35mm Black & White Film Photography
Leica Photographer

35mm Black & White Film Photography

Good news! I am back shooting 35mm film photography after my recent purchase of a 1958 Leica M2 film camera. I already had a Voigtlander Bessa R3A but the shutter has jammed so I decided to treat myself to a Leica film camera. I love my Leica digital cameras (M8 and Leica M9) but the older Leica M2 has exceeded all expectations.

As the Voigtlander Bessa had jammed mid roll of film I decided to rewind the film in camera then load it into my Leica M2. I then fired off 15 shots with the lens cap on to advance the film (the Leica M2 film advance lever motion is to die for!). I then fired off some shots around the house to finish the film and to check the M2 was operating aswell as it felt in my hand.

As I still had a roll of undeveloped film from last year in the fridge, I decided to develop both rolls of film at the same time. Both film spools were 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 exposed at ISO200. I developed my black and white film in a Paterson tank using semi-stand development and Rodinal + water. My thermometer was not working so I just used a temperature that was warm to the touch. Luckily film is very forgiving! I stood the film for 35mins and then checked the results after fixing. All good. Both rolls of film were exposed correctly. Phew!

Here are a few samples of the negatives I have scanned so far

Voigtlander Bessa R3A + CV Nokton 40mm f1.4
– Monika
Kodak T-Max 100

Leica M2 Test Shots (Please excuse the subjects!)
M2 + CV Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii
Leica M2 Film!
Leica M2 Test Shot

I will try to add more photos to this post as I scan them.

There will be plenty of new Leica M2 film photography example images coming soon. It really is a beautiful camera and my new favourite to operate of all my cameras. (Examples will include me using the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens on the Bessa R3A in London that can be compared to the Leica M9 B&W images).

(The header image was shot in Edinburgh in 2013 with model Emma using the Bessa R3A + CV Nokton 40mm f1.4)

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – UK Leica Photographer

9 thoughts on “35mm Black & White Film Photography”

  1. Happy to see someone using a vintage camera! I do have a few questions regarding your development for 35mm and semi-stand development. 1. Still doing 100+1? 2. Just curious why you only developed for 35min; by the look of things maybe my typical hour isn’t necessary? 3. I have noticed when you are using 35mm, it seems you have been sticking to lower speed film. Is this only to minimize grain? I have done semi-stand with Rodinal with 100 (T-Max) and 400 speed film (mainly Tri-X) and the Tri-X definitely has “grit” to it. 4. Any post-processing to the scans in light of the minimal grain and wide latitude of tones? Appreciate your sharing

    1. Hi Kevin, Sorry for the delay. Not enough hours in the day!

      Per your questions –

      1) No I tend not to follow rules and just do what works for me. I do 150:1 as works the same for me.
      2) Again I foiund 1 hr too long for me so tried differing lengths of time depending on film/ if pushing/pulling. I guess you understand the basics of stand developing in that highlights develop first then rest of time is for shadow detail to develop. I like contrasty images so stop sooner.
      3) I bought a large pack of TMax100 so working through that. I found TMax400 fine for 120 film but too grainy for 35mm (for me)(when first tried it a long time ago). I don’t like Tri-X for my taste in 35mm but do love FP4+ that is also grainy. I found I used TMax the most to date in all formats. Acros is very similar.
      4) Scan with Epson v600 and push contrast before scanning if not to my liking. I normally then open in PS to remove any big dust, add border and any final tweaks if needed.

      Hope that helps. Matt

      1. I may try shortening the time or maybe agitate more as I too have not had the best results with increasing the contrast after scanning. Probably also stick to slower speeds too with 35mm film, as I too prefer minimal grain most of the time and just go with C41 for higher speeds unless I want that grainy look. Appreciate your input!

      2. If you don’t mind C41 film then XP2 Super looks almost digital (see my flickr). Yes if want more contrast just invert more to make the highlights develop faster/more. I think it is a constant learning curve as I always think I will try something else the next time! Have fun with it 😉

      3. The other idea I had was going back to using filters, mainly a yellow, but I hate giving up that extra stop or two just to boost a little contrast. May be worth it though in the end. As always, thanks for sharing!

  2. Randle P. McMurphy

    Digital rules every Nikon D800 makes pictures that are much better than any
    film format I every tried. Sad but true.
    You ever tried the Zone System ? Filters to get the perfect Grayscale ?
    I sufferd a lot in this old times to be satisfied just belive me.

    Today everything seem´s to be perfect – too perfect !
    The camera will correct the lens failure and Photoshop correct the rest.
    If I watch my pictures now there seem´s to be no mistake – but on the other side
    they are to aseptic.

    I miss the surprise after I developed a film and watch the contact sheets.
    Ok there were also some possibilities to manipulate a picture made the analoge-analoge way
    or even the analoge-digital way but not as much as made straight digital and that´s
    why it have a verry special charme to me for my personal work.

    1. Thanks Randle. I have to question your opening line “Digital rules every Nikon D800 makes pictures that are much better than any
      film format I every tried. Sad but true.” as it depends what you mean by ‘better’. The D800 images as you say can be very sterile which I why I moved over to Leica. The Leica images are more filmic especially with certain lenses such as the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0. See my latest post for an example. For me that is as near as you can get to shooting film as actually shooting film itself. Even though film is less common today there is nothing stopping you shooting what you love. I sent 2 rolls of colour film to the lab just today and I have some B&W film sitting in the fridge ready to be developed.

      I know cameras like the D800 have a greyscale (latitude) closer to film but fil still wins every time for me 😉

      (No i’ve not tried the Zone System, only zone focusing).


  3. Pingback: Kodak Ektar vs Kodak Portra Film: Portraits | MrLeica.com – Matthew Osborne Photography

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