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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.

“I love to teach photography so blogging & YouTube! helps me do so”

MrLeica.com is a free and fast growing resource for cameras, lenses and film comparisons.  With over 300 published articles this site caters to everyone.

“I enjoy using old film cameras but I do my research before buying.  Here I share the answers to the questions I had to save you searching the internet for hours!”

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“MrLeica camera reviews include many comparisons to similar cameras and are based on up to 10 years of hands on experiences using the equipment”

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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)

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.

Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2 Shootout (Kodak Vision3 500T Portraits)

Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2 Shootout (Kodak Vision3 500T Portraits) + YouTube

Have you ever wondered if the more expensive Leica R6 camera produces “better” (subjective I know!*) photos than the lower priced Nikon FE2 camera? I was interested for my own photography so I set about organising two model photo shoots where I could use both cameras side by side.

Camera Test Parameters

I wanted to keep as many variables as constant as possible to make the results more comparable. All images are shot by myself with my own equipment and I shot the photos one after each other so that the lighting would be constant. I asked the models to try to keep still and hold a similar pose and expression where possible (though it was a normal fun photoshoot so it was not set in stone)(It needs to be fun too!).

Nikon FE2 vs Leica R6!

Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2- Test Criteria

  • 50mm prime lens fitted on both cameras and all photos shot at f2 aperture
  • No lens hood attached/ pulled out on either lens
  • Both cameras had already been recently film tested by me
  • Film in both cameras was exposed at ISO 200 (*Overexposed as expired film)
  • Film for both cameras was spooled from the same bulk roll of Vision3 film
  • All film processed/ developed in the same 3 reel Paterson tank
  • Film negatives scanned with an Epson V800 scanner (flatbed) as TIF files
  • Film scans processed through Adobe Lightroom and exported as small JPEG
  • Images colour corrected + exposure / contrast adjustment in Lightroom

Two Camera Setup

  1. Leica R6 + Leica Summicron-R 50mm f2 v2 lens + Kodak Vision3 500T film
  2. Nikon FE2 + Nikkor 50mm f1.8 pancake v3 lens + Kodak Vision3 500T film

Leica R6 Review

Before reviewing the images, if you’ve never come across a Leica R6 SLR camera you may want to watch this Leica R6 review first –

Leica R6 + my thoughts compared to Leica M film cameras

Nikon FE2 Review

Equally if you are not up to speed on Nikon SLR cameras such as the Nikon FE2 you may enjoy this Nikon FE2 review as part of a broader camera comparison –

Nikon FE2 vs similar Nikon SLR cameras
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Kodak Vision3 500T Film (Motion Picture Film)

To better understand the process I went through to develop the film for this test, you might first need to understand more about the film that I used. All images were shot with expired bulk roll Kodak Vision3 500T motion picture film. First I had to spool the film to load into the 35mm cameras. Then once the film was developed I had to remove the remjet layer (see the video) before developing. I cross processed this ECN-2 film using my usual C-41 film chemistry as I the results work for me. As the film is expired, I exposed the ISo 500 speed film at ISo 200 to give me good exposure and shadow detail. (From my previous results this works well for my taste).

Video explains Kodak Vision3 films and how to develop it at home (Must watch before buying this film)

Leica SLR vs Nikon SLR Shootout – Images Compared

First I share pairs of similar images so you can compare the Leica R6 photos vs the Nikon FE2 photos. All images on the left are Leica R6 portraits, all images on the right are Nikon FE2 images.

(Left) Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2 (Right)(1)
Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2 (2)
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Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2 (3)
(4) Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2
Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2 (5)
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Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2 (6)
(7) Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2
Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2 (8)

Gallery – Leica R6 Portraits

As mentioned above, all Leica R6 portraits in this series were shot with a Leica Summicron-R 50mm f2 v2 lens at ISo 200 (In camera metering – I use the Leica R6 spot meter not matrix). The 50mm Summicron-R design has a built in slide out lens hood (which I didn’t use) and a recessed front lens element. Leica R lenses are said to render images warmer than their Leica M siblings. This seems to hold true from my results. Perhaps due to the lens design or lens coatings, I saw very little lens flare or loss of contrast in these images.

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Nikon FE2 Portraits

The Nikon FE2 portraits were taken with the Nikkor 50mm f1.8 version 3 pancake lens, with no hood and the lens set at f2 for all images. The Nikkor glasses looks to give a cooler tone compared to the Leica Summicron-R 50mm f2 lens. This makes sense as the Leica R lenses are known to give a warmer look. Perhaps due to no lens hood and the lens design (a more exposed front lens element), the images seem to show more lens flare and less contrast verses the Leica images.

