Sunday, May 3, 2020

Leica Copy Stand and Canon IIIc with 1.8/50 Lens

     If you want to copy a document in today's technologically oriented world, you can easily do so by using a photocopy machine or a scanner. But in earlier times, doing so wasn't such a simple matter. Back in the days when film still ruled the roost, copying photos and documents required the use of what today would be considered archaic and cumbersome devices. That said, why would anyone want to take the trouble to recreate the process when modern techniques make it so much easier? Maybe it's because some people  enjoy the doing so, while others like to rise to the challenge. Or maybe it's just fun  for many photo hobbyists.

     The venerable Leica Copy Stand was foremost among the many basic copying devices in use during the 1950s and earlier. It was available in two models: BOOWM for M mount lenses and BOOWU for LTM mount lenses. Although these devices were designed for use with Leica cameras and lenses, I have used the BOOWU model successfully with a Canon IIIC body and Canon 1.8/50 lens.

Leica IIIC + Canon 1.8/50 Lens A6 Mount
      Less complicated  in design than an old fashioned egg beater, the Leica Copy Stand consists of four lens extension mounts and four adjustable legs. That's it. What could be simpler? It's a minimalist's delight.

      The four adjustable legs are click stopped and marked to correspond  to the mounts, which are labeled A6, A5, and A4. To photograph something the size of a postcard using the BOOWU unit and an LTM lens, attach the lens to the A6 mount, attach the mount to the camera, and attach the four legs to the mount without extending then.
      For octavo sized objects you would use the A5 mount with the units legs extended to their A5 markings, and for quarto sized objects you would select the A4 mount with the legs extended to their A4 markings.

Copy of 3.5 X 5-Inch  Photo, A6 Mount
      With the BOOWM unit you would unscrew and insert only the optical unit of a f/2 Summicron lens into a UOORF bayonet adapter before you attach it to the extension mount. If you're using a collapsible 50mm lens, however, you won't need the UOORF mount. Other lenses designed for the BOOWM unit include the 50mm Elmar, Summar, Summitar, and Summarit.  With a lens and extension mount in place, the procedure for using the BOOWM is identical to that of the BOOWU.

     If you want to take a journey back in time using an antique copy stand, you'll discover no lack of these units for sale on the Internet. If you're lucky, you'll even find one with instructions. But be sure to shop carefully. Some of these stands are quite reasonably priced. But others are way up there in the "you gotta be kidding me" range.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Canon III with Auto Up Attachment

Canon III with Canon Auto Up
     I scored a Canon III and a superb Canon 50/1.8 lens on  Ebay for just $90 and $60 respectively. Then, for just $25 I acquired a Canon Auto Up close up attachment. At $175 for the set I figured I'd gotten a bargain.

    The "III" designation refers to three types of the same Canon rangefinder camera that were manufactured between 1951-1953. Because it bears the serial number 86383 and has a red P on its top plate next to the word "Japan," this camera is probably the most recent third type (IIIC). It was most likely manufactured in 1953. If I'm mistaken, please let me know.

     One of the nice things about this camera is its three-position viewfinder switch. When you set the switch to "F," you'll see a 50mm view in the finder. At 1x, you'll see a a 100mm view, and at 1.5x the view is equal to 135mm.  The 1.5x setting helps with critical focusing. And it can be used when you have a 135mm lens mounted on the camera.

   Like its Leica cousin, the Canon III is a bottom loader, a fact that creates difficulties for some users. But I found plenty of information that helps to solve this problem by Googling "Canon III Film Trimming." Alternatively, Canon has provided a helpful graphic image on the inside of the camera's bottom cover.

