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MrLeica.com (Matt Osborne) Leica Blog & Film

Leica Blog + Film Cameras

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Interested in film cameras or specifically Leica?  Perhaps you are looking for product reviews or just a source of photography inspiration?

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Summicron 90mm Portrait
MrLeica.com started in March 2013 after Flickr followers asked for my thoughts 

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Leica Blog – Founder / Story

I’m a self taught photographer with 10+ years experience of photographing portraits, models and weddings.  After my first 3 years I was teaching photography to fellow professionals in the UK and overseas and after 4 years I bought my first Leica camera.  As a child my Grandfather inspired me to draw and taught me to paint with watercolours.  As a teenager I taught myself very fine detail acrylic painting but went on to study science (and later finance) rather than the arts.

Photography came to me later after an ex girlfriend kindly bought me a camera one Christmas.  I was immediately hooked and 3 months later a bought a better camera and then another.  My inquisitive data driven mindset and tendancy to document things inspired me to start this blog as a personal project.  When reading about photography and researching new cameras I find it is the perfect place to record everything I learn and I can share it with others.

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Mr Leica Photographer Blog

Coventry photography studio based UK portrait and wedding photographer using digital Leica cameras and a wide range of film cameras.  Analogue cameras include 35mm, medium format and large format and film developing is done in house.  Cameras, lenses and films are tested during model photography photo shoots both in the UK and overseas.  Blog reviews include a combination of technical detail, example images and side by side comparisons.

Before starting MrLeica.com I used to write technical articles for UK photography magazines.  As I continue to collect and test cameras and photography equipment I now share the information here.  I hope you find the content as enjoyable to read as it is to document.

Join me on YouTube! to see the latest and visual of some of the cameras!

Thanks

Matt Osborne

Behind the Scenes (2)

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Where to find MrLeicaCom!

If you want to follow me on social media just search for MrLeicaCom or Matt Osborne.  It’s always great to hear from like minded people so feel free to get in touch!  You can find me on Instagram and I share images on Flickr and Pinterest too.

Newsletter – October 2021

Free Monthly Newsletter!

Hi friends! Here is the new monthly MrLeica.com newsletter – A summary of posts you may have missed, upcoming events, useful information and anything else I can think of!

Leica SL Colours
Flickr photo of the month (most liked photo) Caitlyn

Features

  • September- Recap
  • September 2021 YouTube Videos
  • UK Workshops
  • Overseas Workshops
  • Patreon – Zoom Calls & More
  • October – Coming up!

September – Recap

After slacking off earlier in the summer with YouTube video posts I focused all my available time towards making more videos. I set myself a 4 day challenge mid-month and locked my self away so that I could release 4 full length mass lens reviews. (Links below if you missed those). What I found is most normal people don’t have the time (or interest) to watch YouTube videos 4 days in a row. View count was down after the first video post so at least I know for future reference.

How many videos would you ideally like from me each week? 2..3? ..and do you have a favourite day to sit down to watch you favourite YouTubers? I’d love to hear so feel free to comment below!

September 2021 YouTube Videos Catch-up:

Below is a catch up of all the full length YouTube videos if you missed them:

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Nice camera or a rich life?

Talking about the idea that perhaps it is more rewarding to spend a larger propotion of your available income on travel than on an expensive camera or lens (once you have a camera and lens to use). It was perhaps a note to myself but hopefully you can relate to it too if in a similiar situation.

Best 50mm Lens? Shoot Out!

I was interested to compare the Leica Summicron M vs Leica Summicron R..but then I tested a few more 50s too! Don’t under estimate a Nikon lens!

Best FAST 50mm Lens? Shoot Out!

I realised I needed to test my fast 50mm lenses, f1.4 and f1.5 but then I sneaked in a few Contax RF lenses too as I wanted to see how they compared to Leica M mount and LTM mount lenses.

Best 90mm Lens? Shoot Out!

Now I have the 90mm Leica R lenses I was interested to see how it compared to Leica M mount 90mm lenses. A surprising test result!

Best 40mm Lens? Shoot Out!

I was interested in particular with Leica M mount Voigtlander lenses verses Nikon F mount Voigtlander lens performance. Are rangefinder lenses always “better”?

Best 35mm Lens? Shoot Out!

More of the same, this time for 35mm lens! Some strong performers in this group and from a broad range of brands.

Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2 VM lens

I am happy to get this lens tested and the results shared. It was my top performing video of the month in the first 48hrs of release and includes Leica vs. Voigtlander 28mm lenses.

If you live in the UK you can get 5% off the list price of all Voigtlander lenses using the discount code “MRLEICA” at https://www.robertwhite.co.uk/

Best 28mm Lens? Shoot Out!

Back again, this time comparing multiple Leica and Nikon F mount 28mm lenses. I’m really glad I did the test! (Some surprising results!)

Shooting 120 film in 4×5 cameras

I wanted to help raise awareness on this topic as personally I really enjoy shooting 120 film backs on large format cameras, when shooting 4×5 cameras.

Workshop Dates + Travel Updates

> UK workshop dates – some spaces still available so please get in touch for more information

  • September 2021 – London 1:1 workshop – Complete
  • October 2021 – London & Birmingham 1:1 workshops – 1 Space remaining
  • November 2021 – London 1:1 workshop – 1 Space remaining

See workshop prices and testimonials on the blog

> Overseas workshop dates – there is a growing interest in overseas workshops as travel restrictions are easing. Please let me know what countries and cities you are in if you’d like to meet up.

> Travel – I am hoping to travel for the first time since Covid soon. I will believe it when it happens but hopefully new videos to come both for YouTube and extra BTS (behind the scenes) for Patreons.

Patreon Latest & Zoom Calls

Great speaking to some of you on Zoom in September. For October I will change the format so that the £3 tier seminar call is now being replaced with a live Q&A.

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October – Coming Up

For October, I hope to mix it up a bit on YouTube with my release of my walkabout video in Brighton shooting with the Leicaflex SL. I have some new medium format camera videos to come and I hope to share more thoughts on the digital Leica SL over a series of videos. On top of all that, as mentioned, I am excited to hopefully fly for the first time in ages so that will be focused on photography ..as you’d expect! 🙂

YouTube video – spotlight (1 of the videos coming soon!)

