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.
Follow “MrLeicaCom” on Social Media!
If you follow me on social media please come and say hi! It’s always great meeting readers. I use Instagram the most for communication, Facebook less now. Flickr is used more to share photos, as is Pinterset.
This is a less wordy article to just share some example photos using the Nikon FE2 film camera. I have a habit of editing and posting one image at a time and then the rest of the images never get seen. Below you will see most of the images taken on each roll of 36 exposure film. (*Actually 38 photos per roll when using the Nikon FE2 camera).
From camera to blog (quick workflow recap)
All the images shared were shot on my Nikon FE2 film camera. The film was developed at home per my usual process (in the kitchen sink!). Click the larger image of Zara or Sandra to link through to Flickr. Below each image I share the developing times, temps and chemicals used. Photos were scanned with a flatbed Epson V800 scanner using Silverfast 8 software. (I’m new to this software but I will share a post on it when I get time). Scanned images were uploaded to Lightroom, batch edited to adjust brightness then exported with a black border. No dust removal, no retouching, no local adjustments. (A few images are no pin sharp but I included them anyway to show my hit rate).
Photos of Zara were shot local to me in Coventry. I loved this shoot where we walked around and I looked for backdrops or light I wanted to use in the images. I even had a lame attempt at an in camera double exposure. I will try again and improve. The weather was bright but overcast so the light levels remained quite constant. I metered the light in camera. Overall very happy with these images and new model Zara was awesome.
Zara Photoshoot: Camera settings + Film used
All images shot at f2 at 1/60 or more with the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s lens. Film used was the roll in the back of camera shot above – Ilford Pan 100 film (now reboxed and sold as Kentmere Pan 100 I believe).
Model – Sandra
During one of my London shoot weekends I met Sandra in a coffee shop for breakfast. I picked a small table in the corner with a beam of light coming down from an above window. The sun kept going behind clouds so the light was constantly changing. All these photos are very similar but except a few we shot outside afterwards. I requested the outfit and I was happy with the high contrast look.
Sandra Photoshoot: Camera settings + Film used
With the changing light the images inside were mostly taken at f1.2-f1.4 and those outside at f1.4-f2, at 1/60. For me the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s lens is a bit too soft when shot below f2 when capturing images on film, especially wide open. On the Nikon D800 at f1.2 it was OK as I could increase sharpness a huge amount in post processing. Film used in this shoot was bulk rolled 35mm Fomapan 100 film.
A big thanks to Zara and Sandra. I shot with more models but I don’t have time to list more sets of images right now.
Do you like this gallery style post?
If you like this style of blog post where I show a more ‘raw’ version of my images let me know in the comments below and I can try to do more going forward.
Leica M3 colour film post like this
I remember in one of my very early blog posts I shared images shot on colour film with Coventry model Gina. All images were shot with a Leica M3 and Kodak Portra film. I dug out the links (part 1 and part 2) so if you you are intersted see the link below. (Again any comments or thoughts are welcome!)
Loving the Nikon FE2 camera so far. I feel it has an unfair disadvantage vs the Leica film cameras as the Leica lenses I use cost much more and I think are far superior wide open. I have my eye on a new lens for the Nikon FE2 so watch this space. More testing and reviews coming soon! 🙂
Nikon FM vs Nikon FE vs Nikon FE2 Review (+vs F4 / F5!)
Are you looking to buy one of these 3 classic Nikon SLR film cameras? Can’t decide which one to buy? Hopefully after this review you will be in a better position to pick the right camera for you! (It also includes comparisons to the Nikon F4, Nikon F5 and a Leica!)
Nikon film cameras
The 35mm Nikon FM SLR film camera was one of my first cameras when I first got into film photography (See FM example images). I tend to shoot with Leica film cameras now for 35mm film but as the years have gone by I have picked up a Nikon F4 and a Nikon F5. The Nikon F4 and F5 are both more modern Nikon autofocus SLR cameras. The Nikon FM is a much lighter, simpler design, as are the Nikon FE and Nikon FE2 models.
