Leica cameras are my workhorse tools for all types of photography, both digital Leica cameras and Leica film cameras. I also use medium format cameras such as Hasselblad and Mamiya (+ 4×5 large format cameras) and develop my film in house. The majority of the blog content is either Leica camera related or film photography. I photograph people; portraits, models, fashion, lifestyle, wedding photography so most of my photography is portraits, experimenting with various cameras, lenses and films. Currently the digital Leica CL camera is my do everything digital camera but I shoot film whenever possible.
I used to write technical articles for UK photography magazines so I just share the same information here. I hope you find the content as enjoyable to read as I find it is to document.
New Kodak Ektachrome vs Fuji Provia 100F, Ektar, Velvia – Portraits
To follow the Kodak Ektachrome E100 release blog post here is the new Kodak Ektachrome vs Fuji Provia 100F comparison, shooting portraits in Poland. The review also includes Kodak Ektar 100 portraits and Fuji Velvia portraits as a reference.
My first roll of the new Kodak Ektachrome E100 slide film
It took me over 6 months to get my first roll of pre-ordered exposed Kodak Ektachome E100 slide film finally lab developed. I’m always stretched for time and the weeks past faster than I realised. Prior to the release of the new Kodak Ektachrome film I had previous experience using Fuji Provia 100F slide film. I was interested to see how Kodak Ektachrome compared to Provia as they are both 100 speed E6 films.
Kodak Ektachrome vs Provia shoot out – Poland
Poland was already booked for the end of last year so I took my pre-ordered roll of 35mm Kodak Ektachrome E100 film and a roll of the Fuji Provia 100F film ready for a mini shoot out.
Cameras and lenses used in the test
In addition to trying out the new Ektachrome film I was also testing a new lens for my Nikon film cameras. As such rather than shoot Leica vs Leica which would be the obvious choice and make more sense I shot Leica vs Nikon. (It’s not like digital where the camera brand sensors and computers play a huge part in the final image. With film cameras they are just different brand boxes to hold the film in. That’s why I use some many different film camera brands). The camera lens will have some impact on the resulting photos but not enough to notice for this type of review.
For both the Leica and the Nikon setup I used each camera lens at f2 aperture to make it more comparible. Both lenses missed some photos to my annoyance (mis-focused).
Voigtlander Nokton35mm f1.2
The Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens can focus to 0.5 meters but a Leica film camera rangefinder only works to 0.7m. That means if you don’t concentrate you can have the lens set to 0.5m-0.69m and the camera rangefinder set to 0.7m and it will mis-focus. Easily done during fast paced model photography.
Tamron 45mm f1.8
The Tamron 45mm f1.8 lens is an autofocus lens and it missed on some of the images. I don’t remember the lens hunting for focus and I use single point autofocus to lock on to what I’m shooting. The models may have moved but there was a higher miss rate than usual that why I think it was the lens.
Or I guess I could say I missed on some photos with both cameras! Not a good thing when shooting expensive slide film and especially when I tend not to miss when using cheap film back in the UK ha.
Non-scientific film test
To see what each film could do I tried to shoot Kodak Ektachrome E100 and Fuji Provia 100F in a variety of lighting conditions. E6 slide film is known to have limited latitude compared to colour negative films. As such it is more common to shoot slide film in subdued light where there is less contrast. Personally I love hard light such as direct sunlight so I put the films to the test.
Please note that my main interest was to test the new Kodak Ektachrome E100 film as I had shot Provia before. That being the case I was shooting with the Ektachrome in mind and if I got chance I tried to shoot some Provia too. This is not a side by side film A vs film B test of each photo. Sorry. There are lots of those types of reviews on YouTube already. This was more for my interest but I enjoy sharing the results.
Film test in different lighting scenarios
High contrast lighting
Kodak Ektachrome Portraits + Provia examples
1. High contrast lighting
Here are some portraits shot in high contrast direct sunlight and metered for the mid greys (exposure). The Kodak Ektachrome image may have been shot just as the sun went behind a cloud as it was less bright vs the Provia example. Some of the Fuji Provia 100F film highlight detail was lost but the image was not terrible.