Have you ever wanted a Hasselblad camera but could not justify buying one? Stay tuned as I have a video coming to introduce the “Hasselbladski”, aka. the Kiev 88 (Mine is a modified Kiev 88 called an “ARAX-CM”). One of my most well travelled film cameras. Coming soon!

Kiev 88 ("ARAX-CM")

First Time Reader? Additional Info Below

> UK Workshops

Now lockdowns have eased in the UK it has been full steam ahead for teaching 1-to-1 photography workshops again. I teach basic to advanced level photography to anyone with a camera. That said, students are often either Leica photographers and trying to get more from their cameras, film photographers trying to master their latest film camera/ film or anyone wanting to try model photography. We sometimes do street photography too so I tailor it to your needs.

See workshop prices and testimonials on the blog

> Overseas Workshops

I’m very aware many of you are overseas and quite a few in both Germany and the US that I speak to. If I can get enough people from one country looking for 1:1 workshops I can look to fly to your country and do a mini road trip to see as many of you as I can. If you are interested in me flying to you please get in touch so I have an idea of numbers. (I’ve had a request to teach in Istanbul and the Netherlands so those might be happening!)

The other option is do as some others do and fly into London and I’ll meet you there. The advantage of meeting you in your city is (1) you don’t need to travel (2) I will give you model contacts in your city that you can keep in touch with after I leave. This has worked well for photographers in the past. The flipside of that is if you rather come to London you get the excuse for a holiday!

> Patreon Features

Zoom Call Helpline Service!

I’m starting to do more 1:1 Zoom calls as people pro-actively ask for my assistance. I help fellow photographers around the world with camera and lens purchases (especially) but also help with other topics such as film developing, lighting, film camera issues. Get in touch via Patreon if you need my assistance.

– Monthly Zoom Call Group Face-to-Face Meet ~30mins

On the Patreon platform £5+ tier members now meet for a monthly call to chat all things photography and to learn from each other. Dates are announced on Patreon, normally a Wednesday evening UK time. Join us! We also have our own private Facebook group that you can be part of.

– NEW! Monthly Zoom Call Q&A~30mins

On the Patreon platform £3+ tier members can now dial in for a live Q&A session with me. It might be chaos but we can see how it goes in October! Dates are announced on Patreon, normally a Wednesday evening, UK time.

Patreon Extras

For access to 150+ additional post, 18+ images, photobooks and more sign up to Patreon.

> Can You Help Me

Have you Subscribed to my YouTube yet and turned on your notifications!? I know you must get really sick of hearing every YouTuber mention it constantly but sadly it’s a necessary evil as it turns the cogs of the YouTube algorithm. It makes the difference between a video getting shown to more people or not. YouTube tells us publishers the data and after August it said “video view as normal but subscribers down 25% verses previous months”.

While I have my pathetic begging bowl out, if you can click the “LIKE” button on any videos you enjoyed watching that helps more than you could ever imagine! (Now I understand quite how important likes and subs are to the success of a YouTube channel I always leave likes on videos I enjoy watching from others).

Why does this matter to you? The idea is, if I can grow the channel I can attract bigger brands and more opportunities resulting in more new camera and lens reviews, comparison testing so you then know what gear you may want to buy.

> Receive this free monthly newsletter via Email

If you accidently stumbled across this post and would like to receive these newsletters automatically via email notification feel free to sign up below!

One new perk for signing up is you now get a free copy of my YouTube video search tool. No more struggling to find a video or wondering if I have made a video on a particular lens or camera. The tool lets you search through my 190+ videos by lens manufacturer, lens mount, focal length, film format and more!

Tenerife Photoshoot – 2018

Tenerife Photoshoot (Polish Model) 2018

Photoshoot Blog Diary (Written May, 2018)

Blog Diary

My first model photography trip to Tenerife was in September 2017 which was just me and Lindsay. I then went again in January 2018 in a small group. After the first two trips I felt the photos were generally better when I worked 1-2-1 with one model and when we were both solely focused on making good pictures without other distractions. 

This Tenerife photoshoot would again be 1-2-1 and this time with Polish model Aneta. We are both very results driven and hard working so I expected non-stop photos for the full 3 days. Writing this blog on the flight home this was an understatement ha. Aneta’s wish list and supply of clothes was endless and even using almost every hour of daylight each day we still probably needed at least 1-2 more days to complete all we wanted to do. 

Rather than split this into three days and say what we did each day I will just talk more about the cameras (as the days blurred together).

New Blog - Tenerife Photoshoot (Leica M3)
Leica M3
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*Click images to view full res and see camera/ lens/ film/ developing details

Camera Gear List

Film stocks for the trip

  • 35mm Kodak Vision 3 50D 
  • 35mm Kodak Vision 3 500T
  • 120 Fomapan 100
  • 120 Ilford HP5 400
  • 120 Fuji Neopan Acros 100
  • 120 Kodak Portra 160 
  • 120 Kodak Ektar 100
Nokton 35mm 1.4 Portrait
Leica M3

Medium format cameras

As you may have spotted from my camera bag list above I brought a lot (and that was after weeks of trying to decide what to take).  For this trip I wanted to focus more on medium format film and just have one 35mm camera for fun photos (or fast snaps or as a colour alternative if the 6×6 cameras were shooting black and white film.

Hasselblad SWC-M

I expected to use the Mamiya 6 camera the most and Hasselblad SWC-M the least.  The opposite was in fact true and I used the SWC-M the most.  The Hasselblad 500CM was somewhere in between.  I’m not sure the results will be any good using the SWC-M but I got a great workflow going and just loved the size of the camera and point and shoot (almost) approach.  My method was to measure the distance with a Leica camera rangefinder then read the distance off the Leica lens then dial it in on the SWC-M lens, copy the exposure setting, compose and click. 

