Wooden pole

The Leicaflex SL is a keeper! Now I have to honor my promise to my colleague and I am happy to do so. Still awed by the incredible sharpness and contrast the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 gives me.

Weathered pole (2015) Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus
Weathered pole (2015)
Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus

“Are you going to get lenses for your Leicaflex?”, Sweetheart asked me this morning.
“I bet it will be some kind of wide angle”, she continued.

Yeah, I have been looking for a 35mm or a 28mm since a few days but these lenses are hard to find and so very expensive.

Sweetheart left me speechless. How did she know? My love for wide angle is relatively new. On cropped sensors I favored a tele, but on full 35mm I kick on wide angle.

I am so very proud of Sweetheart as she understands and knows about my photography. Feels what I feel.

So, with a wink, Sweetheart, I’m sure you’ll love this. Trust me on this… it goes both ways.

 

 

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Wood, metal and a brick wall

My Leicaflex SL has 1235763 as serial number and I was curious if this would help me find out when this camera was assembled.

On Cameraquest.com I found following information :
A new batch of 10000 cameras was started on May 29, 1969. The first serial number of that batch was 1235001.

1235763 Leicaflex SL serial number photographed with a Lumia 640 LTE
1235763
Leicaflex SL serial number photographed with a Lumia 640 LTE

That day I was 10 years and two days old. The moon was still uncharted terrain but not for long anymore.
My father would be with us for another 3 years and two weeks. Then my life would change in a way I could not have imagined.

I did not see my colleague today so I was not able to tell her the camera was in good working order and if she wanted me to return it.

Wood, metal and a brick wall (2015) Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus
Wood, metal and a brick wall (2015)
Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus

Leicaflex SL – Second thougths & honesty

After dropping Sweetheart at her place I went for a walk.

I had the  Leicaflex SL and the Summicron 50mm f2 with me.
The camera loaded with the remainder of the Ilford FP4 Plus.

I used a Gossen Sixtino 2 to measure the light.

Back home I developed the film and, when dried, scanned it.
I am still flabbergasted about the amount of dust, not used to it.

The Leicaflex SL works well and the Summicron is simply tack sharp. You measure the light, set aperture and speed and shoot.

The shots I made are simple. Just testing the contrast and sharpness of the lens. A camera is just a camera, a film simply a film. The final image is made by the lens.

I have photographed with 35mm Olympus, Nikon and Pentax but the contrast, the sharpness the Leicaflex gives me is something I cannot describe.
It simply is awesome.

Glass and concrete (2015) Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus
Glass and concrete (2015)
Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus

The Leicaflex SL was given to me by someone who believed it did not work anymore. It still does though.

Today a Leicaflex SL in mint condition, mine is not mint but almost, and a perfect working Summicron goes for 600 – 800 Euro.

It is a gift that is hard to accept because of wrong assumptions buy the giver.

Tomorrow I’ll talk to my colleague and tell here the facts. I shot a whole film with the camera, there is a simple work around for the film advancement problem. If metering light is a problem, I’ll offer a Selenium based light meter. Hell, why not the Sixtino 2?

I should be honest about it.
Some will think of me as plain stupid.
That is okay with me. No hard feelings.

I on the other hand like to admire myself in a mirror. I like to think I am an awesome guy.

I think I should be honest to my colleague and explain her what she has given me.
If she still feels okay with the gift, I’ll be too.

Wheat (2015) Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus
Wheat (2015)
Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus

Leicaflex SL – First images

Yesterday evening.
I felt my heartbeat going up when I opened the development tank. Oh the anticipation!

Then I had the film in my hands, my very first Leica shots ever. I held the piece of film up against the grey sky outside and had a look.

Every negative was well exposed albeit a few were a tad overexposed. I guess I did not meter well.
No apparent light leaks. Film advancement is flawless.
The image made with the studio flash was also perfectly exposed. X-Sync is 1/100th at f8.

I rinsed the film with demineralised water, then the final rinse where I added a few drops of wetting agent. Then I hung the film to dry in the bathroom.

I watched two episodes of Pretty Little Liars (Season 2), talked over the phone with Sweetheart and at 10:30 PM I turned in and slept well.

* * * *

It is eight in the morning and raining.
I’m enjoying a cup of coffee with cream.

My Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400 is buzzing cheerfully. Then the first image appears on my screen. I use Silverfast SE 8 Plus for scanning.

They are merely test shots, no jaw dropping and award winning photographs.

Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus. One Jinbei 180ws flash-head and synced at 1/100th f8.
Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus. One Jinbei 180ws flash-head and synced at 1/100th f8.

Wow, I like what I see. The images are very sharp, even wide open at f2. Bokeh is very pleasing. Cannot wait to make a few portraits of Sweetheart or Little A.
Contrast is also very present.

Lots of dust though, way more than I am used to have. For this post I am not going to bother removing it though.

Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus. Shot af f2
Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus.
Shot af f2
Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus. Shot af f16
Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus.
Shot af f16

I am very happy with this camera and extremely thankful to my colleague for her kindness.

I loaded a new roll of film in the camera and taped the beginning to the film-taking spool. I’ll try and come up with a more professional solution later on.
This camera is really heavy, feels solid and looks like it is build to last forever.

I’m taking the camera for a walk after finishing this post. Well, I hope so as clouds are moving in again and light fades. It is going to be a rainy day.

PS I am not going for a walk. The rain is pouring down for the moment. Maybe I’ll watch another Pretty Little Liars episode in stead.

Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus
Leicaflex SL with Summicron f2 50mm and loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus

Leicaflex SL – The Sequel

I had a busy day at work but found some time to download a manual for the Leicaflex SL and read a few articles about the history of the camera.

My colleague had told me her father hadn’t used the camera for ages because the film transport system was broken.

When I opened the camera and cocked the shutter everything seemed okay. Well, maybe that is because there was no film to be transported and with film loaded the gearwheels and what not could overshoot.

But the film winding spool or how do you call it seemed a little odd but then work intervened and I forgot all about it.

During my lunch break I did some more research and opened the camera again. Cocked the shutter. Everything seemed okay and I could imagine the film being wound up gradually after every shot.

Then it dawned on me. This could not work there was nothing to pull the film on the spool.
Googled the Leicaflex SL for images and then found the one I needed.

In my camera the spool where the films winds up on misses something compared to the few photos I saw online. Like this one.

Source http://moffat-leicas.blogspot.be/2009/11/leicaflex-sl-christensen-body-sn.html
Source http://moffat-leicas.blogspot.be/2009/11/leicaflex-sl-christensen-body-sn.html

Could it be that simple?

* * * *

Back home I did the thing I always do first: firing up my computers.
Then I opened the camera, got a roll of Ilford FP4 and some tape.

Fixed the film on the spool that was missing the thing that grabs the film, I have no idea how it is called.

Cocked the shutter, fired.
Cocked the shutter again.
Fired.
The film advanced flawlessly.

With a huge smile I closed the back of the camera and got my light meter.

The camera uses banned mercury batteries. I know I could get some Weincells on eBay but I’ll use my vintage Selenium light meter instead.

I took about 6 or 7 shots near my apartment. No Pulizer prize material, but I wanted to know if the film advanced correctly and if the shutter was still reasonably precise.
I made a shot with my studio flash too.

In my dark room (bathroom) I opened the camera and cut off the piece of exposed film and got it in my Paterson tank.

Twelve minutes later I opened the tank again.
I was extremely curious…

In my camera something is missing...
In my camera something is missing…

Leicaflex SL

I am at work now.

This morning a dear colleague kindly surprised me by putting a weathered dark brown leather photo bag on my desk.

When I opened it I saw, to my delight, a Leicaflex SL in rather mint condition. On it a Summicron f2 50mm (Leica R-bajonet).

My colleague told me the camera was broken. Something with the film advancement but she wasn’t sure.
She told me I could keep the camera if I was able to fix it but wanted a small digital compact in return.
This Leicaflex SL belonged to her father and he would be happy with a more advanced compact digital camera.

I can’t wait to get home and see if I can repair the Leicaflex SL. If not I’ll contact P. and ask if he can help.

Anyway I am a very happy man.

The Leicaflex was the first series of 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras manufactured by Leitz. The Leicaflexes were fully mechanical cameras marketed between 1964 and 1976.
It was Leica’s response increasing popularity of SLRs during this period.