2. Direct sunlight
Shooting with the sun rather than across it the Kodak Ektachrome blue skies looked good and the film captured nice skin tones. (See below for blue sky examples of Fuji Provia).
3. Mixed lighting
These images shot in the blue hour mixing cool daylight and warm tungsten light were my favourites of the Ektachrome images. Sadly there were no Provia examples from this set. (Rubbish test I know! Apologies!)
4. Open shade
Some images were taken in complete shade. The characteristics of the Ektachrome film in this light are completely different to the colours captured when shooting in direct sunlight.
More Kodak Ektachrome portraits
Kodak Ektachrome skin tones
Kodak Ektachrome red
Kodak Ektachrome B&W
Kodak Ektachrome vs Fuji Provia – Thoughts?
Would I buy Kodak Ektachrome again after seeing the results? I would if Fuji Provia 100F didn’t exist! I tend to prefer Fujifilm colours to Kodak colours. When I’ve shot colour film in the past I find Kodak films can often be too yellow for my taste. This is the same when I view the work of others so it is not how I process the film which causes the yellowing. Kodak film is just more yellow. That is the look Kodak go for. Personally I prefer the cooler tones of Fujifilm. From my photos I would say this is true for Ektachrome vs Provia and also Kodak Portra vs Fuji Pro 400H. Provia blue skies look slightly cooler to me (see below) and the skin tones slightly less warm which I like. All personal preference so it depends what you prefer.
Slide film vs Colour negative film (E6 vs C41)
As a portrait photographer colour negative film would usually be the film of choice for skin tones. (I shoot a lot of black and white film normally but of the colour film photography I have done it was mostly C41 film). The colour film I’ve shot the most is probably Kodak Portra but I prefer the Fuji Pro400H look. I just happened to be gifted a batch of Kodak Portra when working with Kodak a few years back.
Would I shoot portraits on slide film again? Absolutely! I plan too. I really like the colours of slide film, specifically Provia and Ektachrome as featured here. Velvia can often be a bit too saturated for portraits but it is not impossible (again see below).
The fine grain of the E6 slide film is far superior to the detail captures than most colour negative films. Kodak Ektar 100 grain is finer than Kodak Portra and Fuji Pro 400H. Cinestill 50D (Kodak Vision3 50D) is also very fine grain but with it’s own colours. Personally I find 35mm Kodka Portra 400 often too grainy for my taste and I sometimes opt for the cheap Fujicolor C200 film that has less apparent grain.
Film expsoure latitude
Slide film is not suited to all conditions due to the limited exposure latitude. It is easy to blow the highlights (lost highlight detail) and crush the blacks (lost shadow detail) with slide films. Colour negative films however can be massively over exposed yet still retain the highlights or slightly under exposed and still show some shadow detail. For an every day film colour negative film is definitely a safer option.
Colour grading film
The best thing about E6 vs C41 film is slide film colours scan true to what you remember seeing. That means no colour grading / colour correcting required. That saves hours in post processing for me! When colour negative film is scanned the colours can often need adjusting to get them back to how you remember and it takes me much longer than I would like.
Slide film cost
One big negative against E6 slide film is the fact that it is not cheap. No film is cheap, especially colour film but slide film is some of the most expensive. If you have a special holiday or photo trip booked, or perhaps a client shoot that would benefit from slide film then definitely treat yourself to a few rolls to try. It is good stuff but I couldn’t afford to shoot it every week!
Film prices – Amazon
Film prices often fluctuate a little depending on supply and demand. Fuji Provia 100F is currently slightly cheaper than Kodak Ektachrome E100 (at the time of writing). Kodak Portra 160 seems to be the cheapest option if you want to shoot medium format colour photos. In the past 120 Kodak Ektar was cheaper than Portra 160.
See the latest film prices by clicking the links below –
The closest match colour negative film to the colour positive slide film Ektachrome, is Kodak Ektar 100. Both are Kodak films, 100 speed, fine grain, saturated colour film stocks. Here are a selection of Kodak Ektar portraits to help give a comparison between the colours of Ektar vs Ektachrome shared above.
Kodak Ektar portraits
Fuji Provia portraits
Here are some more Fuji Provia portraits to give additional examples of the colours of this film stock. I’ve not shot a huge amount of colour film portraits but I was really impressed by the colours and detail of Provia. As with the Kodak Ektar portraits, the images are shot with a variety of film cameras (click each image for more info).
