Sunday, January 19, 2014

Final Whole Lotta Leica Results From 2013 - December's Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM

I have to admit that while the WLL series was a lot of fun in 2013, I kind of lost steam toward the end of the year. Maybe that's because I achieved what I'd hoped to with the series already, and in the last few months it was more a matter of completing a personal challenge I'd assigned myself, and finishing up the full year.
 
In December, I matched the tiny little (almost comically little) Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM lens and LTM-M adapter with my Leica M9.
 
(Click Here) to see and read about the lens, manufactured in 1937.
 
I really only got out with it a little over one weekend in NYC. Here are some results, first from a very early morning walk to Grand Central Station. Keep in mind I was shooting with a maximum aperture of f3.5 in very low light, handheld.
 
Grand Central at the Holidays, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 800, f4, 1/15 sec.
 
Overnighting at Grand Central, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 800, f4, 1/15 sec.

 
Waiting on the First Morning Train, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 800, f4, 1/45 sec.

Zaro's Bakery, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 800, f4, 1/45 sec.

 
Preparing the Deliveries, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 800, f4, 1/45 sec.
Harlem Departures, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 800, f5.7, 1/25 sec.

 
Pershing Square at Daylight, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 800, f4, 1/25 sec.

 
135, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 800, f4, 1/25 sec.


 
The remaining images were made on our various escapades around the city.
 
'Tis the Season, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 640, f4, 1/500 sec.
Trying on Hats, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 400, f4, 1/90 sec.
Come Here Little Pigeon!, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 640, f4, 1/500 sec.
 
Elvis With His Backpack, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 640, f4.8, 1/350 sec.
Inside the NYC Public Library, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 640, f4.8, 1/30 sec.
And here's my favorite of this set:
 
The Reading Room, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Elmar 3.5cm f3.5 LTM Lens
iso 640, f4, 1/45 sec.
 
One of my observations about using this lens, and all of my Elmars, is that because the f-stop is adjusted by a tiny little tab at the front of the lens, and the f-stop numbers are printed very small there, and in this case are not even the modern standard f-stop numbers (e.g. no f5.6, you have to kind of guess between 4.5 and 6.3), I usually don't adjust my f-stop while shooting. For me, it means putting on my glasses, guessing where to set it, and that all takes too long. So, as you can see, I took a lot of images at f4. That's not really a problem, just an observation.
 
Another observation is that this lens is so small, it feels quite strange on an M style body. I would much prefer to use it on a little Barnack body, as was intended when it was designed.
 
I mentioned above that by this point in the year-long monthly WLL series, I had kind of already met my own goals with the project. What did I mean by that? Well, I'd drawn a few conclusions about using a wide range of "normal" focal length lenses, from a wide range of dates (1937-modern) on the M9 body:
 
  1. Each and every lens has a strength, somewhere.
  2. No lens has it all.
  3. I tend to use fast lenses on my M9, but need to keep in mind that some of the slower lenses, like this month's f3.5 Elmar, can make their own unique, nice images.
  4. Uncoated lenses can make very special images
  5. I have a subjective feeling that the older lenses are more pleasing to me when shooting film, and perhaps even more when shooting black and white film.
So, I didn't really end up with a list of favorites (though there were a few highlights), and I'm certainly not getting rid of any of the lenses I used in the WLL series this year. But, I am more likely to put an old Elmar on a matching Barnack body and shoot film with it than to pair it up with the digital M9.
 
In terms of highlights, the Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 definitely meets that definition. A modern lens with a classic Sonnar design, this fast lens is really amazing. Also, both of my 1970s era Summicrons (35mm and 50mm f2) did a wonderful job for me. The Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM lens is also a standout from the crowd.
 
I hope you've enjoyed seeing what each of these lovely lenses can do on the Leica M9. I had a blast exploring them.
 
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