Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Back to my own efforts-new shots

Taken with a Leica R4s and 50mm Summicron on Rollei RPX 25 film. Developed
in FX-39 liquid at makers time and standard dilution -  the time which needs cutting down This figure is at the Gortmore Viewpoint  on  'Bishops Road' above Loch Foyle in Northern Ireland.

Purton Hulks on the banks of the Severn. I regret a rather familiar subject that has attracted several photographers but was the subject of an afternoon walk with friends as quite close to us.For these  I used a Leica 111f with a 50mm Summitar f2 lens - coated- on T-Max 400 in D75 1:1.

This is another shot of the above barge which is a record of the two 12 inch nails used to attempt to hold the crack on the timber at top right. Same camera used.

Deal Pier in Kent. A cloudy day at the seaside. Leica 111f  with 35mm lens Kodak T-Max 400 in D76 1:1

A late afternoon at the one time  Broad street railway site adjacent to Liverpool Street,London.Taken on a leica 111f camera with a f2.0 Summitar (Coated) As in meny cases D76 1;1 to develop Kodak T-Max 400

Evening scene in Alaior,Menorca, in June 2016 using a Leica R4s and 50mm Summicron  Lens, Film was Rollei RPX 25 in FX-39.

Click on any picture to enlarge on a black background.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Books you should read- even from an Ikonta user!

The short book review which follows relates to a publication of great interest to me and which would I feel interest many film camera users.

                                                         The title is-

                               'Reece Winstone   Rambles in the Darkroom'

                                By  John Winstone.ISBN0900814 73X    1994

                                Pub: Reece Winstone Archive and Publishing

The name of Reece Winstone will be familiar to many in the West of England through his collections of historic photographs of the Bristol area dating to the dawn of Photography. Now highly collectable, these cover some 200 years in about 37 volumes. In addition  publications by his family take this to 44 editions. His name appears in almost every magazine one picks up from  club reports of the 1930's onwards.

As the book makes clear Mr Winstone had a distinguished career as a freelance photographer and as a prime mover in the formation of Photographic Clubs in the Bristol  and South West area which led to  the  Western Counties Photographic Federation  of 1932, established while he was but young . At that time the line between Amateur and Professional in Club circles was, it seems. rather more relaxed than today. Throughout his life he actively promoted Photography and the preservation of the Bristol of past years which had suffered badly in the Blitz, and far, far, more up until his passing in recent years.

However, this book contains some really fine photographs of photojournalistic subjects, typical of his time, but possessing  a great attraction for the darkroom worker of today. By the way, a number of his fine prints appeared in circulating portfolios from the late 1920's - Join one today!

To me this is a far more attractive book of photographs than many which appear in full colour today, His Colour output was limited but examples are available from the Reece Winstone archive website. Get one and see for yourself. Other books available are also listed on the site which is at :-

More on the Focomat,European and US versions.

Among the history of the Focomat enlarger is the strange cul-de-sac styled the Focomat 1b which some might consider better styled informally the ' Focomat 1.0.1' in that it built on the basis of the last pre- war European machine while introducing the groundwork of the true Wetzlar second version.

It would appear that the revised design was brought to the market during the period that ownership of the New York Company was vested in the Alien Property Custodian which did not expire until a sale of 'stock' in  August 1952 returning the company to private ownership although not owned by Leitz family or  Leitz company interests. The firrst new owner being The Dunhill Corporation.This was not quite so simple as it seemed as more or less the same procedure had been enacted during the First War and of course the New York branch developed some products and practices of it's own while controlled by, indirectly ,the US government,including a fair copy of the Focomat.

The point of all this historical preamble is to highlight the Focomat 1b which was the subject of two whole page features in the company published magazine 'Leica Photography' of Summer 1948 (Volume 2 No 1) This is one of the the earliest of my collection of this magazine which only goes back to vol 1,No.1 from Spring 1948 which was I think the first post war issue and which appeared without any note of the nine year interruption since it's predecessor disappeared for the War. Format is much the same as the pre war editions. Production may have commenced in the US to a US modified design in 1946 (Laney) with a matching lens produced in the States.

