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Leica KE-7A + Elcan 50mm f/2.0 kit lens [for US Military] Photos
Old 11-24-2019   #1
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Leica KE-7A + Elcan 50mm f/2.0 kit lens [for US Military] Photos

This is another rare find of the year. Leica KE-7A + Elcan 50mm f/2.0. The kit lens Elcan 50mm f2 become one of my favorite 50mm lenses. I was amazed by its performance, as it only uses four elements. Some people even say it is on par with APO lens.


In 1972, Ernst Leitz Canada produced 460 pieces of KE-7A (M4 Schwz, black chrome) acquired by the US military, with contract numbers engraved on the back of the top cover. Usually, the KE-7A comes with a kit lens, Elcan 50mm f/2.0 with special C42-LS.39F hood.

KE-7As were fitted with modified shutters to operate in temperatures to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, were dust sealed for military field conditions and made to withstand explosive concussion (i.e. bomb blast).

Elcan 50mm f/2.0 lens was made in 1972 to fit the KE-7A. This very special lens uses infrared-absorbing glass made with lanthanum, a radioactive element that helps achieve an exceptionally high refractive index for heat control in making the optics. Elcan 50/2 only uses 4 lenses (called formula, 276), all air-spaced. My all-time favorite lens designer, Walter Mandler was one of the Elcan 50 designers. The production model provides the first lens in lanthanum Crown glass Lak9, the second in Leitz glass, the third in dense Flint glass and the fourth in lanthanum Flint glass.

Cheers,
Kevin


Leica KE-7A + Elcan 50mm f/2.0 [for US Military] by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr

Leica KE-7A + Elcan 50mm f/2.0 [for US Military] by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr

Leica KE-7A + Elcan 50mm f/2.0 [for US Military] by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr

Leica KE-7A + Elcan 50mm f/2.0 [for US Military] by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr

Leica KE-7A + Elcan 50mm f/2.0 [for US Military] by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr
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Old 11-24-2019   #2
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All the photos were taken with Leica M10 + Elcan 50mm f/2.0


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr
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Old 11-24-2019   #3
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Very cool Kevin!
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Old 11-25-2019   #4
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Very cool Kevin!
Thank you Huss! I will upload more photos taken by this special lens.

Kevin
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Old 11-25-2019   #5
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I had the opportunity to grab one of these KE-7A cameras in around 1995 (but without the Elcan lens). I don't remember what the store wanted for it, but I do remember it wasn't significantly more than what a clean M4 sold for at the time.
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Old 11-25-2019   #6
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Great lens, seems to be very sharp. Can you make a close portrait at full aperture with this lens?


Thanks!


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Old 11-25-2019   #7
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Quote:
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I had the opportunity to grab one of these KE-7A cameras in around 1995 (but without the Elcan lens). I don't remember what the store wanted for it, but I do remember it wasn't significantly more than what a clean M4 sold for at the time.
I guess some of the KE-7A don't come with the Elcan lens. I saw an article on the Internet that said Ernst Leitz Canada produced totally around 260 pieces of the Elcan 50mm f2. Anyway, KE-7A is a collectible item now.
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Old 11-25-2019   #8
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Great lens, seems to be very sharp. Can you make a close portrait at full aperture with this lens?

Thanks!

Erik.
Thank you Erik! At first, I was just want to collect this lens. I rarely saw photos taken with the Elcan on the Internet. But after I tried it out, I realize how good it is. Just amazing.

Here are the photos taken by the Elcan 50mm f2 at full aperture f/2.0

Kevin

Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr
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Old 11-26-2019   #9
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Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr
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Old 11-28-2019   #10
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I am severely jealous of your lens!
I use 50mm Collapsible-Summicron for compact size.
Here is an outstanding 50mm Elcan lens!
4 read FOUR elements compared to those recent monster lenses,
by leica, Zeiss, Sigma and now Nikon..
Horrible big rubbish when a lens like this exists..
Yes less elements requires more care in assembly and centering, but !
I can't wait to see more of your lovely images so well framed and exposed.
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Old 11-28-2019   #11
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Great brilliant lens, but I see some lineair distortion.


