time. I reserve this machine for 6x9 prints and should explain that it is of the very attractive gray and polished alloy type with lots of stainless steel, duralumin, and nothing likely to corrode.

The enlarger was originally designed for 110 volt use with built in US 2- pin fittings to get the power to the lamp. This enlarger is not to be confused with a UK produced machine from the 1950's(and early colour machines) derived from the original, but not so visually attractive.

After fitting this in my Darkroom I tested to confirm that the supply to the head had an earth connection and found continuity with the lamp globe and its mounting. Nothing else was earthed. This strange situation resulted from Kodak's use of fiber gaskets to assemble sections of the head and copious use of black felt to prevent light leaks in the negative stage. Strange to say the insertion of a negative carrier restored continuity but heavy finish in crackle paint in parts also interfered with friction contact.

This is an unusual enlarger to see these days and it is most unlikely that anyone else will benefit from my experience but I have recorded this note to stress the dangers that old enlargers present when imported from US. Relying on friction contact with heavy paint finishes is unwise. Above all, get a professional test before switching on! And, don't forget, that 110 volt timers are usually driven by a 60 cycle motor so that the seconds, although constant, will not be good old British seconds!(and a transformer will be needed) This time difference will hardly matter for print work where any regular intervals can be worked with but could cause problems with development of films. 60 cycle mains can be replicated but the answer is not cheap-there are some suggestions on Youtube but this reference is made without liability. Back to Leica.............

Some Leica fans are dedicated to replicating the original wiring system and  I see that the early German three pin plugs with V shaped pins  are still available on Ebay for the brave and qualified worker.One problem will be the German wire colours of the 1950,s.

Friday, 19 June 2020

A small Diversion - Leica in enamel

This post is born of desperation at the lack of outdoor photography in this ,for me, extended time of lock-down.The subject is a small number of Leica badges accumulated over the years without any great intention of forming a collection.

The photograph also includes a Kodak name plate used in the company and a most unusual logo from a French processing company which I bought at a Car Boot sale.

Among the Leica items are two tiny studs suitable for salespersons requiring a discreet badge, with a dark suit. Those days are probably gone for ever. The LPP 1986 50th anniversary badge is a favourite of mine with my interest in the formation of this Circle. The large Leica 111c has recently arrived as a birthday present and came from PHOTOTEQ who have an amazing website of camera 'pins'including several Leica versions. is worth a look.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Thanks for New Blog

I have no connection with the proprietors of this Blog facility but do thank them most warmly for allowing the viewer to 'scroll' through the past Blogs. This was not possible until now, at least I was unable to arrange it, but has made a transformation in the viewing experience. Thank You

More Exposure(s) for Leica

In the spirit of this Blog which aims, among other things, to report all the Leica references that can be found, I am pleased to refer readers to another website;

This site has Winona Ryder in a study of the Winona Minnesota area with a vintage flavour and a chrome finish Leica on display. I cannot identify the model and perhaps viewers can help. This film was made some months ago and is in no way associated with the present problems in the State quoted.

The commercial concerned appears in a number of posts on Youtube - in particular 'Winona in Winona' and 'Welcome to Winona'. Filmed in a 1950's style with lots of small town Mid West atmosphere some scenes suggest that the camera is an early M3.

The town itself is rather larger than one might think from the clips, having a University and a population of 27,500. The still photos shown have a definite suggestion of the work of Walker Evans and the images of the lesser known areas of North America publicised by several others.

