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Elmar 5cm f3.5 early variations


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Hi everyone I was searching for this but couldn’t find any threads on it , so I’mhoping someone can offer me some clarity. 

I believe there are a few Elmar 5cm f3.5 variations in the early serials, and here in Japan the history of the lens is clearly divided into the following:

- Elmax (pre-Elmar) 1A

- 旧 Elmar (translating to Old Elmar) 1A

- 新 Elmar (translating to New Elmar) 1A

I can’t find similar information or division in English, so was wondering if someone could enlighten me. For example, the Old Elmar here costs double of the New Elmar, and there are several articles comparing both lenses, showing differences in rendering. 

Any information on this would be great. Thank you!

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non-interchangeable Elmars (for IA) is just a fraction of total production and just few of various versions. Great description of versions of IA Elmar is included in book of Angela v. Einem titled 10 variants of classic Leica IA camera with Elmar 50mm". But neither there nor with other authors I found strict separation of just 2 versions of IA Elmar. So it would be good if you could share what are the features of both Old and New Elmars as you mentioned them.
Depending how deep and strict you are in separating various features there might be even more than 2 variants of IA Elmar.
Let us forget here Elmax and some known very early Elmars that have still 5 element optic of an Elmax. There were few features that were changed/modified but optical features did not change until approx SN 100 000.
Here are few of features that were changed: thread for filter (around SN9500), engravings of distance scale (around 2400, later12000), distance scale in meter and feet, Close Focus Elmar, Depth of Field scale added, etc. Going deeper into mechanical construction - additional flat spring on helicoid, modified construction of inner mount for optical elements, etc etc.

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7 hours ago, jerzy said:

non-interchangeable Elmars (for IA) is just a fraction of total production and just few of various versions. Great description of versions of IA Elmar is included in book of Angela v. Einem titled 10 variants of classic Leica IA camera with Elmar 50mm". But neither there nor with other authors I found strict separation of just 2 versions of IA Elmar. So it would be good if you could share what are the features of both Old and New Elmars as you mentioned them.
Depending how deep and strict you are in separating various features there might be even more than 2 variants of IA Elmar.
Let us forget here Elmax and some known very early Elmars that have still 5 element optic of an Elmax. There were few features that were changed/modified but optical features did not change until approx SN 100 000.
Here are few of features that were changed: thread for filter (around SN9500), engravings of distance scale (around 2400, later12000), distance scale in meter and feet, Close Focus Elmar, Depth of Field scale added, etc. Going deeper into mechanical construction - additional flat spring on helicoid, modified construction of inner mount for optical elements, etc etc.

Thank you! I just know the 'old elmar' are the early Elmar lenses that followed the Elmax, and I'm more interested in knowing the optical differences between the old & new Elmar, rather than cosmetic changes.

Here in Japan they're clearly divided from an optical perspective, with most people stating the 'old elmar' is the better lens. There's quite a lot of resources on it in Japan, but nothing in the English world that I've been able to find.

The definition of 'old elmar' in Japan is:

このゲルツガラスのものを旧エルマーと呼び、1928年のロットであるシリアルナンバー13100までの個体

→ using gertz(?) optical glass

→ 1928 lot, w/ serials up to 13100

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36 minutes ago, shirubadanieru said:

Thank you! I just know the 'old elmar' are the early Elmar lenses that followed the Elmax, and I'm more interested in knowing the optical differences between the old & new Elmar, rather than cosmetic changes.

Here in Japan they're clearly divided from an optical perspective, with most people stating the 'old elmar' is the better lens. There's quite a lot of resources on it in Japan, but nothing in the English world that I've been able to find.

The definition of 'old elmar' in Japan is:

このゲルツガラスのものを旧エルマーと呼び、1928年のロットであるシリアルナンバー13100までの個体

→ using gertz(?) optical glass

→ 1928 lot, w/ serials up to 13100

There are 25 variants of the 50 Elmar listed by van Hasbroeck, but Jerzy and I have found more in an exercise which we started some years ago. Jerzy is right in saying that a starting point is to be found with the 10 variants of the I Model A with Elmar. Your question seems to be related not so much to the mechanical variation, but rather to the optical formula. Normally, people talk about the Red Scale Elmar as being a new optical formulation, but I don’t believe that there were no changes whatsoever between 1926 and 1950, Looking at Richter’s book, Barnack and his team did a lot testing on the 50 Elmar lens for a long period after it was introduced. I am away from home at the moment, but when I get back I will post what I have about optical formulae, but I suspect that the full story will not be known until someone strips down a lot of Elmar from over a long time period. Cavani’s Elmar book is OK , but it is far from comprehensive. For what it’s worth, I don’t find that the Red Scale Elmar is remarkably better than the earlier Elmars as regards image quality. It was already very good from the start.

