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Were wartime black Summarex lenses coated?


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I have seen a picture of a coated black wartime Summarex lens. Was this coated from new and if so, did Leica do this or was the coating sub-contracted to someone else like Zeiss? Of course, it could have been done at a subsequent rebuild, possibly by Leica but certainly Oude Delft in the Netherlands offered lens service and coating from the late 1940's onwards. 

Wilson

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Now we are beginning to go down the rabbit hole! The Spanner referred to here was the Spanner IR Device used in nightfighting aircraft. The picture I have here appears to be a Dornier. A high speed lens is used in conjunction with the image intensifier for "night sight". Another device Leitz worked on for the Wehrmacht was the FG 1250, which may or may not have been used in combat on the Panther tank. Pictures of this device are in the Geburtstage Buch. I don't have my copy handy now,

I think I'll try to contact Marco Cavina : he has published those two interesting schemas, but the writings have been clearly edited by him : Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden! In the contest of this discussion , the natural question is : in the original drawing by Berek, how was described the lens ? as a 8,5 or a 9 cm ?  the name surely wasn't decided... it's a commercial decisi

Wilson, this has always been my thought as well. Being a high profile company in the Third Reich, one would certainly have to have made the appearance of being a good corporate citizen for the regime, even if your heart was elsewhere. Also remember, that there were also members of the workforce, the rank and file, that were very much for the Reich and were willing to inform if they felt people were stepping out of line. I found it ironic, that even in wartime, that Leitz had problems supply

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Hello Wilson, looking at the delivery book for the Summarex wartime production, there is a notation of SOOCX followed by a capital B for every entry. This is for lens numbers 593 001 through 593 100. This is on two pages in the delivery record book on two pages facing each other. SOOCX of course is the code word for the Summarex. This "B" notation is the Leitz shorthand for "Belag" which is in turn short for Belagerung - coated. I have observed this to be a very light blue coating on the lens. I believe that this was the first Leitz lens to be factory coated, and the coating was done in house. I am not 100% sure of them being done in house, but that is my understanding.

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30 minutes ago, derleicaman said:

...is the Leitz shorthand for "Belag" which is in turn short for Belagerung - coated....

It was not only shorthand, they meant it. If you look at a German ad for a second hand lens which says that the lens has "Belag" it means that it is "foggy" - some strange substance on the glasses surface. The process of "coating" leads to a "Belag" on the lenses glass - which of course is no fog as well at is no "coat". "Belagerung" in German means "siege" and though the Summarex was first built at the awful times of  the siege of Leningrad the substance on the glass had nothing to do with this. "Belag" doesn't not sound as good but it is much more descriptive than "Vergütung", which is the modern German term for lens coating, though literally it only means "improvement" and does not tell how the improvement works. 

I am rather sure that all wartime Summarexes were coated. The coating technology had been developed by Alexander Smakula for Zeiss, but was not regularly used there, only on special (military) demand. As the Summarex was important for military usage,

and with its high opening and many glass/air surfaces coating was essential for the Summarex,  Zeiss was - by some means which are not known -  "obliged" to give the technology to Leitz so that they could use it at Wetzlar. Since the production at Wetzlar was never destroyed during the war they could start producing all their lenses coated immediately after the war. 

 

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I wonder if the coating might have been one of the reasons for the delay in delivery in the Summarex - see copy of translation of 1942 letter below, complaining about slow deliveries and threatening to give the order to Zeiss for 85mm/f2 Sonnars in place of the 85/1.5 Summarex. 

Wilson

 

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Interesting letter... apart the coating question, I was intrigued by the phrase "... we have decided to do without your delivery of the 9cm lens" : which 9cm they refer to ?  Not to Elmar, I'd say... it was used by military, iirc, but surely not a lens for low light... and probably not the Thambar... luminous but a portrait lens, definitely not for military usage. I remember that the first Summarex was advertised as a 9cm (Lager displays 9cm 1,5 s/n 541.000, as an item of 1941) ... maybe was this the first proposal to military ?