The main features in which the 1b differs are-

The conspicuous name/number plate on one parallelogram arm,  reflected on each side at a point where some weakness might be expected from the locking mechanism.All arms appear to come from the same pattern.

The rather modern (Radio Age) design of the ends of the condenser lever and the, seemingly, superfluous knob on the lower lamphouse.

Lack of a name plate facing forward. The column appears to, still, be 32mm.

The precise form of head lock on the right (facing) did not pass on to the later model.

However,  it is in the introduction of a tilting lamphouse that the machine adds a feature to become long lived and much appreciated!

scan here

Is it going too far to speculate that the 'limited supply' of negative carriers  in stock  for less popular sizes were left over from 1941? Three Index stops is generous indeed.

Apologies for the limited scan but my scanner misses the 'gutter' of bound books.

It is noticeable that the first Advert I have traced is 1946 in another publication and in bold type below the Leitz classic logo appears 'American Made' No logo is shown on the lamphouse.
By Summer 1950 the 'New Focomat 1c' from a, partly, rebuilt Europe was featured with the traditional swans neck condenser lever and a column of, still, 32mm- not yet 40mm,  with the much improved foot of asymetrical shape which endured until the very end. This appears to have marked the end of the 1B.

Noteworthy on the American 1c is the strange logo set in an unknown typeface with an overscored name and a sloping font.  It just occurred to me that this may have been in response to the 1950 legal case over the use of the Leitz classic trademark.  ( More than fully reported on the Internet if you should wish to research, but now of rather arcane interest.)  This might also explain the lack of a name plate on the 1b.

Introduction of the 1c-a poor scan but  from Summer 1950 when New York had stocks of the German made enlarger, However the odd logo is still seen in Fall  1952 advertisements but not,  I think, in the UK.

This first Ic had a 32mm column just as before and was advertised in company with the traditional Valoy unchanged since pre war days. Rather disturbing to a UK reader is the wiring schematic which omits any reference to earthing- the old problem.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Recruitment............ again!

Any visitor to this site who is interested in joining The Leica Society, or this Circle, which operates as a part of the Society, will be made most welcome.  Just an email to the address at the head of this site will be enough to get details. Due to the postal basis of print distribution we are forced to limit this Circle to Great Britain and Ireland but other Circles exist as set out in the Leica Society Website.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

LPP in the last weeks before Sept 1939...........

In their manner of the time the Amateur Photographic press of pre war days devoted a good allowance of space to 'free' copy in the form of reports from the clubs around the U.K. Hidden among these prosaic notes were some real gems that reveal the activities of L.P.P. at the time. In 1939 the country had passed through one heightened fear of War and while it seemed inevitable the words 'Keep calm and Cary On' we truer than ever.

The three examples below illustrate the activity of the day fairly well-what we lack is a report of the response but they anticipate a type of activity which has become more and more frequent in the present day - 76 years later-with some of the same cameras!

Click on entry for a better view-the spelling of Barnack is supposed to be an error.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Monday, 28 August 2017

Hektor...long lived lens... or not?

The classic Leica reference books have the Hektor f2.5 50mm standard lens as appearing in 1931 , peaking in 1932, and tailing off in production in 1940. There was a possible  revival in 1946-1948 when 71 may have been made which may be due to using up of surplus production in stock after the War,  BUT the very fact that these later lenses were made cannot be substantiated according to reliable sources.  I wonder if the post war 71 units were older lenses returned for coating?

Now  l have come across a comment by Fr. Willy Frerk the Editor of Photofreund who was a correspondent of English Magazines in pre- war days. This is dated January 1938 when it is reported that the Hektor has been so much surpassed by the faster Summar f2.0 standard lens the'it is hardly ever asked for now' and has been discontinued. Given that Leica made some 27000 Summar lenses that year it certainly seems to have had it's day.  Not only that but the company made 11000 of its new and so much better Summitar only the next year!

Guess Who?- It's that man again......

The name I refer to today has gone from the London  LEICA scene in recent years but from the 1930's until recently could be relied upon for specialist Leica advice and sales.  At one time there were associated stores in provincial cities and in fact I bought my first 35mm camera in one of these in 1960, in fact from the Bristol branch. The name is of course R.G.Lewis, famous for the traditional address of  202 High Holborn, London.

