The Leica Standard, or Mannequin E because it’s additionally recognized, was delivered to market by Leitz in 1932, and with minor tweaks to its design, its manufacturing continued into the late 1940s. As such, it ran modern to different tons of fashions that had coupled rangefinders and different extra superior options, so by comparability, it was very a lot the stripped-back primary mannequin. It’s merely a field with a shutter, a viewfinder, an adjunct shoe and a standardised Leica thread mount that takes 135 35mm movie cartridges. And that’s precisely why I prefer it a lot!
I’ve two thread mount Leica cameras in my assortment – a really early manufacturing Standard and the IIIa. The IIIa was my first, the Standard got here a number of years later. I like the IIIa lots – it’s a bit gem of a digital camera – however in some methods it might be described as inferior to different Leica cameras. Some may argue the case for the nearer rangefinder-to-viewfinder that the IIIb delivered to the desk for instance, and of course, the later M-series Leica cameras are sometimes although of as being broadly “better” cameras than all of the thread mount cameras that got here earlier than. I’m not saying that’s what I consider, however the level is, it’s potential to query the IIIa relative to different cameras from the model.
Now, I hope that no less than my common readers will know that this isn’t the mentality I apply to cameras. Upgrades and extra options will not be what I aspire to with my cameras. I like a stability of options that work properly for me with out having something superfluous to get in the approach. Truly, to some extent, that is why I like the IIIa – to me the later thread mount Leica cameras really feel barely cluttered with options I don’t want. The IIIa has the inbuilt rangefinder in addition to the sluggish velocity dial and 1/1000th excessive velocity. To me, it’s virtually the peak of the primary and greatest options of the Leica thread mount designs. Regardless of this, once I was utilizing my IIIa previous to proudly owning my Leica Standard, I discovered myself not even utilizing some the options it delivered to the desk.
As such, relatively than examine my IIIa to cameras with extra options, I started to marvel about how an identical digital camera with much less options may work for me. I started to assume that a extra stripped-back thread mount Leica may go well with me even higher.
Discovering my Leica Standard
Truly, once I began the seek for this stripped-back Leica thread mount digital camera, I didn’t have one thing as previous as my specific Standard in thoughts. The truth is, to start with – brief of having seen footage of a Leica and not using a a rangefinder – I didn’t know what the Leica Standard was. Once I came upon, and found it was exactly what I used to be on the lookout for, I nonetheless didn’t intend to purchase one which’s fairly as previous as mine would transform.
Selecting a Leica Standard (in the darkish)
I think I’m not the just one to seek out the early Leica product nomenclature complicated. The naming conventions appeared to vary slightly over the years, so for instance a Leica III can also be a Leica (mannequin F) and typically referred to as a III(F). That is superb till you uncover that the Leica IIIf is a unique digital camera that got here some years later. Truly, when you get your head around it, it’s fairly straightforward – or at the very least straightforward sufficient – it simply takes a bit of studying and digging to get to the backside of.
What makes issues complicated when taking a look at the Leica Standard is that it’s also referred to as the Leica (Mannequin E), Leica E, Leica Standard (Mannequin E) or some other means individuals appear to deem it match to make use of these mixture of letters and phrases. Moreover, it was incrementally tweaked between its launch in 1932 and when it was changed by the Leica Ic in the late 40s. So once you seek for totally different mixtures of the letters and phrases in its identify, you will discover your self with footage of cameras that look barely totally different.
To make issues much more complicated, the digital camera that got here earlier than the Standard, the I (Mannequin C) seems identical to the very early Standard however doesn’t have the Standard lens mount. Moreover, the Leica I (Mannequin C) shouldn’t be confused with the Leica Ic which seems fairly just like the very late Leica Standard, however got here after it, and didn’t have the inbuilt offset viewfinder.
Confused but? It doesn’t matter, all you actually need to know is that the Leica Standard was made for a quantity of years and had modifications made to its design all through the manufacturing run. What you additionally have to know – at the least for the sake of this publish – is that I didn’t actually have a grasp of this once I purchased my Leica Standard. I simply discovered one I favored the look of on Pink Dot cameras for a worth that I used to be prepared to pay, and purchased it. It was solely as soon as I received it and realised how previous it was that I made a decision that I ought to do some correct digging.
My very previous Leica Standard
My Leica Standard has the serial quantity 101777, this implies it half of the first manufacturing run of 5000 Leica Standard cameras. In truth, with the serial numbers of this mannequin beginning at 101001, mine is a reasonably early mannequin from this primary run. Since Pink Dot cameras know what they’re doing on the subject of valuing cameras, and I didn’t pay a premium for this digital camera, so far as I can work out, this doesn’t make it any extra particular or collectible, it simply means it’s previous. I shall come to what this implies in use later…
Leica Standard variants and specs
I’m not going to enter all the particulars right here, primarily as a result of via the nominal quantity of digging I did, I in all probability didn’t accrue the encyclopaedic information required to do each variation of Leica Standard full justice. Additionally, as with most of the trivia of element in relation to digital camera historical past, I don’t assume rather a lot of it actually issues that a lot in use.
Primarily, all you want to know is that early Leica Requirements have been black, and for the most half later ones have been chrome, with some crossover in the center. Early Leica Requirements have been made with out strap lugs, the later model that was based mostly on the barely greater die forged physique of the Leica IIIc (and later cameras) had strap lugs and a blanking plate over the place the sluggish velocity dial would have been.