Edited by luigi bertolotti
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5 hours ago, luigi bertolotti said:

"... we have decided to do without your delivery of the 9cm lens" : which 9cm they refer to ?  Not to Elmar, I'd say... it was used by military, iirc, but surely not a lens for low light...

The letter describes the reasons of the armies special order as "winter" and "dark season". So they explicitly demanded a lens with high opening - a criteria the 9cm Elmar didn't fit. So they didn't order the Elmar for this special purpose (winter and dark season). For other purposes the Elmar was o.k. 

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vor 17 Minuten schrieb UliWer:

The letter describes the reasons of the armies special order as "winter" and "dark season". So they explicitly demanded a lens with high opening - a criteria the 9cm Elmar didn't fit. So they didn't order the Elmar for this special purpose (winter and dark season). For other purposes the Elmar was o.k. 

Quite correct. But the Summarex lens is not a 9cm lens, hence the question asked above by Luigi. I believe that they referred to the 9cm class of lenses in general, and did in fact mean the Summarex lens in this particular context (although they did refer to the Sonnar 8.5cm lens in the very same letter). May be, as Luigi has suggested, the Summarex lens was first indicated to be a 9cm lens.

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I suspect the 9cm lens referred to is the Elmar, which was deemed unsuitable at f4, as being too slow for low light use. We know that Zeiss were compelled to make some of their lenses in L39 mount for the military's considerable stock of Leica cameras, whereas I am sure that Zeiss would far rather the military had bought Contax cameras with Contax RF mount lenses. I think I am correct, that only the Kriegsmarine bought Contax cameras in any significant numbers. Do the wartime Zeiss L39 lenses, focus "the right way round" or did they retain the perverse clockwise for infinity (from the back of the camera) of the CRF lenses? My brain, after 60+ years of focussing Leica cameras, is far too ossified, to ever be comfortable with using my "wrong way round" Contax IIa. My father found the same, which is why it has been a drawer/shelf queen all its life since he bought it in 1953. 

Wilson

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4 minutes ago, wizard said:

I would need the original German language version of that letter to be sure.

Andy

Your wish is my command

Wilson

 

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35 minutes ago, wlaidlaw said:

Your wish is my command

Wilson

 

This letter will be the basis of an article I am working on for Viewfinder. Any help you can give on the translation is appreciated. So far, I have had Lars Netopil help with this.

wilson, you are correct about the Kriegsmarine using Contax. I have seen several apparat made by Zeiss to take pictures through a U-Boat periscope. BTW, Zeiss made all of the periscopes in the war. Leitz made most of the panzer rangefinder/gunsights.

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I admit to having problems with the different versions in German and English of the letter. Perhaps there are only some typos in the German version, but sometimes I get the impression that the German text is already a translation. It would not make much sense to translate from German to English and back to German again. So if there is any possibility to give us the original German text in reproduction this would be very helpful. 

 

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O.k., so the essential phrase (with my own typo corrections) is:

"Vom OKH wurden wir heute darauf aufmerksam gemacht, dass für den Auftrag SS 132-4491 Winter (u.A. 4465 - Photo 29821) die gewünschten Objektive unbedingt kurzfristig zur Auslieferung  gelangen müssen, da die Optik für die lichtarme Jahreszeit benötigt wird und man andererseits auf die Lieferung des 9-cm Objektivs verzichtet habe".

There are three informations to be taken from this phrase: 

  • The OKH had made clear that the delivery of the lenses was urgent on short notice under all conditions  
  • The reason was, that it was needed for the low light season
  • And "on the other hand" they had renounced the delivery of the 9cm lenses. (The translation. to English ".. the delivery of the 9 cm was not possible" is not right. The German text does not say anything about possibilities, it clearly says: was renounced, was dispensed of, which means: it was possible, but they didn't want it). 