A limited edition book of 100 copies was produced in to support the American Indian College Fund and has sold out.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

More on Perrot-color

Since publication of my Blog on these slide mounts and the tie-in with Leitz I have come across a new box of what may be the last incarnation of this quality product. No mention of the Leitz connection on this box but a drastic improvement in the technical side. The mounts are now supplied in two parts only with the glass pre-assembled. However, the downside in this box,which I date to 1980's, has glass suffering badly from the white hazy film that afflicts new slide mounts if stored for any time. This film can be removed with a Chamois cloth or similar at the risk of introducing 'static' but it is not an insurmountable affliction.( Note: The illustration in the printed leaflet below is of the previous model)

The box now has a 'professional' slant and contains 100 mounts,rather larger than in the post war years.If anyone is able to trace the final demise of the brand or add modern detail do comment.I noticed a similar box on sale at Ebay today which was shrink wrapped by Leitz New York and never opened so they must have been imported by Leitz for a protracted period.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Hot off the Press

The subject of this brief Blog is in fact the Blog itself. I decided that at Blog 150 I should have a permanent record of what I have written since 2012. I do have various forms of technology that can recall the content but I wanted to have hard copy, for largely purposes of my own vanity, and to show older friends who remain outside the Digital age, which is where the site claims to be, after all.

I chose a printer called BlookUp in France who offered a smallish size volume of 331 pages in all. I had in mind that a few entries contained future dates and times which are no longer required, also a few instructions for finding illustrations and for navigation. These have, mostly, been deleted but still I value the chance of proof reading the first copy I ordered and shall save (and save up) for a Coffee Table version at some future date. I found that reproduction of my pictures held up well but copies of old magazines became so small as to need a magnifier in this format which was 8" x 6".

Technically, the whole transfer went well with the only proviso is that the printers had to have access to the pages on the Web and then had to download them. I was pleased with the result,  A larger format could well mean a slimmer version was possible with better enlargement of small printed detail. One point, alterations to layout of words made when typing do, on one or two pages, result in a strange gap in a sentence. This is not visible in the editing screen on my PC and I am working on it.

Not at present available on Amazon but listed by the printers on their website, only one exists and I am awaiting the second edition with interest! Wait for it to be remaindered.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Slide Mounting through History!

Following the recent concentration on Projectors, and Leitz in particular, I thought this might be a suitable place for a (short)study of the mounting systems that Leitz have supported over the years.In the Pre-War years Monochrome slides were popular as shown by the number of slide projectors with film strip facilties for which a (Leitz)  ELDIA printer was essential to get the pictures in the right order and to eliminate the mistakes!. This system had the finished film strip passing through the 'slide' projector by use of a winding mechanism-usually in panoramic format. However by about 1936 the World had learnt that there were colour films,Kodachrome in particular, which were very expensive to UK residents and could only be processed in the USA. In return for the effort and cost the 8 ASA product supplied superb results in Natural colour(color)which in many cases have been preserved until today. Moreover the pictures came back in card mounts as individual photographs suitable for projection as single slides without all that cranking of hand winding apparatus. Things just took off from there-largely for the wealthy-and it was not until the early 1950's that amateurs came to expect that their results would look good as colour slides '-just like the cinema'

I would speculate that the peak of interest in slides was from 1953 (The Coronation) until, say, 1980 by which time quality paper prints were available at low cost in the mass market. Today, neither are popular outside of keen amateur circles and Digital storage rules.

Continental film manufacturers brought colour slide film onto the market after the War and the Amateur started home processing. A large market for slide mounts sprang up. Originally most slides had been bound in a time consuming process of insertion between two sheets of thin glass bound with black water adhesive tape. Leitz went with a very high tech system based on the products of Perro-Color in Switzerland and an agreement was struck for these to bear Leitz/Leica name and also that of the makers. This plan was understandable as Leitz did not make film neither did they process film but they had a large market of slide film users with Leica cameras.

The mounts included two precision metal outer covers with a Nylon packing for the internal void. The mount accepted two glass covers and the whole was assembled by hand and inserted in a closing press which locked the whole mount. Glass could be plain or Anti Newton Ring type (them again-Blogs passim) and spare covers were available in case a mount had to be opened. These proved popular with professional users such as museums and Exhibitions. The main advantage being protection of delicate slide surfaces but Kodak persisted with card or 'plastic card' right up to the end. The disadvantage of the Perrocolor was the high cost owing to the complex construction and the country of origin. The picture with this Blog shows the prominence given to the Leitz name which was never disguised on the package. This was always lurking in the small print.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Where do the old Projectors go? and thoughts on obsolescence.

