the days of the prime lens

HOOPY 28mm Hektor lens
Click it to see the 1951 ad for Leitz primes

Toronto. We are spoiled these days by the wonderfully sharp zoom lenses which allow us to be lazy and just adjust the lens focal length to crop the scene rather than change a prime lens and actually move to get the best crop and frame of the scene!

I expanded my repertoire of focal lengths back in April of 1982 when I met Alex Thomas at a restaurant up in North York. He had this clean little pocket watch-size HOOPY 28mm f/6.3 Hektor Leitz screw mount lens which soon joined my collection. It was made in 1937 and looked like it was just made that day!

Prime lenses hit home this month when George Dunbar sent me  a copy of a June 1951 Popular Photography ad by Leitz featuring their range of lenses for the screw mount Leicas (just a few years before the revolutionary M-series hit the market). Zoom lenses were available at the time but the price was high, the resolution was poor, the distortion high and the focal length range narrow. Leitz refused to make such optics for their cameras which were famous for their lenses and quality of build.

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