Fujifilm GA645 Professional

Fujifilm GA645 Professional

                         ..Like an noisy ugly slightly overfed Leica!

July 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography

Fujifilm GA645 Pro

Fuji GA645

The latest addition to my camera bag – a 20 year old Fuji GA645 Pro medium format film camera.  Released in 1995, the Fujifilm GA645 Professional is a 6×4.5 format autofocus medium format film camera. The GA645 is fitted with a fixed lens, a Super EBC Fujinon 60mm f4 with a minimum focus distance of 0.7m.  The camera has a leaf shutter lens that operates at upto 1/400 with apertures of f4-f9.5 and at 1/700 with apertures of f11-f22.  The camera takes photos in a portrait orientation when held in the standard horizontal position.  The GA645 has a pop-up flash, LCD display for camera settings, autofocus, auto film advance and auto rewind, auto exposure with centre weighted metering and imprinted data of camera settings onto the film.

Basically the Fuji GA645 is a heavyweight medium format P&S (Point and Shoot) camera!

For anyone that has followed me for a while might be thinking, the list above is everything I said I don’t like in a camera.  For example I sold the Contax 645 as I said it was too ‘DSLR like’ and too automated.  That was almost 2 years ago.

So why did I buy a GA645?

I am still in search of my holy grail camera.  As my photography matures my desires list changes.  In the past I would be attracted to the fastest lenses with the most shallow depth of field possible.  For example the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 lens.  I did not consider camera size, the film format, the speed of the camera use, the reliability and to an extent the cost if it was of good quality.

Today the most important aspects of a camera for me are compact size, maximum resolution, sharp lens, speed of use and reliability.  Tomorrow this may change.

Compact camera –

Leica cameras are compact hence I love them but I want a larger negative for maximum resolution in an image.

Maximum resolution –

The Mamiya RZ67 Pro II 6×7 and Rolleiflex SL66E 6×6 have sharp lenses but they are too big to take on my trips overseas.  The Fuji GF670 is a folding 6×6/6×7 camera so is compact but I wanted 645 format.  To me 6×4.5 format is the perfect mid ground between being 3x more resolution that a 35mm Leica film negative and giving 15 photos per roll of film vs, 50% less resolution than a 6×7 negative that only gives 10 images per roll of 120 film.

Sharp lens –

Many of my cameras are said to have sharp lenses but when a camera has a fixed lens the lens sharpness is a must have.  The EBC Fujinon lenses are well regarded for their sharpness even wide open.

Speed of Use –

The more I do model photography and fashion photography the more I realise that as a creative team we just don’t have time to work at a slow pace such as with my large format cameras, Pacemaker Speedgraphic and Sinar F2.  This was one reason for buying the autofocus Nikon f4 SLR 35mm film camera.  I want to shoot film but do it at the pace of a modern photoshoot.

Reliability –

Reliability has two meanings.  The perhaps obvious one that is mechanical reliability and the camera continuing to operate as designed during a shoot.  I cannot afford to take a camera to Ukraine for a week only for it to stop working on the first day.  Luckily this did not happen but I have a growing pile of film cameras needing some attention and are therefore not suitable to take away on trips.  The second meaning and one that bugs me a little is reliable photo taking.  I might have the perfect model in the perfect setting and the image looks focused through the viewfinder yet when I get the film back it is mis-focused due to a misaligned rangefinder or other camera related issue.  My Mamiya 645 nearly always mis-focused beyond a certain distance and even up close the hit rate is not acceptable regardless of the lens.

Fuji GA645 – Recap

So to recap the Fuji GA645 is very compact considering it is a medium format camera so perfect to fit in my hand luggage.  The lens is sharp and it has autofocus and auto film advance to allow me to work quickly if needed.  The 60mm f4 lenses is roughly equal to 35mm f2.8 on a 35mm camera such as a Leica.  With my recent film photography I often stop the lenses down to perhaps f5.6 to get maximum sharpness and also try to back up more to get an environmental portrait in my location rather than a tight head shot that could have been taken in my garden or studio.  If I am to travel to these different countries I need to help myself in capturing some of the city in the photo and a 35mm lens is better suited to do this than my usual 50mm favoured lens choice.  A good example of this was my model photography workshop in Zurich where I tried to capture the model within her environment for some photos.

