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StephenPatterson

"Going retro with the Leica 0-Serie" OR "The Leica 0, Photos in 16 Easy Steps"

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For some strange reason I was outbid at the Westlicht auction last May and did not end up buying the original 1923 0-Series Leica. In hind sight my bid of $37.25 was perhaps a little low, considering that the camera sold for $1,890,000.00...but it did need a CLA after all.

 

If you were also not the lucky winner of that fabled auction fear not, for Leica was good enough to produce two batches of outstanding replicas, which are luckily for me about $1.889 million less expensive than the original.

 

I've always been fascinated by this camera, and now that digital has taken over almost all of my photography I decided to find a nice example and try to "slow down" a bit. I had no idea at the time that the Leica 0 really should have been called the Leica sl0w.

 

Let's Begin...

 

1. Set the Switching Level to M (for Advance), not Z (for Bulb), or R (for Rewind). Hey, one of them makes sense.

2. Load the film, which must be trimmed with the supplied template to prevent jamming.

3. Make sure the lens cap is ON. The shutter is not self capping.

4. Pull out the lens from the body of the camera.

 

OK, now we're ready to take some photos!!!! Find a nice STATIC composition and proceed...

 

5. Determine exposure using built in light meter. Just kidding.

At least you're paying attention. Estimate exposure (or cheat with a hand held meter).

6. Wind shutter half way and STOP. This is the only time shutter speed can be set.

7. Set shutter speed. Choices are 2,5,10,20 or 50. These are the slit width in millimeters.

8. Consult book to determine above correspond to 1/500, 1/200, 1/100, 1/50 or 1/20 second.

9. Complete winding of shutter.

10. Set f/stop on front of lens. Choices are f/3.5, f/4.5, f/6.3, f/9, f/12

11. Estimate distance to subject and set this on the lens.

12. Fold out viewfinder and sight pipper.

13. Remove lens cap.

14. Hold camera approx. 30cm away from your eye and compose shot, aligning viewfinder crosshairs with pipper.

15. Release shutter.

16. Replace lens cap.

 

I'll add one more...

 

17. Pick up M9 and take photo to record what the scene actually looked like.

 

All joking aside I understand that this Anastigmat lens is quite remarkable, and unlike the original has coated optics. Also, the build quality, finish, and overall feel of all controls and functions are outstanding. This is a very solid camera.

 

I'll post photos after I run this first roll of HP5 Plus through the 0.

 

Stephen

 

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Revolutionary design -- in 1925! Absolutely brilliant, and it's still a remarkable piece of engineering.

 

Z is for "Zeit" (time), I am guessing R is for "rückwärts" (backwards), dunno about M for forwards or advance. A native German speaker could help.

 

Have fun, look forward to the pictures!

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............. dunno about M for forwards or advance. A native German speaker could help.

 

Have fun, look forward to the pictures!

 

Stephen,

 

Superb instructions - should become a sticky so that we don't forget what Leica photography used to be all about.

 

Even though I am not a native German speaker, German is one of the languages I try to be proficient in........ 'M' stands for 'Momentaufnahme' or - loosely translated, candid photo. Many German cameras from that era used ‘Z’ for Zeitaufnahme (time exposure) and ‘M’ for any shutter speed longer than about 1/10s.

 

Best,

 

Jan

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Great post, thanks! I have a II but that is about as far "back" as I would like to go for daily use

 

I love the bit about "Hold camera approx. 30cm away from your eye and compose shot..." - what goes around comes around... look how much we have "progressed" in the last 90 years

 

Regards,

 

Bill

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I love the bit about "Hold camera approx. 30cm away from your eye and compose shot..." - what goes around comes around... look how much we have "progressed" in the last 90 years

 

Oh but wait, that's how people shoot today with digital compacts!

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The replica case is beautiful. I managed to find one separately and it also fits a Leica I (Model A), which of course lacks strap lugs, very nicely.

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I love the bit about "Hold camera approx. 30cm away from your eye and compose shot..." - what goes around comes around... look how much we have "progressed" in the last 90 years

 

And the M9 Ti has gone back to exactly the same cable release attachment.

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Hi Stephen,

 

Cangratulations to your nice camera. When you look at the User instructions, page 2, you will notice that the "switching level" (I am convinced you actually mean the: Umschalthebel) can be positioned to:

- Z which stands for Zeitaufnahmen (Long-time exposures),

- M which stands indeed for Momentaufnahmen (which I would translate to Snap-shots and which the English version, page 20 of the same the user manual translates with normal exposure)

- R stands for Ruckspulung (Rewind)

Your summary more or less aligns with my experience with this camera.

HP5 is probably fine for first tests, but I recommend to use something like a pan-f or adox 50 to really see what that brilliant little lens can do (yes, I know, there are flat crystal films, but they would be out of style with this camera!). In the right conditions the lens is truly outstanding!

