Well, here we go again. While it is true that I have been working toward thinning out the pile, that in no way suggests that I have completely sworn off new hardware. Rather, what Your Humble Filmosaur is working toward is more focused (pardon the pun – it’s almost impossible to avoid such things completely) gear acquisition, limiting it to those things that fill a gap and fit within the basic working kit requirements. A Leica Thread Mount lens in a focal length I don’t currently have falls within those parameters.
This is not an accidental purchase by any means. One of the things I took away from my brief ownership of the Olympus XA4 Macro was that I liked the 28mm focal length. What I did not like was having it attached to a camera that afforded me no control over exposure settings, so when I decided to sell the XA4, I had already figured that an LTM 28mm was probably in my immediate future. The only problem with this idea is that such lenses tend to be relatively light on the ground and priced fairly high as a result. Plus I would need a viewfinder, which past experience suggested would be a substantial purchase in and of itself. The upshot of this being that it might take a little while to find the right kit at the right price.
You might be wondering why I embarked on this search, given that not so long ago I got a Voigtländer Snapshot Skopar 25/4, a lens that is highly regarded and quite close to the 28mm focal length. The Voigtländer is a very good lens, but it turns out that the difference of just a few millimeters of focal length is enough to throw me off. I like 28mm, and I like 21mm, but 25mm seems unsatisfying – too wide to replace the 28, and not wide enough to replace the 21. Maybe I just need to work with it more, but it also has a more modern look than most of my lenses, which also feels strange to me. I will either have to work harder to wrap my head around the 25, or – more likely – I will sell it off and keep the 28 and the 21.
Anyway, back to the search. After missing out on a few promising lens and finder combos, I was perusing KEH (America’s #1 enabler of the camera-addicted) and happened to see a Nikon 28mm viewfinder priced pretty well, so I grabbed it. I didn’t have a lens yet, but I had a finder, which meant that I could consider lenses by themselves, not just kits. This proved fortuitous, as just a few days later an early Canon Serenar 28/3.5 popped up on Ebay, unused for decades, untested, and dirty – in other words, perfect. In part because of the need for a CLA, I was able to get it for a decent price, and as I suspected, it cleaned up easily. The end result is a great classic set with both pieces in excellent shape.
The look is classic too, and pretty typical of early Canon RF lenses. High resolution, low to moderate contrast, with soft corners at wider apertures sharpening up across the frame from around f/5.6 or so. The viewfinder is really nice, big and bright for one of such an early vintage. The lens itself is tiny; when mounted on one of the Leica IIIcs it protrudes from the body less than the Summitar does when collapsed.
Not a lot more to say at this point. I haven’t shot with the lens much yet, but my initial tests suggest that it does exactly what I intended, namely to give me a compact 28mm option with full manual controls. The look is a bit more classic (a polite way of saying old-fashioned) than what I got from the XA4, but that’s never been a bad thing to my eyes.