As mentioned I already own a Fuji GF670 camera but I prefer the older Fuji GS645 camera due to the 645 format.  I love the GS645 but the shutter often sticks so I decided to buy the more modern more automated Fuji GA645 that is a similar size and same format, but with a 60mm f4 lenses rather than the 75mm f3.4 lens.

Creativity with an F4 lens

An easy way to take a beautiful traditional portrait is to use a very shallow depth of field.  The Fuji GA645 will not give me this so it will make me work harder for my photograph.  I need to consider the background as the detail will be visible in the photo and then I need to somehow make the picture interesting without using shallow DOF.  It will make me chose my light and composition more carefully and how they interact with the model .  I think at worst an f4 aperture lens can only improve my photography and my work may benefit when I am using fast lenses on other cameras.

Time will tell

I don’t really enjoy taking photos with the Fuji GF670 as it is so quiet and soulless.  That said the photos produced can be beautiful.  In contrast the Fuji GA645 is very noisy so I just hope it is a little more engaging despite being so automated.

Size is key

Even though I am mainly a Leica shooter when I come to pack for model photography trips in Europe I find I have to pick my very smallest Leica M lenses.  I like to take both a film camera and a digital camera.  Film is for me and digital to give something to the models for their time.  I hope to be able to take the compact Fuji GA645 on my next trip and return with high resolution sharp in focus images of stunning models in the city they live in.  That’s the plan anyway!

Test photos coming soon once the camera is shipped.

Related Posts


Sony A7R vs Leica M9

Sony A7R vs Leica M9

My thoughts only, sorry no example images

July 2015

Sony A7R vs Leica M9

I ran a model photography workshop in London on Saturday and the photographer brought along his full frame Sony A7R camera.  I often hear good reviews about the Sony and Fuji cameras from Leica photographers using these bodies as a backup body or as a more affordable alternative.  I have had photographers bring the Fuji XT1 and the Sony A7R to the workshops before but I have never really taken much interest as my heart in in film photography (and digital Leicas).

The photographer owning the Sony A7R was keen to see how I worked and also see my Leica cameras.  I had with me the digital Leica M9 and Leica M8 bodies and was using the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens.  He had the Sony A7R with the Sony Zeiss FE 55mm f1.8 lens and also an old Leica Summicron 90mm f2 R lens with an Sony adapter.

We met the model and took similar photos side by side with our own cameras.  Over lunch we reviewed the Leica M8, Leica M9 and Sony AR7 images on a laptop full screen in Lightroom.  Small size the Sony A7R images look OK.  If i’m honest from a small size images I could not tell you what modern camera they were taken with, Fuji, Sony, Nikon.  (Canon photos usually have an orange pink tinge so are easier to identify!)  When we compared the Leica M9 colours to those from the Sony A7R the M9 colours were more natural looking with slightly better skin tones.  I was still not offended by the Sony images.

We then viewed the Sony A7R JPEG and RAW 100% zoomed in and I was shocked.  I am used to seeing the film like grain of the Leica M9 (and Leica M8) DNG and JPEG files when I zoom in.  It looks quite ‘real’ desite being an electronic image and reminds me more of film negative scans.  The Sony RAW and JPEG files however just looked like a mass of coloured noise with little structure.  It looked very artificial and computer generated.. of course it is but the Leica files look less so.  I have owned Nikon cameras for years, and before Leicas so am well aware how the Nikon NEF files look.  If I had to try to compare simply I would say the 18MP Leica M9 and 10MP Leica M8 DNG files are the most real looking, then followed by the 36MP Nikon D800 that gives a sharper and more modern look yet still the RAW files appear ‘real’ when viewed zoomed in, and lastly the Sony A7R files that look the least real.  For my taste the Sony images look too computer generated and not at all to my liking.  I like the look of film photography so it makes sense that the most filmic looking digital images are my favourites, from the Leica M9 and Leica M8.

Interestingly, we discussed the Sony A7R images and this very modern ‘over processed’ look and the photographer showed me some photos taken with an old Mamiya RZ lens on the Sony A7R via an adapter.  To me these images were far far better than the images produced with the Sony 55/1.8 lens.  They had more of a realness to them.  I think the problem is that when there is a Sony lens on the Sony A7R the in camera computer is doing so much manipulating of the files that it results in very over processed straight out the camera images.  When there in a non-Sony lens used with an adapter that doesn’t talk to the camera there is less in camera processing so the resulting image is nearer to what you can see with the naked eye.

