Shooting with an Elmar 50/3.5. Need tips and tricks!

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by sterioma, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. sterioma

    sterioma Member

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    Hi everybody,

    I have bought from a relative a Leica IIIf from the fifties and had it CLA. The camera comes with a collapsible Elmar 50/3.5 which I also got cleaned.

    I have shot my first roll and noticed that most of the pictures lack contrast, compared with the one I get with my Nikon gear. I used the development time and procedure I am succesfully using with my other camera.

    I understand that the lens is very old and not even coated (as far as I can see), but I am sure one can get better results than mine. So I am asking the following:

    Is there any tip you could give when shooting with an old lens?

    1) Do you usually change the way you develop your film, possibly to get more contrast?
    2) Is a lens hood always requested?
    3) I have also heard about always shooting with a yellow filter to boost contrast a bit. Is it really required?


    Thanks for any suggestion you can give me: I am a newbie at shooting with "vintage" cameras :smile:
     
  2. ouyang

    ouyang Member

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    a lens hood is always a good idea, especially with uncoated lenses. I've seen the difference myself after I made a make shift hood for my old russian lens.. it also protects your lens against impacts..
    if you think the film is still too soft, change your development or use a filter.. (or print harder..)
     
  3. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    I've never used a collapsible Elmar, just a Russian copy: The collapsible FED 50/3.5. Based on that (which is coated), my answers would be 1:Yes, 2:No, and 3:No.

    An uncoated lens gives slightly more open shadows, so you can even cut exposure a little. Develop a little longer (about 10%) to increase contrast, and an uncoated lens will give results at least as good as a coated one.
     
  4. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Using a yellow filter does not guarantee improved contrast. It depends on the subject and the lighting.
     
  5. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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  6. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    1)Finding the correct hood will be a challenge, the hood has a lever that engages the aperture setting lever so you don't have to reach into the hood to change the setting. $$$.
    2) What Ole said
     
  7. sterioma

    sterioma Member

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    Thank you very much for your inputs!

    It's from 1956.
     
  8. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    A 1956 Elmar is as good as any lens made today, for practical picture taking. It might have a bit less contrast than a new Nikkor, but it shouldn't be detectable printing. It certainly is coated.

    Does the rangefinder focus to infinity ? Is is accurate up close ?

    Shoot some trees at 30 - 50 meters, and a textured wall at 1 1/2 meters. Shoot a couple frames at f/3.5 at both extremes, and if it isn't dead sharp, it needs to go back to the repair service. Don't expect less than excellent performance.

    You're going to have a LOT of fun with this camera.

    don
     
  9. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    FWIW, the "proper" hood for the 50mm Elmar, according to the Leica Accessory Guide, 2nd ed. (Hove Collectors Books), is designated as the ITOOY/12580 (1956). Early versions are supposed to be engraved "Elmar 5cm" and later ones "1:2.8/50 1:3.5/50".
     
  10. sterioma

    sterioma Member

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    Thanks everyone. I am planning to shoot a test Efke 100 roll this weekend. A friend of mine has borrowed me a Jupiter which I can compare it against. Stay tuned for the results :smile:

    By the way: is there a way to visually verify that the coating is still present? I have been told that the coating might "fade away" with time (especially if the lens is not cleared carefully).
     
  11. laptoprob

    laptoprob Member

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    Coating on a lens shows in dominating colour reflection. Modern ones often are pink and blue, older 50's ones can be only blue. Yellow can mean LD glass.
    An uncoated lens reflects no dominating colour at all. Just like a clear drinking glass: plain and clear.
    After WW2 glass usually is coated. Before originally uncoated. Coating could have been done later though.

    Rob.
     
  12. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    The coating on a 1956 Elmar isn't going to blow off. It will be there, and have a violet cast to it. For what it's worth, even an uncoated Elmar will make great pictures, and have only slightly softer blacks than a new Nikon lens.

    Oil that has evaporated to the inner glass surface is the most likely problem... if there is a problem.
     
  13. sterioma

    sterioma Member

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    I don't remember to be able to see any particular color cast in the glass, but anyway... I'll check better tonight when I am home :smile:

    I have started scanning the last test roll (Efke100 + Rodinal 1:50).

    The results looks much better than my previous attempt. Here's a sample picture of a brick wall from about 1.5m, with no retouching other than resizing (which has made the image a bit soft). The sun was roughly at 90% with respect to the lens axis. I cannot see any evident flare.

    As soon as I have scanned the comparison shots with Jupiter and Industar I will post them here.
     

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  14. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Image looks nice, that's a relief.

    Don't invest much time with comparisons with the Jupiter and Industar: if they work, they work and take you nowhere. If they don't work, and there is an established and well documented incompatibilty with Leica to explain it ( close up, and / or maximum aperture is where you'll find it.)


    Best thing to do is assume the Elmar is fine, and shoot a couple rolls to learn what it likes. And to figure out what went wrong with your first shot.

    I don't know what your ambitions are for your IIIf, but the Elmar should be splendid. The camera itself will be fun, and useful, to shoot for a long time. And if you want contemporary image quality as an alternative to the mid '50s excellence of the Elmar, C-V lenses are quite good and a real value.

    Good luck.
     
  15. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    I carry a 111f and a coated Elmar daily. I have current lenses and bodies and find the old glass gives an images close enough. All the film gets gets the same EI and development time and other than the optical signature, the pics are the same.

    The key seems to be the lens must be clean internally. Shine a penlight thru both ends and it needs to look perfectly clear.
     
  16. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    The 'hood' you speak of here is a device for changing the aperture when using the lens on an enlarger. It will vignette if used for photography. The correct hood has no provision for changing the aperture.
    Mark
     
  17. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I need to disagree with you on this. If you use a hood with the 3.5/50 Elmar you cannot reach the lever to change f stops conveniently.
    Since the question revolves around an earlier Elmar the correct part number would be either the Fison or Fikus.
    And no, they don't vignette on camera.
     
  18. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    John,

    I beg to disagree. :smile: What about the VALOO (16620)?

    Either that or a VOOLA, together with a SOOGZ adapter (36 to 39 mm thread), combined with a shade screwed into the SOOGZ 39 mm thread might do the trick.
     
  19. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Coating shouldn't fade away. Reflections from an uncoated lens have a neutral color and are stronger than from a coated lens. My 1953 Elmar 50mm shows mostly pale purple or blue reflections. The reflection from the inner surface of the front element is somewhat yellow.
     
  20. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I would bet on any softness being due to fogging, which you can easily check for with a penlight, preferably a colored one. The coating would not have faded - the worst that could happen would be someone rubbing it off, and that would leave noticeable scratches. So if there is no coating then the lens is not original to that camera, which is certainly quite possible. What is the serial number?

    [Two slightly off topic thoughts - 1. It is nice to see someone mention a Jupiter in the same sentence with an Elmar and not be immediately flamed by a dozen leicaphiles. 2. Am I the only one who wonders if the people who name products for Ikea used to work for Leica?]
     
  21. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Use a lens hood. Develop a bit more. The type of flare you will run into will be some strenghtening of shadows by light being reflected within the lens and camera body. Many times I believe people expect that flare to only be diaphram shaped blobs such as one can get by shooting into the sun.

    Enjoy your new companion. It is capable of fine results. If the flare bothers you then get a 3.5 Elmar that is a coated LTM. There are plenty available.