miércoles, 20 de julio de 2016

HALLADA UNA NUEVA FOTOGRAFÍA DE REFUGIADOS DE CERRO MURIANO EN PLENA HUIDA HECHA POR CAPA: AUMENTA TODAVÍA MÁS SI CABE LA LEYENDA DEL FOTOPERIODISTA HÚNGARO DE ORIGEN JUDÍO



Desde 2009, el transcurrir de los años está agrandando cada vez más la figura de Robert Capa, considerado el mejor fotógrafo de guerra de la historia, fundador de la Agencia Magnum y hombre que luchó a brazo partido por preservar los derechos de los fotógrafos.

Su excepcional reportaje realizado a los refugiados de Cerro Muriano el día 5 de Septiembre de 1936 durante su huida a pie del bombardeo por parte de aviones franquistas, a través de la salida norte del pueblo, siguiendo hasta la antigua Estación de Tren de Obejo y El Vacar, caminando en una auténtica odisea de 11 km a pleno sol durante la sobremesa del mencionado día entre aproximadamente las 15:00 h y las 18:00 h, con una temperatura próxima a los 40º C y con muchas madres y abuelas teniendo que llevar en brazos a sus bebés, se ve realzada ahora, 80 años después, todavía más si cabe, gracias a la fotografía que amablemente ha enviado a elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com Frank Albrecht, uno de los anticuarios más importantes de Alemania, coleccionista de copias vintage originales y propietario de Antiquariat Frank Albrecht en Schriesheim (Alemania), una imagen desconocida hasta ahora en cuanto a su autoría y ubicación, hecha por Capa con su Leica II (Model D) en un tramo del antiguo camino Cerro Muriano-Estación de Tren de Obejo junto a la vía férrea Córdoba-Almorchón, aproximadamente a 3 km de Cerro Muriano.

La fotografía es en mi opinión soberbia, hecha por Capa a bocajarro desde una ligera diagonal derecha y a una distancia de aproximadamente dos metros.


En esta imagen se aprecia a la izquierda a una mujer ataviada con un vestido de campesina muy desgastado (repleto de manchas y un roto visibles de cintura hacia abajo), con diseño de pequeños cuadros y cuyas mangas están subidas, que lleva en brazos a la más joven de sus hijas, una niña de aproximadamente un año de edad (que lleva puesto un pequeño vestido blanco con botonadura a la espalda), cuya parte interna de las rodillas sujeta con su brazo derecho, mientras con la mano izquierda ase las nalgas de la criatura para poder mantener un precario equilibrio momentáneamente algo reforzado por el brazo derecho de la niña, que defensivamente se aferra como puede al cuello de su madre.


Debido a la precipitación de la huida y el pánico generado por la explosión de las bombas, esta mujer ha emprendido la marcha saliendo de Cerro Muriano con lo puesto y con gran rapidez, sin tener tiempo siquiera de poner a la jovencísima niña al menos un pañal y unos zapatos.


La expresión de angustia de la madre, que teme por la vida de su jovencísima niña, es desoladora, y está concentrada en salvar cuanto antes a su pequeña hija, lo cual es detectado por Capa, que hace la fotografía desde una distancia increíblemente próxima, con la madre absorta en sus miedos, de tal manera que no está mirando a la cámara cuando Capa aprieta el botón liberador del obturador de su Leica II (Model D) con objetivo Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 no revestido.

Se aprecian dos dedos de la criatura que cuelgan a la izquierda de sus nalgas, ya que la niña está ya bastante cansada y no tiene fuerzas para elevar el brazo y mano izquierda y aferrarlos al cuello de su madre.


Capa siempre atento a los más mínimos detalles, tomando decisiones de manera muy rápida y captando los instantes más significativos con un tiro rapidísimo y una precisión increíble de timing al disparar.

En la imagen aparecen también otras cinco personas:


- Un chico de unos 9 años de edad, visible a la derecha del todo de la fotografía, y que es hijo de la mujer que encabeza el grupo y lleva en brazos a la jovencísima niña de aproximadamente un año semidesnuda.

Este chico es el más próximo a Capa cuando éste crea la imagen, pero por increíble que pueda parecer, el chico no está mirando a la cámara, sino que camina absorto en sus pensamientos y es captado por Capa sin que se de cuenta.

Este muchacho lleva una camisa de manga larga oscura, casi totalmente abierta (rodeada en su zona superior por una cuerda gruesa con varios nudos en su centro), muy desgastada y a la que le faltan varios botones, y son visibles abundantes manchas en la mitad inferior izquierda de la camisa, ya que en aquella época, las condiciones de trabajo en el campo eran míseras, con jornadas de trabajo de sol a sol entre 12 y 14 horas y remuneraciones mínimas de mera supervivencia por parte de acaudalados terratenientes que poseían la inmensa mayoría de las tierras, así como una alimentación muy deficiente, especialmente en  proteínas, un contexto además en el que los niños generalmente trabajaban en el campo desde los 6 años ayudando a sus familias, y la falta de recursos económicos hacía que con frecuencia, con excepción de los Domingos, la totalidad de integrantes de las familias campesinas tuvieran que llevar la misma ropa y calzado todos los días (con el consiguiente rápido deterioro de los mismos), por lo que las madres (que se casaban muy jóvenes y a menudo tenían el primer hijo entre los 18 y los 22 años), después de las durísimas faenas en el campo, se veían obligadas a lavar la ropa constantemente, además de tener que cocinar para toda la familia al menos dos veces al día, por lo que la jornada laboral de las mujeres campesinas de la época era en la práctica de unas 16-17 horas diarias y acababan extenuadas, envejeciendo rápidamente a partir de la treintena.


- Justo detrás del chico de unos 9 años de edad, aparece una niña de aproximadamente 5 años, que es su hermana y camina agarradando con su mano izquierda la mano derecha de su hermano. Viste camiseta oscura de manga corta.

Y de nuevo, de modo asombroso, no está mirando a cámara, sino que avanza absorta en sus pensamientos y con la mirada perdida, al igual que su hermano mayor y su madre, ante un futuro incierto.


El tiro de Capa es al límite para no ser detectado, muy rápido, eligiendo diafragma f/3.5 a plena abertura y enfocando sobre la madre que va en cabeza y que lleva a su hija pequeña de aproximadamente 1 año de edad en brazos, para darle todo el protagonismo posible dejando el fondo desenfocado y percibiendo por anticipado que el plano de nitidez tanto del hijo mayor como incluso de la hija mediana que va agarrada de la mano ligeramente detrás de él, va a coincidir en buena medida con el de su madre.


- Al fondo y ya desenfocados se aprecia a otra madre joven con vestido totalmente blanco que lleva en brazos a su hijo muy joven, de aproximadamente año y medio, con indumentaria superior de color blanco, y al que la madre ha tenido tiempo de ponerle unos pañales y los zapatos apresuradamente.

