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Chicago Cubs Leica

Cubs Leica

After 115 years, the Chicago Cubs have finally won the World Series of baseball. In honor of my home town team, I wanted to honor them by recovering a Leica camera in a Cubs theme.

Since I didn't want to perform sacrilege on a real Leica, I used a Russian Leica II copy as a starting point.

There are many of these counterfeit Leicas on the market. Rick Oleson has a great article on how to spot a fake Leica II at

The Soviet Union started making copies of Leica cameras in the 1930s. Patent law was on again/off again in the USSR, mainly off while the Communists were in power. Inventions were state property and they were in a cold war with the rest of the world, so why honor other countries' patents? The Soviets reverse engineered Leica and other companies' cameras. Then after World War II, the Allied powers basically negated German patents and anyone was free to copy their inventions. Hence the Reid, Nicca, Leotax, Tanack, Yashica YE and even early Canon rangefinders. The Soviet copies were originally branded FED or Zorki but enterprising forgers have replaced, ground down and/or repainted the top plates and re-engraved the cameras to make them look like Leicas. The most obvious fakes have big Nazi Swastikas engraved on the top and/or exotic coverings like highly polished wood or snakeskin. I don't know what you would call the covering they put on the FED camera I bought.

These enterprising counterfeiters also put a new front plate on the Industar-22 lens to make it look like a Leica Elmar lens.

The FED camera itself was in pretty good shape - aperture on the lens was working smoothly, shutter speeds sounded correct, etc. Since the early Leicas (and copies) do not have a removable back, you can't directly test focus using the usual ground glass method. Instead, I measured the flange to focal plane distance and compared it with my other Leica thread mount cameras and found it was the same (not all Russian copies are). Then I put the Industar-22 lens into a Fuji adapter and took some pics on my Fuji XE-2.

Unfortunately, the Industar-22 was not calibrated to proper focus for the standard Leica flange to focal plane distance, which means this lens was probably taken off a different Russian camera. Fortunately, the focus was off in the right direction so that by gradually unscrewing the lens a bit from the Fuji adapter, I found that by adding a 1mm shim, I could achieve proper focus.

I made the shim from a 1mm thick piece of plastic salvaged from the back of a used Instax cartridge. I found that the lens hood from my WZFO Alfa-2 camera had the perfect dimensions for tracing the interior and exterior dimensions of the shim.

I used an X-ACTO knife to cut out a bit of the center, then used a really good scissors to make the final cuts of the interior first, then the exterior. It stuck out a little too much, so I just cut a gap in it to tighten it up a bit. I put the shim around the lens threads, screwed it into the camera and just before the final tightening, pushed the shim edges in so they didn't show.

To create a template for the covering, I wrapped 2 inch blue masking tape around the camera and the cut it with an X-ACTO knife. Then I removed it and stuck it onto a sheet of paper and scanned it into Photoshop.

I bought some vinyl adhesive backed printer sheets and downloaded a Cubs logo from the internet. Then I used Photoshop to add the Cubs logos to the template, copied the color from the logo onto the background of the template, printed it onto the adhesive backed vinyl and put it on the camera.

The pictures it takes aren't too bad after installing the shim.

And here are pics I took on a tripod of the TV screen during the final game of the World Series and of the victory parade in Chicago.

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