Best ever Barnack?
Old 10-22-2019   #1
Dez
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Best ever Barnack?

Here's my candidate for the best ever Barnack-type camera, the Leotax TV2 "Merit". It could be a candidate for best ever Leica screwmount camera but for possibly the plastic fantastic Bessa R and the Leotax G. The first of these lacks vintage creds and the second is in the honest politician rarity category, so I can leave them out of the picture.

Leotax by John Desmond, on Flickr

It has a larger and better VF image than a Leica IIIG, a nice smooth lever wind and rewind, and build quality that is up there with the Leicas. The slow speed mechanism, in my humble opinion, is a lot more robust than the Leitz equivalent.

And just look at it! There was a Yashica in the same time period with an equally good VF, but the camera had been severely beaten with an ugly stick. There were some Nicca cameras with trapdoor backs, which is good, but they lacked the excellent viewfinder. The camera is slightly bigger than the IIIG, in fact it's almost exactly the same size as an M3.

I have the neverready case for it, which has a cool patented pop-apart hinge mechanism I have never seen elsewhere. The 1.4 Nikkor was supplied on very few of these, and it took me something like four years of searching to find the lens cap!

Cheers,
Dez
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Old 10-22-2019   #2
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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In the course of selling a variety of cameras from a collection I had occasion to shoot with several Leicas, notably a IIIf and IIIg. Both excellent cameras. But there was a Reid III in need of some TLC. My brief didn't really extend to repairing items before sale, but it was so lovely I ended up spending way more time on it than I anticipated, and it was the only one I really was smitten by (although I thought the Summitar belonging to the IIIf was an outstanding lens). The standard Taylor-Hobson lens of the Reid is a beautifully made and sharp 2 inch f/2 Anastigmat with delightful background out of focus rendition, and the quality of the Reid and Sigrist finish was beyond reproach. It gets my vote as best screw mount RF.
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Old 10-23-2019   #3
haempe
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Another candidate is for sure the Tower 45 (or 46) aka Nicca 5L.



Main point here is the very comfortable film loading because of the rear flap.



You do not even have to trim the film leader.

VF/RF is at least better than with my Leica III.

Cheers, -h
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Old 10-23-2019   #4
David Hughes
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Surely the classic and best Barnack is the early 30's model II ?

But I think this thread is about Barnack based and that's not quite the same, is it?


Regards David
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Old 10-23-2019   #5
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I view the Leica Standard as the purest of all Barnack cameras. It is a pleasure to use it.
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Old 10-23-2019   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Surely the classic and best Barnack is the early 30's model II ?

Regards David
I feel the same way - even though it lacks the bells and whistles of the 1950s LTM derivatives, which are shown above.
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Old 10-23-2019   #7
Richard G
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Very interesting. Thanks.
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Old 10-23-2019   #8
Timmyjoe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Surely the classic and best Barnack is the early 30's model II ?

Regards David
David, I would love to hear why you think this is so.

Best,
-Tim
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Old 10-23-2019   #9
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I’d say the very Newest Barnack is the best of the lot. That’s the 2004 second version of the Leica Null Series Replica. The advantage of the second version is it has a “normal” finder, much like a Leica A and Standard. The lens is Sweet modern ”recomputation of tge Elmar (4 element Anastigmat). Just an absolute Gem of an image maker!!
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Old 10-23-2019   #10
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Back in the mid ‘70s my Wife and I were out to buy a Leica (my First!) at a little hole in the wall camera shop in Philadelphia. Choices: two....a IIIc with Summar, and IIIf with Elmar. My wife said, pointing to the IIIc “I like this one. The other one looks like it’s giving you the Finger”. I bought the IIIc, never missed the self timer!
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Old 10-23-2019   #11
David Hughes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmyjoe View Post
David, I would love to hear why you think this is so.

Best,
-Tim

Hmmm, it has a lot to do with how I use a camera. I saw a model II for sale at a price I could afford in the early 60's and 20 or 30 years later realised that its specification was what I used in reality. I guess it's like the gears on a bicycle in that you never use the extremes. That was about the time I bought the CL: more or less a Barnack but with C/W TTL metering. (Just realised that's several decades of film photography covered with just two cameras. OTOH, the SLR and tiny little pocket camera were useful.)

So compact, simple and straight forward would cover it and the lenses were pretty good in the 30's, a lot of us are still using the Elmar and Summitar and even the Summar. What more could you want?

