Tuesday, January 16, 2018

AN IMPRESSIVE LEICA COMPETITOR – KODAK EKTRA





The following article relies largely on information obtained from Stephen Gandy'sCameraQuest.

 

It is a well-known fact that the Leica inspired quite a number of competitors to offer 35mm rangefinder cameras of their own.  Even today many of them are well known, like the Zeiss Contax, the Nikon and Canon rangefinder models and, of course, a whole number of blatant copies of the Leica.

A much lesser known competitor was the Kodak Ektra.  The Ektra was Kodak's only attempt to produce the best 35 camera. It was amazingly innovative with features that actually outshined the Leica and Contax cameras at that time.  The camera was introduced in 1941, but there was no market when re-introduced in 1948.  The $700 price was astonishingly high for that time and it must be assumed that it contributed to the demise of the camera at the end of 1948.

The Ektra offered a lot of new features, not found on other rangefinder cameras.

  • 1st 35 RF to have a parallax compensated finder!
  • 1st 35 RF to offer lens coating on all lenses
  • 1st 35 RF to offer interchangeable backs
  • 1st 35 RF to offer built in zoom finder
  • 1st 35 RF to offer lever advance
  • 1st 35 RF to use a film rewind lever

Besides its impressive features, the Ektra also had an impressive line of lenses, all rangefinder coupled, fully rivaling the best from Leica or Contax in the late 1930's.  Offered were a 35mm f/3.3, 50mm f/3.5, 50mm f/1.9, 90mm f/3.5, 135mm f/3.5, and 153mm f/4.5.  A 254mm f/4.5 was planned but never put into production.  UNLIKE the best lenses from Leica and Zeiss, all Ektra lenses were coated, a first for this large a lens lineup.  All lenses attached to the camera with a breech lock mount.

 

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Focusing was done with a knurled knob at the lower left of the lenses.

 
The interchangeable back

 
Besides the standard interchangeable backs, the Ektra also offered another very unusual feature,
a ground glass focusing back.

The rangefinder is unusually long, 4 1/8", in fact making it difficult to hold the Ektra without blocking the RF windows.  The viewfinder is almost exactly above the lens to lesson parallax problems.   The Ektra viewfinder zooms from 50mm to 254mm, complete with built in diopter adjustment.   An attachment fits over the finder to show the 35mm field.

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Left: The shutter release is on the upper left edge.  The little lever on the right is the 12 second delay self timer.  The high speeds from 1/25 to 1/1000 are set in the window with the knurled knob. The low speeds 1/10th to 1 second are set on the nearby outer wheel.
Center:  The automatic film counter.
Right: The larger wheel is the zoom setting for the finder, from 50 to 254.  The smaller wheel is the diopter adjustment for the rangefinder!

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The rather large and robust rewind lever

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Other useful accessories included a Contax like close-up viewfinder for the 50/1.9, Left,
a Leica like right angle viewer, Center,
and a "High-Low Angle Finder" for waist level or above the head viewing, Right.

An improved version called Ektra II was planned and three of them are known to exist. They incorporated a built in lens for the 35mm focal length, and could mount a magazine back with a spring driven motor.


The Ektra’s premature demise unfortunately eliminated any further development and along with it any noticeable influence on other rangefinder cameras, including the Leica.  It is interesting to note that feature wise, even the market leader Leica did not catch up to the Ektra until the introduction of the Leica M3.  Even then some of the Ektra’s features were still an exclusive, like the interchangeable backs, the diopter correction of the viewfinder and the built-in zoom finder.  One can only wonder what the camera might look like if it had it survived in an updated version today.




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Monday, January 15, 2018

LEICA 75MM AND 90MM F/2 APO-SUMMICRON-SL LENSES TO START SHIPPING SOON





11178_Ambient_Apo-Summicron-SL 75mm_RGB


By David Farkas, LeicaStore Miami

After teasing the new range of Summicon SL prime lenses at Photokina back in September of 2016, production is ramping up so that shipment can begin next month. As originally planned, the first lenses out of the gate will be the 75mm and 90mm f/2APO-Summicrons. With superior sharpness, luscious bokeh, an unmistakable 3D pop and accurate color reproduction, these lenses are geared equally well toward walk-around shooting as they are for portraiture.

75 and 90 side 1

Like other SL lenses, both are completely weather sealed and feature an AquaDura water-repellent coating on the front element. The optical designs employ aspherical lenses and a floating element to guarantee optimum performance at all distances and at all apertures, across the entire imaging area.


 75 and 90 front 1

16-35mm Zoom and Two More Summicrons

Following the February launch of the the 75 and 90, the hotly anticipated 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Super-Vario-Elmar-SL zoom should start shipping in April. I think it’s safe to say that almost anyone who shoots landscape or interiors will be on the hunt for this one. Then, later this year, we should be seeing another pair of Summicrons – the previously announced 35mm f/2 and a 50mm f/2 APO. The 50 APO was never previously mentioned, and comes as a bit of a surprise given the 50 Summilux-SL, but I’m not opposed to a complete lineup of compact-sized, exceptionally-performing Summicrons at every major focal length.

l1040034-crop

I’m hoping that the following year, in 2019, Leica will start to roll out some wide angle primes and macro lenses to really round out the system. Maybe we’ll get a glimpse during Photokina this coming September. As always, I’ll be on site to bring you the most in-depth Leica coverage available, with interviews, analysis and more.


 The Summicron-SL Lenses

As incredible as the current SL zooms and the 50 Summilux-SL are, this new range of APO-Summicrons look to offer even greater imaging quality. As a nice bonus, this jump in performance will come in the shape of smaller, lighter lenses. One of the most frequent objections about the SL-System is the large size of the SL lenses. The Summicrons are a direct answer to this request. The first four Crons will all share the same lens barrel and the same E67 filter size. This is modeled after the approach that sister company CW Sonderoptic has taken with the Leica Cine lenses.

