Today you gonna read me delve even deeper into madness and talk Russian lenses. Shall we? Ok, now. Once the bug has bitten you and you have the old glass flu, russky lenses are so conspicuously there that you can’t ignore them. Many despise old Soviet glass out of plain prejudice: because it’s a product of the commie economy. Which sure had its issues, but we are talking glass & helicoids now.
For all of those who talk crap on Soviet lenses without knowing shit: you should know that when most Soviet lenses first hit the (very controlled commie countries’ only) market in the 1950s, they were on par with its Western counterparts (I won’t say ‘competition’ because they didn’t share markets), both mechanically and optically. Take into account that many optical legends like the Biotar, the Macro-Switar, the Zoomar, the Angeniéux Rètrofocus, the first Summicron… were mass marketed for the first time in the 50’s.
Ah! Another strange beast. Not because its rarity; in fact, it’s quite a common camera, but take a look at it. How on earth did them people at Olympus manage to put a reflex camera into this tiny compact body. Well I guess that the vertical half-frame (18x24mm) helped, but still… No, it’s a joke, I know everything about cameras: the magic trick here is a double porroprism, which in my language sounds quite funny. Porroprism rigs are potentially much smaller than pentaprisms, which allowed them guys at Olympus to build an SLR camera that was smaller than a 35mm rangefinder.
Main drawback: the image will be dim as hell, but hey, it’s so small.
One curious thing about this camera is that I’ve heard that long since now, in the era of the all-analog film making the Olympus PEN FT was highly coveted by still photography pros in the movie sets, as it offered the chance to shoot stills with frame ratio similar to that of cinema cameras. Now, with the digital age being irreversible both in photography and film making, it’s no more than a curiosity… But hey, it’s shiny and chrome, and you and me know that the gods of photography favor those who shoot with style.
Aaaaaaand, yes, I always have one or two in my store cause they’re so cool, so now you know where to buy one.
Oh, look, a Leica. Wait, what is this… thing? Yes, this hump over it is a prism. This is a SLR camera, the last (well actually there was a R9, with identical external design) of the Leica R line. Yes, R stands for reflex.
It’s not that they were bad cameras (they weren’t), it’s just that they were hopelessly outdated in their time. Canon and Nikon gave infinitely more value to the pro photographer for his money, not only buck for buck, but in absolute terms: less weight, electric winding and rewinding, autofocus, high frame rate… If you were a pro, Leica-mania (or Leica bigotry) were the most powerful arguments to invest into the R system. It’s just that…
For those of you who are not really into camera history, this thingie may look quite unimpressive. It’s just a simple SLR. The speeds range goes just from 1 second to 1/1000. No internal or TTL light meter. No auto mode and no automatic winding. Well, yes, it’s got interchangeable prisms, but still…
Even though, there are two things in this cutie that changed everything, EVERYTHING in camera and photography history. It was 1959, and Rangefinders were still king. The Leica M3, THE no-nonsense rangefinder camera was the rage: professionals had abandoned everything else because Leica and its system were aeons away from any competitor. Yet, this was to last only five years, because, friends, all pros abandoned their fabulous Leicas in favor of this unassuming SLR camera above: the Nikon F.