More Fun with the Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit-R f/2.8

The Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit-R f/2.8 lens I picked up from Ken Hansen late last year has quickly become my favorite walk around lens when I shoot my Leica R4s MOD-P, Leica R5 or Leica R6 bodies. The 60mm focal length is close enough to a 50 to make it a nice normal lens. It’s pretty fast at f/2.8, not overly large or heavy and having macro capability gives me the option to get in and up close on interesting subjects I come across.

Here are some shots from a recent photo walk I took with my Leica R6 in St. Helena, CA. I shot Kodak’s Portra 400 film and overexposed by a stop.


Of course, there is always the mirror selfie at the end of the roll so I can remember which camera I was using at the time.


Servicing the Leica R4s MOD-P

When I first began collecting and using classic film cameras ten years ago, I discovered pretty quickly that these vintage machines would, at some point, need service. At the very least, a camera that is decades old will probably need new internal light seals.

At that time, the analog film community was much smaller than it is today. There were only a handful of film photography blogs and scant few online reviews of camera repairers. That is why today, I always try and do a quick little review whenever I use a new camera repair shop so others might benefit from my firsthand experiences.

I bought my Leica R4s MOD-P camera body from a member of the Film Photo Gear group on Facebook. I have bought and sold several times to members of this group and have found everyone there honest and nice to deal with. The R4 completes a trilogy of Leica reflex bodies that I have wanted, the other two being the R5 and R6.

Leica R4s MOD-P black body with 35-70mm f/3.5 Vario-Elmar-R

Leica R4s MOD-P black body with 35-70mm f/3.5 Vario-Elmar-R

The Leica R4 was introduced in 1980 as the first multi-mode Leica SLR. It featured program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure modes. The early R4 bodies suffered from a number of electronic gremlins which gave Leica SLRs a bad name. Electronic issues were resolved later in the production run and those later cameras are very reliable. All of the Leica SLRs were insanely expensive, so a dumbed down R4 was introduced in 1983 to beef up sales; the Leica R4s, which offered only aperture priority and manual exposure modes and no shutter speed indication in the viewfinder. In 1985, the R4s MOD-P was introduced which added shutter speed indication to the viewfinder and some nice ergonomic touches. The MOD-P has the later reliable electronics and the fabulous benefit of both spot and average exposure metering.

My R4s MOD-P arrived in nice cosmetic shape and everything seemed to function as designed. When I opened the camera back though, I found the foam seals very questionable, especially the thicker seal around the little window that allows you to see the type of film you have loaded in the camera. Replacing seals in an SLR is not difficult, but with my fumble fingers and aging eyes, I prefer to leave it to a professional. And while the tech is re-doing the seals, it’s a great time to give a classic camera a good multi-point inspection.

Some years ago, when I was having an affair with Leica M rangefinders, I had considered sending my M3 to Sherry Krauter for a CLA. I ended up trading in the M3 on another Leica, so it never ended up in her shop. With my R4s needing some work and seeing that Sherry is one of the few techs left who work on Leica reflexes, I emailed her to ask if she would work on my R4.

I had read some reviews that said that Sherry has a unique personality—straight and to the point. I sent her a very long email request and she answered with “Call me. 1PM-3AM. Best, Sherry.” So I called her and she was…delightful! First, she tried to convince me that I could do the foams myself, it isn’t rocket science she told me. And a nice conversation about Leica SLR cameras followed with an invitation to send mine in. She did warn me that she was very busy and it might take a while.

A month later, my R4s MOD-P came back from the shop, new seals and everything else checked out fine. Sherry’s prices are very reasonable and her work is top notch. Don’t expect long email responses. Do expect you might be asked to call her. And if you need work on your Leica R or M, she comes with my recommendation. She also has some very nice Leica cameras, lenses, enlargers and accessories for sale on her website.

Leica R6 Post Script

A few posts back, I wrote about the passing of legendary New York City Leica dealer and good friend Ken Hansen at the end of April. I still can’t believe I can no longer shoot him an email with a Leica question or browse and drool at the items in his eBay store.

