I said at the start of the year that 2013 was to be the year I got back into photography. Not that I’d stopped taking photographs of course, I was still documenting my infrequent outdoor pursuits with my dSLR, but I hadn’t been doing much creatively. So far this year has got off to a decent start, I’ve uploaded eight new images to Flickr, which isn’t bad given I hadn’t uploaded any [excluding some wedding photos] since October 2011!
My lovely Mamiya medium format kit is great for coastal landscapes and the like, but a bit of a brute for lugging around the city, particularly when photography maybe isn’t the primary reason for being out in the first instance. I thought it’d be nice to have something lighter and a bit more discreet, particularly with a city break to Copenhagen on the horizon. Anyway, all this preamble is me trying to justify spending a not insignificant sum on a fifty-five year old camera and fifty-two year old lens. Make of it what you will. I’m well aware that buying a new camera alone is not ‘getting back into photography’, so this past weekend I spent developing a few rolls of black and white film for the first time at home. Nothing creative you understand, merely toying with the new lens to see what it can do. Once I get some experience with that, I’ll try some C-41 colour processing at home. Kodak Portra is so lovely, I have to shoot more of it.
The camera was purchased from Ffordes in Beauly, a three hundred mile trip to pick from their selection of M2s in person, rather than clicking ‘add to basket’. Serial #941149 which I ended up with has a small dent on the top plate and a couple of barely noticeable patches where the Vulcanite covering has come away, but is nice and clean otherwise. Ffordes had serviced it too. The lens is Soviet eBay special, a Jupiter 8 50mm/f2 – a Zeiss Sonnar design ripped off by the Russians as they plundered post war Germany, shipping the factory wholesale back to Ukraine. I’ve polished up the body with some steel wool and bought a cheapo screw mount to Leica M mount adaptor which required filing down in order to get the viewfinder framelines to appear correctly.
The whole package is a rather lovely thing to hold and behold, especially compared to modern cameras, it’s pretty weighty and feels very solid, although the build quality of the lens is significantly short of the camera. It focuses well though and optical performance is more in the ‘characterful’ category than sharp, but that’s fine by me. Another thing I love is the graphic design of the Leica manual. Very pleasing.
And some sample shots:
Now I just need to take some ‘proper’ photos with it. I expect they’ll turn up on here at some point.
Some resources I’ve found useful:
Cameraquest – Loads of Rangefinder information. Leica, Voigtländer, Zeiss, etc.
Sovietcams – Lots of info on Leica compatible Soviet cameras and lenses.
Rangefinder Chronicles – A Rangefinder Blog, lots of good photos and film/camera detail.
Steve Huff Photo – Review heavy site, mainly digital Leicas. But some interesting lens comparisons, etc.