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Playing with a CL

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Alan just asked me to run a test film through a camera Liam had given him to look at.

leica cl

The little Leica rangefinder

I’ve never used a Leica CL before, or touched one come to that. I’m sure you can find out all you need to know about it through the application of a little Google, but from what I see it’s a smaller 35mm rangefinder than the Leica M series which is my usual axe, but takes the same lenses. And has an internal light meter, which no M had at the time this was made in the mid-70s.

Since I rarely use anything other than my trusty M6 or M7 other cameras always feel a bit weird, but I’ve just shot the test roll and I kind of like this little gadget. It feels good, if a little small. The rangefinder on this one is a little off and I’m not sure about the accuracy of the meter, but the shutter feels lovely. It has the old single-throw film winding crank though, which is a pain.

Leica M7 baseplate game

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Forgive me if this post is a little on the Leica techie side. I’m not really that much of a Leica nut (although I use them all the time), but it occurred to me that this story might prove useful to someone else. Don’t worry about the swearing and the dark incantations and the vengeful gods of photography. I called them off.

I sent my M7 back to Leica HQ in Solms when it repeatedly jammed while loading film with the motor attached. They sorted this problem out promptly and efficiently, and for free, and sent me a little black washer with the returned camera. There was a note attached saying this was a modification that should be done to the baseplate – which I hadn’t sent with the camera (the winder was attached) – and that it should be self explanatory.

Now I pride myself on being a pretty practical sort of chap, I think you have to be when you work on your own, so without too much fear I got the screwdrivers out. The washer looked the same as an item on the winder that had appeared during its visit to Solms, so I guessed the spare washer was to be used on the baseplate in the same position, and that if Solms had sent it to me without instructions they must be happy for me to fit it, and that it would be uncomplicated to do so.

On the internal side of the baseplate, at the end with the twisting latch that holds the baseplate closed, there is a little cross-headed screw on top of the latch mechanism. On the recently returned winder there was a washer under this screw. All I had to do was undo the screw on the baseplate, place new washer over the hole, and replace the screw. A few twists of the screwdriver and the job was done. Or so I thought.

Since I was using the M7 with the winder the modified baseplate sat around for months, unused. Yesterday I needed the camera in a more lightweight form, so I swapped the winder for the baseplate. The plate was lose when fitted. Problem.

I the end, after considerable head-scratching, extensive use of expletives and much muttering of dark incantations intended to bring down the wrath of all photographic gods on whoever was responsible for such a clearly dumb device, it turned out that the twisting latch had a square hole in the centre, which had to fit over the square spigot coming through the plate from the catch on the outside. Now, in the nature of a square, this had four sides, which meant the latch could be fitted in any one of four positions. You have to find the right one otherwise the latch doesn’t close properly.

Once you realise that it’s not too difficult to figure that puzzle out, but in case you need help, here’s a tip. With the outside catch in the closed position, the gap on the inside twisting latch should face the end of the baseplate. All clear? Jolly good. Now put a film in and take some pictures.

The things you see when you don’t have a camera

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

It’s always the same. I’m out on some errand – in this case getting another piece of official paper from the Spanish state, without which I didn’t really exist (not really) – and I’m presented with such a smorgasbord of photographic opportunities that I could fill a book. If only I had a camera. Which I didn’t.

It was Benidorm this morning – old folks, sent by the state to fill up the gazillions of empty wintertime hotel rooms in “Spain’s Las Vegas”, were out and about in all their wondrous variety. And the bloody light was perfect. And my camera was sitting on a shelf at home.

It’s all because I’ve been getting a little strung-out recently about this residency paperwork. My mind was a long way from taking pictures. A good sign, though, that the first thing that came to mind once the paperwork had been sorted was “why haven’t I got a camera with me?” Maybe I’ll go back tomorrow, or at least soon.

Leica’s new product literature

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Just received the latest Leica marketing publication “The Future of Memories” (or “El Futuro de la Memoria” actually – it’s the Spanish version) through the post this morning. Page 23 concerns the M7 and there’s an annotated picture of the front of the camera.
But what’s this? The annotation entitled “Creative Flash” points straight at… what? The hot shoe? An external flash? None of the above. It points to the ribbed “bright lines” window!
Now I have met people, who know no better, who believe, on fist inspection, that this window probably is a built-in flash, but this is a Leica produced document! With the Solms address on the back!
What the hell’s going on? Can we believe anything we read in these things? I trust the advertising agency have been fired, or at the very least a few heads have rolled.
It’s okay though – I’ve stopped laughing now.