Prime-Header-2400x840-NEU_teaser-2400x787 copy

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading my interview with Peter Karbe, head of optics for Leica, regarding the new SL lenses:


One of the more interesting points of discussion was that these Summicrons would offer a look more like an f/1.4 lens, rather than that of an f/2. The optical designers were able to achieve this by manipulating the sharpness gradient so that the point of focus is much sharper and the falloff is quicker. Karbe goes into more detail in the interview.

Kontrastberg_teaser-2632x1756 copy

Availability and Pre-Ordering

Priced at $4,750 for the 75mm and $5,150 for the 90mm, the lenses are available for pre-order from Leica Store Miami. You can email at info@leicastoremiami.com, call 305-921-4433, or place an order online by clinking the links below.




Be sure to scroll down for pictures of the lens, as well as sample images produced with the two lenses, and Leica’s full press release.

Images of the 75mm

11178_Leica SL+APO-Summicron-SL_2_75_ASPH_top_RGB   11178_APO_Summicron-SL_2_75_ASPH_front_RGB   11178_Leica SL+APO-Summicron-SL_2_75_ASPH_right_RGB   11178_Leica SL+APO-Summicron-SL_2_75_ASPH_left_RGB

11178_Leica SL+APO-Summicron-SL_2_75_ASPH_front_RGB   11178_APO_Summicron-SL_2_75_ASPH+lenshood_front_RGB   11178_APO_Summicron-SL_2_75_ASPH_top_RGB   11178_APO_Summicron-SL_2_75_ASPH_RGB

Images of the 90mm

11179_APO_Summicron-SL_2_90_ASPH_front_RGB   11179_APO_Summicron-SL_2_90_ASPH_RGB   11179_APO_Summicron-SL_2_90_ASPH_top   11179_APO_Summicron-SL_2_90_ASPH+lenshood_front_RGB

11179_Leica SL+APO-Summicron-SL_2_90_ASPH_front_RGB   11179_Leica SL+APO-Summicron-SL_2_90_ASPH_left_RGB   11179_Leica SL+APO-Summicron-SL_2_90_ASPH_right_RGB   11179_Leica SL+APO-Summicron-SL_2_90_ASPH_top_RGB

MTF Charts

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 9.16.39 AM
75mm Apo Summicron SL

90mm APO-Summicron-SL
90mm Apo Summicron SL



Press Release

Leica Camera is pleased to expand its line of SL lenses with the Leica APO-Summicron-SL 75 mm f/2 ASPH and the Leica APO-Summicron-SL 90 mm f/2 ASPH. These Summicron-SL lenses boast top-level image quality, speed and robust construction – features important in the professional camera segment. These lenses were designed concurrently with the SL camera body, ensuring that the optical and sensor design and the imaging process match perfectly to achieve the highest quality images.

The Leica APO-Summicron-SL 75 mm f/2 ASPH and the Leica APO-Summicron-SL 90 mm f/2 ASPH are made in Germany. Both lenses will be available from February 2018.

The Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35 mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH will be available in April 2018. Leica Camera will expand its line of SL-lenses further with the launch of the Summicron-SL 35 mm f/2 ASPH and a new APO-Summicron-SL 50 mm f/2 ASPH later this year.

The Leica APO-Summicron-SL 75 mm f/2 ASPH offers the following benefits:

  • A versatile focal length which is Ideal in many situations – street photography, portrait, etc.
  • Razor-thin depth of field in combination with exceptional imaging performance
  • Opens up new horizons for photography in the transitional zone between standard and telephoto focal lengths.
  • Minimum focus distance of 0.5 m for tight close-up portraits and higher magnification

The Leica APO-Summicron-SL 90 mm f/2 ASPH offers the following benefits:

  • Fast aperture combined with longer focal length creates an aesthetic rendition of out-of-focus areas that make this telephoto lens ideal for portrait photography.
  • Silent and precise autofocus allows photographers to concentrate on the moment they are capturing without any hesitation.
  • Minimum focus distance of 0.6 m for tight close-up portraits and higher magnification

Both lenses also offer the following unique features:

  • Highest image quality at all apertures with maximum detail transfer and pure color reproduction from the center to the edges over all distances and F-stop settings.
  • The Dual Syncro Drive Precision Autofocus allows the Summicron-SL lenses to focus from infinity to the closest focusing distance with exceptional speed and achieving top performance, features important in the professional camera segment.
  • Two aspherical elements are included in the design to ensure optimum imaging performance across the entire image field.
  • From the closest focusing distance to infinity, optimum imaging performance is ensured due to the floating lens element.
  • Each lens offers a special look synonymous with Leica photography with the shallow depth of field, exceptional imaging performance and the 3D “pop” that separates subjects from the background.
  • Meticulously crafted to the highest quality standards, with a primary focus on high-grade materials and durability, important for professional use.
  • Lens hoods individually matched to prevent light from entering the lens from the sides. A perfectly calculated lens hood is essential for maximum contrast in every lighting situation.
  • Lenses have Leica AquaDura® coating which protects the exposed lens surfaces from dirt and scratching. Seals on the front element, the focusing ring and the bayonet ensure that lenses mounted on the camera are well protected from the elements.

Made in Germany, with a delivery scope that includes: lens hood, lens caps and lens bag.The Leica APO-Summicron-SL 75 mm f/2 ASPH and the Leica APO-Summicron-SL 90 mm f/2 ASPH will be available from February 2018.

For the full article by David Farkas go here



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