The wording "and on the other hand" does not clearly say: they had renounced the delivery of the 9-cm Elmar because it was not fast enough for the low light season. Though I cannot interpret this wording otherwise:

Leitz had no "9 cm" lens - if you rule out the Thambar - in their catalogue other than the Elmar. Yes, the Summarex was qualified as a "9 cm" in the beginning (Lager II, p. 68: "in literature of 1941 and 1943 it is listed as having a 9cm (not 8.5cm) focal length". But the letter clearly talks of the Summarex (without qualifying the focal length) to be delivered, as the  delivery of the "9 cm lens" had been renounced. Now one could argue: They had renounced the delivery of a "9cm" Summarex and now demanded the delivery of a 8.5cm Summarex. This interpretation would completely ignore the main message: the order was made to cope with low light season in winter, not to have 5mm less. 

 

 

 

 

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47 minutes ago, UliWer said:

O.k., so the essential phrase (with my own typo corrections) is:

"Vom OKH wurden wir heute darauf aufmerksam gemacht, dass für den Auftrag SS 132-4491 Winter (u.A. 4465 - Photo 29821) die gewünschten Objektive unbedingt kurzfristig zur Auslieferung  gelangen müssen, da die Optik für die lichtarme Jahreszeit benötigt wird und man andererseits auf die Lieferung des 9-cm Objektivs verzichtet habe".

There are three informations to be taken from this phrase: 

  • The OKH had made clear that the delivery of the lenses was urgent on short notice under all conditions  
  • The reason was, that it was needed for the low light season
  • And "on the other hand" they had renounced the delivery of the 9cm lenses. (The translation. to English ".. the delivery of the 9 cm was not possible" is not right. The German text does not say anything about possibilities, it clearly says: was renounced, was dispensed of, which means: it was possible, but they didn't want it). 

The wording "and on the other hand" does not clearly say: they had renounced the delivery of the 9-cm Elmar because it was not fast enough for the low light season. Though I cannot interpret this wording otherwise:

Leitz had no "9 cm" lens - if you rule out the Thambar - in their catalogue other than the Elmar. Yes, the Summarex was qualified as a "9 cm" in the beginning (Lager II, p. 68: "in literature of 1941 and 1943 it is listed as having a 9cm (not 8.5cm) focal length". But the letter clearly talks of the Summarex (without qualifying the focal length) to be delivered, as the  delivery of the "9 cm lens" had been renounced. Now one could argue: They had renounced the delivery of a "9cm" Summarex and now demanded the delivery of a 8.5cm Summarex. This interpretation would completely ignore the main message: the order was made to cope with low light season in winter, not to have 5mm less. 

 

 

 

 

As Wilson points out, I have made a good effort to type the original german text as best I can. I have the original as a pdf that Dirk Daniel Mann posted on the Facebook Group Leica Historica. I just sent you a pm, as I cannot attach the pdf here as it exceeds size limitations. This is really irritating, and I wish some version of this forum can fix this.

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1 hour ago, UliWer said:

...

  • And "on the other hand" they had renounced the delivery of the 9cm lenses. (The translation. to English ".. the delivery of the 9 cm was not possible" is not right. The German text does not say anything about possibilities, it clearly says: was renounced, was dispensed of, which means: it was possible, but they didn't want it). 

The wording "and on the other hand" does not clearly say: they had renounced the delivery of the 9-cm Elmar because it was not fast enough for the low light season. Though I cannot interpret this wording otherwise:

Leitz had no "9 cm" lens - if you rule out the Thambar - in their catalogue other than the Elmar. Yes, the Summarex was qualified as a "9 cm" in the beginning (Lager II, p. 68: "in literature of 1941 and 1943 it is listed as having a 9cm (not 8.5cm) focal length". But the letter clearly talks of the Summarex (without qualifying the focal length) to be delivered, as the  delivery of the "9 cm lens" had been renounced. Now one could argue: They had renounced the delivery of a "9cm" Summarex and now demanded the delivery of a 8.5cm Summarex. This interpretation would completely ignore the main message: the order was made to cope with low light season in winter, not to have 5mm less. 

