down to the life size

A Leitz BEOON for screw mount or bayonet (M) mount cameras and either a 5cm Elmar or 5cm Summicron

Toronto. Most 35mm film cameras limited close up subjects to a metre. The Leica M series with a Summicron could focus down to 20 inches. Most cameras used extension tubes or auxiliary lenses to capture subjects closer than a metre. Various frames were used to centre the subject and gauge the area in the photo.

When Leitz made the massive post war shift from the old screw mount cameras to the new bayonet mount series (M) they had a dilemma – how to accommodate both versions of camera during the transition period. For the spider legs, they simply made two versions of the extension tubes/leg supports.

Going 1:3 down to 1:1 (life size) Leitz came up with a very sturdy option using the Elmar bayonet (every Elmar had a bayonet to let the lens collapse). A special extension tube would let one use the lens head of either version of the 5cm Summicron lens. Viewing was done with the LVFOO 5x magnifier. Either camera would fit in place of the LVFOO (using the special 1mm ring adapter for the M series). The column height of the stand was adjusted to accommodate the various ratios.

The BEOON was carried in its catalogue from 1959 to 1970 before disappearing from the catalogue although still for sale for a few years. SLR cameras came along making such well engineered and elaborate accessories unnecessary.

Note. The title of the post is a riff on a line in Masefield’s poem, “Sea-Fever“.

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