Erik.
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Old 11-28-2019   #12
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I don't see the distortion but I see weak left sides in most of the pictures, could be the scanner if these are film, or could be the lens; and bokeh I don't like, but that's subjective of course.
Edit: some of it seems to be field curvature, but the focus seems to shift further back on the left. I think your lens may be de-centered or the camera have been whacked. Especially the last picture shows this.
What was the reason the military wanted this lens with just four elements but f/2?
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Old 11-28-2019   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leicapixie View Post
I am severely jealous of your lens!
I use 50mm Collapsible-Summicron for compact size.
Here is an outstanding 50mm Elcan lens!
4 read FOUR elements compared to those recent monster lenses,
by leica, Zeiss, Sigma and now Nikon..
Horrible big rubbish when a lens like this exists..
Yes less elements requires more care in assembly and centering, but !
I can't wait to see more of your lovely images so well framed and exposed.
Thank you! I am glad you like my photos. I will upload more photos here.

The collapsed Summicron is just about 3mm shorter than the Elcan 50mm f2. Elcan 50mm is a very compact lens, weighted 160g only. To be more specific, its size is almost the same as the 8-element 35/2. Well, this is the reason why I love Leica rangefinder and the good old LTM/M mount lenses. They are very compact, well built, with top-quality optical.

Kevin
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Old 11-28-2019   #14
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Quote:
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Great brilliant lens, but I see some lineair distortion.


Erik.
Hm... I don't notice it till now. Well, it's no big deal for me if there is a little linear distortion. I rarely pay attention to this detail. But I guess it is tolerable since it only uses four elements to produce the image?
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Old 11-28-2019   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
I don't see the distortion but I see weak left sides in most of the pictures, could be the scanner if these are film, or could be the lens; and bokeh I don't like, but that's subjective of course.
Edit: some of it seems to be field curvature, but the focus seems to shift further back on the left. I think your lens may be de-centered or the camera have been whacked. Especially the last picture shows this.
What was the reason the military wanted this lens with just four elements but f/2?

I guess it's the limit of a four-element design? I shoot most of these pictures at f/2.0. I use this lens on Leica M10. So all are digital photos.

The lens was overhauled by DAG. And the lens does focus correctly while I use it on my M10. So I am not sure what cause the issues you mentioned.

"The lens has only air-spaced elements and is thus suitable for extreme use. It has non-cemented glass, less problem in a high-temperature range, and nearby explosions." Here is a quote from Leica-wiki. This is the main reason why they decide to use the four-elements design.
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Old 11-28-2019   #16
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Here are a few more photos that were taken with Leica M10 + Elcan 50mm f2.


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr
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Old 11-28-2019   #17
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These two photos are my favorite.


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr
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Old 11-28-2019   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEVIN-XU 愛 forever View Post
Hm... I don't notice it till now. Well, it's no big deal for me if there is a little linear distortion. I rarely pay attention to this detail. But I guess it is tolerable since it only uses four elements to produce the image?

I see some in the shot of the eldery man in front of the icecream shop and some on the extreme right of this shot:





but maybe it is not from the lens (may be the scanner). The Elmar is also a 4 element lens but I've never seen any distortion in an Elmar-shot.


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Old 11-28-2019   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEVIN-XU 愛 forever View Post
I guess it's the limit of a four-element design? I shoot most of these pictures at f/2.0. I use this lens on Leica M10. So all are digital photos.

The lens was overhauled by DAG. And the lens does focus correctly while I use it on my M10. So I am not sure what cause the issues you mentioned.

"The lens has only air-spaced elements and is thus suitable for extreme use. It has non-cemented glass, less problem in a high-temperature range, and nearby explosions." Here is a quote from Leica-wiki. This is the main reason why they decide to use the four-elements design.
Hi Kevin you should copy this lens too
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Old 11-28-2019   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I see some in the shot of the eldery man in front of the icecream shop and some on the extreme right of this shot:





but maybe it is not from the lens (may be the scanner). The Elmar is also a 4 element lens but I've never seen any distortion in an Elmar-shot.


