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working Ur-Leica?


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So with George’s help and inspiration, I have decided to have my UR Leica Replica by Leitz converted to a working camera. This required me sourcing a Leitz 42mm Mikro Summar lens, which was fairly easy since there were a few suitable lenses on eBay. Also, a donor Leica was needed, so I gave up my first Leica, a IIIc which had a bad shutter curtain and also very damaged Vulcanite. To fund the conversion, I sold a CC Harrison Daguerrian lens. It’s been quite awhile since I used it, and have a few others to use anyway. I think the prospect of a working UR outweighs the minor sacrifices. I like unique unusual things, and this camera certainly fills those desires. It will be a few months until I get it back from Mr. Kim in Seoul, as a camera builder myself I understand this time frame. Meanwhile, I’ll use my Null Series and get well trained on capping the lens! From time to time I’ll update this thread. Here we see Mr. Kim smoothing out a few edge nicks on the body of the camera.

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I have solved the problem of running out of film in the field with the UR, have two of them and now you have about 70 exposures. I picked up the second UR Dummy to replica conversion on Friday when I dropped off another dummy to be converted. It is a good feeling to know that Ray will be having the opportunity to experience the UR in a few months.

the original conversion is on the left and the most recent one is on the right. I have put on a Russian 35mm Viewfinder on the one picked up last Friday. Now to the west coast of Korea for a photo jaunt for a few days. I really love the size of the UR and if you look carefully you will note that I have put a Leica lens cap on the one on the right. It takes the same one as on the 50mm Elmer lens used on the Leica 1a of 1925. I find this most interesting. Did Barnack choose the size of the diameter of the 50mm Elmer to match the diameter of the one on the UR? Edited by George Furst
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George #2 looks Great! I’ll have to keep my eyes open for such a viewfinder. I envy the photo opportunities you’ll have, regrettably southern New Jersey is kind of “blah”, though Asbury Park is oddly interesting. An interesting observation regarding the lens cap, you might want to consider buying a can of spray semigloss black enamel to harmonize the colors!. This then will allow filters, and also closeup lenses to be used I suppose, though the UR flange/cap would have nowhere to actually tighten them to. Yes I’m really looking forward to owning and using such an interesting camera. .....following in Leitz and Barnacks footsteps....

Edited by Ambro51
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  • 4 weeks later...

I have purchased a second UR Leica Replica from Flints Auctions in London. Due to arrive later in the week, I intend to arrange a conversion of this one also, providing Mr. Kim is able to schedule it in. With the revival of film shooting in Kotea he is becoming swamped with CLA jobs! Also on another note I have found good documention on what appears to be “The Mother of the UR Leica”, Oskar Barnacks 1912 “Exposure Tester”, which looks to be well within my capabilities to replicate, taking Leica back to its earliest 35mm Incarnation! Very Excited about this Project!!

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BTW on this thread on the “working UR Leica”, it should be noted that “The” UR Leica itself is not in working order. You can wind on the advance knob, fire the camera, but the shutter does not operate. On another note, my Mentor in Wet Plate Phitography, Mark Osterman, is also the Historic Process Curator at the Eastman House in Rochester NY. This coming week he is holding a small workshop in which they will create Nitrate based 35 mm Film, as was made from 1890 to the early teens. He says it is between ASA 1 and ASA 4 And orthochromatic. They make and sensitize the fikm and hand perf it on an original Kodak machine. He has promised me a sample! :-)

Edited by Ambro51
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  • 2 months later...

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Was really excited to find this thread. I have an Ur Leica replica and Summar Mikro on the way. Will look at potentially trying to make it functional. I'm pretty handy and may try to do it myself instead of sending to South Korea.

 

I wasn't clear from the previous threads just what parts from a working Leica need to be cannibalized to get it working besides a real lens? Is it the shutter curtain or film transport or both? I wonder whether I could get the parts from a FED 10 Leica copy? (much cheaper) Would appreciate more details on this George.

 

On a related topic and trying to contribute something new to the topic, the Ur replicas don't come with viewfinders, so I've been looking for viewfinders on eBay that look like the original. The closest I've seen is the sports finder for the Kodak Retina. Got one for $29. Unfortunately, that viewfinder has a cold shoe that is offset from the central axis.

 

 

I used a cutting disk on a Dremel tool to remove that offset. Then I drilled out a new hole in the central plate and widened one of the existing holes to be able to locate the cold shoe on the central plate. See picture.

 

 

I also used the Dremel tool to start stripping the chrome from it, so that it would have the same brass finish as the original.  Picture has only some of the chrome removed.  I will then paint the back standard black like the original. 

