Wednesday, 2 February 2022

(Lack of) Progress Report

Those loyal readers who may have had concerns over the future of this Blog during the past six months may be reassured that both the interest in Leica cameras and the continued existence of Circle 6 are still to the front of  my mind. Over the intervening period the state of the country, lock down ,and restrictions has cast us all on older negatives and revisiting our efforts of years gone by.

The Leica Postal Circle has continued as best it can with interuptions in Circulation and fears that  circulation can spread infection. Added to this has been a major Operation at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. I launched two folios prior to entering hospital for mailing on a delayed programme to try and keep our Circle active. I have now returned to the care of my family.

This break took place from early November 2021 but my recovery is still going on. Sadly, I am away from my home darkroom and it may be a few more weeks before I am back in full action. In the meantime I have acquired a Leitz Focomat -Color in Gray finish that I have been restoring during the winter. Anyone who receives the Leica Society magazine will have seen my advert seeking a magnification  quadrant which is missing from the enlarger column. No doubt one will  turn up some day but it is only required for Historical accuracy, it is rather a 'cosmetic extra' unless one still prints wet colour.

Activity in the Society has been subdued although a limited number of one day events have taken place, Two Annual week-ends have been missed with the consequent lack of our usual fellowship but the now quarterly Magazine has gone some way to preserving our feelings of unity as a Society. I cannot avoid reference to the sad loss of several members  where our simpathy is extended to the families concerned. The position regarding Membership has given much cause for concern in recent years and I think it is fair to say that the solution still eludes us.

The final point I have to make concerns the future of the Circle and my own role as Hon. Secretary. It has become clear that I shall not be able able to to continue for much longer and do actively seek a replacement who can take over sooner or later. The reason for this is not one of pressure of the Secretarial function or the circulation of folios, rather it lies in my own contribution to the prints which has almost dried up and is now confined to my second rate work of some years ago. This is in the most part  due to lack of ability to drive for a protracted period and the need to manage and maintain a home,with the pressure of medical appointments.

Dorothy Bohm - Appropriate film for Holocaust Memorial Day, (Seeing Daylight)

Sky Art is a rather neglected TV program here but it does come up with some interesting niche films on Photography from time to time. This particular film has been transmitted in the past but its repeat is most appropriate matching,(almost), as it does, Holocaust Memorial Day. 

 The subject of this film was the photographer Dorothy Bohm. now in her 90's and resident in  Hampstead it provides a moving story of a girl who escaped here as a Lithuinian Jewish refugee before the war. Her work was partly produced on  on a Leica with a Leica enlarger .Later work seems to involve a Nikon and above all a Rolleiflex which was used to make a host of work from the 1950,s in London and Switzerland, 

.Dorothy was one of the first Management of the Photographers Gallery.  

I shall not try to recap the wealth of detail contained over this one hour film which is in part inspired by a similar BBC film of 1980, Try to see it if you can find it on one of the repeat services.


Sunday, 23 May 2021

Let George do it- with a LEICA

The subject of this blog is rather out of the run of technical items that have been posted recently. It does follow the random spotting of Leica references that have been reported in detective novels and similar places over the years.

The blog concerns George Formby who appeared in a film called 'Let George do it'  which became a minor catch phrase during WW11. Released, I suspect, early in 1940 and so having been made so early in the war it's titles include a warning that events had already moved on prior to release. In May 1940 Norway was invaded and fell to the Nazis but the film seems to have been made between September 1939 when UK declared war and that date. More about the tell-tale cutting later. The plot, if any, concerns a Ukulele player who is mistaken for a British Agent and ends up on a mission at a Hotel in Bergen via a North Sea overnight Ferry. Despite total confusion over bedrooms in the usual manner, some of his greatest hit songs are superimposed at random points. A large orchestra in the pre- war dance band style is also involved.

