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Guide to black long base rangefinders?

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Can any of you very knowledgable people come up with a table for deciphering which is which for the various  Leitz rangefinders. I have two. My first is a black long base small (21.75mm) metric dial RF with a Leitz embossed leather case. You can see the holes where originally it would have had a clip. It has a flat at the front of the bottom screw cover.  When I was at Solms some years ago, it was identified as a FODIS (m) dating from around 1924 due to the flat at the front showing it was an early one.

 

I have a very similar one with the same size metric dial, no case, no flat and no clip holes. I think therefore unless the case is just lost, it would be a FODUA(m).

 

What other variations for black long base are there, apart from the imperial measurement versions for the UK/US/British Empire (at the time) markets? FONOR, FOFER, FOKIN, FOKAL and how many more. 

 

Then of course there are the short base RFs and the later chrome ones such as the FOKOS and HFOOK and others? If someone comes up with a comprehensive ID, with features, characteristics and differences table it might be useful to add this to the Wiki's current information on the early rangefinders. 

 

My FODIS has a yellow lens over the direct vision optic (lower one), whereas I feel it should probably be over the RF (top) optic. I suspect someone has swapped them over at some time. They are in there absolutely solidly and I cannot move them. I would need a proper camera spanner to get them off without damage. 

 

Wilson

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Wilson,

is your FODIS numbered? Assuming it is 1924 I would think it is not. In one of the late VIDOMs there is an article (in German) about early Fodis, send me PM should you wish to get a scan

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Wilson,

is your FODIS numbered? Assuming it is 1924 I would think it is not. In one of the late VIDOMs there is an article (in German) about early Fodis, send me PM should you wish to get a scan

 

No number on the FODIS. An elderly employee who was wheeled out of his cupboard, when I was at Solms, to help identify the RF, was quite excited to see the flat front of the lower cover on my FODIS, as he thought it meant it was supplied to fit an O Series. The flat front is obviously an original feature not a later alteration. I can't check number or not on my FODUA as it has gone off for a clean but will be back later this week. The employee said that some of the FODIS rangefinders had a serial number stamped into their leather case. I did not have the case with me in Solms to check if it had a number and forgot to do so afterwards. I think it must be down at my French house, as I cannot find it in the UK having looked for it yesterday. I know I have a bag there with various camera ever ready cases and lens sleeves in it. 

 

I will PM you about the scan. 

 

 

Wilson

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JC, 

 

Thanks for the photo. Now you need to make a table with the names and salient features of each model. 

 

Wilson

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JC, 

 

I have that book but I did not think the list was complete. I felt there were more variations than that showed. 

 

Wilson

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I have a few of these of varying vintages with and without SNs which I must pull out and examine. There is good coverage in Laney (pages 328 to 332) and Lager (pages 7 to 12). According to Laney, the FODIS (set of FODUA rangefinder and case EUDIT) predates the Leica camera as it commenced production in 1923 as an item for vest pocket 127 cameras. This may explain the flat front and also the no SN situation.

 

Alan may have some examples.

 

William

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This Photos shows long based large dial rangefinders of common variety, all the same except feet or meters.  I have 63 long based rangefinders.

 

 

This photo shows long based large dial rangefinders of less common variety.  On one side are 6 Nagle finders, marked "N" and calibrated for the Nagle camera.  On the other side are black dial, marked with the distance added to the rangefinder to compensate when it was used on a non-Leitz camera such as a cine camera.

 

 

This photo summarized some unique long based large dial finders.  Some finders are unserialized, my lowest finder is 270 and highest is 42316.  Included are special brackets from Leitz for mounting on other cameras, a serial number with astrick (*) for duplicate number.  One small dial is shown, because it is a unique  +3" marked.

 

I am out of photo room and will have to show the small dial long based rangefinders at another time.  I apologize for the picture quality, originally they were over 1mb each, and I could not figure how to resize them, so I took new photos off my computer screen.  I also had a detailed history with all the codes and detailed information, but cannot download it either.  When the IT department (my son) comes on Saturday, maybe I can send a much more informative saga.  Also, have  something similar for the short based finders. Regards.

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I found the history (mine) of the finders listed in the title below, sorry the matching photos are only partially shown in the above post of mine.  Any corrections or comments welcome.  There may be more detail than the normal forum member may want.

