Leica Screw Mount Conversions - Show Yours
Old 02-03-2008   #1
CameraQuest
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Leica Screw Mount Conversions - Show Yours

from the 1930's to the 70's or so, the Leica factory offered "upgrades" from older to new Leica screw mount models.

Show Yours!

Stephen
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Old 05-07-2008   #2
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I will show off some conversions just as soon as I have managed to sort my PC, which still thinks this site is still under construction.

I can offer two different sorts of black IIIa, a so called 'white dial' II and III, a decidedly unofficial black IIIc and some variations on the original I theme.

My quest is for a black IIIb which is theoretically possible but I have yet to see one that I believe came from the factory. Has anyone got one?

Michael
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Old 05-07-2008   #3
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Hmmmmm Black IIIb..........

I would say they are quite rare, I`ve seen Leica II or III black to IIIa, but for them to change the top to a IIIb top on a black camera?

.......that`s just like a "wartime" stepped rewind platform IIIC to IIIFBDST
(Self Timer) conversion.....they just don`t exist, if someone has one that`s documented, I`ll buy it!

Tom
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Old 05-07-2008   #4
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Here's a Standard converted to a III.
As you can guess from the photo I was planning on selling it, but it works well and didn't need to be adjusted so....

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Old 05-12-2008   #5
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How's about some sweeping generalisations about black conversions:

1 That pre-war conversions are entirely logical in that the upgrading service continued to use the existing body. It is a service we would still like to see offered today.

2 That war time conversions are deeply suspicious. During the early part of the war, production was high and the market somewhat limited. In the latter part of the war I would suggest that the German market had something else on its mind. (I apologise if this offends). Maybe a much higher percentage of production went to the military(?).

3 That postwar conversions start to look very expensive and marginally economically viable. (see any typical II or III to so called II or III white dial, new body/shutter et al.) That III to IIIc conversion on Ebay US recently, though interesting and worth having at a price, is hugely improbable.

I propose that there was something else driving the business of post war conversions. Was it that all new camera manufacture was prioritised for export by beneficial tax incentives? (Like the car industry in the UK at the time). Therefore the only economical route for a German national living in Germany to get an upgraded camera was by way of a conversion?

Discuss...someone put me straight and can I remind you that I am only talking about black cameras.

Michael
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Old 05-12-2008   #6
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I also saw that black IIIc on ebay. A conversion from a III into a IIIc is impossible. Black IIIc's do not exist, there is only one example known.
Your theory that Germans could not buy new Leica's in the post war era can hardly be true, taking the ad's in the german photographic magazines of the fifties into consideration. Wirtschaftswunder! Also, the conversions were very expensive ideed!
I think the main reason for the conversions was the installation of a flash sychronisation. Post war conversions without synch are much rarer. I have a black II postwar conversion (without synch) and I love it. I use it with a SCNOO. Wonderful.


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Old 05-12-2008   #7
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Quote:
All 1950's conversions have the "GmbH" marked top plate.
That's not 100% the case. I've got a 1946 IIIc converted to a IIIf, that by definition has to have been done no earlier than the 1950, and it doesn't have the GmbH marking.
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1936 Zeiss Contax II
1939 Leica III to IIIa conversion
1940 Фэд-НКВД
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Old 05-12-2008   #8
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dralowid,
regarding the problem with your PC... If it still thinks that this site is still under contruction, could be that the browser is not going out to get the current page, but rather grabbing a copy from it's cache. Try the following one should work...

Click "refresh", hit F5 to refresh, hold down the CTRL and click refresh, hold down the shift key and click refresh.

One of those, probably the last two, will force the browser to go out and get the latest copy.
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Old 05-13-2008   #9
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hello mike, my coversion is like yours is a 3301 1936 standard upgraded to a 3a at sometime,it was the number that caught my eye. regards john.
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Old 05-13-2008   #10
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Erik,

Do you or anyone have any copies of invoices or receipts that will help us understand how much these conversions cost? I have many of the original price lists but nothing that would give me a clue as to how much it would cost to have one's camera converted or upgraded.

Also, when discussing conversions, we are focussing on the later cameras. Don't lets loose sight of early conversions of Is of all sorts into later standardised Is. I know that in a collectors world these conversions reduce the value of the original camera but none the less they are of great interest.