    The Auto Up attachment is effective from 40"-22". After you attach the unit to the camera's lens, you can frame and focus on the object to be photographed as you usually do. But you do have to compensate for parallax if the object is closer than 39" from the film plane. To help you make adjustments, the unit shows a small arrow in the upper right-hand corner of its viewfinder. You'll find more specific instructions at

Actual Image Size Is Six Inches
       With the Auto Up in place and the camera approximately 22" from the jar shown in this photo--the closest distance allowable--I captured the image at f8, 1/2 second on Kentmere Pan 100 film.
       After I developed the film, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that because I had used the 1.5x viewfinder, I didn't have to correct for parallax. The image was nicely centered in the frame.
       I printed the photograph full frame, only cropping enough from its sides to create a square. Then, using my ancient Canon LIDE 20 scanner, I scanned the print to my computer.
       Using the Canon Auto Up mounted on a vintage Canon rangefinder camera isn't for everyone, especially those who enjoy the ease and convenience of digital photography. But if you enjoy the challenge of stepping back in time to the days when  rangefinder cameras and film were still king, doing so might be right for you.

     Finally, note that there are three versions of the Auto Up (I, II, III), each of which is designed for a specific Canon LTM lens. These lenses are the 1.5/50; the 1.8/50; and the 1.9/50. I used the Canon 1.8/50 lens and the Canon Auto Up I (specific to the 1.8 lens) for this exercise.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Leica M3 with Jupiter 8 2/50 Lens

     Although I already own a Jupiter 2/50mm lens, when I saw an Ebay listing for one that claimed to be new old stock at $75, I made an offer of $55 and won. After the lens arrived, I was pleasantly surprised because this Soviet made copy of the prewar Zeiss Sonnar 2/50mm lens was indeed pristine.
       Because the Jupiter has a Leica Thread Mount, I had to buy second LTM-M adapter before I could mount it to my Leica M3. I also bought a generic lens shade and cap, as well as a 40.5mm DHQ UV filter and a gold colored soft release, all of which are available for very little cash on the Internet.
        In the photo (above) you will see, also, a Butter Grip, which is a 3D printed camera hand grip that I've found to be an extremely helpful accessory. It also helps to note that at just $20 or so, you won't have to sell the farm to buy this grip.
        Of course, you can read many reviews of this lens that are quite technical, but I never paid any attention to them. Based on my earlier experiences with the Jupiter 2/50, I knew that under decent lighting conditions it would produce the sharp, snappy black/white photos I enjoy printing in my darkroom.
        Here are a few examples.The "Sunny 16" rule was my guide for estimating exposures on
 Kentmere Pan F ISO 100 film which I developed in D-76 1:1. I printed the images on Kentmere VC Select RC glossy in Dektol 1:2.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Leica M1: A Minimalist's Delight

     More than one blogger has panned the Leica M1, but I don't agree.  If, like me, you're a minimalist who prefers standard transmission over automatic transmission or an old wind-up watch over a newer battery operated one, you'll like the M1.

Leica M1 with Jupiter 2/50 and Blik Lomo USSR Rangefinder and Soft Release

     Introduced in 1959, the M1 is as finely crafted and competent as are its cousins the M2, the M3, and the M4. But because it was intended for use with a Visoflex system, it lacks a rangefinder, a preview lever, and a self timer. But that's not really a problem. Actually, the M1 is an  M2 without those three refinements. Better yet, because they're not in great demand, M1s are less expensive than the M2s, M3s, and M4s are. I bought the one shown here (body only) for less than half the cost of an M2.

     I really like this camera. After all, really who needs a self timer? I don't think I used one in the last fifty years. Ditto the preview lever. By the way, the M1 shows just two frames in its viewfinder: 50mm and 35mm. Because those are the two lenses I've used the most over the years, that's not a problem for me .Of course, you can always use an accessory finder if you want to mount other

    Perhaps the biggest complaint people have about the Leica M1 is that it lacks a dedicated rangefinder. There are two solutions to this problem: (1) you can attach an accessory rangefinder as shown the photo above, or (2) you can use the zone system. With the diaphragm set at f/11 on the Jupiter 2/50, for example, everything from about 3 meters (9' 9") to infinity will be acceptably sharp.
And it gets even better if you use a 35mm lens.  

Leica M1 with Jupiter 2/50
  Okay, okay. I know that some people will slam me for daring to mount an inexpensive Soviet lens on a Leica camera. And for all I know, they may be justified. But I have to say that I've used not only Soviet Jupiter lenses, but also Industar lenses for several years with good results.