My last purchase from Ken was a used Leica R6. The R6 is one of the most desirable of the R-series cameras because it is a dependable, purely mechanical camera with spot and center-weighted metering. Like most of the used Leicas Ken had for sale, the R6 he sold me last August appeared to have been kept in a time capsule. This is one of the photos of the camera Ken sent me pre-purchase…

Leica R6 (Ken Hansen photo)

Leica R6 (Ken Hansen photo)

The camera still had the protective foil on the baseplate…

(Ken Hansen Photo)

(Ken Hansen Photo)

Like every transaction with Ken, the camera was in a box on its way to me before I sent him any money for it. When it arrived, it was as described, cosmetically great and functioning as designed.

I shot a few rolls with the camera and noticed that the meter was off a bit, not much more than a half a stop or so, but enough to require some fiddling in Lightroom. And while the light seals were still pretty good, after nearly 30 years, it was time to replace them. Since this was my last ever Ken Hansen camera and I intend to keep it forever, a proper service was in order.

While there are many places to have Leica M bodies serviced, there are only a few options for service on Leica SLRs. One of those is DAG Camera Repair. Don Goldberg is well known as a master Leica service technician with great reviews and I have always wanted to try him. Seemed a perfect fit for this camera with so much sentimental value.

I contacted Don via email and he responded promptly with instructions and anticipated wait time. It’s always nice when a repair shop lets you know in advance how long it will take to get your camera back. I sent my camera off and had it back exactly as he promised.

The seals did need replacing including the one around the little window on the film door that show what kind of film you have loaded in the camera. This is a common source of light leaks in Leica R bodies. My R6 came with a weird grid matte focusing screen, so I also asked him to change out that screen for a split image one. Don also calibrated shutter speeds and meter, bringing the camera back to factory specs.

Very pleased with the service from DAG Camera and it’s nice to have my R6 back home. I’ve made a lot of nice analog photography friends over the past decade and my serviced R6 will always remind me of one of the best.

Leica R6 with 50 Summicron lens

Leica R6 with 50 Summicron lens

Calistoga with the Pentax K2

Since receiving my Pentax K2 back from Eric Hendrickson with the split image focus screen modification, this nifty camera has become one of my favorite shooters. The K2 was, for a short while, the top 35mm SLR in the Pentax line, only surrendering that position to the amazing LX pro body in 1980.

I took my K2 and SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.2 lens, loaded with Kodak ProImage 100 film, out for a Sunday walk around Calistoga, California. It was a pleasant day with lots of warm sunshine. I sent this roll off to Boutique Film Lab for processing and scanning and tried their full frame scanning option which adds an interesting border to the images.


I like the border effect on the images, but it made me realize how much I have depended on the crutch of post production in my photography. I need to spend more time thinking and composing. In the back of my mind, there is always this little voice that tells me that everything can be fixed in post. Perhaps a little more time visualizing before clicking the shutter will make me a better photographer.

I went back to my digital crutch for this last shot, a selfie in the window of an oyster bar.


I am beginning to really like Kodak Pro Image 100 film. I have no idea what it is and opinions vary widely on the internet, but it renders colors nicely, has fine grain and scans well. And the K2 is such a joy to use now with the split image screen!

Best of The Beach (VOL 5)

During my nine years living on the Northern California coast, I experienced some awesome storms. Rain, wind, high surf, road closures, power outages…even watched the Coast Guard perform some dramatic rescues. Coastal storms are one thing you just go through to experience the rush of living near the Pacific.

During the fall of 2016, one such storm swept an old fishing boat up on the beach. The Verna A II ended up stuck in the sand on the beach near me. She sat there for several weeks drawing lots of attention. As suddenly as she appeared, she disappeared at high tide one night. Before the ocean took her back, I got down there with my Nikon F2AS and 50/1.4 Nikkor.


Ken Hansen

I am without words this morning, but one of my readers said it nicely. I will miss my friend.