Michael
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Old 05-17-2008   #11
Erik van Straten
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Maybe this suits your needs.
This document makes clear that another reason for a conversion was that repair of the oldest cameras could no longer be undertaken under warranty! But the camera's could still be converted.
Also there's a very strange note that a conversion from an original black camera into a chrome one was only possible under special conditions! Strange, because black parts were more expensive to produce than chrome ones.

regards,

Erik.


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Old 05-19-2008   #12
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Erik,

Thanks, interesting document. I will post pictures of some of my conversions when I have mastered my pc. Alternatively I may change my name and use a Mac!

Michael
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Old 05-19-2008   #13
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Now, why the xxxx can I post but not view attachments?

The site keeps asking me to log in when I am already logged in? Any advice welcome!

Michael
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IIIc to a IIIf
Old 05-22-2008   #14
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IIIc to a IIIf

a IIIf made in 1940's (per Gandy's site).

Ray

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Old 06-10-2008   #15
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I may have shown this one before:


Postwar conversion III to IIIa with 'f type' sync. in different top casing. Body with 'extra lug' (for Leicavit etc?), late winder nob, all chrome and black with late vulcanite. Camera has additional baffles etc within.

I resist the temptation to call this conversion a 'IIIf white dial'.

An interesting point seems to be that later conversions to III of various sorts have a different dioptre 'lever' with a much shorter return than on original IIIs.

Have just acquired a II version of the same type of conversion. Will post pics in due course.

Still find it difficult to accept that these conversions were financially viable.

Michael
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Old 06-10-2008   #16
Erik van Straten
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Hello Michael!

Beautiful camera, your III converted no. 111145! Beautiful number too. I just love these cameras. Is your shutter release guard real? I've never seen this type. You are right, it has nothing to do with a IIIf. Thank you very much for showing this piece.
I do have a IIa synch, wich does look a lot like this one, but I think III's are much more difficult to find.

Erik.
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Old 06-11-2008   #17
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Eric,

Thanks.

I think the shutter release guard came with the post war conversion. I have seen them before on conversions of the same age, they are much thicker in my opinion than the original nickel ones and not as tidy.

But watch out for fakes! I have been happily butchering parts from bicycle tyre valves to make shutter collars that are almost convincing if I find one with the right knurling. What is more, they appear to be nickel on brass. They wouldn't fool you lot though.

Michael
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Old 06-11-2008   #18
Erik van Straten
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Michael,

I once found, years ago, a chromed shutter release guard with a small red mark on E-bay. I think that's the original one.
The beauty of these camera's is their wonderful glossy black paint finish. Completely different from the pre-war black cameras.
On most of these cameras the white paint in the engravings became yellow, brown or even green. On your camera it's still white. Can't believe my eyes.

Erik.
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Old 06-12-2008   #19
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Erik,

Yes, the release guard does have a small red mark on it...I'll check the others and report back. The white lettering is just starting to yellow, it is a sort of white cream.

Michael
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Old 06-13-2008   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Maybe this suits your needs.
This document makes clear that another reason for a conversion was that repair of the oldest cameras could no longer be undertaken under warranty! But the camera's could still be converted.
Also there's a very strange note that a conversion from an original black camera into a chrome one was only possible under special conditions! Strange, because black parts were more expensive to produce than chrome ones.

regards,

Erik.
Out of curiosity, do you know how old that document is?
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1936 Zeiss Contax II
1939 Leica III to IIIa conversion
1940 Фэд-НКВД
1946 Leica IIIc to IIIf conversion
1957 Зоркий-C



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Old 06-13-2008   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landsknechte View Post
Out of curiosity, do you know how old that document is?
I would say around 1949/50 while Everything`s in DM that`s POST 1948 Germany and there`s no mention of serial #360000 and ABOVE cameras being modified to Leica IIIFBD so it`s got to be era 1949 early 1950 (still in the time of the IIIC "Flattop" production)

Tom

*EDIT CORRECTION* It`s from the 1950/51/52 era - in the first series of factory produced cameras with sync flash around the time they made the Leica IIIFBD (Black Dial)
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Old 06-13-2008   #22
Erik van Straten
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Hello Tom,

Maybe you have a difficulty in reading German, but there is mention in the document of modification into model f, but not of modification into f red dial. So I would think it's from about 1950-1952. Also the price level suggests this period.

