A Single Camera for Personal Use and Emergencies?

Oct 27, 2016  By Dick Gilcreast

A single camera with small lens which can be carried  under a jacket or in a small bag without any extra gear needed – not even batteries – yet capable of producing excellent prints without computer time? Today’s digital or film cameras produce excellent results, but for a walk with the kids or at a roadside attraction we might want the bare minimum.

My own personal choice for this kind of use is the same Leica model I started within 1951 – a Leica IIIc with 50mm lens using film. A IIIf would be the same, neither of them megabucks to replace. They are totally manual, with no batteries to recharge or replace, and they are immediately ready for a quick shot even after weeks or months of sitting around loaded and waiting. The viewfinder is built-in with almost no parallax compensation required. The magnified rangefinder image can focus in any light and has diopter adjustment for near or far vision. The lenses have manual aperture and depth of field control. And these old cameras are rugged. They can take abuse that might cause trouble with newer models.

The 50mm lenses of the day were collapsible into the camera, which meant that the camera with lens could be easily carried on a strap under a jacket or in a small bag with no external finders getting in the way. The compact lenses could be either the f/3.5 Elmar or f/2 Summitar or Summicron.

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