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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Rangefinder camera prices 1963
Old 03-04-2017   #1
Roger Hicks
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Rangefinder camera prices 1963

Nowadays, people tend to regard old Zorkiis, Kievs and Feds as much of a muchness, but when they were new, the differences were much more marked. This piece reproduces (and comments on) a few pages from the Wallace Heaton Blue Book of 1963-64, including the often overlooked Werra, and compares them all with Canon (with the 50/0.95) and Leica.

I find it hard to believe that this is more than 50 years ago.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-04-2017   #2
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Wow! Thank You Roger. Now where did I park my Tardis? Joe
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Old 03-04-2017   #3
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Great read. Thank you!
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Progress?
Old 03-04-2017   #4
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Progress?

Wallace Heaton refers to their cameras and lenses as (optical) instruments.
Today we can go online and purchase musical instruments from B&H Photo.

Chris
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Old 03-04-2017   #5
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I know the name is long gone, but I was thinking of Wallace Heaton while reading the thread, "Support your local camera store".
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Old 03-04-2017   #6
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Interesting, I think a Nikkorrex F with a f.2.0 lens sold in the USA (1964) for $200. Lets see what is 15 time $200?
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Old 03-04-2017   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radi(c)al_cam View Post
Thank you, dear Roger

May I add:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_i...United_Kingdom


Re WERRA: Wasn't the fastest shutter speed 1/750?
Dear Alexander,

You are of course quite right. There's even a picture of it in my Shutterbug piece. I had conflated it with Kodak's 1/800 second leaf shutter. Both were improbably fast; both (as far as I recall) used rotating instead of reciprocating blades; and neither was usually all that close to the marked speed, at least after a few years. I suspect the 1/800 was just to outgun the Filthy Commies with their 1/750.

I've changed it in the article.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-04-2017   #8
Peter Jennings
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I find the price comparison of the M3/2 and the Canon 7 very interesting. Then, they were almost equal. Today, you can pick up a Canon in excellent condition little more than a hundred bucks. The Leicas will be at least 5 times as much. Due to this, I do not (yet) have a Leica, but I do have a very nice Canon 7. Excellent camera! Their current prices do not reflect their quality.
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Old 03-04-2017   #9
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If it helps, I paid $249, which was full price, for my new 1961 M2. I bought it in Las Vegas, where I lived at the time, and there was no sales tax! I saved for several months, bought the body; then saved some more and bought my 35/2.8 Summaron. A few months later, I bought my 90 Elmarit ($174). I still have them!
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Old 03-04-2017   #10
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Thanks for that Roger. I always find it interesting to get an idea of what sort of sacrifices aspiring purchasers of some of the cameras I've acquired for a few dollars might have had to make, back in the day, to own them.

Wallace Heaton's Royal Warrants are an interesting historical footnote. The Queen's use of a Leica is well documented but perhaps not as well remembered, today, is that Prince Philip was, if anything more keenly interested in photography. In 1962 he authored a book Seabirds in Southern Waters (aka Birds From Britannia), which featured images made by him at sea using a Minox and a Hasselblad. I don't have the book myself, yet, (though I have a reasonable copy of it on its way to me, for 8 quid posted) but I have seen a reference to a 250mm f/4 lens being used by him. The equivalent 250mm for the then-current 500C, the 250mm Sonnar, has a f/5.6 maximum aperture, not f/4, so I suspect he might have used a 1600F or 1000F, purchased from Wallace Heaton, perhaps? The technical challenges involved in imaging birds, at sea, focusing manually, within the limitations of available films and their speed ratings during the period would have been substantial I suspect. More details about the book from this discussion at the recently "improved" photonet site.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 03-05-2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jennings View Post
I find the price comparison of the M3/2 and the Canon 7 very interesting. Then, they were almost equal. Today, you can pick up a Canon in excellent condition little more than a hundred bucks. The Leicas will be at least 5 times as much. Due to this, I do not (yet) have a Leica, but I do have a very nice Canon 7. Excellent camera! Their current prices do not reflect their quality.
Dear Peter,

On the other hand, the Ms are probably more easily reparable. But I take your point.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-05-2017   #12
Roger Hicks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarcophilus Harrisii View Post
Thanks for that Roger. I always find it interesting to get an idea of what sort of sacrifices aspiring purchasers of some of the cameras I've acquired for a few dollars might have had to make, back in the day, to own them.