In the course of adventures in Norway George manages to take pictures of 'the secret plans' using a new looking Leica 111 in a glossy case found in a room occupied by the 'other side'. He escapes only to fall into a bread making machine following which he and the Leica  are eventually rescued from a bread oven. I think you get the level of intellect involved. A subtle touch leaves a room full of bakers, and flour, looking for another camera! The Leica was not just a passing prop but appears in several scenes and is shown in use by George.

Needless to say George triumphs but not before the heavy hand of the Ministry of Information can be detected. Our Hero is persuaded to fly home in a barrage balloon which somehow lands on the dais at a Nuremberg rally alongside Hitler. The dictator is promptly told that he is George's 'last territorial demand in Europe' to which Hitler threatens to have him beheaded. All of which sounds a little too researched for Ealing Studios. Needless to say Hitler is demolished by one punch and the rest of the Germans start dancing with joy. If one has failed to realise what a charade this is then the final scene will confirm your views when George wrecks a U-boat and is ejected from the torpedo tube onto the Newcastle ferry and the prize, as you guessed -Phyllis Calvert.

Let George do it (US. To Hell with Hitler ) 1940 Dir. Marcel Varnel.  Prod. Michael Balcon Ealing Studios. Starring George Formby. Phyllis Calvert. Released 12th July 1940.


Nothing above is intended to detract from the fine war of George Formby who, with many others, entertained troops at home and abroad during the Second World War.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

A Double Celebration

This month marks the 600th folio of prints circulating in the name of The Leica Society- Circle 6. However, for most of the period since 1938 we went by the name of Leica Postal Portfolios, amalgamating with The Leica Historical Society only some 15 years ago. The second and much smaller cause for jubilation and the usual ox-roast on the Village Green is that I am at this moment writing this, Blog No. 150.   

The eagle- eyed will notice that the register of posts passed 150 a few months back but suddenly shrunk with my deletion of one or two making reference to work by members where Copyright may still exist, but cannot be traced.

In circulating a few well chosen remarks on this occasion ( By what criteria are remarks selected to mark an occasion?     'Well Chosen'.- Flann O'Brien ) I can only offer the following.

The Leica Society Circle 6 Notes for the 600th Folio 2021 

Ever since the departure of Bag no. 599 I have been giving thought to what I could say on the notes for No. 600 which brings a landmark in the history of LPP/Leica Society, albeit a rather jumbled history which has had to be partly reconstructed from records in Magazines and older Newsletters.

It seems clear that the very first circulation took place during 1938 and in reporting this the Miniature Camera Magazine mentioned that new members could still apply provided that they did all their own processing!   Another feature of the first folio was the inclusion of the work of a 'guest', J.H.L. Adams, later I believe Professor Adams, who was Secretary for a time. On that subject I mentioned the Anniversary to The Circles Secretary last month and he told me that we are now one of the larger Circles in the Society. This was a surprise after the opposite being true at times in the recent past!   He added that we had the distinction of only four Circle Secretaries in the entire 82 years of existence. I did not inherit any records but my searches have revealed J. H. L. Adams,  Tom March,  Bill Cornwall, and myself although the address of James Robertson of Irvine, Ayr, appears for initial enquiries. Shortly after the launch of this Circle war broke out and, in fear of the future, circulation ceased for a few months. When we settled into the Phoney War and Home recreations built up,  most Circles resumed, and did their best to continue. The name of the great C.C.B. Herbert was well to the fore in all the LPP activity at the time of our foundation and that most active of members later held every position in the Society during 51 years as  member- and founder.

I cannot trace at what point the present rules were introduced but it seems clear that early prints may well have been in a format of 6''x4'' or smaller before our extravagance of 7''x5''. Prints were in early days simply attached to the top of a Crit. sheet for easy comment as the print was viewed.  From what I have seen of early comments 'no holds were barred' and members required a thick skin. We have never sought to restrict comment but I think I can truly describe present notes as 'friendly' and positive despite the occasional incursion of Politics, Religion, and that other thing, which all pass as fair comment-so far.

