Poland 2016 – Mamiya 6, Leica M 240..
Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom
I’m just writing this on my flight home from my first model photography trip to Poland of 2016. After a mixed success trip in December visiting Gdansk I returned to my favourite hotel in Sopot, Hotel Bursztyn, located just off the beautiful Sopot Beach. I feel very lucky that I was able to fill almost every minute of every day with models and despite a mixed forecast we were overall really fortunate with the weather even if it was a little chilly!
I worked with Polish agency models from Malva Models agency and Future Models Management and also with a few friends and friends of models. Despite a lot of cancellations (which sadly now seems to be the norm whatever country I am working in) from planned models the girls that did visit really made the trip a success. A big thanks in no order to Karo, Ana, Sylwia, Teresa, Irmina, Natalia, Julia and Maja, to MUA Marta and also Monika at Hotel Bursztyn for a comfortable stay.
What was the plan for this trip?
For every model photography trip to Sopot so far I have used available light only. Being a big fan of using strobes in the UK I decided to pack smaller lighter cameras and take one flash as well. My must take camera was the digital Leica M 240 as I wanted to take some colour digital photos. If I was to shoot all B&W photos then the Leica M8 is also fantastic but for colour the Leica M 240 is just easier. My next must have was a medium format film camera and then anything else I could fit in was just a bonus. The Hasselblad 501C was too big to take this time and a few of my other smaller medium format cameras had problems so I bought a Mamiya 6 camera to take. (See previous post, link below). I like to have the option to shoot both colour film and black and white film so wanted at least one other camera. I chose the 35mm Leica M6 as it can share Leica M mount lenses with the Leica M 240. I then had a little bit of bag capacity remaining so I squeezed in the 1960s Olympus Pen-F SLR camera.
Full kit list:
- Leica M 240 rangefinder camera (digital)
- Leica M6 rangefinder camera (35mm film)
- Olympus Pen-F SLR camera (35mm film – half frame) + 35mm f1.8 lens
- Mamiya 6 rangefinder camera (medium format film) + 75mm f3.5 lens
- Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens
- Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
- 120 Fomapan 100
- 120 Kodak Portra 160
- 120 Kodak Ektar 100
- 120 Fuji Acros 100
- 35mm Ilford Pan F 50
- 35mm Cinestill 50D
- 35mm Kodak Portra 160
- 35mm Kodak Ektar 100
- 35mm Fujicolor C200
I packed all the 120 Fomapan 100 film I had in the fridge (8 rolls) and then some Fuji Acros on top. Foma is currently my go to film for 120 black and white. (If money was no object I think Ilford Delta 100 and Pan F 50 are hard to beat but Pan F is very high contrast and sometimes the low contrast Foma film is nice. For 35mm film I currently prefer the sharpness of Delta 100 and Pan F. I packed mostly B&W film, maybe 3:1 vs colour film. I wanted some colour for if we got blue skies and / or the models brought colourful clothes. I wanted to also see if the Olympus Pen F half frame camera gave acceptable results using 35mm colour film. I often find 35mm colour film too grainy for my taste. I thought the best hope I had for fine grain colour film in the Pen-F was Cinestill 50D but I was also interested to see the results using Kodak Porta 160 and Fujicolor C200 film. I didn’t get chance to use the Kodak Ektar 100 film I took but I will try this on my next trip as the grain should be finer than Portra 160 and C200 film.
I found the Mamiya 6 was my go to film camera in Poland. I guess partly as it was my new toy and partly as I wanted to see what results I could get from it. The compact Mamiya 6 was certainly easier to carry around than the Hasselblad 501C (with prism and monopod attached!). Both cameras are 6×6 format so I’m really excited to see how the results compare. I normally enjoy how close I can focus the Hasselblad but surprisingly I didn’t mind being at 1m distance with the Mamiya 6. Hopefully the photos will be more interesting as a result. (I will write a full Hasselblad vs Mamiya 6 thoughts post after I see the resulting images from this trip).
The Leica M6 camera was used the least of the film cameras and I enjoyed using the little Olympus Pen-F. If the Pen F photos are acceptable I think it will always live in my travel bag. The Leica M6 is a great camera and nice to use but it always seemed to have the wrong film loaded when I came to use it. The plan was try to keep 35mm colour film in one camera and 35mm black and white in the other. The problem was 72 exposures in the Pen-F can take time to use! I shot nearly all the 120 film I took and less than half of the 35mm but I will probably have more 35mm images overall as the Mamiya 6 only gets 12 exposures per roll.