Regards, David

Last edited by David Hughes : 10-23-2019 at 08:59. Reason: Edited to avoid difficult spelling...
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Old 10-23-2019   #12
xayraa33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Surely the classic and best Barnack is the early 30's model II ?

But I think this thread is about Barnack based and that's not quite the same, is it?


Regards David
I sort of agree with you on this one, I might go for the III model, still svelte, still Oskar Barnack , I like the slow speeds and the strap lugs and the 1.5x mag on the RF on this one while remaining kinda pure in design.
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Old 10-23-2019   #13
hilltime
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I like the Leotax FV over the "Merit" simply because of the 1/1000 sec top shutter speed.
Basically the same camera...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Leotax FV.jpg (32.3 KB, 29 views)
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Old 10-23-2019   #14
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The later clones like the above are super nice, but I'm a big fan of the tiny IIIc.

Sure, the viewfinder is tiny, too, but you get the best of both worlds by adding an SBOOI...big view when you need it, but on those occasions when you want something to just slip into the pocket, you can have that, too.
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Old 10-23-2019   #15
bennyng
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hilltime View Post
I like the Leotax FV over the "Merit" simply because of the 1/1000 sec top shutter speed.
Basically the same camera...
I too, enjoy the FV very much. It's always tough to choose between this and the Nicca 5L (or it's Tower equivalent). However, I do feel that the Canon IVSB2 sits up there with these guys.


Leotax FV with Chiyoko Super Rokkor 45mm f/2.8 LTM
by benny ng, on Flickr
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Old 10-23-2019   #16
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I'm getting GAS looking at these beauties.
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Old 10-23-2019   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennyng View Post
I too, enjoy the FV very much. It's always tough to choose between this and the Nicca 5L (or it's Tower equivalent). However, I do feel that the Canon IVSB2 sits up there with these guys.
I have a Canon IVsbn and a Tower too, but I like the most my Leica Standard.
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Old 10-23-2019   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennyng View Post
I too, enjoy the FV very much. It's always tough to choose between this and the Nicca 5L (or it's Tower equivalent). However, I do feel that the Canon IVSB2 sits up there with these guys.

Leotax FV with Chiyoko Super Rokkor 45mm f/2.8 LTM by benny ng, on Flickr

Now THAT's a lens we don't see every day!


I have one myself though... I should shoot it on my Canon some time (my only LTM camera with film in it right now).
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Old 10-23-2019   #19
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Not sure if it will qualify as as Barnack (since it is not a LTM but M) but I think Bessa T as a modern version of the Standard/I, since it lack a viewfinder. Nonetheless, is is really compact camera, with an added light meter.

Marcelo
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Old 10-23-2019   #20
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Back in the last century, Ed Romney who wrote some camera repair manuals thought the Leotax and Honor were the best Barnack copies. For usability I like Canon IVsb2 offset finder for less lens intrusion in the view and the Tower 45/46 (Nicca) for the lever wind and opening back.
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Old 10-23-2019   #21
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All my Barnacks are fun to use buy I am very fond of the early models. This includes my Leica Standard and Leica II because they are so compact and simple to use, but I also enjoy working with the reproduction of the Leica Null.
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Old 10-23-2019   #22
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Although wedded to Leica I did like that Yashica ltm camera whatever it was called.
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Old 10-23-2019   #23
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Quote:
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Although wedded to Leica I did like that Yashica ltm camera whatever it was called.
The Yashica YF and the YE

Both Nicca products but Yashica had bought out Nicca in the late 1950s...mainly for their focal plane shutter making expertise.
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Old 10-23-2019   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hilltime View Post
I like the Leotax FV over the "Merit" simply because of the 1/1000 sec top shutter speed.
Basically the same camera...

That's an interesting viewfinder on your Leotax. What is it?
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Old 10-23-2019   #25
markjwyatt
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"Best ever Barnack?"

The one in your hands.
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Old 11-07-2019   #26
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Haven't tried a Leotax, but I have a Canon IVSB and a Tower 46 that are both good. Had a few other exotics, but those I kept.
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Old 11-07-2019   #27
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I prefer the Leica III black/nickel. I like black painted cameras, that is one point, but the other point is the enlarged rangefinder (compared to the Leica II). The image of the rangefinder of the Leica II is life size, but that of the Leica III is larger and therefore more precise and much easier to use.

Erik.


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