New Jupiter-3, the “Jupiter 3+ Art Lens,” by Lomo

Jupiter 8

Very interesting new lens offering from LOMO, a re-issue of the “legendary” (!) 50mm f.15 Soviet made Jupiter-3, itself a clone of the older Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar.

Here’s the description on the LOMO website:

Over half a century since the original Jupiter 3 lens was designed, we’re extremely proud to introduce the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens to our line of exquisitely handcrafted Lomography Art Lenses. Designed by the highly experienced Lomography team and manufactured by the expert technicians at the exact same Zenit factory in Russia as the original lens, the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens retains the strong character and Soviet spirit of its forbearer — crisp sharpness, smooth, natural colors and lush, dreamy bokeh — while also transcending it in many ways.

First developed in Soviet Russia in the late 1940’s, the original Jupiter lens was crafted by the optical pioneers at the Zenit factory in the suburbs of Moscow and came to be loved for the incredible character it gave to the millions of images captured with it. Now, Lomography is  continuing the legacy of this famed lens and transporting it to modern times with substantial design improvements. Equipped with a versatile 50mm focal length and f/1.5 maximum aperture, the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens has an outstandingly shallow depth of field at large apertures and yields stunning results in all kinds of settings. Whether you’re shooting in low light or bright sunshine, you’ll end up with an extremely unique image quality that makes this lens incredibly special and gives a character entirely its own!

The New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens is being produced in small batches and thus will be available on a very limited first-come, first-served basis. Head to the Lomography Online Shop right now to get yours! For more info, head to the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens site.

  • 50mm f/1.5 Jupiter 3+ Sonnar
  • Rangefinder coupled 39mm Leica Screw Mount
  • M-Mount Adapter included, Triggering: 50mm Frame Line
  • Aperture: f/1.5 – f/22
  • Clickless F/stops
  • Perfect round aperture for maximum bokeh
  • Weight 7 5/8th oz
  • Size: length extending from the body at infinity 36mm, width 48mm
  • Lens Barrel Chromed Brass
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 0.7m
  • Focusing Scale in meters
  • Filter Threads 40.5mm
  • Classic Zeiss Sonnar Lens Design: 7 Elements in 3 Groups
  • Easily adaptable to any Mirrorless Camera via a M mount adapter – Sony, FujiX, Panasonic, Olympus etc
  • New version of the Soviet Jupiter 3, which was a war prize of a 1930’s Zeiss Sonnar design

“Exactly What It Was Like”

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By Wayne Pinney for Leicaphilia.

I am the perennial novice. I own leica M film cameras, as well as a IIIg and IIIc. Hand developing film has opened a great new world. This photo of my daughter’s peagle (beagle,  pekingese mix) was taken recently with my Ricoh GR Digital I- the original 8.1 MP camera. I have been using it a lot lately for the reasons much like the ones articulated here. The Ricoh is so convenient, and at high ISO does an exceptional job of duplicating film grain in B&W mode.

As I look at the photo, I find that I love it…..more than many other photographs I have taken of cherished moments and people. Tonight, a thought occurred to me regarding the magic of such photos: Is it possible that their magic is related to the fact that the camera, when used on the spur of the moment, and without benefit of preparation,  captures something exactly as the chaos of the moment dictates how the brain receives and stores it……something that, because of its fleeting blurriness defies spoken description?……taps deeply into that nebulous thing that makes photography so unique?  You know, that thing Barthes struggles with. As I look at the photo, I keep thinking: “Yeah! That is exactly what it was like.”

Wayne Pinney is a self-described “perennial novice” who lives in SE Indiana.

Paris Photo 1976

SALON-PHOTO-1976-photo-jacques-REVON00001.jpegJacques Revon, 1976, Paris Photo

The first time I ever went to the Paris Salon de la Photo was in 1976. At the time I worked as a technician and photographer for the Société Lumière / Ilford in St Priest where I’d been employed for five years.

This was the golden age of the beautiful black-and-white silver gelatin print, the kind your eye lingers over, although the power of color photography was already on the rise, most notably attracting professional photographers with the famous Cibachrome process. – Jacques Revon

An Astronomer Falls in Love with a Film Leica

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By Henry Joy McCracken for Leicaphilia.