In this day of semi-lockdown, thoughts have turned to the garden and house painting, just the tasks likely to be postponed in normal times. I do not have any fresh negatives crying out for printing and instead have reviewed a number of boxes of acquisitions that have not seen the light of day for years.

First moan is about my 'stock' of 110 projectors. I find I have three Leitz 110 slide projectors,all working, with bulbs, and the tiny magazines that they need for a visible film size of 13mm x 17mm.

I do have a large number of 3x3 slides from the days when I was taking pictures of four small children, now they wave a phone at me and send the result to some social site. These slides of mine are very bright and sharp from a Kodak 110 pocket Instamatic 60 on Kodachrome 64 for the most part, with a few on Agfachrome. This camera had just about the most reliable exposure system that I have found only let down by the weird battery that had three wired button cells in a plastic carrier. The lens had a superb lens of high tech construction said to include a moulded element but all beyond criticism- and claimed to be adopted by the CIA in a black version. The batteries however were hard to find, even in the day, and, I speculate, they resulted from a Kodak wish to make everything as simple as possible for the user even in the top of the range camera.A fine object in say, a hearing aid, but not in a state of the art camera.

As a Darkroom user of larger negatives I had no wish to use tiny colour negative films in the camera and only used slide films. Kodak offered two projectors in UK. The 210 and 610, separated only by a bit of automation, were made in Germany. Possibly made at Frankfurt, they were well designed to dispense with magazines using a small plastic case returned with each processed film. As with several Kodak slide films the location of the ultimate processing station was a secret and some films seemed to come back from distant parts of Europe. Not so Agfa, which always used a lab in Sweden!  The big failing was the lack of any transformer in the projectors which chose to run at mains voltage with a mains QI bulb of 200 watt that was, again, difficult to find. It later transpired that a bulb designed for Photo Modelling lamps, part of a studio flash set up system, was similar. The heat was high and any fan fault could cause melting of moulded parts or at the very least a blown internal fuse, most parts being of plastic of a basic type. All in all, a good try in keeping the slide banner flying but one doomed by the Global move to paper prints and suspect engineering in Europe- which Kodak more than made up for in the USA,  How?...... to Part Two

Part 2......
The UK and US markets were very different in 1972 with our latent tendency for the popular 'snapper' to recall the Box camera and it's paper prints with some affection. In the US a High Quality Pocket Carousel 100 and 200 were put on the market with a rotary slide magazine just under seven inches across holding 120 slides, more than enough to show at one session. There was a tradition of family slide viewing going back to the debut of Kodachrome in the 30's. From a personal point of view this magazine capacity contributed to the 'Christmas at both ends' family show we all know so well. This magazine had a security ring to avoid the dreaded dropping of the slides in a darkened room. Thankfully, the lamp was a DDA 150watt 24volt type that, although rather large, was a step in the right direction. Why the designers missed the fact that almost every projector in the world used a 'peanut' QI bulb of the basic type, available everywhere at low cost, I cannot imagine. These bulbs are universal, even today, and sold a rock bottom prices. However Kodak made a very nice little projector with a minimum of planned obsolescence.

So, we have a niche slide market with two major lines of projector both capable of fine results on the screen.

Enter LEITZ. It was known that Leitz looked at the 110 market and designed a prototype camera which was made for the 1974 Photokina. In the event, only the projector appeared which was probably a wise decision given the status of, and contrast with, of the usual Leitz cameras. As a parallel product a Agfa branded version of the same projector came on the market briefly, all mouldings were internally identical but with slightly different styling and a complex range of 110 cameras. The slides were carried in a very small'compact' magazine and in all cases seen were branded with both Leitz and Agfa names. However this small magazine held only 60 slides, probably enough to drive many of us to sleep, but more than adequate. A choice of lenses was given but I have only seen the Colorplan- the most respected name - in the UK and have never seen an Elmaron. Even a tape adapter plug was listed at the time!