Hasselblad SWC/M Portrait
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Hasselblad SWC Fashion
Hasselblad SWC /M Camera

I took the Hasselblad SWC-M instead of a 4×5 film camera believe it or not but it didn’t pan out like that. I planned to shoot carefully composed images on a tripod but it was 99% handheld rushed photos, trying to catch a nice pose before Aneta moved. I found my eyes were naturally seeing wider scenes than the Mamiya 6 75mm lens or Hasselblad 500CM 60mm lens could capture.  I don’t think the wide lens necessarily suited every image I shot but I’m really excited to see the results.  The fixed 38mm f4.5 Zeiss Biogon lens (35mm 21mm equivalent) is extremely well regarded yet I’ve not used the camera as much as I had hoped. Maybe I will going forward now I’ve got my own method of using the camera. Fingers crossed!

The 4×5 Camera Effect

One thing I really noticed in Tenerife this time but also at home is after buying the Intrepid 4×5 camera and viewing a lot of 4×5 film images on Instagram, I find I want to shoot nice light on pretty much any subject. Most often buildings. When Aneta was getting changed I often found myself photographing the hotel – the corridor, the outside of the hotel, off the balcony and even a half cooked approached at long exposure night photography. 

Hasselblad SWC/M
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Hasselblad SWC-M Architecture

The Hasselblad SWC-M and a 4×5 view camera are obviously very different beasts but the SWC-M feels like my new pocket 4×5 camera somehow (you would need a big pocket but vs. a 4×5 camera and tripod the SWC handheld is quick and easy and portable and yet hopefully still captures quite nice photos for those landscape or building shots.  I will certainly pack the SWC-M as my first medium format camera for future overseas photoshoots and next time I will try to make time to take more non-model photos with it.

Hasselblad SWC /M
Hasselblad SWC 38mm Biogon

Taking a few location shots this trip was better than I normally do and also it provides a nice visual memory of the location I was at rather than a sequence of model faces that could have been shot anywhere (sometimes).  So I guess the bad news for people that follow me for the nice girls is more non-girls photos to come this year but for anyone that appreciates general photography hopefully I will capture a few nice scenes.

Hasselblad A16 (645) Film back

What caught me out the most in Tenerife this time was juggling a 6×6 standard Hasselblad A12 film back with the crop 645 Hasselblad A16 back between the Hasselblad 500CM and SWC-M cameras. So many times I forgot I was using the 645 crop back and composed for the 6×6 square view I saw on the focus screen.  I think I will lose a few shots sadly with chopped off head and feet but hopefully not to many. (My fault for trying to work fast with 3-4 cameras at once). 

Hasselblad SWC-M Fashion
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Hasselblad SWC/M

The 645 back also gave problems where I wanted to shoot vertical crops so had the Hasselblad 500CM on it’s side using the WLF ‘cack-handed’ (feeling upside down and back to front while trying to compose). A 45 degree Hasselblad prism finder overcomes this but adds bulk and weight to the camera so I had to leave it in the UK.

Hasselblad A16 Film Back

I was using one Hasselblad back with 120 B&W film and the other film back with 120 colour film to start with but at one stage both backs were shooting black and white. I was using two different B&W film stocks so again I got myself confused and metered the wrong exposure for some photos. I shot all the colour 120 film I took and a lot of black and white too so hopefully I will get some nice ones even after all the errors I know about. 

Use a Hasselblad H camera instead for 645

*Update – I would now use my Hasselblad H2 for 645 format film portraits. Autofocus and much easier for vertical orientation portrait format.

Hasselblad 500CM

My Hasselblad 501c camera was out of action awaiting repair so I took a Hasselblad 500CM body instead. My 501c is my most modern Hasselblad V series camera but the older 500CM does exactly the same job. Having 2 film backs with your Hasselblad, whether different film formats (6×6 and 645) or 2 different film stocks loaded, gives it an advantage over the Mamiya 6.

I took the Hasselblad 500CM mostly to work in close  to the model (using the cross hair focus screen) but also a few shots from a distance with the split prism focus screen. I find neither screen works as well in reverse (for the mentioned styles of photography, for me). Ie. split prism screen up close I struggle with and cross hair screen from distance I can’t see to focus accurately. 

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Hasselblad Beauty
Hasselblad Portrait

Mamiya 6

For me, the Mamiya 6 camera is better than a Hasselblad to carry around all day as it is smaller and lighter, especially if fitted with the 75mm lens.  Being a rangefinder camera, the Mamiya 6 is also faster to focus and can be used at slower shutter speeds from my experience.  I prefer a Hasselblad for close up portraits but enjoy the Mamiya 6 for wider scene/ environmental portraits

Mamiya 6 + Fuji Acros
Mamiya 6 75mm Portrait
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120 Fuji Acros 100 Portrait
Fuji Acros 100
Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100
Mamiya 6 75mm lens
Mamiya 6 Fashion
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Mamiya 6 Portraits
Mamiya 6 Camera

I shot many rolls of 120 film in total which is good for recent times (and 4 rolls of 35mm film).  It was great to have a good model that I enjoyed shooting with to ‘invest’ in shooting 120 film with. I’m getting picky in my old age so it now needs to be deemed portfolio worthy in my eyes to shoot 120 film.  It is too expensive and time consuming to develop to shoot photos that I will never use. 

Leica M3

Originally, I planned to take two film Leica bodies but then realized I only have one pairs of hands so didn’t need to take even more cameras.  I wanted to shoot mostly 120 film and I only shoot film when I think a digital photo looks worthy of shooting on film.  (This can result in very few film images or it can result in lots of film photos like on this trip.  It depends on the model and the available light).  

As I shot most of the colour 120 film quite early into the trip I was glad to have 35mm colour film as a backup.  The Leica M3 was without doubt the fastest film camera to operate and is always a joy to use.  It has 50mm framelines but I shot a lot with wider lenses too (35mm mostly) and used an external viewfinder to focus (or just guessed).  Hopefully even if I screwed up a few 120 film shots I got others on 35mm film.  (By shooting the same outfit / location on 2 different film cameras it gives some protection from accidental errors).

Kodak Vision3 50D Portrait
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Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH
Leica M3 Colour Film Portrait (2018)
Leica M3 Portrait (2018)
Summilux 50mm Film Portrait

Leica M240

The digital Leica M240 was my primary camera for Tenerife.  I packed a few different Leica M lenses as they are all relatively small and gave me options for different styles of photos.  The most used lens was the 35mm Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 I think so I must of being seeing the world as a wider scene. I did use the 90mm Macro-Elmer more on the last day too. 

