What's not to Leica?

Well, that didn't take too long. My Leica gear arrived back from Miles Whitehead sooner than I'd anticipated. I'm pleased with the way everything has cleaned up but not ecstatic. Miles has done a very good job from what I can see but there was a limit to what he could do for the Summicron and Summaron.

The 50mm has had some fungus on a rear element at some point and this has slightly etched the glass. The lens appears sparkly when you look through it but use a torch to light it up and you can see some spidery traces. I'd have loved it if the Summicron had emerged like new but I'm not too bothered really. It was a good sharp lens before it was cleaned and it should only be even better now. The Summaron is better than it was but it proved impossible to remove all the haze that you could see when looking through it. There's still a thin veil of mistiness visible. Again, though, it was fully usable before and will be better now. Both have been rebuilt with new helical grease and are buttery smooth.

Despite Miles finding some interior corrosion in the M2 which he reckoned prevented it being as smooth as when it was new, it feels good to me! The MDa is about 15 years younger than the M2 but I can't really discern any difference in the smoothness quotient between the two when it comes to winding on. The M2 shutter is firing properly again and the viewfinder is nice and clear. The MDa's shutter problem has also been sorted. OK, I don't have an outfit that will perform quite as well as when it was made but it's still in pretty good nick - cosmetically excellent, I'd say - and fully capable of doing a job of work.

So on now to finding a 25mm finder to match the 24mm Zuiko that will soon be attached on a semi-permanent basis (assuming it works well) to the MDa. And if anyone has any leads for a not-too-expensive 90mm Elmarit, please let me know.

I'm thinking about getting a pair of wrist straps as well for the cameras. It's not been my practice in the past to hang the cameras around my neck, preferring to keep them in a Domke bag and just bringing them out as needed. Having neck straps on the cameras causes a bit of a guddle in the camera bag, I've found. It would make more sense to have short straps on them to provide a bit of security when hand-holding but without everything being snarled up in the bag.

I had a quick look at what's available and there's a mind-blowing variety out there. It seems a wrist strap cottage industry has sprung up with every man and his dog riveting, stitching, gluing and binding bits of leather to metal clasps and split rings. Some of this is about man jewellery. In fact, most of it is about man jewellery if we're being honest. (See Steve Huff's website for more sordid details about the seedier side of Leica ownership but remember to clear your browser history.) I'll be going for something strong and cheap.

I've got a tough test in store for Miles now if he fancies it. A very fungusy 35-80mm f2.8 Zuiko - one of the best OM lenses ever made. If he can sort that one out I'll be chuffed to bits. I also have a partially dismantled 6x4.5cm Ensign Selfix Autorange folder that I'd love to get going. I took the lens apart a while back to repair a broken shutter, fixed it using a part from a similar shutter, put it all back together again and, just when I was feeling quite proud of myself, managed to lose three tiny grub screws vital to the focusing action. They disappeared into the ether and are probably nestled up against the ball bearing that flew out from my 40mm Focotar enlarging lens when I was giving it a clean, leaving me without click stops. Despair! And increasingly, I've found, that's my default condition.


  1. Ah, the campness of Leica sundries - take it from me Bruce, don't go down that route - this stuff, whilst REALLY beautiful, just seems like a good way to milk you of your money - the prices are extraordinary.

    I've carried the M2 around on the wrist strap from my old Olympus MjU, but have abandoned that in favour of a Domke Gripper neck strap, which works nicely and is pliable and secure. For wrist straps if you don't mind the very clumsy modern look go something neoprene and Op-Tech. Nice quality, not too expensive and reliable carriers.

    I've done the Leica on a wrist strap thing quite extensively, it works very well, and is fast and easy, but you never struck me as a sort of 'street snapper'.
    When thinking about this, I always keep in my mind the self portrait of Ernst Haas, called "Self Portrait, NY, 1971"


    as you can see he's holding a Leicaflex, and it is on a short neck strap - your photos, whilst not colour remind me of Haas in some way I can't define . . .

  2. On your advice, I looked up Steve Huff.
    How can I live without a pokerwork hot-shoe cover? How can you? Yeee-Ha!
    Looking forward to the pictures...

  3. Phil,
    Ernst Haas? I'll settle for that. Haha. Funny thing is that I've loved his colour work since my twenties. He was one of the few stars I was familiar with having seen his stuff in library books. Don't worry about the Leica man-jewellery thing. It's harmless enough but, to me, is just another case of style over substance. I'm not the street photography type: I'd just like a means to hang onto an expensive camera when I'm out and about without a tripod. I've got a DIY wrist strap in mind. :)

    The hot shoe covers are hilarious. As are the various sculpted wooden handgrips that fit the Leica and cost about half as much as a secondhand body. The only thing I really covet in that line is an Ona Bowery leather camera bag but fortunately it costs around £250.

  4. Small thought: Those lanyard things that are used for identity tags are very cheap and sturdy and might be useful for maintaining contact with the camera. Soft enough to wrap around the hand or reap round the camera when in its bag. I use one for a meter. They are also available in bright colours, which could reduce the apparent seriousness of the camera. Might even reduce its appeal to an opportunist thief, too.

  5. I've got a plan in mind involving braided paracord. Just bought 25ft of the stuff from EBay for 99p including postage - enough for five straps. I'll let you know how it goes once I've worked out the braiding routine. Might need Cath's assistance.

  6. Hope its real paracord Bruce - do a test, though that being said it should be fine for the lightness of the leica. If you google say Woodcraft and paracord weaving, there's some enterprising souls with a lot of time on their hands who have come up with some really interesting braided wrist things which you could adapt - the more I write this the more I think you have had a great idea here.

    Oh, and if you're buying a split ring, trust me, don't get shite ones - get proper USA, British or European made stainless steel FISHING ones - designed for sea fishing - there is a hell of a difference between proper stainless steel and the parade of guff that appears from the Far East.

  7. Sorry that should have said Bushcraft, not Woodcraft . . and Ernst Haas - well yes, I can see bits and bobs.

  8. This is beginning to sound as if you're going to knit a tiny Fair Isle pullover for it.
    Now I've said that, slipping it into a sock would protect it from scratches and envious eyes. Socks are widely available. Fishing socks? Are there fishing socks?

  9. Haha. Well, we've had the Ralph Gibson Leica so why not the Frank Spencer version? Non-UK readers and those below 40 will have to Google that one.

  10. Not entirely frivolous. I was thinking of a story my grandfather told me of a miner who took his hot tea in the glass innards of a Thermos flask down to the coalface, wrapped in a sock. For some reason, the outer part had vanished and being a Yorkshireman, he was opposed to unnecessary expense of any kind. Yorkshire and Scotland share a reputation for creative parsimony, but in Yorkshire, they say less.