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Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2 – Verdict?

I know I will state the obvious, but sometimes for us photography GAS sufferers I need to. Both cameras and lenses can take very nice photos and either setup is capable of making both you and the model (in this instance) very happy. The lens is what makes the image (+ the film) not the camera, but you need a camera that lets you focus and meter accurately to complete the task. Different lenses will transform the look of the final images even using the same camera body. Again stating the obvious. Let me break it down into two conclusions –

Leica R6 Performance – Conclusion

The Leica R6 is the more expensive camera with the more expensive lens so in theory you would expect it to perform better (based purely on cost)(“Better” is subjective so I expect the results to give mixed comments from readers). We know that cost is usually not directly proportional to performance but the lens showed better flare resistance and higher contrast. The Leica R6 camera lens setup is bigger and heavier than the Nikon with less camera functionality so that is worth noting too.

Leica R6 + 80-200mm f4

Nikon FE2 Performance – Conclusion

Despite calling myself MrLeica, I am a big fan of the Nikon FE2 camera too. I went out of my way to find the version 3 pancake lenses used in this test because of it’s performance and close focus ability. I feel Nikon SLR cameras offer exceptional value for money and the lenses available are almost endless. Being a smaller lighter camera-lens setup and lower value it is my ideal SLR setup for overseas photoshoots when I have to pack light.

Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4 Selfie

Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2 – And the winner is..?

This is where we may disagree. Most Leica photographers want perfection from their camera(s) (in terms of build quality) but also perfection in terms of image quality. We could class perfection in this test as accurate colours, good contrast and sufficient detail in the images.

But there is a difference between perfect and perfectly imperfect. As a creative who used to paint and sketch before picking up a camera, I like imperfect images often more than perfect. Those ‘happy accident’ photos or end of the film roll photos are often my favourites. And with that said, I prefer the blue hues and lower contrast, and perhaps more ‘grain’ of the Nikon FE2 photos in most cases over the Leica R images. (*Note – see below for more Leica R images with a different lens).

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Which camera was the winner for you?

Comment below or on the YouTube video – which camera do you think performed the best? Or I guess I should say, which set of images do you prefer?

Pimp your Nikon camera!

Die hard Nikon fans may not agree, but many of us appreciate that the Voigtlander SL lenses in Nikon mount can really improve the performance of your Nikon camera in terms of optically. I realise this is a sweeping statement so here are two videos to back up my comment. First I compare a few Nikon lenses vs Voigtlander lenses and second I share the results from the Voigtlander SL lenses.

Nikon lenses vs Voigtlander lenses
Voigtlander SL lenses for Nikon cameras

More Leica R6 Portrait Images – Summicron R 35mm

Lastly, here are more Leica R6 portrait photos from the same shoot with Jada but this time using the Leica Summicron-R 35mm f2 lens (Not 50mm).

I think the colours vary slightly as from the different scanning sessions (and me adjusting colours by eye). I prefer the these colours with the 35mm Summicron R lens (when the blues are blue), verses those shares with the Summicron 50mm R lens above. The blue top and blue eyes against Jada’s red hair and freckly skin gives a really beautiful contrast. (You might think it was a lucky accident!)(or perhaps just careful planning!) These are some of my favourite images from the day so i’m not saying Nikon is great and Leica is bad.

Digital Photos with Leica Summicron-R lenses

To see how the Leica Summicron R lenses perform on a digital sensor you can also check out this post. Here I use the lenses on the Lumix S5 camera –

Leica R6 vs Nikon FE2 (Part 2)

From memory I also shot similar images to these with the Leica R6 and 35mm lens with the Nikon and a 40mm Voigtlander SL lens. That film might still be in the camera as I’ve not seen the images yet. If I find them I will aim to post a part 2! (Leica glass vs Voigtlander glass on the same cameras).

More Nikon FE2 Portraits – 2 Model Shoots in B&W

Dream of photographing models but don’t know where to start?

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Model Photography Workshops

Book a model photography workshop with me today and we can start to build your portfolio. For those of you in the UK, I organise model photography workshops in London. Photographers living in Europe, I can look to travel to your city once travel becomes easier again. For those of you in the US and further afield, I arrange Zoom call(s) and I will talk you through how to get started with photographing models in the city you live in. (Hopefully I can teach in the US again at some stage as I did in the past! – https://mrleica.com/new-york-photography-workshop-2/ )

Need help with your Film Photography?

