Throwing Shade: XOONS, SOOPD, FISON, FIKUS & Other Made-Up Words

As a user of a modest pile of vintage thread mount Leica lenses, I’ve found that shooters often skimp on using shades with these little wonders.  Sadly, some of these lenses get a bad rep as a result of what is essentially, improper use.

The driver is most certainly, cost.  Perhaps not surprisingly, vintage Leica shades in good nick can sell for disproportionately high sums.  Often they fetch more than LTM lenses and bodies themselves!

I’m here to testify, however, that while you can usually get by without a shade for modern, multi-coated lenses, these early uncoated and single coated lenses flare at the drop of the proverbial hat.

So if you’re not a “Leica Lomographer” and you want to squeeze every drop of performance out of your vintage Leitz, in addition to normal servicing, it needs a correct, properly fitting hood.  Just by looking at photos of them., Leica shades may not seem worth their price.  But, like all things Leica, they are made exceptionally well and you’ll know it when you handle them!  If you’re like me, you might just find yourself enchanted by their precision and thoughtful design.

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The correct shade for a 5cm f2 Summar is the Leica SOOMP.  It’s a rather unrefined looking, large, boxy, clamp-on box with a viewfinder cutaway.  I’m sure it works wonderfully but, I’ll be honest, I just think that SOOMP looks ridiculous.  I’m not even going to post a photo of it here!

Maybe the silly looking hoods are the OTHER reason, besides high costs, that drive people to leave them off their vintage Leitz lenses!

I have chosen to use a black FISON with my Summar.  This hood is designed for use with 5cm f3.5 Elmars so it does not cover as well on the faster Summar lens.  But I am quite taken with it’s style and FISON does quite a good job on the Summar.  I like that its diameter is the same 39mm as the diameter of the front of the lens so that I can put my lens cap directly on the hood.  Presumably, it was designed for the “Elmar 5cm” script to face upwards.  This makes the set-screw stick out on the side.  I find this cumbersome to adjust aperture on the Summar so I simply face the set-screw to the bottom of the lens and it works out beautifully.  The chrome FISON is much cheaper than black, if you’re in the market.

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One of the few prudently priced lens shades I recommend to anyone with multiple LTM lenses is the FIKUS.  It is a circular hood that telescopes to three different focal lengths, alleviating the need to carry three different hoods for your 5cm, 9cm and 13.5cm.  FIKUS also happens to be pretty cheap, usually well under $100.  My only complaint is that it does not lock into each lens length setting so it’s not fast to change.  But it fits the lens barrel nicely with minimal, if any, finder blockage and is very compact and handsome in appearance with a black-chrome-black motif.  FIKUS fits at least one of my other lenses but is usually companion to my 9cm Elmar.  IUFOO is the dedicated shade for this lens.  The 9cm Elmar is a fantastic performer that is aided by use of a shade, though it does look a bit Pinochio-esque!

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Hey, Stupid, use a SOOPD!  One shade that doesn’t get much time off the bench but I find absolutely beautiful is the SOOPD, for 5cm f2 Summitars.

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I bought this hood for my Summitar, not really realising how large it is.  I really feel silly using it but I haven’t had the heart to hock it because it’s just so goddamn marvelous.  It has black crinkle finish paint on its rear panel and front panels have a silky smooth matte finish with big, proud engraving.  There are two versions of the SOOPD but I think they both carry the same name; a push button pressure fit mount, which is very common and a rare clamp-on type.  Anyway, what’s amazing about these hoods is that they fold flat with remarkable ease and precision.  Open or closed, there is very little, maybe zero play in SOOPD, an excellent example of Leica’s manufacturing panache.

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Call me SOOPD (haha, I could do this all day) but I have resigned to using a far less cool but, I think far less silly looking Chinese knock-off screw-in Summicron-style shade on my Summitar.  This requires a 36.5 to 39mm step-up ring, preferably the official Leica one if you can find a copy.   The Chinese adapter and shade are made of aluminum or some such junk but the shade’s vented and is quite effective.  BE CAREFUL NOT TO CROSS THREAD the Chinese adapter and/or shade.  This is very easy to do and not very easy to remove.  If you want to use a lens cap without removing the Summicron-style shade, a modern plastic clip-on cap will work well albeit reduces cool points even further.  Leica seems to have made a point of over-engineering their 50/2 hoods, considering how well this and that FISON work on these lenses.

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While any vintage LTM lens will elicit compliments, I get the most when sporting my go-to 50 and it’s proper shade.  Even the salesmen with daily haircuts at the SOHO Leica Store were intrigued by this rig.  The XOONS shade is made specifically for Leica’s first superfast lens, the 5cm 1.5 Summarit.  It’s a beautiful crinkle finish black, clamp-on hood with the familiar precision, white paint-filled engraving.  My copy is generously brassed in photojournalist chic and gets all the double-takes from jealous gawkers.  I’m KINDA joking.  😉

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It’s large, but not awkwardly so.  It’s rectangular, but features angled corners.  And like all real Leica shades, the brass is perfectly rigid.  There’s a little cutaway to alleviate the slight finder blockage.  You can reverse mount XOONS for storage on your Summarit if you wish.  I don’t like to use this lens/shade on LTM bodies but wow does it balance and handle with beauty and grace on my M6 TTL.  The Summarit/XOONS designers must have been peering into their crystal ball.  XOONS doesn’t fold up or fit other lenses (that I’m aware of) but it’s just a good looking, tough little hood that has been nothing short of lovely in form and function on the Summarit.

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So listen, XOONS, SOOPD, FISON, FIKUS, whatever, DON’T SKIMP ON THE SHADE!!!  It’s important!  At the very least, a nice shade will dress up an already hip optic and offer some front element protection.

Take good care of those vintage Leicas, fellas.  Thanks for reading!

 

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4 thoughts on “Throwing Shade: XOONS, SOOPD, FISON, FIKUS & Other Made-Up Words

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