 

 

 

 

... subtle question of interpretation of a text...  indeed that's the reason for I was intrigued by the phrase : it's all about how this bid was managed... I mean : If military asked for a specific bid for a batch of low light lenses in the 9cm range, what Leitz did answer ? "We can provide a 9 f4?"  Not a nice answer... they did know well what Zeiss could answer. So... I tend to think that Leitz did not mention the Elmar (and, btw, military optical department surely did know that Leitz had this lens as easily available)...  another hipotesis... they could have answered "We are on the way to have available a 9cm 1,5  SUMMAR lens"  (it was made : 541.056 - Lager) ; they could have sent a prototype for sample/test (is IT the 541.056 ?) .. but military "renounced" it... but in the meantime Leits did define tha final design of the Summarex (9cm, but finally "stretched" to 8,5)  and at the end secured the order... which was hard to fulfill... (also for the question of coating...) 

In less formal terms and wording, the Photo Dept. letter could be read like this "boy , you sent us that 9cm Summar - and we said "no good for us" , then you gave us that Summarex, and we said "ok"... but are you really able to deliver ? You know, you're not the only lens maker of the Reich..."

That's pure speculation by me... but maybe some detailed history of the Summarex development has been written.. I know only (Cavina) that its original design by Max Berek dates back to 1936, but with a back element probably too wide for the LTM mount.

 

 

Edited by luigi bertolotti
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56 minutes ago, luigi bertolotti said:

a 9cm 1,5  SUMMAR lens"  (it was made : 541.056 - Lager)

Well that's indeed a new theory: a prototype 9cm Summar renounced by the OKH and the 8.5cm Summarex urgently demanded.  

Well, we don't know anything about the specifics of the Summar. Did the optical design differ from the Summarex? Had it really 9cm? I have a pre-war 1:2/8.5 Sonnar. If I try it, i'd say it is definitely closer to 90mm than to 85mm - perhaps 88 or if I am wrong 87mm. 

Leitz had a very specific order - with order numbers - in October 1942 for a lens named "Summarex". They had not delivered, therefore the OKH asked. If the writer of the letter thought of a 1:1.5/9cm Summar as a means to fulfill the order - but which was unfortunately renounced by the OKH - on which base would the letter's author have considered this alternative: on one example with No. 541.056 ?

Just try to read the letter without the half phrase about the 9cm lens. What is the message? Get ahead with the production of the Summarex!. We have no alternatives! Otherwise Zeiss gets the order!

Edit: In Thiele I find not only the entry of one example of the 1:1.5/9cm Summar No. 541.056 but also two others of a "1:1.5/9cm Summarex" with Nos. 541.000 and 541.048. All of them from 1940 - though you cannot be sure about this dating. So it seems as if the "Summarex" also had a "9cm" version in its early stages which is also mentioned by Lager (though without photos).   

Edited by UliWer
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I would question the technical discriminatory abilities of OKW's purchasing department to say no to a 9cm/1.5 Summar but yes to an 85/1.5 Summarex. I think there must have been more to it than that, maybe development/delivery times for the Summar were even longer than the Summarex. The Summar also seems an odd lens to even start development on, given that Berek knew they had completed development and I would assume a considerable amount of the tooling for the Summarex. Elements 2 and 5 from the front on the Summarex, must have required special grinding jigs and dollies. 

Wilson

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So we can only hope to learn from the new article in "Viewfinder" how Wetzlar reacted on the letter. Could they fulfill the order in 1942? (Thiele says the first Summarex are from 1943 - but you always have to take these dates with many grains of salt.) Were they still bothering about which lens to produce? Or did they meet any problems - perhaps coating - which delayed the production? 

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Given the amazing and dangerous efforts the Leica family and company made to rescue their jewish work force and Elsie Kuhn-Leitz's work with Ukrainian slave workers, one has to wonder how enthusiastic they were about making product for the military, who were de facto, supporting the regime of the period. Was there some deliberate foot dragging? 

Wilson

Edited by wlaidlaw
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