Each model brings their own style to a shoot which helps to keep it interesting. Some of the girls were internationally published models bringing a wealth of experience from working in Asia and Europe. It was really interesting spending time with them and it made me rethink how I approach some of my fashion photography images. Once I am able to share some of the images we created together I am excited to see if there is an noticeable difference in style. The working models seemed really happy with what we had produced and so was I. Agency models use the best images for their book and online model portfolios and I should probably update my website photos at some stage. In addition to working with the experienced models, I found it equally rewarding to creating images for girls with little experience in front of a camera. As such a variety of photos to follow!
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
My latest camera purchase is a 1989 Mamiya 6 medium format analogue rangefinder camera. The camera has a 6×6 film format and came with the 75mm f3.5 kit lenses. There are 3 lenses available, 50, 75 and 150 and all use the built in camera viewfinder with rangefinder patch.
Why did I buy another camera?
I had overseas model trips fast approaching and I wanted to take a medium format film camera with me. The 6×6 Hasselblad 501C continues to be perhaps my favourite camera to operate and the results it gives but I use it with a prism viewfinder so it’s not as compact as it could be. I have smaller medium format cameras already, Fuji GF670 (6×6 & 6×7), Fuji GS645 and Fuji GA645. I tried to love the GF670 again recently as it ticks most of my boxes but didn’t really work for me. The GS645 shutter sticks so needs repair but is otherwise a nice camera. The GA645 is too automated for me but that was the camera I had planned to take as it is super compact yet has the crazy sharp Fujion 60mm f4 lens. The camera however also recently died on me and had an electrical fault preventing the camera from finding focus and therefore letting me depress the shutter to take a picture. The Mamiya 645 Super is a slightly larger camera but smaller and lighter than the Hasselblad. Upsettingly I seem to have feel out with love with the M645 also as the results have not been good enough recently.
I have always been tempted by a Mamiya 6 or Mamiya 7 camera so I think it was just a matter of time. I nearly bought a Mamiya 7ii when I bought the 35mm Hasselblad Xpan to take to New York in December and then resisted.
Mamiya 6 vs Mamiya 7 / 7ii
When considering this purchase I looked at both the Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7. I am still not a big fan of 6×7 film format. To me it is almost a waste of film as the resolution is far higher than I need for online use. I shot the Fuji GF670 in 6×7 format a few weeks ago but found I still prefer 6×6. The Mamiya 6 was therefore the obvious choice, partly due to the film format but equally because the lenses retract into the camera body making the camera only slightly deeper than the Fuji GF670 folding camera. The Mamiya 7 lenses don’t retract and it has the 6×7 format. Some people prefer the Mamiya 7 / 7ii as it can accept a wider lens 43mm lens but for my model photography that is not something that interests me (at the moment). The Mamiya 6 and 7s are highly regarded to be well built with sharp optics so they hold a higher price tag compared to the Fuji 645 medium format camera range. I was tempted to get another small Fuji to try but decided to pay more and get a camera that will hopefully last me a bit longer.
Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6
As written above, I do love the Hasselblad 501C especially when working within 1m distance of my models for tight crop head and shoulder (or closer) images. For photos at a distance greater than say 1m I prefer a rangefinder like my Leica M cameras to focus. Rangefinder cameras have the disadvantage that they cannot focus very close to a subject. The Mamiya 6 has the same issue and will only focus from 1m-infinity on the 75mm lens. As such, if I pair up the Hasselblad 501C and Mamiya 6 I get the best of both worlds and all the photos would it theory blend seamlessly with the same 6×6 format. If I was covering a wedding with medium format film cameras this will now be my go to setup I think. The Hasselblad and Mamiya 6 lenses are of a similar speed with f3.5/f4 being quite common. The Mamiya 6 has the advantage of being a rangefinder so can be used at a slower shutter speed handheld without the mirror slap vibration of the Hasselblad. If I get the 50mm lens for the Mamiya 6 I think I would use that setup for wider and the 120mm / 150mm lenses on the Hasselblad for telephoto. I have no interest in getting the 150mm lens for the Mamiya but others rate it highly.
Requirements list for my camera purchase
- Leaf shutter lenses – to give me a fast max flash sync speed for strobist work. The Mamiya 6 like the Hasselblad will sync at 1/500 vs the Leica M6 of only 1/60. This is a deal breaker as to which camera I will use if using strobes in daylight.