It was only recently that I learnt that the proprietor was the son of the named 'R.G.Lewis' and is more correctly named as Norman Lewis. Born in 1908 Norman enjoyed a long and diverse life  and passed away in 2003, aged 94.

My reading of  pre-war magazines concerning amateur photography often show up articles and features written by R.G. Lewis chiefly concerning travel in, for that time, exotic places such as the Balkans and the Middle East. He was an A.R.P.S. under the name of his father. While he produced many excellent photographs with the Leica in a distinctive style the true nature of  his work comes to light in a massive Biography minutely researched and written by Julian Evans. In fact,  a photo essay of Arabian buildings in the M.C.M ,  August 1938,  with technical details,  is revealed as an intelligence gathering expedition of a year or two prior to that date, on behalf of this country. One presumes the seven kilometer drive up the bed of a river in the Balkans which wrote off a Ford V8 was also at the public expense!

Lewis' long life enabled him to have raced Bugatti cars at Brooklands and yet travelled in South America with Lord Snowdon. His exotic lifestyle having been, in part, financed by the Leica Shops and associated photographic business ventures, which enabled  him to act as a part time British Intelligence agent- a spy. His War was spent in the Intelligence Corps and his post war writing in novels and travel were copious. Nothing of the extra curricular activities appears in the Wikipedia entry but I recommend the 792 pages of 'Semi Invisible Man' by Julian Evans ( Pub, Jonathan Cape 2008) for much, much, fuller detail.

The reason I have set the scene for the Blog today is the complete anonymity  he enjoyed for years and appeared to never seek recognition. However the pictures in the Biography are distinctive and he could hardly be confused with anyone else as a very smart dresser with distinctive facial hair, Leading on from this is a portrait which appears in the  M.C.M. of December 1937.credited to Leo.A.Leigh A.R.P.S.(later F.R.P.S). who was sadly killed in a motor accident early in the War.It is part of his essay on copying and forms an end-piece.It cannot be anyone but 'R G Lewis'

Sunday, 20 August 2017

There are ways of adjusting your enlarging lens

The small size of the aperture lever on the 50mm Elmar standard camera lens did not prevent it's use on the classic Leitz enlargers despite the need to read a scale,  at a nigh impossible angle,  under the enlarger head.  Certainly , a fear of damage from lamp heat on Balsam layers could be set aside for short exposures with a 75 watt lamp and was in many cases more theoretical than real.

Those who chose the high wattage options such as 100, or 250 watt had a mains resistance to cut down power except during exposure which would have been brief. To assist the setting of accurate stops a device was almost unavoidable and needless to say the factory came up with the answer.

VALOO was a clamp on ring fitting over the front plate of a 50mm Elmar, or in an alternative a Hektor, standard lens. A concentric ring grasped the miniscule stop setting block and the device had a duplicate scale engraved where it could be seen.Several types of this basic item exist and they were also produced by Cooke, among others, A simple enough device but just make sure it is intended for your lens otherwise problems will arise. An extension of the use is that the ring can be secured  as an effective lens hood. In later days the Elmar became upgraded to a larger item with slots to engage devices on the front ring.The Valoo was so upgraded to a massive ring which finds some uses in close up and bellows work to solve  similar problems.

The Code words are VALOO for the small unit from 1948 with click stops and VALAU for the pre war unit without them.  This earlier unit was in chrome rather than black and had relative exposure stops i.e 1,2,3,4,6,10.  The unit for Hektor is rarer but was coded VOOLQ and only, I think, made pre war.  The later code number was 16620. The larger unit is marked VTOOX for Elmar only. It also exists as VTROO for the Summicron. For every one hundred mentions of the small type one sees perhaps one of the larger type- but that does not make them rare or collectable. Rather, they came along when the SLR had commanded the world stage.

1.Showing the slot for the Elmar aperture block.
2.  External appearance.
3.  The later large unit with two coupling pegs.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

What was all that about Newton's Rings?