In conclusion, if I had to have the high ISO ability and all the other mod cons of the Sony A7R or keep my old Leica M8 then M8 would win hands down despite it’s flaws.  For a more fair comparison, the Leica M9 vs Sony A7R, the M9 colours and rendering of the images is far more real and natural looking to my eye so I would never be tempted by the Sony.

(Only my opinion but I am glad I had the oppotunity to see the side by side comparison).

Sorry I do not have any Sony A7R images to share but there will be plenty to review on Flickr i’m sure.  For Leica M8 and Leica M9 example images you can find plenty of samples both on my blog and on Flickr.

Here are two examples from the workshop (more for the rendering than the colours!)

Leica M8 + Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 (DNG B&W conversion)

Leica M8 B&W

Leica M9 + Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 (DNG & colours made more satured in PP)

Leica M9  -  Is back!

(I’m sure many Sony users will disagree with our observations or point out that the colours of the Leica M9 image shared are far from natural but this blog is just my opinion based on my own experiences).

Ultimate Wedding Magazine – Competition

Ultimate Wedding Magazine – Film Wedding Photography

Competition – Win Free Kodak Film Wedding Photographer

Competition Deadline 31st August 2015

MrLeica.com has teamed up with friends at Kodak Alaris and UK Film Lab to offer you the chance to win a free wedding photographer thanks to Ultimate Wedding Magazine.  I will cover your wedding day for free* as a second photographer shooting exclusively with Kodak films (*Please see competition details for full T&Cs – link below).

Having Two Wedding Photographers

As the primary (or only) wedding photographer my creative possibilities are more limited as wedding photographers are always expected to stand in a certain place at certain times throughout the day to get the expected ‘key’ photos for the wedding album.  Most wedding couples also expect digital photos so I find I never get the chance to shoot as much film as I would like to.  For me this is a shame as I feel the film images look nicer with better colours and tones and with the soft timeless look.  For my personal work and model photography film takes preference for all shoots.  By offering my wedding photography services for free* as a second photographer you have no concerns that you wont have a complete set of expected digital photos as these will be captured by your primary photographer.  My wedding photography will instead give you some additional unique looking photos to enjoy taken from a different perspective.

My Wedding Photography Style

I am a documentary style wedding photographer with a low key photojournalist/ editorial approach.  My aim is to take photos that tell the story of your day and create lasting memories. The excitment and emotions of you and your guests, the wedding venue, the finer details and some stylised wedding portraits.  My wedding portraits are a blend of fashion photography and low key wedding photography to create flattering yet natural looking photos.

Kodak Alaris and UK Film Lab

Kodak arguably produces some of the very best film with Kodak Portra as my go to film for colour wedding photography.  Kodak Ektar is perfect for more saturated colours and for black and white film I use Kodak T-Max and Kodak Tri-X films.  When it comes to film developing in the UK it doesn’t come much better that UK Film Lab.  Christian and Erica offer a high end professional service to obtain the best possible prints and scans from the film negatives.

Is film better than digital?

Each photographer will give a different option depending on their preference but in honesty both are good and both have their strengths.

Digital – For me digital is better suited for low light photography; dark venues,  indoor  weddings and short overcast winter days.  I tend to shoot less or no film if there is insufficient light as the resulting images would be very grainy.  That said it is nice to get a few shots at the end of the day such as during the first dance.

Film – Film excels in bright sunny conditions such as outdoor weddings or locations that have lots of sunny blue sky days.  Film also suits weddings where couples have gone to great lengths to pick a beautiful wedding venue and have an eye for the finer details.

Film has a softer more arty look than digital images produced by modern DSLR cameras.  Many digital wedding photographers try to emulate the look of film with Photoshop plugins but why settle for imitations when you can have the real thing.

Is film right for your wedding?

Take into consideration the pros and cons of film detailed above, your wedding venue and the time of the year you will get married.  Perhaps Google ‘film wedding photography’ images and see if you like the look.  You might notice some the best photos are often taken in bright light and with the sun behind the subject.

Please find examples of my film wedding photography below using vintage Leica film cameras and various medium format film cameras.