Esta mujer sujeta a su hijo más pequeño en una posición similar a la que encabeza el grupo, agarrando a la criatura de su muslo derecho con su mano izquierda y sujetando sus nalgas con su mano derecha, en un equilibrio aún más inestable y con riesgo de caída, ya que el cansancio ha hecho que este niño de poco más de un año no tenga fuerzas para agarrarse al cuello de su madre con ninguno de los dos brazos y manos.


- Finalmente, en el extremo derecho central de la imagen, justo detrás del hombro izquierdo y oreja izquierda del chico de unos 9 años de edad que va delante de él (y que es hijo de la mujer que encabeza el grupo y lleva a su bebé semidesnudo agarrado por detrás de las rodillas y de sus nalgas), se aprecia la cabeza y hombro izquierdo de una chica de edad similar, unos 9 ó 10 años, que camina al fondo junto a la otra madre que lleva en brazos a su hijo pequeño de aproximadamente año y medio de edad con zapatos.

Esta chica de unos 9 ó 10 años está mirando a  la derecha de Capa y aparece desenfocada en la imagen, al igual que la mujer con su niño pequeño al que ha podido poner zapatos, que camina a su altura, y de la que probablemente es la hija mayor.

Le fotografía es muy interesante por varios motivos:

a) Confirma por enésima vez el don para la fotografía de guerra, impresionante velocidad de trabajo y muy rápida toma de decisiones por parte de Capa a la hora de elegir los diafragmas y velocidades de obturación, los encuadres, y sobre todo, los elementos compositivamente más interesantes y significativos, muy especialmente las personas víctimas inocentes de la guerra.

Es un tipo de fotografía en el que la excelencia de la imagen desde un punto de vista técnico con respecto a su nitidez, contraste, dirección y calidad de la luz, etc, pasa a un segundo plano, y lo importante es estar en el lugar adecuado en el momento adecuado, acercarse lo máximo posible al sujeto/s, elegir el instante más definitorio para apretar el botón disparador de la cámara pasando desapercibido y conseguir hacer la foto.

Es el sueño de todo fotoperiodista de raza: volverse por así decirlo invisible, en el momento en que hace una buena fotografía, y en ésto, sin ningún género de dudas, Robert Capa ha sido uno de los más grandes fotógrafos de la historia, como queda demostrado en esta imagen, al igual que en muchísimas otras hechas por él en España y diferentes países por todo el mundo en sus 22 años de carrera como fotógrafo profesional.


Nos hallamos ante un auténtico killer, que para hacer esta fotografía se aproxima desde la derecha y no de modo perpendicular, con mucho respeto hacia las personas fotografiadas, intentando por todos los medios no obstruir su marcha en condiciones tan penosas y dramáticas, ya que se trata de seres humanos que han abandonado sus hogares y todo su pasado.

Capa realiza el disparo prácticamente a bocajarro, desde unos 2 metros de distancia, sorprendiéndoles sin ser detectado en el momento en que crea la imagen, algo de extrema dificultad en un contexto como éste, disparando desde tan sumamente cerca, aprovechando en su fase inicial de aproximación desde la derecha el hecho de que el cuerpo del chico de unos 9 años más próximo a la cámara ubicado a la derecha evita que la madre con su de aproximadamente año y medio de edad que lleva zapatos y el muchacho que camina a su lado (probablemente su hijo mayor) le vean antes de hacer la foto.

Además, Capa se ha dado cuenta también, pocos segundos antes, de que la mujer al frente del grupo avanza enormemente preocupada por la seguridad de su niña pequeña de aproximadamente 1 año de edad que va semidesnuda, por lo que está ensimismada y no mira a la cámara, al igual que la otra madre desenfocada con su hijo pequeño de alrededor de año y medio de edad, vestido de blanco y calzado con zapatos visible al fondo, que mira hacia adelante y el chico del fondo a la derecha con rictus de cansancio y calor y que mira a la derecha de Capa, sin detectar tampoco a éste.
b) Esta extraordinaria fotografía es un gran ejemplo del arquetipo de imagen Leica fotoperiodística de los años treinta, cuarenta y cincuenta, en la que el enfoque no es perfecto al 100%, (un aspecto estudiado en profundidad por Michael Auer y explicado en muchas de sus conferencias), debido a la gran velocidad de trabajo por parte de los fotógrafos con las cámaras mirrorless de formato 24 x 36 mm más pequeñas de la historia: las Leica telemétricas de montura de rosca con objetivos Leitz también de muy pequeño tamaño y peso en proporción con las cámaras y que fueron utilizadas durante los años treinta, cuarenta y cincuenta (la época dorada del fotoperiodismo a nivel mundial) con gran pericia por fotógrafos de la talla de Ilse Bing, Tim Gidal, Erich Salomon, Walter Bosshard, Alexander Rodchenko, Arthur Rothstein, André Kertész, Lotte Jacobi, Otto Umbehr "Umbo", Izis, Harald Lechenperg, Dr. Paul Wolff, Kurt Hutton, Balkin, E.P. Hahn, Felix H.Mann, Wolfgang Weber,  David Seymour "Chim", Tom McAvoy, Agustí Centelles, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Werner Bischof, George Rodger, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Douglas Duncan, Peter Stackpole, Willy Rudge, Ed van der Elsken, Ludwig Schricker, Walther Benser, Dr. Otto Steinert, Martin Muncaksi, Yevgeni Khaldei, Peter Magubane y otros.

c) Además de fijar en el tiempo a los habitantes de Cerro Muriano a los que dignifica y hace que pervivan en el recuerdo durante su huida del pueblo para escapar de las bombas de la aviación franquista, la imagen sintetiza

                                     © José Manuel Serrano Esparza

la gran simbiosis operativa en manos de Robert Capa entre la Leica II (Model D) telemétrica de 35 mm con objetivos intercambiables creada por Oskar Barnack (una obra maestra de precisión, cuyas diminutas dimensiones, ausencia de espejo basculante, obturador mecánico con cortinillas de seda engomada que es una maravilla de ingeniería y ruido casi imperceptible, fueron obra del gran ingeniero y experto alemán en mecánica de Leitz Wetzlar, Alemania)

                                    © José Manuel Serrano Esparza

y el objetivo Leitz Elmar de 4 elementos en 3 grupos y esquema óptico triplete Cooke modificado diseñado por Professor Max Berek, que consigue una notable nitidez y resolución incluso a plena abertura, aunque el viñeteado aparece inevitablemente en la foto hecha a f/3.5, potenciando todavía más la característica y bella estética vintage propia de las fotografías de esta época hechas con emulsiones de blanco y negro de muy baja sensibilidad y que contenían grandes cantidades de haluros de plata.

