Leica M Camera Buyer’s Guide!

Leica M Camera Buyer’s Guide! (Film Ms)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2016

Leica M3 Portrait

How did this post come about?

When I think back to buying my first analogue film Leica M camera I’m not sure how I decided to buy the particular camera I did.  Lots and lots of research I guess but I don’t really remember finding any information that summarised in simple terms how each Leica M camera is different or perhaps best suited my needs.  It doesn’t help that Leica M cameras all look pretty much identical to the untrained eye too! In this post I try to list some of the main differences between each Leica M camera which might hopefully make it easier for you if you are looking to buy a Leica M film camera.  Please note I have only covered Leica M film cameras and it does not include Leica digital cameras.

Leica M2 Advertisement

Leica M Camera Timeline

Here are all the major Leica M film cameras released from oldest to newest (excluding special edition cameras and showing the approximate release date/ production start date).

  • Leica M3 (1954)
  • Leica M2 (1958)
  • Leica M4 (1967)
  • Leica M5 (1971)
  • Leica M4-2 (1977)
  • Leica M4-P (1981)
  • Leica M6 Classic (1984)
  • Leica M6 TTL (1998)
  • Leica M7 (2002)
  • Leica MP (2003)
  • Leica M-A (2014)

Generally speaking the higher the M number the more recent the camera was released (with the exception of the Leica M2 that was built after the Leica M3, the M4-2 and M4-P that were released after the M5 and with the Leica MP and M-A being the most recent).

Common Featurers to all Leica M Film Cameras

*to my knowledge for the cameras covered in this article

  • Maximum shutter speed 1/1000
  • Flash sync speed 1/50
  • Rangefinder focusing system
  • Uses 35mm film
  • Leica-M bayonet mount lenses (or L39/M39/LSM/LTM Leica screw mount via adapter)

Leica M3 + Summicron 50 DR

Leica M Camera Buyers Guide

Framelines – bright lines in the viewfinder for composition

  • Leica M3 – 50,90,135 (individual framelines – so only see one at a time)
  • Leica M2 – 35,50,90 (individual framelines – so only see one at a time)
  • Leica M4 – 35/135 pair, 50, 90 (Individual & pair)
  • Leica M5 – 35/135 pair, 50, 90 (Individual & pair)
  • Leica M4-2 – 35/135 pair, 50, 90 (Individual & pair)
  • Leica M4-P – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)
  • Leica M6 Classic – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)
  • Leica M6 TTL – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)
  • Leica M7 – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)
  • Leica MP – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)
  • Leica M-A – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)

Viewfinder magnification / options

  • Leica M3 – 0.91x (most magnified viewfinder)
  • Leica M2 – 0.72x
  • Leica M4 – 0.72x
  • Leica M5 – 0.72x
  • Leica M4-2 – 0.72x
  • Leica M4-P – 0.72x
  • Leica M6 Classic – 0.58x / 0.72x / 0.85x (0.58x is for use with winder lenses)
  • Leica M6 TTL – 0.58x / 0.72x / 0.85x (0.58x is for use with winder lenses)
  • Leica M7 – 0.58x / 0.72x (0.58x is for use with winder lenses)
  • Leica MP – 0.72x /
  • Leica M-A – 0.72x

Rangefinder focusing

  • Leica M3 – 1m to infinity (close focus goggles allow focusing from 0.478m)
  • Leica M2 – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M4 – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M5 – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M4-2 – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M4-P – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M6 Classic – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M6 TTL – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M7 – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica MP – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M-A – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)

Battery required to take a photo?

  • Leica M3 – No – N/A
  • Leica M2 – No – N/A
  • Leica M4 – No – N/A
  • Leica M5 – No – Battery only needed for light meter
  • Leica M4-2 – No – N/A
  • Leica M4-P – No – N/A
  • Leica M6 Classic – No – Battery only needed for light meter
  • Leica M6 TTL – No – Battery only needed for light meter
  • Leica M7 – Yes&No – Can use at 1/60 & 1/125 only without battery
  • Leica MP – No – Battery only needed for light meter
  • Leica M-A – No – N/A

Brass or zinc top plate/ base plate (brass dents / zinc cracks)

  • Leica M3 – Brass
  • Leica M2 – Brass
  • Leica M4 – Brass
  • Leica M5 – Brass
  • Leica M4-2 – Brass
  • Leica M4-P – Brass (earlier cameras) Zinc (later cameras)
  • Leica M6 Classic – Zinc
  • Leica M6 TTL – Zinc (Mostly)
  • Leica M7 – Brass
  • Leica MP – Brass
  • Leica M-A – Brass