Now I have completed the self-congratulations I can, perhaps, dwell for a moment on the outlook for the future. We are fortunate in having some younger members in this Circle and I have seen the average age fall during my time in the Circle, which must be over 30 years as a Society member, much less as Secretary. The LPP,  LHS,  now the Leica Society, have not been groups for the young. Following the widespread release from Import restrictions in the early 1960's we saw the wider availablity of our beautiful cameras that only the well-established could afford. We then passed through a period when an elderly screw camera spoke for itself in terms of the owners impecuniosity. This was eventually transformed into a complete reversal of the situation into that of today when a screw (film) camera draws a small crowd and swift reference to possible auction results !

How long can we continue?   Digital cameras have been viable for,  at most,  30 years but those are 30 years when enough new members, and continuing members, have shown an interest in what we do, largely in film processes. We now have a wider choice of printing methods and show no reluctance to accept todays quality inkjet work,  and,  in 'our size' any difference is less noticeable.  A quick calculation suggests that on average over seven folios have been issued every year. At the present time this a believable rate. Despite virus constraints I would hope to maintain it, although further expansion of membership would force slightly faster circulation.

I should like to think that there are another 600 circulations somewhere in the idea of Circle 6 and I can say that using emails for about 20 years have not (personally) convinced me to adopt any more technology. My favourite mint Focomat is about 60 years old and has only been updated with a LED lamp from the original specification. I think that is about enough progress for now ! (Cries of 'Luddite' from the back of the house) Suffice it to say that I have derived more pleasure from this Circle than any other Photographic Club or Society I know. My work has even survived the size check by small steel ruler of one nameless member (long gone) who should perhaps have joined a model railway club!

On that note I shall revert to the usual good wishes and close by wishing you all a very successful year despite the desperate state of the nation. Paul Blanchard 30.3.2021

Friday, 26 March 2021

Enlarging on the Focomat- Minor Details.

I have recently come across Enlarger accessories I thought I should never find. They are the two most common of the range of single negative glass plates that were sold for the Focomat over many years. The two plates shown support the glass in the enlarger but , contrary to historic illustrations these are in a fine matt silver finish of metal without any paint. The larger aperture and glass is for the nominal Focomat 4x4 fitting which cuts the extreme corners. In this case the holder came with two srips of thin adhesive tape to mask the aperture to 3x4 in a vertical format. I removed this as the adhesive has decayed. The glasses are in good condition and original having the small detent at the end of each plate to ease separation. When first listed these bases were sold in a range of formats and in 1956 included a 3x4 holder within a range of five. Mine are coded VNEOO for the standard 35mm frame and VNUOO for 4x4. The glass plates were VOOMD for 35mm and VOONR for the larger type. One minor anomaly I found with the standard 35mm full frame holder is that the aperture is factory finished at 25 x 37 mm- a size sought after in the world of Black and White film! There are no trade marks.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Yet Another- they've done it again!

Merely as a minor diversion I have from time to time recorded a note of Photographic references in Crime Novels. A glance at the shelves of most Charity Shops will reveal many thousands of these in tremendous diversity. Lady writers seem to lead the field in my favourites set in the period 1850 to date with concentration on the period immediately between the wars. The latest seen is 'A Woman Unknown' by Frances Brody being a 'Kate Shackleton' mystery involving not only a detective with a darkroom but her ill founded relationship with a press photographer. He carries his candids rather too far and ends up murdered in his darkroom. In a strange twist at the end the remains of a camera lens come to light saved from the shell burst that killed the Detective's husband on duty as a MO in the trenches. The pressman had devised a 'round the corner' lens on an Aldis Butcher but had spent the proceeds of blackmail on photographic equipment.The account of printing out paper seemed a little complex but no doubt processes that I am unaware of were involved. All in all a quite gripping tale lightened by photography! ISBN 978-0-7499-5492-5

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Congratulations to our Honorary President

It was announced in todays 'Times' that our Honorary President, David Suchet CBE, has been appointed to 'Knights Bachelor' for services to drama and charity. I am sure all members will wish to send congratulations on this well deserved award.