 

The Retina viewfinder is 50mm rather than 42mm. I compared it with the field of view of a 28mm lens on my Fuji X-E2 (1.5x crop factor = 42mm) and interestingly enough, if I leave the back standard folded down and put my eye as close in as I can while it's mounted on a camera, it gives the 42mm FoV. 

Edited by hoglundtw
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Congratulations on your UR purchase. You are in for a delightful experience! I have three, One a pristine untouched shelf queen which is mixed 13/22, number 80, which is in Korea with Mr Kim now, and Number 9,..... which I have coaxed to life in a manner you too may do. Everything in the camera is of a working nature but some replacements are needed. The dummy lens is screwed out and the Summar correctly positioned. The drive belt from main spindle to take up spindle is probably missing. I succeeded with a hard rubber square belt from a hi fi about 1” diameter. It went down into the one pulls and I was able with hemostats to draw it up and figure 8 loop it around the other. You may get a take up spool, if you don’t you need two Leica spoils but they are turned down in outer diameter to 25mm, The old shutter curtain comes out, I made a new one from typewriter ribbon. I made a small .003 shim brass plate and cut a slit to give 4 mm. The new curtain was put in, now you see this camera is not set up for full frame as I see it and I reduced the length of the image frame to 26mm. So my negs are 23x26. I had to pull the timing stop pin from the base of the main shaft and that gave a free shutter travel. I wind back till it stops then uncap and shoot. I reckon I’m getting about 1/30 sec exposure and use Rollei 25 film. I tape the film to both spools. This assures the film is transporting and when all goes tight...you’ve used your film. I open in the darkroom and transfer Film right to dev tank. So far I Love using the UR. There is no finer pocket Leica.

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Ambro51 - thanks for the additional details on how to get this working. Mine's stuck in customs right now, but can't wait to start examining it. Would love to try for a higher effective shutter speed (or variable speed) so I can use my favorite T-Max 100 film, although ASA 25 is 1914 appropriate.

 

I know you can't give quotes on behalf of Mr. Kim, but for my own decision making, would be interested in a ballpark of what he charges.

 

Thanks,Tom

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Yes a variable slitwould be as easy as when you have the camera open to stick a little piece of electrical tape and cover half the shutter width. I think you’d be able to do 100 this way. You know a lot of the fun here is experimentation. Get small jewelers screwdrivers and fear not the machine. Working on this Leica is very easy, just don’t lose any screws! When you get it look for the number, either on baseplate inside or top inside of camera near the middle. Most numbers we are finding are low. Though some will disagree I personally have my interest tripled in the Camera after I preformed the “Homage” appearance treatment. It has become eye candy. You’ll find too this is a very easy camera to load. In use the remembering to shoot cap wind Uncap shoot wind etc. I have wasted frames pushing the shutter with the cap on!

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I'm used to the lens capping during winding from using my Leica 0 replica. Got a few pictures that were half white before developing the muscle memory.

 

Would be interested in how you did the homage treatment. Chemical solution or abrasion? Pics of the end result would be appreciated.

 

Tom 

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Getting the UR look was a matter of trying to copy the wear but not overdo it. I used a small wood chisel, small file, 220 sandpaper, scotch bright pad and a buffing wheel. Lots of handling brought the old paint black shine.

Edited by Ambro51
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Oskar Barnack around the period he built the UR. Look at his hands and realize what he done.

Edited by Ambro51
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I’m All for adding another member to the “ Lilliput Kamera “ users group! I’ll help you all I can. As to the finder, understand I’m a camera maker by trade and have tools and supplies. I guess you realize the finder you found is “too short”. I have no idea if anything like the UR finder exists. Mine is made from sheet brass, cut, filed and fitted. It’s far from the complexity of the original (seen on Oskars camera under his picture) since I didn’t bother with the spring loaded fold down capability. It’s a good but bulky finder. However it is Charlie Chaplin’s moustache in that without it it’s not obvious to some it’s an UR Leica. I have a small optical finder I made which I do prefer for pocket ability. My lens in a Leitz F4.5 50 mm Milar, which gives a smaller field than the 42 Summar. I compared my UR finder to a VIDOM and it gave the field of a 58mm lens, but of course a bit shorter widens it a lot. ••• my choice of slit width was to made it a sunny day outdoor camera with 25 Film, and an available light indoor camera with Trix 400.

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I took my UR #9 out yesterday and shot film. The Pure Karma alone of using and handling this camera is Magical to a Leica Fan. Having an “dummy” camera which I have converted to working, that’s magical too. Here are a few photos. These are 23x24 mm crops of photographed negs with the iPhone...not printed or scanned, so view accordingly. All in All though I think pretty credible for a 1914 pre Elmar Leica! I think in many cases the detail compares with Barnacks Wetzlar images

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