Precision components (brass) or cheaper components (steel/plastics)

  • Leica M3 – Brass gears (Least cheap components)
  • Leica M2 –  Brass gears (Some cheap components)
  • Leica M4 –  Brass gears (More cheap components)
  • Leica M5 – Steel gears (More cheap components)
  • Leica M4-2 – Steel gears (Even more cheap components)
  • Leica M4-P – Steel gears (Even more cheap components)
  • Leica M6 Classic – Steel gears (Even more cheap components)
  • Leica M6 TTL – Steel gears (More cheap components)
  • Leica M7 – Steel gears (More cheap components)
  • Leica MP – Brass gears (Some cheap components)
  • Leica M-A – Brass gears (Least cheap components)

Hotshoe or coldshoe (for flash photography)

  • Leica M3 – Cold shoe (can still use a flash via sync cable)
  • Leica M2 – Cold shoe (can still use a flash via sync cable)
  • Leica M4 – Cold shoe (can still use a flash via sync cable)
  • Leica M5 – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica M4-2 – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica M4-P – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica M6 Classic – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica M6 TTL – Hotshoe & TTL flash with SF-20 unit
  • Leica M7 – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica MP – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica M-A – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)

Built-in light meter

  • Leica M3 – No
  • Leica M2 – No
  • Leica M4 – No
  • Leica M5 – Yes
  • Leica M4-2 – No
  • Leica M4-P – No
  • Leica M6 Classic – Yes
  • Leica M6 TTL – Yes
  • Leica M7 – Yes
  • Leica MP – Yes
  • Leica M-A – No

Film rewind mechanism

  • Leica M3 – Rewind nob (slower)
  • Leica M2 – Rewind nob (slower)
  • Leica M4 – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica M5 – Rewind ratchet on base plate
  • Leica M4-2 – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica M4-P – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica M6 Classic – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica M6 TTL – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica M7 – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica MP – Rewind nob (slower)
  • Leica M-A – Rewind nob (slower)

Film loading separate take-up spool insert

  • Leica M3 – Yes (slower to load)
  • Leica M2 – Yes (slower to load)
  • Leica M4 – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M5 – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M4-2 – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M4-P – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M6 Classic – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M6 TTL – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M7 – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica MP – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M-A – No (has quick loading film mechanism)

Viewfinder condenser / prism (risk of being unable to focus without it)

  • Leica M3 – Yes
  • Leica M2 – Yes
  • Leica M4 – Yes
  • Leica M5 – Yes
  • Leica M4-2 – No condenser removed – risk of flare/ ghosting/difficulties to focus
  • Leica M4-P – No condenser removed – risk of flare/ ghosting/difficulties to focus
  • Leica M6 Classic – No condenser removed – risk of flare/ ghosting/difficulties to focus
  • Leica M6 TTL – No condenser removed – risk of flare/ ghosting/difficulties to focus
  • Leica M7 – Yes
  • Leica MP – Yes
  • Leica M-A – Yes

Leica M6 by Olympus Pen-F

 Small Print

*Please note

  • The information is sourced from personal experience and a range of websites
  • There are many many Leica M camera variants/ specials that may not fit the above
  • Leica cameras continued to evolve so some traits may overlap from last/next model
  • Information is simplified and generalised but there is full detail on other websites
  • I own Leica M3s, M2, M4-P, M6 Classic and have not used other models
  • Non-factual comments such as ‘faster’,’slower’,’cheaper’ is a generalisation
  • This review does not include the M1 or MD models
  • External viewfinders are available if you want to use a lens wider than the frameline
  • Some camera lenses have close focus goggles such as the Leica Summicron 50mm DR
  • The Leica M3 can be used a 35mm lens using 35mm focusing goggles

**Mistakes

  • If I have omitted some obvious information or have classed a camera incorrectly (being for the majority of cameras produced for that model as I know there are lots of camera variants) please let me know and I can update it.

Leica M6!

Related Posts

Mr Leica - in Action!

***Enjoyable

I hope you find this very simplified guide of some help.  I enjoyed researching the information and I now know how to distinguish the difference between my Leica M2 and Leica M3 at a glance from the front!  The Leica M3 has a plain frameline illumination window and the Leica M2 has a fresnel type illumination window (vertical stripes in the window next to the viewfinder window). 🙂

Matt

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Leica M4-P

Leica M4-P

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
December 2016

12 months on since my last Leica camera purchase, the Leica M6 Classic, I found myself buying another Leica M film camera.  It was completely unplanned (as usual) and I happened to have a free hour researching cameras online.  I stumbled across to me what seemed a real bargain.  The often less regarded Leica M4-P.