“Ken Hansen died yesterday in New Jersey. His loss is great to the photographic community as he touched thousands of people with his honesty, integrity, and vast knowledge of all things photographic. Oh yeah, and he used to sell Leica cameras, too... Thanks for your post here. It was heartfelt and really portrayed Ken for the great man he was, selling much more than cameras since the 1970's. Now it's up to the rest of us to pay it forward. Good thing he showed us how to do this!”

Patrick Murphy-Racey, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Best of The Beach (VOL 4)

Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time with a camera and a frame of film left.

Most of my hikes along the Sonoma Coast were day long affairs and by the time I returned to the trailhead, my roll had usually been shot up. There’s never much to photograph at most trailheads anyway; parking lot, port-a-potties, trash cans and cars.

On this Sunday however, I had one or two frames of Kodak Portra 400 left in my Pentax Spotmatic SP. I also had one of the most pedestrian of all Super Takumars mounted out front; the 55mm f/2. As I approached the parking lot, I saw a young couple standing close to each other on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. There was another person nearby, a woman with cameras. It appeared that she was preparing to take some photos of the couple. Maybe engagement or pre-wedding or something.

I could never be a good street photographer because I have such a hard time invading anyone’s space, no matter how far away I am, but they seemed oblivious to me. It would have been better to have a faster camera…the Spotmatic requires stop down metering…or autofocus. But everything came together yielding one of my favorites photos taken along the coast, lens flare and all.

Sonoma Coast State Park, CA

Sonoma Coast State Park, CA

Pentax K2 Modification

I loved my Pentax K2 right from the start as you can easily tell when I wrote about it here. Beautifully made, metal-bodied SLR with aperture priority automation. It was also the first Pentax with a vertically running metal focal plane shutter which just sounds sublime. For a short while, the K2 sat atop the Pentax line.

Most every old film camera has one thing that you wish you change. Some things you can’t, like the fumbly ASA setting ring around the K2’s lens mount. Not sure why Pentax did that. It wasn’t a feature that carried on to any other Pentax camera that I know of. Perhaps they knew they made a mistake and never did it again. I am usually pretty good at figuring out how to use cameras without having to look in the online instruction manuals, but darn if I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the thing. Turns out there is an obscure little button around the bottom side of the ASA ring that must be pushed just the right way to allow it to turn. It’s not very user friendly, but since I don’t have to adjust it much, it is not a deal breaker.

What was missing from my K2 and is pretty critical for the eyes of an aging photographer, was split image focusing. Most of the K2s came with just a micro-prism focusing screen and while I could focus ok with it, having a split image screen in the K2 would make it pretty close to perfect.

Focusing screens in the K2 are not user changeable…at least not by someone with hardly any repair skills like me. But I was curious to see if perhaps my go to Pentax expert Eric Hendrickson might be able to help me modify my K2. Eric responded that he had one split screen left that would fit my K2 and would be happy to change it out for me. Ten days later, my K2 is back in hand with modified split image focusing and WOW! It makes all the difference. Eric had already CLA’d this camera for me last year, but it came back with an added bonus of a thorough cleaning. Nice!

Pentax K2 back from the shop!

Pentax K2 back from the shop!

Ken Hansen


I would not have been able to afford my first Leica camera if it weren’t for Ken Hansen.

A few months before, I had sold a Nikon rangefinder and finally had enough cash to put a Leica M and 50mm lens somewhat within reach. I knew of the legendary Ken Hansen through the various Leica forums and emailed to ask if he had a nice M3 around and he sent me photos of this camera and a rigid 50mm Summicron lens. Like all of Ken’s used Leicas, it was perfect and the lens was flawless.

Trouble was, I didn’t have enough cash and I asked Ken if he would take a deposit and hold the camera for me until I had the rest of the money. Ken emailed me back and asked for my address. “I’ll send the camera to you today. Pay me whenever you can, no hurry.”


That’s the way Ken did business. Old fashioned trust. Excellent service. Fair prices. Trade ins accepted.


