Going by how much internet reviewers seem obsessed with the speed Kings of today, the little Elmar f2.8/50 seldom seems to get a look in. With its lowly f2.8 aperture it can’t deliver the restricted DoF and bokeh so beloved by those shooting f/1 lenses wide open at the height of the noonday sun. No, this is a general purpose lens for photographers.
It is a development from the original famed Elmar f3.5/50 released at the same time as the first production Leica in 1925, and which was arguably the first lens designed specifically for 35mm photography. The reputation of this lens and the camera helped seal the Leica’s fame, and it wasn’t really challenged until 1936 when Zeiss released the great Contax II with its superb Sonnar lenses.
The Elmar is a relatively straightforward design comprising of 4 elements in 3 groups, but Leitz chose to place the aperture blades directly behind the front element. All 50mm and the older 35mm Elmars were available only in collapsible bodies, and this is despite being in bayonet mount for the M3, as well a Leica screw.
As one would expect from Leitz, it is beautifully crafted and the only negative in use that I find is setting the aperture. Unlike solid body Leitz lenses, the Elmar rotates when it is being focused as it is not front cell, so setting the somewhat firm click stopped aperture ring is a two-handed exercise.
The five images here are selected from a Ferrari Owners’ Club Meeting many years ago to which the public had access. With Ferrari, there are so many beautiful cars that selecting just five was proving difficult. But how many cars are just as beautiful viewed from the rear as the front, as in the final image?
Looking back, I’d hate to think what the total value on display was. What made the event unique is that unlike many motor museums I’ve visited over the years where the cars are roped off, here one had unrestricted access to photograph the cars at one’s will.
A note on the scans
A Canon 9950F flatbed was set at 2820dpi for all the scans. For some reason, this film proved more problematic than any other. Usually, I have no colour shift issues using the Canon’s own driver software, but with this film the scans came out consistently with a slight yellowish/greenish tinge. The colour mask on this film is darker than anything else I’ve used, so I’m guessing it lies outside the Canon’s film profiling. Other than adjusting white balance, only the necessary amount of sharpening has been applied.
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