Intro

The Leica M4-P is a 35mm rangefinder camera like all other analogue Leica M film cameras.  I bought a black chrome M4-P and it has a 0.72x viewfinder the same as my Leica M6.  The Leica M4-P was in production from 1980 until around 1986 and was based on the earlier Leica M4 camera and followed the Leica M4-2. leitz-m4-p-black2

Leica M4, Leica M4-2, Leica M4-P

To take a step back, the Leica M4 was released in 1966 and saw Leica introduce a few new camera features including; a film rewind crank to replace the vertical rewind knob of the M2 and M3 (will make rewinding film so much faster!), a new angled film advance lever and faster film loading by removing the need for the separate take up spool (as used in the Leica M2 and M3).

The Leica M4-2 was released in 1977 and was similar to a Leica M4 but with a hotshoe rather than a cold shoe (The Leica M2 and M3 also have cold shoes).  The later Leica M4-P variant was similar to the Leica M4-2 but also had 28mm and 75mm framelines added so it could be used with the newer Leica M lenses. Frameline pairs are 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 meaning you always see two framelines in the viewfinder.

As a Leica photographer and a strobist and someone using a Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 ASPH lens and Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens three words above have already sold the camera to me – “hotshoe”, “28mm framelines” “75mm framelines”. (OK it was 5 words sorry!)  More details below.

Leica M4-P is regarded as not the best Leica M camera

  • The M4-P saw the start of Leica using precision parts as part of a cost reduction program and it is said the M4 and later Ms are not as smooth as the earlier Leica M3 and Leica M2
  • The Leica M4-P has zinc top and base plates not the traditional brass plates
  • The Leica M4-P was built in Midland, Canada not Germany to save cost (with an exception to those cameras made in the last year of production when production was moved back to Wetzlar, Germany in 1986 before being replaced by the Leica M6)
  • The Leica M4-P has no lightmeter but is otherwise similar to a Leica M6 so why not just buy a M6
  • The Leica M4-P has a “cluttered” viewfinder with too many framelines (vs. the older Leica M3 and M2) but is the same viewfinder as the Leica M6
  • The Leica M4-P is said to suffer from flaring in the viewfinder (the same as the Leica M6)(I don’t remember experiencing many issues with my M6)
  • The Leica M4-P Leica red dot is positioned on the front right side of the camera rather than front centre to hide the adjustment screw

So why do I need another Leica!?

I guess I don’t really need another camera but I managed to construct a good argument for the purchase!  Here is a summary of the Leica M4-P vs. my other Leica M cameras.

Leica M4-P vs. Leica M3

The Leica M3 viewfinder does not have 28mm or 35mm framelines and does not have a hotshoe so I can’t use the M3 with flash triggers and off camera flash.  The M3 also has the slower to use film take up spool and rewind knob which are not ideal if working fast at a Leica wedding or on location with a model / client.

The Leica M3 is arguably better built and smoother to operate than the Leica M4-P.  The Leica M3 has THE best rangfinder viewfinder,  I think, if using 50mm lenses.

Both my Leica M3 single stroke and Leica M3 double stroke cameras currently need recalibrating to be able to use accurately with fast lenses like the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.

Leica M4-P vs. Leica M2

The Leica M2 viewfinder does not have 28mm framelines for accurate framing with the Leica Elmarit-M 28mm ASPH. (I have just used the entire M2 viewfinder field of view as 28mm to guesstimate to date).  The M2 like the M3 does not have a hotshoe so I can’t use it with flash triggers and off camera flash.  The M2 like the M3 also has the slower to use film take up spool and rewind knob which are not ideal if working quickly.

The Leica M2 is arguably better built and smoother to operate than the Leica M4-P.

Leica M4-P vs. Leica M6

The Leica M4-P is basically the same as my Leica M6 Classic, just without a built-in light meter.  The same viewfinder/ framelines, same zinc top plate and base plate, the same film rewind knob and film loading .

My Leica M6 currently jams at around 25 exposures so I bulk load my own film so not to waste the last 10 or so shots on a standard 36 exposure roll of film.  It can be repaired but other than that the M6 is a great camera and I use the M6 perhaps the most of my analogue film M cameras because of the hotshoe.  The faster to operate film rewind crank is also a great help.