Ken Hansen came to the US from Germany in the early 1960s. He got a job at a camera store in Manhattan right away and learned the business of the retail camera shop. In 1973, he decided to start his own place, borrowing some money from family to rent space and buy some inventory. He knew what people wanted to buy so he’d go looking for used cameras from other camera stores and private sellers, buy them and put them in his shop. Every Sunday, he’d put a small ad in the paper advertising some of his items and by Monday afternoon, they were sold. Ken told me once that his business was successful right from the start and he always felt very blessed.

Ken’s business grew and he moved into larger and larger spaces. He became a Leica Authorized dealer in 1976 and was also one of the largest Rollei dealers in the US. His shop and staff grew in size.

Ken told me once that when he started his business, there were a lot of dishonest people in the retail photo business. He wanted to build his business on trust, honesty and good customer service.

Eventually, rents in New York City got out of control and he made the difficult decision to close the retail store and move his nearly one million dollars in inventory into his home, focusing exclusively on Leica. With no storefront and no website, Ken continued to sell new and used Leicas worldwide, operating out of his Manhattan apartment in the spring and summer months and wintering in Florida.

I’ve bought almost all of my Leicas from Ken, trading in one for another. I even picked up a used Nikon or two from him, cameras he took in as trades. Each time it was the same, Ken would next day air the camera to me before I sent him any money. One time, I had a sensor issue on a Leica digital M. No worries. Ken said send it back and I will send you another, no questions asked. No one does business like that anymore.

Ken had a store on eBay too, but he told me he mostly listed cameras there for something to do when he was bored. His descriptions were always well written and full of his dry sense of humor.

Leica R6 (Ken Hansen Photo)

Leica R6 (Ken Hansen Photo)

Last fall, I emailed Ken looking for a Leica R6 or R6.2. Of course, he had a mint R6 on the shelf and sent it out next day air for a price that was far less than what comparable ones were selling for on eBay. This camera works like a charm, but I’ve just sent it in to DAG for new seals and a CLA.

Leica R Vario-Elmar 35mm-70mm f/3.5 (Ken Hansen Photo)

Leica R Vario-Elmar 35mm-70mm f/3.5 (Ken Hansen Photo)

While he had me on the line, he also tempted me with a minty 35-70mm Vario-Elmar lens. Of course, I had to have it. I need to make time to shoot this lens soon. The R6 and this Vario-Elmar were my last purchases from Ken.

I first got word something was wrong when I emailed Ken late last year asking him to keep his eyes out for a nice Leicaflex SL2. I’ve always wanted to try one of these early Leica SLRs. Ken responded that he would, but it might be a while since he had been quite sick. A month or so later, I checked in on my friend and he responded that he was still not doing well.

Then a few weeks ago, the family sent this message…


This is Ken’s granddaughter, Summer. Unfortunately, my grandfather is too ill to continue working. We’ve received some unfortunate news from doctors that all which could be done has been. He won’t be available for business any longer as he is quickly deteriorating and struggling. Thank you for being a customer of my grandfather and supportive friend.

All the best,

Ken told me once that he would occasionally read my blog and that it “wasn’t half bad.” So if by chance you read this my friend, please know how much I appreciate the honorable way you’ve conducted business with me, for all your Leica advice, for giving store credit to someone you didn’t even know, for all your funny emails and your friendship.

Thoughts and prayers.

Recommended Repair Shop

I like to pass along positive experiences I have had doing business with people in our little community of analog photographers.

My XE-7 back home and happy

My XE-7 back home and happy

While I didn’t warm up to the Minolta SRT303 I reviewed yesterday, I do love my XE-7, the collaborative camera from Minolta and Leica.

Over time, my XE-7 developed some shutter curtain lag and it’s been very difficult to find someone who still works on these cameras. One of my readers suggested I try Garry’s Camera Repair in Buffalo Grove, IL. I emailed the owner, Garry Airapetov and asked him if he worked on this model camera. He quickly emailed me back and told me he did indeed service the Minolta XE-7 and to send it in.

