Jump to content

Leica I (Model A) close focus questions


nf3996
 Share

Recommended Posts

Advertisement (gone after registration)

I recently acquired a ‘close focus’ version of the Leica I (Model A), s/n 43675, which set me wondering about this model and the following questions in particular.

  • ·         Of the 56,000-odd I(A)s fitted with a 50mm f/3.5 Elmar lens, how many had their distance scales in metres and how many in feet?

  • ·         Of those marked in feet, how many were of the ‘close focus’ variety, focussing down to 1.5 feet (18 inches)?

  • ·         If you wanted to buy a I(A) marked in feet in the 1920s/1930s, was the close focus version the ‘normal’ model, or was it outnumbered by the non-close focus version? Were both versions available at the same time?

  • ·         Was there a close focus version with a lens marked in metres (approx 50cm)? If not, why not?

  • ·         What was the purpose of being able to focus to 18 inches? At that distance there would be considerable parallax error in the viewfinder, and film plane to subject distance would need to be measured precisely by hand – the Leitz accessory rangefinders did not focus that close.

Any thoughts on the above – or answers – would be much appreciated.

Alan

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Replies 42
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

alan mcfall

Here is one of mine:  A 3,5 cm Elmar wide angle, no serial on lens ring, no 3 digit match number for a camera, only a "standardized  0" on the back of the flange and also on the front angled surface near the focus knob as is usually seen. Focus is in feet and down to 18 inches or so.   I assume there was a short time period after the production of standardized cameras and lenses, and before the start of using serial numbers.  Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden cont

alan mcfall

Just one more photo of a 3.5 cm lens, or course not originally fixed to a model A. But during the period of the non-standard model A, some wide angle Elmars were "assigned" to particular model A bodies. This 3.5 cm Ellmar has 3 digit serial of 751 and was almost certainly matched to non standard A, 49751.The focus is to 0.5 meter, there are no "0" marks. It was probably an additional wide angle lens in a kit including a 50mm Elmar and even possibly a 135 Elmar. From information in above posts, t

sabears

Hoping that you will find in the archives some answers to share with us, in the meantime... here, from my archive, a photo of one I-A model marked in feet NOT close-focus, n.2026 (Von Einem indicates n.2021): so n.2021 and n.2026 are both NOT close-focus.  May be they was from the same batch?     It could be that these cameras ("bridge model" according to Von Einem) are rarer than expected: that is even, (but not only) because there are parts the very same as late Elmax model, and in the past

Posted Images

2 hours ago, nf3996 said:

I recently acquired a ‘close focus’ version of the Leica I (Model A), s/n 43675, which set me wondering about this model and the following questions in particular.

 

  • ·         Of the 56,000-odd I(A)s fitted with a 50mm f/3.5 Elmar lens, how many had their distance scales in metres and how many in feet?

     

  • ·         Of those marked in feet, how many were of the ‘close focus’ variety, focussing down to 1.5 feet (18 inches)?

     

  • ·         If you wanted to buy a I(A) marked in feet in the 1920s/1930s, was the close focus version the ‘normal’ model, or was it outnumbered by the non-close focus version? Were both versions available at the same time?

     

  • ·         Was there a close focus version with a lens marked in metres (approx 50cm)? If not, why not?

     

  • ·         What was the purpose of being able to focus to 18 inches? At that distance there would be considerable parallax error in the viewfinder, and film plane to subject distance would need to be measured precisely by hand – the Leitz accessory rangefinders did not focus that close.

     

Any thoughts on the above – or answers – would be much appreciated.

 

Alan

 

I've never seen the numbers for the feet scale/close focus version. Any feet scale models I have seen have been close focus and vice versa. I have no idea why the close focus model was only produced in feet scale, but it may had something to do with rationalisation of production processes. The earliest parallax correction I believe was on the VIDOM from 1933.

https://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/Leica_I_(model_A)

https://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/VIDOM

Remember these were the early days and you have to understand that Leitz was developing new concepts which had not been seen previously. Our hindsight can cloud this somewhat as we have seen another 100 years of camera development.

William

Link to post
Share on other sites

The close focus IA is reported as an "export only" model... this can explain why it was made with feet scale only.