Leica M4-P vs. Leica M8 / Leica M9 / Leica M240

For completeness, the Leica M4-P is better than my Leica M8, Leica M240 and the Leica M9 I replaced as the M4-P is analogue! I probably don’t need to say any more other than to use the hashtags #believeinfilm, #filmisthefuture ! 🙂

Summary

So to conclude, when I saw a used Leica M4-P camera (on sale at a reputable online store in the UK) at almost half the price of my Leica M6 Classic and half the price of my new Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 ASPH lens (*Blog post to follow) and that I can use with flash and hopefully shoot an entire 36 exposure roll of film in I jumped at the chance!

I buy Leica cameras to use rather than to polish so to get a slightly more used Leica camera at a discounted price is far better for me than a mint boxed camera at full price.  I am also not a Leica puriest as for one I use flash photography a lot but also I don’t mind too much where a camera was made or if the top plate is made of zinc or brass.

Leica M4-P, welcome to family! 🙂

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Expired Kodak Plus-X 125 Film

Expired Kodak Plus-X 125 Film – Poland

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

November 2016

Leica M2 Portrait

Kodak Plus X – Intro

To my knowledge Kodak Plus-X 125 film was discontinued by Kodak in 2011 and dates back to before Kodak Tri-X.  Kodak Plus X is said to have been first on sale in 1938 to use with movie cameras similar to the modern Kodak Vision3 motion picture film that I am now using today for colour 35mm photography.  I bought my expired Kodak Plus-X film as a bulk roll short end on eBay.  I spooled some of the film and took it with me on my model photography trip to Poland.  I shot the Plus-X at ISo 100, developed the film in Xtol and scanned the film on an Epson v800 scanner.  Here are some samples –

Natalia

Kodak Plus-X Fashion
Kodak Plus X Fashion
Window Light Portrait

Agnieszka

Kodak Plus-X 125 Portrait
Kodak Plus-X Portrait
Leica M6 + Noctilux
Leica Summicron 50mm DR
Kodak Plus X Film

Teresa

Leica M6 + Kodak Plus-X
Kodak Plus-X Bulk Film
Kodak Plus-X Bulk Film

Paulina

35mm Kodak Plus-X
Into the Sun
Expired Kodak Plus X 125

Kodak Plus-X  – Thoughts

I was impressed by the lattitude and fine grain expecially considering it was expired film.  I would happy use Plus X 125 again if I acquired some.  I would say it is perhaps like a finer grain Ilford FP4 plus film with a creamer look.  On the whole I found Plus-X to be lower contrast than the modern Kodak T-Max 100 T grain film.

Here is me in my scruff testing my first roll of bulk loaded Kodak Plus-X in a mirror in the garden with my Leica M2 camera before taking it to Poland! 🙂

Kodak Plus X

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C41 Colour Film Developing

C41 Colour Film Developing – At Home

Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica.com

November 2016

Film Developing… to Recap

 

Black and White Film Developing

I have developed my own black and white film since the beginning of 2013 and I am pretty comfortable with the process as I shoot so often.  I have quite a casual approach to B&W film developing and it still seems to work for me every time now I know the basics.  I have a degree in science so I like to apply the common sense approach as to how chemicals work rather than strictly following the film/ developer guidelines. When I started out I used the developer Rodinal for semi-stand development but I have since move to Xtol and have settled with that for the meantime. I am happy with the results Xtol gives me so don’t see a need to change yet.  For fixing black and white film I use Kodak T-Max fixer.
kodak-xtol-5lv2

Paterson Developing Tank

I develop all my film (colour film and black and white film/ 35mm, 120 and 4×5 film formats) in Paterson style developing tanks (a 2 reel tank plus a 3 reel tank). For readers new to film developing a 2 reel tank can accommodate 2 rolls of 35mm film or 1 roll of 120 film.  A 3 reel tank holds 3 rolls of 35mm film or 2 rolls or 120 film.  Sometimes I wish I had a 5 roll tank but I haven’t got to that stage quite yet! A Paterson developing tank for those that don’t know is a light tight tank so film can be developed in daylight without the need of a dark room.  Film must be loaded into the developing tank in complete darkness using a changing bag or a room with no windows.  (I just wait until it is dark outside and use a part of the house where there is no windows.  I then bring the developing tank into the light and develop the film in my kitchen.
patunivtank