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More film photography articles you might like

Lumix S5 Lightroom Presets (Leica Look Portraits)

Lumix S5 Lightroom Presets (Leica Look Portraits)(x40)

Following my Panasonic Lumix S5 review I did for YouTube, here are a series of sample photos using my Lumix S5 Lightroom preset pack. I have used the S5 Lumix with Leica L mount lenses, Leica M mount lenses and Leica R mount lenses so here are examples with each setup.

Panasonic Lumix S5 Review (As a Leica user!)

Using the Lumix S5 with Leica M + Leica R lenses

Portraits with the Lumix S5 cameras

As a portrait photographer / model photographer, I was interested to try the Lumix S5 camera with a variety of lenses. I split this article down by lens mount and at the end I share the Lightroom presets for the Lumix S5 camera that I use. All photos in the blog post were shot with the Panasonic Lumix S5 with the featured Lightroom presets applied.

Leica L mount lenses + Lumix S5 – Portraits

I need to add more examples using the Lumix S5 with Leica L mount lenses but here are two. One is using the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–90mm f/2.8–4 ASPH lens and the other with the Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6. Click any image in this post for full details.

Panasonic Lumix S5 Portrait
Leica 24-90mm f4 SL Portrait

Lumix S5 with Leica R lenses – Portraits

The Lumix S5 camera accidently introduced me to Leica R lenses and from that I then bought the Leica R6 film camera (See Leica R6 YouTube review). The following photos were shot using the Panasonic Lumix S5 with Leica R lenses. Lenses including the Leica Elmarit-R 135mm f2.8, Leica Summicron-R 50mm f2, Leica Summicron-R 35mm f2, possibly the Leica Elmarit-R 24mm f2.8 (though I tend to use that more for non-portraits). I also use two Leica R zoom lenses. The Leica Vario Elmar-R 80-200mm f4 ROM lens and the Leica Vario Elmar R 35-70mm f4 Macro ROM lens. Again click any image to see the lens used. (My most used lenses for portraits are the 35mm Summicron R lens and 50mm Summicron R lens).

Leica Elmarit-R 135mm Portrait
Leica Summicron-R 50mm Lens
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Lumix S5 Portraits
Leica Summicron-R 50mm Portrait
Summicron R 35mm Portrait
Leica Summicron-R 35mm f2 Portrait
Summicron R 35mm f2 B&W
Leica 80-200 Portrait
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Leica M3 + Canon 50mm f1.4
Leica Elmarit-R 135mm f2.8 Portrait
Leica M3 Photographer
50mm Summicron R Portrait
Lumix S5 + Leica R 50mm
Leica Summicron 50mm Portrait
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Summicron 50mm Portrait
Leica Summicron R 50mm f2
Summicron-R 50mm f2 Portrait
Leica Summicron-R 50mm f2 Fashion
Leica Summicron-R 50mm f2 Portrait
Leica 135mm f2.8 R Portrait
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Leica 135mm f2.8 Portrait
Leica 80-200mm f4 Portrait
Leica 80-200mm Vario-Elmar-R f4
Leica 135mm f2.8 R Lens

Lumix S5 with Leica M mount lenses – Portraits

As a Leica M shooter for many years I was interested to try some of my favourite Leica M lenses on the Lumix S5. I wont list every lens but a few of them include the Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH, Leica Elmar 90mm f4, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 and Voigtlander Heliar 50mm f3.5.

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7
Leica Elmar 90mm f4 LTM Headshot
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Leica Elmar 90mm f4 Portrait
Leica 80-200mm f4 Portrait
Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
Voigtlander Heliar 50mm f3.5
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Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 II
Lumix S5 + Leica M Lenses
Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Portrait
Leica 90mm f2 Portrait
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Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 II
Summicron 90mm f2

Lumix S5 Lightroom Presets (Leica Look LR Presets for Lumix)

So as a long term Leica camera user, how did I make myself like the files from the new digital Panasonic Lumix S5? I developed my own Leica look Lumix S5 Lightroom presets inspired by my Leica digital files and to a lesser extent my film photography. Each time I process a new set of Lumix S5 RAW files through LR I try existing Lumix presets I made and if they don’t work for the look I want I make new ones. From the 15+ Lumix S5 LR presets I had, over the next two months I found I was using a few more than other. In particular, 2 different B&W Lightroom presets and two colour LR presets.