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Leica M240 Fashion
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 Flare
Leica M3

No Flash / Available Light Only 

For once I packing no additional lighting at all. Not even a single speedlight.  I didn’t even use a reflector (not once). (That is probably why I had the extra luggage capacity to take so many cameras!). The weather was not blue sky sunshine much of the time and we even had a little rain one day but I enjoyed working just with available light and it was bright most of the time.  I think these Tenerife photos may have a slightly different look to my norm as I normally use a lot of lights in my photography. I enjoyed the simplicity and speed of working with daylight and I think it makes you work a location harder when using exiting light rather than just making artificial light wherever you want it.  Both lighting scenarios have there pros and cons of course but for me different is interesting and fun. 

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Model

I have worked with Aneta a few times now after she first approached me via email. We work well together and she knows how I operate and I know she is there to get the results she needs.  Aneta did an amazing job bringing lots of nice clothes after weeks of me email her suggestions and photo ideas (plus her finding her own ideas too).  Aneta always looks good to me but she put in the additional physical training ahead of our shoot to look at her best for Tenerife.  That meant that pretty much every item of clothing looked good, very good or just made your eyeballs pop out on stalks!  I was so happy I made the choice to shoot higher resolution 120 medium format film as some images I think I will look back on forever.  Hopefully timeless classics and where only a few models I know could produce the same image. 

Aneta is very body confident and for some photos I need that confidence combined with the amazing physical form. Helmet Newton came to mind when I was shooting some of the photos. I’m not one of these photographers that lies near naked girls on a car bonnet or straddling a motorbike (I can’t think of anything cheaper looking) but like Helmut Newton, sometimes some nudity can look amazing and I think it celebrates the female form. I hope Aneta can look back on some of the photos when she is old and enjoy seeing herself at her physical peak. Equally I never saw myself shooting nudes or mostly nude photos a few years ago!  I just seem numb to it now so that might be why some of my Flickr or Instagram photos are racier than they once were. Hopefully still tasteful though. 

Location Shoot

Aneta and I did well in trying to use as many different backdrops as possible during the 3 days. A polar opposite to some of my past shoots in Poland where many girls were shot up against a white hotel wall (often due to rain outside and limited daylight).  Hopefully that will add to the interest and variety in the photos even with the same model.  My brain is a bit fried after 3 bust days but I think from memory the balcony shots might be the ones I am most likely to print. I want to start printing more of my work so I hope I got the results I needed. Coming soon.  

Next Time – What would I do differently?

If I think positive and the photos are as good as I saw through the film cameras, next time I won’t change my setup too much. I will leave the Mamiya 6 camera behind and the Zeiss 60mm lens and use the Two Hasselblad cameras both with A12 6×6 film backs. I would take the Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 for the Leica M3 as I rarely shot the Summilux wide open at f1.4. The Summarit is a smaller lens and balances much nicer on a film Leica. Lastly I would take more colour film as I enjoyed shooting some colour for a change (I shoot mostly black and white film on grey days in the UK and in the studio).

Whatever the film photo results, thanks Aneta, I think we both gave it our all and some of the digital photos we’ve taken looked amazing on the Leica M240 LCD.  Aneta pushed me by giving me scenarios she wanted me to photograph (that I may not have thought of) so I think I come away a stronger photographer (and I never stop learning using my various film cameras).

Film Developing Mistake

I was developing some of the 120 colour film late at night while multi-tasking and I got the chemicals and Paterson tanks mixed up. The times, temperatures and chemical mix were all wrong but I still got something. More of a lomography look. Luckily I had shot enough film that most negatives were not affected.

Damaged Film
Hasselblad A16 Film Back
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Hasselblad Double Exposure
Hasselblad SWC-M Portrait

*Update – Does the camera really matter?

As I’ve now covered in some of my YouTube videos, the cameras matters much less than the subject/ scene and the light.  I can have the “best” / most expensive cameras and lenses but if I don’t like what is in front of the lens then I will never use the images (or possibly not even be inspired enough to take the photos).  Luckily, in 2018, Aneta approached me after finding me on Google as she wanted to get back into modelling.  She even paid for the nice apartment in Tenerife so that we could make the best photos we could.

Similar to the example I share in my video, I would say that most people (including myself – note to self!) would be better to spend £1000 as; £200-£400 on a camera + lens(es) + film and the rest on travel (flight and hotel) + a professional model, if that is your interest, rather than £1000 on a new camera or lens.  (Or on a model photography workshop if that is your interest)

Over that last 10 years I have been guilty of spending 90-95% of my budget on camera equipment and 5-10% on cheap travel.  I still enjoyed it but the nice cameras had less impact on the final photos than the models I recruited for the shoots.  For my next trip I might take the budget Nikon FG-20 + Nikkor 50mm f2 AI to try to prove this idea.

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18+ Images from this trip

A body confident model in a hot country results in nude and semi-naked photos. I can’t share them here as I try to keep this a family-friendly-ish site but I do post them on Patreon. These photos are not supposed to be the main reason to join Patreon but it is nice to be able to share the images I make.

Need a Mentor? Join Patreon for support, tuition + more content!

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Related Posts

Poland Models – 2019

Poland Models – 2019

Poland Blog Diary (Written September 2019)

September is normally busy for me for photoshoots as I try to catch the end of the summer and warm weather.  A couple of weeks ago I was in Ukraine and Hungary and it was still really warm, mid 30s and humid.  Now I fly to Poland and the forecast is mid 20s so still very nice. 

Leica CL Lightroom Preset

Aim for the trip?

Apart from the obvious answer of fly to Poland to have fun and take new photos I always like to be testing too.  If you’ve read my blog posts before you will know I’m always using the model photography as an excuse to test something.  I like to experiment with new/ different gear and it helps keep it interesting for me.  Yes this started as a Leica blog but when I ran out of Leica related gear to test I moved onto other analogue camera brands and lenses, and film stocks.

So what will I be reviewing in Poland this time?  Quite a lot actually!  

