Tag Archives: Leica

Summicron-M collapsible

I got a hold of a Leitz 5cm f/2 Summicron-M collapsible lens … one that was in really bad condition, which was the only way I could afford grabbing this type of lens. I have to say (and I knew for a long time) Leica M stuff is EXPENSIVE (I thought the LTM was over priced).

I did not do a complete dissasembly … like getting at the focus helicoid.


The lens is actually not that difficult to work on, but just requires a bit of pre-info … since you really don’t want to damage a Leitz.

The front element is very soft so it is noted on being very easy to scratch when cleaning. This one has heavy haze and fungus.

DSC00531To get to the aperture blades you can just unscrew the entire front group off.

Getting between the elements of this front group is something I did not even attempt to do.

DSC00532You can remove the rear cap section, but you have to do one thing first. There is a small screw in the side of the lens barrel, loosen that first

It is a brass screw, so watch out !!!


before using your spanner wrench to unscrew the rear retaining ring.


The collapsible lens rides on two slots, and the rear focus ring has two bearings inside it … so try not to loose them … and when putting it back together you have to line up the slots.

You can see the two bearings (the left one is missing in this shot).


Here is a picture of the end cap attached to show how the slot should line up.

The encap goes on after placing the focus ring on … so you will have to eye ball it.

Then screw the retaining ring back on with the spanner wrench without turning the end cap … then secure the side screw.

Cron the destroyer …

The Leitz 50mm lens went through many different iterations since 1924, starting with the Anastigmat designed by Max Berek … the Summar was the first of the f/2 line in 1932, then Summitar, then finally the Summicron.

The Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Summacron 50mm (5cm) f/2.0 first production M-mount started 1954. The Leica part name for the m-mount version is SOOIC-M (don’t ask me about that). 7 elements in 4 groups … that’s a lotta glass !!! The original version started as a collapsible, later 1956 they also producted a rigid body.

Early 50mm Summicron’s had lens elements, made by Chance Brothers & Co., that had thorium oxide in it … very low radioactivity and it eventually turned the lens little yellow/brown over time … they quickly switched over to their own lanthanum oxide formula.

Marco Cavina has a great website about Leica, though it is in Italian … but I don’t think you will have any problems finding reading matrial about anything Leica.

Now I am not a Leica person, I was caught offguard when people use the suffix to talk about various lenses … and this one being the Summacron 50mm (5cm) f/2.0, it was refered to as a cron. It appears that a Summacron refers to the f/2.0 aperture size ? … obviously I am a Leica newbie … so what do I really know.

Leica IIF – starting from the top

Well, I forgot I had not put this up on the Blog. This was the first Barnack rangefinder that I purchased.

After many decades of wanting to own a Leica I got one. Sadly there was a problem with it … one of the eye piece lenses was missing (which explained why everything looked out of focus).

Even though Leica has a nice service manual for the IIIF, and there are other numerous sites that describe this, I am providing my info on the procedure … including some images taken from the IIIF service manual.


Wind the film and set the shutter speed to Bulb.

Remove the two screws that secure the flash shoe. Remove the shoe.

Remove the reverse lever screw and pull off the lever.

Note that under this lever there is a cylindrical collar. Remove, or it will fall out while servicing the camera and get lost. This keeps the lever free to move when the screw is tightened.

Remove the flash shoe bed plate.

Unscrew the threaded sleeve around the shutter release button.

Pull the rewind knob up.

Loosen the screw until you can pull the rewind knob off.


Pull the lock collar off.

Use tweezers to unscrew the locking collar.


Remove the diopter adjustment lever.

Remove the two screws that hold the eyepiece cover.

Remove the cover and be aware of the lenses behind it.


Viewfinder | Rangefinder

These two lenses are not the same, so if you remove these (they could be partially adhered) mark which one goes where.


Sadly, in my case the viewfinder lens was missing.

Set the ISO to 125.

This will line up the hole with the internal screw.

Pull the dial up to access the screw.

Loosen the screw (do not remove it) so that the dial can be unscrewed counter-clockwise.

Pull off the film counter dial.


Pull off the gear.

This was the hardest part, because I did not have the best tool.

Remove the two retaining ring around the viewfinder and rangefinder ports.

Note that the rangefinder ring is larger than the viewfinder ring.

These are probably secured very tightly. I used pliers with very little force, just enough to loosen them so I can turn them off by hand. You would put a thin elastic between to keep the metal from being scratched.

A flexi-clamp would be the appropriate tool for handling Leicas.

Remove the viewfinder port lens by just prying it out. It is held by tension.


The rangefinder port lens is screwed in.

Remove the adjustment cover screw. Note the plastic washer.

Remove the two screws by the film winding side.

The shutter speed dial is secured by three screws around the edge. Loosen those to pull off the dial. This will reveal the cam that it is secured to.

The cam can be removed by pulling it up to expose the lock screws.

Loosen this screws to pull off.

Note that the shaft pull itself back down, and it will make it harder to put back on … so I am not sure if this part needs to be removed to get the top plate off.