Por otra parte, esta fotografía ha sido recortada verticalmente en su zona izquierda (obsérvese la ausencia de viñeteado en la esquina superior izquierda de la imagen, que ha de existir en el negativo original Eastman Kodak Nitrate Panchromatic cinematográfico formato 24 x 36 mm con aspect ratio 2;3 y sensibilidad Weston 32, equivalente a aproximadamente ISO 40), que incluye más aire a la izquierda, ya que Csiki Weisz, el laboratorista y gran amigo de Capa en París que revelaba sus rollos de película de blanco y negro de 35 mm, solía hacer copias en papel fotográfico recortando parte de la imagen original hasta dejarla en una proporción 4:3 o incluso 4:5 similar a los negativos de 4 x 5 ", que eran los aspect ratios que mejor se ajustaban a la paginación de las mejores revistas ilustradas de la época, sin olvidar el hecho frecuente de que cuando se trataba de las publicaciones más prestigiosas, se enviaban con frecuencia — por insólito que pueda parecer hoy en día — los negativos originales de las fotografías, que eran muchas veces reencuadradas con los mencionados aspect ratios al hacer la impresión.

elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com desea expresar su agradecmiento a Antiquariat Frank Albrecht Schriesheim (Alemania) por la confianza depositada en nosotros, así como su sensibilidad y comprensión de la obra de Robert Capa en la Historia de la Fotografía Mundial.

© Texto y Fotos Indicadas José Manuel Serrano Esparza. Inscrito en el Registro Territorial de la Propiedad Intelectual de Madrid.

P.S: Si hubiera algún error en el texto de este artículo, es responsabilidad exclusiva de José Manuel Serrano Esparza.

sábado, 9 de julio de 2016

CUCCIOLO T2 ENGINE: THE BEGINNING OF DUCATI´S INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION

Enea Entati, one of the foremost restaurators of classic Ducati motorcycles in the world, featuring a experience of more than fifty years in his trade, holds an amazing unit of the Ducati 48 c.c Cucciolo T2 engine manufactured in 1949 and currently in excellent cosmetic condition and perfect working state, which has been painstakingly preserved by Ducati throughout 77 years.

In 1948 (two years after the introduction into market of the original 48 cc Cucciolo 1, designed by Aldo Farinelli and Aldo Leoni as a four-stroke with over head valves, two speed gears and chain drive small engine to be attached to pedal bicycles and which sold well from 1946, manufactured by Ducati under S.I.A.T.A — Società Italiana Auto Trasformazioni Accesori, based in Turin— licence, at a period in which vast majority of the other clip-on engine assemblies from other brands were mostly two strokes), Ducati decided to utterly redesign the Cucciolo 1, creating the Cucciolo T2 engine. designed by the Chief Engineer Giovanni Fiorio and the first project tackled by Ducati in the motorcycle engine sphere, that featured a number of advantages over its predecessor:

- A modified cylinder head.

- The oil filters are in a different position.

- A more stalwart structure of both metallic components and assembly groups.

- A more accessible drive mechanism.

- A superior powerplant performance.

- A raised rating.

- A revamping of the single cylinder, which was made removable.

- An increase in power.

- The engine was cantilevered.

- The crankcase splits in a different way.

- A first-string reliability in comparison to the Cucciolo T1 that was a bit temperamental and sometimes suffered from overheating.

Enea Entati grabbing the Ducati 48 c.c Cucciolo T2 engine unit made in 1949 beside Gianfranco Zappoli, Head of the Ducati Office of Mechanical Works and a world class authority in bike engines mechanics and motion physics along with the energy aspects related to the transformations involving thermal phenomena in engine operation. Gianfranco Zappoli has worked in Ducati for 43 years and features more than thirty years of experience in the production departments of Ducati. He is presently the Secretary of the Ducati Historical Register and likewise a remarkable expert in motorcycle engine efficiency resulting in less consumption, as well as having implemented a very important and praiseworthy teaching labour as a Technical Head of the Ducati Physics Laboratory in Moto.

Emotions run high while Enea Entati (collaborator of Ducati Group as a skilfull restaurator of classic and vintage Ducati motorcycles), Giuliano Golinelli (avid Ducati motorcyclist boasting an experience of twenty years as a restaurator specialized in Scrambler models as well as being a Ducati collaborator in the historical register), Gianfranco Zappoli (in Ducati since 1973, when he began as a worker until becoming plant engineer and subsequently turning into an internationally recognized authority in motorcycle engines efficiency, being at present Head of the Ducati Office of Mechanical Works and Technical Head of the Ducati Physics Laboratory in Moto, in addition to being a frequent guide in the tours to the Ducati Borgo Panigale factory in Bolonia), 
Gianluigi Mengoli (Director of Ducati Research and Dvelopment and current Honorary President of the Ducati Historical Register, father of the Desmoquattro powerhouse along with Massimo Bordi and designer of many of the most famous powerplants for Ducati bikes, among them the mythical 90-degree V-Twin Ducati Pantah with the genius Fabio Taglioni in 1976, the Desmoquattro Ducati 851 — which pioneered the use of four valve heads, liquid cooling and computerized fuel injection in the company´s twin cylinder engines— and Ducati 888 engines in 1987 and 1991 respectively, with the Desmoquattro valvetrain concept bringing about a four valve per cylinder engine working through desmodromic valves in synergy with cams opening and closing them, with four rockers placed between the camshafts to improve the port design and with which Ducati would start its halcyon days in SBK, managing to win the record figure of 15 Superbike World Championships between 1990 and 2011, the Monster 1000 Dark and 1000 S engines in 2003 with increased power and optimized cooling as defining parameters, being nowadays the greatest authority on desmodromic valve control systems and efficient combustion chambers and one of the most relevant personalities in Ducati History, together with Mario Recchia, Fabio Taglioni, Franco Farné, Massimo Bordi, Massimo Tamburini, Pierre Terblanche, Miguel Galluzzi, Giandrea Fabbro, the Ducati living encyclopedia Livio Lodi, etc), Giuseppe Di Marco (in Ducati since 1976 and a man who saved a lot of corporate historical material in all sectors), and Isa Baraldi (Enea Entati´s wife and also a Ducati heartfelt enthusiast) pose for the camera with the Cucciolo T2 engine.

The gorgeous 48 cc Cucciolo T2 engine, a masterpiece of engineering precision and miniaturization, which already in late forties and early fifties epitomized the love for the product, optimized performance and obsession for perfection that has since then been Ducati´s raison d´etre. On top we can see the valve operating rods painted in black, the intake being grasped by Enea Entati, and behind it are the crankcase cylinder and cylinder head, both of them made with aluminium alloy and heavily finned for efficient cooling. The cylinder is detachable from the crankcase, which simplifies the inspection, decarbonizing, valve grinding and reboring. 

And in the lower area of the cylinder runs the three-ring aluminium piston — here in down position — with oil scraper ring (inside an iron sleeve onto which the alloy finning of the cylinder is diecast), linked by a steel connecting rod running on needle rollers to the crankpin, which is held between two cranks running on ball-bearings. 

Enea Entati making the three-ring aluminium piston go to its up position in the lower area of the cylinder.

On its turn, the middle and lower area of this side of the Cucciolo T2 engine is occupied by the crankcase (complete with bearing races, washers and tapped guides) and reveals the two-speed gearbox system transmitting the primary drive from the crankshaft pinion through the cam driving gear to the multiple metal plate clutch, then through the mainshaft gear pinions to the lay shaft pinions, with the inner end of the lay shaft being the bearing spindle for the single profile cam and the cam gear, and the outer end of the key shaft passes through the crankcase casting and carries the driving sprocket. This way, the two cogwheels visible are the driven sprockets for first speed and second speed.