Film Wedding Photography

Contax 645 Wedding :)

Mamiya 645 Wedding

Coventry Wedding Venue - The Saxon Mill

Saxon Mill Wedding Warwick

Kodak Portra Wedding B&W

Leica M2 Film Wedding

Leica M2 Wedding

Coventry Wedding Photographer - Film

Mamiya RZ Wedding Photography

Colour Film Wedding Photography

Nikon F4 Bridal Shoot

Film Wedding Photography

Film Wedding Photography

Mamiya 645 Wedding

Link to Ultimate Wedding Photography competition – Free Film Wedding Photographer

See more of my wedding photography examples at http://www.LeicaWeddingPhotographer.co.uk

Digital Photographer Magazine 163 – Window Light Portraits

Digital Photographer Magazine  – Window Light Portraits

Full Article (Not Published)

Issue 163, July 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica.com

Digital Photographer Magazine

Digital Photographer Magazine asked me to write an article for them listing my top ten tips for window light portraits with some example images.  I did so and submitted the article.

Below is a iPhone snapshot of the page I was featured on included one of the photos (Model – Gina) and one of the 10 top tips written.  As I already have the full article I thought it might be nice to share it here.

#digitalphotographer #magazine #article #portrait #july2015 #photographytechniques #portraitlighting #coventry #model  @ginaxunderhill #photographer @mrleicacom #dpm Article includes 1 of 10 tips written for dpm. I will share all 10 tips on my blog at www

Ten Tips for Window Light Portraits (Full Article)

1) A north facing window is ideal for window light portraits as it provides soft diffused light throughout the day without having to consider possible harsh (high contrast) direct sunlight.

2) Existing window blinds or net curtains can assist in controlling and diffusing bright window light.  If the window is without blinds or net curtains a white sheet or semi-transparent material can be hung betweem the glass and the subject to reduce the light levels.

3) Curtains can be used to shape the window light.  If you have a large window then shutting the curtains part way can create a slice of light that can often be used more creatively.  Having areas of shadow and highlights can add more interest to a photo and shadows can be used to hide distracting backgrounds.

4) For window light portraits where the window is the key light by facing the model towards the window gives large bright catchlights in the eyes. This is similar to the look achieved when facing a model towards a large softbox.

5) Window light can also be used as a backdrop.  By exposing for the models face and with the models back to the window the background will become overexposed and can appear as white.  Windows can also make a nice frame for the portrait by composing the image so the models head is aligned within the frame of the window behind.

6) A reflector can be used to add fill light to a window portrait. Place the model between the window and the reflector and use the reflector to bounce window light back onto the model to help illuminate shadow areas.

7) Window light on an overcast day or late in the evening might be insufficient to light your model.  Light levels can be boosted by placing a speedlight and wireless trigger outside on a light stand and directing the flash back into the room through the glass to emulate sunlight.

8) To meter for window light portraits using the camera’s full auto mode, aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode select the spot meter on the camera to meter for the models face rather than the illumination of the whole frame.  Alternatively you can use a handheld light meter and meter for the highlights on the models face such as the cheekbones.

9) Do not rely on your camera’s histogram for window light portraits as often the photo may read as under or over exposed.  By illuminating the models face only the histogram will read underexposed and the majority of the frame will be dark.  If the window is used as a background the histogram will show as overexposed and the majority of the frame will be bright.

10) Lastly, the effect of window light can be simulated by any area where there is an area of shadow and a direction source of light.  Common examples may include a standing your model in an open doorway, tunnel entrance or under a tree canopy.

Window Light Portraits – Some of my Portrait Images

Leica M2 + Nokton 40mm + B&W Film

35mm Kentmere 100 Film

Leica M3 - THE Best Leica.

Kodak Portra 400 Studio Portrait

Kodak BW400CN Film

Fuji GF670 B&W Portrait

35mm Rollei Retro 400 film

35mm Kodak Portra 400 film

Facebook Cover Photo

1950s Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5

Leica S2 Portrait


Leica M9 + Instagram :)

Leica at the Ritz

Leica Summilux ASPH 50

Kodak Portra Analogue Fashion

After Hours - Leica M2

GF670 + Ilford XP2 400

Ilford Black & White Film

Model Photographer - Film Photography

Yuliya with ARAX-CM

Coffee Candid, Yulya, Ukraine [Explore #317]

Alena (2)

D800 6x6 crop of Nora

Ukraine Model Photography

Ukraine Model Photography

July 2015
Matthew Osborne Photography

Morning Flight Home

The Plan

After almost two years since my last visit I finally got myself organised and booked a trip to Ukraine.  I used to travel to Uzhgorod in the west of Ukraine close to the Hungarian border so that was the obvious destination choice as have contacts there from prior visits.  I booked myself five nights stay in the centre of Uzhgorod and set about getting in touch with old model friends during the months leading up to the trip.  I wanted to ensure that if I went thre I would have models each day to work with.