Wallace Heaton's Royal Warrants are an interesting historical footnote. The Queen's use of a Leica is well documented but perhaps not as well remembered, today, is that Prince Philip was, if anything more keenly interested in photography. In 1962 he authored a book Seabirds in Southern Waters (aka Birds From Britannia), which featured images made by him at sea using a Minox and a Hasselblad. I don't have the book myself, yet, (though I have a reasonable copy of it on its way to me, for 8 quid posted) but I have seen a reference to a 250mm f/4 lens being used by him. The equivalent 250mm for the then-current 500C, the 250mm Sonnar, has a f/5.6 maximum aperture, not f/4, so I suspect he might have used a 1600F or 1000F, purchased from Wallace Heaton, perhaps? The technical challenges involved in imaging birds, at sea, focusing manually, within the limitations of available films and their speed ratings during the period would have been substantial I suspect. More details about the book from this discussion at the recently "improved" photonet site.
Cheers,
Brett
Dear Brett,

Alas, there were no Alpas in the catalogue. I looked!

From 1964-1966 my father was the Electrical Officer on the Royal Yacht. He never worked out why, as he was a steam engineer by training. We put it down to clean living.

Anyway, at that time, Phil the Greek was coming aboard one day and a wave splashed up and filled his Hasselblad with seawater. He passed it to my father (as an engineer who'd come up from the lower deck, and actually understood practical engineering) to see if he knew anyone who could fix it. My father said that when he put it to his ear he could hear the fizzing noise as the various alloys reacted in the electrolyte provided by Neptune. It was not reparable... I don't know which model it was but I think it was a 500C.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-05-2017   #13
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The Werras also came with western shutters (Synchro Compur). Ecellent, simple design. The various settings would not be visible until the sunshade was taken off. A closed Minox 35mm comes close. in the clutterl-free league.

p.
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Old 03-05-2017   #14
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Just dug out my #30 Leica catalog from 1966.

Leica M3 body $288

with 50 2.0 is 438

with dual range $477

with 1.4 $486

with 50 2.8 $357

Original Leica flex $384

with 50 2.0 549

35 2.8 $298
90 2.8 $228
135 $264

It appears there was a big difference in pound and dollar then. So at least we can see pricing in US dollars
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Old 03-05-2017   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald M View Post
Just dug out my #30 Leica catalog from 1966.

Leica M3 body $288

with 50 2.0 is 438

with dual range $477

with 1.4 $486

with 50 2.8 $357

Original Leica flex $384

with 50 2.0 549

35 2.8 $298
90 2.8 $228
135 $264

It appears there was a big difference in pound and dollar then. So at least we can see pricing in US dollars
Dear Ronald,

Taxes. UK taxes were high, but at least were honestly quoted as part of the price. US taxes were higher, but dishonestly ignored.

Also differences in exchange rates. The pound is now worth less than 1/3 of its 1940s value against the dollar, and about half its 1960s value.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-05-2017   #16
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Thanks for the article.

Brings back fond memories.
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Old 03-05-2017   #17
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Amusingly inflammatory but also misleading. There is and was no nationwide sales tax in the US, there are some state sales taxes but most sales taxes are municipal, which means tens of thousands of different taxing jurisdictions, each with different rates. So a manufacturer's catalog, unless it were to rival a phone book in and size scintillating legibility, couldn't possibly quote an accurate post-tax price. And it was, I think, unheard of to collect taxes on mail order purchases at the time so even a retail shop's catalog couldn't have done so.

And I'd like to think at last once someone returning a Fed to Wallace Heaton's because of defects was told "We test to ensure that it conforms with the manufacturer's standard of perfection. This is a Fed, mate."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Dear Ronald,

Taxes. UK taxes were high, but at least were honestly quoted as part of the price. US taxes were higher, but dishonestly ignored.

Also differences in exchange rates. The pound is now worth less than 1/3 of its 1940s value against the dollar, and about half its 1960s value.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-05-2017   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHutchins View Post
Amusingly inflammatory but also misleading. There is and was no nationwide sales tax in the US, there are some state sales taxes but most sales taxes are municipal, which means tens of thousands of different taxing jurisdictions, each with different rates. So a manufacturer's catalog, unless it were to rival a phone book in and size scintillating legibility, couldn't possibly quote an accurate post-tax price. And it was, I think, unheard of to collect taxes on mail order purchases at the time so even a retail shop's catalog couldn't have done so.