William

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57 minutes ago, willeica said:

There are 25 variants of the 50 Elmar listed by van Hasbroeck, but Jerzy and I have found more in an exercise which we started some years ago. Jerzy is right in saying that a starting point is to be found with the 10 variants of the I Model A with Elmar. Your question seems to be related not so much to the mechanical variation, but rather to the optical formula. Normally, people talk about the Red Scale Elmar as being a new optical formulation, but I don’t believe that there were no changes whatsoever between 1926 and 1950, Looking at Richter’s book, Barnack and his team did a lot testing on the 50 Elmar lens for a long period after it was introduced. I am away from home at the moment, but when I get back I will post what I have about optical formulae, but I suspect that the full story will not be known until someone strips down a lot of Elmar from over a long time period. Cavani’s Elmar book is OK , but it is far from comprehensive. For what it’s worth, I don’t find that the Red Scale Elmar is remarkably better than the earlier Elmars as regards image quality. It was already very good from the start.

William

Thank you William, yes the red dial is well known, but I believe it was a mere coating change that lead to higher contrast / less flare..but the story here in Japan is that, not accounting for external variations, there are three different elmars when it comes to optics/coatings/different rendering:

→ Old Elmar (if you search 旧エルマー you'll see lots of results in Japanese, yet when I search in English there's nothing, that's the origin of my Q & what I'm trying to get more info on here. The price of this lens is twice or more VS all other Elmar models)

→ New Elmar (uncoated/coated versions) 

→ Red Scale Elmar (as you already mentioned)

Edited by shirubadanieru
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Just to clarify upon further reading in JP articles:

The above serial I shared was referring to the camera the lens was attached to. The lens itself is considered 'old Elmar' if:

  • シリアルナンバーの記載が無い
  • → it has no serial number
  • 無限遠ロック裏側の数字(鏡胴ナンバー)が0,1,3のいずれか
  • → it has a 0, 1, 3 written at the bottom of the infinity lock
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article is confusing. 
- the book from v.Einem does not list any modification at SN13100. Around 12300 engravings on the front ring and distance scale became a bit bigger
- all lenses on IA do not have  own serial number stamped on the front ring. Elmars on IA above 55000 might have its own number engraved on the optical cell, visible only is you take the lens apart
- 0,1,3 are focal length group that are predominant within early  interchangeable Elmars (but may be occasionaly found as well on later Elmars) but almost all IA Elmars does not have any focal length group stamped. I have spotted only 2 or 3 IA Elmars with focal length group stamped behind the focusing knob, they were attached to the IA cameras with SN above 35000.

I could not find any evidence that anything changed in optical charateristics within early IA Elmars

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2 hours ago, shirubadanieru said:

Just to clarify upon further reading in JP articles:

The above serial I shared was referring to the camera the lens was attached to. The lens itself is considered 'old Elmar' if:

  • シリアルナンバーの記載が無い
  • → it has no serial number
  • 無限遠ロック裏側の数字(鏡胴ナンバー)が0,1,3のいずれか
  • → it has a 0, 1, 3 written at the bottom of the infinity lock
8 hours ago, shirubadanieru said:

→ using gertz(?) optical glass

→ 1928 lot, w/ serials up to 13100

When combining all the criteria's above: one would end with a very limited number of lenses, either mounted on IAs or converted to standard later.

Also, since the converted IA lenses often don't have serial numbers, they would be close to impossible to identify if separated from the converted camera.

My 1929 IA which was converted to IID in the early 30's has no S/N on the lens.

Strange if Leica only produced this "attractive" lens in 1928. The challenge would be to retrace the claim to a reliable source.

Edit: Jerzy beat me while writing this post 🙂

Edited by nitroplait
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2 minutes ago, jerzy said:

article is confusing. 
- the book from v.Einem does not list any modification at SN13100. Around 12300 engravings on the front ring and distance scale became a bit bigger
- all lenses on IA do not have  own serial number stamped on the front ring. Elmars on IA above 55000 might have its own number engraved on the optical cell, visible only is you take the lens apart
- 0,1,3 are focal length group that are predominant within early  interchangeable Elmars (but may be occasionaly found as well on later Elmars) but almost all IA Elmars does not have any focal length group stamped. I have spotted only 2 or 3 IA Elmars with focal length group stamped behind the focusing knob, they were attached to the IA cameras with SN above 35000.

