Thank you for all of that. Don't worry, I'm under no illusions about the capabilities and limitations of older lenses. I wouldn't expect a lens from the 1940s to perform like one from last year. Even sparkling clean, they just won't be quite the same. And that's good, because I like older lenses because they give a look that I like. I enjoy shooting with older equipment because it makes my photos look the way I want. And because there's a certain, viceral enjoyment I get from the feeling of an old camera. For me, they're just more fun to shoot.
Originally Posted by E. von Hoegh
I got my first Leica about 20 years ago. I was working in a camera store that allowed me to support my photography habit...er, hobby. I couldn't afford an M3 by a long shot, and I couldn't even afford a IIIf or a IIIc. The folks at a used camera shop let me have a IIIa with an uncoated, pre-war Elmar 50/3.5 at a price I could afford, and the service guy we used got it cleaned up and adjusted for me at a very good price. But the lens was always kinda low-contrast, compared to the modern SLRs I was used to shooting, and I sold it after using it for about six months, disillusioned with the "Leica mystique." I suspect now that the lens probably needed a good internal cleaning, and that, having had no previous experience with uncoated lenses, I wasn't taking the care that I probably needed to be taking to avoid things like flare. But even though I was generally underwhelmed with the photos I was taking with it, that little IIIa felt so GOOD to shoot. It had a...feel...that few cameras I've had since have had. My Nikon F came close, my Nikkormat FT2 is close, too, even though it's "modern" by my tastes, and my Zeiss Ikon 532/16 was also very much like it. As tiny as it was, my little Voigtlander Vito II folder from 1950 had an unmistakable build quality that was like that Leica, more so than the Vitomatic II I had that was made about 10 years after it. These old cameras just feel more right to me than any of the digital cameras in our closet, and I really love the way they render their images.
I seem to have gone off on a bit of a tangent that I hadn't expected. Sorry. That's what happens when you start writing about something you love, I guess.