Erik.
Erik, all the photos were taken with Leica M10. So we can remove out the factor of the scanner. It's interesting that I still cannot find the distortion you mentioned. Maybe they are not very obvious, or I just not understand what distortion is. Either way, I am still like this Elcan 50mm lens very much. The image it produces pleased my eyes.

Kevin
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Old 11-28-2019   #21
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Hi Kevin you should copy this lens too

Haha! The fun fact is the maker also seen my post, and he was immediately interested in this lens and asks my opinions on this lens, and he also has done some research by himself. He did express some interest in replicating this lens. But at the same time, he already has a big project next to the 8-element. Currently, he is working very hard to manufacture the final product of his first replica lens. So I am not sure about this.
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Old 11-28-2019   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEVIN-XU 愛 forever View Post
Erik, all the photos were taken with Leica M10. So we can remove out the factor of the scanner. It's interesting that I still cannot find the distortion you mentioned. Maybe they are not very obvious, or I just not understand what distortion is. Either way, I am still like this Elcan 50mm lens very much. The image it produces pleased my eyes.

Kevin
The vertical line at the extreme right (the doorpost) is not straight, but slightly curved like a barrel. A simple barrel distortion. This is often the case with all kind of lenses, also with Leica lenses (the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 v2 for instance has a lot of it).

To test a lens on this, mount the camera on a tripod, check with a spirit level whether the camera is perpendicular and take a shot of a brick wall. Any distortion will be immediatly obvious.

Erik.
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Old 11-28-2019   #23
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The vertical line at the extreme right (the doorpost) is not straight, but slightly curved like a barrel. A simple barrel distortion. This is often the case with all kind of lenses, also with Leica lenses (the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 v2 for instance has a lot of it).

To test a lens on this, mount the camera on a tripod, check with a spirit level whether the camera is perpendicular and take a shot of a brick wall. Any distortion will be immediatly obvious.

Erik.
Thank you for the explanation. Yes, I remember I read your post regarding the severe distortion of V2 Summilux 50 1.4. The distortion is obvious on that lens. I will do a test on this lens when I get a chance.

Kevin
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Old 11-29-2019   #24
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The brick test may work on old, solid walls somewhere but newish buildings. last 100 years are not straight or perfect..
A door frame can warp..
If there is distortion, i couldn't care less..using modern digitals with huge distortions..
The images are beautiful.

Last edited by leicapixie : 11-30-2019 at 08:58. Reason: left out a few lines..
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Old 12-01-2019   #25
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Originally Posted by KEVIN-XU 愛 forever View Post
Haha! The fun fact is the maker also seen my post, and he was immediately interested in this lens and asks my opinions on this lens, and he also has done some research by himself. He did express some interest in replicating this lens. But at the same time, he already has a big project next to the 8-element. Currently, he is working very hard to manufacture the final product of his first replica lens. So I am not sure about this.
Hi Kevin, May I ask what the next project is?
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Old 12-01-2019   #26
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Quote:
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using modern digitals with huge distortions..
It is easy to correct distortion digitally, but try it when using a Focomat for gelatin/silver prints ...

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Old 12-01-2019   #27
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Hi Kevin, May I ask what the next project is?

The next project will be a super-fast speed 50mm lens. I will announce it in my 8-element replica post very soon.
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Old 12-01-2019   #28
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The next project will be a super-fast speed 50mm lens. I will announce it in my 8-element replica post very soon.
Hi Kevin,

I think a super fast replica isnt a good idea. Just my opinion and you may let know the master if you would like. Because it would be relatively a big and expensive lens, not many people might sign up. Unless you make a Noctilux at summicron price. Still the size would make people stay away. I would definitely consider making a more common and daily lens like 50 mm summicron or Elcan. What do you say? Super fast lenses can be on the list once you build a portfolio of most selling lenses. That is why you started with 35mm f2 lens not 35mm f1.2 or f1.4 lens, right?
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Old 12-02-2019   #29
KEVIN-XU 愛 forever
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Hi Kevin,