This wise and visionary entrepreneurial decision by Ducati of designing the new Cucciolo T2, strongly inspired by the Cucciolo 1 and its two-speed gearbox drawing the full potential of the powerhouse and primary transmission by gears, but providing the aforementioned highly significant upgradings, proved to be a key movement for the future of the brand,

The conspicuous international sales success of the Cucciolo T2 engine, enabled Ducati to get the necessary prestige and cash flow to grow as a firm within the motorcycle scope and deal with more projects and the creation and manufacturing of new increasingly better models of bikes until getting an exceedingly far-reaching influence in the worldwide market, specially since the introduction of two state-of-the-art bikes designed by Fabio Taglioni: the Ducati 250 twin-cylinder Desmo in 1960 (with which Mike Hailwood made the fastest lap at Silverstone circuit, reaching a speed of 147 km/h) and the Ducati 750 GT bike (with desmodromic 90º V-Twin engine and round crankcase), followed in 1979 by the Pantah 500 which inaugurated the use of engines featuring toothed belts instead of the classical bevel gear powerplants of the previous Ducati motorcycles.
since sales skyrocketed not only in Italy but also in other worldwide countries where as early as 1949 the Cucciolo T2 began to be imported by foreign firms in United Kingdom (imported by Britax), France (built under Ducati licence by M. Rocher, as well as being offered by other firms like Alliot Bergerac Dordogne, Breton Baby Moto in Saint Etienne, Elvish Fontan in Pau, Foucas et Rochas in Toulouse, Gottfried Mulhouse in Haute-Rhin, and even the prestigious French firm Productions AGF sold its own top class Le Poulain moped in two configurations: with its own engine for a price of 55,500 francs and with the Cucciolo T2 engine adapted for 66,500 francs, for those customers craving for the best possible performance, speed, reliability in every weather condition and the lowest fuel consumption, without forgetting the major fact that the French manufacturer of top quality bicycles M. Zwang offered its push-bicycles with attached Cucciolos T2 engines between 1950 and 1955 ), United States (with massive sales in New York City), Australia (whose first Ducati importer was Rene Joseph Bregozzo with his firm R.J. Breg & Co in Sydney, and with other major importers like Nock & Kirby´s Ltd in Sydney, Mayfairs in Brisbane, W.J.Lucas Ltd. in Perth, Eddys Ltd. in Adelaide), Argentina (imported by Mario Franchini). Czechoslovakia ( imported by Jaroslav Juhan ) and others, in which the Cucciolo T2 engine attached to different bicycles became an exceedingly versatile means of transport both as a daily workhorse or to travel between villages and cities, with an incredibly low fuel consumption and ease of handling.

Another view of the 48 cc Ducati Cucciolo T2 engine unit from 1949 showing on top of it the induction pipe protruding on the left, the valves operating rods painted in black, the crankcase cylinder, the cylinder and head with valve guides, the exhaust pipe painted in black colour and coming out of the round outlet located in the external middle zone of the cylinder, and under it the crankcase complete with bearing races, washers and tappet guides. The massive presence of first-rate aluminium alloy and the great mechanizing and polishing of the metal in different sections and components confer this engine an unutterable timeless beauty and vintage appearance.

The British specialized motorcycling magazines recognized the superior level of engineering, reliability, fuel efficiency (1 litre/100 km !), quality of materials, maximum speed of 40 km/h and top-notch mechanizing of the Cucciolo T2 and hailed it as the best cycle attachment engine in the world.

The international success of the single cylinder 1.5 H.P at 5.500 rpm Cucciolo T2 engine was so big that Ducati also launched into market a 2 H.P sporting version, able to reach a top speed of 60 km/h.

Therefore, the 48 c.c Ducati Cucciolo T2 featuring a bore x stroke of 39 mm x 40 mm was considered to be the Rolls-Royce of the auxiliary motor units for pedal bicycles, a real masterpiece of greatly handcrafted precision, reliability and power, to such an extent that it was used replacing the not very good cyclemotors engines of the time like the ones sported by the elegant British made Phillips motorized cyclemotors and being attached to their frames.


Besides, the 48 cc Cucciolo T2 engine also gained a deserved international fame thanks to feats like:

- The victory of the Ducati pilot Mario Recchia in the Viareggio Circuit race on February 15, 1947, with a Cucciolo engine adapted to a bicycle.

- The world record of speed in the 50 c.c category achieved by the Italian pilots Tamarozzi and Zitelli in Monza Circuit in 1950.

- The travel in Australia in which Rene Joseph Bregozzo rode 631 miles on a Cucciolo T2 attached to an Advance push-bicycle from Sydney to Melbourne with only 2 3/4 gallons of gasoline.

- The world record of uninterrupted march with 48 cc engines, working flawlessly for 47 hours and 10 minutes, attained at the sports facilities of Ferrocarril Oeste, Buenos Aires (Argentina) in 1949.

- In late 1949, a bicycle with a 48 c.c Ducati Cucciolo T2 engine won the Australian Tour of the West A class competition, covering 1050 miles within the inner New South Wales State between the towns of Dubbo, Narromine, Tullamore, Peak Hill, Parkes, Forbes, Orange, Bathurst, Lithgow, Capertee, Kandos, Mudgee, Dinedoo and Mendooran, on gruelling roads filled with creeks, ridges and irregular ground without any problem and less than 4 gallons of petrol.

- In January of 1950, Ernesto Che Guevara made his first travel across Argentina after attaching a 48 c.c Cucciolo T2 engine to his bicycle, going from Buenos Aires to San Francisco (Córdoba), Córdoba capital, Santiago del Estero, Tucumán, Salta, Catamarca and La Rioja, and coming back to Buenos Aires across San Juan, Mendoza and San Luis, it all without any powerplant failure.

Detail of the timing system of the 48 cc Ducati Cucciolo T2 engine where we can see the pull rods and superior arms that in symbiosis with the inferior arms make the tiny overhead two valves (placed just under the valves springs)

work with amazing accuracy, setting up a system in which the valves are driven through linkage and rocker arm.

Here is an enlargement of the sturdy springs of both valves, which are located under them. The valve timing features a clearance of 6/1000th of an inch between valve stems and operating arms, in such a way that the inlet valve opens between 5 degrees and 15 degrees before top dead center and closes between 25 degrees and 30 degrees after bottom dead center, whereas the exhaust valve opens between 45 degrees and 35 degrees before bottom dead center and closes between 0 degrees and 20 degrees after top dead center, always understanding that in a four-stroke engine inlet timing accuracy is more important than exhaust timing, because the outgoing gases look after themselves, albeit the Cucciolo T2 features a very good mechanism of two cams fixed in relation to each other that makes both exhaust timing and inlet timing work like a charm.

The 48 c.c Cucciolo T2 engine meant an innovation in the field of motorcycles, because nobody had ever before had the dazzling idea of applying a propulsion motor to a bicycle.

