The Summicron 35mm from Henri Cartier-Bresson
Old 05-18-2017   #1
Erik van Straten
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The Summicron 35mm from Henri Cartier-Bresson

Not long ago this lens was auctioned by WestLicht in Vienna, the 35mm Summicron that was owned by Henri Cartier-Bresson.



I remembered seeing a picture of him using a 35mm lens in the June 1980 issue of "fotografare", an Italian photo magazine from the 1980's. This picture was made in 1971 by Enzo Viaggio, an Italian photographer. I think it is the same lens.

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Old 05-18-2017   #2
Huss
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Interesting that it is tabbed and has (possibly) an infinity lock.
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Old 05-18-2017   #3
Erik van Straten
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Yes, it has a customized infinity lock, that is a well known fact. You can see it on the Viaggio picture too. What would be the advantage of such an infinity lock?

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Old 05-18-2017   #4
Scrambler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Interesting that it is tabbed and has (possibly) an infinity lock.
If you look at HCB photos he adapted lenses for his style of use. I think the tab is just attached not infinity locked. There is a red triangle painted at the distance marker. I've seen photos with distance spans painted on the lens. These were tools, adapted to his style of use. Why change his habits when he could change the focus tab?
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Old 05-18-2017   #5
Scrambler
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The purpose of the tab would be to retain the same tactile function he had used since the 1930s. Keep the same neurons in the game.
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Old 05-18-2017   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
What would be the advantage of such an infinity lock?
Perhaps he was just used to holding that (as opposed to the typical 35mm tab) on his 50mm?
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Old 05-18-2017   #7
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Yes, that's a very plausible statement, Scrambler. Thank you!

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Old 05-18-2017   #8
Huss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Yes, it has a customized infinity lock, that is a well known fact. You can see it on the Viaggio picture too. What would be the advantage of such an infinity lock?

Erik.
Perhaps that was from his 'sharpness is a bourgeois concept' phase?


(I'm guessing so he can use it like any fixed focus camera, and assume that anything from 12ft to infinity would be sharp enough at f11, without worrying that it may be knocked off infinity for grab shots)

p.s. the reasons posted above make much more sense!
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Old 05-19-2017   #9
Michiel Fokkema
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So, he actually DID use other lenses then just the famous 50mm :-)
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Old 05-19-2017   #10
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Wonder what body and Vf he would use this on..
Did I read somewhere he had an adapted M4 with M3 Vf... so I guess his preference was not 35mm lines
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Old 05-19-2017   #11
bucs
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He would have been happy using focusing tabs from early CV wide angle lenses
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Old 05-19-2017   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodt16s View Post
Wonder what body and Vf he would use this on..
Did I read somewhere he had an adapted M4 with M3 Vf... so I guess his preference was not 35mm lines

He also used a Contax T3 later in his life. That was 38mm I think.
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Old 05-19-2017   #13
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^There are pictures of HCB with a CL w/ a 40/2 and, later in life, with a black Minilux. I don't think he ever used a T3 (which has a 35/2.8 lens), though there is a story that the original Contax T (with a 38/2.8) was very popular with Magnum members.
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Old 05-19-2017   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
...What would be the advantage of such an infinity lock?...
I read somewhere that the infinity lock on the new Summaron-M f/5.6 28mm lens is there to facilitate lens changing: you place your thumb of the infinity lock to make it easier to turn the lens to the click position of the bayonet mount. When I first read that I thought that this would have been useful on my Summicron-35v4, whose front element easily become loose if you grasp the lens by the rectangular plastic hood that comes with it. I wonder whether this ease of lens change factor was not the reason for HCB wanting the infinity lock?
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Old 05-19-2017   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michiel Fokkema View Post
So, he actually DID use other lenses then just the famous 50mm :-)
No! Never! I read on an internet forum that HCB only ever used a 50mm lens.

Leica also modified the internals so it is a 50mm lens, it was just housed in a 35mm summicron casing to sell more 35mm lenses - they're more expensive you know, and if HCB used one then everyone will need one
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Old 05-19-2017   #16
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I totally understand HCB. Ft are useless.
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Old 05-19-2017   #17
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I agree Ko.Fe. - those feet markings are so English-speaking. Not as good as the French Metric system.
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Old 05-19-2017   #18
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodt16s View Post
Did I read somewhere he had an adapted M4 with M3 Vf... so I guess his preference was not 35mm lines
I've read that too. The camera he uses on the picture by Viaggio looks a bit like an M4. Maybe he had two M4 bodies, one with an M3 finder and one with an M4 or M2 finder. For this 35mm Summicron he needed 35mm frames I would say. The rapid return lever of the M4 was of course a godsend.

I've seen older pictures of him with a black M3 with a 35mm finder mounted.

The lenses he used from the fifties onwards AFAIK: Summicron 50mm f/2 collapsible, Noctilux 50mm f/1.2 and Summicron 35mm f/2.

Erik.
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Old 05-19-2017   #19
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A write up by the Late Ernst Haas, indicated that as time went by,
HCB used the 35mm more than the 50mm.
I bought a "modified" lens from a Magnum Photographer.
Ian Berry had a Pentax Takumar 200mm f3,5 made to fit his Nikon-F.
It was 1/2 stop faster than the Nikon 200mm.
When the fastest Color slide film was 160 ASA, i/2 was important.
I told this story to DAH and Bruno Barbey while they were in Toronto.
The lens came with a small tin of "Magic powder"
that a small amount on the lens made those winners!
Bruno caught me out.
"Do you have some to spare of the powder?"
Oh! My pre-set heavy, i mean heavy 200mm was sharper and better colors than my 200 Telyt.
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