As per my model photography trips to Poland I wanted to travel light so had the usual 10kg hand luggage only allowance.  Camera gear would be limited!  As per my last Nikon D800 blog post the camera bag consisted of:

Camera Gear

  • Billingham Hadley Digital bag
  • Nikon D800 DSLR camera
  • Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II lens
  • Nikkor 28mm f2.8 E series lens
  • Leica M3 film camera
  • Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens
  • 5in1 reflector
  • 35mm B&W film – Ilford Delta 100, Ilford Pan F 50, Kentmere 100, Kodak Tri-X 400
  • 35mm Colour film – Kodak Portra 160

Film Choice

The weather forecast for my visit was bright and sunny so I chose to take mostly IS0 50/100/160 film for maximum quality with some ISO 400 Kodak Tri-X as a backup. From my experience the detail captured by Ilford Delta 100 (and Ilford Pan F 50) is far greater than that with Kodak T-Max 100 or Fuji Acros 100 hence my choice of film (Another blog in the pipeline).  For colour film for portraits Kodak Portra 160 is my go to film for 35mm. For 120 film I enjoy both Fuji Pro 400H and Kodak Portra.

Ukraine Photo Shoots

I had some models confirmed prior to leaving the UK but once I arrived word of mouth helped me fill my remaining time slots.  In total I photographed 12 different models in Ukraine, some new faces, some familiar ones, some agency models,  some not, some shoots lasting 3 hours and some lasting more than 10 hours.  We were lucky with the weather with sunshine for most of the trip.  Most photoshoots were in and around Uzhgorod within walking distance of the hotel but we also took a few trips further afield by car and did some photos in the hotel.

Thoughts on Camera Choice

For my last visit to Ukraine I had just purchsed my first Leica, the Leica M9 and my only lens, the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4.  At that time my preference was high constrast black and white in camera JPEG images.  The filmic look of the M9 really suited Ukraine for me and nearly ever photo I took was good enough to give to the models without really editing. I used to push all images through Lightroom, sharpen, resize and watermark and done.  For me this was the perfect digital photography workflow with minimum time spent at the PC.

For this trip the Leica M9 camera would have been my preference for the digital body but it needs the rangefinder recalibrating so is currently out of action.  The Leica M8 is great in good light but I was concerned I would have some low light shoots where it would struggle.  I therefore picked the Nikon D800.  As written in past posts it is no M9 and the wow images did not come thick and fast as they had with the M9 (with the lenses I had with me).  One reason was I enjoy shooting the Leica M9 lenses wide open whereas for the Nikon I often stop down manual focus lenses (now) so to get more keepers (with eyes in focus)(see previous post for details).  With no shallow depth of field to add interest to my photos I had to rely on composition, choice of location and use of light. Midday sun is not a models best friend so I tried to select locations accordingly depending on their face and skin. I had some shoots continue after dark and for these sessions the Nikon D800 saved me with it’s useable ISO 3200.  I even had to rely on the D800 pop up flash for some photos.   Pop up flash is not something that I would normally consider using but if I must use it then I feather or bounce light using my hand.  I actually quite liked the look for some photos so found myself using the pop-up flash even during the day to try to add the fashion look for some images.

Pop-Up Flash Portrait

Slovakia Photo Shoots

After five days of model photography in Ukraine I caught the bus back into Slovakia for my flight home.  The Ukraine model agency had tried to arrange a photoshoot for me with a local model in Kosice but she was unavailable so I had half a day to kill.  I decided to try my luck and stopped a tall model looking girl in the street to ask if she was free and wanted some photos.  To my delight she spoke English and was very helpful and was a sucessful model with model friends.  She had no time for photos but asked a few friends and within an hour I had two photo sessions booked for the afternoon and evening.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself as I feel like I walk on water.  As  soon as I stepped in the hotel door out the sunshine and the skies opened with a heavy downpour.  I had a powernap and woke to sunshine again ready for photos. Two unplanned photoshoots later with two great girls continuing until late into the evening made the perfect end to a perfect trip.  I now also have model friends in a new city/ country for ready future trips.