 

Leitz  FODIS/FOFER/FONOR/FOKIN

 

The early long base rangefinders have  been well documented,  but I still had a few questions, so I took a quick review of the 67 long rangefinders in my collection.  The Fodis was introduced well before the leica.  A May 1925 brochure for the camera shows the No. 1 FODIS  small dial, and the telegraph codeword was FODIS. It was emphasized as a “near” rangefinder to assist with distance measurement under 10 meters.  A separate case was not necessary, as it could  be stored with the camera in the top of it’s case. In 1926, the codeword was still FODIS, and the FOKIN and FOKUX were introduced.  The FOKIN was a large black dial finder for cinematograph cameras, it was designated the 1K. Distances such as 1/4meter and others were used to compensate for mounting on cine cameras. It is possible the larger dial was necessary for greater accuracy with the longer focal length lenses.  The FOKUX was a very rare (today) mounting bracket, designated the 1H. So, large dial finders were in existence from at least 1926, for cine cameras. In 1927 the codeword used for the FODIS was FODUA, also as the leica camera now had its own ever-ready case, an individual hard leather case was available for the finder, codeword EUDIT. By early 1928, the soft deerskin case was also available for the FODUA, it had codework EUDAL.   This designation seems to have continued until mid to late 1929. At that time Leitz introduced FONOR for hand cameras, designated the 1M, the more popular corrections were +12cm and +1/4m.  I have not seen a case listed for the FONOR or FOKIN, as it was attached to the non-leitz camera, there was probably no need.   There was still no FOFER at this time. In Nov. 1929, the codeword for the rangefinder without case was still FODUA, but the FODIS codeword was in use for the rangefinder with case included.  The FOKIN was now referred to as the “Instafocus”.

In 1930, Leitz introduced interchangeable lenses for the Leica. The new FOFER, with large dial like the FOKIN was likely necessary for the best focusing on the 135 Elmar. The large dial FOFER was specifically for the Leica and did not have correction. A new case for the FOFER was the EUVER.  Two new codewords were FOERN for the FOFER with EUVER case and FOOGT for the FONOR with the EUVER case. The FODIS is not listed in the general catalog for 1931.  Also, a soft deerskin case was added for the FOFER with the codeword EUTEL. In 1932 the short base rangefinders were introduced.

Summary table:

Codeword      Designation      Description

FODIS               No. 1                  Rangefinder until 1927, Rangefinder with case after 1929, small

FOKIN               No. 1K                Black large dial, for cine, with corrections

FOKUX             No. 1H                 Mounting bracket for FOKIN

FODUA                                           Rangefinder without case, from 1927

EUDIT                                              Hard leather case for small dial “FODIS”

EUDAL                                             Soft deerskin case for small dial “FODIS”

FONOR             No. 1M                  Large nickel dial rangefinder for hand cameras

FOFER                                              Large dial for Leica, nickel and chrome dials

EUVER                                          Case for FOFER and FONOR

FOERN                                          FOFER including case

FOOGT                                          FONOR including case

EUTEL                                           Soft case for FOFER

 

My Small Dial FODUA

 I grouped 31 finders into four groups.  There are few variations within the small dial finders. I have found of course, engravings in feet and meters, but there are two types of engraving; in the first type, FEET and METERS are in large block letters in an arc, in the second type, feet and mtr are small and near the infinity mark.  Many small dial rangefinders have numbers on the back. I am not sure if these are serial numbers or exactly how they correlate to production. Of the 31, I have 3 that are also engraved D.R.P., I believe these to be very early and indeed they have relatively low numbers.

Group #1-small”feet” engraving (all of this type have numbers on the back)

2214-D.R.P.     3706-D.R.P.    4876-D.R.P.   7414   7655  10227   11725   12174

Group #2-large “FEET” engraving-( 5 of 11 are unnumbered)

17732   20827   21708    28445    29462  29600

Clearly, the group 2 numbers are consistently higher than the group 1 numbers.  Does this mean the “feet”  engraving preceeded the “FEET” engraving?  All of the DRP engraved are in group 1 set, which helps me to believe the small “feet” engraving was first used.

Group #3-small mtr engraving-only have 3 of these, 1 unnumbered

10003   14974

Group #4-Large curved METER engraving, 5 of 9 are unnumbered

24294*  24439   36185   42316

Again the smaller numbers are in group #3 with the small mtr engraving.  It correlates with the feet engraving style conclusion above.  It is also expected that I have fewer meter engraved than feet engraved as I live and collect in the US.  I am still not sure if the numbers are “serial” numbers.  There is a large percentage of unnumbered small dial rangefinders, maybe they are “early” but not sure yet.