Erik.
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Old 06-14-2008   #23
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As for black to chrome conversion, in the 1930's, when both finishes were made, black was the economy finish, chrome was more expensive. Chrome plating is nasty process. Doing it successfully on old parts would be tricky at best.
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Old 06-14-2008   #24
Erik van Straten
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John,

I know that in the 1930's chrome was more expensive, but it was also more popular. Black paint finish relied on the skill of the individual workers and the baking procedure was time consuming, so, black paint finish was a nasty process too. And the lettering on the early black Leicas remains a mystery to me. How that was done! Melted lead was poured into engraved lines! Have you ever tried to do that?

Erik.
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Old 06-14-2008   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Hello Tom,

Maybe you have a difficulty in reading German, but there is mention in the document of modification into model f, but not of modification into f red dial. So I would think it's from about 1950-1952. Also the price level suggests this period.

Erik.
Erik,

ohh NOTICE I said IIIFBD ok? Nothing about a red dial.......my German is quite well thank you!

Now let`s see a document that`s got the "wartime" era conversions on it with Leica IIIC cameras from #360000 to #397600........

Tom
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WW 2 Leica Historian and Rare Military Leica Camera and Lens Consultant Services (for Civilian and Military Engraved Leica IIIC "Stepper" and IIIC K models made between 1940 to 1946)

I'm a Retro PinUp Photographer using vintage M39/LTM Leica/ CZJ Sonnar/ Nippon Kogaku and Canon lenses for now on real film Leica M6.
I'm also a Vintage Volkswagen Collector, Driver and Enthusiast ~ I own a 1957 "Oval Window" Beetle named "Blauchen" (oV!Vo) Beep!

http://www.modelmayhem.com/118

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Old 06-14-2008   #26
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I have a black Standard in which the viewfinder was replaced with a second accessory bracket. Now, I could use a RF in one bracket and a viewfinder in the second one.
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Old 06-15-2008   #27
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeicaTom View Post
Erik,

ohh NOTICE I said IIIFBD ok? Nothing about a red dial.......my German is quite well thank you!

Tom
I'm sorry, it must have been my poor english. I don't have any documents on converting IIIc wartime camera's, but did you know that Leni Riefenstahl used a grey IIIc that was converted?

Erik.

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Old 06-15-2008   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I'm sorry, it must have been my poor english. I don't have any documents on converting IIIc wartime camera's, but did you know that Leni Riefenstahl used a grey IIIc that was converted?

Erik.
Ahh yes, it was a early 1945 Issued camera that she bought at Leitz NYC like in 1950 and then took it back to Germany for the conversion, one of the rarest conversions of all time, she used it up till like 1962 and then Theo Kisselbach of LEICA BUCH fame bought it and it found it`s way 40+ years later to the auction block

IIIC K Grey to IIIFBD - this camera sold at auction for over $15k a few years ago, a very interesting camera (I`ve only seen three of these my entire life including this one)

Tom
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http://www.modelmayhem.com/118

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Old 06-16-2008   #29
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Lettering on pre-war black Leicas.

The lettering was engraved and the filled in with a material called 'Woods Metal' that was flowed into the engraving, hot. When new I think this would have had a dull sheen, a bit like bright pewter.

If you are very, very brave, you could reheat the lettering and theoretically the sheen will return. Obviously doing this will risk the paint and is really not advised unless you are skilled and have plenty of Leicas to practise on!.

Michael
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Old 06-16-2008   #30
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Another one. This time it is a II converted in the 50's to a II sync with different top casing to accomodate the modified shutter. This casing makes the accesory shoe slightly proud of the top odf the camera.

It is a bit of a dog and is yet to be dealt with. Lens flange is not correctly orientated and the shutter sounds like a bag of nails. Lens s/n is from '55 but I'd never trust a lens to give a camera's date. At least there is no touching up or repainting and it is complete. Film loading instructions on the bottom of the shutter casing and not on baseplate.

For Erik's benefit I also attach an image of the shutter release collar, including the 'knick' designed to show when things are revolving. In this case not coloured.

More in due course,

Michael
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Woods Metal/ from an older thread
Old 06-18-2008   #31
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Woods Metal/ from an older thread

landsknechte
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landsknechte

Dug this up:

Wood's Metal is a fusible alloy that becomes liquid at approximately 158 °F. The alloy is comprised of bismuth, lead, tin, and cadmium.
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landsknechte

If you want to try "Woods Metal" you might look here, http://www.hitechalloys.com/hitechalloys_002.htm, at CERROSAFE or CERROBEND. I'd be interested in knowing how it worked out.

Eli
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Old 06-18-2008   #32
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Michael,

Now they show perfectly.

The shutter guard ring is a bit thick. Could be from a FED. But never mind.