Leica M3 B&W Portrait

Nikon mount lenses on a Nikon SLR film body 

In no particular order I want to try out the following lenses.  Two are new purchases and one was potentially my favourite lens of all time.  (Pre-Leica).

Samyang 85mm f1.4 lens

This lens makes the most boring subjects look amazing.  I was an early adopter of the first lens released by Samyang. These lenses also go by the name Rokinon depending on where you live.  The mighty 85mm f1.4 prime which is sharper than the Nikkor 85mm f1.4D wide open at f1.4.  Samyang approached me after seeing my images and I shot with them for a period.  They soon released the 14mm f2.8 wide (amazing), the 35mm f1.4 (amazing) and the 24mm f1.4 (a little soft wide open).  The lenses proved quite popular at the time DSLR video was starting to catch on so Samyang then started releasing their f1.5 T lenses.  I moved to Leica soon after so I’ve not used the Samyang lenses since.  Once I got back into Nikon but SLR cameras like the F4 and F5 I favorited autofocus lenses so again the manual focus Samyang lenses were not used.  Getting the Nikon FE2 with split screen has reignited my passion for Nikon mount manual focus prime lenses. An SLR is a different shooting experience to a rangefinder camera such as a Leica so it is nice to experience both. 

The test is to just enjoy using the Samyang 85mm f1.4 lens on the Nikon FE2 to see what creative images I can make.  I will use the lens at f1.4 only and use the shallow depth of field aspect in my photos. 

Kodak Vision3 50D Portrait

Voigtlander Color Skopar 20mm f3.5 lens

Why did I buy this lens? You may know that I already own it’s sibling, the Leica M mount tiny Voigtlander 21/4 lens. So why?  Well, shooting wide with a rangefinder camera is a different experience to using a wide lens on a SLR. On a Leica camera I have to use an external viewfinder to compose a 21mm lens.  The nature of rangefinder cameras mean you cannot see the distortion before taking a photo and the close focus distance is 0.7m which can really limit creativity.  I wanted to try the Voigtlander 20mm Skopar for the what you see is what you get experience. I used to love shooting wides but since going to Leica I do it much less now.  The 20mm Voigtlander lens is compact so easy to carry everywhere. Again I’m hoping to use the lens as a creative tool on my Nikon FE2.  The 20mm focal length is less useful for model photography but I can use it to start capturing those images I see where the view is always wider than the lens I have with me.

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Voigtlander Color Skopar 20mm f3.5 Portrait

Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4 lens

There is a lot of fuss made about this lens so I wanted to buy it to try on the Nikon FE2.  I already own the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS which is a great lens but a bit soft wide open for me.  The Nikkor 55mm f2.8 macro lens is sharp but too slow to use in low light on a film camera.  The reason to buy the Voigtlander 58mm Nokton is to hopefully give me a Nikon SLR equivalent to match my much loved Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH.  The Nokton will focus closer than the 0.7m of the Summilux 50mm so again I can be more creative with it. Getting closer than 0.7m help create an even more shallow depth of field and nice bokeh and helps to fill the frame with smaller objects.

Leica M240 vs Leica CL revisited 

After using the Leica CL over the Leica M240 for a year now I wanted to revisit the Leica M240.  The Leica M240 is full frame yet the Leica CL has a 1.5x crop APS-C sensor.  Surprisingly I’ve not really noticed the lack of full frame in the images.  Full frame gives a greater shallow depth of field with fast lenses so to make the most of this I packed my two best lenses for the job.  The Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 and Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH.  I also have the Leica 75mm Summicron APO but for buttery smooth the two older Leica lenses are better. The 75 APO is a crazy sharp lens.  

90mm Summicron Headshot

The plan is to use the Leica M240 as my main digital camera in Poland and the Leica CL is just as a backup (is the plan).  I brought less lenses than normal and plan to use the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 wide open for as many images as possible. It will help keep my setup simple and get the best out of the full frame sensor.

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Leica M240 Noctilux Portrait

Leica M3 vs Nikon FE2?

For 35mm film Poland is all about the Nikon FE2 and the three mentioned prime lenses. That said I bought the Leica M3 along to compare the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 vs the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4.  I plan to use both lenses wide open and I’m interested to compare both my hit rate (accuracy using a rangefinder vs SLR at f1.4) and image sharpness. The Leica M3 is planned to be my back up film camera. 

Leica M3 Fashion Portrait B&W

Shoot mostly colour film

After reviewing some of the black and white film images developed from Ukraine and Hungary I wished on many occasions that I had shot colour film. Without the colour the photo seemed to capture only half of the memory in my head.  (I’m sure if I had shot colour I would wish they were black and white.  Never happy!)

With that in mind I packed various colour film stocks to try out in Poland.  Shooting more colour will make the images less samey than Ukraine and Hungary and keep things interesting for me.

Expired Fujicolor C200 Film

Less gear, more focus

I toyed with the idea of bringing the 4×5 Intrepid large format camera but I thought I would keep that for my next trip when I will be working at a slower pace.  I’ve currently gone off the Hasselblad 501c favouring 35mm film and fast lenses.  Taking less cameras meant I could pack some of my larger heavier faster lenses which are normally replaced by smaller lighter slower equivalents. 

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Voigtlander Nokton 58mm Film Portrait (2019)

Get outside more

When selecting some of my past photos to print as photo books recently I realised those photos that interest me tend to be shot outside.  In Poland I often shoot inside the hotel so I was determined to do more outside photos to make it more interesting. 

Summicron 90mm Portrait

Final Camera Bag List

Well that was the plan! How did it go!?

After spending ages messaging models before leaving England I had 15 girls booked across 4 days.  

It all looked very promising for a productive trip after putting the time and effort in beforehand.

7 Cancellations (New PB!)

From the total of 15 girls booked a record number of 7 managed to cancel once I arrived in Poland. Some explanations sounded plausible while others were completely lame and lacked any creativity! No photos for them in future (I tried to tell myself).

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Leica M3 vs Leica M240 :)

10 Photoshoots in 4 days 

Luckily for every let down there is a super star who either came for photos at short notice or recommended a friend or friend of a friend. Of the 10 shoots 5 girls were new faces for me so great to discover new talent and make new contacts. I worked with a mixture of catwalk agency models, ex models and non models. This provides great variety to the images in terms of body shape and experience. 

