Post War Pop Photo Ad for Leica IIIc

Leica Ad in April 1947’s Popular Photography magazine

Toronto. In 1947, a couple of years after the war ended, Leitz was busy trying to recapture its charm and mystique in the miniature camera business. They promoted their IIIc model in the April 1947 issue of Popular Photography. My thanks to George Dunbar who spotted this ad on the internet and sent it along to me.

Sadly, the IIIc was an outmoded pre-war design being assembled from whatever parts were on hand. During the war, the IIId was also manufactured – basically a IIIc with a time delay mechanism built-in.

A number of innovations were underway in Wetzlar, adding a built-in flash synchronization which would be marketed in a few years as the IIIf model, and continuation of experiments in the  revolutionary M series bayonet mount camera. To bridge the screw mount and bayonet mount gap, a IIIg was also in the works.

But in 1947 there was one model being made – the IIIc. The company was relying on pent up demand for Leica cameras and people who would remember the quality of its products.

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Speed indeed!

A Bomb test c1952 – taken using an ultra high speed shutter.

Toronto. Good friend George Dunbar sent me a photo and note regarding high speed shutters a few days ago on the 6th of August. For many years, top shutter speeds of 1/500 or 1/1000 were considered the best you could expect. In the 1950s, electronic flash came on the market with even shorter exposure speeds. However, to capture chemical changes even faster shutters were necessary.

George writes, “Today is the 72nd anniversary of the world’s introduction to the power of the atom. On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan and the nuclear age was upon us. World War Two was almost immediately brought to an end.

“During the subsequent testing of thousands of nuclear-weapons, extremely high-speed camera shutters were developed to study the effects in detail. Dr. Harold Edgerton of MIT and his firm (Edgerton, Germeshausen & Grier, Inc. — EG&G) were contracted to provide higher-speed shutters than had ever before been contemplated.

Edgerton had earlier been credited with investigations into electronic flash equipment (strobe photography). EG&G developed the “rapatronic” shutter, capable of speeds up to one-millionths if a second. One of the amazing ultra-high-speed photographs showing the instant of an atomic bomb explosion is shown here [above left].

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Innovation and computational zoom

Effect of computational zoom (via software) on an image (UCSB)

Toronto. My thanks to my good friend Russ Forfar for bringing PetaPixel’s report on computational zoom to my attention. First we could correct colour balance, exposure, and contrast in an image.

A zoom lens lets us fill the frame with only meaningful elements of the scene. Note that prime lenses do the same thing with a bit of walking back and forth… By using  software to combine image elements from various focal lengths we can shift a new aspect of a scene making final images that are impossible to capture with the cameras  of today.

Photographers know that variations in focal length from extreme wide angle to telephoto affect the look of people and backgrounds. The extreme close-up lenses make noses look too big and faces “stretched” front to back. Telephotos flatten a face making the nose appear too small and features pushed into the face.

On the other hand, a wide angle allows more background to be visible while a telephoto crops and enlarges the background. A so called normal lens makes facial features look much like they do to the unaided eye. A medium telephoto lets us capture a half or 3/4 body shot with normal appearing features.

Now scientists at UCSB (University of California at Santa Barbara) have used software to combine a mix of wide angle and telephoto images of the same scene to be selectively used so the foreground for example can be selected from a medium zoom to appear “normal” to the eye while a wide angle shot of the background can  be combined to expand the view, or a telephoto shot to magnify and crop the background.

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21st century photographer

21st century photographer

Toronto. The stand alone camera as we know it will soon disappear in the face of the ubiquitous smartphone (shown is an iPod Touch). Modern photographers shoot digital and view digital. The files may be downloaded to a computer and adjusted in a program like Lightroom. In many cases the smartphone has its own “app” for adjusting exposure, contrast, light balance, etc before the file is uploaded to an email address or a social media site.

Before photography was invented, people who could afford an artist had a “likeness” painted to mount on the wall or, if small enough, to be carried and viewed by owner and friends alike. The daguerreotype and calotype meant a far less expensive “likeness” could be created and portrait studios sprung up. As the means to take and process photographs was simplified, more and more people took on this skill and began recording details of everyday life replacing artists. Newspapers and magazines began using photographs and the half-tone process instead of wood cuts or steel cuts.

Each major step from 1839 to the present has reduced cost, reduced the time involved in learning the skill, and resulted in huge price drops. As one sports photographer and speaker told us recently, in the days of film, a Kodachrome slide might appear a few weeks later in a magazine and cost the publisher $200 dollars or more. When digital became the norm for the professionals, fees dropped to a tenth or so and dozens of shots were transmitted to the editor for due consideration.

Gone are the days of safelights, enlargers, chemistry, film, and photo paper with its variations in contrast range (Black & White) or fixed at one contrast with slight variations available by changing the developer, temperature, or time. Gone are the shoe boxes and albums with their random selection of saved photographs, some blurry, some off frame. And the head phones above? To listen to music and the CBC…

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A drum you can’t beat

A drum made for a photographer

Toronto. Yesterday I mentioned some darkroom stuff being auctioned this November. One of the items is a dark plastic tube with odd end caps.

In the 1970s, colour chemistry was both expensive and short lived. The amateur photographer of the day used various means to reduce usage, maintain temperature, and prolong chemistry life. A drum with removable end caps allowed processing each sheet in a minimum amount of chemistry.