I think that anyway both versions were available.... indeed could be interesting to see, for instance, a UK or USA pricelist of the '20s I can't find one, but the USA instruction booklet of 1928 specifies that "close ranges may be as short as 3 ft." ... probably the close focus was a "special order" item:  afaik, they did not assign a specific 5 letters product code for it.

ABout focusing : they indeed provided the external rangefinder (FOFER) in a version that went to 0,5 meters... I don't know if its availability was coincident with the 1A close focus (maybe it was made for other usage, too, as normal for Leitz old rangefinders) : it's an uncommon version, but time to time they are seen.

 

 

Edited by luigi bertolotti
Link to post
Share on other sites

At that close distance it would be more accurate to use a tape measure than a rangefinder.

l don’t have a close focus 50mm Elmar but my hybrid nickel with chrome mount 35mm Elmar focusses down to about 18 inches, below the marked 2 feet.

I posted a picture taken with it at 18 inches here 

 

 

Edited by Pyrogallol
Link to post
Share on other sites

Advertisement (gone after registration)

2 hours ago, luigi bertolotti said:

The close focus IA is reported as an "export only" model... this can explain why it was made with feet scale only.

I think that anyway both versions were available.... indeed could be interesting to see, for instance, a UK or USA pricelist of the '20s I can't find one, but the USA instruction booklet of 1928 specifies that "close ranges may be as short as 3 ft." ... probably the close focus was a "special order" item:  afaik, they did not assign a specific 5 letters product code for it.

ABout focusing : they indeed provided the external rangefinder (FOFER) in a version that went to 0,5 meters... I don't know if its availability was coincident with the 1A close focus (maybe it was made for other usage, too, as normal for Leitz old rangefinders) : it's an uncommon version, but time to time they are seen.

 

 

I would be interested to see a Feet Scale I A that is not close focus. I have never seen a Metre Scale model with close focus. As for the FOFER this was also produced for cameras which were not Leicas eg FOFER N for the Nagel Pupille. I believe that the FOFER could also be used with large format cameras , but for most of them the closest focus would be a lot more than 0.5m .

William 

Link to post
Share on other sites

With a bit of Googling, I've found a website at https://www.aleica.nl/en/leica-fact-17-leica-1a-variants-elmar-lens. This states:

"Apart from the cameras with the lenses in meter, also lenses in feet have been delivered. Until approx., serial number 2400 the “feet” ELMARS the shortest focus distance was 3,5 feet. Between number 2400 and 46000 the shortest focus distance was 1,5 feet (Close focus Leica). After 46000 3,5 feet was the standard again".

If the website is correct, it would seem that the earliest and latest I(A) cameras has non-close focus 50mm Elmar lenses.

Alan

Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, nf3996 said:

With a bit of Googling, I've found a website at https://www.aleica.nl/en/leica-fact-17-leica-1a-variants-elmar-lens. This states:

"Apart from the cameras with the lenses in meter, also lenses in feet have been delivered. Until approx., serial number 2400 the “feet” ELMARS the shortest focus distance was 3,5 feet. Between number 2400 and 46000 the shortest focus distance was 1,5 feet (Close focus Leica). After 46000 3,5 feet was the standard again".

If the website is correct, it would seem that the earliest and latest I(A) cameras has non-close focus 50mm Elmar lenses.

Alan

Thanks Alan. I must look out for some of those. Any cameras below 2400, of which I have two myself, that I have seen were marked in metres. Feet scale should be more common above 46000, but one that I have in feet scale, 57507, is also close focus. 

William 

Link to post
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, sabears said:

The rarest version of Leica I-A with Elmar is the NON close-focus, vers.1 (according to Von Einem book: so about under ser.n.2400 indeed, here and there), very similar to Elmax one: very few known to exist.

I will be seeing Lars Netopil on Friday in Wetzlar. I will ask him about this. I suspect that there are only a few feet scale cameras under 2400. I will also ask him about the later ones. My only feet scale camera above 46000 is a close focus one. Jerzy and I were doing an exercise on early Elmars some years ago which we stopped as it was getting too time consuming. He may have continued on a bit and may be able to add something.