Not a scientific article,but the concept of Newton's Rings is fairly well known to all Leica workers who are warned at every turn to beware of the optical effect in printing. The rings are a rainbow coloured interference effect,  named after the Gravity man,  that appears when a spherical surface touches a flat surface- so lots of scope for trouble with enlargers , film etc.   It is usually accepted that the condenser surface is the flat surface and the film provides the sphere even in a Leica enlarger. This will be evident as a flaw in a print but I have never come across one in Black and White printing where I tend to use well dried negatives which have had a day or two  in a warm atmosphere. In this case the effect is reduced and even simple use made of the template in early Leica Guides will solve the problem. In this solution a paper or acetate shim is cut to size and used on top of the negative holder on the Focomat or Valoy thus ensuring that the condenser does not contact the negative. (By the way,  this can be cut from red acetate sheet at negligible cost to replace missing red windows in an elderly negative carrier)

Where the rings came into their own is in colour slide mounting (remember that?) where fortunes were made and lost in the production of special glass mounts to avoid the rings becoming obvious in projection where they move about with film flexing under heat. Not only were the rings seen clearly with plain glass but the surface of the anti newton glass could be focussed on the screen.

Just a few of the avoiding measures taken in the 1950's - some under licence from Leitz,  made by PerroColor in Switzerland marked NEWLO for etched glass mounts.Those who projected Kodak slides as they arrived in card mounts had to put up with (unsharp) popping of the film until Leitz came along with curved field lenses late in the day.Note the reliance on masks to maintain separation of film and glass.

Avoidance of the optical effects in prints led to a number of DIY solutions.  However, a high tech correction is available.  Leica marketed the solution for the Focomat which is an etched plate of Anti-Newton glass in a mount to fit over the condenser with a brass ring to raise the condenser a little - about 3mm, to preserve free movement. The Valoy 11 has a different condenser mounting and the solution was to make the later Valoy condensers  available finished in an Anti-Newton surface. You still need the ring to modify an early Valoy,  without the later type condenser being to hand,  making use of a separate anti-newton glass.

These components have been hard to find at this late stage and command high prices. However some perfectly acceptable Japanese copies have been hand made in limited numbers and one is included in the illustrations below.

I believe the correct codes are NESOO for the Glass disc in mount to fit over the original condenser with the spacer ring required and  17507 for the later etched condenser for the Valoy 11, or 17634 for the Valoy 1. (They certainly think of everything!)  Neither have any engraving that will assist identification. An older metal mask offered as a solution was in effect a factory made equivalent of the  acetate mask and is  listed as NEWOO in some books of reference and dated as introduced in 1951. This photo shows the factory glass plate and adjusting ring, together with the Japanese version which is only finished in black in the light path. The second Brass ring-more a shim- seems to be in place on all Focomat enlargers, I suspect to reduce friction in the condenser lowering mechanism. All comments welcome.

The Japanese product is pleasing and has been in use. You may wish to see the instructions........
Now,  Any Questions?

Monday, 14 August 2017

The Book Review-pure fiction + coffee developer!

In the few moments I get left over after reading and re-reading  'Snow Canvas' , 'My Leica and I' ,and 'Living Leica'  (1956 edition,  of course)  few other books or subjects attract my attention.

However, one that did arrive , via Amazon, is a detective mystery.The title is 'The Dead in their Vaulted Arches'

I have found that I only enjoy this type of book when I am able to read most of a series with the same characters such  the Bryant and May series  by Christopher Fowler, The Powerscourt series of David Dickinson,  Edward Marston on Railways and the unique series of Martin Beck books which when read in order and arranged by the spine will spell Martin Beck!

If I still have your attention I shall introduce the latest in the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley (pub. Orion 2014). Again, a series is involved and number 6 has proved to be of interest to me as a darkroom worker. In short this is the adventure of the younger daughter of an impoverished Colonel with a country house left to decay on the death of his wife, the owner, in 1939. Her body is recovered just post war and his daughter is astounded to be picked out as her true successor by Sir Winston Churchill as the body arrives home.The heroine is found to have inherited all the amazing intellectual ability of her Mother, included is an inherited Leitz brass microscope.  In the course of the adventures of this patriotic family the young lady discovers her mother's last home movie undeveloped and manages to develop it using strong coffee and reversal chemicals, all described in detail,  together with the manufacture if a safelight and a reel! Needless to say the film is a key to the solution of many things.

