State-of-the-art digital Camera meets vintage 50mm lens.
Personal note: I was never much a photographer when I once saw a vintage Leica M3 in a camera shop’s window. To me it was the classic design of how a photo camera should look like. When I got my hands on it I was hooked and happily paid the just below € 500 for this vintage beauty. Adding a few ilford b/w film rolls and the Kodak Portra 160 I re-learned the joy of anticipation: Shoot, bring to lab, wait a week, return to lab, CD into the MacBook and finally, after turning most of them 90° I was able to see what I did a few weeks earlier. The Leica M3 taught me the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and photosensitivity and –patience. With the Leica T, now Leica TL2 and an M-adapter it is possible to mount vintage M-lenses to the body of a state-of-the-art digital camera.
The Product. The Leica TL2 is a solid, rather heavy bloc of aluminum, which really feels good. Especially once a lens is mounted, which then provides additional grip and therefore a safer feeling carrying the very slick and plain TL2. Our plan was to find out if a 50mm Sumicrom, built supposedly in the 1960ies or 70ies fits and delivers. For this the M-adapter is needed. Once all parts are together the feeling is quite … how shall we say? – “manly”. It is heavy, it is metal, it is cold and it looks like it actually belonged to each other, the new Leica Camera and the old Leitz Summicron 50ies lens.
The result? Shooting with the Leica TL2 and the analogue lens is a very slow affair. One should really consider this when taking the Leica out. In bright daylight the touch-screen display, –which is otherwise big, clear and handy– is a pleasure-less affair. What you do find out: Your ability to manually adjust distance and aperture and see the immediate result (and keep the good ones).
The Brand. Leica Camera. 1913: Oscar Barnack was Ernst Leitz restless engineer and responsible for the development of the first 35mm photographic camera. The mountains and taking pictures in and of them played a key role in the development of the first 35mm and therefore the first compact and light camera, the Ur-Leica. 1924/1925: a small series of the Leica I, a development of the Ur-Leica, were given to photographers to experience and feedback. The product became a bestseller. It was again produced after the Second World War as Leica II and III and re-placed by the revolutionary M-series in 1958.
M stands for “Messsucher”, the range finder. “3” stood for three different lenses that would fit: a 35 mm, a 50 mm and a 75mm. The combination of the directness of the range finder, the precise adjustments and the superior M-objectives became the basis for Leica’s fame today –one might think. No, it was what they enabled talented photographers to do. Take pictures, fast and reliable. And those became the iconic pictures that entered our collective historic mind. Think Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa or Elliot Erwitt. Think Marylyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, the Kennedys, the Vietnam war.