And from a historical viewpoint, it is a wonder of traditional mechanics featuring incredibly smooth start and halt thanks to its prime multiple metal plate clutch running in oil bath in the crankcase, besides delivering awesome performance and reliability for such a small and light powerplant (its weight was 8 kg) and being so simple to operate, with just two levers, a  very well devised gear transmission system substantially rooted in Leonardo da Vinci´s 1490 stepless continuously variable transmission concept, the throttle and clutch making work the powerful 2-speed gears and foolproof automatic change.

Furthermore, its positive chain drive resulted in no extra wear in tyres, ensuring maximum power and positive non-slip traction, with the added benefit of avoiding any wobble once the Cuccilo micromotor was fitted to the cycle bottom btacket, so perfect balance was retained.

Glittering aspect of the induction pipe of the 48 cc Ducati Cucciolo engine. The mechanizing, polishing and overall finishing of this aluminium component — as in the rest of pieces — is really superb and particularly noticeable on the lower left area of the image in the gasket for joining the intake to the carburetter body (kept apart, in the same way as the flywheel magneto lighting system at 6 volts, 12 watts), with a stunning allure of the aluminium alloy as a noble metal boasting a great aesthetic gloss. The small dents are fruit of the 67 years elapsed and the inevitable bumps.

The single-cylinder four-stroke 48 cc Cucciolo T2 engine features a maximum power of 1.5 HP at 5.500 rpm and bore x stroke of 39 x 40 mm and proved to be an important tool in late forties and early fifties to solve the transport needs of many people in the five continents, in an exceedingly cheap and practical way, transforming their bikes in motorcycles, and any person was able to adapt this micromotor to his / her push-bike using pliers and a screwdriver. 

In addition, its four-stroke nature makes that no oil has to be mixed with fuel, since engine lubrication is fully independent and automatic, so refuelling is simple and fast.

On the other hand, the Cucciolo T2 sports chain transmission. This way, the bicycle chain is used for the drive, which reduces wear on tires to a minimum and prevents wheel-spokes from braking and any possible twisting of frame, as well as featuring a two-speed preselection gearbox whose ratio enables to negotiate uphill gradients up to 18% at speed without the aid of pedals, with the adequate back sprocket ratio.

It also excels in its efficient cooling provided by a number of slots and fins where the airflow is maximum.

Back view of the 48 c.c Ducati Cucciolo T2 engine crankcase, where can be seen the two cogwheels working as driven sprockets for 1st and 2nd speeds, and above them, slightly on the right, through the crankcase hole, we can watch the layshaft with its adjustable steel selector fork.attached to a rod, whose movement in and out has the mission of selecting the gears. And the driving sprocket, carried by the layshaft, has fourteen teeth engaging the chain. A fixed-type back wheel sprocket with from 17 to 21 teeth could be used, with the 17 toothed higher ratio sprocket being ideal for general level road use, while lower ratios were more adequate for hilly places or for heavy riders.

And whenever it was put through its paces, the Cucciolo T2 engine performed seamless, whether in streets, normal roads, A-class races or hillclimbs, thanks to its four-stroke torque qualities that begot a major advantage over the two-stroke powerplants of the contending bikes from other brands.

Longitudinal back view of the 48 c.c Ducati Cucciolo T2 engine, a prodigy of engineering for the time and a riveting sight for any observer. The beauty, innovative design and breakthrough performance of this jewel of the motorcycle mechanics and Italian ingenuity was the first step of the mythical Ducati motorcycling path that would yield in future a host of world-class performance bikes in the single cylinder (Ducati Supermono from 1993) and 90º V-Twin desmodromic (Ducati 888 from 1991 and Ducati 916 from 1994) fields alike, with their fabulous Desmoquattro engines.

Moreover, the smaller than normal multi disc clutch of the Cucciolo T2 results in a quicker acceleretaion and deceleration of this engine, in such a way that you can drive the motorized bicycle deeper into the turns and have the powerplant rpm drop quickly, and on accelerating out of a turn, the engine is able to reach peak rpm faster than with a heavier clutch, and the reduction on discs diameter is compensated by the greatly increased total area of the surfices provided by the multiple discs to hold maximum feasible power, gaining smoother engagement and attaining even more force. 

Ducati Cucciolo bicycle petrol tank with capacity for two litres and an autonomy of 200 km, with the added bonus of an automatic reserve supply always available from the right lower part of the tank, which should the machine run out of petrol, a slant of the bicycle to its left side would transfer this extra fuel to the tap side, allowing another 5 or 10 miles running of the 48 c.c Cucciolo T2 engine.

Cucciolo T2 engine attached to an original Ducati Cucciolo bicycle. Now the powerplant is complete with the crankcase cover, the magneto flywheel with the word Cucciolo engraved on it, the carburettor body with Weber 14 MFC on the right of the induction pipe, and the exhaust pipe with low pressure silencer on the right of the lower area of the crankcase cover. 

Detail of the magneto flywheel, whose mission is making the ignition rotating at 1/1 ratio with the crankshaft and also to produce 6 volts electric current through its lighting coil when the engine is running, enabling the illumination of both the bright headlight and tail light thanks to its 12 watts generator.

Detail of the small tank for lubrication, with a capacity of half a litre of oil carried in the bottom of the crankcase.

Aerial view of the Cucciolo T2 engine attached to the frame of the original Ducati Cucciolo bicycle.

Detail of the Weber carburettor with 14 mm choke of the Cucciolo T2 engine. It features a single lever automatic operation and is flange fitted to the induction pipe. Two jets ensure easy starting, smooth running and economy at all engine speeds. The carburettor has two adjustment screws: A to adjust the ratio of petrol to air for idling mixture and previously adjusted at the factory for normal running, and B, which is simply a stop to prevent the full closing of the butterfly valve and makes possible that the speed of idling can be adjusted.

© Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

martes, 14 de junio de 2016

OLYMPUS OM-1 ´ NASA ´ : THE AMERICAN AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION RECOGNITION TO A JAPANESE GENIUS OF PHOTOGRAPHIC ENGINEERING



One of the highlights of the 29th Westlicht Camera Auction held at Westlicht Schauplatz für Fotografie in Vienna (Austria) on June 11th, 2016, was the Olympus OM-1 ´ NASA´, manufactured in 1980.

It is one of the five factory modified prototypes OM-1 cameras for the NASA, of which three were supplied to the Goddard Space Flight Center for the Space Shuttle Missions.

It is an all black camera featuring special, non-outgassing paints and high tech lubricants specified by the NASA, aside from lacking the leatherette, which comes separately, and belonged to Mr. Terry L. Walpole, former owner and Olympus sales manager in United States, as is certified by the letter of authenticity and provenance coming with the camera.

           
Olympus OM-1 ´ NASA ´ with its mirror in normal position.

As explained by Mr Terry L. Walpole, his until now camera is unused and doesn´t sport any focusing screen, because the Olympus OM-1 NASA was conceived to be used in the mirror lock-up mode.