All very' Ripping Yarn' stuff and by no means the end of the series, which continues, but readable as a stand alone book or preferably after the minor characters are introduced by earlier books. Given the Boy's Own storyline I found the presence of points 'For Discussion' and an interview with the Author, at the end, just a little strange unless I have got hold of a School Edition-I think not. Possibly this is is a response to the growth of Book Groups.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Don't forget the Valoy 11......

When the time came to discontinue the Valoy 11 it was called the finest manual enlarger available and Leica fans were scouring  dealers to snap up the last few in stock. The last of the line is a superb machine and those still available illustrate the hard wearing properties of the machine which still looks very modern (as enlargers go!) especially in gray/blue finish. What more could a black and white worker ask for? Just add a Focotar 2 ( or large element "1.5") and off we go!

(Canadian issue of leaflet-17-3c)

A enlarger guidebook- v35 oddity in print

One of the rarer publications concerning the v35 Focomat  is the colour booklet shown below.This runs to 96 colour pages all in cartoon format which relates the story of purchase and colour printing by a v35 using a young couple as examples. Given the price of the machine it was probable that the average age of a purchaser in UK was about the same as some Honda cars of the time -which was revealed as  not young

In true Enid Blyton manner the young people are provided with a Mentor, Uncle John,an Airline Pilot, who is an expert colour printer. This rather strange book carries the Leitz trade mark and the usual serial numbering as a Leitz issue publication , it would be interesting to learn how it came to be authorised.  Get one now-if any more have survived!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Leitz Literature and Design-

Three Leitz publications came my way a few days ago and it was interesting to note the evolution in design that they illustrate.  It goes without saying that those likely to be reading this will be well aware that there has been only one basic change in the design of Leica direct viewing cameras since the 1920's which was the arrival of the M3 in the 1950's and the change to bayonet lens mounts.

The design of enlargers  was equally timeless and I could go back to well pre war days to,  more or less,  match the illustrations of the Focomat enlargers shown.  These underwent their own screw/bayonet moment shortly after the War and then changed little until the v35 came along.I would say these leaflets cover the period 1950-1970 , approximately.

And here is one of the older leaflets in the English edition from December 1937 which shows the classic Focomat 1 which appears Blog passim on this site.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Thoughts on the First VALOY enlarger

With the help of Ebay I recently acquired a box of early Valoy parts from a dealer in the North of England.  They went for 0.99p plus postage and  included some Gamer parts that no doubt will well cover the cost. The Leica parts included another column cover that I described in an earlier Blog posting and all was in remarkably fine condition. I have added a few odds and ends from my spares box and have ended up with an example of the first model of Valoy to put into practical use.

The later Valoy chassis as in the Type 11 derives it's geometrical integrity upon the interface of a number of flat surfaces and planes which assemble at right angles but the first design had a few 'built in' problem areas for the Wetzlar engineers. The thin dome sections containing the lamp and negative are affixed by precision screws to a cast hollow arm uniting the column and the head in a factory set relationship. It follows that this fixing is of the utmost importance in ensuring that the axis of the head is at the precise 90 degrees to the column as no other adjustment is possible. The care taken by Leitz is clear from the almost tissue thin spring steel shims used in the head assembly and the torque applied to the three heavy screws-which I recommend should never be undone.

I have attached some illustrations of the restored enlarger using a few spare parts I had. The column supplied was authentic but the electrical wiring had been modified and had non standard exit holes drilled so has been replaced ,again from spares,  I had  selected a stainless steel tube from a early De Vere 203, of exactly the same diameter,  which solves the corrosion issue once and for all. However, there is the question of drilling and threading for the set screw for the foot and this has defeated me so far as it is a hard metal. The Leitz electric plug system is almost impossible to restore and, as received, had been replaced by a cable running through a hole drilled in the corroded plug!

I make no apology for a column foot that came from an early Type 11 in black with a superb name plate that could not be resisted but made the question of earthing even more complex.  The red screw at the foot of the  original column no doubt met the regulations in Germany when the enlarger was made-1932! and the machine had the serpentine original wiring.  Rewiring advice is beyond the ability of this Blog,  but, whatever you decide,do fit an efficient earthing system and if in any doubt get it checked by a professional.  Remember that contact between the various parts may be poor.