Lightroom Presets for Panasonic Lumix S5 (x3 +1)

For all my other Lightroom preset packs for Leica cameras I had two B&W and one colour. With the Lumix S5 I seem to be shooting a lot more colour so I had to narrow it down to four LR presets. Two colour, two black and white. This means when you buy the Lightroom Presets for Lumix S5 you get the standard 3 presets + 1 free!

>> Download: Lightroom Presets Panasonic Lumix S5

Leica Look Presets for Panasonic Lumix S5 (x3 Bundle)
Summicron 50mm Portrait
OFFER! (3x Lumix S5 presets) +1 FREE!
£9.99 - Download Now!

Special bundle offer giving 3 Lumic S5 presets for the price of only 2 + 1 FREE!

Leica Look Lumix S5 Lightroom preset bundle includes:

  • MrLeica Lumix S Colour
  • MrLeica Lumix S B&W 1
  • MrLeica Lumix S B&W 2
  • MrLeica Lumix S Colour 2 (FREE!)

**Lumix S5 Lightroom presets are also suitable for the Lumix S1 / S1H cameras

MrLeica Lumix S5 Lightroom Preset – Colour 1

Lumix S5 LR preset Colour 1 has more of a pink tone to it. Here I share the before and after in Lightroom and the final edit from Photoshop (I often add photo borders and polish up a bit in Photoshop!).

Lumix S5 Lightroom Preset Download

MrLeica Lumix S5 LR Preset – Colour 2

My Lumix S5 LR preset Colour 2 has more of a green tone. Here are before and after photos with the preset applied to a RAW image and a seperate example photo.

Leica Summicron R 35mm f2 Portrait

MrLeica Lumix S5 Lightroom Preset – Black & White 1

Again here are before and after photos using the Lumix S B&W LR preset –

MrLeica Lumix S5 LR Preset – Black & White 2

I found my B&W preset 1 didn’t suit all the models so I developed B&W 2 to give me more options –

How do I process my Panasonic Lumix S5 RAW files?

I import all my RAW files from the Lumix S5 camera into Adobe Lightroom. I then apply one of the 4 presets shown above. For many photoshoots that gives me a 90% finished image. I then fine tune the look of one image using the slider controls in Lightroom and then paste “sync all” across all images. I will then scroll through the images to correct the exposure if I was working in changing lighting conditions. Finally I export all images small JPEG size and send to the models via WeTransfer for them to download. It’s that easy!

The presets don’t work for me?

There might be an occasion where I take photo and non of the 4 presets look quite right. The beauty is I can pick the closest LR preset to the look that I want and then fine tune from there and perhaps save the preset as a new “MrLeica Lumix S LR Preset – Col1B” for example. Done!

Leica Look Lightroom Presets for Lumix S cameras

I developed these Lightroom presets to give me photos that I am happy with from the Panasonic Lumix S5 camera despite being a Leica shooter. As many of the Panasonic Lumix S cameras have a similar sensor, say the Lumix S1 for example, these presets should give you a great starting point for any Lumix S camera.

More MrLeica Custom Leica Lightroom Presets:

If you like my Lumix S LR presets you may also enjoy some of the following –

>> Click HERE to get access to any of the above presets

Note – Lumix GH5 Users (LR Presets Available)

Please note I also have Panasonic Lumix GH5 presets available as I used the Lumix GH5 before getting the full frame Lumix S5. Write to me if you would like them made available to download too.

**I also still have all my Lumix GH5 lenses + Speedbooster so if you use a Micro 4/3 camera get in touch if you’d like my lenses! (Ideally UK based)

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Budget SLR Camera Portraits (x40)(Nikon F80 + Minolta X300)

Budget SLR Camera Portraits! (Nikon F80 + Minolta X300) (Polish Girls 2020)(x40)

Here I share images taken with a budget SLR camera – Minolta X300 and Nikon F80, next to a few portraits with rangefinder cameras. (You can find the Minolta X300 review and Nikon F80 review linked below). I know this blog is Leica-centric but this is proof that I use other film cameras too!

Budget SLR Camera Portraits

You don’t need a Leica to make nice photos!

Stating the obvious I know but it’s always good to remind ourselves occasionally, especially when suffering from severe photography GAS! We don’t need expensive Leica M cameras to take nice photos. You can use any film camera! (Film for me, adds 50% of the magic to the final image so you just need a camera/ lens that works for your needs/ taste).