 

My Large Dial Rangefinders

I have 36 of these, and have grouped them into 5 lots:

Group #5FOFER for leica, engraved mtr, all unnumbered but one, 2 with chrome dial

One is numbered 270, the earliest number found, why is it on a FOFER?

Group #6, FOFER for leica, engraved feet, 11 all unnumbered, 2 chrome dials

Group #7. Nagel, 6 unnumbered, 3 in feet, 3 in meters

Group #8, FONOR, 2 examples, one +5 inch and one +3 inch

Group #9,  FOKIN, 8 all numbered, except 1, all +3/4 ft except one which is 1/4m

4186-DRP   16465   28952  29229   37102  37203  37208

Again, the early DRP number suggesting the ones marked DRP are early.  It seems the small engravings of ft and mtr were first used and at around 16000 there was a change to the large engraving of METER and FEET.

It seems the numbers on the back of the FODUA are likely production serial numbers. This finder was sold separately from the camera so it is unlikely the numbers are a match to the camera serial. Also, no numbers have been recorded above ~ 40,000 and many lieca 1’s were made between 40 and 70, 000.  So, if the numbers are serial numbers, what is the meaning of the unnumbered ones?  If they were early, why are they never marked DRP?  More study required, I guess.  There is another small variation to mention. Later finders, especially large dial ones, have two additional screws between the eyepiece and the dial. They hold an internal flat metal spring or bracket. None of the small dial FODUA have these screws, about one-half of the large dial FOFER/FOKIN/FONOR do have these screws.  All of the chrome large dial finders have the screws, so I think it is a late model change.  The 4 chrome large dial finders I have are reported uncommon as chrome plating at Leitz was started around 1933.

 

Now, I have attached some photos.

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Alan, 

 

Many thanks for your photos and detail. I felt the rangefinder story had to be a bit more complicated than in Mr Laney's Leica Accessory Guide.

 

I have re-ordered a copy of Dennis Laney's Leica Collectors Guide, as I left my original copy on a train a couple of years ago. I wonder who now holds all the copyrights to the Hove Collectors Books. Someone told me they still had a small premises on Norfolk Street in Hove but I could not find it, when I was in Brighton last month. If it is there, it must be in a private house or apartment.

 

Wilson

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My next query is: What is the correct positioning for using a long base vertical finder on an early Leica? The two pictures below illustrate what I mean, with a FODIS on my I (C Standard) . My normal practice is to have the eyepiece of the RF in line with the eyepiece of the reverse Galilean viewfinder. However you can see from the close up photo, that at this setting, the RF is not nearly at the front of the accessory shoe. Would the correct positioning (from the POV of getting the correct distance to the film plane) be with the RF fully forward in the shoe? 

 

Wilson

 

 

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Alan, 

 

Many thanks for your photos and detail. I felt the rangefinder story had to be a bit more complicated than in Mr Laney's Leica Accessory Guide.

 

I have re-ordered a copy of Dennis Laney's Leica Collectors Guide, as I left my original copy on a train a couple of years ago. I wonder who now holds all the copyrights to the Hove Collectors Books. Someone told me they still had a small premises on Norfolk Street in Hove but I could not find it, when I was in Brighton last month. If it is there, it must be in a private house or apartment.

 

Wilson

 

You should be able to get what you want at Steyning Photo books http://www.sphotobooks.com

 

Alan's history above gives a lot more information than the usual sources. Once again, it is clear that the early rangefinders were originally produced for cameras other than those made by Leitz.

 

I have never seen instructions for the use of the rangefinders. I find that compared to built-in rangefinders, separate rangefinders give only approximately the same readings, which have to be manually transferred to the lens anyway, and there is also some variation between different rangefinders. Because of lack of higher speeds I tend to shoot early 1 models well stopped down, so the position of the rangefinder is not really that relevant. Finally, to be pedantic the rangefinder should really be read at the film plane, which would point towards pushing it in fully on the shoe. I regard the early separate rangefinders to be at best a tool for 'approximation'. Indeed, I often give up using them in the middle of a shoot and return to good old 'zone focussing'.

 

William

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William, 

 

I checked my FODIS against a Leica laser rangefinder yesterday and to my considerable surprise, it was spot on from 1 metre to 25 (assuming of course that my Disto D1 is accurate 

). Also unlike the Disto, the FODIS works though a window. However I know what you mean about zone focussing. I used to carry around a Rollei 35S and later a Minox GT in my shirt pocket, while on overseas business trips. Neither of these cameras have an RF but I rarely seemed to get OOF shots. Now that I carry around a Leica C112, I seem to get at least as many OOF shots with its auto focus than I did with non-RF, zone focus film cameras. 