Why more 35mm cameras?
Rangerfinder film camera restrictions
Although I love my Leica film cameras, shooting with a rangefinder camera will give photos with a different look to those shot with an SLR camera. Why? Leica rangefinder camera lenses usually only focus as close as 0.7m-1m. There are exceptions such as using Leica lenses with close focus goggles like the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens or Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens. SLR cameras however can focus closer than 0.7m with most regular lenses such as a 50mm. Some SLR telephoto lenses can be 1m or further closest focus.
Cheap vs Expensive!
As you are probably aware Leica cameras and lenses are not the cheapest. I’m fortunate enough to use them but I prioritise cameras over most other things in life. As a camera is only a tool I thought it might be nice to use only cheap £100 cameras for a bit. My plan is to use two Nikon SLR cameras for a planned up coming trip. I would then leave the Leica film cameras behind.
Two became three!
As I’ve written on here before I have my dumb moments. My head is always full and I bounce from idea to idea constantly. I will put the dumb moments down to lack of sleep but that might be unfair on sleep! As I already had one Nikon SLR camera I wanted to get a second film body. My first stop was YouTube to see which was the “best Nikon SLR camera” to get.
Best Nikon SLR camera?
The best Nikon SLR camera is different for everyone depending on your personal preference and needs. There were so many different Nikon film cameras made over the years it is all a bit mind boggling when you come to buy one. All these cameras shoot 35mm film and they all capture photos. Most Nikon SLR cameras will accept the same Nikon mount lenses so the only variable really is the functionally and form of each camera model. That and of course the price! The different film camera prices vary widely depending on which camera model you chose. Help YouTubers! Time for me to get researching. Cue hours of camera review binge watching/ listening/ reading!
One of the seemingly most raved about Nikon SLR cameras is the Nikon F3 (and the many Nikon F3 variants). I was buying into the rave reviews until I looked at the replaceable viewfinder and compared that to my existing Nikon FM. The weight of the Nikon F3HP model is 200g heavier than some of the earlier camera models like the Nikon FM. If I want heavier Nikon SLR cameras with all the bells and whistles I can just use my Nikon F4 or Nikon F5 which are better than the F3 as they also offer autofocus (and many more updated features). (The Nikon F5 is an awesome camera!) For now however I wanted lightweight and super simple camera to travel with. More like a Leica M film camera.
As mentioned, the fully manual Nikon FM camera has served me well so far. Weighing only 570g it is almost the same weight as a Leica M4-P film camera (560g). This is a good thing. I wanted a cheap lightweight Nikon SLR setup for travel. My Nikon FM was ready to be used but I wanted a second SLR film camera body. One camera will be to shoot black and white film and the second camera body will be loaded with colour film.
Nikon FE vs FM
Me being dumb. After more YouTube reviews I became more aware of the Nikon FE camera. The Nikon FE has a built in light meter and seemed to get better reviews than the Nikon FE2. The Nikon FM is fully manual and can be operated without any battery. This is how I have used the FM camera to the extent that I totally forgot that it had a built in light meter! (Doh!) My fault for always jumping between so many different camera systems rather than mastering just one!
After watching two or three videos I noticed that they all seemed to be very pro Nikon FE. I spend a few days watching eBay then once I spotted a good deal I pulled the trigger and got myself a nice condition Nikon FE body. This would be my second lightweight Nikon SLR body. That is all I need for my trip. Done.
If you are like me you keeping reading reviews on your new purchase until it arrives. As soon as it arrives you never watch another similar review (you just find something else you think you really ‘need’ and the process starts all over again!). (Or is that just me!?) Reading up on the just purchased item probably helps pass the time while waiting for delivery and gets you up to speed on what to expect for when it arrives.
In this instance watching more Nikon F YouTube videos was a mistake. I binge watch when I review cameras and gear so I probably watched three more (plus) Nikon FE related videos. This time however all the YouTube videos seemed to be pro Nikon FE2 and saying it was better than the Nikon FE (that I’d just bought!)(Doh!).