I could not find any evidence that anything changed in optical charateristics within early IA Elmars

You would need to see optical drawings or have lenses fully stripped down to confirm this. There is a major work, online book with costs in excess of €2,000, which may cover this. A friend of mine, who is a professor of optics, has access to this. Coincidentally we had lunch together yesterday. I will ask him if there is any evidence in that book which may relate to this. He describes the book as a modern update to Rudolf Kinglake’s book on optics. My friend actually knew Kingslake. Is there a name to the Japanese book which describes changes to the Elmar? 
 

William 

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20 minutes ago, willeica said:

You would need to see optical drawings or have lenses fully stripped down to confirm this. There is a major work, online book with costs in excess of €2,000, which may cover this. A friend of mine, who is a professor of optics, has access to this. Coincidentally we had lunch together yesterday. I will ask him if there is any evidence in that book which may relate to this. He describes the book as a modern update to Rudolf Kinglake’s book on optics. My friend actually knew Kingslake. Is there a name to the Japanese book which describes changes to the Elmar? 
 

William 

Thank you! Online resources & my Leica dealer state that the glass provided is different. New elmars are from schott (don't know the right German spelling), whereas old elmars are from gortz (again not sure on spelling). 

Apparently a Japanese book on Elmars will be out this February, so I can share more then. 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, shirubadanieru said:

Thank you! Online resources & my Leica dealer state that the glass provided is different. New elmars are from schott (don't know the right German spelling), whereas old elmars are from gortz (again not sure on spelling). 

Apparently a Japanese book on Elmars will be out this February, so I can share more then. 

 

 

That is correct. There was a change of glass from Goerz to Schott, c 1926 but I’m not sure that the optical formula changed. I’m travelling at the moment, but I have the details at home and will post again when I get back.

William 

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58 minutes ago, willeica said:

That is correct. There was a change of glass from Goerz to Schott, c 1926 but I’m not sure that the optical formula changed.

 In 1910 Goerz became owner of the Munich firm of Sendlinger Optische Glaswerke, an optical glass maker, and they probably used glass from this source and may well have supplied other lens makers with glass too. In 1926 the merge to form Zeiss Ikon occurred and Zeiss stopped optical lens production in makers such as Goerz in which it held a controlling interest. So it does look as though from 1926 other makers would have had to source glass elsewhere if they were buying from Goerz, and Schott would have been a logical supplier. All that said, the specific glass needed and bought from different suppliers may have had very similar characteristics, so this may not have impacted on designs.

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vor 8 Minuten schrieb pgk:

In 1910 Goerz became owner of the Munich firm of Sendlinger Optische Glaswerke

Free translation from Ulf Richter article:

In 1925 Sendlinger Glaswerke introduced new glass type with high refracting factor. This glass made possible to sustain or even improve optical characterists with 2 elements only instead of 3 in the rear group like it was in Elmax. Sendlinger Glaswerke factory was shut in 1927, but shortly after Schott Glaswerke from Jena started with production of glass with similar optical features. Few small corrections in radius of elements were necessary but the optical performance of Elmar with Schott glass was sustained.

There are no further details in his article that would point to more precise date or any serial number.

My comment: assuming dates and facts within Richter article are correct, assuming that new glass from Schott appeared sill im 1927, assuming that for Elmar with Schott glass calculations of elements would have been repeated I believe that Elmars with Schott glass were produced earliest second half of 1927 and this results in serial numbers of approx >5xxx. 
Would be interesting of you could find more within Japanese article and if William could provide more details

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Just as an aside and a bit of history. In the early days of lens production (photographic and telescope) one of the problems was for manufacturers to source consistent glass. Thomas Grubb in Dublin used to buy both 'continental' and British (Chance) glass and then test the batches which he bought, which, whilst of 'flint' or 'crown' showed some degree of variation apparently. From what I have read, it appears that his telescope lenses may have been ground to suit the precise characteristics of the glass, and I would be very surprised if the small batches of photographic lenses he made were not also marginally adjusted for glass variation as he was clearly aware of the need to adjust. Large lenses were expensive partly because obtaining large pieces of glass free from defects (and too many bubbles) was difficult. Sometimes glass arrived and could only be used for smaller elements.

All of which is a round about way of saying that adjustments in optical formulae and radius corrections were a probably relatively well established part of photographic lens manufacture, which only finished when glass production reached a point of high consistency. It would be interesting to find out just when that occurred.