     I have to admit, though, that all isn't peaches and cream when it comes to lenses made in the then Soviet Union. It's well known that in many cases quality control in that country hasn't always been consistent. But I guess I've been lucky because all of the lenses I've bought from Russia have performed well for me. And so has the Blik Lomo rangefinder, which I bought for just  a few bucks.

    Summary: if you require bells and whistles on your cameras, the Leica M1 is not for you. But if you like getting back to basics, then you're going to enjoy using it. And perhaps the best thing is that when you buy an M1, you're buying the same camera as the M2 without the preview lever, self timer, and rangefinder.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Darkroom on a Shoestring

     During my working life, I always built dedicated darkrooms in basements that I equipped with top notch enlargers and other gear. But after I retired, my Princess and I moved to a small one-level house in which there simply wasn't room for a darkroom. What could I do? Living life without my man cave would be like taking pictures with a broom. Desperate for an answer, I prayed to Filmonia, Goddess of Photography, at her home in Wetzlar, Germany for a solution to my problem.
      In minutes, an answer came to me. "You vil create a darkenzimmer in der poopenzimmer," trilled a voice from on high. That's when I immediately adapted one of the two bathrooms in our house for use as a darkroom.
      After making the room as light tight as possible, I searched for an enlarger and all the rest of the "stuff" one needs to process black and while film and create finished prints. By the way, I wanted to buy the equipment as inexpensively as possible.
   After a few days, I discovered the Bogen X-35 shown in the photo. This is an entry level unit that came with a film carrier that accepts 35mm negatives. It has a drawer for variable contrast filters and a decent 50mm Voss lens. The unit was New Old Stock (still in the box). I think I paid about $75 for it.
     The only problem I've had with this enlarger involved the height adjustment knob, which, because it's just 3/4" in diameter, required a lot of force to tighten it. I remedied this by making a larger knob that's 1-3/4" in diameter and attaching it to the smaller knob. I've marked it with a white dot in the photo.
      At just $5.00, the 8X10-inch Bogen easel resting on the enlarger's base was my all-time greatest "El Cheapo" find. Of course, at that price it was little more than a rusty relic. But after I removed the rust and repainted it, it works just fine.
        I found a stainless steel developing tank with two reels, three 5 X 7" trays, three tongs, a safe light, and a  GrayLab timer on the Internet at bargain prices. In my junk drawer I found a Weston thermometer. I discovered, also, a bargain priced set of polycontrast filters on the Internet.
       I bought a few dozen rolls of Kentmere Pan 100 B/W film, some Kentmere VC paper, and packets of Dektol, D-76, and Kodak fixer. After mixing the powdered chemicals with water, I store them in 12-ounce green bottles that had contained ginger ale.
       I didn't buy a stop bath because I use plain water to arrest both film and paper development, and I didn't buy Photo Flo either. That's because  I add one or two drops of Dawn detergent to a gallon of water to make an inexpensive wetting agent for film.
      I usually use the Dektol four or five times before I dump it. Because I test the fixer by placing a bit of exposed film into it and watching to see how long it takes to become clear, I don't use hypo check.
     This system seems to work quite well for me, especially since I'm printing only 5 X 7-inch B/W prints.   Here are a few photos I processed in my new, makeshift poopenzimmer darkroom. Thank you, Filmonia.

Leica M3 Canon 3.5/135mm
Leica M2 Jupiter 2.0/50mm

Leica M3 Jupiter 2.0/50mm
Leica M3 Canon 3.5/135mm

Leica M4 Jupiter 2.0/50mm

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

And Yet Another Leica M3

   I'm not really a Leicaholic, but I simply couldn't resist this camera, which is my fifth M Leica. Because it showed several dings and dents; had a self timer that was kaput; needed to be recovered; and lacked a frame preview lever, I was able to buy it for a decent price. In fact, I reasoned, the price was so low that even if I had to send the camera off to Youxin Ye for service, I'd be ahead of the game. I guess that's one of the perks that comes with being comfortably retired.
   Amazingly, despite the problems cited above, M3 #740961 has proven to be a winner. The viewfinder is clear; the rangefinder is accurate; the double stroke film advance is silky smooth; the shutter curtains are intact and free of pinholes; and the shutter operates as it should. Amazingly, the L seal is still intact.
  Luckily the inoperable self timer isn't a problem for me. I've never used one, and I don't plan to. Incidentally, because this M3 is one of the original versions (1955) the shutter speeds (1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 250, 500, 1000 +B) differ from those on later models.