Including USPS Priority shipping time out and back, my camera was gone about ten days. Total repairs cost less than $60. Garry was super good at communicating during the process and the repair cost included a CLA.

A very positive experience. If you have a camera in need of service, give Garry’s Camera Repair a try.

A Tactile Dimension

Mike Connealy wrote an excellent blog post recently about using Soviet made lenses on his Barnack Leica. In the post, he made an interesting observation about shooting with this wonderful ancient screw mount camera…

“Besides adding a nice tactile dimension to the shooting experience, the Leica’s slick operation instills confidence while also some practical enhancement to my shooting results.”

This line resonated with me as I have been thinking a lot lately about what makes me choose one camera over another as I head out for a photography walk. It would be easy for me to say that I select the camera best suited to the type of photography I am going to do that day, but the truth is that I have built up a nice stable of very fine old cameras, any of which are capable of great results when used properly. Also, almost all of my user cameras have now been professionally serviced, so I know that whichever one I select will perform as designed.

Nikon F100

Nikon F100

Sometimes, a camera’s level of automation moves it to the front of the line as was the case with my selection of the autofocus, auto-everything Nikon F100 SLR as a travel camera when I toured the Northwest last year. I wanted auto focus, programed auto-exposure, auto film loading, motorized film advance--essentially a point and shoot film camera for that trip. The F100 was an easy choice and it did everything I asked of it.

But for my more routine photo walks,  I am thinking that Mike’s “tactile dimension” and a camera that “instills confidence” are really the deciding factors for me in selecting one camera over another.

Olympus OM-1

Olympus OM-1

Right now, I am shooting an Olympus OM-1 that just came back from a CLA. There’s so much to love about these little OM wonders; small size, gigantic viewfinder, jewel-like build quality.  And so light! You can carry an OM camera around all day and barely notice it. The OM-1 and the OM-2 which I also own, are both quite wonderful to use once you get used to the shutter speed adjustment which is located on the lens mount.


I love the little built in handgrip on my Nikon F3. It’s just big enough to make the F3 feel very secure in your hand. And that big HP viewfinder always impresses. The F3 also has a satisfying shutter sound and pleasant film advance. Add the incredibly sharp and very affordable 50/1.8 and you have a well balanced, joyful camera that some call the greatest SLR ever.

The mighty Minolta XD

The mighty Minolta XD

You can sure tell that Minolta and Leica were working together when the Minolta XE and XD series came out. The film advance on the XE-7 is one of the nicest I have ever used and its shutter sound is delicious! The fit and finish of the XD makes you want to hold it and use it. I love the way the shutter speed dial protrudes just a bit over the front of the XD’s body making for easy adjustments with the camera to your eye. And I haven’t met a Minolta viewfinder yet that I haven’t loved—big, bright, awesome!

Spotmatic with OEM half case and after-market Luigi strap

Spotmatic with OEM half case and after-market Luigi strap

Back in the Spotmatic days, the Pentax advertising line was “Just Hold One.” There’s a lot of truth to that. Any of the Spotmatics feel just right in the hand and when you screw on one of those amazing Takumar lenses, the whole experience just goes up a few notches. Focusing a Takumar is sublime and these Taks have nice, reassuring f/stop clicks. Find an original Pentax leather case and use just the bottom portion to make the Spotmatic tactile experience even nicer!

Canon F-1 New

Canon F-1 New

My Canon SLRs get pretty frequent workouts, mostly because they just feel so good to use. The original F-1 is substantial with a wonderful mechanical shutter sound. After a Blue Moon CLA, its meter is dead on! My F-1 New  and A-1 have little built in hand grips on the front of the camera that enhance the shooting experience. And all of Canon’s FD mount lenses are quite nice, especially the early breech mount chrome nose editions.

