Leica Elmar 9cm f/4 (circa 1957) + a film 'bargain'.

The thing about browsing ebay for film camera 'bargains' is you never know what you might find. I have a Voigtlander 10mm f/5.6 and 50mm f/1.1 for my Leica M7 and I wanted to add an M-mount telephoto option. 90mm seemed to be a good focal length and I came across this. It's a Leica Elmar 9cm (90mm) f/4 lens converted from m-mount and according to the listing from 1957 !! It was for sale at £125 so I decided to take a chance. It's actually in pretty good shape for an (almost) 60 year old lens and everything is in good working order. The optics look very clean and while it is somewhat odd looking by todays standards I think it looks good on the M7. It has a variable aperture ring, like cine lenses (no click stops)  and is very light and small. Now yesterday I took it out for a test run, but I can't show any M7 shots with it because I have yet to have my film processed. However, since I have a Leica M > Leica T adapter I did some test shots on my Leica SL (Typ 601) Mounted on which it does look seriously strange.

The combination looks like something from Doctor Who and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it uttered 'Exterminate!' and move towards me with menace. However, take a look at the test image from the SL  below:-

Now that is seriously sharp. Considering it is so old, maybe you can see why people bang on and on about Leica M lenses. It is actually sharper than the the Current Leica 90mm f/2.5 Summarit M I bought (and sold soon after Leica had to repair it) a few years ago. I was so impressed I've decided that this is going to be it's final resting place, since I have no intention of ever selling it. When you realise that lenses like this can be used on a variety of mirrorless cameras and it is of course a 'full-frame' lens then you might wonder, as I do, just what are the advantage of modern lenses and why can't manufacturers come up with something like this. I'll bet anything that this ancient optic could give a lot of big, heavy and expensive current 85 to 100mm lenses a run for their money.

Finally a story about how the photographic internet can be a help rather than a hindrance. 

Now you may be wondering why I've included a picture of a tray in my freezer here, but read on. All will be revealed!! 

One of the things that has set me thinking is the expense of shooting on film. In terms of processing and bulk scanning I've found a cheap(ish) alternative, which happily is the lab that is nearest to me in Birmingham. However, film stock is still expensive. So I've been looking around to see how I can get the costs down. I came across Agfa 200 Vista colour negative film. Now Agfa were a a German film company who made excellent transparency films that I used before digital, both 35mm and MF. They have however now disappeared apart from the name which has been bought up. There are films sold under the Agfa brand name that are made by other companies. I have seen two different sources for this Vista film, pictured above in the freezer one of which one may? be Fuji. However, trawling around the internet I found some posts saying that for some bizarre reason Poundland (a UK store that sells everything for (you guessed it) £1, were selling 24 Exp. rolls of said Vista ISO 200 for (you guessed it again) £1. A significant saving, particularly since the reviews of the film were pretty positive. (Low Grain, Good Colour etc.) 

Now most of the comments about this Poundland deal were over a couple of years old, but I decided to hit the Poundland website and typed in the film details. And there it was - Agfa 200 Vista 24 Exp. colour negative film £1 'Back by Popular demand'. So I rang my local Poundland to see if they had any and was told 'We have loads' so later that day I dropped in. And there was a shelf full of about 200 rolls of the stuff. (the store no other photographic products of any sort). So I sorted out 10 x 10 packs (50 films) and went to the checkout. I was just about to ask if they took cards since I didn't have £50 in cash on me and was told 'that will be £5'. Now I queried this (though to be honest not with much conviction) but was told politely but firmly, that was indeed the price, with an accompanying look that said 'This is Poundland, we are cheap. come back and buy more stuff' Though to be honest again maybe that was me just trying to justify the bargain / mistake? I was about to walk away with. And indeed walk away I did with 50 rolls of film that had cost me £5, which after factoring in my tax relief had cost me 8p per film. Now that's value for money !!! So returning home I put 10 rolls out to use in the near future and put the other 40 in the freezer. Now for those not familiar with this you CAN freeze film. In fact it stops the chemical deterioration that affects all film and you can store film in a freezer for up to 15 years with no adverse effects, or so I read on the internet. Now it may may be that this film has been sitting around in a warehouse deteriorating already, but I've used out of the date film in the past and the worst that ever happened was some slight colour shifting, so I'm hopeful that I will be able to use this. 

So there we are, a couple of examples of saving money by shopping around. And since I buy a lot of gear it is essential for me. Currently the majority of the lenses I own have been bought second hand as well as my three film cameras, one of my Leica T's and my Leica SL (Typ 601). But then don't expect a 'Soundimageplus bargains' page anytime soon, because you'll snap them up before I get to them!!! Only joking. (Or am I?)