Leica M240 + Summilux 50

12 Rolls of film

Across the 4 days I shot 12 rolls of 35mm film. 8 rolls of colour film and 4 black and white. Shooting outside more inspired me to shoot more colour film. I shot a range of film stocks including Kodak Vision3 50D (3 rolls), Kodak Colorplus 200, Fujicolor C200 and Fuji Superior 400. I also shot some Ilford Pan F 50 black and white. Using these ISO 50 films I’m hoping I can see the best possible results from the camera lenses (in terms of sharpness and resolution).

Nikon FE2 vs Leica M3

From memory I shot 10 of the 12 rolls of film on the Nikon FE2.  Of those photos I used the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4 perhaps 70%, the Samyang 85mm f1.4 20% and the Voigtlander Color Skopar 20mm f3.5 10% (and mostly for walkabout non model photos). The Samyang was shot at f1.4 for all images. The Nokton 58mm was used at f1.4-f2 as occasionally it was too bright to use f1.4.  I’m interested to see how the lenses performed!

The Leica M3 was faster to focus but I was concerned that the rangefinder looked slightly off. I think I got faster at focusing the Nikon FE2, using the split screen for distance subjects and without when up close.  The Leica M3 was more of a backup camera for this trip. 

Leica M3, Poland
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Leica M240 beats Leica CL – 4:1!

After having used the Leica CL for almost all my digital photography over the last 12 months it was a bit of a surprise when I favourited the M240 in Poland. It would have been a 5:0 defeat by the M240 (5 32GB SD cards filled vs none) but after day 1 I was worried I had calibration issues.  Some images from the Leica M240 were not sharp, especially with the 50mm Summilux and Noctilux.  That spoilt my plan of shooting wide open for super shallow DOF. Strangely I was getting sharp images from the 90mm Summicron at f2 so I used this setup as much as I could.  As the days past I realised it was user error not camera error so on the last day I shot the Noctilux 50mm f1 wide open for all photos on the M240.  They are not sharp on the camera LCD but hopefully the images will still be nice.

Trying to recreate an old digital image

One of my favourite photos from Poland is from when I used to travel there for work.  I had no model connections at the time so I used to photograph anything that caught my eye.  The photo I refer to is of an old style Polish train taken with the Samyang 85mm lens wide open at f1.4 on a Nikon D700 DSLR.   The photo looks quite vintage to me but I always wish it was a film photo not digital. After organising a model shoot at the same station (which was awesome!)(loved it!), afterwards I tried to recreate the same photo.  The light was not as good as on the digital photo (I think) but luckily the trains have not changed.  I shot a series of train images on film and hopefully I got something I like.  I was keen to capture these older style trains before they all get replaced with new ones. 

Gdansk Railway SOOC
(Digital original)

A quick summary of this visit to Poland (General)

Despite the cancellations I was never not doing something and always felt busy.  I managed to fit in three runs, a sea swim and a walkabout to shoot more of the Sopot/ Gdansk area. The hotel provided some unexpected variety as I had two days in a room similar to what I’m used to then two days in a different building. Different is great for me as I get new light to play with!

Leica Noctilux f1 Portrait

Camera gear choice – Thoughts

Taking less cameras and lenses worked well for me. I didn’t need the Leica M3 but it was good to have a film backup option. The Leica CL too acted more as a comfort blanket for if needed. Shooting mostly 50mm/58mm on both cameras made it easy and fast.  Having the 85mm/90mm option gave a useful longer lens choice but if I was travelling light I would take just 50mm/58mm for portraits.  Specifically the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm and Leica Summilux 50mm.  I think the Voigtlander Color Skopar 20mm will become my new carry everywhere lens for the Nikon SLR setup. I will write a review for this lens when I get chance and once the photos are developed.

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Leica Noctilux Photographer

Thanks, you are awesome!

A big thanks to models Mary, Teresa, Paulina, Ola, Dominika, Agata, Karolina and Dorota and to Monika for having me again.  Thanks again also to the girls I didn’t shoot who kindly recommended model friends to help back fill some of the many cancellations. 

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Portrait

September 2021 – Update

I found this draft write up that I’d written on the flight home from Poland in 2019. It was different times then. I travelled most months so was shooting more photos than I ever had the time to post. In this article I share every photo I edited yet it was a small number. Colour film is generally a big disappointment to me but you occasionally get a few gems.

As I’d shot mostly colour film I had less film keepers than if i’d shot B&W. Also I was more dumb back then and shooting everything wide open results in too soft looking images on colour film and an easy chance to misfocus if a rangefinder is not spot on accurate. If I did the same trip today (2 years later), I’d use mostly B&W film and stop lenses down more. Well we can see once I get to travel again! I’ve really miss my little overseas adventures so i’m looking forward to getting back to it as soon as I can!

Expired film + Expired chemicals

I did get to Poland in 2020 and by that time I has started Patreon. You can find behind the scenes videos shot in Poland with the models last year if you look through the 200 or so posts on there. I’m also on YouTube now too so come and say hi!

I will try to dig out a few more draft model trip write ups to share. To avoid missing them you may want to subscribe to the blog. You get the monthly free newsletter and the new YouTube all video search tool I created!


More Polish Model Trips!

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Newsletter – September 2021

Free Monthly Newsletter!

Hi friends! Here is the new monthly MrLeica.com newsletter – A summary of posts you may have missed, upcoming events, useful information and anything else I can think of!

Leica SL Colours
Flickr photo of the month (most liked photo) The lovely Caitlyn got 1st & 2nd most liked image!

Features

  • August- Recap
  • August 2021 YouTube Videos
  • UK Workshops
  • Overseas Workshops
  • Patreon – Zoom Calls & More
  • September – Coming up!

August – Recap

If I could sum up August in one sentence i’d say – complete lack of models and lots of 1:1 London workshops. It seems models enjoyed their food over lockdown a little more than they wanted too! So many times I am contacting existing models friends and they tell me sorry they got fat. Doh!

