Monday, 18 May 2015

Black Borders on the Focomat v35


The end of a Mini - Series of bits of leitz enlargers! This is the renowned 17012, also listed as 17011 without, I think,full AN glass. This gives an image area of 25x37mm which will give a black border with most lenses except those early wide angles that already give that image size. A really nice holder that can be easily used with the diffusion light in the v35 without over concern about dust on the glass.Correction of my view of the part number is welcome and can be left as a comment below.This also came with a spare top plate but that is AN as well. ( Eagle eyed will notice the lack of leaf springs which were removed to re-align.)

Rare (?) Carrier for the Focomat v35



Yes,its a rare appearance of Leica part 17424 which is the 13x17mm carrier for negatives of more or less that size.I say more or less as there were  popular 16mm German cameras at 12x17mm but the 110 film format was nominally 13x17 and this is ,I think, its main intended use.The lower view above reveals more of the attention to detail in the engineering of this precision component. Film holding cups can be attached but in my experience are hardly necessary- who keeps film in a full length roll when developed?

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Unusual early Focomat Helix


Vintage Leica users have become accustomed to the small spring loaded pegs which put a 'click' into the focusing helix and provide a 'home' point for various film holders and easel set ups.In the course of rebuilding two early models I found that one parts donor was of what I take to be a very early type. Auto focus would have to be set by reaching best sharpness with the helix and then locking the threads with the knurled screw on the left of the pictures.The only drawback I can see is the lack of the ability to run several 'clicks' for different focus set ups but with one lens/carrier/paper easel there is no problem. The fittings make this part interchangeable with the later part. For the very observant,yes,the 'tooth gap' in the rim is missing thus making retro fitting of click pegs more difficult.

Lens choices on the Focomat v35 enlarger

When this,the last of the line of Leica enlargers appeared on the market in the 1970's it had either a 40mm Focotar lens or a 50mm Rodenstock Ysaron 50/3.5 lens. I have been unable to find a good reason for the alternative lens but it may have been a question of supply problems with the Focotar.

Actually, any other 39mm thread lens will fit but for autofocus you have to have one of the two named lenses with its factory fitted cam. Over the years I have picked up several 40mm lenses which may be used with only small manual adjustments to focus. Of all these the Apo-Componon may lead by a very short head at present and they are illustrated below. These enlargers have fallen way down in price and may turn up without the makers lens so all is not lost so long as one does not mind checking the focus manually-but you are going to double check with a magnifier anyway-belt and braces.For me,the most tactile is the Nikon lens and the least pleasant to handle is the Leica which has a strange feeling plastic outer coat.However, the Leica lens is probably equal top in performance judged simply from the prints it has produced . Well worth remembering is that all these short lenses are intended for diffusion lighting and not condensers.

The Focomat and unusual film carriers








Some of the interesting film carriers for the Focomat aculmulated over the years. All are in 'as new' condition and I have included the film cutter, although Mamiya, to perhaps suggest a use for the 4x4 carrier. The two sizes with glass plates can , I think, have the glass replaced if necessary. The third is a Robot size carrier of some complexity,rather over engineered even for our favourite German camera maker. A similar OTT approach is seen in some of the v35 holders, of which more later.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Another Focomat rolls off the production line

Here at the Secret Mountain Laboratory we have managed to assemble another Focomat from the parts bin,Yes, the top dome will fit. The Garden Chair is a Leica 'rarity 28'- perhaps. Again the column was corroded and while re-plating was possible a quote for a vintage bumper on an Austin 7 was enough to suggest another v35 may have been cheaper, so black spray it was.Longest job was getting a flattish base board but all efforts to restore the wood finish have failed due to the sensitive depth of the slots which cannot be sanded.

This one has the single glass negative holders in 3x4 and nominal 4x4 sizes.I shall try to make a 4x4 negative on the Rolleicord and  post later. Memo to self-Try a very slightly longer lens for 4x4 printing and see if it is better than the Varob. There is one mystery about the 4x4 carrier. This was new and arrived from an Ebay purchase in an old Ilford Bromide box for Quarter plate bromide paper. This box was  labelled ' Prof. Sewall Wright' who was a noted U.S. zoologist but how the box/carrier ended up here is unknown.