 

Good light!

 

Christoph

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Here's a little more detail showing the Switching Lever and the Shutter Speed Dial.

 

To set the shutter speed you first wind the film advance knob slowly, while watching the shutter speed dial rotate, and continue to wind until the red dot (how appropriate) lines up with the index mark on the camera body. At this point you can press down on the outer collar of the shutter speed dial and reposition the "pin" into the corresponding hole to set the slit width. Once the pin is set you then continue winding the film advance knob. In the photo below the pin is set to "50", which translates to 1/20 sec.

 

When rewinding the film the Switching Lever is first positioned to R (for Ruckspulung!!! I should have read the first half of the manual in German!!! Thanks Everyone) and while depressing the shutter release you turn the raised rewind knob.

 

Edited by StephenPatterson

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It really is an exceptionally beautiful camera. It would be interesting to see some photos taken with it.

 

Thanks for posting

philip

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It really is an exceptionally beautiful camera.

 

Yes, the 0-series replicas are beautiful mechanical objects (IMO the fit and finish is much better than, say, the MP). I've no idea what they sell for nowadays but only a few years ago you could pick up a mint-used example for £500 (the price of a 'throwaway' smartphone or a couple of Leica lens hoods).

 

In truth, these cameras are not anything like as complicated or as slow to use as the OP's instructions might suggest. The simple framing mechanism and 'guess focus' discourages trying to be very precise and actually make the 0-series rather quick to use once you get in the right frame of mind. The only problem I have found is forgetting to cap the shutter before winding on but you do get the hang of it quite quickly.

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The problem with the 0-Serie replicas is there are not many available on the market. There are of course the HK shops trying to get £1500-£2500, but I purchased mine from a UK dealer for just under £900. This was a like new example with all boxes, accessories, documentation, etc. One nice surprise is that there was no US import tax, as apparently 35mm cameras without a built in flash are duty free, at least according to FedEx.

 

As for speed of operation in using the 0-Serie, well, it's getting better, but all of the above steps are necessary. What I am finding is that it isn't too difficult to memorize the shutter conversions, as 10mm corresponds with 1/100s, and with that as a basis you can work out the rest of the values easily. I'm using a Gossen Digisix around my neck to help with my Sunny 16 skills (or lack thereof).

 

It's the most fun I've had with a camera in some time!!! Highly recommended!!!!

 

Stephen

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As for speed of operation in using the 0-Serie, well, it's getting better, but all of the above steps are necessary.

 

They may be necessary if you put your camera away after every photo and only ever take one at a time in any place.

 

In reality if you were walking around with the camera you would only need to set the exposure once, only need to unfold the viewfinder and extend the lens at first, and could zone focus, so in practice I'm sure it's not quite as laborious.

 

Very nice camera, although I must say that personally I prefer using a 'genuine' period Barnack Leica and lens, but as a 'fun' camera why not!

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I agree James that there is a real sense of pride in using an original Leica. My first was a IIIF and I have a IIIC that I use on occasion. Not long ago I purchased a Leica I A, mainly because I always wanted one of these original masterpieces. I haven't run any film through it, but after using the 0-Series I think I should give it a try.

 

What I'm really enjoying about the 0-Series is that this must have been what it was like for Oskar Barnack when testing the original 0-Series cameras. Yes, you don't have to unfold the viewfinder and extend the lens every time, but you really are limited by shutter speeds and f/stops, so it's best not to wind the shutter and lock in the speed until you are sure of your scene.

 

As for setting zone focus...well, let's see...it's not nearly as easy as with an M Leica!!!!

 

Stephen

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The numbers on the shutter speed dial can be read as milliseconds of exposure.

So for example 2 Is 2 ms which is 1/500 of a second and 50 is 50ms which is 1/20 second.

 

I have a question: when one sets the distance on the lens barrel, is that the distance between the camera (held 30 cm in front of you) and the subject or your eyes and the subject.

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The numbers on the shutter speed dial can be read as milliseconds of exposure.

So for example 2 Is 2 ms which is 1/500 of a second and 50 is 50ms which is 1/20 second.

 

I have a question: when one sets the distance on the lens barrel, is that the distance between the camera (held 30 cm in front of you) and the subject or your eyes and the subject.

 

The distance on a lens is always from the film (or sensor) plane, to the subject/point of focus.

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James,

 

According to Ulf Richter in "Oskar Barnack - von der Idee zur Leica" (Oskar Barnack - from the idea to the Leica), it was Oskar Barnack who, around 1920 or 1925

standardized the way of determining the distance measurement as from the image plane (= film plane). This was done during the development of the first lenses for

the Leica-0

!

 

A common alternative and inexact way of measuring the distance before and after was apparently to measure from the frontside of the lens (see chapter 6, page 78).

 

Regards,

 

Christoph

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