This resulted in very few photo shoots in Coventry but I managed to find a few girls in London to model for the workshop days I ran. I need models to test lenses and cameras so it’s starting to prove a little difficult!

Sometimes I wonder if I should mix my service as a photographer with also being a PT (personal trainer)! I run with one of my model friends twice as week and she’s now up to 9 mile distance in one run quite easily, and looks the best she’s ever looked (in the 7 years or so i’ve known her).

I have started to test lenses just by walking around cities so I guess that will give a more balanced review of what the lenses can do but as you know my core work is portraiture. (I really miss my overseas models!)(Hope to travel as soon as I can).

The August workshops were a great success from the feedback I received. Everyone booked a follow up day(s) and I’m meeting some really amazing individuals. I love the teaching aspect of photography mixed with model photography so I hope I can continue to grow this side of my work. (My parents were both teachers so perhaps it’s in the blood!)

August was also my first month where I held two group Zoom calls on Patreon. The face to face “chat cameras over a beer/ coffee” type interactive meeting and my first seminar meet where I teach on a particular photography topic. I need to get better at time management but otherwise I am looking forward to the same in September! If you are interested see Patreon where I will announce September Zoom dates soon.

August 2021 YouTube Videos

After falling off the wagon over the summer I’m almost back to posting 2 new full YouTube videos a week. I’m also trying to post some short 1 minute YouTube videos as these are currently being pushed by YouTube. They are called “YouTube Shorts” and are similar to popular short stories on Instagram reels and TikTok.

New YouTube Shorts!

My idea is to use these new YT Shorts for (1) quick product A vs product B comparisons, (2) super short video topics or (3) highlights from old videos to raise awareness. If they don’t work out at least I tried it! Here is a sample –

Below is a catch up of all the full length August YouTube videos if you missed them.

Can You Help Me

Have you Subscribed to my YouTube yet and turned on your notifications!? I know you must get really sick of hearing every YouTuber mention it constantly but sadly it’s a necessary evil as it turns the cogs of the YouTube algorithm. It makes the difference between a video getting shown to more people or not. YouTube tells us publishers the data and after August it said “video view as normal but subscribers down 25% verses previous months”.

While I have my pathetic begging bowl out, if you can click the “LIKE” button on any videos you enjoyed watching that helps more than you could ever imagine! (Now I understand quite how important likes and subs are to the success of a YouTube channel I always leave likes on videos I enjoy watching from others).

Why does this matter to you? The idea is, if I can grow the channel I can attract bigger brands and more opportunities resulting in more new camera and lens reviews, comparison testing so you then know what gear you may want to buy.

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August YouTube Videos Catch-up:

Pimp your Godox AD200 with the H200R + AK-R1

I’ve really enjoyed getting more from my Godox AD200 with these Godox accessories. They let me get more creative with my lighting and all in a very portable light mod setup.

Find on Amazon: Godox H200R (UK)(US) / Godox AK-R1 (UK)(US)

Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 VM II

Finally I share my thoughts on the new Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 II lens. A strong performer in a tiny package and much cheaper than a Summilux. Well done Voigtlander for yet another amazing lens!

If you live in the UK you can get 5% off the list price of all Voigtlander lenses using the discount code “MRLEICA” at https://www.robertwhite.co.uk/

Can also find the lens on Amazon if outside the UK: Amazon COM

Large Format Photography

Another very overdue video! Finally I introduce my three 4×5 cameras, an Intrepid 4×5, Sinar F2 monorail camera and a modified Pacemaker Speed Graphic with an Aero Ektar 178mm f2.5 lens. Have you ever tried large format photography!?

Mr Leica Workshop results in a Fuji vs Leica shootout!

Vishal attended one of my 1:1 London Leica photography workshops with an interest in seeing how Leica gear compared to Fuji. I supplied Leica M lenses and Leica R lenses to test with and also my new Leica SL camera.

Spoiler alert! Vishal loved the SL. Check used Leica SL Prices: (US) (UK)

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10 Simple Money Saving Tips (That help my buy Leica cameras!)

People often tell me “Leica are too expensive” or “Did you win the lottery”. The truth is if you work hard and save money in other areas of your life anyone can afford a Leica camera (even if not the latest flagship model*). What many people don’t realise is you can buy cheap Leica too if you know what to look for!

Film is too expensive? Get an Olympus Pen F and 72 shots/roll!

Would you shoot film more if it was cheaper? With the Olympus Pen F half frame camera you get 72+ photos per 36 exposure roll of film! 50% cheaper!

Check latest Pen F prices on eBay: (UK) (US)

FujiFilm GF670 – Optically the best medium format camera?

This is another very overdue video! I finally share what I think is optically my best medium format camera and if offers 6×6 and 6×7 AND is not much bigger than a Leica M camera!

Check latest Fuji GF670 prices on eBay: (UK) (US)

UK Workshops

Now lockdowns have eased in the UK it has been full steam ahead for teaching 1-to-1 photography workshops again. I teach basic to advanced level photography to anyone with a camera. That said, students are often either Leica photographers and trying to get more from their cameras, film photographers trying to master their latest film camera/ film or anyone wanting to try model photography. We sometimes do street photography too so I tailor it to your needs.

  • August 2021 – London & Birmingham 1:1 workshops – Complete
  • September 2021 – London 1:1 workshop – 1 Space remaining
  • October 2021 – London & Birmingham 1:1 workshops – 2 Spaces remaining

See workshop prices and testimonials on the blog

Overseas Workshops

I’m very aware many of you are overseas and quite a few in both Germany and the US that I speak to. If I can get enough people from one country looking for 1:1 workshops I can look to fly to your country and do a mini road trip to see as many of you as I can. If you are interested in me flying to you please get in touch so I have an idea of numbers. (I’ve had a request to teach in Istanbul and the Netherlands so those might be happening!)

The other option is do as some others do and fly into London and I’ll meet you there. The advantage of meeting you in your city is (1) you don’t need to travel (2) I will give you model contacts in your city that you can keep in touch with after I leave. This has worked well for photographers in the past. The flipside of that is if you rather come to London you get the excuse for a holiday!

Patreon – New features

Zoom Call Helpline Service!

