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  Saturday  December 10  2005    12: 22 AM

35mm kit

I've been working this past year on building a photography kit on a very small budget. It's now complete bodywise. It consists of 35mm, medium format, and large format rangefinders and SLRs and one view camera. This is my 35mm kit.

A FED2, Leica IIIc, and my "new" Pentax H1a.

I started out the year with a medium format Mamiya Universal and wanted something smaller — a street shooter. The Leica IIIc (1949) was given to me by my grandfather years ago and needed new shutter curtains, which I couldn't afford. I found the little FED2s which was based on an ancestor of my Leica — the Leica II. At one time I thought I would have two or three FED2 bodies but then found out that I could get my Leica rebuilt in Russia for relatively little — $60 at Oleg's. So I did and it's a sweet shooter. The lens that was on the Leica is still waiting for it's resurrection but the Russian (actually Former Soviet Union since most were built in Ukraine) lens are fantastic and cheap. This is the 35/2.8 Jupiter 12. The Leica IIIc only has a built in finder for 50mm lenses so all other lenses require an additional finder. That's a Japanese Swallow 35mm finder. I've always been a normal lens kind of guy but I find the J12 on the Leica most of the time.

This is a Soviet 50/2 Jupiter 8. Wonderfully sharp and contrasty. It's hard to ask for more and I paid $35 for this minty example.

How many 50s do you need? This is the Industar 50, another Soviet gem. It's a clone of the Leitz Elmar 50/3.5. A little slow at f3.5 but it makes a very compact package when collapsed. I really haven't shot much with this lens yet but it's supposed to be pretty sharp. I got it for $17. It just looks so nice on the Leica. They were made for each other.

With the Leica and Pentax the Fed 2 is almost not needed but I love the little FED 2. This is the 85/2 Jupiter 9. I paid $27 for the body and I traded the J9 for $14 worth of film. It's a little stiff and needs a CLA ($34 at Oleg's). The FED2 has been working great but a CLA at Oleg's would smooth it out. I still need to adjust the rangefinder arm for close focus to dial it in for this body. It's easy to do.

I hadn't planned on an SLR. I've always gravitated to rangefinders but I had been casting glances at the Pentax screw mount cameras and others with that mount. Lots of great and inexpensive lenses in the M42 screw mount such as the Pentax Super Takumars. The SLR does work better for those closeup shots and longer lenses. I traded this one for a camera wrist strap. He was giving it away for shipping and took the strap instead. It's the end of the line for the first Pentax series of SLRs, made in the mid 1960s. These made way for the Spotmatic. The H1a is meterless, which suits me fine since every other camera I use is also meterless. The camera has a dent on top which cracked the pentaprism. He included a new pentaprism. It's almost like new. This is an almost new 55/2 Super Takumar. A great lens. I will need to put some new seals in it and maybe some new leather. The old covering is starting to come loose a bit. Otherwise it's working great. Still have the first test roll in it.

It also came with a 35/3.5 Super Takumar. It's been used but should be good.

Still sorting it all out. I probably have all the lenses I will get for the Leica and FED. I can see a long lens and some wider lenses for the Pentax. I will have posts on my medium and large format cameras when I can get the pictures taken.