Nikon FE vs FE2
Just my luck to find this info after already ordering the Nikon FE film camera. I started to weigh up the pros and cons of the Nikon FE vs FE2 and decided to look on eBay for an FE2. The Nikon FE2 is priced slightly higher than the Nikon FE and Nikon FM but it offered some features neither other camera had. I guess I can always sell one later and keep my favourite two. Hmm.
Nikon FM vs FE vs FE2 – similar features
After lots of reading I found that the Nikon FM, FE and FE2 all share some similar features. Here are some of the major ones for me –
Cheap – All 3 cameras can be found for <£150 on eBay
Tough – All are solid and would probably withstand a drop/ knock
Lightweight – Nikon FM (590g) Nikon FE (590g) Nikon FE2 (550g)
Compact – the form of the Nikon FE/FE2/FM is smaller than later F’s
No battery required – all cameras can* function without a battery
Lightmeter built in – all 3 have centre weighted lightmeter
93% coverage / 86% magnification viewfinder – on all 3 cameras
Double exposure button – if you want to get creative!
Battery – 2x S76 or A76
Nikon SLR buyers guide! Nikon FM vs FE vs FE2
Nikon FM – why to buy?
Fully manual – so will operate at any shutter speed without a battery
Cheapest – of the Nikon FM,FE, FE2 (Usually <£100)
Works with older lenses – Nikkor Pre-AI lenses (FE2 won’t)
Nikon FE – why to buy?
Works with older lenses – Nikkor Pre-AI lenses (FE2 won’t)
Slow preset shutter speeds – down to 8 sec + bulb (FM = 1 sec)
Usable without battery – manual shutter of 1/90 (vs 1/250 FE2)
Nikon FE2 – why to buy?
Lightest – The Nikon FE2 is 40g lighter than the FE,FM
Highest flash sync speed – 1/250 vs 1/125 (FM,FE)
Fastest maximum shutter speed – 1/4000 vs 1/1000 (FM,FE)
Slow preset shutter speeds – down to 8 sec + bulb (FM = 1 sec)
Brightest screen – easier for my eyes to focus accurately
Nikon FM vs FE vs FE2 – which is best?
So I guess you might ask, of the Nikon FM vs FE vs FE2 which is the best? As you can see from the advantages of each camera listed above there is no clear winner. The best camera is the one that ticks the most boxes for your needs.
Best Nikon film camera for me? – Nikon FE2
Personally I think my favourite / best Nikon SLR for me is the Nikon FE2. It gives the most functionality in the same size box. Specifically for me –
Fast 1/250 flash sync speed is great for daylight flash portraits. Leica film cameras with a flash sync of 1/50 are terrible for this.
Fast 1/4000 maximum shutter speed means I can use fast lenses like the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s in bright conditions wide open without an ND filter (or stopping down).
1-8 second built in slow shutter speeds should be useful for if I do any low light landscapes or night photography. (It is better that the camera has 1-8 seconds automated timer than me have to count it on my phone with a cable release).
Lightest of the three cameras (which I love) so it is perfect for when I’m travelling overseas and travelling light/ with weight restrictions.
Brightest screen which will help me critically focus the 50mm f1.2 lens (and others).
In summary, for a slightly higher price tag the Nikon FE2 wins for my needs.
My most used 35mm film camera is the Leica M4-P so here is a quick Nikon FE2 vs Leica M4-P comparison! Being a Leica shooter here is a summary as to why I bought the Nikon FE2 –
Nikon FE2 vs Leica M4P – Nikon FE2 Benefits
Cheap! Nikon FE2 is 1/5 of the cost of a Leica M4-P (approx)
High flash sync speed – 1/250 vs 1/50 (FE2 vs M4P)
Maximum shutter speed – 1/4000 vs 1/1000 (FE2 vs M4P)
Built in light meter – vs without with the Leica M4-P (+M2, M3)
Closer focusing ability – <0.7M for FE2
Weight – 550g vs 560g (FE2 vs M4P) (Great that FE2 is that light!)
