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F3.5 Elmar advice wanted


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I've just bought this lens together with a Fison hood for my 111f R/D. I intended to buy a red scale Elmar that the dealer advertised but I was told that was an error and it was in fact a black scale. During the conversation it was mentioned that it could be a nickel one but I wasn't aware if the implications of this at the time.

 

I wanted a red scale as I believed that It would have a coated lens and the modern F stop progression. Now that the lens has arrived I can see that it is nickel and has the old F stop progression. The serial number on the lens appears to be 173938 which if my references are correct is amazingly 1933. 

 

The lens seems to be in very good condition if it really is that old and I cant see any obvious cleaning marks or haze on the glass. I intend to have both the lens and the 111f serviced at some point this year in the meantime I could use some advice on the following:-

 

1/

I've tried the lens on my M10 and the colours of the images are muted but can be improved in Lightroom. Can I expect similar with colour film? I'm assuming that the lens is uncoated and thinking of using some Ektar that is just past its use by date but has been kept cold. Long term I'll probably use more Black and White than colour film.

 

2/

As the F stop scale is not the modern progression will I be able to set F5.6 by setting the lens between the marked postion for F4.5 and F6.3 and for F8 between F6.3 and F9?

 

I will be using a hand held meter and I'm concerned that any small discrepancy in metering will be compounded by setting the aperture incorrectly.

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Hey there!

 

1: 

I think the colours will be equally muted on colour films as they do on your M10. On black and white film the contrast will be lower, so you might want to use colour filters to increase contrast. Or use a higher contrast film, development technique. 

 

2:

Maybe you can mount it on your M10 and and measure the f stops digitally to see where the 5,6 would be 'located'. 

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Hi,

 

Are you sure that's a nickel lens? Looks more chrome to me in the photo. It doesn't seem to be coated (many were coated after market) which will explain the more muted colours and yes, that will happen with film too. Sometimes its a nice effect, but easily corrected if you scan the film.

 

Yes - just set the aperture in between values for an approx. equivalent. Using neg film I tend not to bother though as the nearest value is close enough.

 

They key thing with an older lens if condition and if you've got a good one then it's a very capable lens. Leica built it's reputation on people using the Barnack cameras with these lenses after all.

 

I would add that the Red Scale is a great lens and works well with colour. They generally sell for more than the black scale lenses so I hope the dealer hasn't charged you a RS price for a BS lens!

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Beautiful!

1/ has been answered above,

2/ I will add that from f/4.5 to f/6.3 is one stop and f/5.6 is somewhere in the middle. If it is 1/3, 1/2, or 2/3 of a stop from either end the result will not be different on film. Anyhow, I believe the modern 1/3 stop progression goes f/4, f/4.5, f/5, f/5.6, f/6.3... so f/5.6 would be 1/3 of a stop below f/6.3. But, I believe the older 1/2 stop scale went f/4.5, f/5.6, f/6.3, placing f/5.6 smack in the middle.

I would treat it as in the middle as it'll be easier for me, and the two scales are 1/6th of a stop different* which won't be noticeable.

 

*the scales a rounded for simplicity, they're not precise.

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The Red scale would be surely better in use... but yours one is anyway rather interesting having the old "50 mm" engraving instead of the later "5 cm"... probably, one of the last wich such writing : is not rare, but much less common than the "5 cm" (time to time, I think to buy one just for collecting...but would like to find a "11 o'clock with five digits s/n...

) Edited by luigi bertolotti
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The absence of coating can be a good thing, depending on what you want.  A well-known UK Leica tech. tells me that the late (and great) James Ravilious would bring him his lenses for un-coating!  How about that?

 
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I've tried the lens on my M10 and the colours of the images are muted but can be improved in Lightroom. Can I expect similar with colour film?

Yes, sure. This muted rendition of colour and contrast is typical for uncoated lenses.

