Another unusual LTM copy:
Here is a Leotax model TV2, another lever-wind IIIf copy that tried to combat the M3 by adding features. As you can see, it is Barnack sized copy of the IIIf, but with thumb lever wind. Leotax, Nicca, and of course Canon were the major Leica-inspired cameras of Japan after the war. This Leotax is very well made and is quite delightful to use. I purchased it from a seller in Japan quite cheaply, as the rewind crank didn't fold properly, as it had been incorrectly re-assembled. It took a few minutes to fix. On the first test roll, everything works fine, so it may have had a CLA recently (and the unusual construction of the rewind would explain it being off). All shutter speeds are good, with even exposure across the frame, unlike most I get on auction.
While the Nicca models can use a Leica style film cassette, the Leotax uses a Canon style cassette, similar to the old Contax style (as was Nikon). These machined brass cassettes are as well made as Leica's. This was a generic Canon copy, but I've seen Leotax branded ones as well.
As I mentioned, besides being Barnack sized with a lever film wind (ratcheted, and very smooth), this also has a unique folding lever rewind knob:
With the crank unfolded it works like any other folding rewind crank. But when folded, it can't rotate around because the crank hits the VF housing. So when it folds it releases a clutch so the inner spool can rotate freely while the knob stays stationary. So how do you know the film is winding when you advance? The small slotted screw head that sticks through the center of the crank rotates with the mechanism below, so you still have a visual indication the film is advancing.
I also appreciate the viewfinder. The eyepiece opening is larger than a IIIf, and the view is a bit wider than a 50mm view, so there is a bright line 50mm frame that I can see with my glasses on. It doesn't move for parallax correction, but has parallax marks for close focus.
It also has modern geometric shutter speeds, but still on two dials like a proper Barnack.
Notice also the shutter release button has been moved forward so it falls to finger easier.
The frame counter is below the top cover, and is manually reset easily. It is unusual also, in that it counts DOWN. For a 36 exposure roll you set it to 36 when you load, and it counts down to zero. So you don't have to remember what size roll was loaded if you don't use it quickly, as in the 50s many of us took months to use up a roll of film.
This feels compact and solid, and fun to use.
However, what these advanced clones lack is the great view and sharp RF rectangle of the M series Leicas, where you see the view much better, focus faster, and can use the patch as either double image or split image. That was Leica's attention to detail and made the M series so desired.
Edited by TomB_tx, 05 February 2017 - 21:25.