- Well built – hopefully reliable and fun to use. The Hasselblad 501c is a perfect example. Leica M cameras are great too as long as the rangefinder is correctly calibrated. The Fuji GF670 is not fun to use (for me). The Fuji 645 camera range are both not reliable enough and some are too automated for my taste (Fuji GA645).
- Small and compact – (as possible) so I can take the camera overseas reasonably easily. I have flown with my Hasselblad 501C but a smaller medium format camera to fit in my Billianfham Hadley Digital camera bag is ideal. All the Fuji film cameras I own fit in the bag but the Mamiya 6 somehow looks made to measure and easily fits in the bag with a Leica M body and 2 Leica M mount lenses. I actually pack two Leica bodies and the Mamiya 6 camera but it is
- Decent rangefinder – so I can focus accurately at wide apertures. I am used to Leica rangefinder cameras like the amazing big and bright Leica M3 so i then struggle to use a less capable rangefinder viewfinder such as the Olympus 35RC. The Fuji GF670 is a little small and not my favourite to use. The Mamiya 6 however feels big and bright and gives me confidence when focusing. As long as it is correctly calibrated I should hopefully get in focus images every time.
Time to test the Mamiya 6!
Resulting images coming soon. I shot a quick roll before my trip overseas and here is the photo I scanned in the earlier hours before the flight rather than sleeping than night!
Mamiya 6 + 75mm lens + Fomapan 100 / Model – Elle
Nikon F4 vs Leica M3: Photo Test
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
Last year I bought myself a Nikon F4 SLR so shoot alongside my Leica M3 double stroke and various other film cameras. I thought it might be quite nice to compare the 35mm Nikon SLR to the 35mm Leica rangefinder. For each camera I chose my go to lenses (at the time) and loaded both cameras with 35mm Ilford Delta 100 film. It was a bright day so I shot both lenses at f5.6 for the shoot. Harriet was modelling for me and kindly offered to be the subject for this short series of shots.
- Nikon F4 SLR + Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-S lens
- Leica M3 double stroke + Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens
I developed both rolls of film together in the same tank using 1:3 Xtol developer solution at about 20 degrees (I guessed as no thermometer to hand) for 11 mins and once dry the photos were scanned with an Epson v800 flatbed scanner.
35mm Ilford Delta 100 Film Test:
Nikon F4 SLR + Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-S
Leica M3 double stroke + Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR
35mm Ilford Pan F 50 Film:
On a seperate occasion I was again shooting with Harriet and the Nikon F4 + Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-S lens but this time the F4 was loaded with Ilford Pan F 50 film. Here are a couple of Pan F 50 images to compare to the Ilford Delta 100 film scans. I am a huge fan of both of these film stocks.
Nikon F4 vs Leica M3 – Thoughts
Unlike digital photography film cameras of varying price ranges from my low cost Nikon FM or Olympus 35RC film cameras to the more expensive Leica M6 and Leica M3s can all produce similar quality results with decent film loaded. I would not say that is the case with digital. I think with digital, to an extent you get what you pay for. For example I would expect significantly better results from a £30k medium format digital Hasselblad vs a Leica M240 or Nikon D800 and the same with the M240 or D800 vs an entry level camera. I recently tested my Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera against my 35mm Leica M6 film camera. The 6×6 film negatives did hold more detail but the gap between the two cameras is less noticeable to my eyes. This may also be the case for the photos from the aforementioned digital equivalent cameras but I would generally expect better results the more I paid with digital (to an extent)(some brands are perhaps over priced such as Leica!) 🙂
F4 or M3?
The Nikon F4 SLR is much bulkier and heavier than the Leica M3 so if I am travelling light I tend to chose a Leica. For film photography when I am using lenses shot wide open at say f1.4 I would always chose the Leica as I feeel the results are better at the maximum apertures. If I am stopping the lenses down to f5.6-f8 I could use either film camera happily. For close subjects I prefer the close focusing Nikon F4. For a subject more than a few meters away I prefer the Leica rangefinder focusing. The Nikon accepts autofocus lenses for fast action and has various other advantages being around 30yrs newer (approx) than the 1954 Leica M3. The M3 accepts some of the smallest lenses I own such as the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 collapsible and Vougtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 so both cameras have their pros and cons. I normally select my camera to use based on size and weight restrictions for that particular shoot if overseas. In the UK and moreso if in my studio I tend to rotate all the various film cameras to keep things interesting!