 

Wilson

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William, 

 

I checked my FODIS against a Leica laser rangefinder yesterday and to my considerable surprise, it was spot on from 1 metre to 25 (assuming of course that my Disto D1 is accurate 

). Also unlike the Disto, the FODIS works though a window. However I know what you mean about zone focussing. I used to carry around a Rollei 35S and later a Minox GT in my shirt pocket, while on overseas business trips. Neither of these cameras have an RF but I rarely seemed to get OOF shots. Now that I carry around a Leica C112, I seem to get at least as many OOF shots with its auto focus than I did with non-RF, zone focus film cameras. 

 

Wilson

 

 

 

Wilson, have you tried using the C's moveable 'Area' AF mode in its smallest area size setting? Scrolling it back and forth across and up & down the screen, onto the main point of focus works every time for me … but my subjects are usually static. 

 

dunk 

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Wilson, have you tried using the C's moveable 'Area' AF mode in its smallest area size setting? Scrolling it back and forth across and up & down the screen, onto the main point of focus works every time for me … but my subjects are usually static. 

 

dunk 

 

Dunk,

 

I have my C set for focus area with the little white brackets that change to a green (or red box) when you have or have not achieved focus. I find it works just fine in really bright light but as soon as the light gets a bit lower, it struggles. For a small snapshot camera, my Olympus EP-5, with the pancake 14-42 Mk3 lens works much better in low light, albeit the camera is a little bigger. I will have to read the dreadful manual of the C112 through again, to see if I can find a better way of focusing it. I wish the people who write these manuals understood how to write an index and lay out the manual in a semi-logical way. I really disliked AF cameras until I got the Olympus and if I had not got it and seen how well AF could work with a touch screen, I would not then have bought the SL, whose AF is about as good as it gets with the joystick and touch screen.

 

Wilson

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I found the history (mine) of the finders listed in the title below, sorry the matching photos are only partially shown in the above post of mine.  Any corrections or comments welcome.  There may be more detail than the normal forum member may want.

 

Leitz  FODIS/FOFER/FONOR/FOKIN

 

The early long base rangefinders have  been well documented,  but I still had a few questions, so I took a quick review of the 67 long rangefinders in my collection.  The Fodis was introduced well before the leica.  A May 1925 brochure for the camera shows the No. 1 FODIS  small dial, and the telegraph codeword was FODIS. It was emphasized as a “near” rangefinder to assist with distance measurement under 10 meters.  A separate case was not necessary, as it could  be stored with the camera in the top of it’s case. In 1926, the codeword was still FODIS, and the FOKIN and FOKUX were introduced.  The FOKIN was a large black dial finder for cinematograph cameras, it was designated the 1K. Distances such as 1/4meter and others were used to compensate for mounting on cine cameras. It is possible the larger dial was necessary for greater accuracy with the longer focal length lenses.  The FOKUX was a very rare (today) mounting bracket, designated the 1H. So, large dial finders were in existence from at least 1926, for cine cameras. In 1927 the codeword used for the FODIS was FODUA, also as the leica camera now had its own ever-ready case, an individual hard leather case was available for the finder, codeword EUDIT. By early 1928, the soft deerskin case was also available for the FODUA, it had codework EUDAL.   This designation seems to have continued until mid to late 1929. At that time Leitz introduced FONOR for hand cameras, designated the 1M, the more popular corrections were +12cm and +1/4m.  I have not seen a case listed for the FONOR or FOKIN, as it was attached to the non-leitz camera, there was probably no need.   There was still no FOFER at this time. In Nov. 1929, the codeword for the rangefinder without case was still FODUA, but the FODIS codeword was in use for the rangefinder with case included.  The FOKIN was now referred to as the “Instafocus”.

In 1930, Leitz introduced interchangeable lenses for the Leica. The new FOFER, with large dial like the FOKIN was likely necessary for the best focusing on the 135 Elmar. The large dial FOFER was specifically for the Leica and did not have correction. A new case for the FOFER was the EUVER.  Two new codewords were FOERN for the FOFER with EUVER case and FOOGT for the FONOR with the EUVER case. The FODIS is not listed in the general catalog for 1931.  Also, a soft deerskin case was added for the FOFER with the codeword EUTEL. In 1932 the short base rangefinders were introduced.