The illuminant was a 12 volt 75 watt QI lamp in an integral reflector. This is, I think, of the same specification as designed for the v35 Enlarger and also used in Walner and Dunco enlargers and Colour heads. It is now obsolete but there is a whole home industry finding or fabricating equivalent bulbs for the enlarger, and in the case of a projector it seems that life can continue with a substitute. My projector has a Russian copy of the correct bulb and runs to my satisfaction. So,taking the long view, if one could have seen into the future in 1972 it might have been best to avoid 110 entirely. In doing so one would have missed some interesting times- and I still have four projectors to play with. The following photographs are a few features of the projectors described. In preparing this Blog I was well aware that another option existed in the Hanimex rotary band projector which was a truly original design with the slides clipped to a fabric belt which rotated at what could be high speed if desired and could give a form of animation rather like the flick-books made under the desk at school!Possible Japanese in design,I can only show a second hand picture, not of a very good standard but the fabric belt stretched from left to right across the machine. The problem came in the adhesive used to secure the stainless clips to the fabric which did not last well. Few will have survived. There was also an attempt to market a machine with rotary magazine of the German type by Kinderman/Leisegang which seems to have sunk without trace,in the UK at least.

To conclude, the design and construction of these short lived 'high tech' solutions seems rather hasty in retrospect and lacks any product development which might have added reliability and long life. The design branded for Leica and Agfa is basically sound but is founded on a lamp that was only on the market for a very short time. Leica users expect a lifetime of use! In any case the film was discontinued after a brief availability and we were left with colour print film only. Leitz as usual were allied with Agfa who could only offer their own slide film which proved rather grainy in this tiny format. Any association with Kodak and its superb film seemed impossible to consider. All a matter of Marketing really, and a field alien to Wetzlar!

Hanimex trail blazing rotary magic,beloved of Art Schools everywhere.

The long lived Leica with quality lens but body of machine largely made of plastic.The lens is worthy of Leitz in it's quality and finish.
 Leica /Agfa slide magazine

Leica internally, against Agfa. Embossed lamp spec.varies with I suspect the realisation that any 75 watt bulb will be fitted! The angle of the reflector can be critical in some uses.The Leica seems to be fitted with a thermal cut-out.Both have a spare glass fuse under the heat shield.

And, the one that never left home but is probably the best engineered but to European eyes the worst styled unless one likes a projector to resemble a Ford Station Wagon of the 1940's.No remote with this model but several variations exist. Mains connection seems to be by very non standard plug which would not 'pass' in the UK but at least it had a transformer. Clever assess hatch for the bulb is revealed by removal of the 'wood'/foil side panels.All in all beats the rest.

That's all folks.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Film Lives- and has a new arrival

For Blog 151 I already have a superb subject. 'PhotoRumors' site is carrying a posting from B & H, the NY retailer, for the latest incarnation of an old favourite, Fuji Neopan Professional Acros II , 100 ASA, withdrawn in 2018. Already launched in Japan last year it has arrived in US a little later than expected.

The promotional details include the fine grain and smooth tonal rendering that have always been a selling point. Fuji also claim that it incorporates 'Precision Iodine Distribution Control' technology to assist in small tank processing.  It is a much revised emulsion following withdraw of the old version which suffered manufacturing difficulty.

It as good to see a fresh introduction from this giant in the same way that Ilford Harman Ortho was recently launched. Another clear sign that Film lives on and is attracting keen users. No doubt it will get over here in due course but will have keen competition even in today's contracted market.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Post Number 150..........8 years gone.

