Miniature Masterpiece – Leica FIKUS Variable Lens Hood

A series of posts celebrating the early Leica camera accessory, ingenious and often beautiful small masterpieces of functional design. Ernst Leitz produced the first ‘system’ camera in 1930 (the Leica 1 Model C), and by 1933 the accessory catalogue ran to over 100 pages. These were so well designed from the start that many were still in production over 20 years later. See the first post for the Leica story.

This beautifully made lens hood is a classic example of the quality and ingenuity of the Leica accessory. Introduced in 1932 it can be used for several lenses to save carrying around a separate hood for each one. The base ring clamps around the end of the lens (A36 size or 36mm diameter) and the outer black hood slides up and down to suit each focal length and is then clamped into position. The inner sleeve is engraved with settings for different lenses. This is an early type which shows a setting for the Hektor 5cm f2.5 lens. The 1933 catalogue (below) describes and shows a setting for the 3.5cm wide angle Elmar lens on the same line as the Hektor but this was not shown as an option in the 1936 catalogue, presumably because it must have cut off some of the image (vignetting)! Very rare early hoods have a marking for the 5cm f2 Summar lens instead. The usual settings are 5cm, 9cm and 13.5cm, later in mm, then back to cm.

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FIKUS 1933 brochure

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Because the inner sleeve is nickel plated it is lined in black felt to avoid reflections. The outer black hood is lined in fine grooves for the same reason. Later types had the same grooves on both the hood and base sleeve.

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The little box it comes in is typically Leica. Beautifully made in humble cardboard, it has colour matched velvet lining to the top and bottom. Over 80 years old it is still in perfect condition. This is the earliest style of Leica packaging from 1925 up to the early 30s. Later boxes came in dark red then a lighter red in the early 50s.

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A 1932 Leica II range-finder camera shown with the FIKUS attached to an Elmar 5cm standard lens…..

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…..and to a rare Elmar 13.5cm telephoto lens, a very impressive looking vintage ensemble!

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A portrait of the great Leica photographer Dr. Paul Wolff in the 1930s with a FIKUS and VIDOM viewfinder attached to his Leica.

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This is the 1950s version of the hood in satin chrome, with lens markings in cm and later packaging style. Shown on a 5cm Elmar/If and 9cm Elmar/IIIf. The FIKUS was produced for over 30 years, only ending production in 1965.

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Links to other posts in the series:

RASAL and ROSOL Frame Finders

APDOO Self-timer, WINKO and WINTU Angular Viewfinders, and AUFSU Reflecting Viewfinder

VISOR, VIDOM, and VIOOH Viewfinders

Photograph of Paul Wolff:

Archiv Dr. Paul Wolff & Alfred Tritschler

Paul Wolff was the photographer who did the most to popularise the Leica and 35mm photography in the 20s and 30s with many books and articles. All his negatives were lost in WW2 but a gallery in Salzburg has many of his surviving prints and is apparently publishing a book on Wolff with an exhibition. Timing not known. The photographer and Leica enthusiast Thorsten Overgaard has an interesting piece about Wolff on his blog:

http://www.overgaard.dk/the-story-behind-that-picture-0122_gb-Dr-Paul_Wolff.html

The ‘bible’ for accessory aficionados is ‘Leica, An Illustrated History, Volume III – Accessories’ by James Lager (1998 ISBN 0-9636973-3-1)

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