Film or Digital? :)
Polish girl with Leica M3, 2019

Polish Models, 2020 Photoshoots

Despite the lockdowns and travel restrictions through much of 2020, I still managed two model photography trips in Poland. During those two visits I used a selection of 35mm film cameras and below are the resulting photos. Despite me often using Leica cameras, you can see from the results that the stars of these trips were in fact Nikon and Minolta SLR cameras! Let me know in the comments which camera captured the best images!?

Minolta X300 vs Nikon F80

For me, in terms of use, I much prefer the manual focus, simple to operate little Minolta X300 camera. The size and weight is ideal for my cabin bag luggage. The Nikon F80 did a great job too but was a bit too modern and automated for me. Both are very capable cameras and both lenses were fine for my needs.

Kodak Eastman 5219 (Vision3 500T)(aka Cinestill 800T)
Me film testing the Nikon F80 with a mirror selfie before flying to Poland!

Budget SLR Camera or Rangefinder for Portraits?

I like old manual everything cameras like the little Leica Barnacks (Leica iii cameras) BUT sometimes it is selecting the best tool for the job. I think the results speak for themselves in terms of which cameras I used the most in Poland. SLR cameras are very well suited to portraits and many rangefinder cameras are much less so. (I will share my current Leica R6 SLR camera portraits in a separate post when I get chance! See a preview on YouTube).

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Nikon F80 Portraits / Sample photos

First we have a series of Nikon F80 portraits captured with the Nikkor 50mm f1.8G lens (Camera review linked below these images). This is the only auto focus lens camera I used in this article. Most images were shot at around f2 and at 1/60 or 1/125 shutter speed.

Kentmere 400 Portrait
35mm Kentmere 400 Portrait
Kentmere 400 Portrait
Kentmere 400 Film
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Nikon F80 + Nikkor 50mm 1.8G
Kentmere 400 Portrait
Nikon F80 Portrait
Nikon F80 + Nikkor 50mm f1.8G
Kodak Double-X 5222
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Nikon F80 Pop Up Flash Portrait
Kentmere 400 Portrait
Nikkor 50mm f1.8 G Portrait
Expired Kodak Vision3 500T Portrait
Nikon F80 Review (Low cost alternative to a Nikon F100)

Learn more about the budget friendly auto focus SLR camera in this Nikon F80 review. It offers a great low cost alternative to the popular Nikon F100 camera.

Minolta X300 Portraits / Sample Photos

A selection of Minolta X300 film portraits shot with the Minolta 45mm f2 lens. I was more than happy with this one lens setup. Amazing little lens and my favourite for this system. Most photos taken at f2 or f2.8.

Minolta 6x6 Crop
Ilford Pan 400
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Minolta lens flare
Minolta X300 Portrait
Bessa Photographer :)
Kentmere 400 Portrait
Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f2
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Ilford Kentmere 400 film
Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f2 Portrait
Minolta MD 45mm Portrait
Ilford Pan 400 Portrait
Minolta X300 Portrait
Kentmere 400 35mm Portrait
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Kentmere 400 Portrait
Minolta X300 Portrait
Ilford Pan 400 Portrait
Minolta MD 45mm f2 Portrait
Minolta X300 Review (Cheap SLR camera but an amazing lens!)

The Minolta X300 is another amazing budget SLR camera. (It is closer to my Nikon FG-20 camera than the Nikon F80). Very affordable, lightweight and compact. Perfect for me as a light camera to travel with. Manual focus lenses only so a different shooting experience verses the Nikon F80 above.

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Portraits shot with Leica + Voigtlander Film Cameras

In addition to the Nikon F80 and Minolta X300 I also used my usual Leica and Voigtlander film cameras. Cameras I used in Poland included the Leica M4-P, Leica IIF, Voigtlander Bessa R and Voigtlander Bessa T. Unlike the Nikon and Minolta cameras shared, these are all 35mm film rangefinder cameras.

Leica M4-P Portrait

Colour film portrait shot with a Leica M4-P film camera and Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 ASPH lens. I need to scan more of this roll of film to share! (See the Kodak Vision3 YouTube video below for more about this amazing film and how to develop it). (See the review of this amazing 35mm lens too – lots of digital example portraits here – Voigtlander 35mm f1.7 Ultron Review).

Expired Kodak Vison3 500T

Leica iif Portraits

Here are a few Leica iif portraits before the camera died. (See the black shutter on some of the images. As a 1950s camera it just needed some TLC (CLA to be more precise!). It is now back fully serviced and ready to go! This little Barnack Leica impressed me so much it was my favourite camera of 2020! YouTube review linked below).