It appears that Leitz lost money on every camera produced due to the cost of producing the high spec shutter.

More on the Leicaflex SL (Wikipedia)

An article about the financial nightmare this camera was for Leitz

Leicaflex SL image made with Lumia 640LTE
Leicaflex SL image made with Lumia 640LTE

Nikonos IV-a

I am aware I haven’t been posting much on this blog lately. Call it photographers’ block or laziness or lack of inspiration. Indeed, photographically speaking I am a little lost, still not sure what direction to take.

The guy whom owns the thee-shop I shop at regularly told me he had the impression it was mostly the self-criticism that is paralyzing me. And the fact I am laying the bar to high.

Anyway, today I was cleaning out the big cupboard in my living room, trying to make some space for my cameras when I found this forgotten gem.

I bought it on eBay maybe 7 years ago because I liked it and wanted it. I never used it though except to run a test roll just to see if it was in working order.
It was.
And I had plans but never carried them out. Not because I didn’t want to. It was more because of let bygones be what they are, bygones.

You see I am/was and experienced 2star CMAS diver. Most of my dives I did in murky water, in the Netherlands. In the Oosterschelde, Zeeland.
On good days you could see 1 to 2 meters but mostly 50 centimeters was the best one could expect for.

On Saturdays and Sundays it was crowded as it was one of the only places one could really enjoy a dive.

So soon, with a few friends, we started doing night dives. Boy, what an experience that was. You only saw what passed in the beam of your torch and fear your worst enemy. Thinking of the Kraken and other dangerous monsters lurking just outside that beam of light.

We did 2 to 3 hour dives going not deeper than 10 meters. Sometimes though we dived for only 45′, mostly decompression stages, after a 50 meters (165 feet) deep dive where we played with baby sepia’s, highly intelligent and curious mollusks.

I remember how the sheer beauty of the underwater world touched me when I did a few dives at Malta, in the Mediterranean.

Sticky because of the silicone and the dust gathered on it, I held in my hands a Nikonos IV-A underwater camera.

Obviously the batteries were drained so I fetched some new LR-44 batteries.
And there you have it. I have this all-weather Nikon camera equipped with a 35mm f2.5. You can take it underwater, like that, to 50 meters.

For specs on this camera… well Ken Rockwell did a great job.

Is this camera going to be important?
No, I don’t think so.

It is just something that reminds me of how my life was before I left my family.
It is about closure, a life I had but isn’t mine anymore.
Proof of how one can grow, evolve.

Most of all it reminds me of being depressive for 15 years and how leaving my life/wife/family made me a happier man.

For fuck’s sake, it is only a camera! But fun to have.

Nikon D2h with Vivitar 75-205mm f3,5
Nikon D2h with Vivitar 75-205mm f3,5

 

 

 

 

 

What is my destination?

This morning I told Sweetheart I had no idea what to take with me, photographically speaking, on our holiday. Yes, in September we are going for a week to Arromanches, Normandy. Nothing World War II related, simply a destination France.

I wish I could take her somewhere exotic, something that involves a plane. Sweetheart has never flown (I am not a great fan of planes) For the moment though her kids define her time and future so we keep things in a safe distance.

Summer (2015) Nikon D2h with Vivitar 75-2015 f3.5mm lens
Summer (2015)
Nikon D2h with Vivitar 75-2015 f3.5mm lens

For quick and dirty work I’ll take a digital camera. Maybe the Nikon D300 so I’ll have also the F100 and F90 with me as they use the same lenses.

I would love to make some analogue long exposure shots. But then I think, hell, everybody is doing that today.
The Volker Birkes, Henki Koentjoros, Gittan Beheydts, Hiro Sugimotos and Michael Kennas of this world are creating astonishing long time exposures.
What do I have to add to the genre?

Landscape? Something colorful shot during the golden hour, blue hour or whatever hour, like Peter Lik or Serge Ramelli?
Nope, I don’t do high-end postcards.

Fact is I have no idea what to do next.
I feel, creatively speaking, lost.

Marguerite (2015) Nikon D2h with Vivitar 75-2015 f3.5mm lens
Marguerite (2015)
Nikon D2h with Vivitar 75-2015 f3.5mm lens