“Show me a great photograph taken outdoors in the daytime that couldn’t have been taken with a roll of Tri-X at any point since the 1950s”

I’m an astronomer, and have been interested in astronomy for as long as I remember. I wonder if there is a connection between this and my interest in images and photographic images. Astronomers of course can only take the pictures or spectra, they can never interact with their subjects. Some people say, half-jokingly, that it isn’t really experimental science in the strict sense of the word because we can never actually do any experiments. For a photographic analogy, in our work we are more Cartier-Bresson than William Klein or Garry Winogrand, the latter of which was always cracking jokes and interacting with his subjects.

Nevertheless, I was always interested in taking photographs of terrestrial objects too. I grew up in Ireland in the 1970s, and I remember pleading with my mother to let me take one picture, just one picture with the only camera we had at the time, a polaroid instant camera, and finally she gave in, and I took a picture of our garden. I must have been six or seven. I waited, and anxiously peeled apart the backing layers. My blurred thumb was in the middle of the frame: nobody had told me how to take photographs! I’m trying hard here not to fall in the classic Irish trap of writing an autobiographical text, because that’s not what I want to do, but it’s amusing to note that there reason we had these cameras at all was simply to take pictures of headstones. My father made tombstones, and there was no catalogue or internet web site of course, so my mother and I were sent out to take pictures of the ‘greatest hits’ of the local cemeteries, and for that you needed a camera. We soon upgraded to a Pentax K1000, and I was allowed to pictures of tombstones with it. I still have that camera today, almost thirty years later, and it still works, although the meter is broken.

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Time passed. In the early 2000s, I switched to a small digital camera and shortly afterwards I moved to Paris. For me at the time it seemed one of the most important attributes of a camera is that it should be small and light, as I wanted to always have it with me when I was traveling; no, I didn’t know about Leica back then. To be honest, I never really thought much about photography since this switch to digital, even though I continued to take snapshots. Finally, I bought a better electronic camera and got rid of all the zoom lenses. I learned the latest software tools and stalked around the streets of Paris taking random images with my fixed focal length lens, as you are supposed to do. I looked at books of all the great photographers once again, and went more often to the museums. It is easy to be educated about photography here in Paris. Then a strange thing happened. I realised that I was spending a lot of time on the computer manipulating the colour and tonality of my images. Directly out of the camera they looked very flat and neutral, as they are supposed to. These digital images are supposed to be a literal representation of reality, but something was always lacking. Should I increase the contrast? Reduce the contrast? Convert to black and white? I couldn’t decide. The images were perfect, but just not right. Well, I said to myself, if you are spending all your time converting your images to black and white, why not just shoot directly in black and white with a film camera?

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I like to be in control, so this proposition seemed crazy at first. I couldn’t give my negatives to someone else to develop. It would mean mixing up chemicals and developing in our small Parisian apartment and scanning the negatives afterwards: no space for a darkroom. But I thought I would give it a try. I bought a roll of HP5+ for the old K1000 and took 36 photographs, getting it developed at a shop in town to start with. My first reaction when I saw the first scan from one of these images on my computer screen was, “yuk, this is out of focus”. But it was not out of focus. It was simply because I was displaying the scan of a 35mm negative full-screen on a high-resolution 27” monitor, something which was never meant to be done. You have to understand my background: I’ve spent many years working with the largest digital images from the largest astronomical cameras. They are some of the most technically perfect electronic detectors ever constructed by humans. These cameras have revolutionised astronomy and made possible enormous advances in our knowledge of the Universe in the last few decades. But, despite this, there were one or two images in that first roll which were interesting, and I decided to continue.

Six months later: I have now developed and scanned more than fifty rolls of film. In one of the few film shops left in Paris, somewhere around roll number 6, I bought a second-hand Leica. I remember the first thought I had when I lifted it up: this thing is damn heavy (being used to light electronic cameras). But after advancing the film and pressing the shutter a few times I thought, hmm, now I understand…

The whole experience is paradoxical. Yes, the images are what we would call today “low resolution” but pictures of people on film look real in an indefinable way which is never matched by digital capture. After a few months of staring at scans of my negatives, I realised walking around Paris I was surrounded by these plastic digital images everywhere. I had never seen them before, really. In astronomy, photographic images were always a major pain to deal with because of the roll-over in the bright part of the density/intensity curve. But this effect, combined with grain, makes the images much more appealing to look at. No, you would never want to measure anything on this, but it certainly looks better. And no, it cannot be replicated in software.