Leica iif + Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM
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Leica iif Problems - As seen on YouTube
Leica iif problems
Leica iif Portrait
Leica iif Portrait
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Voigtlander Bessa T Portrait

Example portrait shot with the amazing Voigtlander Bessa T camera. It is an unusual camera in that it has no viewfinder! See the review below for a visual of how this camera looks.

Voigtlander Bessa T Review & Portraits

Voigtlander Bessa R Portraits

A few Voigtlander Bessa R portraits to finish. Of the cameras featured in this article the Bessa R is the least suited to portraits. It has a lower magnification viewfinder making it more difficult for precision shallow depth of field portraits with fast lenses. That said, it is still very capable of taking a nice photo and is a nice small size and weight for travel (Overseas photoshoots in this case).

Voigtlander Bessa R
Voigtlander Bessa R Photo
Voigtlander Bessa R Portrait
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Polish Models Photoshoots – More Photos!

More film photography articles you might like

Voigtlander Bessa R Review (Leica Screw Mount Camera)

Voigtlander Bessa R Review (Leica Screw Mount Camera)

A short write up / Voigtlander Bessa R Review with example images to accompany the YouTube video I shared on for this 35mm film camera.

Looking for a modern Leica screw mount camera?

Did you know that such a thing even existed!? The Leica thread mount (“LTM”) or Leica screw mount dates back to the 1930s and the original Leica Barnack cameras (aka. Leica iii cameras).  Examples include my Leica iiia, Leica iiig and Leica iif.  All of these cameras were manufactured in the period from the 1930s through to the 1950s.  After that came the amazing Leica M3 and with it the Leica M mount.  Thereafter all Leica film cameras adopted the newer Leica M bayonet mount and the screw mount was dropped.

Voigtlander Bessa R Review Cover Photo

Voigtlander screw mount cameras

So what if you want a more recent screw mount film camera?  Well luckily in 2001 the Japanese company Cosina Voigtlander released the new (at the time) Voigtlander Bessa R 35mm film camera that came the Leica thread mount design. (The Voigtlander Bessa L also has the screw mount whereas the Voigtlander Bessa T, Voigtlander Bessa R3A and Voigtlander Bessa R4M are all Leica M mount cameras (of those that I use)).

Leica iif Photographer
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Voigtlander Bessa R Specs

In terms of camera specs here is a quick overview of the Voigtlander Bessa R vs Leica iii cameras –

  • Built in combined rangefinder / viewfinder
  • 35,50,75,90mm framelines (compared to only 50mm for *most Leica iii)
  • Parallax corrected framelines (unlike *most Leica iii cameras)
  • 0.68x magnification viewfinder (Leica iii – 1.5x)
  • Built in light meter with viewfinder LED display (Leica iii – no light meter)
  • Bessa R lightmeter battery – 2x LR44 (Leica iii – no batteries)
  • Minimum focus distance – 0.9m (Leica iii – 1m)
  • Maximum shutter speed – 1/2000 (Leica iii -1/500 or 1/1000)
  • Maximum flash sync speed – 1/125 (Leica iii – N/A, 1/30 or 1/50)
  • Hotshoe for speedlights and triggers (Leica iii – coldshoe + PC sync port)
  • Voigtlander Bessa R weight – 395g (Leica iii – various (from <395- ~450g)

*Most Leica iii cameras – All models except the later Leica iiig (which has 50mm and 90mm framelines and parallax correction).

Test Roll – Voigtlander Bessa R Sample Photos

Voigtlander Bessa R Testing
Bessa R + Heliar 50mm Testing
Voigtlander Bessa R
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Bessa R + Heliar 50/3.5
Voigtlander Bessa R - Test

Voigtlander Bessa R Portraits (Models – Poland)

Voigtlander Bessa R Portrait
Voigtlander Bessa R Photo
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Voigtlander Bessa R Portrait
Voigtlander Bessa R Portrait
Canon 35mm f1.8 LTM

Is the Bessa R camera right for you?