   Here's a photo of this venerable classic after I stripped the original corrupted covering from it. Not shown is the back door, which suffered from a severe case of chipped and peeling paint, which I corrected before I applied the new covering to it.
  Now for an interesting aside. The M cameras were originally covered in vulcanite, which is no longer available. Truth to tell, I don't know what today's coverings are made of, but I can't tell the difference between the old ones and the new ones. My source for these coverings is Aki-asahi in Japan. Good quality, fair prices; excellent service. For more about recovering your camera, see Make Your Old Camera Great Again in the 9/9/19 entry of this blog.

    This photo shows the same camera after I completed the recovering process. Mounted on it is a Soviet era Jupiter 8, 2/50mm lens that I picked up for fewer than $50 a while back.
   Some Leica lovers will scoff at this lens; gnash their teeth; and pull their hair out because "it doesn't belong on a Leica." But I've gotten good results with it, as shown by the accompany-
ing photos. This lens has a screw mount, but I attached it to the camera with a generic LTM-M adapter.


  Because I'm a frugal person who didn't want to spend $18 or so on a pair of flash socket covers, I used an inexpensive hole puncher to create little paper covers that fit perfectly into the openings. They are not very elegant, but they do the job for which they're intended. You can see them in the photo shown below. Incidentally, I've used the same little paper covers on my M1, M2, and another M3 that I own. Sadly, they won't fit on my M4.

      According to everything I've read, except for the missing preview lever and the changes in the shutter speeds, this early M3 is about the same as its later cousins. Be that as it may, I've found that there seem to be subtle differences between the two versions of the same camera. For one thing, the shutter on this older M3 seems to be a bit quieter than the shutter on its predecessor. And the film advance appears to be a tad smoother.
     Of course, I could be suffering from an over active imagination. But no matter. I like this early Leica M3 enough to plan to use it regularly in the future.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Leica M3 and Elmar 4/90 Lens

    Because I rarely shoot color film, I like to use vintage lenses on my 35mm cameras. One of my favorites is the Leitz Elmar 4/90 #1287930 (1955) shown here mounted on an M3, the same M3 I described in my September 9 blog entry, "Make Your Old Camera Great Again."

      Even though I know that dedicated Leicaphiles will roll their eyes and threaten to run me out of town on a rail, I have to admit that I attached a generic grip rather than a Leica grip to the camera (about $20). I also attached an inexpensive soft release to the shutter button.

    But that's not all. I even mounted an off-size Kenko lens shade to the lens using a few dots of Shoo Goo as an adhesive. The best thing about the Shoo Goo is that although it holds the shade firmly in place, the bond isn't permanent. I can easily remove the shade if I want to do so.

     Because this lens had some fog on its elements, and because the focusing mechanism was a bit tight when I got it, I sent it off to Youxin Ye for servicing. After that master craftsman worked his magic and returned the unit to me, it was like new...maybe even better than new. The lens was absolutely clear, and the helical was noticeably smoother.

     A million years ago when I was a young man, I had a Leitz 90mm Summicron. I think it was made in Canada. Compared to the rather large size of that unit, the 90mm Elmar is a pencil. And because it's so small and  weighs so little, it's a pleasure to use. What's more, when it comes to producing good images, it's no slouch, as shown in the accompanying  photos.


      Of course, nothing in life is perfect, not even a Leitz lens. In the case of the 90mm Elmar, my one complaint is that the aperture adjusting ring isn't click-stopped. Because of that minor glitch, you do have to take extra care when you adjust the diaphragm. .

      But that's certainly not a game changer, especially when you consider that this lens can produce excellent images. And...if you shop carefully, you can still find a Leitz 90mm Elmar that won't break your bank. I highly recommend it.