taylor hobson

I was asked by my friend Hamish Gill to take a photo of my Leica Screw Mount lenses and cameras. This is pretty much of it, but for a couple of bodies and lenses stored elsewhere. I have left out the vast majority of my Canon RF accessories which didn’t seem relevant and the Canon 50mm 1:0.95 which is actually a breechlock.

I’m still looking for a few unicorns, such as a Canon Original or Hansa, a Reid and a couple of others. I have actually got a Taylor and Hobson lens somewhere and at least 3 Niccas, so perhaps I have missed a box or two.

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While the quest for the sharpest image motivates many, I’m smitten by lenses with character.  Bokeh, according to wikipedia  "is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens,“ and is the grail quality for photo hacks like me, who prefer their landscapes and portraits with a dreamier, creamier  watercolor-like quality that has become more and more difficult to capture as lens quality has gotten exponentially "better.”  

I’m a Leica devotee for 20+years, and while I am committed to the latest M bodies (240M-P and Monochrom) and would never part with my 50mm APO ASPH, I have been shooting vintage cinema and Japanese rangefinder glass exclusively for the last 4 months.  Thanks to a group of interpid Japanese and Hong Kong based collectors, the vintage glass market is thriving, and the micro 4/3’s phenomenon, along popularity of the Sony A7 has driven demand higher. One of the experts recently told me that “there are no lenses with any character produced after 1965” and while that may be an exaggeration, there is something truly special about the early Nippon-Kogaku 50mm/f1.4, 35mm/f1.8 and the grail movie lenses of the ‘40’s and '50’s from Angenieux, Cooke and Rank, Taylor, Hobson.  Filmmakers have gotten the fever as well, as I recently read that Ron Howard shot Rush with vintage “glass” to get the period look of that magical time in F1 racing.  

My Leica’s mean that in the quest for vintage glass I’m limited to lenses that have been modified to couple with Leica rangefinder focusing.  That’s only made the hunt that much for fun, and as you can see by the spread on my table, hasn’t been impossible.  

Lenses that make landscapes creamy, and whose softened corners and colors make beautiful women very happy, are most definitely GMS.