I think a super fast replica isnt a good idea. Just my opinion and you may let know the master if you would like. Because it would be relatively a big and expensive lens, not many people might sign up. Unless you make a Noctilux at summicron price. Still the size would make people stay away. I would definitely consider making a more common and daily lens like 50 mm summicron or Elcan. What do you say? Super fast lenses can be on the list once you build a portfolio of most selling lenses. That is why you started with 35mm f2 lens not 35mm f1.2 or f1.4 lens, right?
I am glad to hear your opinion. I will definitely deliver your opinion to the maker. But at this point, I don't know if it's possible for the maker to move his focus to a different 50mm project. Since he already started working on it, like finding the right type of glass, finding the right facility to cooperate, researching the technics that required for making the next lens. And to be honest, I am very excited about his next project. That is the No.1 lens in my dream list.

Kevin
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Old 12-03-2019   #30
KEVIN-XU 愛 forever
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Leica M10 + Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens)

Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr
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Old 12-04-2019   #31
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A lovely rendering from this Elcan! I would be interested to see how this lens would look in black and white at a modest distances and f stops of 5.6 and 8 to see how it looks at max reZ. This would be a good one for The Maker to consider but I would take the 66mm f/2 Elcan before this lens
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Old 12-04-2019   #32
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I love the rendering of this lens. Fantastic "3D pop."
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Old 12-04-2019   #33
KEVIN-XU 愛 forever
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A lovely rendering from this Elcan! I would be interested to see how this lens would look in black and white at a modest distances and f stops of 5.6 and 8 to see how it looks at max reZ. This would be a good one for The Maker to consider but I would take the 66mm f/2 Elcan before this lens
Sorry I only take color pictures. I guess I can edit the pictures into B&W if that could help.
I never thought of 66mm f/2 as it is very mysterious and only a few samples exist. That would be quite hard to find enough information to replicate. And 66mm is a weird focal range too.
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Old 12-04-2019   #34
KEVIN-XU 愛 forever
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I love the rendering of this lens. Fantastic "3D pop."

Agree, it does have a very strong "3D pop" effect.

Kevin
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Old 01-16-2020   #35
KEVIN-XU 愛 forever
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Leica M10 + Elcan 50mm f/2.0(KE-7A Kit Lens)



Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr


Elcan 50mm f/2.0 (KE-7A Kit Lens) by Kevin-Xu, on Flickr
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Old 01-16-2020   #36
teddy
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The next project will be a super-fast speed 50mm lens. I will announce it in my 8-element replica post very soon.
Oh man! I gotta find some dosh - start selling stuff that's doing nothin' in the cupboards...
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Old 01-16-2020   #37
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Originally Posted by KEVIN-XU 愛 forever View Post
The next project will be a super-fast speed 50mm lens. I will announce it in my 8-element replica post very soon.
I wonder if Mr. Zhou would consider my 2 cents?

I believe a lens like a Summicron 50/2 Collapsible Replica would be good because all of these are suffering from scratches, haze naturally from the glass in reaction the air most probably and since the glass is so soft. This lens has very pleasing characteristics and I'm not parting with mine. I know other folks who would not sell this lens. It is one of THE best lenses for black and white.

The Summilux 50/1.4 (NOT ASPH) Type II keeps going up in price and becoming harder to find - but this lens is a classic.

The the first 50 Noctilux is a classic - yes - eventually this would be very cool.

The 21/4 Super-Angulon is beautiful and a classic.

The 75/1.4 would be fantastic.
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Old 01-16-2020   #38
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The USS New Jersey used to have one of these kits. So did the photo center at NAS Keflavik. A Navy photomate friend of mine was at Keflavik in 2003 when I was in Guam and he used me for advice on what stuff was. I remember him calling me and asking "Phil, have you ever heard of a L-I-N-H-O-F?" And then the inventory was just a fantasy list of everything photographic, still and motion, from 5x7 down to tiny spy cameras. That wasn't even the photoreconnaissance stuff, that was all current spooky gear.
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