Tales of the unexpected

I viewed the collapsible lens on the Leica with suspicion; how could something that you just pull out like that, with no positive ‘click stop’, be in any way accurate? So I just put my faith in one-hundred-odd years of precision German engineering and fired two rolls of film through the vintage rangefinder without so much as a glance at a YouTube tutorial.
A week later, I got the scans back – pretty much all the images were out of focus. I put this down to a rangefinder misalignment, which it was, but not by this much, it couldn’t possibly be my fault, I haven’t taken so many consistently out of focus images, ever? Time to Google – ‘Leitz 5cm Elmar lens focus problems’. Well, it turns out that this collapsible lens, and all collapsible lenses, do have a ‘click stop’ – once the barrel is fully extended, the lens needs to be twisted to the right, where it clicks into place – thus ensuring correct, precision focusing.
However, this fresh knowledge has thrown up more mystery and anxiety – how did I manage to get the few images that are perfectly in focus?

All images here made on that vintage Leica II and collapsible 5cm Elmar lens. The double exposures and light leaks are entirely accidental – I loaded a roll of Kodak Ultramax 400, took a few shots and then decided I’d loaded it incorrectly (which I hadn’t), took it out and then reloaded it and carried on shooting.


  1. Scotty MacScott

    Even your mistakes are 100 times better than most people’s final images! That old Elmar lens really does have a ‘look’ doesn’t it.


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