Oscar in Action!

At last Oscar is back and the first ‘real’ film that was not just some test shots is developed. Black and White of course!170402 - Leica IIIa - Ilford HP5 (13)

I must say that the camera works beautifully, the wind mechanism is smooth as butter, the shutter sounds terrible great, satisfying even and everything feels like…. well like it must have felt 79 years ago when he saw the light of day in Wetzlar.

Of course I used the freshly CLA’d Summitar 5cm lens that has been perfectly calibrated to the camera now. Unfortunately, the lens has a scratch on the front element that should not be that deficient to image quality, unless it will induce some flare. Most of the haze has been cleared from it’s internal elements, but some was impossible to remove, so it’s not ideal. But it’s reasonably clean and very serviceable.170402 - Leica IIIa - Ilford HP5 (28)

Nonetheless, the results are clean, sharp with just that nice hint of vintage look to them that I love from the Summitar. It’s an old lens and it shows just as it well should! If not, what good would a 1938 Leica IIIa with a 1952 lens be?170402 - Leica IIIa - Ilford HP5 (6)

As I already said, shooting this camera might seem cumbersome. Focusing with the teeny tiny rangefinder window, composing with the equally tiny viewfinder…. all that might seem slow, might seem impossible to work fast.

But there are some things to be done about that! The rangefinder, now clean and shiny is really fast in use, and of course once you have found a vantage point you just pre-focus at f:8 or 11 and wait for your prey. 170402 - Leica IIIa - Ilford HP5 (14)

As for the viewfinder, I use an external finder I slide into the flash shoe of the camera. It’s a nice old piece of work with 35, 50 and 90mm frames you can clip onto the front.img_0124

It even has a rudimentary, manual parallax compensation!

Used this way, the Leica IIIa is a really enjoyable camera. What I like the most is that I’m not disturbed by any light meter! I just see a picture in the finder, I compose and I hit the shutter. That’s all!170402 - Leica IIIa - Ilford HP5 (17)

As I pared down my camera stable those last days, restricting myself to the Leica, the Olympus Trip 35 and XA2 and my Canon A-1 has helped me gain some focus (pun intended). Indeed I’m not yet sure about the Canon…. 170402 - Leica IIIa - Ilford HP5 (16)

But on to the pictures! Tourists have begun to appear again, driven out of their winter lairs by the spring sun and that makes it much easier to be inconspicuous with a camera. These guys were trying desperately to put a tiny digital camera in our Grand-Duchess’s hand to make her take a photo of them. Needless to say she was not very cooperative.170402 - Leica IIIa - Ilford HP5 (11)

Blending in is what street photography is all about. Blending in and seeing the right things and being able to react instantly. I confess I have much to learn yet. But I’m applying myself, trying real hard.

Of course if the city of Luxembourg obliges with gorgeous displays like this one, I’m a happy camper!170402 - Leica IIIa - Ilford HP5 (15)

Well, only thing that remains from this roll is another proof of the gorgeous vintage character of the Summitar. Is this now or is this the fifties?170402 - Leica IIIa - Ilford HP5 (30)

And of course, the lens is not perfect. But flare can be an element of your photo.170402 - Leica IIIa - Ilford HP5 (31)

All in all, this roll yielded about a dozen keepers (according to my low standards). Quite good I think. The next roll I’ll feed Oscar will be some Tri-X. I really want to see if I can’t get to grips with that one. Might it replace HP5 as my go-to film? We’ll see.

Thanks a lot for reading and looking at my photos!

18 thoughts on “Oscar in Action!

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  1. Great post, which has given me the motivation to sort out my dad’s collection of old leicas , which includes a IIa, which dates from 1933. Amongst the lenses is also a summitar, which is amazingly, not too hazy, but has very stiff focus. Having seen the results your lens produces, I am keen to get it sorted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Try it, definitely worth it. For the stiff focus you can possibly get a temporary fix by dribbling some drops of isopropyl alcohol beneath the focus ring. But just a few! Then exercise the lever / ring for some time. This might temporarily losen up the old stiff grease. But no replacement for a real CLA!


  2. Thanks for the tip for freeing up the stiff focus. I’ve had a IIIf for about 20 years and have always struggled with the combined range finder and view finder windows. The separate windows on the IIa seem to make a bit more sense to me. Time will tell!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some nice pictures here with the “look” like you say. Everything involved has a part to play, though.

    I must say I rarely use the viewfinder these days except for closer work. I keep mulling over Leicas. I must admit didn’t get the same buzz from handling an M3 in the shop the other week as I got from a LTM, though it was a nice camera. Maybe it was the double-stroke I didn’t like or the weight of it. Or the prospect of a costly 28mm lens. I think you should hang on to your AE-1, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just get more fun out of the IIIa than the A-1…. of course it’s better for some stuff (macro, telephoto…) but I rarely do that. A M3 or M2 might tempt me, l’ll have to see. And I can always use m’y Summitar or Jupiter 8 or Industar 50 with it.


  4. Wow ! The pictures came out really nice ! May I ask at which ISO you shot the film ?
    I’m also really tempted to try out a rangefinder. But the pricetag of Leica lenses are not really inviting. And there is not really a big choice on the second hand market here in Luxembourg. Or do you know any nice shops ? Most of them only sell digital stuff…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I shot the HP5 at box speed. Try Foto Trade on route d’Esch for a Leica.

      The thread mount Leicas are by far the most interresting. And the LTM lenses are quite OK pricewise too. You can even start with a Jupiter 8 or Industar 50 russian lens for pocket money. My Industar was 35€ on eBay and is by far the sharpest lens I have for my Leica. The Jupiter was a bit more expensive but has more character.

      Of course a thread mount Leica has it’s bad points. Small viewfinder, separate rf and vf…. but it’s a wonderful machine. Small, feels extremely solid…

      And there are also the great Canon lenses and the more modern Voigtlander ones… the 15mm Voigtlander Super Heliar is a special lens if this focal length is OK for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They got several Leica IIIa for 325 to 345€ a bit expensive but if they are clean and the shutter times are OK…. but be prepared that they can fail and need a CLA for about 200€….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll check them out soon ! Unfortunately I’m not too sure about not having any light metering at all. Because of that the M6s out there are quite appealing but the pricetag really isn’t… Maybe I’ll jus save up some more money which will give me more choice 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Don’t fret about light meters! Use a light meter app on the phone and try to learn the light. Try to find the right exposure all the time and check with a light meter app. In no time at all you will be able to find the right settings. I use fotometerV2 on the iphone

        Liked by 1 person

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