The last Leica darkroom guide from the v35 period makes the valid point that beyond the safety issue effective earthing may reduce dust attracted by static.

This may be the right place to remark that I have found at least four types of lampholder in Valoy/Vasex/Focomat  enlargers fitted to a lamphouse which differs little in construction between 1920 and 1970.  This Valoy had an Bakelite holder with three insulated  brass spring pins surrounding the lampholder and permitting the adjustment screws to be used to obtain the precise lamp coverage. In this case the brass pins were firmly fixed  in place but still springy.

I have not seen the small light trap in any lamp fitting prior to the last Color-Focotar when this took the form of a spring washer floating around the cable entry tube and was presumably fitted for colour printing sensitivity purposes.  The first and oldest holder seen is all metal and has an interrupted annular ring around the lampholder bearing on the outer tubular housing and giving the same adjustment.These seem very fragile probably due to the heating of very thin metal.  Some of the metal fittings use brass pins with springs recessed onto the pin and some do not!  In later examples the solid pins will fly out with some force and care should be taken to remove the lampholder in,say, a plastic bag to avoid loss of these tiny, but vital, spares.  The last metal holder has strips of thin brass pressed out of the holder to form spring bearings but are still forced outwards in some cases with small coil springs which seems a logical way of saving money and obtaining efficiency at the works when the much revised lampholder on the Colour Focomat was issued.

The condenser bears no similarity to the Type 2 and is more like the first Focomat with a rotary lifting arm of super smooth action. In fact it is best described as a short Focomat  type.  Absence of a bellows means one less part to worry about when restoring after 80 years.  I am told that neither of my anti- newton plates are really satisfactory with the Valoy 2 as they distort the light paths but they find little use with the Valoy 1 as a thin plate of card or acetate in the classic Leica Guide pattern will suffice. Two of my a-n plates are the correct Leitz fitting and the other a Japanese replica product made in small numbers in the last year or so, but of similar high quality.

Should the inner dome require repainting this can be done with car aerosol spray but this job will be eased by first removing the reflector surface which is a loose push fit in most cases.  Do bear in mind that a wide range of 'silver' shades is available and I have often found that the short household cans from hardware outlets are easier to work with. This applies, in particular, to the later white finish.

The baseboard on this one was missing but they do come up from time to time and it would be nice to have an original rather than one shown which is attractive, but modern.  In the meantime that fitted has been constructed from block board which arrived as part of an Ikea wardrobe and proved to be solid timber which could take a precision cut from a power rail saw.  ( Short advertising break for my son,  Rupert, of 'Money for Nothing' BBC TV-On a TV near you. Thanks for the carpentry, Ru. )

The panels had six inches removed at each end which was glued under pressure at each end of the new base  to guard against warps, and to give a firmer base for the column.  Care was taken to see that the blockboard seams did not match.  Four doorstops lift the finished base off my darkroom bench and allow tidy cable runs. This board is larger than necessary but gives me some options for future use.

I first examined a number of original base boards, some of which have been beyond realistic recovery.  The subsequent delamination by dampness reveals  most  to be composed of three plies of hardwood each about seven millimeters thick with a outer coating of veneer.  There are countless shades ranging from deep Mahogany varnish to an acid green/blue tinge in flat varnish,  no doubt reflecting what was available in difficult times.

Older readers will recognise the column extension which represents, with the Purma camera, one of the few Welsh contributions to camera history being a product of  'Gnome'  of  that country. It was a product  marketed when the hobby in UK had to produce all it's goods from home industries as imports were restricted.  It bears some likeness to the Reprovit bracket but for full security and integrity of the geometry a further bracket at the top would inspire confidence.  A very similar bracket was available as 73930 in the New York price list of 1939,  also an extension arm was advertised by "R.G. Lewis" in 1946.  I have contrived to cover all possible bright metal in the light path using an early Leitz column  felt cover.  Finally,  the type of red filter and fitting shown is it seems a stock Leitz size as it is also a perfect fit on my Vasex enlarger.The 50mm lens shown is an attempt at authenticity and is an Elmar such as the Leica user might have transferred from his camera as was popular at the time.

