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Leitz Focomat V35

Dedicated to the 35mm, with an auto focus system and a slightly wide-angle lens, the Leitz Focomat V35 is not a very conventional enlarger.
Worthy heir of the old IC and IIC models, its only drawbacks are the max format of 35mm and the impossibility to swing and tilt the lens and film plane for distortion control.

Production stopped around 95, sales have slowed down as its price has increased in an impressive manner during the years: from a 1800CHF price tag in 79-80', it was over 5000CHF around 95' ...

It's a pity because this enlarger has an outstanding optical and mechanical quality and is particularly agreeable and fast to use.
Well, it's the nearly perfect enlarger. If you can find a used one at a good price, don't let it go !




Enlarger's Head

  1. Color head
  2. Filters disengaging lever
  3. Head's releasing knob
  4. Enlargement ratio scale
  5. Lens
  6. Jobotronic 200 probe positioned for integral reading (not standard part of the V35)
  7. Film carrier
  8. Film carrier releasing levers
  9. Negative masking knobs
  10. Manual focus ring

The smiley is not standard equipment ...

Head/Column Height Adjustment

Enlargement ratio adjustment and column height adjustment to maintain the auto focus also with very thick easels.
As the V35 shows directly the enlargment ration, it's very quick to extrapolate the exposure duration of a new size enlargment based on a previous one provided we know the ratio and exposure time of the previous one.

Which gives us, for the AF range of the V35:

Light Path

The light path and the lamp with its cooling cap.

Two versions of the mixing light boxes

The original model used a single condensor design right above the negative carrier. During 1987, Leitz changed this light box by adding a second condensor which purpose was to more evenly illuminate the negative.

Description of the differences between the two designs as published in Leica Fotografie late 1987:
You can identify the later box by a (very) small dimple in one of the corners of the output base of the light box (indicated by an arrow in following draft).

Thanks to Jem Kime for these informations regarding the mixing light boxes.

Bulb Specifications

Original Bulbs

There has been two variations for the lamps: the very first models had the Philips 6604 but a few years later, Leitz introduced another lamp shape (envelope MR16 and unchanged socket GZ6.35 -> Philips 13139 or Osram 64615 or EFN), here are the differences:

The original Philips 6604 are difficult to find, it could be easier to replace the lamp holder. Officially, the Philips 13139 should be better than the other models ...
The Osram model has a notch on the front that prevents a proper positioning, it's nonetheless possible to grind it down  ...

The actual Philips 13139 (left) and the old Philips 6604 (right)

These halogen bulbs heat a lot and their reflector is transparent to IRs to evacuate the heat to the holder and then to the external radiator.
As the bulb changed, the holder must also change and I must admit the new one is a bit tinkered:

The actual lamp holder (left) and the old one (right), front view.

The same, rear view.

The lamps in their respective holders. New (left), old (right)
Light intensity reaches 5.85Lux at f/8 and an enlargement ratio of 10 (with the Philips 6604).
If you can't find the recommended bulbs, use one with a projection angle of around 15 and evacuates easily heat backwards (transparent to infra-red, also called "cold mirror").
I heard of people putting 100W bulbs with wide angles of 30 or 45 that were complaining about long exposures: they were only heating the head as the majority of the light remained trapped inside ...

Replacing the lamp holder by the new one

To find the genuine Leica new lamp holder may not be that easy but German company Kienzle started to produce them a few years ago:

Reusing the old reflector with a new filament

For those still using the first version of the lamp, it's possible to keep the reflector (this is what matters for the lamp holder) and replace the internal bulb that contains the filamen.
This DYI method is explained in following page:

Using a lamp with a wider beam angle

As explained above, the original beam angle is around 15 but finding such lamp may not be that easy, then you could make an adaptor, a kind of "light tunnel" to convey all the light emitted by the lamp to the lightbox.
To do this, us a metallic tube and paint the inside with a white heat-resistant paint, this tube going from the outside of the lamp reflector to the entry of the lightbox.
This way, light losses will be reduced and exposure timings will be short again.