Double exposure button option of FE2 (vs not for Leica)(nice option)
Ability to mount affordable lenses (vs expensive Leica M lenses)
Once you list the features like this it is easy to see that the Nikon FE2 and Leica M4-P (or any older Leica film camera) are quite different.
Leica vs Nikon FM (for completeness)
The Leica M2, M3 and M4-P are closer to the Nikon FM that the FE2. All these camera can/ do operate manually and with 1/1000 maximum shutter speed. The Nikon FM offers the 1/125 flash sync and built in light meter and costs a fraction of the price. The Leica bodies let you mount the desirable Leica M lenses and are rangefinder cameras (which I generally tend to prefer for most of my photography)(hence “Mr Leica”).
I mentioned I have the more modern Nikon F4 so here is why the Nikon FE2 is desirable to me –
Maximum flash sync speed: FE2 and F4 both offer 1/250
Maximum shutter speed: FE2 – 1/4000, F4 – 1/8000
Weight: FE2 – 550g, F4 – 1200g (with batteries)
Autofocus: FE2 – No, F4 – Yes
Batteries: FE2 – 2x S76 or A76 , F4 – 4x AA (or 8x AA in grip)
Film advance: FE2 – manual, F4 – auto film advance
Film rewind: FE2 – manual, F4 – auto or manual film rewind
Size: FE2 – small for a Nikon SLR, F4 – bigger
In conclusion the Nikon F4 is 2x heavier (+ bulkier) than the Nikon FE. If weight is no issue or if you use all auto-focus Nikon lenses, I would recommend the Nikon F4 instead. Great camera but heavier.
Autofocus: FE2 – No, F5 – Yes (super fast autofocus)
Batteries: FE2 – 2x S76 or A76 , F5 – 8x AA
Film advance: FE2 – manual, F5 – auto film advance
Film rewind: FE2 – manual, F5 – auto or manual film rewind
Size: FE2 – small for a Nikon SLR, F5 – huge (but nice ergonimics)
To summarise the Nikon F5 is 3x heavier and probably twice as big as the Nikon FE2. If weight is no issue or if you use all auto-focus Nikon lenses, I would recommend the Nikon F5 instead. Awesome pro level Nikon body film camera and more features than you will ever need. Looks good and shoots well. Better autofocus than Nikon F4 if you only need one Nikon with auto-focus.
Amazing bang for the buck!
As I’m used to Leica cameras when I buy cameras made by a different brand they need to be good enough for my needs and expectations. I’m not a Leica snob I just discovered that rangefinder cameras suit me the best (in most conditions). I enjoy using lots of different film cameras such as Hasselblad, Mamiya, Fuji, Nikon but for digital photography I use only Leica.
Nikon film cameras offer amazing bang for the buck, as they say! Excellent value when compared to a Leica. Especially when they both do the same job – take a photo.
What is your favourite Nikon film camera?
If you also use a Nikon SLR film camera I’d love to hear which is your favourite camera model in the comments section below. Did I miss a gem? (This review is based on the Nikon cameras I own so I can’t account for every Nikon ever made. That said I’d like to think I’ve got some of the best ones from all the research I did prior to buying).
Me doing some C41 film developing at home yesterday. Get inspired to try it yourself! If you are looking for a film developing guide you might prefer my more detailed how to develop film at home post!
No colour film developing for 12 months!
I always struggle with not enough hours in a day to do everything I want to achieve. My head is always buzzing with new ideas so I often skip from one project to the next. This probably explains why I have so many film cameras! I’m always testing/ experimenting in search of the ‘ultimate’ camera!
Film developing – previously
From the dates on my film developer bottles the last time I did some C41 film developing at home was last July. I have developed a couple of rolls in the lab during that time, for clients, but haven’t done any at home.
My backlog of exposed colour film
Above is a photo of my film to be developed. The top bag of film contains exposed ECN-2 Kodak Vision3 motion picture film. This includes Vision3 50D, 200T and 500T films. I bulk load these 35mm films then cross process in the Tetenol C41 chemicals.