Fuji Velvia portraits
As many people think you can’t do Fuji Velvia portraits here are a few portraits that I shot on Fuji Velvia film. It wouldn’t be my film of choice for portraits but it’s not that bad either (and can be quite nice!). I think of the Fujifilm stocks available Fuji Provia is more suited to portraits than Velvia.
Portra 160, Provia 100F & Velvia 100 – Video
If you want to see how slide film compares to colour negative film this video is a great resource. The video includes side by side portrait examples and shows how each film behaves when underexposed and overexposed. It really illustrates what I described above with regards to lost highlight and shadow detail. (Great video!).
A short Kodak TMax 400 review / article to share some of my 120 and 35mmfilm portraits using this film. For me T-Max 400 is one of the best black and white films currently manufactured / available.
TMax 400 Film – Specs (The Blurb!)
“Kodak Professional TMax 400 is a fast, medium grain black and white film suitable for sports/action and lower light situations, sharpest 400-speed black and white film with Kodak’s T-Grain emulsion”.
“TMax 400 film has a high efficiency, multi-zone T-Grain emulsions, raises the bar for 400 speed black and white film performance. T-Max 400 has fine grain, high sharpness and delivers , a level of clarity previously only achievable from a 100-speed film”.
When people think of Kodak black and white film they probably first think of Kodak Tri-X not TMax. Kodak T-Max 400 film was revised in 2007 to the fine grain film that we know today. 3 years earlier, in 2004, Kodak celebrated 50 years of Tri-X which was first released in 1954. Kodak Tri-X has been around a lot longer than TMax and was popular with photo journalists and amateurs alike. For me however I prefer Kodak TMax vs Tri-X. I don’t mind 120 format Kodak Tri-X film but for my portraits I find 35mm Tri-X too grainy. Kodak TMax 400 however is amazing in both 35mm and 120 formats (*for my taste).
Kodak spotted my early TMax photography
It was merely coincidence but at the time I was starting to get into film photography Kodak had released their new T-Max 400 film/ formula. I was shooting Kodak TMax 400 film together with Tri-X 400 and other black and white films, enjoying experimenting with this new-to-me photography medium. I shot an image of a young girl/ model-to-be in Ukraine while there on business.
My camera at the time was a rebranded Kiev 88 called an ARAX-CM, also know as a “Hasselbladski” or a poor man’s Hasselblad. I shot an image of Julia on Kodak TMax 400 film and Kodak spotted it and got in touch. Kodak invited me to write a piece for their Kodak 1000 Word Blog and to share some of my work. At the time it was pretty amazing to be spotted by a big brand and it was all thanks to the TMax 400 film I was using.
Even though at the moment I shoot mostly Fomapan 100 Classic 120 film (due to the low cost and reliable results) I still shoot the occasional roll of Kodak TMax 400 120. (More so in the past but only because I currently bulk buy Fomapan film) Using 120 Kodak TMax 400 in my Hasselblad cameras and other medium format cameras (Mamiya RZ67, Fuji GF670 as two examples) has given me some nice images. I enjoy the fine grain and sharpness especially from TMax so for this reason I find 35mm TMax 400 particularly impressive/ useful (see more below).
120 Kodak TMax 400 Portraits
Kodak TMax 400 35mm film
I use Kodak TMax 400 35mm in the Leica film cameras (currently the Leica M4-P or Leica M3 mostly), the Nikon SLRs (usually the Nikon F5), the Hasselblad Xpan plus other 35mm film cameras. I love the sharp detailed images and TMax is quite forgiving when it comes to developing.
35mm Kodak TMax 400 Flickr photos
Favourite 35mm black and white film?
My current favourite film in 35mm format for when I need great results is Kodak T-Max 400. I’m still a big fan of Ilford Delta 100 (and Ilford Pan F 50 film) but when shooting in the UK often there is limited available light. T-Max 400 gives me a 400 speed Ilford Delta quality (to my eyes) and coming from shooting mostly Kodak B&W film I tend to go for TMax 400 vs Delta 400.