Olympus OM-1 ´ NASA ´ in mirror lock-up position once the mirror lock-up lever (located above the self timer lever, slightly on its right as it is seen in the image) has been turned approximately 90º until it stops.

As revealed by Mr. Terry L. Walpole, the five factory modified prototypes manufactured by Olympus Optical CO., Ltd. were intended for being used in this mode when shooting. 

In the same way as had happened with the MF Hasselblads EL during late sixties and seventies, the aim was to get as much depth of field and sharp areas as possible in an easy way for the astronauts while holding the camera in front of their chests, their elbows stuck to their bodies and using such manual focusing lenses as the very compact 7 elements in 7 groups Olympus G-Zuiko Auto-W 28 mm f/3.5 wideangle (featuring a weight of 180g, a diameter of 59 mm and remarkable sharpness and contrast together with a very good flare control) and the likewise very small 7 elements in 6 groups G. Zuiko Auto-W 35 mm f/2.8 (featuring a weight of 180 g and a diameter of 59 mm, as well as delivering good sharpness in the center and softness in the corners at the widest f/3.5 aperture, albeit it didn´t matter because the preferred diaphragm to shoot was f/5.6). 


And in spite of being far from reaching the levels of definition, contrast and detail of the MF Hasselblads, the 24 x 36 mm format Olympus OM-1 ´NASA ´ boasted some important advantages: the much greater depth of field than the 2 1/ 4 x 2 1/4 (6 x 6 cm) medium format Hasselblad, a much smaller size (136 x 83 x 50 mm), a much lower weight (510 g), the reduction to the utmost of the shutter vibration getting pictures shooting handheld always in lock-up mode (with the astronauts being unable to see the image and frame during the photographic act, but using their front chest areas to aim the camera with the aforementioned attached wideangles, whose big depth of field enhanced even more the inherent large capabilities of the 24 x 36 mm format to get maximum depth of field and resolving power between f/4 and f/11, a lesser fatigue in the astronauts after long periods using the cameras, a higher number of shots per roll (36 exposures a 35 mm roll while 12 exposures a 6 x 6 cm 120 roll), etc.
 


Minimalist top panel of the Olympus OM-1 ´ NASA ´, identical to the one featured by the standard Olympus OM-1, with only the necessary dials and controls. From left to right we can see the rewind knob for camera back release, the rewind crank in resting position, the meter switch lever, the hot shoe socket, the ASA film speed dial with the very small button just on its right to activate it, the threaded shutter release button with socket for cable release, the film advance lever and the exposure counter window.

But, how did the story of this Olympus OM-1 ´ NASA ´ camera begin?

Which were the reasons that made the most prestigious aeronautic and space organization take the decision of using the OM-1 in both their ground photographic training and flights if they had previously used such top-notch cameras like the 24 x 36 mm format Zeiss Contarex during the second Gemini mission, the 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 (6 x 6 cm) medium format Hasselblads 550C — during the Mercury missions in 1962 and 1963 and the Gemini spaceflights in 1965 and 1966 —  and the Hasselblads EL with Carl Zeiss Planar 80 mm f/2.8 and the Hasselblad Electric Data camera with Carl Zeiss Biogon 60 mm f/3.5 with 70 mm perforated black and white Panatomic-X film and also perforated 70 mm Kodak Ektachrome SO-68, Kodak 2485 and Kodak Ektachrome SO-121 colour films during the Apollo XI mission in 1969 and some more throughout seventies?

Yoshihisa Maitani, the most influential photographic engineer ever along with Oskar Barnack. He began to design cameras in 1943, when he was 10 years old and built a hand-made box camera, and joined Olympus in 1956. © Olympus Optical Co., Ltd.

It all started seven years before, in 1973, when Yoshihisa Maitani, chief photographic engineer of the Olympus OM Series of Cameras and Lenses Project created the Olympus OM-1, with difference the smallest and lightest 35 mm format reflex camera in the world.

Maitani´s approach when tackling the design and construction of 24 x 36 mm format cameras is an utterly new one, a radical concept departing from the Nikon, Pentax, Canon and Exakta 35 mm reflex cameras which have held a sway over the photographic market since late fifties.

Yoshihisa Maitani, born in 1933, has been a tremendous enthusiast of screwmount Leicas since 1948 (he had got a Leica IIIf when he was fifteen years old and belonged to a school club of photography, inscribing four camera design patents the following year) and of M bayonet Leica rangefinder cameras since  1954.

He knows by heart every design of 35 mm RF cameras, shutters, cams of speed control, escapements for slow speeds, gear trains, ball bearing fittings, etc, incepted by the mechanical Leica pundits Oskar Barnack, Ludwig Leitz, Willi Stein and Peter Loseries.

He loves the Leica rangefinders, particularly the screwmount ones like the Leica II (Model D), the Leica III, Leica IIIa and Leica IIIF Red Dial with their amazingly small size and exceedingly light weight, able to deliver great image quality with their also tiny lenses like the Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5, as well as the M series RF Leica cameras like the M3, M2, etc, with their M lenses, many of which are optical benchmarks in their focal lengths, like the Summicron-M 50 mm f/2.

And being only 17 years old he has had the chance of using one of the approximately 1800 units of the very good 5 elements in 4 groups (with a cemented doublet at the rear and three separate elements at the front) Olympus Zuiko C. 4 cm f/2.8 lens for Leica LTM rangefinders with its 4 cm Olympus OIC finder that had been both manufactured by Olympus in the occupied Japan in 1950.

Top view of the Olympus OM-1 ´ NASA ´ . The black dial surrounding the lens mount is the ring for selecting shutter speeds with marks for B, 1 s, 1/2 s, 1/4 s, 1/8 s, 1/15 s, 1/30 s, 1/60 s, 1/125 s, 1/250 s, 1/500 s and 1/1000 s,

But the very brilliant Japanese photographic engineer, a technological and mechanical driving force in himself, grasps the limitations of Leica rangefinder cameras featuring RF coincidence viewing distance determination mechanism regarding microphotography, macrophotography and use of medium and long teleobjectives, so he has been working since 1967 in a revolutionary photographic system whose fundamental keynote is to strive after transferring the legendary Leica rangefinder traits of incredibly small size and stunning low weight to a unique reflex system: the Olympus OM series of cameras, lenses and accessories, which has meant to all intents and purposes a turning point in the scope of 24 x 36 mm format photographic cameras and lenses.

Maitani´s boundless resourcefulness has given birth in 1972 to the Olympus OM System, the most comprehensive reflex one for 35 mm format ever created, whose first camera and flagship is

                                             © Olympus Corporation

the Olympus OM-1, introduced in 1973 featuring tiny measures of 136 x 83 x 50 mm and a weight of only 510 g, turning it into the smallest and lightest  24 x 36 mm format camera in the world, which is accompanied by nothing less than 30 lenses and 12 interchangeable focusing screens.

It´s an utterly mechanical professional camera, very robust, quiet and unobtrusive when you want to be unnoticed, able to endure the hardest use for decades, convenient to handle and extremely competent to flawlessly work under any photographic environment.