The lower bag of the film in photo is exposed standard C41 colour film such Kodak Ektar 100, Kodak Portra 160 & 400, Kodak Pro Image 100 etc. It also includes C41 black and white film, Ilford XP2 Super. This is B&W film that you can develop in C41 chemicals.
Tetenal C41 developing kit
The chemicals I use for developing colour film is the 2.5 litre tetenal C41 kit. This is a box of 6 bottles which you mix together to make up three solutions – developer, blix and stabilizer. One litre solution is said to be sufficient to develop 16-18 rolls of film but I normally do slightly fewer rolls than this. Usually I run out of time or interest by that stage even when working with multiple Paterson developing tanks.
Tetenal C41 kit shelf life
The reason I develop colour film less frequently than black and white film is (1) you need to have enough exposed film to make use of this amount of chemicals (you can get a 1 litre kit version too) and (2) the limited tetenal C41 shelf life. An unopened boxes of film developing chemicals last ages to my knowledge. Once the bottles are opened the made up diluted stock is supposed to last 6 weeks (in an air tight bottle). The remaining open stock concentrate solution are said to last 12 weeks per the box instructions. That means you have 12 weeks to shoot and develop 30+ rolls of C41 film!
Mass film developing
As I had a free day yesterday I wanted to develop as much film as I could. I made up 1 litre of tetenal C41 chemicals and then used 3 Paterson tanks. One tank is a small 2 reel tank and then two larger 3 reel tanks. (Photo above).
Film developing tank capacity
As I was developing 120 film first the 3 tanks let me develop 5 rolls of film. (You can develop 2 rolls of 120 film or 3 rolls of 35mm in a 3 roll tank. 1 roll of 120 or 2 rolls of 35mm can be developed in a 2 reel tank).
Drying film developing equipment
Based on experience I prefer to load film onto dry film reels/ film spools to try to avoid the film sticking or getting jammed when loading. It was a sunny day so I thought creativity and loaded up my Ikea clothes airer with the film reels to air dry them. I also put the developing tanks out in the sun to dry.
Developing C41 film in the UK / Europe
After some years of film developing it is notably easier to develop colour film in the warmer summer months in the UK (for me). I tend to have a cold house for the rest of the year (and save money on utility bills so I can buy more cameras!).
If you are a normal person and heat your house or if you have partner and kids that demand the thermostat to be set to 25 degrees all year then this wont be applicable to you.
In the UK the summer the air temperature might be 20 degrees vs 1o degrees in the cooler months. This means warmer drier air that (1) dries the wet film faster and developing kit faster and (2) stops the developing solution from cooling too quickly while you work. It’s just much easier for me.
Preview video of C41 B&W film developed in the morning
No you don’t need a dark room to develop colour film at home. Paterson tanks or film developing tanks are daylight developing tanks so the entire process can be completed in your bathroom or kitchen sink. I do all my developing in the kitchen as the sink is bigger.
Do I need expensive kit to develop film?
There are certain bits of film developing kit that you must have but you can cut corners in other areas.
Film changing bag / darkroom bag (daylight loading) – (UK) / (US)
Measuring jug – required (I use 3 cheap plastic jugs)
Thermometer – I use a standard cooking thermometer
Timer – you can use your phone
Bottles (to put developing solution in) – I use old plastic drinks bottles
*Film changing bag – not required if you have light tight cupboard/ room you can use to load film in. You can also load tanks the night before once it gets dark. That is how I used to do it.
Keeping film negatives free of dust
Once the film is developed I hang it in the kitchen to air dry. In the past I have left film hanging there for days (open to the elements)(dust) until I have time to scan it. To minimise the risk of dust getting on the film negatives, once dry I now cut it and store in film negative sleeves (or a plastic wallet) until I have time to scan. This also frees up some space on my DIY film drying rack for more wet film!