Kodak TMax 400 developing
My usual Kodak TMax 400 developing method is to use Kodal Xtol developer or to use a soup of Xtol and Rodinal. Most of the example images in this article were developed in Xtol. When I first started out with film photography I used to develop Kodak TMax 400 in the Rodinal developer. See below for a few older images and some Rodinal – TMax examples.
For Ilford HP5 Plus film I was a bit of a late comer. When I started out with film I was been using mostly Kodak black and white films, both TMax films and Kodak Tri-X. I wouldn’t consider buying 35mm Ilford HP5 today as I prefer fine grain films but for 120 Ilford HP5 I have started to use it, especially for low light. I would happily shoot Kodak TMax 400@800/ 400@1600 but I don’t think I would try it at ISO 3200 or ISO 6400.
For Ilford HP5 I shoot it at ISO 3200 and have meant to shoot it at ISO 6400 but haven’t had chance yet. HP5 is a low contrast film so is easier to push process from my experience. Kodak TMax 400 has nice contrast normally but when pushed too far I expect to lose shadow detail. (*I still need to do a write up for Ilford HP5 film – I will link it once available).
Here is a Ilford HP5 Plus Teaser as an example –
Kodak TMax 400 Pushed (400@1600)
Kodak TMax 400 price
As with all film stocks, sadly in the time I have been shooting film the prices seem to increase year on year. I buy multi-pack film as often as I can to try to get to lowest unit cost. Amazon stock both Kodak TMax 35mm and 120 formats. Click here for the current TMax 400 prices –
As you probably gathered from this article, I am a big fan of Kodak T-Max 400 film. I especially enjoy the 35mm TMax and just hope the price of film doesn’t keep increasing at the rate it has been doing. (The price of TMax 400 film today is 50-60% more than when I was buying it 3-5yrs ago).
Late to the party I know!.. here is an article I wrote last year but didn’t quite finish – My Godox AD200 Review:
Are you looking for a high power portable strobe for location work that packs down as small as a speedlight and needs no additional battery pack? Meet the Godox AD200 light. My Godox lighting solution for overseas photoshoots where I travel with only cabin luggage. Here I compare it to the Godox TT350, Godox V850 II and Godox AD360, all of which I use with my Leica cameras (and other film cameras).
Godox AD200 Flash – Why I bought one!
This is the new Godox light that I bought ahead of my model photography trip to Poland. The Godox AD200 is powerful enough for fashion photography on the beach yet small enough to fit in my carry on luggage for when I work overseas.
Godox Ving V850 vs AD200
The reason I found the Godox AD200 light attractive is because of the option for an open bulb light similar to the Godox AD360 that I use. Unlike a standard speedlight head the open bulb design sprays light in all directions filling a softbox or umbrella more evenly that a flat fronted standard speedlight head. The Godox Ving V850 and Ving V850 II that I have are both great lights using lithium batteries instead of 4x AA.
The problem with the Ving V850/ V850II is that the light modifiers I use (excluding a few small umbrellas) don’t fit in my cabin bag. I have a nice Godox rapid box / umbrella box but it only fits the open bulb design Godox lights (AD180, AD360, AD200).
Godox AD200 vs AD360
I have a Godox AD180 and a Godox AD360. Both lights have the open bulb design and both have separate power packs. The additional power pack makes these lights quite bulky to travel with. Due to their size I also mount them in a Godox Bowen S mount bracket which adds more bulk and weight to the setup. I love these lights for seemingly endless power, especially for wedding photography lighting. For my overseas trips however I find them too big to carry.
As mentioned, my smallest nice light modifier is a Godox rapid box design mini umbrella box which also works as a beauty dish. It mounts directly onto the open bulb of the Godox AD180/ AD360/ AD200 system but is not compatible with standard speedlights/ Godox speedlights. The Godox AD-200 gives me a light similar in shape and size to a standard speedlight yet the same power output of 3 normal speedlights. It fits in my travel bag and can mount directly to a light stand so requires minimal additional brackets (less to carry).
