Shady Business In The Leica Cabinet...

on March 30, 2016

Standing in the shop one day idly throwing gravel at the staff to while away the time, I found myself bemused while looking in the Leica cabinet.

Of course everything in there was pristine - Leica insist upon this standard of presentation in their shop displays and frankly, for the price asked for the equipment, this is fair enough. You could hardly expect the latest SL or Monochrom cameras to be piled up in end-of-aisle wire baskets. But what struck me was the variety of lens hoods hat Leica put on their cameras.

Now some other equally reputable manufacturers have designed their lenses in different focal lengths to have the same front diameter and bayonet lock, and as a consequence have found that that several lenses could share the same lens hood. Of course, the extremes of focal length and aperture mean that there are especial ones for some lenses. But when they can double up. they do.

Two big makers of DSLR cameras make a large variety of their own glass, but have dedicated lens hoods for each one. The sales staff bless the manufacturers who pack a hood in the same box as the lens - it makes it so much easier to supply than trying to find two separate packages...particularly if the factory has not bothered to state WHICH lens hood is needed on the box...

Leica sometimes package the thing you need in the box, sometimes compel you to buy it separately, and sometimes fasten it onto the lens permanently. This last variety is the most useful - you never lose it and you can deploy it without searching around in a camera bag for it. Look at the lens hood for the 90mm Summicron M retracted and extended - good design.

The wide angle hoods with their characteristic cutout on the northwest corner are that way to allow you to see through them when mounted on an M-series body with optical finder. Even here you can see a variation with a front baffle plate.

The most surprising of the modern hoods is the one fitted to the Vario-Elmarit SL 24-90 lens. They've gone for the most shading possible in the centre section while having to open out for the edges. If there were to be a front lens hood hat, it would be best made of neoprene to accommodate such an odd shape.

Equally odd, though this is a shape made by other makers such as Fujifilm, is the square snout fitted onto the Summilux 28 of the Leica Q. I admire it, and find it effective - I use the same shape on the Fujinon 35 and 18mm lenses - but have discovered that it is finicky to cap off out in the field - and a shape that is difficult to attach a front cap to in any case. The rubber hood hats from Op/Tec are by far the best solution to this.

Last but not least is the dear old squeeze-the-childproof-buttons of the classic Macro Elmar lens hood. These were common in the Leica hoods of the 60's and 70's and apart from the weight of the thing, were probably one of the best designs ever made. You could uncap, reverse, attach, and juggle these things in the dark or hanging off the side of a dreadnought with ease.

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