Next Trip

I am already thinking ahead for my next visit to Ukraine but before that I have another model photography workshop trip to run in Switzerland and go back to see my model friends again in Poland. Next time I will take the Leica M9 and see if I notice a difference in the images vs the Nikon D800.  It might just be another case of rose tinted glasses!

Low Light Photos – Leica M9 vs Nikon D800 – You do the Maths

I mention the Nikon D800 has the usable higher ISO to say 3200 but things are all relative.  I dont normally use the D800 at shutter speeds below 1/50 yet I can happily use the Leica M9 rangefinder at 1/25 or 1/10 if needed.  The M9 at ISO 800 at 1/10 gives roughly the same exposure as the D800 at ISO 3200 at 1/50.  If I then use the Voigtlander 40mm lenses on both cameras for a small compact setup the Leica M mount Nokton lenses gives me 40f1.4 vs 40f2 for the Ultron on the D800 so 1 stop brighter for the Leica. Suddenly when you do the maths you see why Leica cameras and lenses cost more money. Leica M cameras can do it all and argueably with sharper images when lenses shot wide open and within a smaller setup.

2013 vs 2015 – Biggest Difference

Despite me going on about the Leica M9 vs Nikon D800 does it actually matter?  If it were 2013 then yes but now we are in 2015 not so much.  In 2013 the Leica M9 photos were those I would use for my portfolio and be my memories of my trip.  In 2015 however the digital cameras for me are merely a way to get the model poses flowing and to give them instant gratification.  The models want some nice photos for their time and effort but they don’t care what camera I use or whether the bokeh was nicely rendered.  I use my digital cameras to give models images for their portfolio within a short time period.  For me however I only share a few digital example images until I have time to develop the film and then that is it.  All the images I then use will be film photos.  The majority of the photos I post to social media sites like Flickr and Facebook are film as that is my preference.  On that note the film photos from the trip taken with my 1950s Leica M3 rangefinder will be coming later this week all being well.

Coming soon! 🙂

Nikon D800 – It’s OK but it’s no Leica

Nikon D800 – It’s OK but it’s no Leica


As many of you may have noticed from my Flick feed (from the comments received), I’ve suddenly started using my pre-Leica days Nikon D800 DSLR again.  At first it was to test lenses for my Nikon F4 SLR, then I took it to Poland for a model photography trip to share lenses with the Nikon F4.  Love for the Nikon D800 was reignited using it with autofocus lenses such as the Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro.  Life was good.

For my last model photography shoot in the UK I decided to dig out my Leica M8 to use.  I shot the Leica M8 plus Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens against the current flavour of the month,  the D800 plus Tokina 100mm prime.  Suddenly the Nikon D800 didn’t look so special.   Out gunned by the old slow simple Leica M8 which produced far more pleasing images to my eyes.  Hmm, the new Nikon romance was starting to show signs of weakness.

I then had another trip to pack for.  I wanted to take one film camera and one digital camera.  The smaller and lighter the better.  I could not take the Leica M9,  reasons to follow, so for the digital camera it was the Leica M8 or the Nikon D800.  I needed professional quality images,  not just arty looking, and possibly shooting in very low light.  I picked the Nikon D800 and packed my smallest Nikon mount lenses, my new Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II pancake manual focus lens and also my new Nikkor 28mm f2.8 E series manual focus lens.  For the film camera the possible obvious choice was the Nikon F4 SLR as I took to Poland but the F4 is bulky and heavy.  I also needed lenses to be sharp wide open and I know the Nikkor 50mm primes are sub-standard vs Leica quality.  I therefore picked my Leica M3 double stroke paired with the mighty Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens.