I am reminded by Google that I have now reached Blog Number 150 in this series which has taken Eight years. Taken as an Annual figure the average is rather less impressive and, true, there have been periods when long gaps have preceded frantic catching up.

No photos of mine this time but a brief note that I have become more and more concerned about storage of the Digitally written content on the site in a form rather more tangible than the Computer memory.  I have all the usual back up systems but even these seem rather fragile.

So, I have decided to order a Book of the entire Blog, for myself, and have already requested this in a medium format after doing all the editing of news that has gone out of date such as forthcoming events and pure admin. items. I hope to then be able to edit and correct further on the screen version prior to repeating the exercise in a Coffee Table version-again for myself only- so don't look on Amazon.

It has been a long eight years since a lazy Boxing Day when my son,  Rupert created the Blog for me, but it has proved a great help in setting out my thoughts on Photography among a small group of friends. Thank you Ru.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Some prints that have circulated in Leica Circle 6

This week I am publishing s few of the prints I have circulated as a change from endless equipment reviews. Brief details are added. Regular visitors to these pages will know that the Bag of members prints circulates about six times a year and each of the members awards a mark. The annual winner gets....nothing much at all....beyond the satisfaction of winning and a printed certificate. There was a time when an engraved lens cap was awarded. now a small shield is given  at our Annual Exhibition.

Sadly we have been forced to suspend circulation due to the present Virus with, at present, no news of when it may be safe to resume. However this may remind members of what we got up to in the past!

Some of these earlier prints have already appeared in the Blog in the past.These will receive attention in a 'copy and paste' exercise required to make a printed book copy for my own use. I have already had one made as a form of proof copy and it is painfully clear that some references to past events and timetables should be deleted before I go to the expense of a 'Coffee Table' edition!

Kilcott-Spring 2019. The South Cotswolds
Leica 111G. Summicron. Rollei 25.

Damme, Belgium from Church Tower.
Ilford Delta 100 Leica M2/ Summicron
in Perceptol 1:3

Early Morning in the Plaza, Salamanca, Spain
Ilford Delta 100 in Perceptol 1:3
Leica M2 Summicron.

Strangely similar,these two scenes were taken 900 miles apart and  separated by several years. The upper photo was in Mahon,Menorca, on the steps of the Carmelite Market. The lower photo was taken at The Horse Hospital,Camden lock,London.Both Leica grab shots.
Rayher against the light in Hyde Park, London, taken on the spur of the moment when visiting the Serpentine Gallery. Leica SL (Film)
on t-Max 400  in  D-76 .with 50mm Summicron.

Taken at Gortmore on the Bishop's Road, Gortmore,Downhill,in Northern Ireland.Leica r4s on Rollei RPX 25 in FX-39. The distant horizontal line is Loch Foyle-The estuary of the Foyle.

The restored Clevedon Pier in Somerset, the only Grade 1 listed Pier in England. As with most of the Severn Estuary the tide runs far out to reveal the beach as in my shot. Leica M2 with 35mm lens on T-Max 400

The terrace adjoining The Church of Saint Eulalia at Alior,Menorca.
Leica R4s on Rollei 25 in FX-39 and Summicron 50mm


A must have for the film user

Today's musings revolve around the last edition of the Morgan and Morgan Leica Manual. This arrived in the early 1970's as the 15th edition of a series dating back to 1935. Most readers will be aware of the early editions, heavily US orientated, and, towards the post-war era, containing a few surgical photographs we could well do without !  Willard D. Morgan, a founder of the series passed away in 1967 but this edition is a worthy tribute to his Leica work.

Despite a marketing effort to regard the book as a continuation of the 14 editions that went before the 15th is a huge book with colour -or color-used and fresh contributions throughout. The previous editions we getting a bit like the Encyclopedia Britannica with really little need to buy more than one edition!

