SATOH Hirotaka Architects
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leica IIIa / Leica 3a


2005.12.04

leica.jpgThis time, we introduce Leica 3a, which has taken many of the photos on this site. This camera is a very good practical camera for taking architectural photos.

Production of the Leica 3a began in 1935, 70 years ago. The current 35mm film (also known as Leica) was so popular that the Leica 1925 was launched in 1, a so-called venerable camera very close to the origin of a 35mm camera.
Of course, the loading and rewinding of the film, the shutter speed, all of which must be mechanical and manually operated. However, each operation is light and crisp. The texture of the body, which is carefully made of metal by craftsmanship instead of die-casting, has an elegance that is not present in current cameras. Perhaps it is impossible to realize the goodness of construction that can be used comfortably even after 70 years, relying on electronic devices.
The biggest feature of this camera is that it is a rangefinder, which allows a single-lens reflex camera to check the image with a real image passed through a lens with a viewfinder, while checking the frame only through a viewfinder with a distance meter. This in itself is only a disadvantage, and it may be the reason that the rangefinder was abolished by the appearance of SLRs. However, unlike a single-lens reflex camera, a structure that does not require a mirror between the film and the lens actually creates a great advantage.
The first thing to understand is the body size. Very compact because there is no mirror. It is a sufficiently compact size compared to compact cameras currently on the market. Also, it doesn't make a buzzing shutter sound. The quiet and pleasant feeling is unique to Leica. Of course, there is no mirror shock and it is difficult to tumble.
But the biggest advantage is that the absence of a mirror allows the film and lens to be as close as possible. This means that the degree of freedom in lens design is very high. An ultra-wide-angle lens can make the most of this feature. The wider the angle, the more advantageous the distance between the film and the lens. This feature can be used in rangefinders and compact cameras like the Leica, Contax and GR21. Among them, Leica has many choices of lenses and can make inexpensive choices. The picture on the left shows the UltraWideHeliar 12mm ultra-wide-angle lens. It is really compact, with almost no curvature and excellent image quality. In order to create an ultra-wide-angle lens with a single-lens reflex camera, it is expensive and huge to realize a complicated optical system, and yet it is difficult to suppress the curvature. In other words, a single-lens reflex camera is a camera that is not structurally suitable for wide angle.
Also, autofocus is not required for architectural photographs. The wide-angle lens I often use is often 15mm, but all apertures from 90cm to infinity are in focus even at full aperture. In other words, there is no need to worry about focus. The built-in viewfinder is exclusively for 50mm, so the viewfinder uses a lens and an external viewfinder. The only difference is that the difference between the viewfinder image and the real image is large.
Speaking of Leica, it is a camera with a lot of fans with high taste that it has good taste in the image and unique lens. However, my focus on Leica is not a nostalgic hobby. This is the result of pursuing sharp, distortion-free images, wide-angle compactness, portability, and necessary functions.

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