Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/10/20

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Subject: Re: [Leica] The Visoflex System: An Overview
From: "yahoo williamhu99" <>
Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 11:45:22 +0800
References: <> <>

Great artricle! It is heard that VisoflexII's focus screen can be replaced
by a modern Minolta's screen focus. Do you know how to do this job?

- ----- Original Message -----
From: Marc James Small <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2001 5:16 AM
Subject: [Leica] The Visoflex System: An Overview

> In the beginning was the PLOOT.  In anticipation of the upcoming 1936
> Olympics, the Reichsministerium fr Propaganda -- Goebbel's boys, BD! --
> called on Zeiss to produce some cutting-edge long-focus gear to properly
> document the anticipated German victories.  Zeiss responded with the
> CZJ "Olympia" Sonnar, then a direct-mount, RF-coupled lens.  Leitz,
> government backing and without Zeiss' vast financial resources, cobbled
> together as an answer a modified epidiascope and two prototype long-focus
> lenses perhaps intended for large-format use to produce the PLOOT reflex
> housing and the 4.5/20cm or 5/40cm Telyt.  While the shorter Telyt was not
> on par with the Zeiss Olympia Sonnar, the PLOOT reflex housing made the
> outfit quite easy in use, and it was deemed a keeper by the Gnomes of
> From 1936 to 1939, the combination was offered in the riflestock fitment
> first used at Garmisch-Partenkirchen;  this was available with the Telyts
> or 4.5/13.5cm Hektor in a shortened mount to allow infinity focus.  After
> the Second World War, the PLOOT was upgraded with a removeable VF which
> allowed the use of the LOOGI or PAMOO right-angle finders.  Obviously, the
> PLOOT only appeared in LTM:  there are variations in finish and fitment
> these are now quite rare, so this is not a field for budding collectors
> on quickly developing a finished collection!
> In 1951, the PLOOT was superseded by the somewhat more thoughtfully
> developed Visoflex I;  this had the same depth of 62.5mm as did the PLOOT
> so the two shared lenses and attachments.  The original Visoflex I was in
> LTM;  an M version appeared in 1954 and, with the LTM version, remained
> available to 1962.  The standard arrangement for either was to use either
> vertical VF or a 45-degree model.  The Bellows I -- originally introduced
> for the PLOOT in 1950 -- was continued.  There were variations, again, in
> the fine-print;  the accessory shoe is higher on some units than on
> and the like.  Both the PLOOT and Visoflex I, incidentally, bore serial
> numbers, though the Visoflex II and later units did not.
> Both the PLOOT and the Visoflex I normally required a double cable
> with one cable releasing the shutter and the other raising the reflex
> housing's mirror.  A consolidated unit with one button, the so-called
> "Sports Release" or "Release Coupler" was introduced in 1951 for the LTM
> Visoflex I;  a similar unit for the M cameras was developed but never
> marketed due to the development of the Visoflex II.
> The Visoflex II was a much slimmer and more sophisticated model with a
> depth of only 40mm;  it was introduced in both LTM and M in 1959 and
> remained available until 1962.  The Visoflex II no longer required the use
> of a double cable but used a swinging arm to both raise the mirror and
> the camera's shutter release;  it also had a delightfully bright 90-degree
> VF.  In 1962, the Visoflex IIa unit appeared in both LTM and M BM;  it was
> identical to the Visoflex II in every regard save for having the choice of
> a soft or rapid mirror return.  (For a brief span in late 1962 and early
> 1963, a lustful Leica lover could choose between the Visoflex I, II, or
> IIa, in either LTM or M mount.)  A slightly smaller and more efficient
> bellows, the Bellows II, was introduced in 1961 and remained available
> through the life of the II, IIa, and III.
> Finally, in 1963, the pick of the litter came out, the Visoflex III, with
> its choice of mirror lock-up, slow and soft mirror return, or rapid and
> positive mirror return.  The Visoflex III required a slightly different
> 90-degree VF and had a locking ring mount to the camera body but, in all
> other regards, was identical to the II and IIa, so all adapters and
> accessories for these units were interchangeable, just one more example of
> the system approach which has always made the Leica RF such a capable
>  The Visoflex III was only avaiable in M mount;  this unit -- and all of
> its adapters, Telyts, and the Bellows II -- left production in 1984 due to
> their popularity being perceived as cutting into the R camera's sales,
> though some pieces remained available into the 1990's.
> There are hundreds of adapters to fit almost any combination of lens to
> Visoflex units.  I have been cataloguing these for five years and still
> haven't come anywhere close to a definitive listing, in part because many
> of these items only appeared in Leitz medical or scientific catalogues.
> There are also technical versions of all of the reflex housings, for uses
> including microscopy and endoscopy.  These are now rather rare and
> collectors wail at the small chance of scoring even one of these units.
> There were a long series of lenses made especially for use on the various
> Visoflex models, ranging from the 3.5/65 Elmar to the 6.3/800 Telyt-V
> produced in minuscule quantities for the 1972 Munich Olympics.  The last
> these lenses ceased to be marketed in 1984.
> Finally, the raw genius of the PLOOT was such to inspire imitation, that
> sincerest form of flattery.  While some of these units were uninspired,
> such as the FED reflex housing, the Kilfitt  Kilarscope or the Astro
> Identoscope, and one line, the Zeiss Ikon Flektoskop/Flektometer, was
> positively primitive, the Accura and Mller Novoflex housings, are
> extremely well made and are proper competitors to the Wetzlar housings.
> For the historical purist, the PLOOT is the only way to go but, for users,
> the Visoflex III and Bellows II were made in goodly quantities and are
> generally available at reasonable prices.  (For the nosey, I have both of
> the major PLOOT versions, both of the Visoflex I, II, and IIa types, and a
> III, which is by far the most-used of the lot.  I have most of the various
> permutations of VF's for these housings, along with a Bellows II.  And I
> have the 3.5/65 Elmar (first version), the 4.5/20cm Telyt, the 4/200 Telyt
> (first version), the 4.8/280 Telyt (first version), and the 5/400 Telyt
> (second version).)
> Peter Dechert, that noted scholar of things optical and long-time Leica
> user, has been conducting a 'Bring Back Viso!' campaign for the last
> Research continues!  There are adapters out there whose numbers and
> codewords I've not yet run to earth!
> Marc
>  FAX:  +540/343-7315
> Cha robh bs fir gun ghrs fir!
> --
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In reply to: Message from John Collier <> (Re: [Leica] Viso III and lenses)
Message from Marc James Small <> ([Leica] The Visoflex System: An Overview)