Cameras and Croissants: The Leotax

Testing out cameras has become a way of life for Meghan and I, as such a variety pass through the store. Everything from odd little ones to “high end” sought after ones – we always find ourselves with an abundance of different cameras and curiosity about their performance. Trying out the delicious snacks that Vancouver has to offer is also a way of life for us and generally we try to incorporate the two outings as much as possible. We are always seeking out the best croissant in town, but we try not to limit ourselves to only this particular pastry.

Sadly, this time no pastries were involved and because I hadn’t seen my friend Kat in two months (COVID -19 is to blame for lack of pastries AND socializing) we decided to visit my favorite place in Stanley Park, the rhododendron garden. The day started out very cloudy so I thought I’d just shoot digital mainly and shoot film on an old camera a friend lent me but by the end of the day the weather became ideal and I did find myself wishing I’d brought a camera I had more experience using.

The camera I borrowed was a Leotax F, it arrived with a rough exterior but seemed mechanically sound. The lens on was an Industar-61 52mm f/2.8 which I have shot a few times previously on a Canon P and my Fuji XT1. The Leotax has a wide range of shutter speeds, B, 1/25, 1/35,  1/50, 1/75, 1/100, 1/200, 1/500, 1/1000, that seemed very accurate despite the camera’s age. There’s always quite a buzz around rangefinder cameras from famous names like Leica, Canon, Contax, Nikon – so when I heard about the Leotax acquisition I thought it would be a great opportunity to test out one of the more less common rangefinder knock offs.  The Leotax F emulates Leica design and was made in 1954 by Showa Optical Works. The first thing and main thing I dislike about all the old rangefinders is how fiddly it is to load them, they have a bottom load system that is virtually impossible to do without three hands or a lot of practice, lord knows how people used to shoot this style camera under duress, such as war times, that being said I guess they had little choice! My other annoyance with this style camera is using its tiny rewind knob, it seems to take many revolutions, I started winding the film back, got bored (and was doubtful I’d rewound it all the way but still it seemed like I’d been winding forever), made dinner, and came back to rewinding before finally feeling it let go.

My friend had emailed me some of his photos he took with the Leotax F. He used Ilford FP4 developed in Blazinal, so I decided to shoot color Kodak Gold 200 and included a variety of both our photos in this post. I noticed my colour photos weren’t as sharp as the BW ones. This is likely camera shake, and my fault as the rangefinder was hard to see anything through….

If you are interested in trying out a rangefinder, we do have a Canon 7 in the store at the moment, this one comes with a higher end Canon 50mm f1.4 lens, which has caused its price to jump up above average. It is listed at $600 (the later Canon rangefinders , Canon 7 & Canon P are what I recommend for getting into rangefinders, Meghan and I both started with these).

 

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