I’m starting to do more 1:1 Zoom calls as people pro-actively ask for my assistance. I help fellow photographers around the world with camera and lens purchases (especially) but also help with other topics such as film developing, lighting, film camera issues. Get in touch via Patreon if you need my assistance.

Monthly Zoom Call Group Face-to-Face Meet ~30mins

On the Patreon platform £5+ tier members now meet for a monthly call to chat all things photography and to learn from each other. Dates are announced on Patreon, normally a Wednesday evening UK time. Join us! We also have our own private Facebook group that you can be part of.

Monthly Zoom Call Seminar (Listen In) ~30mins

On the Patreon platform £3+ tier members can now dial in for a monthly call to hear me talking on a specific photography topic. I will share all I know on a specific subject and different to the gear reviews on YouTube. Dates are announced on Patreon, normally a Wednesday evening UK time.

Patreon Extras

For access to 150+ additional post, 18+ images, photobooks and more sign up to Patreon.

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September – Coming Up

September is already looking exciting with multiple planned videos in the pipeline that I think might be interesting. Hopefully you will see me “step up my game” with the product reviews on YouTube. After having a “light bulb moment” I can now show comparison results much better than I’ve done previously. All that to come!

YouTube video – spotlight (1 of the videos coming soon!)

I can confirm that I have a new lens from Voigtlander to share with you and I will compare to a previous version AND the Leica alternative. More testing to be done and then I can put the video together. Out soon!

Travel update

Travel prospects are still looking bleak for the next month or so but hopefully I can still hit the road with my cameras before the end of the year! (This includes workshops and model shoots in Europe as well as getting to explore some new places).

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Large Format Photography – Beginner’s Guide!

Large Format Photography – Beginner’s Guide!

Despite loving small 35mm Leica film cameras, I also enjoy large format photography. In this beginner’s guide I cover my three large format cameras that I purchased between 2014 and 2018. Intrepid 4×5, Sinar F2 and Pacemaker Speed Graphic. See my kit list below for getting started with large format photography and you can see a visual of the cameras and how they work on the YouTube video embedded below.

4x5 film photography
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Getting Started: Large Format Photography Kit List

Large Format Camera

The most popular large format camera size is probably 4×5 followed by 8×10. I bought all 4×5 size as it is easier to process the film afterwards and you don’t need a dark room. Popular 4×5 cameras include those made by Intrepid, Sinar, Toyo, Linhof, Wista and Horseman (I probably missed a few others).

Unlike most nice film cameras, large format cameras can still be found at affordable prices. See the current price of a 4×5 camera on eBay (UK) (US).

Intrepid 4x5 Camera
4×5 Large Format Lens

Unlike many 35mm film cameras and medium format film cameras, large format cameras usually don’t come with a lens. Once you have a camera the next thing you need is the lens. You need to make sure the lens will fit your camera. The easiest approach is to buy a lens on a lens board designed for your camera dimensions but if not you can buy a lens and a seperate lens board and take that route. (I did it both ways with my lenses).

Large Format lenses all sound like telephotos lenses as the numbers are bigger but this is due to the larger film format. For example, a 4×5 150mm lens equates to a normal or 50mm lens in 35mm film terms. I then use 75mm or 90mm as my wider lens and 240mm as a longer lens. See the price of 4×5 camera lenses on eBay (UK) (US).

Kodak Aero Ektar 178mm f2.5 Selfie
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More 4×5 Photography Essential Kit

Once you have your 4×5 camera and lens, before you can start you will also need the following –

4×5 Film Holders – You need at least 1 film holder (which gives to 2 photos) but I think the ideal is 3 or 6 holders. Three will give you 6 shots and that is enough to fill the 4×5 MOD 54 insert when you come to develop your film (see below).

Tripod – I use heavy duty and carbon fibre tripods but I find strong heavy duty ones made of aluminium are better for 4×5 film photography. Manfrotto are great and I use a Vanguard too for low level work. Search Amazon (UK) (US)

Tripod Head – It’s personal preference but most people use ball heads or 3-way heads on their tripods. These often come with the tripod legs. Tripod heads with spirit levels are useful to check your horizon is level!

Cable Release – These screw into the lens so that you can fire the shutter without touching the camera.

Dark Cloth – This will help you see to critically focus, especially in bright conditions. To begin with you can just try using a heavy coat as I did or perhaps a blanket to block the light.

Magnifying Loop – I use a plastic 8x loop – See options on Amazon (UK) (US)

Spot Light Meter – I use a Sekonic L-758 light meter for large format photography. The current version is the Sekonic L-858 – See Amazon (UK) (US)

4×5 Film – You will of course need some film! Black and white film is much more affordable thn colour and easy to develop. I use 4×5 Fomapan 100 sheet film.

Hasselblad, 80mm + 21mm extension tube
Film Developing for 4×5 Photography

Film Changing Bag – Also known as darkroom bag. These are very useful for daylight film loading–See Amazon (UK) (US)

Paterson Developing Tank – The easiest way to develop your film at home and it means you don’t need a dark room. You need a 3 reel developing tank for 4×5 photography and then your need the MOD 54 insert – See Amazon (UK) (US)

4×5 MOD 54 insert – Amazing piece of kit. Fits inside a Paterson tank and lets you develop 6 sheets of 4×5 film without a darkroom –See Amazon (UK) (US)

B&W film developer – I use Kodak Xtol developer – See Amazon (UK) D-76 (US)

Colour film developer – I use Tetenal Colortec C-41 kit – See Amazon (UK) (US)

Film Scanner – I use an Epson Perfection v800 flatbed scanner for 4×5 film negatives (+ 35mm and 120 film) – See Amazon (UK) (US)

I think that is everything! If I forgot something please let me know!

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Large Format Photography YouTube Videos

I plan to do more large format photography YouTube videos soon as this is a topic less covered by most photographers.

Pacemaker Speed Graphic

Large Format Photography Workshops

If you buy your first large format camera but then struggle to get started we can cover large format photography during my photography workshops. I often teach 35mm photography as that is the most popular format (or digital), but i’m happy to bring a large format camera to the workshop instead of a Leica if that is your preference!

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