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Batteries Not Included

A blog focused on cameras with no batteries - and the photos they take

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The VALOO - Coolest Hood Ever

Ok, I better be careful...this is really starting to become a 'Leica gear blog' and my initial - and current - intentions was to try to have an even mix of gear and photography. I am hereby officially promising that the next two posts will be about photography and not my-latest-found-it-on-eBay-gadget....

Having said that..let's talk about the coolest hood ever - the VALOO ! :)

Ever since I got my Elmar 50/3.5 and realized that I really liked how it performed (the jury is STILL out on the 90/4..hmm..) I wanted to find new/interesting ways to use the combination of filters and hoods on it.

For those that are not familiar with the lens you adjust the aperture with a small tab located on the front of the lens right next to the glass. This design brings a number of challenges with it - it's easy to get fingerprints on the glass - especially if you're using a hood like a FISON or FIKUS - and if you have a clamp-on or push-on filter you have to take it off every time you want to adjust the aperture.

I'm sure Leicas customers at the time let the company know about these issues since there are a number of options available to work around this design. The three most common solutions are;
1) Use a FISON hood with a VOOLA aperture adjusment ring,
2) Use an 18.5 screw-in filter (that is so small it only covers the glass and allows you to adjust the aperture without taking off the filter, or
3) The VALOO hood.

I opted for trying out option # 3 and I got to say that it looks like a winner (having said that I'm enough of a gear-greedy-geek (GGG) that I will most likely try to get my hands on both option # 1 and 2 as well in the near future.
I should be ashamed...

The really neat things about the VALOO hood are;
A) It allows you to adjust the aperture by turning the front of the hood (no more reaching into the hood trying to avoid the glass) - and the set aperture is conveniently displayed in a small frame/window inside the hood, and

B) It has a threaded front so it allows for 34mm filters to be screwed on (and you can ofcourse still adjust the aperture by turning the front).

Cool? Oh yeah...

Some photos to show it in all its glory:


The VALOO fitted on my Leica III (F)

This shows how the set aperture is displayed inside the hood. Nice.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Do you WINTU?

Yet another Leica-gear related entry...There's a been a few of those lately so I will have to make a concious effort to get back to some photography ones next. But...since I got your attention already - let's talk about one more fun little gear - the WINTU :)

Trivia: Leica normally issues a five letter code for their accessories - VIDOM, FISON, SCNOO, etc. They are all 'pronounceable' and the intent was that it was easier to remember a code like this than something like FL-1560.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I added another five-letter accessory to my user-collection. The WINTU is a finder from the 30's-40's that allows you to view - and focus - whilst holding the camera at a 90 degree angle from you (having it aimed at your subject). It's quite ingenious in it's simplicity - there are two windows to look at: the viewfinder is placed so that it's directly above the camera viewfinder and provides exactly the same view (through a mirror) and there is a second, smaller, window that covers the rangedfinder window on the camera and once again through a mirror allows you to see the rangefinder through this 90 degree contraption.

Sounds bizarre and hard to imagine? Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words - so here are a few thousand words describing what the WINTU looks like ontop of my Leica III (F).

The WINTU, showing the two finders - the larger is the viewfinder and the smaller one provides the view of the rangefinder window.

The WINTU mounted on my Leica III (F). As you can see the viewfinder is directly above the camera's viewinder.

Rear view of the finder. As can be seen here the smaller lever goes down and covers the rangefinder window allowing it to be projected through the 90 degree finder.

Now, how 'stealthy' a photographer will this make you..and how 'useful' is it really in real life? Well, Walker Evans supposedly used one of these but in these modern days with digital cameras sporting LCD finders that often turns and twists and allows for waist, angled, over the head, etc - shooting this gadget won't make anyone invisible. Rather the oposite taking into consideration that you're yielding a 60-70 year old piece of equipment around - but it's bound to be fun to use and isn't that what it's all about in the end?

In 1933 the WINTU, as seen in an original ad below, sold for $8.91 - taking inflation into consideration that translates to about $130 today. I paid about $30 for mine in 2006 - so in a way that can almost be seen as a bargain :)

(The WINTU is an 'updated' version of the WINKO (also mentioned in the ad below)).

Ad for a WINTU by Central Camera, Chicago, 1933