DIY film drying rack
The DIY film drying rack is a light stand with a horizontal top bar in a clamp. There is then pegs along the length of the bar to hang the wet film to dry. Simple but effective! (I will add a photo when I get chance)
Round two – film developing
With an empty film drying rack after the morning film developing session I warmed up the chemicals to develop another batch of film. 3x 35mm colour film and 2x 120 film. I’m probably more relaxed than I should be with the exact times and temps but I try to implement a common sense approach. It normally works OK for me.
For example if the chemicals are 40 degrees celcius (from the bath of warm water I use) I just tip the solution from a greater height into the Paterson tank to “air cool” the liquid closer to the recommended 38 degrees. Another option is to let the pre-warmed Paterson tank cool a little before adding the slightly too warm chemicals.
I forget how easy colour film developing is!
I’m so used to developing black and white film I always seem to think that somehow colour film developing will be so complicated and difficult. If you have never tried developing your own colour film I highly recommend you try it. C41 developing at home is cheaper than using a film lab and you don’t have to wait or pay for postage. You can also scan the film to high resolution and to your personal taste for no extra cost. Win win!
The results – photos of C41 negatives drying
The results – first scanner preview!
Epson V800 flat bed scanner preview. *The brightness is not a true representation of the negatives. It is just how the iPhone saw the PC monitor
First film scan edit!
Digital test photo as a comparison!
Hopefully this insight might inspire you to give C41 film developing at home a try! I put it off for years thinking it would be too difficult. I was then kicking myself for not doing it sooner once I tried it! Great fun and very rewarding!
Have you ever wondered how these 2 cameras compare!? Here is a short Leica CL vs Leica Q review including a Leica CL vs Q model shoot photo comparison, Leica Q wedding pictures, pros of both cameras and a quick Leica Q vs Q2 vs Q-P overview.
Leica Q camera – quick overview
I’ve never owned the digital Leica Q camera but had the opportunity to try it out to see what it could do. The full name of the Q is the Leica Q (Type 116) and it was first released in June 2015. It is a 24MP full frame digital camera with a fixed 28mm f1.7 ASPH Leica lens. The Leica Q offers touch screen and autofocus and has an electronic viewfinder. All very modern compared to a traditional Leica M rangefinder camera that uses manual focus lenses.
The Leica CL camera is currently my main digital camera body that I use day to day. I bought the Leica CL last year as the backup camera to my Leica 240 for Leica weddings. (The older Leica M8 camera is great but it can be too slow for fast paced client work). As it happens the Leica CL impressed me more than I expected and it took over from the Leica M240 as my primary digital camera. I was interested to see how the Leica CL images compared to the fixed lens Leica Q camera.
Leica CL camera – quick overview
To recap my previous Leica CL reviews and blog posts, the CL is a 24MP APS-C (crop sensor) digital Leica camera. The Leica CL was first released in 2017 so it 2 years newer than the original Leica Q. Like the Q the CL offers autofocus (with compatible lenses), touch screen, focus peeking and EVF.
Leica CL vs Leica Q size comparison
Leica M240 vs Leica Q size comparison
Thank you Leica Mayfair!
Jimmy and Yumi at the Leica Mayfair store kindly made this review possible by letting me borrow a Leica Q camera for 24 hours. I was extremely grateful and wasn’t expecting them to say yes when I asked so thank you! If you ever visit London I highly recommend that you stop by the Mayfair Leica shop to say hi and check out the latest Leica cameras and lenses.
The Leica Q vs Leica CL test conditions
My visit to London was to be a busy 48hrs. I had three model shoots booked and a Leica wedding photography booking at The Dorchester hotel in Mayfair. The plan was to test the Leica Q both in the controlled environment of a model photography shoot and also in the uncontrollable conditions of a real wedding. (For the wedding I was using my own Leica cameras too. There was no risk to the client that using the Leica Q could result in me not getting wedding photos). Of the three models I used the Leica Q with two of them and then tested another Leica camera for a future review for the third model.
Leica CL vs Leica Q Shootout! (Side by side)
28mm focal length
For my usual non scientific style of camera shoot out test I shot the Leica CL vs Leica Q during my normal pre-booked model photo sessions. The 2 Leica cameras were shot side by side both with 28mm equivalent lenses on. (The Leica CL 18mm Elmarit-TL f2.8 lens equates to the 28mm fixed lens of the Leica Q).