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4 hours ago, jerzy said:

- the book from v.Einem does not list any modification at SN13100. Around 12300 engravings on the front ring and distance scale became a bit bigger
- all lenses on IA do not have  own serial number stamped on the front ring. Elmars on IA above 55000 might have its own number engraved on the optical cell, visible only is you take the lens apart
- 0,1,3 are focal length group that are predominant within early  interchangeable Elmars (but may be occasionaly found as well on later Elmars) but almost all IA Elmars does not have any focal length group stamped. I have spotted only 2 or 3 IA Elmars with focal length group stamped behind the focusing knob, they were attached to the IA cameras with SN above 35000.

According to
https://wiki.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/Leica_I_(model_A)
from 6301 to 13100: Elmar 4th version
from 13301 to 21478: Elmar 6th version
I have no idea what "4th version" and "6th version" are.
I did not trace the history of the wiki page to find who wrote that part
of it.

I bought 12069 a month ago, it has "1" stamped behind the focusing knob
(maybe stamping occured during conversion to 7 o'clock infinity lock?).
Some pictures from the seller:

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

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Thanks guys. i learned a lot about the "pre-historic" Leica lenses. My first reflex was to look up the variants in the Leica wiki, but it seems this discussion completely predates it. The wiki starts with 1930

https://wiki.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/Screw-thread_Lenses_x_Type

https://wiki.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/Elmar_(I)_f%3D_5_cm_1:3.5

Edited by dpitt
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4 hours ago, Jul said:

According to
https://wiki.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/Leica_I_(model_A)
from 6301 to 13100: Elmar 4th version
from 13301 to 21478: Elmar 6th version
I have no idea what "4th version" and "6th version" are.
I did not trace the history of the wiki page to find who wrote that part
of it.

The reference to Elmar versions was introduced with this commit:
https://wiki.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php?title=Leica_I_(model_A)&diff=29741&oldid=29740
on May the fifth 2012 by "Admin". I'm not sure "Admin" on the wiki is
the forum admin, there might be different user database (I am not able
to log in wiki with forum credentials).

Anyone recognize himself as wiki "Admin" and would tell us which source
was used for the edit?

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vor 6 Stunden schrieb Jul:

I bought 12069 a month ago, it has "1" stamped behind the focusing knob
(maybe stamping occured during conversion to 7 o'clock infinity lock?).

yes, the "1" was stamped during conversion. Btw, during conversion the front ring was retained, it is from original IA Elmar. Mount is of course replaced, engraving difference betrween distance scale and front ring are clearly visible

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Thank you for the confirmation. I don't have much information about the
conversion itself except that according to the form of the top plate, it
has not been done in early Leica II lifespan and according to shutter
speed dial ("20-1" instead of "20", small model), it was even
contemporary to the Leica III.

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12 hours ago, jerzy said:

In 1925 Sendlinger Glaswerke introduced new glass type with high refracting factor. This glass made possible to sustain or even improve optical characterists with 2 elements only instead of 3 in the rear group like it was in Elmax. Sendlinger Glaswerke factory was shut in 1927, but shortly after Schott Glaswerke from Jena started with production of glass with similar optical features. Few small corrections in radius of elements were necessary but the optical performance of Elmar with Schott glass was sustained.

 

This was the quote which I remembered, but being away from home I could not quote it. The last line of this is attributed to Ernst Leitz.  It appears that some changes were made with the new Schott glass, but these were just to accommodate the new glass rather than to affect performance. Page 18 of Cavani's book shows the same optical formula from 1925-1951 and the revised Red Scale formulation from 1951-61

Richter's book records testing with slightly different focal lengths over a number of years. Then we have the numbers behind the infinity knob to record the actual focal length of the lens, but presumably these were 'standardised' through appropriate mounts.

 

5 hours ago, Jul said:

The reference to Elmar versions was introduced with this commit:
https://wiki.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php?title=Leica_I_(model_A)&diff=29741&oldid=29740
on May the fifth 2012 by "Admin". I'm not sure "Admin" on the wiki is
the forum admin, there might be different user database (I am not able
to log in wiki with forum credentials).

 

This may relate to the von Einem variations. I'd have to check all the serial numbers, but von Einem shows the second variant as commencing c 2400, this one says 2445, so more or less the same for that one. For what it is worth the changes between Variant 1 and 2 as regards the lens were - aperture ring is cropped and the lens mount now showed the 7 metre mark, which was missing from the first variant. These are mechanical rather than optical changes. 

William 

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