Both the Godox AD360 and AD200 will do a similar job with the AD360 having a bit more power output. The main advantage of the Godox AD200 for me is size. The Godox AD360 requires you to carry yet more additional reflectors and light modifiers if you want a beam of light rather than an open spread from the bare bulb. The Godox reflector head that comes with the Godox AD360 allows more control of the light output but again adds to the bulk of the Godox lighting system when using a Godox AD180 or AD360 flash. The Godox AD200 with the standard speedlight head attached provides a tighter beam of light without needing to carry additional equipment.
Godox TT350 vs AD200
You would probably never compare these two lights but as I have both I will. If you need the smallest lightest Godox light kit for travel or to mount on top of a Leica camera get a Godox TT350. I use a pair of Godox TT350s to add a pop of light when working in low light situations. (I used them for my Budapest model trip last September).
Godox TT350 lights take 2x AA batteries and are perfect size for an on camera flash for small cameras such as a Leica M or Leica CL. I use them as both on camera flash and off camera flash. I also use the Godox TT350 on camera to trigger larger Godox lights like the AD360 and AD200 from my Leica camera hot shoe. I tend to avoid on camera flash but the Godox TT350 can be useful for weddings when they provide ‘backup’ light on camera yet also trigger the lights off camera (best of both). If you need a larger off camera flash (only) that has a higher power output and option of open bulb design, get the Godox AD200 instead.
13 Advantages of the Godox AD200 vs Yongnuo/ other standard speedlights
AD200 gives 3x more power output than a standard speedlight
Similar compact design to a normal speedlight
Lithium battery vs 4x AA batteries give faster recycle time and life
Bare bulb design option (clip on bare bulb head) for even fill light
Can also operate as standard speedlight with normal reflector head design (clip on head) to help provide a tighter beam of light
3.5mm jack port for using pc sync cable (good if use old cameras!)
Multiple screw mount sockets to mount AD200 directly to a light stand
AD200 compatible with all Godox AD180/ AD360 light modifiers
Compatible with standard speedlight light modifiers
AD200 compatible with other Godox wireless flash units that can be used as a trigger (Ving V850II and TT350 of those mentioned)
Built in LED low power model light – to help light a dark scene
Optional Godox AD200 LED head attachment available (to use as a video light)
Godox accessories available to use the AD200 as a power pack to power a separate lightweight head unit attached via a cable
Godox AD200 light modifiers / Godox AD200 accessories x11 (+ for the AD360)
Wide reflector to use with umbrella (to reduce light spill)
Godox round diffuser dome (white)
Godox bulb protector
AD200 LED video light head
Godox barn doors with colour gel kit
Grids to control light spill
NEW! Godox H200R round head attachment (like Profoto)
Godox AD200 trigger? Compatible triggers x4
Godox XT-16 wireless flash trigger
Godox X1T wireless flash trigger
Godox TT350 flash
Godox Ving V850II flash
Godox wireless trigger not compatible with AD200
Godox FT-16 wireless flash trigger
I was disappointed that the Godox FTR-16 433MHz USB port legacy flash receiver will not work with the Godox AD200 flash. The Godox FTR16 receiver does work with the Godox Ving V850 II flash making it compatible with either FT-16 or XT-16 triggers which is helpful.
2 Godox AD200 – Power up! Shoot in them in pairs!
If you need more power than the output of of 1x Godox AD200 light then you can get the bracket that mounts 2x AD200 units in a standard Bowen S mount bracket. Using 2x AD200 at half power will give a faster flash recycle time than one unit ran at full power. It also gives the option of both units at full power if you are using a large light modifier and need a high power output. Perhaps something like a Broncolor Para 88 (parabolic umbrella). (An awesome light mod ..but then if you had that much money to spend then you would probably be using different lights too! Profoto!?)
Profoto B10 vs Godox AD200 flash
If you are like me you probably lust after the Profoto lights. I remember the Profoto B1 release and it seemed to tick all my boxes without the wire distractions of the Godox AD360. When the wire free Godox AD200 flash arrived it seemed to offer me much of what he Profoto unit offered but for much less money. The Profoto B10 is a newer design of the B1 and is even more comparable to the Godox AD200 (especially if you fit the Godox H200R round head to the AD200 (see below for more).
When I do wedding photography or blue sky day high power flash photography the Godox AD200 gives me the power I need in a compact setup. I’ve managed to resist the Profoto lights so far but they are nice! For the majority of photographers the Godox AD200 should be able to provide much of what the Profoto B10 offers and the money saved can be invested into a nice lens instead.