You may not realise but we are all quite used to seeing the world via a 28mm lens as that is the view an iPhone camera gives! For anyone that takes a lot of photos with their iPhone the Leica Q or Leica CL option should prove to be an easy transition.
Shot wide open – f1.7 vs f2.8
Both camera lenses were shot wide open so the Leica Q at f1.7 vs the Leica CL at f2.8. If I bought the Q I would use the lens wide open so I wanted to see how it would perform. The Leica CL only offers f2.8 so I used that aperture.
Raw format + LR preset applied
All photos were shot in DNG format and the Leica RAW files were processed through Lightroom. I applied my Leica M8 LR colour preset to all the images to apply the same amount of contrast, sharpness and saturation to the files. Any variation would then be due to the camera or lens.
Why did I apply a Leica M8 preset to Leica Q and Leica CL files? I have Leica CL LR presets but I was shooting in colour and my Leica M8 preset is the most saturated. I tend to use the Leica M8 presets the most at the moment regardless of what camera i’m shooting with.
Interestingly when I applied the same white balance settings to the Leica Q and Leica CL files the photos looked very different. More pink of the CL vs green-yellow of the Leica Q at the same WB. I’ve never seen this with any of my other Leica cameras so perhaps something was set wrong on the Q. I manually adjusted the WB of both camera files by eye to get the images as close as I could.
Thank you to models Danush and Sandra for letting me use both these cameras during the photo shoots. In all honestly I normally have 2-3 cameras on any shoot anyway so it was normal practice for me. The only difference being I didn’t shoot much film (Danush) or any film (Sandra) as I wanted to concentrate on the digital photos. It was that but more so the fast pace of the shoot with Sandra didn’t give me the opportunity. I regretted not shooting film immediately afterwards of course so hopefully next time.
Leica Q portraits vs Leica CL
Photoshoot 1 – Male model shoot
All the photos of Danush were shot at 28mm for the Leica CL and the Leica Q. I even shot some 28mm colour film with a Nikon FM!
Photoshoot 2 – Female model shoot
For the shoot with Sandra I was using the Leica CL with different lenses as I needed to get the shots we wanted and 28mm wasn’t always the best choice. To recap the Leica Q is full frame so the 28mm lens gives a true 28mm focal length in 35mm terms. The Leica CL has a 1.5x APS-C crop sensor so the standard 18mm kit lens equals 28mm. For other lenses used I put the equivalent focal length in brackets.
Leica CL lenses used:
Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii
Leica Summicron-M 28mm f2 ASPH
Leica Summilux-M 50mm f1.2 ASPH
Leica Q wedding photography
Congratulations Jo and Mo! Just a few sample Leica Q wedding photos from The Dorchester hotel in Mayfair, London. I will share the full wedding at a later date.
Leica Q macro photography
Macro photography or more specifically, close up and detail photos using the Leica Q macro mode setting.
My first impressions of the Leica Q?
As a Leica M photographer my first impressions of the Leica Q were (1) it is very lightweight vs a Leica M, (2) The Q is similar in size to a Leica M but bigger than a Leica CL, (3) The Leica Q menus remind me of the Leica M and CL.
Leica Q image quality
I used the Leica Q 28mm f1.7 lens at it’s widest aperture for all photos. I also used the camera in autofocus mode for all photos (single spot focus). Using these two settings I feel that I can get sharper images using manual focus lenses on either the Leica M240 or Leica CL (in most cases)(especially subjects greater than 1m away). Scanning through three cameras worth of photos in Lightroom the sharpest photos that jumped out at me were normally not the Leica Q. That may have been user error but I get more ‘keepers’ shooting with manual focus than I do with autofocus. That is one reason why I love the Leica M system (and Leica CL with Leica M lenses). I would expect the CL to be sharper in this test as the lens is f2.8 vs f1.7 for the Q.
