Leica camera (& binocular) manufacture in Midland, Ontario (1 Viewer)

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
For some time Leica manufactured a large part of their camera body and lens line at Midland, Ontario. Dr Walter Mandler was the top optical designer there for many years, having emigrated from Germany to take that role.

Were Leitz binoculars ever produced there, and also, does anyone know if Leica still retain any connection with Midland? I believe maybe Raytheon operate out of Midland now.

(Though some consumers were a bit snotty about wanting only the German-made products there was absolutely no quality difference between Canadian and German lenses of the same spec.) So I wondered if some bino manufacture happened there too.

Tom
 

jan van daalen

Well-known member
Hi Tom,

ELCAN (E=Ernst L=Leitz CAN=Canada) was raised in 1952 by Ernst Leitz III out of strategic reasons (Cold War in Europe and chance of another militairy conflict on that continent) because he wanted production facilities on another continent.
From 1974-1977 ELCAN produced 7800 pieces of 7x50 roof bins for the Canadian Army and 400 pieces for the civilian market. All of them had a thick aluminium housing, weight 1127 gram, Schott glass, prism housing protected for a fall from 2.45 meters on concrite, a FOV of 134 meters and waterproof to 5 meters. The housing was anti magnetic.
Hughes Aircraft bought ELCAN in 1990 and named it Hughes Leitz Optical Company.
Sold in 1997 to Raytheon Company and they named it Raytheon Elcan Optical Technologies. Currently this company is main supplier to US Army and NATO for laser intergrated scopes.

Jan
 
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Binastro

Well-known member
Leica Canada made the Leica Elcan 90mm f/1.0 lens for the U.S. Navy.
Maybe only ten were made.
I have seen sale figures secondhand of $60,000 and 45,000 euros.

Wild, Switzerland made a competitor 98mm f/1.0. Also 98mm f/1.4.

Leica Elcan lenses in 3 inch, 6 inch and 12 inch were standard on some versions of the Vinten F95. They are fairly common. 70mm sprocket film. About 60mm square format, i.e medium format.

There are I think other Elcan lenses. I cannot remember at the moment.
Possibly wider angle Elcans for F95 are some.

(1.75 inch f/2.8 and I think 1.5 inch Elcans These needed modified shutters on the F95 for the narrow back focus).

Regards,
B.
 
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SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Thank you, Jan and Binastro for this information - very interesting for me as a Leica camera user (plus an 8x20 green armoured Trinovid and a 7x42 UVHD Plus).

You might be interested in this: I won't say more as this is a bird / binocular forum but here is a link for you both.

http://www.tamarkin.com/blog/elcan-lens

Enjoy!

Tom
 

Binastro

Well-known member
Hi Tom,

It isn't as groundbreaking as made out.

I have a Den Oude Delft 65mm f/0.75 lens and other focal lengths.
They were made up to 250mm f/0.75 and I have seen six new 150mm f/0.75 lenses is one place.

There is also a U.S. made 14 inch f/0.75 lens mounted on a truck.

Regards,
B.
 

Binastro

Well-known member
royalsocietypublishing.org>doi>pdf>rsbm.2001.0030

I don't know how to do links.

This is a technical history of optics designers in the 20th century as regards Charles Wynne. It is quite a long read.

It says that there was a maximum of 1000 lens designers worldwide.

It mentions, India, China, Germany but mainly the U.K.

There was a recent thread regarding binocular and lens designers.

Charles Wynne designed the f/0.71 lens in 1951 when he worked at Wray as chief lens designer. He was given free reign.

This lens was used in the mass screening for tuberculosis in the 1950s in Britain. I possibly recall having this in a mobile unit when young.

The lens was made as a 64mm f/0.71 and 50mm f/0.71. There may be other focal lengths.

Leica was one of several makers who followed with similar lenses.
Leica probably made less than other makers because the other makes were more utilitarian, although with high quality optics.