In 1973 we are in the age of the SL reflex and the M5 both of which appear in detail. However, it is in the processing and photojournalist contributions that the book excels. I have long been a fan of Bill Pierce whose work is represented as are many others in the World  of Film based Black and White. The book is often available at Camera Fairs and bookshops at modest prices but I believe it was never reprinted and we shall not see it's like again.


Monday, 4 May 2020

Leica in the time of Virus

As I am classed as 'vulnerable'and(confined to barracks until the expiry of 12 weeks from a vague date in the middle of April) not much has happened on the Leica front. I feel I have exhausted the possibilities within walking distance of home despite entering a print of my lounge window in an interesting shadow in the latest Annual Exhibition -yet to be judged as another result of the lock down.

So, competitors have many boxes of prints lying in Oxford and were forced to cancel the 'Annual' scheduled for the end of April. Simply remaining healthy is sufficient reward and this is not intended to be a moaning column.

Taking a strictly positive view there are a few Leica-related activities available down here, if only putting all the Leica books on one shelf! Rather preferable to taking table top pictures of men made from pipe cleaners which featured in the thin magazines of 1939-1945.

On the subject of Leica literature I have put together a few examples of what is available, some of which may be unknown to those coming to Leica film work at a recent point.

For upwards of 85 years the collection of complete sets of the magazines associated with our favourite brand has been a 'must' for club members. This probably started with the Leica News and Technique issued by the company at Mortimer Street in the 1930's
This ceased (suddenly) in 1939 on the outbreak of War. I think I have the full set which is of historical interest but for me does bear the heavy touch of Factory Issue publicity. I believe it could be obtained free in UK by owners of a camera willing to register their camera at the company, which rather depended on how it was acquired or imported! I know of one that was imported,part assembled over several trips abroad and reassembled here.

Often assembled in specially embossed spring covers these do give a slice of history. My picture shows the binder, a separate copy and a contemporary 31/4" slide made for lecture purposes.

When the Second World War was over it took some years to see the emergence of Leica Fotografie from the German publishing house,Umschau Verlag, of Frankfurt.These were first

published in German only and soon acquired an English translation on 'Onion skin' paper that over the years becomes attached to the prints if not kept perfectly dry.Roughly the same size as our pre-war magazine these are probably the best known Leica Magazine which remained in issue until the 1990's before more glossy and larger issues took over. This series is the 'classic' issue which almost all members seem to have in an complete set either bound or loose. I must admit I have both!

The content is a rich source of knowledge for anyone whose interest lies in film and an endless source of Winter reading. Published about six times a year there were some 240 issues in all which make quite a dent in the book shelves but is well worth having. Do check the language first as they exist in English,French and German.

The last Magazine I want to include today is little known in UK but well worth snapping up if one finds any copies.Like the German version this one is called Leica Photography, with US/English spelling. Again issued free to owners I have the earlier issues bound and later ones loose. The format is larger than the European and their sources are World Wide rather than a Central European flavour seen elsewhere. Each edition had a 'Gravure' section for optimum presentation of B/W work.However the very best is the technical data relating to many highly collectable products sold in small numbers that are hardly mentioned in detail in Europe. It may help to know that there were either three or four issues each year.The content includes products by Leitz NY. Happy Hunting.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Second thoughts on the Focomat v35 and the Dunco enlarger

In common with many colour enlargers my new acquisition was disposed of at a modest price (if collected!) which situation has been brought about by the decline in RA4 processing. These machines can be used for black and white film printing on the Yellow and Magenta filters and, thus far, the outline of this Blog will be all too well known to Darkroom workers.

The enlarger I have bought to add to the collection is a Dunco 66-11
which covers up to 6x6 film but is fitted with a filter head for Ilford Multigrade B&W work. This is provided on the same basis as the variety of well known but little seen heads for the Focomat v35. However, on close examination the heads bear a similarity to those for the Leica v35, they employ the same family of filter values, out of the three possible standards, and best of all on this machine the lamp holder simply lifts out for replacement of the bulb. A similar, or possibly the same, appears in the Paterson 67 Pro enlarger- a short lived branding in the UK with both Colour and Mono filters in the same head.