 

And note how chromatic aberrations are virtually absent! Marvellous lens. However there's quite some spheric aberrations at wide apertures which will add some softness to the muted tones.

 

 

As the f-stop scale is not the modern progression will I be able to set f/5.6 by setting the lens between the marked postion for f/4.5 and f/6.3 and for f/8 between f/6.3 and f/9?

Yes, of course.

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Thanks for all the comments. It's only in the last week or so that I've been looking into Leica screw fit lens history and I now realize that the push on A36 filters for black and white work can be clamped to the lens and the Fison hood then clamped to the filter. I'll be picking up a yellow filter in the next few weeks.

 

The lens does appear to be nickel as compared to the silver Fison hood it has a slight golden sheen. I paid £345 in total for the lens and hood. I was prepared to pay this for a nearly mint red scale without hood but as I mentioned the dealer said this description was a typing error. He said he would throw the hood in free and it was probably worth £40 or £50. Given the state of one of the Fisons I've seen online selling for £50 I would have thought this was an underestimate.

 

I'm not expecting miracles from this lens after all it is eighty years old but used with my sixty year old 111f it should give me an excuse to start developing my own black and white film again this year after being seduced last year by the ease of Leica digital.

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There are also screw in B&W filters for B&W which screw into the black ring surrounding the lens itself. I am not sure if Leica manufactured them, but I know a number of aftermarket mfrs did; they fit both the 50/3.5 and the Argus cameras from the USA....I picked up several Walz ones last year for my 50/3.5, and they work fine and make a more compact package than the ones which fit on the rim of the lens and then the Fison screws onto them.

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There are also screw in B&W filters for B&W which screw into the black ring surrounding the lens itself. I am not sure if Leica manufactured them, but I know a number of aftermarket mfrs did; they fit both the 50/3.5 and the Argus cameras from the USA....I picked up several Walz ones last year for my 50/3.5, and they work fine and make a more compact package than the ones which fit on the rim of the lens and then the Fison screws onto them.

These small Leica filters for the ELMAR 50 are code-named FIHRE, FIXIO, etc.  Often found on eBay.

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I've just noticed something looking at the last photo showing the hood. It's marked for a 35mm Summaron not the 50mm Elmar!

 

It only arrived this morning and I've been more concerned with the lens than the hood. Still it solves one problem, if I go for an old A36 35mm lens at least I've got a hood for it.

 

If I do any more business with this dealer I'm going to be asking a lot more questions before buying. The only thing that came up to expectations was the condition of the lens and hood but both were not what I thought I had bought.

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I noticed the hood. Probably worth more than a 5cm hood as it will be rarer.

 

However the price you paid is Red Scale money and absolutely top dollar for Black Scale lens (apart from mint/boxed examples).

 

Personally I'd be inclined to consider whether it's a nice enough example to want to keep & maybe try to negotiate a partial refund, or return it as not what was described and look for a nice Red Scale instead.

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The Red scale would be surely better in use... but yours one is anyway rather interesting having the old "50 mm" engraving instead of the later "5 cm"... probably, one of the last wich such writing : is not rare, but much less common than the "5 cm" (time to time, I think to buy one just for collecting...but would like to find a "11 o'clock with five digits s/n...

)

after inspecting few hundreds of lenses the highest SN with 50 mm  found was 187569, earliest 5 cm 164859. Highest 11 o'clock 144731.  All of them were nickel.

I believe that red scale had recalculated optical formula, it is not only coating which differentiates it from previous variants.

 

I am afraid that the lens in the subject had a hit, the front ring is slightly bent. You may notice a circulare line starting above "mm" and going up the "18". This is not so unusual with collapsible Elmars and usually does not have any implication on the quality of pictures. However it disclassifies the lens to be minty.

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The hood is a FOOKH... and of course is much younger than the lens (Summaron 35 appeared after WWII): as you say, a good start for searching a Summaron to complement your 50...

but the seller, indeed, has proved to be not so trustable... Edited by luigi bertolotti
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