And I'd like to think at last once someone returning a Fed to Wallace Heaton's because of defects was told "We test to ensure that it conforms with the manufacturer's standard of perfection. This is a Fed, mate."
I've seen a number of references to camera prices including "Federal Tax" in issues of Eg Modern Photography from the 1950s. Were there any excise or duties applicable to camera equipment? I'm not very familiar with US taxation regimes, but there were other types of imposts apart from sales tax in various countries after WWII.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 03-05-2017   #19
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Great find, Roger. Thanks for sharing.

!964 found me still at the Chicago Sun-Times. I turned down military surplus M2 for $150, in favor of a Nikon F with a pair of

lenses for the same sum. We were on our way to Florida (ended up accepting the offer from the Miami Herald) and the 200 mm

lens was the deal maker. Still have the F and the Ansanuma lens, while I've gone through four Leicas.
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Old 03-06-2017   #20
Roger Hicks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHutchins View Post
Amusingly inflammatory but also misleading. There is and was no nationwide sales tax in the US, there are some state sales taxes but most sales taxes are municipal, which means tens of thousands of different taxing jurisdictions, each with different rates. So a manufacturer's catalog, unless it were to rival a phone book in and size scintillating legibility, couldn't possibly quote an accurate post-tax price. And it was, I think, unheard of to collect taxes on mail order purchases at the time so even a retail shop's catalog couldn't have done so.
Fair enough. But it's always a nasty shock to non-Americans to have taxes added AFTER ordering something. Especially when buying in a shop, i.e. not mail order.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-12-2017   #21
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I was interested in the Wallace Heaton promise to test all equipment themselves before offering them for sale. This kind of thing would have people whining on the internet now that their camera arrived with 100 actuations on, only 99900 or so to go.
Some manufacturers like Sony seal their cameras I believe. Personally I would prefer to be able to inspect the goods in the shop to at least be assured that I didn't get something dead-on-arrival.
I'm curious at what inflation index is being used, since the price of accommodation has risen almost astronomically yet technological goods seem cheaper than they have ever been. Even judging inflation by the price of bread and butter is tricky; it seems to have increased 100% in the past ten years.
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Old 03-18-2017   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Fair enough. But it's always a nasty shock to non-Americans to have taxes added AFTER ordering something. Especially when buying in a shop, i.e. not mail order.

Cheers,

R.
You can usually receive a refund on large ticket items like a $7000 Leica by filing form AU-11 in NY state. But be warned there is no guarantee, and each state is different.

Ship to your home? You may get hit at home with tax.

"As soon as you buy a product from a non-EU country, then effectively you become an importer and become liable to Customs and Excise Duty as well as Value Added Tax (VAT) payments. If the terms of sale do not specify another arrangement, the goods would normally be held by the Customs Authority at entry, pending the payment of duty and tax."

Carry the camera without the box, ship the box? Well maybe, but I have had boxes stopped in Canada -- with the question "where is the camera?"
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Old 03-20-2017   #23
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Originally Posted by nikonhswebmaster View Post
You can usually receive a refund on large ticket items like a $7000 Leica by filing form AU-11 in NY state. But be warned there is no guarantee, and each state is different.

Ship to your home? You may get hit at home with tax.

"As soon as you buy a product from a non-EU country, then effectively you become an importer and become liable to Customs and Excise Duty as well as Value Added Tax (VAT) payments. If the terms of sale do not specify another arrangement, the goods would normally be held by the Customs Authority at entry, pending the payment of duty and tax."

Carry the camera without the box, ship the box? Well maybe, but I have had boxes stopped in Canada -- with the question "where is the camera?"
Highlight: well, yes.

In the EU, prices are almost invariably quoted with tax, though sometimes they are quoted without tax as well. For example I just bought some thymol crystals and the price was quoted as 10 tax paid, 8.33 before VAT. I've always been slightly puzzled that mail-order companies in the US are not required to collect sales tax at the point of sale. If the multiple countries of the EU can do it, why can't the multiple states of the US?

Presumably, because you could rely on some to cheat, and others (not necessarily those cheated or even cheating) to howl "It's not fair".

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-20-2017   #24
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Going off on a rangefinder tangent, the Reid with an f2 lens was 126 (inc 36 purchase tax) in 1956.

Does anyone have a UK price for a new Leica IIIf with, I suppose, a Summicron for that year?

I remember Reids used to figure in the WH catalogue.
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