So far as I can inform, all Leica Requirements have a prime velocity of 1/500th and don’t have a sluggish velocity dial. Additionally they all have a body counter around the movie advance, an adjunct shoe that’s immediately above the lens mount and a barely offset 50mm viewfinder.
Like all thread mount Leica cameras they’re backside loading and don’t have a flip open again, which suggests trimming the chief is pretty important to make sure the movie is loaded correctly.
Standard lens mount
One thing I did find out about the Leica Standard earlier than I purchased one is that it additionally has Leica’s standardised “Leica Thread Mount” additionally know as “Leica Screw Mount” and abbreviated to “LTM” and “LSM”. As soon as this mount was correctly standardised by Leica it has a flange again distance of 28.8mm. This normal FBD was launched to permit the interchanging of totally different lenses. Previous to the Leica II (Mannequin D) and the Leica Standard, Leica cameras both had fastened lenses, or needed to have their lenses matched to the physique to make sure right focusing.
As you may know, this standardised “LTM” thread mount remained unchanged by Leica till they switched to the m-mount in the 50’s – actually, even since the they’ve typically made particular version LTM lenses. There are additionally stacks of different manufacturers that adopted the mount after WWii when Leica’s designs have been made obtainable to be copied as half of German reparations. It was additionally ultimately re-adopted by Cosina Voigtlander in 1999. Which means, brief of a couple of foibles of digital camera manufacturing historical past – akin to the Russians not fairly matching the flange again distance of their copies, and the use of a metric M39 thread which is usually incompatible with the Leica imperial thread – there are a hell of quite a bit of Leica thread mount lenses that may match on the Leica Standard (and all the different LTM cameras).
The genius of Kodak
This wasn’t the solely standardisation that happened in favour of these early Leica cameras. While Leica have been largely liable for popularising the use of 35mm movie in stills cameras, again in the days of the earliest Leica thread mount cameras, the Kodak 135 cartridge didn’t exist. The truth is, my Leica Standard predates the 135 format by two years. Previous to the introduction of the 135 format, this digital camera would have been used with movie cartridges that have been loaded with movie by the consumer. When Kodak launched the daylight loading 135 format alongside its Retina digital camera in 1934 they have been sensible sufficient to design the cartridge so it may be utilized in the Leica and Contax cameras of the day, and with the 135 format not altering in form in all the years since, trendy 35mm movie drops straight in – all be it with a bit of trim to the chief.
Only for the sake of completeness, some very early Leica Cameras have a barely bigger bit of metallic the place the movie slots in that may make loading the cartridge barely more durable. As I perceive it, this may be modified, although I’ve nonetheless managed to load a normal 135 cartridge into one of these older cameras – extra on that story one other day.
Capturing my early Leica Standard
Maybe as a product of this age, or for the incontrovertible fact that it was an earlier, probably much less refined construct, mechanically it feels fairly totally different to my IIIa – it feels extra unfastened, and much less exact. In use, this doesn’t appear to make a lot distinction – there’s just a bit bit of give in the dials and knobs that makes it really feel mechanically barely lower than good. In case you’re excited about shopping for one of these cameras, and you need a higher sense of mechanical perfection, it’d simply be clever to search for a barely later model than mine.
For me, this isn’t an issue, and of course, it has little bearing on the footage – in truth none that I observed. The final time I shared some footage taken with this digital camera is was identified to me that the shutter curtains won’t be operating fairly evenly inflicting the proper hand edge of the body to be barely darker. This could be the case, nevertheless it’s hardly noticeable, doesn’t appear to occur typically, and is nothing a service wouldn’t repair.
Extra importantly, as I’ve alluded to, the barely lower than good mechanical really feel has little or no bearing on the course of of taking pictures. Actually, in use – like all nice cameras – I’m not likely conscious of it in any respect. It’s one of these cameras that fits me so properly, it has that uncommon capability to utterly disappear.
The top of the downgrade path
What makes the Leica Standard actually particular although is that it’s not simply any stripped-back digital camera, it’s a stripped-back very early Leica. As talked about, the early Leica cameras have been the first to actually popularise the use of 35mm movie, and for all that I’m not likely that fussed about the historical past of this stuff, it’s arduous to not acknowledge that this digital camera is a de-specified model of one of the very first 35mm format cameras.
As such, it feels virtually unattainable to shoot a 35mm digital camera that’s much less specified than this, and subsequently it additionally feels virtually unimaginable that something about it could possibly be improved in the context of what it provides to me. Which may sound a bit odd when speaking a few digital camera that by design has much less options than others, however it actually does come right down to the selection I make once I got down to use it.
Once I decide it up, I’m not anticipating any of the bells and whistles, I’m simply anticipating a shutter in a field that I can connect a lens to… and that’s all I get; nothing superfluous, no unused options, simply software that feels prefer it’s good for the chosen activity at hand. That’s to say, regardless of its age and its simplicity, it simply features – for the approach I shoot it, it does precisely what I want it to.
There are admittedly a number of digital camera I can say this about in my assortment now – simply none are whilst near as previous as this one. The sweetness of it’s although, it’s age doesn’t actually matter. As a result of it has the standardised lens mount, and takes the commonplace 135 movie cartridge, I can nonetheless mount my trendy Voigtlander lenses on it and load it with trendy movie. Utilizing this digital camera from 1932, if I so desired, I might get outcomes that look no totally different to outcomes from a really far more trendy 35mm movie digital camera. And that, as I stated at the starting of this submit, is why I really like my Leica Standard!
If you wish to study a bit extra about the totally different early Leica fashions, this and this are fairly useful
Here’s a submit I wrote some time in the past extolling the virtues of early Leica cameras basically