Not a faultless restoration, and in some ways not authentic, but acceptable , I  feel, for 0.99p and the scrap box!
First , the Focomat style negative stage
 The early type dome/ arm joint
 The column offset, courtesy of Gnome
 The base,masking frame and column cover

This is the Elmar in place-too valuable to heat up by switching the light on!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

I've seen the light- but it should be dark red?

Almost all the negative carriers for 35mm film on Leitz enlargers follow the pattern of a single metal plate with few variations. Yes, Esmiralda, I know there are 3x4 and 4x4 versions which I have, with glass,  never used and am never likely to.

However to start to plough a new furrow I wonder just how these items were made?  I ask from the practical viewpoint of a man trying to replace the red gelatin in two standard holders. At a guess the channel is formed  by soldering shim onto the base brass after the red windows are filled. Trouble is you just can't see the join. ( Avoiding obvious humour)

Use of a magnifying lens on the outer edge shows no trace of two parts having been joined but a faint line is visible around the film aperture, always assuming you have not opened it out to 25x37 with a file. The tiny screws holding the silver 'ramps' are not involved.

I have found a holder from a pre Valoy model which must date to the 1920's which had missing red gelatine but an obvious milled recess into which a replacement gel can be fitted in a few moments. I used a slip of the safelight that used to come in Ilford MG filter sets and bedded it in with UHU which did not react. However, no nearer the real question of how do we repair standard negative carriers?

The only rather poor solution I can come up with is to cut a mask such as appeared in the Morgan Leica manual at one time.This was a possible cure for Newtons Rings. Made from red acetate and covering both the gaps it should then show film numbers against red film.

Yet again,  any ideas welcome. This is a picture of the older carrier which was easy to repair.

The Long and the Short of things...

There has been a discussion for some time about the correct bulb to fit to a Valoy 2 enlarger. An excellent illustration appears on one commercial website which has been on display for some time.

This refers in particular to Osram products  (beloved by the factory)  I was at a loss to know what I should fit to be correct, although I had used a Valoy for years with no complaints and any old 75 watt enlarger bulb that came to hand.  I have just checked my small stock of bulbs and find that the 75 watt bulbs of modern issue in bright glossy boxes all measure 4.13 inches long which is even shorter than the 'short' Osram product, but,, moreover,  also shorter than early Phillips bulbs in distinctly 1950's packs. I would assume that I have bulbs small enough to give optimum coverage in a Valoy 2 -if I notice !

As ever, comments on this tenuous point are welcome at the email address above as the 'comment' facility seems to have ceased to function.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Leica News and Technique- Jan/Feb 1937

This edition is a rather interesting publication of E.Leitz from the London office sent out to all registered owners- and sold at six pence to others.  A suitable winter picture was selected for the cover, as appears below, which is credited to Dr. Robert Semple,of Aberdeen.  Efforts to trace the background of this Leicaman were quite easy-always assuming that I have the right person- as a lengthy account of his life in Medicine and his War Service appears on the Internet. He is not credited with an interest in the Leica but it does appear that he must have been aged about 20 at the time the picture was published.

All this would be interesting but would not have taken my eye had it not been for an item on Ebay last week. Advertised for sale was a lantern slide in a 80mm mount of this very picture. As you can imagine I had to 'Buy it Now' at a very modest price. Now, black and white slides were often made in Eldia film holders but these were of the exact size of the Leica negative. This picture has been printed to about 60mm x 45mm.  The label reads "from Leica Magazine"  as  1936-217 and the mount is signed "R.W.Blakeley".   I am lost as to why this picture should become a lantern slide in a larger size when one would expect to see it printed on film to produce a positive image for 2x2 mounts which existed in 1936.  In fact 'Agfacolor' was advertised in the magazine concerned.  I was interested to see that the slide shows slightly more than the printed page so may well have come from the original negative rather than being a copy of the magazine.

I have not attempted to take the research further but should any reader have personal knowledge which might help then do let me know.  Just use the email address at the top of the Blog.