Nikon F4 with MB-20

Nikon F4 with MB-20

I’d rank the Nikon F4 and Contax RX at nearly the top of my list of electronic cameras that feel wonderful to hold. Both have contoured bodies with built in grips covered with a rubber material that gives the photographer a sense of security during use. The F4 has dials and levers that control everything. It’s a wonderful evolution from purely mechanical cameras to electronic technology. Many people complain about the size and weight of the Nikon F4, but if you opt for the smallest battery pack—the MB-20, the camera is very manageable. The RX compares in size to the F4 and has one of the most unique shutter sounds of any camera I have shot. And of course, it mates with a selection of fantastic Carl Zeiss lenses. Who wouldn’t love that!

Pentax ME black and chrome body

Pentax ME black and chrome body

I love my little Pentax ME and MX SLRs. Simple, easy to use cameras that never let you down. These little cameras, along with the Olympus OM series, started a movement towards smaller, lighter 35mm SLR cameras. And they feel so good in your hand! With a remarkable and affordable Pentax lens up front, you just can’t go wrong.

Nikon F2 Photomic 50mm pre-Ai Nikkor

Nikon F2 Photomic 50mm pre-Ai Nikkor

Sometimes, it’s a lens or accessory that rounds out the tactile dimension of a camera. I prefer Nikon’s old pre-Ai lenses on my Nikon F2 bodies. There’s just something about those old Nikkors. On the F2, the Nikon AR-1 soft release is a nice option.

Pentax LX with optional hand grip

Pentax LX with optional hand grip

And while the Pentax LX is a super capable professional grade SLR with an awesome meter, when you add the OEM grip to the front of the camera, it becomes so much more comfortable to hold.

I realize that this “tactile dimension” is mostly the reason I have not bonded with some of the cameras I have tried. My Rolleicord was a way more capable shooter than I am a photographer, but I don’t get along with twin lens reflex cameras. And the Rollei’s shutter release was in a position I just couldn’t get used to. I tried to love Hasselblad in every configuration possible. By the time I got mine loaded up with a metered eye-level finder, it was just too cumbersome to use outside of a studio environment. I didn’t love the Minolta X-700, the Rollei SL35e, Contax 139 Quartz, Canon AE-1 Program or Mamiya 1000s either. And when I think back, it wasn’t because they couldn’t make good photographs. It was the tactile dimension.

I feel so fortunate that I have had a few extra dollars to spend on photography during a time when digital cameras have made analog ones affordable enough to own more than one.

Thanks again to Mike Connealy for the inspiration for today’s post.

Frames found

Like finding a twenty dollar bill in the pocket of a pair of pants you haven’t worn in a while, I’m discovering partially shot rolls of film in some of my cameras. It’s a nice surprise.

I’d honestly thought I’d processed and scanned the last few rolls from my final months shooting on the coast, but when I went to use my Olympus OM-2n last month, there were 32 shots exposed on a roll of Fuji Acros. I clicked off the last few and sent it off to Boutique Film Lab.

I must have started this roll last summer, based on the fact that my subjects are lightly dressed and they lingered in the cold Pacific long enough for me to get this shot.

I miss my walks on the beach and it was nice to get this roll back from the lab.

Olympus OM-2n with 50/1.8 Zuiko on Acros 100

Olympus OM-2n with 50/1.8 Zuiko on Acros 100

Best of The Beach (VOL 3)

It’s hard to say anything negative about the Pentax Spotmatic F camera, especially after you’ve had yours serviced by master Pentax repair guru Eric Hendrickson.

Even with a camera functioning as designed, things can still go wrong. I shot a whole roll of Kodak Portra 400 on the beach in Bodega Bay on New Years Eve 2017. When I went to pick up my film at the lab a week later, the guy behind the counter told me that my roll was one of several that “got stuck” in the machine during processing causing overdevelopment and staining. Apologies, a no charge for the processing and a free roll of film helped ease the disappointment.

Even though many of my last day of the year shots were completely ruined, the few that poked through the processing mistake were surprisingly pleasing. Here is one of my favorites.

Spotmatic F with 55/1.8 SMC Takumar, Kodak Portra 400

Spotmatic F with 55/1.8 SMC Takumar, Kodak Portra 400