Besides, following instructions by Yoshihisa Maitani, Yoshisada Hayamizu (Chief Designer of Lenses of the Olympus Co., Ltd. Optical Department) has created a comprehensive array of amazingly small and light top-notch quality lenses rendering excellent sharpness and contrast, in collaboration with other prominent class members of the formidable Olympus optical team like Toshihiro Imai, Nobuo Yamashita, Toru Fujii, Hiroshi Takase, Yoshiaki Horikawa, Tadashi Kimura and Fumitaka Watanabe.


Meanwhile, the NASA has been painstakingly studying the camera for some years, and in 1980 it takes the decision of acquiring three Olympus OM-1 — two more will be made, one kept by Terry L. Walpole, Olympus sales manager in United States and another one whose whereabouts is unknown — to get pictures during the Space Shuttle missions (scheduled to be carried out from April 12, 1981, with the launching of Space Shuttle Columbia and the subsequent ones at the Goddart Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, 10.5 km in the northeast of Washington D.C ), both throughout the photographic tests and learning of techniques on ground and inside the aircraft in flight.

The NASA experts in photography grasp well not only the revolutionary traits of the Olympus OM-1 camera in terms of incredible compactness and light weight, but also its great sturdiness and extraordinary reliability in all kind of environments, photographic contexts and extreme temperatures.

They also fathom Yoshihisa Maitani´s tremendous knowledge on materials properties that has enabled him to significantly improve the reliability, durability and optomechanical performance of the camera through the use of breakthrough engineering techniques, a compartmentized assembly design, newfangled materials, modification of the setup of some mechanical areas and replacement of the traditional brass screws for lighter and stronger stainless steel ones, which greatly lower the weight and volume, along with a horizontal travelling shutter made of rubberized silk that has made possible the very low profile of the Olympus OM-1.

And in 1980 there´s available an extensive array of tiny and very light Zuiko lenses boasting built-in depth of preview button for the Olympus OM-1, among which highlight: the 11 elements in 9 groups and 250 g Zuiko 21 mm f/2 (superbly crafted and with a length of only 44 mm), the 7 elemets in 7 groups and 185 g Zuiko 21 mm f/3.5 (delivering high resolving power with outstanding contrast even at full aperture), the 10 elements in 8 groups and 280 g Zuiko 24 mm f/2 (one of the best lenses ever made in this focal length and luminosity), the 9 elements in 8 groups and 245 g I Zuiko Auto-W MC 28 mm f/2, the 7 elements in 6 groups and 230 g G-Zuiko Auto-S 50 mm f/1.4, the 5 elements in 4 groups and 200 g Zuiko Macro 50 mm f/2 (delivering top-drawer resolving power and very good bokeh), the 7 elements in 6 groups and 310 g G-Zuiko Auto-S 55 mm f/1.2, etc.


This way, Olympus Co., Ltd is asked by NASA to manufacture five Olympus OM-1 prototypes including some modifications:

a) The mechanical components of the camera will bear state-of-the-art lubricants specified by NASA, very carefully selected to avoid the risks of normal lubricants which could boil off in vacuum and condense on the optical elements.

b) The cameras will be covered in a high-tech non-outgassing special black paint.

c) The cameras will not feature the usual leatherette cover.

d) The cameras will be used by NASA astronauts in mirror lock-up mode, both on the ground tests and within the Space Shuttles during the missions

The last one, id est, the top priority of using the Olympus OM-1 specially made for NASA in mirror lock-up mode, reveals that the aim is to increase even more the already impressive smooth and low noise operation of the OM-1 shutter release button on being pressed.

As a matter of fact, Olympus had already introduced in the OM-1 since 1973 scads of innovative ideas to reduce the noise and shock brought about by the shutter button release on being pressed, including an air damper to absorb the vibration generated by the mirror movement.

But the NASA wanted to go beyond the awesome handheld shooting stability and silkiness of the horizontally travelled focal plane shutter operation of the Olympus OM-1, making the astronauts steadily shoot hand and wrist using the camera in mirror lock-up position, trying to guarantee to the utmost the obtention of sharp pictures, specially in the range of shutter speeds between 1/60 and 1/2 second, where the definition loss is much more frequent.

Top back view of the Olympus OM-1 ´ NASA ´ , identical to the standard Olympus OM-1. In the middle we can see the pentaprism (with the hotshoe on it) and under it the eyepiece of the OM-1 viewfinder, the best ever made for a 24 x 36 mm format camera and with which focusing is easier, because the genius Yoshihisa Maitani loved the 0.92x magnification viewfinder of the Leica M3 in symbiosis with a 50 mm standard lens, and managed to insert into the tiny Olympus OM-1 an extraordinary optical VF also with a 0.92x magnification and showing around 97.5 % of the real image field thanks to the combination of a wideangle VF optics and a very large VF screen, it all with the invaluable help of a top-drawer pentaprism — the system enabling the greatest optical image quality of all the existing ones — .

This wonderful exceedingly large, bright and crisp optical viewfinder designed by Yoshihisa Maitani for such a small camera like the Olympus OM-1 is the best VF ever made for a reflex camera (projecting a huge 30% bigger image than the rest of SLR models from other brands) and one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of photography, to such a degree that it has kept on being the reflex VF flagship since its creation in 1973 until now, and only the also extraordinary viewfinder of the reflex Leica R8 from 1996 and the Leica R9 from 2002 (much bigger and heavier cameras) designed by Manfred Meinzer approached it in terms of image quality and viewing convenience.

Notwithstanding, it wasn´t used in the Olympus OM-1 ´ NASA ´ , which was conceived to be operated in lock-up mode.

This was a bit odd handheld way of getting pictures, because the mirror lock-up mode is above all used with the camera on a tripod for reproduction work, macrophotography and photomicrography, flipping the mirror up before the shutter opens, which makes the vibrations extinguish before exposing the film.

But while the mirror is up in locked position, the photographer can´t see the subjects through the viewfinder, so he/she is bound to compose the photograph before activating the mirror lock-up  and prevent the camera from moving, in addition to the fact that a cable release is often used.

But NASA knowledgeable professionals on photography knew the score and firmly relied in the startling performance of the Olympus OM-1 camera shooting handheld without trepidation at low speeds thanks to its pocket-size dimensions, very low weight, special strings of the cloth curtain shutter and a highly advanced air damper enduring the mirror movement shock, it all in synergy with scores of also tiny and very good performance lenses, to such an extent that professional photographers had attained durinng the previous years very good results shooting at 1/30 s and even 1/15 s without tripod getting sharp images.