In my acquisition the lamp installation slides upwards, complete, in the manner of older Leica projectors giving easy access to the 12volt 75watt reflector bulb. This bulb is, in this instance still a Philips 6604, housed in a huge finned heat sink which I think must be a part of the Dunco 100 watt range, this is a guess but the v35 has a heat sink of similar size. No use is made of any locating features on the bulb rim.  I have in mind other heads using the same bulb with no cooling other than by convection but these heat sinks seem to be required owing to the compact arrangement of both enlargers mentioned.

The latest hot issue in Multigrade enlarging is the arrival of Ilford-Harman MG in its latest version, No. 5, I've not tested or seen any yet but given the wide range of settings possible on the Dunco head I guess it may be accommodated which brings me to the three controls available on the head.

Unlike the often seen modern colour enlarger with three colour filters we have a rather different three options.

An illustration is provided below, but to explain, the controls are firstly a scale of Multigrade settings scaled from 0 to 5, this is on the right. On the left are two settings. The upper knob introduces what looks like a plain solid 'filter' that acts as a neutral density control scaled 0 to 60. The lower control is marked 'filter on /off' and acts as an instant white light control - only it doesn't - as the unit leaves a pale yellow filter in place at all times and I can only guess that this has been found necessary to help get the soft grades and match the filters used to Multigrade requirements. (More on this subject in the excellent Ilford Data sheet 'Technical Information Contrast Control') Moreover, Ilford detail the use of a Y filter with Aristo Cold Cathode heads and compare results with Tungsten light sources BUT the Dunco we are looking at today uses a Quartz lamp in a reflector which may be the real reason for the yellow base setting. In my own use of an Aristo head the need for a basic yellow came up and was solved by purchase of the last type of head with the Aristo v54 phosphors.

Any user without the film carrier of choice may wish to know that a Philips carrier would fit with a little adjustment and is very similar to the original.

Another thought regarding the Yellow filter is that combined with the latest MG paper large adjustment of exposure for grade changes may be avoided- a small bonus.

What advantage does this machine have over the Focomat? Well, very little difference in practice but the choice of a 6x6 negative from time to time, and, for me at least the better placed range of filters as my Focomat v35 only has the Colour settings and a B&W set just never seems to come on the market. Costwise there is no comparison with the Dunco costing 10% of the Leica machine. Further reports of the Dunco in use may follow!

If anyone has a copy of the Manufacturers booklet then I should be pleased to copy and return this.I am in some doubt as to the reflector angle specified.

Mr Jones with Leica

A Leica camera pictured in the Guardian recently - not a film I have seen yet but yet another mention of 'our' camera of choice in the media.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

A special day at Duke Street

In a bit of, not very modest, self promotion I am showing a photograph I took with the Leica SL (Digital) on loan from Leica at the new Duke Street, London, shop and Gallery. This facility was made available on the now almost annual visit of the Society for updating on new products and a general get-together, with lunch. O for an enlarger and the chance of trimming out the lamp post,or more!  However,it seemed to be overlooked in the judging and I was delighted with second place.

Following Lunch we were able to select a current Leica Digital and lens for a hour or so exploration of the area which produced a wide range of results on the subject of Street Photography suggested by the then current exhibition of the work of Joel Meyerowitz.

I chose the SL with the Summilux f1.4 ASPH and adapter as being nearest in feel to the SLR I often use with film. I am glad to say that the camera was perfectly capable of operation without the vast range of options available to an advanced owner. Beyond insertion of a disc and setting on 400 ASA for the dull afternoon nothing was necessary.

This meeting coincided with the release of our President's new book - Behind the Lens - My Life by David Suchet, who was present.

I am greatly enjoying the copy I later received as a Christmas present.A fuller review will follow.