Monday, 28 September 2020

Focomat Restoration

Way back in 2006 Leica followers received a bonus in that two subscriptions to the British Clubs were , in future, to be reduced to one payment!  This was brought about by the amalgamation of LPP ( Leica Postal Portfolios) and Leica Historical Society. Given that much duplication of membership existed this was, after some discussion, agreed and for a time the excellent format of the Historical Magazine was continued under Jem Kime as Editor. Today this magazine has been expanded for the combined Society. 

I was re (re-) reading some of these magazines recently when I came across an article by Jem regarding rewiring of Leica enlargers. This is a subject that has cropped up recently as such machines as the Focomat Ic grow older and while static wire is often acceptable it will be the old flexible wire that will surely be past its 'sell by' date.

It is not my intention to reproduce the work of Jem but if you can read his article it contains much on restoration and the conversion to IEC fittings of those odd baseboard sockets.

The Focomat Ic is the enlarger which often needs rewiring and, given that it was produced for 1950- 1978, there can be no reflection on the quality of original manufacture. One oddity to us in UK is however the use of German standard plugs and wire colours. 

Given the risks associated with mains electricity I can only warn that undertaking any renewal should be done by suitably qualified persons and so, and if any doubt exists, please consult a qualified professional.

The purpose of this Blog is to draw the attention of restorers to the availability of what seems to be replacement three pin German plugs such as used on the top of Focomat 1c columns in the post war period. I had thought that these were long obsolete before I discovered several on Ebay as new items in various colours and designs. Users will know that these plugs have 'half-moon' profile contacts and offer an earth pin.

A typical search is        

'Busch-Jaeger Terko-Stecker Sw 34 Wj'

but several are illustrated from various sellers, not all of whom will mail to the UK. I must add that I have not bought one of these but comparison with some of the data given by Jem Kime in 2008 suggests we are on to the right thing.

One vital last note is to record that German electrical flex colours differ from UK standards in  every way in the period we refer to. Details of the conversion of colours in wiring is best left to the professional guides  available. Suffice it to say that one should NEVER assume that a German wire colour is directly convertible to UK standard, old or new.


Tuesday, 1 September 2020

A new 'thread'....

Yes, this brief post refers to the Leica thread which has come to be known as 39 mm or LTM (for Leica Thread Mount). Not that one is likely to be able buy a brand new taking lens with this type of mount as they are now mostly found in smaller enlarging lenses, a (very) few reissues of classic lenses and the Cosina ranges.

There is a vast stock of taking lenses in this fitting which can, mostly, be adapted to Leica M mount or in some cases digital cameras  even, if in some cases, only for close up use. This field is truly is vast going back almost 100 years to say nothing of the large Russian/Ukraine/USSR ranges.

I recently had need of a 105 mm enlarging lens and had a late TTH (Taylor, Taylor & Hobson) in my stock, made near here by Rank in the last batches of the 1960's. I wished to enlarge some  6 x 9 negatives and was ready to fit it on to my 6 x 9 enlarger flange when I found it would only turn about one half of a turn before jamming. At this point it became clear that it did fit another flange I had, but had never used. From various other sites I found that Leica screw thread is 39 mm and 26 t.p.inch. Rather a strange definition for a precision engineering company but explained by the background of Leitz in Microscopes which commonly used such threads in Whitworth form over many years. Close examination of the TTH showed it was of 1 1/2 inch diameter and  24 tpi. with a heavily relieved 'lead in' to the thread. I have come across these 'almost right' fittings in the past on an US Leica look-alike, the Perfex, with 39 mm in a very fine thread.

Needless to say, there is no question of the TTH being 'wrong' in any way, it is simply using UK standards for a UK lens!

If you find one do not think of forcing it onto a flange by brute force!

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 different levels- unless adjusted- and the effect has no bearing on the negative focus plane which remains constant.

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 is a good solid enlarger. A Variscope is a rare machine in UK but retains a following in Europe where a Heiland split grade conversion has been listed and may still be available.

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 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.