Thereupon, the National American Aeronautic Administration decided that the Olympus OM-1 prototypes manufactured for the Space Shuttle Program should always be operated in the lock-up mode, trying to get sharp pictures even in low light environments, with the astronauts holding the cameras attached to wideangle lenses obtaining great depth of field at intermediate f stops (mostly the Zuikos 28 and 35 mm) at the height of their chests, their arms firmly stuck to their lateral ribs and pointing their bodies to aim the cameras in order to reduce any possible vibration to the utmost, even at shutter speeds between 1/15 s and 1/60 s, shooting at diaphragms f/4-f/11 depending on the luminous conditions, which would enable to get as much depth of field as possible and make sharp photographs with the best low sensitivity colour emulsions available at the moment: the Kodachrome 64 K-14 (rating it at ASA 80, underexposing a bit to get the best feasible colour saturation, as well as having some margin to recover details from the shadows, something easier to attain than with blown-out highlights), Ektachrome 64 and Ektachrome 200, as well as the best b & w emulsions like the Kodak Panatomic-X ASA 32 (rated at ASA 64) and Kodak Plus-X 125 ASA.

The astronauts were also recommended not to cary the cameras in direct sunlight, because it could damage the shutter curtains.


The exceedingly sturdy oversized bayonet lens mount of the Olympus OM-1 approaching the whole height of the camera enables the use of long telephoto and large diameter lenses, for the body flange is manufactured with 18,8 nickel chromium alloy making possible a long lasting durability.

And in 1980, there was available a very wide raft of top-notch OM Zuiko lenses for the Olympus OM-1 camera, most of them created by the Japanese optical wizard Yoshisada Hayamizu, chief designer of lenses at Olympus Co., Ltd, who has managed to attain the most difficult task for an optical designer: the vast slew of top-notch manual focusing Zuiko lenses boast an incredibly short length, tiny front diameter of the first optical element, very small overall dimensions and reduced weight (roughly a 35% less size and weight than the equivalent primes with identical f stops of other brands).

And what´s most important: many of them deliver excellent resolving power and contrast.

Therefore, Yoshihada Hayamizu has successfully achieved the assignment ordered to him by Yoshihisa Maitani: to generate exceedingly small and light lenses able to rival if not beat the cream of the crop of Nikon, Canon and Pentax lenses, but simultaneously matching the tiny size and weight of the Olympus OM-1.

This has been in my opinion the greatest opto-mechanical feat ever accomplished within the 24 x 36 mm format sphere of reflex cameras and lenses, approaching in their level of exceptional miniaturization to the ones featured by the screwmount Leicas, the smallest and lightest 35 mm format cameras with interchangeable lenses made hitherto.

Besides, in order to deal with the design and manufacture of the Olympus OM System of cameras, lenses and accessories, the engineering and optical minds at Olympus took also advantage of the immense previous know-how in the manufacture of microscopes
                                   © Olympus Corporation

The  first-rate Olympus Photomax (LB) Premier Universal Microscope from 1966 ( launched into market the same year in which Maitani started his Olympus OM System of Cameras, Lenses and Accessories) with an automatic winding 24 x 36 mm format camera on top which was used with the Olympus Plan Achromatic series of lenses (designed for clinical laboratory or examination applications, providing excellent field flatness of up to F.N.22 when using brightfield observation in a transmitted illumination system) that would also be used in the early period of the reference-class Olympus Vanox AH Universal Microscope from 1972 that later on used the PlanApo (Plan Apochromatic) Series lenses and the LB (Long Barrel) Series ones for biological use, rendering excellent resolution, improved contrast, outstanding film flatness, increased working distance, a 23% increase in visual field, and parfocal distance of an extremely low power objective. 

that the Japanese firm had developed since 1920, when Takeshi Yamashita (who had founded the brand in 1919) created the first Olympus microscopes Homare, Asahi and Fuji, followed by world class models like the Seika GE from 1927 (equipped with an Abbe coindenser and able to reach a magnification of 1400x, as well as featuring a rack and pinion mechanism to move the samples up and down), the Mizuho LCD from 1935 (which featured a magnification of 2000x, a highly acurate mechanical stage and an apochromatic lens that provided high resolution and reduced chromatic aberrations to negligible levels), the Homare UC (made between 1935 and 1959, with solid and monocular design which made it very appropriate for photography and image projection for microscope specimens), the DF Biological Microscope from 1957 (the first one boasting an external light source instead of using a miror to observe the samples, aside from greatly easing the attachment of a photographic camera to the head, and making available three microscope head choices: monocular, binocular or trinocular, depending on the application or attached objective), and the Photomax (LB) Premier Universal Microscope from 1966 (one of the best in the world at the moment, with a fully automatic photographic device, a colour temperature adjustment function for colour photography and a built-in colour illumination system enabling that every type of specimen could be seen using special accessories of fluorescent, dark field and phase contrast microscopy, to such an extent that it was possible to get pictures for a number of aims by means of the fully automatic exposure control and an also wholly adjustable colour temperature correction.


Upward view of the Olympus OM-1 ´ NASA´ where we can see from left to right: the right strap lug, the rewind release lever, the mirror lock-up lever (half of it visible on the right of the rewind release lever — as it is seen in the image —, slightly under it), the big self-timer lever under both the rewind release lever and the mirror lock-up lever, the very large diameter and robust Olympus OM mount, the flash sync socket with a switch to select which flash mode to use (albeit the OM-1 ´ NASA ´ was intended to be used shooting handheld in mirror lock-up with available light) and the left strap lug.


View of the Olympus OM-1 ´ NASA ´ baseplate showing from left to right the battery chamber, the guide pin hole just above it, the motor drive socket cap, the tripod socket and the motor coupling terminal.

On top of it we can see the lower part of the self-timer and the exceedingly rugged oversized lens mount.

Looking back to 1980, it seems incredible the catalogue of mechanical and engineering deeds that had been achieved by Yoshihisa Maitani as a chief designer of cameras ( and his mechanical team made up by Kazuyuki Nemoto and Kunio Shimoyama) since seven years before, because he was able to create a significant market niche for the masterpiece Olympus OM-1 (of which the OM-1 ´ NASA ´ is a modified unit) since 1973, year of its introduction, until late eighties, thanks to a huge expansion of the system as a main goal and a virtually unbeatable price/quality ratio painstakingly studied on every single component by Yoshihisa Maitani who had as top priority to manufacture top-notch quality and simultaneously saleable cameras, lenses and accessories with a great price/performance ratio, because the contest with the Nikon F2 (introduced in 1971), Canon F1 (also introduced in 1971), F1 New (introduced in 1976) and Pentax LX (introduced in 1980) was fierce, but this small entirely and metallic wonder was along with the superb and likewise masterpiece wholly mechanical Nikon F2 (sold between 1971 and 2000) the best reflex 35 mm camera in the world during seventies and eighties, and as a matter of fact, they go on being for many experts, already in the digital age, the two reference-class reflex cameras within the realm of 24 x 36 mm format ever made, and in spite of its petite size and weight, it is a real workhorse capable of fulfill any professional photographic assignment (photojournalism, sports, landscapes, streeter, travel photography, weddings, etc), including astrophotography (a sphere where the Olympus OM-1 has been the yardstick since 1973), also excelling at microphotography and macrophotography, because the unique Olympus OM-System of cameras, lenses and accessories had both a photographic and scientific craving.



© Text and Pictures of the Olympus OM-1 ´ NASA ´ camera: José Manuel Serrano Esparza