When I was in Poland I used the Godox rapid box/ beauty dish light modifier setup. A rapid box provides a more compact kit yet still offers a nice soft quality of light (if used close to the model).
3. Godox AD200 bare bulb
Regardless of where I am I use the Godox AD200 bare bulb mode to bounce light off a wall as a soft fill light. This is especially handy for event photography such as weddings to spray light around the room.
4. Magmod kit + Godox AD200
If I want a controlled spot of light I use a Magmod magnetic grid onto the standard Godox AD200 reflector head. The Magmod gives a smaller setup for travel than using studio reflectors and grids.
5. Godox AD200 round head diffuser dome
For wedding photography I find the white Godox round head diffuser dome the best lighting solution. The dome attachment gives a similar quality of light to a white shoot through umbrella yet doesn’t blow over in the wind! The diffuser dome also helps protect the bare bulb if it was to be knocked over. (I’ve used the dome for the last 3 years on my Godox AD360, AD180 and now on the Godox AD200 flash).
6. Godox AD200 modeling light
If you shoot with fast lens (small f stop) like the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 or Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH the Godox AD200 modeling light provides enough light to illuminate a face for portrait work. It is also great when working in low light with strobes to light the model so it is possible to focus accurately prior to pressing the shutter/ the flash firing.
I was an early adopter of Godox lights ever since they hit the UK 5+ years ago. I have quite a few Godox lights now but I think the AD200 strikes the perfect balance between a portable studio light and a speedlight. I use the Godox AD200 in the studio mixing it with studio lights as well as out on location.
It took me so long to get round to posting this article that Godox have now released their new Godox H200R round flash head to fit the AD200. This allows the Godox AD200 to complete with the round head Profoto A1 AirTTL flash, but at a fraction of the price. (The Profoto A1 is more like a Godox Ving V850 II design but with the Godox H200R round head available for the AD200 if you need a visual). *There is actually a new Godox clone of the Profoto A1 which is a standard speedlight design but with a round head called a Godox V1 TTL. I’ve not tried it but it is basically a Godox Ving V850II with a round head (in very simplified terms).
The Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 ZM lens was one of my first lens purchases when I bought the Leica M9 camera. It was said to be sharp and cheaper than a Leica Summicron 50mm lens. Here is a short Zeiss Planar 50mm review with sample photos (from when I had the M9).
Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 ZM lens for Leica
If you want a compact reasonably priced (*in Leica camera terms!) 50mm lens for your Leica M camera then look no further! The Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 ZM lens is a compact sharp lens with good contrast. At the time of buying my digital Leica M9 I decided I wanted a “sharp” lens. My main lens was a Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 which is an awesome little lens but not killer sharp wide open. Once I got the Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm I then decided it was too sharp for my female portraiture. I can’t imagine ever saying that now about any lens as us photographers normally love sharp lenses (and nice bokeh)! This article is a bit of a retrospective post to fill the gap in my blog lens list and to settle my OCD issues!
Zeiss Planar vs Summicron 50mm
When looking to buy a 50mm f2 lens for a Leica M mount camera the first obvious question is Zeiss Planar vs Summicron 50mm? For me it was an easy choice as money was limited. A Leica Summicron 50mm f2 (non APO version) lens cost more than 3x the price of a Zeiss Planar 50mm ZM lens. I knew Zeiss glass was good from using Zeiss lenses on my other cameras so I happily purchased the ZM Planar 50mm f2 without concern. (*I did buy a Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 and a Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR at later dates – used condition and at seemingly bargain prices).
If you didn’t consider a Leica Summicron 50mm lens when being tempted by the Zeiss 50mm Planar lens then the other lens that probably caught your attention was the Sonnar ZM 50mm f1.5. When deciding between a Zeiss Planar vs Sonnar ZM 50mm lens I chose the ZM Planar lens as the cost was 2/3 the price of a Zeiss Sonnar. I already had the mentioned Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens if I needed something faster (with a wider aperture). (*I was later too tempted by the Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 lens so bought one but later sold it when I got my Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens).
More Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 Flickr Photos
Zeiss ZM Planar – Cheap 50mm Leica lens?
To my knowledge the cheapest new 50mm lens available for a Leica M mount camera is the Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 ZM or a Vogtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5. Both lens can be a similar price depending where you shop but the Voigtlander is usually a little cheaper. As I already have various 50mm lenses (see the 50mm Lenses Compared post) plus a few Voigtlander lenses I’ve never been tempted by the Nokton 50mm. I did use a Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 during one of my Leica workshops in London that a student brought along. I didn’t dislike the Nokton 50mm photos but equally I was not blown away by them either. (*Bare in mind I have quite a few nice 50mm lenses).
Leica M9 + Zeiss Planar 50mm Portraits
If you are only interested in Leica lenses and money is limited, and you only want a 50mm lens then you could consider the Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens. The Summarit 50mm is smaller than a Zeiss Planar 50mm ZM lens but not as fast in terms of aperture. Being Leica glass it costs quite a bit more than the Zeiss but it is cheaper than a Summicron 50mm or Summilux 50mm. I love the balance of a small 50mm on my Leica M3 camera (especially) and the Summarit f2.5 is sharp and contrasty.
Zeiss Planar 50mm Bokeh!
Zeiss Planar T 50mm f2 Price
The Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 ZM lens is available here on Amazon.com if you want to see the price and lens spec details.
Zeiss Planar 50mm Review – Summary
The Zeiss Planar 50mm is one of the few lenses I’ve sold during my Leica photography days. Just by coincidence the other 50mm lens I sold was the mentioned Zeiss Sonar 50mm f1.5. While I’ve never missed the Planar 50mm (despite it being a good lens) I have missed the Sonnar on many occasions. I even bought a second copy of a Sonnar 50/1.5 but it was sub-standard/ expectation shot wide open due to focus shift issues so I returned it. Putting this post together the main thing I notice is the amazing vibrant Leica M9 colours! These CCD colours are unmatched by the Leica M240 or Leica CL. (Luckily I shoot mostly black and white so this is less of an issue for me).
35mm Ilford Pan 100 Review + Ilford Film Comparison (B&W Film)
Ilford Pan 100 review (35mm black and white film) plus Ilford film comparison: Ilford Pan 100 vs Delta 100, vs Ilford Pan F 50, vs FP4 125, vs Kentmere 100 AND vs Fomapan 100, vs Kodak TMax 100..
35mm Ilford Pan 100 black and white film – Availability
After shooting mostly black and white film for coming up to about 10 years now I only recently discovered Ilford Pan 100 film. It seems that 35mm Pan 100 film is less popular in the UK and I actually bought my fresh film stock from Germany. I was excited at my discovery of Ilford Pan 100 as one of my most regarded film stocks is Ilford Delta 100. (It is probably worth noting I enjoy using other film brands too. Kodak T-Max 400 always impresses me (especially 35mm) as does Fomapan 100 Classic (120 and 4×5 formats mostly)). (Links below)
Ilford Pan 100 film – Application (The blurb!)
“Ilford Pan 100 is a medium speed black and white film which offers outstanding tonal rendition, together with fine grain and high sharpness. It is suitable for most general purpose indoor and outdoor photography applications where good lighting exists, it is particularly suited to portraiture.”
Ilford Pan 100 Developing
For Ilford Pan 100 developing I currently favour either just Kodak Xtol developer or my homemade film developer soup which consists of Xtol and Rodinal developers. Of all the black and white film stocks I have shot I would say Pan 100 film is quite forgiving and quite easy to develop without losing detail. I have not yet tried developing Ilford Pan 100 film with other developers but I need to start experimenting I think (for all film stocks!).
Ilford Pan 100 Portraits
Ilford Pan 100 Flickr Photos (Non-Portraits)
100 Speed Black and white film comparison
Please don’t shoot me down for this completely non-scientific black and white film comparison! I thought some visuals from other film stocks I use might be nice to compare to my Ilford Pan 100 photos. Most of the films featured are a similar film speed to Pan 100 so could be potential alternatives when looking to buy a new film to test out. The film developing was roughly similar for all photos shared (and the film scanning too – Epson V800 flatbed scanner) but that is probably where the similarities end! The photos below include different subjects on different days in different locations and under different lighting conditions.
