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Visoflex IIa


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Today arrived the Visoflex IIa that I bought. On JC's beautiful website and in Laney I read that the Visoflex IIa appears in 1962 in the catalogue of Leitz New York. On the Visoflex IIa itself just the usual name of Leitz Wetzlar appears. So was it indeed produced in Wetzlar, and for the general market? Or primarily for the American market, which could explain the mention in that Leitz New York catalogue? My oldest catalogue is from 1970 and consequently only shows the Visoflex III.

Lex

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Thanks, I was still wondering why no mention was made of the involvement of Leitz New York when they produced the Visoflex IIa. On a small item such as a filter (like a blue filter PF for a Summitar lens) the inscription says E. Leitz New York. I foun d an older article in Viewfinder (29, no. 1 1996) and the production is not mentioned at all. So perhaps Visoflex II pieces manufactured in Wetzlar were modified by Leitz New York to IIa.

Lex

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9 hours ago, sandro said:

 So perhaps Visoflex II pieces manufactured in Wetzlar were modified by Leitz New York to IIa.

Lex

Looks like this indeed : btw IIa isn't quoted in any European pricelist of the era (could be interesting to find a IIa with original box... maybe Leitz USA was quoted onto...) ; an even more interesting N.Y. modification was the Viso III coupled to N.Y. Electric motor... I don't remember to have seen one for sale... but would like to have one: the extreme tentative to confront the surging dominance of SLRs... 😎.. and years prior the intro of the 1st Leica SL MOT...

 

Edited by luigi bertolotti
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14 hours ago, sandro said:

So perhaps Visoflex II pieces manufactured in Wetzlar were modified by Leitz New York to IIa.

There is always the possibility that the Visoflex IIa was manufactured entirely in Wetzlar.  The IIa machine work and parts finish matches that of Wetzlar made pieces.  The mirror control knob, except for the third dot, exactly matches the one on the Visoflex III.  This is purely speculation, but perhaps Leitz decided that the IIa was not the answer and the Visoflex III was reason to skip the IIa.  Complete IIa units and remaining parts were then sent to Leitz NY to dump on US consumers.  This may sound silly, but it is exactly what happened with the 180mm f2.8 Tele-Elmarit.

4 hours ago, luigi bertolotti said:

an even more interesting N.Y. modification was the Viso III coupled to N.Y. Electric motor

There are at least two variants of the motor-coupled Visoflex III.  The one shown in Lager's Volume 3, page 176, has a removable cord on the right side; Lager does not say who made it whereas Laney attributes it to Leitz NY.  A motor-coupled Visoflex III was offered at Westlicht Auction #33 2018 with a fixed cord emerging on the left side.

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6 minutes ago, zeitz said:

There is always the possibility that the Visoflex IIa was manufactured entirely in Wetzlar.  The IIa machine work and parts finish matches that of Wetzlar made pieces.  The mirror control knob, except for the third dot, exactly matches the one on the Visoflex III.  This is purely speculation, but perhaps Leitz decided that the IIa was not the answer and the Visoflex III was reason to skip the IIa.  Complete IIa units and remaining parts were then sent to Leitz NY to dump on US consumers.  This may sound silly, but it is exactly what happened with the 180mm f2.8 Tele-Elmarit.

There are at least two variants of the motor-coupled Visoflex III.  The one shown in Lager's Volume 3, page 176, has a removable cord on the right side; Lager does not say who made it whereas Laney attributes it to Leitz NY.  A motor-coupled Visoflex III was offered at Westlicht Auction #33 2018 with a fixed cord emerging on the left side.

Yes,  I've always thought that the (Isco - Schneider) TE 180, the N.Y. motor and "its" modfied Viso III are parts of the same story... probably the modifed Viso III was a projoect to be credited to the well known Don Goldberg...  

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

probably the modifed Viso III was a projoect to be credited to the well known Don Goldberg...  

Not quite right.  Norman Goldberg, Don Goldberg's father, did the motor.  I am not sure Norman did the electric cord Viso III because Norman did the Camcraft Z housing which eliminated the mirror in its entirety and replaced it with a beam splitter prism specifically for his motor drive..  About 50 Camcraft Z housings were made.  Later Norman did a Visoflex III mod with a pellicle film.  Don thinks about 10 of the Camcraft Pellicle Viso IIIs were made.  See Westlicht Auction #12 2007 Lot 292.  Don thinks JPL was not the producer as the auction states, but the unit was made by his dad for NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL).  This is based on two considerations:  known contracts with NASA and the shape of the label.  I have a Cramcraft Pellicle Viso III directly from Don (totally known provenance) that has a take residue on the upper right of the face that exactly matches the JPL label in the Westlicht Auction.

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Here are my Viso IIa examples. In my experience, the screw mount versions is much harder to find that the bayonet. Probably had to be ordered that way, as this as has been noted, was near the time of the arrival of the Viso III. The odd assembly in the middle, is actually a Viso III, likely customized by ELNY for the Opton corporation. The rear bayonet mechanism has been removed and a 2.1 inch  OD mount added, the lever for the camera shutter button has been removed and a different view screen is used. See the photo.  I have the complete instrument system, about 20 pounds in the attic. If there is interest, I can photograph it. The final photo shows a lens that was used in one application of this system, a Friedich Munchen 135mm f/4.5. I beleve thare are many examples of Leitz supplying various sub-system parts for use by others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by alan mcfall
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Alan, thanks for this interesting contribution. It would be interesting to see that setup that you have in your attic! There were probably more of such modifications as you mention, both in Visoflex II and IIa and in III. One of my Micro-Visoflex III reflex houses has the interchangeable glass holder, with normal glass. Strangely enough this thing doesn't fit another Micro-Visoflex III I have, nor can the ground glass of this second one be used in the first one. They just don't fit, perhaps because one of the two was modified for a specific purpose.

Lex

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9 hours ago, alan mcfall said:

The rear bayonet mechanism has been removed and a 2.1 inch  OD mount added, the lever for the camera shutter button has been removed and a different view screen is used.

Possibly for use with a Robot camera and an endoscope?

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I actually prefer the Viso II with its separate mirror release to the Viso III. I have an LTM one, currently sitting on my 1935 Model II with a 200mm/f4.5 Telyt lens mounted. I also have both an LTM and M mount Viso I devices. The LTM one has the IFLEX dual screen attachment, which sadly is not in proper register as a couple of the tiny screws had dropped out before I acquired it. 

Wilson

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Wilson, just today I used my Visoflex II again (not the newly acquired IIa though) and it works nicely. But why do you prefer it to the Visoflex III? I only use Leica M bodies with film. I noticed one drawback of the Viso II when using it on M6: once I had focussed properly I couldn't lift the mirror to use the light meter of the M6. With the III I often raise the mirror to measure the light after focusing.

Lex

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Dan Goldberg used to sell the parts needed to convert a Viso II to a IIa. Perhaps some of what was left over from Leitz, NY. I thought several times about purchasing one but ended up buying an M mount Viso IIa. I had extra Viso IIs that I did a bunch of parts swapping usually to try to get a few decent looking ones. As I recall, for quite some time I converted the IIa to screw mount and then If I wanted to use it on an M then I would just use an adapter and then kept an M style trigger handle handy. At some point I decided to ditch using the IIa on LTM cameras. I had gotten pretty proficient at flipping the mirror reset lever on the II to the point that the IIa wasn’t that much of an advantage. Generally when I use an LTM I am not trying to see how quickly I burn thru a roll of film anyway.

Regards,

David

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