Thanks are due yet again to our Chairman, Tony Cole, for his good work in the organisation behind this day and to Leica for the generous support they give. In particular thanks to our hosts,Jason Heward, Robin Sinha and David Slater of Leica for all they contributed.

Friday, 27 September 2019

A Cry for help

Can any of our readers identify the camera which was intended to fit the underwater camera housing shown below? I have seen the 'R.G.Lewis' invention of the post war period but from memory it is not one of those. Next Choice would be a EWA 'Hass' housing but again I cannot locate a picture and most cameras associated with Hans and Lotte Hass were Rolleiflex models.This housing has two glass ports which suggest a 35mm reflex was intended and a plastic holder for what may well have been an electronic flash marked Aquasnap. Any help appreciated via 'comments' on this site or the email on the Home page.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

'Russian' Enlarger design updated

The title of this Blog has caused some thought today as it is all too common to use the words 'Soviet' 'Russian' and various combinations of CCCP and USSR when making reference to the makers of these enlargers. It is difficult to be precise about the present subject as the literature originated from Ukraine and I have never seen the actual enlarger concerned.

It would appear that the history of amateur Enlargers, from what I will call Russia, is well known  following the immense popularity of  Zenith and similar products in the period roughly 1960-2000 when quality 35mm film  cameras were both sought after and expensive in UK.  A gap in the market was identified and filled with the arrival of a compact enlarger which packed into a suitcase and is well represented on Ebay to this day.  I shall not dwell on this particular machine except to say that it provided a very adequate introduction to enlarging for many.   It was followed by a streamlined version that should have been even more attractive but the days of the enlarger were numbered with the arrival of Digital cameras.

Never available in this country was an even later development which is  interesting in that it appears to draw on the design and appearance of the Leitz/Leica v35,   the last enlarger offered by Wetzlar.

I can only suggest that any reader who can correct what I write about the FOMO enlarger sends me either a email (see header page) or a message in the comment section and I shall do my best to correct things. The FOMO is an attractive machine in the same shape as the Leica v35 and working with a single spring arm and I suspect auto focusing cam. The precise lens employed is unclear but the light source is a small mains bulb of the type seen on earlier designs. The base board and column are much updated but lighting is by double condensers rather than the diffusion system.

I think it best that I show some illustrations from the handbook I have recently obtained, dated Feb. 1985,  leaflet printed in 1984.

Needless to say I should be interested to hear from anyone who uses one of these machines, in particular to learn what lens was used as I have a number of the later lenses which have become available on the market.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Sommor Sommor

An earlier Blog shows a negative holder with a Leitz-like name which emerged in the 1930's and 1940's. In the event this was a French product quite well made but probably introduced when the real thing was unavailable. Another product of those days has come to light in the Sommor loader for 10m of bulk film(say six loads) and a bakelite 'Bobineuse' which holds the cassette in a light tight trap for loading. This is a smaller proposition than any other device to load from bulk film and is is surprising that so few remain in existence.

The Way We Were- LPP in the 1960's

A member of long standing recently gave me the mark card shown below from some old papers being cleared out. This may stir a few memories among members.

Antique Grain Focussing Magnifier

No doubt this item is in common use in darkrooms across the country but I have never found found one myself.  Pre-War may be a better term than Antique but the magnifier is uncoated and the general build rather  heavier than one has come to expect.  I normally use a French Scoponet which I have shown for comparison.  As received the older item had a damaged mirror.  This raised the question of how to make a new mirror, preferably a surface mirror although I suspect that some on the market are not of that type.  I found a IKEA mirror for pocket use with the surface deposited on plastic sheet thin enough to cut with a craft knife.  I am unable to say how the mirror is coated but above all it works without a double image and gives accurate results.  I feel the oversize mirror helps in use and brightness is no problem. In case you wonder the cross hairs are located in the tube below the eyepiece.