After a two days of shooting the Nikon D800 with manual focus lenses the Nikon romance was dead.  I wished for my Leica M8 despite one shoot being at ISO 3200 and me having to use pop up flash on the D800 for some photos.  My eyes really struggled to focus the MF lenses by eye resulting in mis-focused images for the first shoot.  When I tried to work fast and focus by eye at more than 0.5m I sometimes missed on a few photos. When I focused at more than 1m distance from my model I used the Nikon focus confirmation green dot in the viewfinder and it was still easy to miss focus.  Next option was to stop lenses down to from f2-f2.8 to say f4-f5.6 and I was still able to miss focus on the eyes.  On the Leica M cameras I can hit focus at f1 on the Leica Noctilux pretty much every photo with the Leica rangefinder focus system.  It seems my eyes became spoilt by 18 months of using the Leica RF system and now I am no longer able to focus a DSLR accurately and quickly with manual focus lenses. 

When I did the Nikon F4 vs Leica M3 shoot out prior to the trip with model Harriet (results and conclusion still to follow) I did not struggle using the Nikon F4 with manual focus Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s lens but then thinking back to it, most photos were taken at around 0.5m or less distance.  Some models make me want to shoot as close as possible to capture face details yet others make me want to back up to get full length images.  It also depends on the location, whether to include the background or hide it.

So to conclude,  the Nikon D800 cannot match the Leica M8 or Leica M9 in creating interesting images in terms of rendering from the CCD Leica sensor (together with Leica M lens glass) vs Nikon CMOS sensor. No surprise that I prefer the filmic look of the CCD sensor when I love film photography.  The D800 can however create clean sharp modern looking images and at an ISO of 1600-3200 vs 640-800 on the M9 and even lower ISO on the M8. Secondly, for manual focus lenses, I found my weakness in that I have lost my ability to focus MF lenses accurately with the D800.  This is not a deal breaker as I have some autofocus lenses for the D800 like the Tokina 100mm Macro.  This camera-lens combination still lets me focus longer and closer that my regular Leica M lenses and as quickly and accurately.  I still love the large file size of the Nikon D800 for creative cropping, the long battery life and the modern larger rear LCD display.  It looks like maybe I am moving towards getting a Leica M 240 again! 

Is the Nikon D800 dead once more, to be returned to the shelf to collect dust for another 18 months?  No.  I just need to be aware that personally I can operate the D800 better (faster and more accurately) with autofocus lenses.  Strangely I find it easier to focus the Nikon F4 vs the D800 for manual lenses.

Blog posts in the pipeline for  –

> Nikon F4 vs Leica M3 Shoot Out
> Nikon D800 vs Leica M8 image comparison
> Nikon D800 with Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II lens
> Film images and more details from my latest trip
> Ilford Delta 100 vs Kodak T-Max 100 vs Fuji Acros 100 film comparison

2015 Wedding: Mike & Caroline (1) Film Wedding

2015 Wedding: Mike & Caroline (Part 1 – Film Wedding Photography)

Here are some film wedding photography images from Mike and Caroline’s wedding back in January 2015. Sorry for the delay in sharing new wedding photos.

Since this wedding I have added a Nikon F4 SLR film camera to my camera bag to assist my analogue 1950s Leica cameras. I have also purchased another Leica M3 so I now work with 2x Leica M3s with 50mm lenses, a Leica M2 for 35mm view (or wider with external viewfinders), and I now have my autofocus, autorewind, Nikon F4 with a Tokina 100mm Macro lenses attached for a short telephoto and for macro work. The Nikon F4 SLR also works with my speedlights and at a usable flash sync speed so it will be perfect for film wedding strobist work where the vintage Leica cameras are a little out their depth. On top of all that I also have my various medium format film cameras such as the Mamiya 645 which I was using at a wedding this spring. Photos to follow!

Leica Wedding Photographer (MrLeica.com)

2015 Wedding: Mike & Caroline (Part 1 – Film Wedding Photography)

Wedding Venue: Ellingham Hall, Northumberland


January 2015

Here are a selection of wedding photos from my first wedding of 2015 up at Ellingham Hall on the Northumberland coastline.  It is difficult to anticipate the UK weather especially in the winter months so I didnn’t load my film into the cameras until the morning of the wedding.  I decided on colour 35mm Kodak Portra 400 film for the daytime people photos and in the evening I loaded 35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film.  The main film cameras on the day were my 1950s Leica M2 and Leica M3 rangefinder cameras but I also took my 1980s 35mm Nikon FM SLR loaded with Agfa Vista 200 Plus colour film for detail photos.  I was shooting digital photos alongside film photography throughout the day with my Leica M9. I…

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