Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Quick Test of an Old Leica

A couple of months back, I had the fortune of finding two Leica IIIC cameras, separate but very close together in time, both manufactured at the end of World War II. Coming from separate sellers, the cameras are extremely similar, both having the wartime "stepper" design, and having been manufactured in 1945. In both cases, according to the best source on wartime Leicas anywhere (James Lager, my colleague in the LHSA), they were most likely sold to allied soldiers in Europe at the end of the war.
One of the cameras came with a date-matching Elmar 5cm f3.5 collapsible lens (the standard lens of the day). I used that lens for the images below.
I've now had both cameras serviced by Youxin Ye, and they're working as-new. I took the second one that I purchased out for a walk and test roll recently. You see the results below.
I happened onto a model yachting event in Reston, Virginia. These images are straight from the camera, Walgreens iso 200 color print film, processed by The Darkroom.
In the shot above, you can see what I believe is internal reflection in the lens/camera. I was not using a lens hood.
This final shot is my favorite of the bunch.
No Pulitzers here, I'm sure. However, I did accomplish my goal, which was to test the camera and lens. I kind of like the rather low contrast result, especially as the light was quite harsh. I'm not sure how much of the low contrast comes from the lens (most, I suspect), versus the film. The cheap Walgreens film tends to have this sort of look on its own. Most of these were shot at f8 or smaller aperture, and relatively high shutter speeds.
The images are plenty sharp, and I think the color representation is quite nice.
It's amazing to me that such a piece of photographic history, made well before I was born, still works and yields results that are at least as interesting as modern cameras. Certainly the technical performance of modern cameras and lenses is better, but I'm quite happy with the look this camera and lens produce. And that's what matters to me.