The last two screws securing the top plate are underneath the film rewind knob section.


Pull off the top plate.

Be aware that the wiring to the PC socket is still attached.

Pull the top plate up. You will have to carefully pry the front section, above the lens mount, to get around the viewfinder/rangefinder ports.

Now you can access the viewfinder/rangefinder section for cleaning.

The end caps (noted as B in the diagram) of the view/rangefinder block are just lacquer secured so you can pop them off.

I can’t say much further as I just did a surface clean.


Put the top plate back on and proceed backwards.

The rectangular hole of the eyepiece cover is on the right (covering the viewfinder port).

When you get to the point of putting the winding mechanism back together you will need to fit the takeup spool correctly.

When putting the film takeup spool you have to position it correctly.

Under the top plate there is a hooked lever.

This lever is notched

The top of the takeup spool has a spring attached.

The spring must fit the notch in the above hooked lever so that the tooth on the lever locks into the gear at the top of the pickup spool

When putting the winding knob back on, you will have to pay attention to over tightening it. If it is screwed on too far it will interfere with the shutter release mechanism … so make sure the shutter is firing properly before tightening the locking screw.

After securing the winding knob, attach the shutter speed dial. Do not tighten it as you will probably need to make sure the cam is in the Bulb position (wind film and fire shutter to figure if you got it right). Once the cam is in the bulb position you can adjust and secure the shutter speed dial.

The rangefinder alignment is done like the Canon … vertical by turning the rangefinder port (after removing the cover ring), and then the horizontal by turning the rangefinder port (remove the screw beside the viewfinder port).


Leica IIF – some history

This is a Barnack screwmount camera … which you should know already. They are probably the most collected and discussed cameras. There were many different models of this design … but you will note that there was no printed model name on the cameras. Which is why you will occasionally see these cameras up for sale describing them as a Leica DRP model. Leica DRP was printed on the top plate … D.R.P. means Deutsches Reichs Patent.

The Leica II series first came out in 1932. The last model type, the IIF, was produced between 1951 and 56.

Most of the classic Leica rangefinder cameras look similar … I figure that they thought there was really no need to make any major physical changes. The IIF is identical to the IIIF with exception of the slow shutter speeds, the IIF didn’t have any below 1/25s (except bulb). There were two variants … the red dial and the black dial. The black dial had shutter speeds from 1/30s to 1/500s, while the red dial (brought out in 1952) had 1/25s to 1/500s or 1/1000s speeds.

These Leicas had two windows … one rangefinder window to focus the image, and the other viewfinder to frame the image. The F models introduced flash synch.

This was my first Leica that I ever had (I actually wanted an M series but I couldn’t justify the cost of the lenses). Actually it was the first Branack type camera I ever had. This was my into into screwmount rangefinders.

It came to me with a missing lens on the viewfinder, the seller did give a partial refund so I decided to take it apart … I did eventually find someone on the rangefinder forum that sold be the part, and did have a working camera.

The designers

I thought I would put in some credit for those who gave us these great cameras … not the manufacturers but the ones that designed them. There are two names that need to be mentioned here based on the cameras that I have blogged about.


Oskar Barnack

For those in the world of old screw mount rangefinders you will know this name, or at least the last name.

Oskar Barnack worked for Ernst Leitz (and for those of you that do not know this name … he is the founder of Leica … and another note about Dr. Leitz is that he saved Jews working for him by transferring them to the offices outside of Germany which later became known as the “Leica Freedom Train”).

Oskar had this crazy idea of making the film format smaller to reduce the camera size, as a way to avoid using the large plate cameras available during the early 1900’s. The small image on the roll film would later be enlarged during the printing stage.

Oskar designed Leica’s first 35mm camera. It took him about 10 years to get something in 1914 (known as the Ur-Leica) that he would use to as a base to produce their first production model.

The Leica I was brought out at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1925. It had a fixed collapsible lens.

In 1930 he designed the camera with an interchangeable mount … the first Leica threaded screw mount (LTM).

The Leica II came out in 1932 and added the coupled rangefinder.


Barnack’s design would trigger a number of camera companies to copy his design, and to this day the legacy of this camera can still be seen in the Leica M series.



Reinhold Heidecke

This is the guy who gave us the Rolleiflex.

Reinhold worked for Voigtlander. He left the company after his attempts to suggest a new type of roll film camera did not pan out. He tried to start his own company and ended up partnering with Paul Franke. Thus begat Franke & Heidecke.

Reinhold designed a Twin Lens Reflex camera. He did not invent the first TLR camera (I think the first was in 1885), but what he did with the concept was the thing. Using his design knowledge about the triple lens stereoscopic cameras he first designed, he took that further into a twin lens camera that was a reflex design, used medium format roll film (roll film invented by Eastman started to become common) and a new mechanism for focusing. The first prototype was made in 1928.

The Rolleiflex was immediately popular. Easy to use, small in size, a large film format, and some of the best optics (Zeiss).


This started the TLR revolution, and like the Leica II the designed was copied by numerous other manufacturers.

DHW Fototechnik still manufactures the classic Rolleiflex.