A tiny (and illegal) coffee cup immersion heater could raise the colour developer temperature higher. The hot liquid was carefully poured into the drum via a light trap. The drum was gently rolled on a flat surface to ensure the enclosed paper sheet was evenly coated and developed. One fly in the ointment was Kodak paper. At higher temperatures this brand of colour paper would go lightly pink. Changing to Agfa paper resolved the issue.

The idea was to raise the chemistry temperature above the desired temperature so by the time it cooled the paper was developed at on average the correct temperature.  This worked because development followed a time-temperature curve – longer time at a cooler temperature and a shorter time at a higher temperature.

A more costly commercial system used laminar flow to gently wash the paper sheets with minimum amounts of chemistry and wash water baths. I saw this demonstrated at one of the many photographic wholesale firms in Montreal.

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…beginning to see the light

Toronto. It seems like just yesterday that I headed to my darkroom to develop my Leica negatives and make some prints using my hands to dodge and burn to improve the contrast.

I would spend one night developing negatives and the next night or two carefully printing with my Durst M35 enlarger, customized Colorval meter and binary timer, and my good old Graylab timer, also customized by me.

Today, I take photos with my Sony digital mirrorless NEX-6 or my Apple iPod Touch and move them to Lightroom for processing and key-wording on my computer. In a single night I can easily process 100 images, rarely bothering to print any unless I need a hard copy for reference or decoration.

Darkroom out, Lightroom in. I’m beginning to see the light…. By the way if you elect to try your hand at the niche technology of film processing and printing, come on out to our November 19th auction where these and other darkroom goodies will go under the hammer.

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Black is Beautiful

1937 Black Leica II shown with a 1936 Elmar 5cm f/3.5 chrome lens

Toronto. The early Leicas were mostly black – black enamel – and if well used had “brassing” or edges where the enamel wore through to the brass. Shown is a beautiful  example of a clean 1937 Leica II (no slow speed dial on the front) with black enamel body plates and chrome plated knobs.. It has a period correct Elmar 50mm lens made a year earlier in 1936. The lens has the usual bright chrome and satin chrome coatings over brass. This example and the lens will be auctioned in our November 19th event this fall.

The satin chrome process was used at least in 1932 on camera body plates. All camera knobs were satin chrome as well. The satin chrome was much harder than the black enamel and less likely to “brass” with the same amount of use. This made the satin chrome cameras far more desirable (and years later the black enamel cameras much rarer).

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Polaroid – before the cameras

Polaroid before they made their revolutionary “picture in a minute” cameras.

Toronto. In 1948 Edwin Land began marketing the amazing “picture in a minute” camera. In the early days demand far exceeded supply making the new cameras very scarce.

But what happened before the cameras? Why are they called Polaroid cameras, or Polaroid Land cameras?

Edwin Land was a very creative inventor. In 1932 he and his Harvard physics instructor established a company to make the polarizing filters Land invented. In 1937 the company was renamed Polaroid Corporation.

This is a 1946 ad from LIFE magazine (thanks to George Dunbar). The ad promotes the then innovative see-through sun shade for cars using the polaroid filter sheet. Two years later Land came out with his camera and film making history. The cameras were all called Polaroid-Land until 1982 when Land resigned from his company.

Most people had or were photographed with a Polaroid camera. Few people continued to use the camera (other than professionals who used the larger size Polaroid films to test exposure and view before using the even more costly colour material). For the amateur, pictures in a minute were attractive. The cost was not.

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More Fish than Fowl – Leica IIIg

Toronto. 1956 was an exciting year for Leitz Germany and Leitz Canada, the small factory established in Midland as Ernst Leitz Canada. The company made the IIIf, IIIg, and M3 in Germany and assembled them there and in Canada. For traditionalists, a screw mount IIf was offered and for the brave innovators, the post war designed M3 using the new bayonet mount was offered. (My doctor’s father, a Mr Holzapfel emigrated to Midland after the war and became one of the sales representatives for Leicas and Leitz.)

Those who wanted some of the new features of the M series but were reluctant to leave the screw mount cameras behind, could buy a IIIg. It was small like the IIIf and its ancestors, but had a better viewfinder, easier flash synchronization, and more modern speed dial steps. Those who felt only Germany made “true” Leicas could buy a Wetzlar camera, others could buy a Midland made camera (usually marked as GMBH Wetzlar Germany in those days, anyway).

If you missed out but want one for your collection, our fall auction this November the 19th will feature a 1956 IIIg and an f/2 collapsible Summitar lens with a six leaf aperture. Yes, many sites show the IIIg as manufactured beginning in 1957, but the serial number confirms it as a 1956 camera as do both Rogliatti and Lager. This body is marked Wetzlar but the serial number was allocated to Midland. The camera has is a bit of verdigris from the zipper of the Benser case used to protect it but a careful wiping should restore it to its original sheen. Made for just a few years, the IIIg was the last of the screw mount cameras. The M series took over sales with a bang!

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Seven come Eleven…

Canon 7s with 50mm f/1.4 lens c1966

Toronto. A late rangefinder model Canon was introduced   as the Canon 7 in 1961. This was replace by the Canon 7s shown here in 1965 and made until the summer of 1967. The 7s had two improvements over the Canon 7 – an accessory shoe, and a built in CdS photocell in place of the much less sensitive selenium cell.

At our fall auction (November 19, 2017) we have a beautiful example of the 7s to offer plus a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens in a separate lot. This was the first Canon rangefinder model with a built-in battery powered CdS cell exposure meter. The 50mm lens is  also very collectible.

Once again this camera uses a Leica compatible screw mount for the lens.

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