Summary table:

Codeword      Designation      Description

FODIS               No. 1                  Rangefinder until 1927, Rangefinder with case after 1929, small

FOKIN               No. 1K                Black large dial, for cine, with corrections

FOKUX             No. 1H                 Mounting bracket for FOKIN

FODUA                                           Rangefinder without case, from 1927

EUDIT                                              Hard leather case for small dial “FODIS”

EUDAL                                             Soft deerskin case for small dial “FODIS”

FONOR             No. 1M                  Large nickel dial rangefinder for hand cameras

FOFER                                              Large dial for Leica, nickel and chrome dials

EUVER                                          Case for FOFER and FONOR

FOERN                                          FOFER including case

FOOGT                                          FONOR including case

EUTEL                                           Soft case for FOFER

 

My Small Dial FODUA

 I grouped 31 finders into four groups.  There are few variations within the small dial finders. I have found of course, engravings in feet and meters, but there are two types of engraving; in the first type, FEET and METERS are in large block letters in an arc, in the second type, feet and mtr are small and near the infinity mark.  Many small dial rangefinders have numbers on the back. I am not sure if these are serial numbers or exactly how they correlate to production. Of the 31, I have 3 that are also engraved D.R.P., I believe these to be very early and indeed they have relatively low numbers.

Group #1-small”feet” engraving (all of this type have numbers on the back)

2214-D.R.P.     3706-D.R.P.    4876-D.R.P.   7414   7655  10227   11725   12174

Group #2-large “FEET” engraving-( 5 of 11 are unnumbered)

17732   20827   21708    28445    29462  29600

Clearly, the group 2 numbers are consistently higher than the group 1 numbers.  Does this mean the “feet”  engraving preceeded the “FEET” engraving?  All of the DRP engraved are in group 1 set, which helps me to believe the small “feet” engraving was first used.

Group #3-small mtr engraving-only have 3 of these, 1 unnumbered

10003   14974

Group #4-Large curved METER engraving, 5 of 9 are unnumbered

24294*  24439   36185   42316

Again the smaller numbers are in group #3 with the small mtr engraving.  It correlates with the feet engraving style conclusion above.  It is also expected that I have fewer meter engraved than feet engraved as I live and collect in the US.  I am still not sure if the numbers are “serial” numbers.  There is a large percentage of unnumbered small dial rangefinders, maybe they are “early” but not sure yet.

 

My Large Dial Rangefinders

I have 36 of these, and have grouped them into 5 lots:

Group #5FOFER for leica, engraved mtr, all unnumbered but one, 2 with chrome dial

One is numbered 270, the earliest number found, why is it on a FOFER?

Group #6, FOFER for leica, engraved feet, 11 all unnumbered, 2 chrome dials

Group #7. Nagel, 6 unnumbered, 3 in feet, 3 in meters

Group #8, FONOR, 2 examples, one +5 inch and one +3 inch

Group #9,  FOKIN, 8 all numbered, except 1, all +3/4 ft except one which is 1/4m

4186-DRP   16465   28952  29229   37102  37203  37208

Again, the early DRP number suggesting the ones marked DRP are early.  It seems the small engravings of ft and mtr were first used and at around 16000 there was a change to the large engraving of METER and FEET.

It seems the numbers on the back of the FODUA are likely production serial numbers. This finder was sold separately from the camera so it is unlikely the numbers are a match to the camera serial. Also, no numbers have been recorded above ~ 40,000 and many lieca 1’s were made between 40 and 70, 000.  So, if the numbers are serial numbers, what is the meaning of the unnumbered ones?  If they were early, why are they never marked DRP?  More study required, I guess.  There is another small variation to mention. Later finders, especially large dial ones, have two additional screws between the eyepiece and the dial. They hold an internal flat metal spring or bracket. None of the small dial FODUA have these screws, about one-half of the large dial FOFER/FOKIN/FONOR do have these screws.  All of the chrome large dial finders have the screws, so I think it is a late model change.  The 4 chrome large dial finders I have are reported uncommon as chrome plating at Leitz was started around 1933.

 

Now, I have attached some photos.

Why do not you write an illustrated story with all you have of Leica?

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Hello everyone! My first post on this forum is about a black Leitz rangefinder I found. It is huge and it is numbered on the dial 11-1000 mtr. Has an eyepiece accessory in the case. I guess is not for photo-cameras, but since you have more knowledge and documentation, maybe you can help me identify this rangefinder. Thanks!

 

I am not allowed to share photos from PhotoBucket, so here is a link to a photo:

 

http://s50.photobucket.com/user/Hondarul/media/218023521_5_1000x700_e-leitz-neamt_rev006_zps6ufeppgm.jpg.html

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