..It might just inspire you to try a new B&W film!
You might see similar film characteristics across a group of photos that might inspire you to try a particular B&W film stock. I bought and tried most of the black and white film I’ve used based on film photos shared by others on Flickr. Flickr taught me so much about photography in my earlier years and I still use it today to review photos from a particular film stock, camera or lens ahead of a potential camera gear purchase.
Ilford film comparison + Warning!
Warning! You might want to find a comfy chair and grab a cuppa before you proceed. As usual I got a little carried away and this post is now 4x longer than planned. Lots of photos coming up below! I’ve included 35mm and 120 film scans for a bit of an Ilford film comparison + a few other film brands.
Ilford Pan 100 vs Delta 100 comparison! Ilford Delta 100 was perhaps my favouite black and white film for quiet a while so it was likely that I would like Ilford Pan 100 film too. To my eyes Ilford Delta 100 film still has the edge in terms of sharpness and detail captured (and offers 120 format that I enjoy using) vs Pan 100 film but they are close enough for me to buy the cheaper 35mm Ilford Pan 100 film if I can find it.
Ilford Pan 100 vs Pan F 50 – both are Pan films manufactured by Ilford but different enough from my experience to use both. Ilford Pan F 50 is a high contrast film and it can be easy to clip the highlight detail if you are not careful with your developing. Pan F 50 film has slightly finer grain and a smoother look to my eyes. If you get Pan F 50 right it can capture some stunning detail. Pan 100 film is only available in 35mm format where as I enjoy shooting 120 Ilford Pan F 50 too.
Ilford Pan 100 vs Kentmere 100 – they could be said to be a close match as Kentmere 100 film is manufactured by Ilford films. From personal experience and shooting a 10 pack of 35mm Kentmere 100 film I would say Kentmere 100 is maybe slightly softer with a slightly more classic grain / less modern look and with less contrast.
Ilford Pan 100 vs Fomapan 100 – they may appear similar on paper but I would say they are quite different. Pan 100 offers increased sharpness and detail to my eyes with perhaps a more modern look. Fomapan Classic as the name suggests offers a more classic grain structure and look. That said, Fomapan 100 Classic is still a bit of a favourite of mine mainly because of the low cost!
Ilford Pan 100 vs Tmax 100 – these are quite a close match to my eyes. Both capture great image quality and good detail. In my earlier years of shooting film I shot a huge amount of Kodak TMax 100 film. I love the fine grain and high contrast (+ TMax black blacks). The TMax 100 blacks are darker than Pan 100 blacks in my experience. I stopped using TMax 100 film after several rolls failed to develop (at all) for no seeming good reason. (More than likely user error but until now i’ve still avoid this ‘risk’).
Ilford Pan 100 vs FP4 Plus – again both Ilford films but Ilford FP4+ is quite well known for the classic grain structure (which can be too much for me at times)(i’m a sucker for fine grain and detail!). I much prefer Ilford FP4 125 120 film to the 35mm format for this reason (less apparent film grain). I have shot 35mm FP4 in the Leica film cameras in the past but now tend to just use FP4 for the Hasselblad(s), Mamiya(s) and so on.
Ilford FP4 125 sample photos
Ilford FP4 35mm Portraits
Ilford FP4 120 Portraits
Favourite black and white film?
If you managed to get this far which was your favourite black and white film from the results above (and from personal experience)? I’d love to hear in the comments below. I forgot to include the now discontinued Fuji Acros 100 film which is also a strong performer for 100 speed film and the less popular Rollei Retro 80s film.
B&W film reviews
Are there other 100 speed black and white films you think I should try out? If so let me know and I will try to get some to review. (If you want to read more of my film reviews check out the “FILM” section of the blog and scroll down below the various film camera links).
Ilford Pan 100 Review Summary
To round up this Ilford Pan 100 review I would say I will continue to shoot 35mm Ilford Pan 100 black and white film because for me it offers a good balance of detail, sharpness, contrast, fine(ish) grain at a reasonable price. Some films are “better” for my taste but they usually cost more! (Current favourite is Kodak TMax 400 film).(*I will do a film review on that too when I get time and link it)