28mm fixed focal length of the Leica Q
Generally speaking I am a 50mm lens kinda guy so I was not sure how useful the fixed 28mm lens of the Leica Q would be. I also love to experiment with my photography such as using a wide range of different Leica M lenses on the Leica CL (via an adapter). (Everything from 15mm – 135mm). Having only a 28mm lens keeps things simple but it also means that you would probably need a second camera to use longer lenses on. If you are a wide lens only kind of person then you would probably want a 21mm lens for wider shots, and so on.
28mm model photography
For the first model shoot with Danush I wanted a wider angle look so the Leica Q 28mm lens worked well for me. For the second photo shoot with Sandra it was quite handy to have a 28mm focal length indoors. That said as the shoot progressed I gravitated more to the Leica CL with longer lenses on. (See examples below). For female model photography especially a longer lens tends to be more flattering. I was using a 35mm and 50mm lens on the Leica CL crop sensor giving me roughly 53mm and 75mm approx.
28mm wedding photography
For Leica wedding photography I am a big fan of using wider angle lenses. In the past my most used lens at a wedding was often the Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8 or Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8 (on the Leica M9 then Leica M240) (both full frame cameras). The fixed 28mm of the Leica Q camera seemed to be perfect for the wedding in Mayfair and it was nice not to have the temptation to keep swapping lenses!
Leica Q or Leica CL? Pick one!
If you could only have one of these two cameras which would be best suited to you? Leica Q or Leica CL? Both cameras have their pros and cons and there are already plenty of reviews online. For this article I will just bullet point the three main advantages and disadvantages of each camera for me. This will be based on me using various Leica M cameras and other non Leica cameras over the last 10 years.
Leica CL vs Q – Leica CL pros x3
Lighter: CL, 483g (with 18mm lens + battery) vs Q, 640g (with battery)
Smaller: The CL with the 18mm kit lens attached (28mm equivalent)
Interchangeable lenses + will accept Leica M system lenses w/adapter
Leica Q vs CL – Leica Q pros x3
24MP Full frame sensor vs 24MP APS-C sensor
Fast 28mm f1.7 fixed lens vs most wide lenses that are f2-f2.8
Macro option is great for detail photos (0.17m close focus vs. 0.3m CL)
Leica CL and Leica Q – similar features x5
Leica Q battery and Leica CL battery are the same
Both cameras are said to have ISo 100-50,000
Leica CL and Q both have the autofocus option
Leica Q and CL both have touch screen LCDs
The CL and Q both have similar menu systems
Leica Q review (vs CL) summary
The Leica Q camera impressed me more than I was expecting. If I did a lot of Leica wedding photography, street photography or travel photography the Leica Q is a great option. Yes the Leica CL with 18mm kit lens is a lighter more compact setup but the 18mm lens is only f2.8. Also if like me you use the Leica CL with Leica M lenses attached it soon becomes heavier than the fixed lens Leica Q.
For portraits and fashion photography it depends on your style. Some fashion photographers love the wide angle look but traditionally a longer lens tends to be more useful. Personally I usually chose lenses more than 28mm wide for my model photography so the Leica Q would not suit my day to day portrait work.
Leica Q2 vs CL?
You could ask why I didn’t review the newer Leica Q2 vs Leica CL instead. It was for the simple fact that the weekend I was in Mayfair, London, the only Leica Q camera available to test was the original Leica Q camera. If I get chance in the future perhaps I can review the Leica Q2 vs CL to see how it compares but the Q gave me a good appreciation of using a fixed 28mm lens.
Leica Q-P vs Leica Q2?
In addition to the mentioned Leica Q and Leica Q2 there is also the Leica Q-P camera version. The Leica Q-P is pretty much identical to the Leica Q camera except it is missing the famous Leica red dot and has an engraved top plate.
Leica Q vs Q2 (price)
One advantage of the release of the Leica Q2 camera is that the price of the Leica Q is now cheaper. At the time of writing the Leica Q was roughly £750 cheaper than the Leica Q2 in the UK (July 2019):
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. (Poland trip write-up)
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!).