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ElCan lenses & cameras

Tom Abrahamsson , Jun 20, 2004; 02:39 a.m.

Somebody asked about Leica Canada lenses and cameras. I can't find the posting, but here's is what I know (just off the top of my head). ElCan (Ernst Leitz Canada) was set up in 1952 and the factory was finished in 1953. Production was aimed at producing both civilian and military optics/cameras. In the late 1990 the plant was sold to Hughes Aerospace and later Rayethon took over. The last Leica camera lens produced was the Noctilux (they still supply optical assemblies for these lenses to Leica Germany. Here is my,incomplete list, of ElCan produced Leica stuff: Leica IIIf and IIf engraved Leica/Midland Leica 72 (half frame) Made in Canada, but some had Made in Germany top-plates on them. It was a camera designed for scientific work and German universities were encouraged to by Made in Germany products. Stereo Elmar (35mm and 33 mm) Summarit 50/1,5 Engraved Leica/Midland Hektor 125/2,5 Some were engraved Leica/Germany but they all came from Canada. Summicron 90/2 SOOZY version screwmount with adapter for M M-stuff 28/2,8 Elmarit M 35/2 Summicron 35/1,4 Summilux (non-aspheric) 50/2 Summicron 75/1,4 Summilux 90/2 Summicron M-mount (until the 90 Apo/Aspherical 135/2,8 Elmarit (the "goggled" one) 200/4 Telyt (Viso lens) 280/4,8 Telyt (Viso lens)

Prototypes for M's 75/2,4 Apo-Elmarit M 28/2 Summicron (in 1970) and there are many more of these prototypes around. Many are stuck in desk drawers of retired Leitz Canada employees

M-Bodies: M2 engraved Leitz Canada M3 engraved Leitz Canada 1/2 frame M2's M4 "Midland" - some of these had Leitz Germany top-plates, but most, if not all were made in Midland M4-2 All were made in Midland. M4-P All made in Midland The early M6's also came from Canada.

Leica Canada also made highly specialized optics for the US Military' 180/3,4 Apo-Telyt (6-7 were made in M-mount with goggles - the rest were R-mounts) 66mm/f2 Ultra high resolution lens in M-mount - not coupled to the rangefinder. 50/2 Elcan for the KE-7 Military M4. There is also a whole series of lenses made for photogrametrical imaging. Most of these are small runs of orders. I have seen 560/5,6 "clusters" (4 lenses covering 5x5 each - mounted on a 10x10 plate and attached to a Wild/Leitz 10 inch aerial camera. 250/4 designed for infrared - one element is a ruby red glass or crystal. 90/1 Elcan in M-mount. No helicoil as it used rings to set the focussing distance. 6"/f2,8 Aerial lens. Quite common, often seen adapted to old 6x9 Speed Graphics. 2"/2 and 1,5"/f2 Aerial lenses (these were fairly extreme wide- angles covering 120 film or 70mm perforated film. Big, heavy cameras and many were used on Harrier jets during the Falkland war in 1982.Some can be adapted to other cameras, but the film to lens flange distance was very short. There was also a series of R-lens prototypes, including a 75/2 Apo. ElCan also designed ultra high reolution enlargers, the ElCan 121 - it will resolve 275 lines/millimeter on the easel! About 6 times what you can get with a conventional enlarging system. Probably less than 10-12 made. It came with a series of lenses, a 25mm, a 50/2 and a 75/2 enlarging lens. The 50/2 was a modified DR Summicron. There is a reason why most Leica M advertising from the 60's until late 90's always showed a 50 Summilux on the body. It was virtually the only M-lens made in Germany since 1960 until the Aspherical 35/1,4. Midland had the benefit of Dr Mandler, one of the foremost lens designers ever and also that they were outside of the heavily bureaucratic Wetzlar plant. If Midland wanted to make it, they just went ahead and did it and never bothered Wetzlar with corporate discussions. A lot of strange M cameras came out of there, 1/2 frame M4-2's, some 1/2 frame Md-2's, 30 chrome M4-2's and the "Israeli Tank Command" olive green M4-2 version. Some of these were made for "friends" of the company and some were bona fide special order items. The Wetzlar plant stagnated in the 70's - very little creative design was done there. Midland was the creative source in many aspects. There is very little research being done on the Midland production. Leica Germany is not too interested in it and the current management of ElCan/Rayethon bluntly tells you "No" to any request for information. They make satellite imaging stuff and super sophisticated gun sights and understandibly cant be bothered with some Leica fanatic trying to unearth obscure lens or camera information for old stuff. For a good 25 years, 1965 to 1990 Midland was probably the top optical facility in the world, both as designers and manufacturers. Occasionally you hear "I prefer the German Summicron to the Canadian one". Sometimes they even carry a price premium! Most of these lenses were made in Canada and shipped to Germany minus the front ring and rear mount = labelled as "parts" and with far less duty than a finished lens. Wetzlar put on a rear mount and a front ring suitably engraved Made in Germany - and they were, both the rear mount and the front ring! The parts that really counted were all made in Canada. Tom A

Responses

Eric ~ , Jun 20, 2004; 03:12 a.m.

I think it was http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=008aSz" rel="nofollow">this one Tom

Robbie L , Jun 20, 2004; 03:17 a.m.

Very interesting, Thank you Tom. I like Canadian stuff, my wife was made in Canada :)

Martin Tai , Jun 20, 2004; 06:07 a.m.

Tom, very interesting Leica historical information. May be you should consider writing a book about this facinating period of Leica history by interviewing retired former Elcaners. A book with history of Elcan, Dr. Walter Mandler biography, his epoch making contribution to lens design, Elcan lenses with pictures, serial numbers, production dates, Elcan Leica bodies with pictures, serial numbers, production dates, Elcan special projects; bibliography, including a list of Dr. Mandler's articles....

Karl Georg Wolf , Jun 20, 2004; 06:54 a.m.

Tom, thx for your very useful info on LEITZ/ Leica-Canada.

I like to believe you every single sentence of it, exept the two last ones. Never heard this before and would not mind if this is just a roumor ...

Have a good Leica-time and best regards

W J Gibson , Jun 20, 2004; 03:59 p.m.

I asked the question about Leica in Canada. thanks for your detailed answer.

Doug Miles , Jun 20, 2004; 06:46 p.m.

Thanks for the interesting info! One other lens you didn't mention is the 90 Tele-Elmarit... I have one of these in black finish marked "Canada", purchased new in 1968.

Hans Berkhout , Jun 20, 2004; 09:36 p.m.

Fascinating, thanks Tom.

Dan Fromm , Feb 10, 2005; 01:58 p.m.

I realize this is a late response, but I recently came by three Elcans made for Vinten F95 aerial cameras as flew on, among other aircraft, Harriers -- 1.75"/2.8, 3"/2.0, and 6"/2.8 -- and have a little to add about them. I got my Elcans with the intention of using them on a 2x3 Speed Graphic.

The 1.75" is an easy fit. Its rear section passes through the lens throat with a little room to spare. It focuses to infinity with the front standard on the inner rails. It can, in fact, be focused well through infinity on my camera.

The 3" and 6", however, can't be used on my camera. Their barrels are too large to clear the front standard and both have back focus shorter than the camera's minimum flange-to-film distance.

Tom was mistaken about 6" Elcans on "6x9 Speed Graphics" or was thinking of a different lens than the 6"/2.8 I have.

Cheers,

Dan

Bradley Mossman , Oct 31, 2011; 04:52 p.m.

Does anybody where i would be able to get my hands on a manual for A KE-28B? Either print or electronic will do.

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