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I’m also partisan to the idea, expressed here and elsewhere, that the steady increase in resolution and sensitivity is completely pointless in terrestrial photography. In astronomy, of course, that is not the case, and we have been very grateful for our highly sensitive wide-format CCD detectors. These detectors have now trickled down from military to science to consumer. But how has this increase in creative and artistic possibilities been translated into better art? Show me a great photograph taken outdoors in the daytime that couldn’t have been taken with a roll of Tri-X at any point since the 1950s. Instead of making the image, we are assailed by an enormous range of technical choices. We are now spending an enormous amount of effort adding more and more transistors into smaller and smaller components, and a lot of the smart people who were working on ambitious projects (like the Apollo moon program) are now writing apps for mobile phones. Unfortunately, image-making seems to be the “collateral damage” of this trend.

All of this seems me to be why it is so important to take pictures on film. The process of taking the photograph is separated from the act of taking the photograph. I am not able to say if it has made me a better photographer (though being human of course I would like to think that it has). But it has certainly made taking pictures more enjoyable. There is no computer involved, and today computers are involved in almost everything. For the first time in my life, I had my photographs printed and framed by a certain Parisian agency that still employs two people to make photographic enlargements. I put them on the wall in my office and at home. I look at those photographs and I know that no computer touched any part of the image, which is strangely reassuring. I was motivated to make a physical object from the images I had made, something which never occurred to me with digital images.

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The Leica is also a unique tool to take photographs with. Again, I was skeptical: during my first tour around Paris with it, I couldn’t even figure out at first how to hold it without blocking the weirdly-positioned viewfinder. The ergonomics of a bar of soap, as I have heard on the interwebs. But what is great is this: you press the shutter button and after the dry click nothing happens. Nothing changes in the viewfinder, nothing changes in the camera, other than the fact there is now a latent image of the thing you have just seen through the viewfinder recorded on a small square of film. To take another image, just advance the film, that’s all. The other wonderful thing is that one is conscious of light in a way one is never with a digital camera. After a few weeks I could estimate the illumination just by looking. The other paradoxical thing: despite being completely manual, the camera is actually easier to operate than any digital camera I have ever used. You look at the sky, you look at the object you want to photograph, and you set the aperture, shutter, and focus distance. Once they are set, they never change. Nothing changes them for you. For sure there are inconveniences. We are used to the amazing
performance of digital detectors at night. But now what I find it is that when I take pictures at night on film, they actually look like they are taken at night! And it is really true what they say: these cameras motivate you to take pictures.

I plan to spend 2016 explaining to my astronomer friends just why film is so great – and reassuring them that no, I don’t think it is a good idea to replace that CCD by a photographic plate. And, of course, taking photographs on film: http://52rolls.net/2016/01/01/im-h-j-mccracken-52-rolls-in-2016/.

H. J. McCracken is an astronomer at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris.

The Mystery of the Leica Panda

Panda M6

Leicaphiles being what they are, any variation from the standard garden variety Leica model offers a potential opportunity to claim a “rare” collectible model, and, of course, to price it accordingly in the hope that someone, somewhere, is willing to pay a premium for it. Take the Leica M6 “Panda” for example.

The “Panda” is a name given by some imaginative Leicaphile to a series of chrome M6’s produced with the trimmings – shutter advance lever, rewind crank – of a black chrome M6. According to folks in the know, there are approximately 1000 of these “Panda” versions floating around, all apparently produced by Leica between 1991 and 1994. The variation was never officially noted by Leica, and no explanation has ever been given as to why Leica produced them in this manner. Lack of parts? Drunken Octoberfest shenanigans? Just screwing with us for the hell of it? We’ll never know.

Leica Panda 2

In any event, if you’ve got one, congratulations, you’ve got a “collectible” Leica.

The Mysterious M5 Panda

Imagine my surprise, then, when I realized I actually own that most elusive of Leicas, the M5 Panda. This iteration of the M5 is seemingly so rare that no one, anywhere, seems to be able to confirm its existence. Yet, there it is, sitting in front of me, even though I’ve put out the appropriate feelers from collectors and long time Leica users and have come up with nothing. Crickets.

