Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A 35mm Canon F1.8 for my Leica

Since I first started photography in the late 1970's my lens of choice has been the 50mm. It just seemed suited to my world view, and when attached to an SLR camera its 46º angle of view seemed just about perfect for my varied subject matter, not to mention the fact that it was small and relatively cheap.
Enter my Leica range-finder. Of course the first lens on my shopping list was a small light weight 50mm and I decided upon the Leitz Elmar F2.8 collapsible.
Although I have been very happy with my choice in the main, I have found that RF cameras frame-lines show how restricted the world view is with a 'standard' lens. Often I would find myself getting in close on a subject only to find the 50 frame cutting into the subject, a quick flick of the frame lever always seemed to suggest that 35mm would have been a better choice for most situations.
After some deliberation and a lot of testing different lenses such as the Voigtländer 35 Skopar F2.5 and Leitz 35 F2 Summicron, I finally decided on the Canon 35mm F1.8
Initial tests showed the canon to be a very capable performer, examples will follow in a future blog.

As you can see from the picture above the Canons size is diminutive compared to todays SLR lenses.

The lens is based upon the Zeiss Planar (double gauss) design and has 7 elements in 4 groups and is quite comparable with the Pre-aspherical Leitz designs of the period quality wise. This link includes a type of mini-review and shows how good these 1950's lenses are.
This lens was designed by Mukai Jirō in April 1956 and marketed in 1957 at a price of ¥32,000 (about $500 in todays money) and was replaced in 1962 by the 35mm F2 which was lighter, and had marginally better performance wide open, but had the same 40mm filter size.
These Canon lenses have a 39mm screw thread mount AKA Leitz thread mount (LTM) so can be fitted to Leica M cameras with the use of a cheap adapter, or any Leica dating back to the 1930's.
I will be taking this lens on an assignment this week-end where a 'retro' look is called for and hopefully I/it will deliver the goods.

All Images and text ©Mark Antony Smith 2007