Using LED Bulbs

The arrival of the new LED technology for lighting opens new possibilities:

In terms of power, to reach the same light output of the original halogen 75W, you need a LED power of around 15W.
Seen the very good efficiency of the LEDs, cooling the head is no more critical and you can skip the original bulb holder and radiator which gives you a lot possibilities to play with ...

The spectral emission of white LEds does not have the linearity of a halogen light and will certainly require to adjust the filtering for multigrade B/W printing.
For color printing, is suggest to wait until LED technology improves.

For the best DIYers, instead of using a white LED, it is possible to use a set of RGB LEDs in additive filtration mode and using them either all together with a fixed exposure time and adjusting the 3 LEDs output or separately with a differentiated exposure time for each color channel.
Such an additive filtering allows to use the lamp for multigrade or color printing without using the following filters of the original color head.

This technology is used by Heiland on their color/multigrade LED modules for the V35:

Color/Multigrade/BW Modules

Color module

Multigrade module

B/W module

Two more views of the color module

Exposure correction factors depending on filtration (color module)

Follow the row/column of the filter you set and multiply time by the corresponding factor.
More about filtering on this page.

Negative Holders

Various negative holders (standard on the left)

Negative holder for uncutted films

The holder for mounted slides.

The AF Mechanism

The heart of the auto focus system with its cam which varies the lens position and the WA-Focotar 40mm f/2.8 lens with its luminous diaphragm scale and the lower stepped ring which can also be lowered for a step less usage. On the right, the dimensions of the brass bearing used in conjunction with the cam.

Adjusting the AF

  • Set column height to the height of the printing easel or to 0 if you don't use an easel.
  • Set head's position to its highest position.
  • Focus with the large helicoidal ring (15).
  • If the ring is outside the notch, unscrew the knob (17) on it and turn the ring (15) while maintaining the lens (16) with the other hand until you reach the notch. Screw the knob (17) and check the focus again.
  • Focus is maintained throughout all autofocus domain when the ring (15) is in the notch.

Focusing Ring

The focusing ring has a very small screw opposite to the small knob you can see on the picture. This small screw hides the mechanism that gives the "stop" you can feel when you turn the ring which marks the auto focus position.
It is strongly advised NOT to unscrew it as it retains a small bearing ball compressed by a spring, chances to throw that ball to the opposite side of your room are great (believe me) ...
Nonetheless, if you already had this bad idea, here are the dimensions of the various components:

  • Hole: diameter of 2mm (0.079")
  • Bearing ball: diameter 1.8mm (0.071")
  • Spring: diameter 1.8mm (0.071"), length 3mm (0.118")

Positioning the Lens Aperture Index

  • Set head's position to its minimum height
  • Unscrew the large ring (18)
  • Turn the lens (16) together with the upper ring (19) until the diaphragm window is in the desired position.

Red Filter

Multigrade RC paper printing without an easel is not comfortable with a color head as you cannot switch from a red filter to the multigrade filter quickly. To make it easier, I've added a retractable red filter below the lens.

The model used for this mod looks very similar to this LPL/Omega version ref. 200672.
I had to make a thread at the end of the shaft and glue on a nut to act as a stopper.

Electrical Wiring

A view under the column with the baseboard dismounted showing the electrical wiring:

  1. Phase (Hot)
  2. Ground
  3. Neutral (Cold)
  4. On/Off switch
  5. Fuse
  6. Chassis grounding
  7. 220/110V selector (not wired !)
  8. 220/12V transformer
  9. 220V transformer primary
  10. 12V secondary transformer

Modification done for direct 12V wiring from a stabilized supply:

  1. 12V, pole +
  2. 12V, pole -
  3. Old wires kept for an eventual 230V recabling
  4. Direct connection on the wires going to the bulb
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