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Its serial number, #1347010, puts it squarely in the last runs of M5’s, all silver chrome, produced by Leitz between August 1972 and May 1974. The fact that both the shutter lever and the hotshoe with serial number are black make it pretty clear that it came from the factory this way. Yet I’ve never seen another like it, and a Google search turns up no pictures and only one or two anecdotal claims that someone, somewhere, had one like it sometime in the past.

Maybe its obscurity is simply a function of the low esteem in which both collectors and users hold the M5 (see numerous of my other posts about why I think the M5 is a great camera and its unfortunate reputation is undeserved), but the fact that this camera clearly exists yet nobody has acknowledged or recognizes it, puzzles me.

In any event, if you own one like it, or know of the story behind the M5 Panda, tell me about it at leicaphilia@gmail.com. Until such time as I hear differently, I will claim to possess one of the rarest of rare Leicas: the Leica M5 Panda. It might even be for sale… at the right price.

*Thanks to Marco Cavina for the M6 panda photographs

Leica Monochrom vs. a Leica M2 and Tri-X

Templeton MM Templeton Tri-X

Above are two pictures I shot in the autumn of 2014 in Glasgow. Both with a 28mm Summicron ASPH and a B+W red filter. The top picture was shot on my M Monochrom mk1, the lower picture on my M2, loaded with Kodak Tri-X film.

The M Monochrom is an incredible camera, and it’s as close to shooting black and white film as I’ve yet come across. It’s also versatile since the ISO can be altered from frame to frame, and convenient, because the images are instantly available.

The M Monochrom is also very sharp. In the M Mono shot attached here, you can zoom in and count the ridges and veins on some of the leaves. With the film image from my M2, there is less detail, but a more beautiful veiling grain, especially in the sky.

Crucially that’s the difference. I’ve made both of these images into prints, and everyone who has seen them, including me, instantly prefers the image shot on film. It just looks nicer. In the M Monochrom shot, the tree trunk has a kind of plastic look to it.

Film requires more dedication than digital. But when you get a shot that you’re happy with, you’re always glad you shot it on film. It looks nicer, and you have a negative, a permanent record of the event, whereas with digital, you’re always worrying that the file will become unreadable one day.

Colin Templeton is a newspaper photographer for the Herald/Times/Sunday Herald/The National in Glasgow, Scotland.  You can see his personal work here

Important Leica Questions Answered by Your Forum Friends

black tape leica

A “stealthy” Leica M4-2, all taped up

This from www.rangefinderforum.com:

Q. What tape is the best to cover up the logos on the black Leica M6? It’s purely for aesthetic reasons. I neither think that it will keep away robbers or make me invisible. But I just hate how the logos ruin the perfect design and how if one wants a black logo-less Leica with a light meter ones cheapest choice is an MP which is just too expensive for me right now. Sadly there are no replacement covers without logos so tape is the only solution. I could blacken the white typography and change the logo but I don’t want to lower the resell value.

So which tape is the best? Electrician tape seems to have the most similar color and texture but it also leaves residue. Does it permanently damage to paint/coating? Or can it be cleaned without any damages? I heard that gaffers tape doesn’t leave residue but the texture makes it stick out too much. Any other suggestions?

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A. I’ve always used a black Staedtler Fiber Tip Pen – Permanent ink. It covers the white text and red dot up well, and can be removed at any time without any damage to the white paint underneath , with a bit of alcohol.

A. This tape is the best for the M6: http://www.findtape.com/product129/P…aper-Tape.aspx It won’t leave any residue and despite the material it’s made out of (impregnated paper) it will stay on for a long, long time (and just replace it if ever needed.) It’s a perfect match for Leica’s black anodized zinc top plates. Electrical tape is too shiny (although it matches the black paint cameras a bit better.) You can also remove the paint in the engraved lettering as has already been described above, but then when it comes time to sell the camera you might have to fill in again with white lacquer paint (which you can buy here: http://www.micro-tools.com/store/P-L…ick-White.aspx

A. I use “Matte Black Japanese Washi Masking Tape” and it works very well. I’ll post some pics soon.