Chroma Double Glass Lens – My First Shots – by Sonny Rosenberg
I first heard of the Chroma Double Glass lens in a post here on 35mmc. A new 24mm extremely compact and inexpensive fixed focus, fixed aperture lens for Leica screw mount definitely piqued my interest!
One of my very favorite cameras is my 1949 Leica Ic, it’s essentially a cut down (hot rodded in my mind) IIIc without the whole rangefinder/viewfinder assembly and without the slow speeds. I guess that makes it more of a cut down IIc. In any case, I love its compactness and straightforwardness of purpose. Since I mostly use wide to very wide lenses and zone or hyperlfocal focusing, and since you need an external viewfinder for the lenses I prefer anyway, a more full featured camera seems like unnecessary excess.
When Steve of Chroma Cameras sent out a direct mailing announcing the Double Glass, I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist for long, that proved to be true. I soon enough placed my order for a Double Glass and resolved to wait patiently. Being the owner of a Chroma Six:9 I have a lot of faith in Steve’s designs and quality standards.
The lens arrived the other day, but I didn’t have a chance to shoot it until yesterday. I had Adox CMS 20 II, which has become my favorite black and white film for most occasions loaded into the Ic and the weather had become seriously cloudy. As you may have guessed the box speed of CMS II is only ISO 20, so it’s not the ideal film for overcast days.
Yesterday thought the clouds started to part a bit, so I thought I better get out there. Unfortunately I didn’t get walking and shooting until just a couple hours before sunset, so the sun was rapidly sinking and the shadows were quickly growing long.
My little Reveni Labs meter was often telling me that the correct exposure was 1/15th but the Ic only goes to 1/30th, luckily CMS II has a nice exposure latitude and handled the under exposed shots with aplomb.
So what about the shots? I knew before I developed these shots that the Double Glass wouldn’t be the sharpest of lenses and it’s not. The shots I got from this roll stood in stark contrast to the tack sharp shots that I get with my (Cosina) Voigtlander lenses. The shots are fairly sharp in the center as you’ll see, but the sharpness falls off quickly until the edges of the frame are seriously blurry. To be fair on the issue of blur, many of these shots were taken with a shutter speed of 1/30th and I’m not all that confident of my steadiness at that speed.
The lens does have a particularly nice contrast range to it though, that coupled with the fall off in sharpness gives a look to these shots, that while much different from what I’m used to, I find quite pleasing. I’m going to leave this lens on for a while I think.
As you can see the Double Glass is very much a pancake lens, this makes the combo of it and the Leica extremely coat pocket friendly. It’s also beautifully crafted in anodized aluminum, and of course, coated glass.
Recently I’ve become interested in diffusion filters, because it makes all the sense in the world to gum up your lens and make it blurrier right? Maybe not, but I’m interested in the way light plays on objects and the atmosphere and sometimes, when I’m shooting towards the light, some interesting effects can be had with a diffusion filter.
I knew that with a fixed aperture of f/11 the new 49mm Softar filter I had acquired wouldn’t work properly (diffusion filters seem to be at their best with more wide open apertures), but with the sun being so low in the sky, I just had to see what would happen. The results are a little odd, but interesting I think. I’ve indicated in the captions those few shots that I used the softar on.
All in all, I’m very pleased with the Double Glass. In my mind it’s a lot more like the meniscus lenses on my old folding cameras (but with a modern coating) than more modernish designs like the (Cosina) Voigtlander Heliars and Color Skopars. If you have a Leica screw mount camera and are looking for something extremely compact and focus free, the Double Glass might fit the bill for you.
Thanks for reading this far! If this and things lower-fi and more experimental interest you, consider checking out my little blog The Daily Lumenbox, I just changed hosts and am struggling to get many features of the blog up to speed, so it’s in a pretty crude state at the moment, but I do publish regularly there.
This roll was shot at ISO 25 and developed in Adox Adotech IV.
Sonny Rosenberg is a semi retired Ceramics teacher who lives in Reno Nevada with his wife and three cats.
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