William 

Link to post
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, luigi bertolotti said:

The 3,5 cm Elmar close focus imho is even more interesting than the 5cm... 😉

Here is one of mine:  A 3,5 cm Elmar wide angle, no serial on lens ring, no 3 digit match number for a camera, only a "standardized  0" on the back of the flange and also on the front angled surface near the focus knob as is usually seen. Focus is in feet and down to 18 inches or so.   I assume there was a short time period after the production of standardized cameras and lenses, and before the start of using serial numbers. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

in her book "10 variants....." Angela v.Einem  included chapter about Feet IA. She meant that Elmax with Feet were regular, like mtr cameras, not close focus. As for IA with Elmar. lowest SN she noted was 1628, close-focus, similarly like 1951 and 1691 that I found. But 2021 was Feet, non-close focus. Within the range 1600-2400 both Feet variants may be found, close and non close focus. After 46000 non close focus only (but this was mentioned already above)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Jerzy, I take this as a confirmation that 1A Elmars in feet were made with both min. focus... probably impossible to have detailed figures ; now I just wonder if they were "on order" or "random" (which seems to me uneven... even if mass-standardized productionwas in its inital phase).

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, jerzy said:

in her book "10 variants....." Angela v.Einem  included chapter about Feet IA. She meant that Elmax with Feet were regular, like mtr cameras, not close focus. As for IA with Elmar. lowest SN she noted was 1628, close-focus, similarly like 1951 and 1691 that I found. But 2021 was Feet, non-close focus. Within the range 1600-2400 both Feet variants may be found, close and non close focus. After 46000 non close focus only (but this was mentioned already above)

Jerzy 57507 is feet scale and close focus. You should have it on the spreadsheet we did some years ago. Certainly feet scale and no close focus below 2400 Is a rare item. We would need access to the full register to see how many there are. Did you ever get access to a register that would show this or are the ones you quoted just ones that you have come across?

William 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just one more photo of a 3.5 cm lens, or course not originally fixed to a model A. But during the period of the non-standard model A, some wide angle Elmars were "assigned" to particular model A bodies. This 3.5 cm Ellmar has 3 digit serial of 751 and was almost certainly matched to non standard A, 49751.The focus is to 0.5 meter, there are no "0" marks. It was probably an additional wide angle lens in a kit including a 50mm Elmar and even possibly a 135 Elmar. From information in above posts, the imagined 50mm Elmar would also be a close focus as is this 3.5cm lens. Both lenses could thus use the same FOFER that is scaled to 0.5 meter also.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an old copy of Neill Wright and Colin Glanfield's book 'The Collector's Checklist of Leica Cameras, Lenses and Accessories'. In there the authors note three different focus-scale versions of 50mm Elmar lenses on Leica I (Model A) cameras. They state:

"(a) normally infinity to 1m

(b) infinity to 3 ft (uncommon version)

(c) infinity to 1.5 ft. This version was apparently only made in feet, about 1927-1930, and may represent a special large order from the importers, Ogilvy & Co, for sale on the UK market."

I have no idea whether the authors' suggestion re Ogilvy & Co is correct, but it sounds like an interesting possibiltiy.

Alan

Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember distinctly to have read somewhere the name of Ogilvy related to the close focus 1A... but regrettably don't remember the source (probably not on one of my books... it must have been on the Net....)

Later edit : I've found... indeed is a book Filippo Giunta - Leica screw mount cameras : 2446 to 6433 are stated as "normal focus 1mtr 3ft  - close focus 1,5 ft for Ogilvy & co., UK"  .  In the meantime, surfing in various past auctions and similar, I checked that finding a 1A with 3ft is really difficult (didn't find one... 🙄)

 

Edited by luigi bertolotti
Link to post
Share on other sites

As William pointed out in another thread, Ogilvy shared an address with (and may well have become) E Leitz UK:

https://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/317854-one-of-those-superlative-pieces-of-mechanism/#comments

So I suppose it's not surprising they could have special orders made! I wonder if there was a premium for this model (does anyone have a price list?). Around 0.5 m is a pretty useful close focus distance for a 50mm lens, typical for an SLR lens today, and would have been an attractive option if focusing and parallax could be managed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...