The Bessa R is not for everyone. Let’s list some pros and cons, especially if comparing to a Leica iii camera –

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Leica screw mount (“LTM”) – if you use those lenses
  • Easy film loading
  • Cheaper than many similar cameras
  • Bright viewfinder with 35mm,50mm,75mm,90mm frame lines
  • Built in light meter
Cons
  • Very plastic build (not built like a Leica)
  • Low magnification viewfinder – not ideal for 75mm and 90mm especially)
  • Screw mount not M mount – most people seem to want M mount
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Voigtlander Bessa Film Loading

How to load film in a Voigtlander Bessa R? Extremely easily. All Cosina Voigtlander cameras share a similar design with a hinge back. Loading film is as easy as loading film into your favourite SLR camera. See the video below for a visual.

Are you a Bessa fan!? You may also like these:

Voigtlander Bessa T

A quirky camera with a rangefinder but no viewfinder. Love this camera and it is Leica M mount too!

Voigtlander Bessa R3A

One of the more popular Bessa cameras. The R3A and R3M offer Leica M mount and a 1:1 viewfinder. This camera is the most Leica M like of the group for me.

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Voigtlander Bessa L

Another quirky offering from Voigtlander. The Bessa L has no viewfinder and no rangefinder! That might sound terrible but it is fantastic with wide angle lenses such as the 15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar.

Voigtlander Bessa R4M

Do you wish your Leica camera had wider frame lines? If yes this could be the camera you are looking for! The Bessa R4M and R4A are one of a kind offering 21mm and 25mm framelines in addition to the more common 28mm, 35mm and 50mm.

Voigtlander Bessa R2C – Review coming soon!

This is a very special camera. Similar to it’s Bessa R2M or R2A siblings, the Bessa R2C is a Contax-RF mount Bessa. This opens your world to all the amazing Contax-RF mount lenses! This video covers the Voigtlander Bessa R2C + R2S and the more come R2, R2A and R2M.

Minolta X300 - Test (+See Patreon for the Announcement)

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 Review (VM for Leica) ASPH

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 Review (VM for Leica) ASPH

Following my recent YouTube video here is a write up with example photos of that same Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 Review. This lens is so good I had to buy a copy! (This lens is the later Leica M mount ASPH lens and not the early LTM / screw mount non-ASPH version).

So Sharp! My Sharpest 35mm Lens

After testing a copy of this lens I was really impressed at how sharp it was wide open at f1.7. This is very useful for low light and I appreciate very sharp lenses to use on analogue film cameras. The lens was on occasion almost too sharp for some of my portraits on digital but film softens the look so I think this is the perfect combination.

Close Focus Ability – 0.5m

As a digital Leica CL (YouTube) user I can benefit from lenses that focus closer than the usual 0.7m meters of many rangefinder coupled lenses. To recap, on a Leica M camera you can only use the coupled rangefinder to a close focus distance of 0.7m. If I use this lens on my Leica M240 then I must be careful not to be in the 0.5-0.7m distance if focusing via the rangefinder. That would mean the camera shows that I am in focus but I am not. If however I use the hotshoe EVF (YouTube) I can benefit from getting in as close as 0.5m and really fill my frame. With film cameras I need to use the lens from 0.7m to infinity to ensure images are in focus.

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Best Voigtlander 35mm Lens for Leica M?

Voigtlander make several 35mm lenses for Leica M mount. If you want the smallest 35mm lens they offer get yourself the Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 –

Perhaps you want small but fast? In this instance you may appreciate the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens –

For the best bokeh and the fastest lens available look at the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH (version 2 of 3). I use the v2 which is bigger than the new v3 –

If you then want fast but crazy sharp then get the Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 ASPH lens as featured in this post. It is the sharpest of the above mentioned lenses from my testing (see below) and offers the close focus benefit of the Nokton 1.2 lens but in a smaller package.

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 ASPH VM on film
Testing the Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 ASPH lens at f1.7 on my Leica M4-P film camera
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Lastly there is the Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f2 Vintage Line lens. I have not yet tested this lens but if I do I will share the results here! It offers the benefit of being very small and cheaper than the 1.7 lens.

35mm Lens Size Comparison

Blog Photo - Voigtlander Ultron vs Skopar vs Nokton(s)

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 Lens Flare

For me the 35mm Ultron 1.7 lens controls flare well for my black and white portraits. Here is an example photo from shooting directly into the sun.

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm Lens Flare

The Voigtlander Ultron 1.7 Bokeh

After shooting with the Voigtlander 35mm f1.7 lens in Poland I would say the bokeh from the Ultron is controlled and usually round bokeh balls. Here I was testing the lens with a passing tram.

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7

YouTube Lens Bokeh Test

Here is a quick and crude bokeh test I did for the Ultron 35mm f1.7 YouTube lens review –

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 Bokeh Test
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Sharpest Voigtlander 35mm Lens?