The IIasyn is converted from a II from the first series. You should have it repaired. I know a great repairman in Holland who does wonderful things to these fine camera's. However, CRR in Luton would also be good choice.

The odd thing on these cameras is the slightly lifted accessoiry-shoe. This lift was necessairy to make room for the sychronisation mechanism. It makes the cameras a bit ugly and therefore, for me, attractive. Do you understand what I mean?

Erik
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Old 06-18-2008   #33
Erik van Straten
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Michael,

Thank you for the information on Woods Metal. I think I will do some research om the web myself now I have the Woods Metal name.
I still do not understand how this metal was applied.

Erik.
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Old 06-18-2008   #34
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Erik,

I understand what you mean both interms of aesthetics and the practical difference in the top moulding, I think it is unique to these cameras.

Also the II rangefinder has been upgraded to III spec.

The camera has already gone to Peter at CRR who has worked on cameras for me before. His work is faultless, the results excellent.

Michael
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Old 06-18-2008   #35
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Michael,

Yes, Peter at CRR did also work on my cameras as well. He made a fungus-infected IIIg finder work like new, after Leica in Solms returned it to me saying repair was impossible, because they had no parts for replacements.

Erik.
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Old 06-19-2008   #36
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Woods metal

A little conjecture based on a very little experience of hand-made jewellery and a etching processes.

The piece to be engraved and filled would be painted first. I don’t know if the original black is ‘simple’ enamel or stove enamel.

If it were to be engraved chemically it would be covered with a ’stopper’ coat first. This prevents the acid from damaging the paint. (However, I do not think chemical etching was used on brass, it is more suitable for ferrous metals (?).)

If it were to be engraved mechanically it would probably have some protective coating of some sort.

The etched piece then has the filler run into the etching and the excess removed. As mentioned elsewhere this is done at around 150f. One has to assume that the original paint process used can cope with this temperature. If not, there must be another protective coating in use. Stove enamelling would survive this temperature but the high temperatures used in the paint baking process could distort the piece (?).

When the metal has cooled the piece can be buffed to clean any protective coating off and put a shine on lettering and background.

As I may have mentioned before, Peter at CRR has re-heated lettering on a camera of mine and brought the lettering back to life but I must emphasise that he considers it a bit of risky business and we only went ahead because the camera’s cosmetic condition was not of prime importance.

I imagine there is someone out there who has more experience than I and can tell me I am talking a load of rubbish!

Michael
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Old 06-19-2008   #37
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Michael,

Thank you for this very intersting information. There must have been some acid-etching stuff in the game indeed, while often the paint around the lettering is eaten away, making the number on Leica I's often hard to read.
The enamel on Leica I's is in my opnion a single coat of baked enamel, but on Leica II's and III's it was a double or a triple coat. That's the reason why the finish of Leica II's an III's is normally in a much better condition than the finish of the Leica I's.
It is however hard to believe that the markings where etched in stead of being engraved.
Maybe there is someone reading this stuff who really knows how things went, but the people that actually used this technique in actually producing the objects we are talking about may no longer be with us.

Erik.
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Old 06-19-2008   #38
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Erik,

Woods Metal
This may be a case of the blind leading the blind. I have to talk to Peter next week, I'll take the opportunity to ask him if he knows more.

Shutter release collars
Time for a beauty parade. When I have the time I'll try and post some photos of different versions. Not including the later IIIc type pattern. Perhaps you could do the same?

Michael
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Old 06-22-2008   #39
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And another:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...1&d=1214144835

22XXX. This is a I converted to IIIa pre-war. Seen service with the press in Northern Ireland. It was passed on to me in the '70s and attended to last year by CRR. Flash sync removed, re-covered with their less expensive vulcanite alternative and rebuilt. Lettering on top reheated to improve legibility. Particularly unusual in that the shutter speed dial appears to be nickel (can only really be seen inside and on close up).

Despite the wear one of the best Summars I have and the camera operates faultlessly.

You may question spending money on a camera in this condition but it's history, mostly documented, justifies the decision.

Michael

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Old 06-22-2008   #40
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John Shriver is offline
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Location: Arlington, MA, USA
Posts: 1,226
Dralowid, that must have been a very good Summar to get the barrel worn down to the brass. My feeling is when you find a lens with great glass, but lots of mechanical wear, it must have been a really good specimen, and got heavily used.

The camera dials all look very much nickel in comparison to the chrome of the lens.
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