And here is the slide, under glass.

Footnote October 2017: I have only just noticed that Dr Robert Semple(M.D) of Aberdeen appears as a Prize Winner for a picture of a Gull in Flight in the Competition results in my post of 2/7/2017.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Cri de Coeur - 1950

Also found in a Magazine of 1950 was this small plea from the Secretary of the Circle which strikes a familiar note 67 years later..........All very true today, except that contact should be the Hon.  Sec........ to hear from you!

Artist at Work- R.G. Lewis copy from 1950

From the first page  of Miniature Camera World for April 1950 comes a delightful illustration from 'R.G.Lewis'. The derivation of this name (which only disappeared recently) is a story for another post but it is clear that in 1950 genuine works accessories were in short supply, or manufacture had not resumed after the war.
It should be added that all the addresses shown are decades out of date!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Our 100th Post on this Blog- Recruitment

It is appropriate that this 100th post returns to the original aim of publicising the Leica Postal Portfolios, now Leica Society, and its Circles. Fuller details can be found on The Leica Society website but what an opportunity to scan an article by H.S, Newcombe from 1938 on the very subject.

PLEASE NOTE: All the above addresses are well out of date-Please follow the Club Website.

Leica Competition No. 2 - 1937/8

An interesting competition entry form came into my hands recently,  folded inside a copy of Leica News and Technique, but no hope of entering as entries had to be in by January 31st 1938 !

This Competition was conducted by Leitz at 20 Mortimer Street. Those of us who support the Society in the Annual meetings and Exhibition will be surprised at the relaxed rules that apply today, contrasted with 1938. The practice of requiring contact prints with entries seems to have dropped out in the post war period and was introduced in order that the sponsor could check the fixed relationship of sprocket holes and frame which is the tell-tale signature of a Leica negative.  Also noted is the first rule which precludes 'grey' imports from competing,  but , after all,  Leitz were  putting up the prizes which were not inconsiderable in the values of 1937/8. The submission of 20x24 prints seems to have gone out of fashion in most amateur work and probably just as well knowing the difficulty of mailing even 16x20 prints.  Clause 11 would not be accepted by modern workers and is difficult to justify as reproduction in the magazine was probably the limit of use made of prints. Use of a' nom de plume' is novel and one wonders why a simple number would not suffice?  Finally,  in a nice touch of detail, a small transparent envelope is attached to contain return postage.

and the Winner was.................

In passing, Dr Robert Semple(M.D) of Aberdeen has a mention in my post on this Blog of 2/7/17 when I record his cover picture for Leica News and Technique

The March/April  1938 edition of the Magazine contains the results which are lengthy. From my own knowledge of the early membership, and well known Leica users of those days, it would be usual to find familiar names right across the winners but it is necessary to go to Group 1V and the winner of
 Prize (Extra) to find Dr. Jouhar  and in Group V - 3rd prize- Frank Dumur of Haus Rosenberg Wetzlar, which might be a questionable entry under Rule 12!.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

An Original Tom March print

I was favoured to be given an original Tom March print some years ago. I cannot identify the driver,car or track but would liken to add this souvenir to the previous Blog concerning his work.  I think I can identify a Maserati badge but as usual comments welcome.

T.C. (Tom) March-more on our past Secretary

I have never expected these ramblings to be more than of, I hope, passing interest to Leica users and those who are members of the current Leica Circles. Many blogs ago I wrote about Circle 6 Housekeeping and the Circle 6 Mirfield Award for 1969 which went to Tom March.  However I recently learnt that Tom had been a past Secretary of this Circle and also of the original New England circle when it existed. This position seems to have been held for many years,  at least from the early 1950's, and he was still a very active member in 1969, and contributed to the last ( Big) Morgan Leica Book in 1972.. I have now turned up an article he wrote in 1951 in which he refers to his pre war interest in Motor Racing and I have reproduced this as it is of considerable interest to the Leica user even today.  References to Colour Film can, I think, only refer to Kodachrome at 10 ASA which must have posed real problems with fast moving vehicles but he had the advantage of a 85mm Summarex f1.5 which is a lens rarely seen even today.

A month after the above was posted I came across another print from 1952 and here it is-