As above here is another image shared on YouTube but now you can click the image to see the results full resolution. For me the Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 lens was the sharpest 35mm lens followed by the Voigtlander Skopar 35mm f2.5. If you need a fast sharp lens get the Ultron. If you want small and sharp enough get the Color Skopar 35mm 2.5 (is how I would select the lens to use).

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 Sharpness Test
*The test is not perfect as I didn’t show each lens shot wide open but I thought this was more comparable

Voigtlander Ultron Screw Mount vs M mount

You may be away that there are two Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 lenses available. There is the older screw mount version of the lens, often called the Voigtlander Ultron 35mm 1.7 LTM and then the modern M mount version as reviewed here. I looked to buy the earlier 35mm Ultron LTM lens as I wanted to use it on my screw mount film cameras such as the Voigtlander Bessa R.

The reviews of the Ultron LTM lens however put me off. The screw mount Ultron 35mm 1.7 lens will only focus down to 0.9m not 0.5m. It is said to be prone to haze and the optical block becoming loose over time. (The few copies I found of this lens on eBay all had haze sadly). The one benefit it does offer is it is smaller than the M mount version. The modern lens is an aspherical design which is why is it so sharp but that does add to the size. The LTM lens is non-aspherical.

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm Portraits

The following portraits are all shot with the Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 lens at f1.7. I used the lens with both the APS-C crop sensor Leica CL camera and the full frame Leica M240.

Leica CL + Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 Portraits

(Photos shot in RAW, imported into Lightroom, MrLeica Leica CL preset applied then finished in Photoshop).

Voigtlander 35mm f1.7 Portrait
Leica iif Photographer
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Voigtlander Ultron 35mm 1.7 Portrait
Leica CL + Ultron 35 / 1.7
Voigtlander 35mm Ultron Portrait
Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 Portrait
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Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7
Girls with cameras
Belated Merry Christmas!
Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 M Portrait
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Digital Leica CL + 35mm f1.7 Ultron
Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 Review
Voigtlander 35mm Ultron Portrait
Ultron 35mm f1.7 Portrait
Leica CL + Ultron 35mm 1.7
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Leica M240 + Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 Portrait Photos
Leica M240 + Voigtlander Ultron 35mm
Leica M240 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.7

**I shot the Ultron mostly on the Leica CL but I will add in more Leica M240 images here as I shoot/ edit them.

Best Voigtlander Lens for Sunstars?

The Voigtlander Ultron lens design means it can create amazing sunstars even with the lens close to wide open.. and then at all apertures from then on. Here is an example photo shot on a morning run when visiting Poland.

*It is worth mentioning that the Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2 lens can also create a similar look. (I still need to do a write up for that lens!)

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 Sunstars

How much does the 35mm f1.7 Voigtlander Ultron cost?

It depends where you live. If you are outside of the UK check out Amazon and if in the UK check out the Robert White website as the lens is not listed on the Amazon UK site. If you want to buy a used copy of the lens check eBay.

Robert White Discount Code – Use “MRLEICA” to get 5% off Voigtlander lenses – https://www.robertwhite.co.uk/

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My new favourite fast 35mm lens!

After receiving a copy of this lens to test I was so impressed I had to buy one for myself. I found a good deal on eBay and so this is now my new preferred fast 35mm setup on the Leica CL and for film photography (especially).

Goodbye Canon 35mm f1.8 LTM 🙁

If you follow my work on platforms such as Flickr you will know that for most of last year my go to 35mm lens was the tiny Canon 35mm f1.8 LTM (screw mount). I loved the size of this lens but in terms of sharpness the Ultron is unmatched. I decided to sell the Canon rangefinder lens (which I will probably regret!) to fund the Ultron purchase. If I want a small more forgiving fast 35mm I will start using the Voigtlander Ultron Classic 35mm instead. This is the plan!

Do you love Voigtlander lens too!?

You may also like these amazing Voigtlander lenses!

Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM
Voigtlander Nokton 75mm f1.5 ASPH VM
Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.2 ASPH VM
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Want to use Voigtlander lenses on your DSLR camera?

No fear! You can benefit from using the Voigtlander SL / SLII lenses for Nikon or Canon mount (for example). Voigtlander lenses account for some of my best Nikon mount lenses that I use on the SLR film cameras.

Voigtlander SL lenses for Nikon and Canon – 20/28/40/58mm..

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