There were a few even faster lenses made.

Regards,
B.
 
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jan van daalen

Well-known member

Binastro

Well-known member
I haven't been through it yet.

But Leica did not invent the 35mm camera.

They did not invent the 36x24mm format.

They pinched the Xenon 50mm f/1.5 from Taylor Hobson.
Once they were found out they had the decency to put on Licence from Taylor Hobson on the lenses until they computed their own lenses.

I doubt that the 50mm f/1.2 lens was the first serial aspheric lens.
Zeiss were making aspheric lenses in the 1930s.

Lee of Taylor Hobson designed the f/2 Opic lens in 1920.

The Ernostar of 1923 was f/2.
The Ernostar of 1924 was f/1.8.

The Hektor at f/2.5 was not the first fast lens. Maybe the first fast Leica lens.

Leica enthusiasts seem to think Leica was the first of everything, but history shows otherwise.

I like and enjoy Leica products and they indeed invented many special types of glass.
Their products are high quality and usually reliable.

B.
 
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etudiant

Well-known member
I haven't been through it yet.

But Leica did not invent the 35mm camera.

They did not invent the 36x24mm format.

They pinched the Xenon 50mm f/1.5 from Taylor Hobson.
Once they were found out they had the decency to put on Licence from Taylor Hobson on the lenses until they computed their own lenses.

I doubt that the 50mm f/1.2 lens was the first serial aspheric lens.
Zeiss were making aspheric lenses in the 1930s.

Lee of Taylor Hobson designed the f/2 Opic lens in 1920.

The Ernostar of 1923 was f/2.
The Ernostar of 1924 was f/1.8.

The Hektor at f/2.5 was not the first fast lens. Maybe the first fast Leica lens.

Leica enthusiasts seem to think Leica was the first of everything, but history shows otherwise.

I like and enjoy Leica products and they indeed invented many special types of glass.
Their products are high quality and usually reliable.

B.

There is lots of work involved in bringing new capabilities to the market.
Leica was perhaps the Apple of its day, packaging existing technologies into a compelling new product.
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
Thank you, Jan, John, Binastro, and Etudiant.

Being more of a photographer than birder (I like doing both) this was a great series of thread updates to read and amusing too. Having followed a lot of the Leica lore it was interesting to hear more about Lee, Taylor Hobson etc. Also interesting to be reminded of the great TB scares pre-war(?) which I had forgotten about: each age brings its health worries.

Today I have been using my Leica 7x42 UVHD+ from the comfort of my (open) window and marvelling at the saturated colours; they come over well in dull rainy conditions. No flare!

Have a good day,

Tom
 

Binastro

Well-known member
Hi Tom,

It may have been 1954 that the TB mobile van with the x-ray unit inside it parked at the end of our road and we lined up for our photos.
The Wray lens reduced the image by 16 to 1 possibly onto 16mm movie film.

However, I am not sure if that was the lens used, as I have a very large TTH 8 inch f/1.4 lens that was also used for TB imaging, possibly in clinics.

I got this from a professional photographer who used it to photograph the inside of industrial complexes on a 5x4 film camera.
I drove a long way in the middle of the night to get it.

Both the Wray and TTH lenses used thorium glass.
Hopefully, the later Leica lens used one of their more modern glass types.

I use the 8x32 BA, which is very user friendly for me.

Regards,
B.
 

SeldomPerched

Well-known member
I use the 8x32 BA, which is very user friendly for me.

Regards,
B.

Regarding the Wray, etc: fascinating and a good part of the excitement is the travel when you have hunted these rarities down. Don't think I've yet been exposed to the presence of Thorium-glass in my travels!

I was sorting out many books of many different interests yesterday and came across some Leica brochures from the mid-90s. The bins section had very modern-looking pictures of BNs - not your BA, photographed to look their very best. I have never seen one for real but enjoy the other glass I have.

Best wishes,

Tom
 

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