C41 Colour Film Developing

After avoiding colour film developing for the best part of 18 months I finally took the plunge when my local film lab rejected my first roll of Kodak Vision3 motion picture film that I sent for developing.  I had bought a bulk roll of Kodak Vision3 500T movie film which is ECN-2 colour negative motion picture film and not the standard C41 colour negative film.  In brief, ECN-2 film has an additional rem-jet or remjet anti-static / anti-halation layer, a black carbon layer that needs to be removed prior to film developing.  ECN-2 film cannot be developed in a standard film lab C41 process and doing so would contaminate the C41 chemicals resulting in machine downtime.  I removed the remjet layer from the Kodak Vision3 film at home (see below) and then sent it to the lab for standard C41 developing. Unfortunately some remjet layer residue remained on the film so the film lab returned it back to me undeveloped.  *I would not recommend trying to send ECN-2 film to a lab as C41 film as in hindsight I don’t think it is not fair to risk other peoples C41 film if any remjet residue remains on the ECN-2 film resulting in film not being developed properly and the developing chemicals failing.

image3v3

As a result of not being able to develop my Kodak Vision3 ECN-2 film at my local film lab I decided to purchase colour film developing chemicals and try to develop the film at home myself.  I looked at a few different colour film developing chemicals and decided on the Tetenal C41 Kit 2.5L kit.

Removing Remjet

Before attempting to develop my own ECN-2 film I did some reading to try to understand how to remove the remjet backing on the film.  Popular choices seem to be to use washing soda or baking soda.  Both make an alkaline solution when dissolved in water.  Personally I tried baking soda as I found that in my local shop first.  My remjet removal method is as follows:

  • 4 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 litre warm water (40 degrees Celsius) to dissolve the baking soda in
  • Pour solution into Paterson developing tank containing ECN-2 film
  • Soak for 3-5 minutes (nothing exact as all guestimated)
  • Shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes (nothing exact as all guestimated)
  • Empty the tank content into a white bowl/sink (Solution should appear coloured yellow-pink at first then towards the end of the emptying start to go black (carbon remjet layer))
  • Refill developing tank with warm water (40 degrees Celsius)
  • Shake vigorously for 1 min
  • Empty the contents into a white bowl/sink (solution should be black)
  • Repeat warm water rinse process until water runs clear
  • Remjet removal process finished.
  • Next see colour film developing process below

antacids-baking-soda

*Note – The above remjet removal process has worked for me but there may be better or alternative methods if you search online.  If you search “Rem-jet removal” or “Rem jet removal” on YouTube there is also similar methods shared but with the advantage of the visual aid!

Tetenal Colortec C-41 Kit 2.5L

What is in the box – 6x 0.5 litre bottles, including 3 bottles of film developer (Part 1,2,3)(mixed together to make the developer solution), two bottles of bleach fix (“BLIX“)(Part 1&2) and 1 bottle of stabiliser.
c41-kitv2

Product description – “The Tetenal Colortec C-41 kit is ideal for the enthusiast, professional or home user looking to process their own colour negative films. This kit will process around 30 35mm or 120 films or equivalent in sheet film. This is a 2 bath kit, a simplified version of the C41 process where the fix and bleach are combined. May be mixed to make 2.5L of working solution in one go, or smaller quantities may be made retaining concentrate for future use”.

 

Tetenal C41 Chemicals – Mixing

To make 1 litre of film developing chemical solutions –
  • Developer: 200ml (Part 1) + 200ml (Part 2) + 200ml (Part 3) + 400ml water
  • Bleach-Fix: 200ml (Part 1) + 200ml (Part 2) + 600ml water
  • Stabiliser: 200ml (stabiliser) + 800ml water

Tetenal C41 Film Developing

My colour film developing is nothing mind blowing.  I simply followed the Tetenal C41 film developing instructions and opted for the 38 degrees Celsius method.  In summary this involves the following stages/times/temperatures (based on developing times recommended to develop the first 1-4 films in fresh chemical dilutions from concentrate):

C41 Developing Instructions

  • Pre-Soak Water Bath: 5min @ 40C (+/-5.0)(Not temperature critical)
  • Developer: 3min15 @ 38C (+/-0.3)
  • Water Rinse: 1min @ 40C (+/-5.0)(Not temperature critical)(*extra rinse I like to do)
  • Bleach-Fix: 4min @ 38C (+/-3.0)
  • Water Rinse: 3min @ 30-40C
  • Stabiliser: 1min @ 20-40C

clock_png6614

The common term you always hear associated with colour film developing is “very temperature sensitive”.  To give myself the best chance of keeping the film developing chemicals at the required temperature I filled my kitchen sink bowl with warm water at around 40 degrees celsius.  I made up 1 litre of working solution for each of developer, bleach-fixer (BLIX) and stabiliser per the Tetenal C-41 film developing instructions and put the 3 solutions into 3 used plastic pop bottles and labelled accordingly.  My bottles are not as good as the recommended 1 litre collapsible film developing chemical bottles but they function OK to start me off.  I ensure all the air is squeezed out of the bottles after use and store in a dark cupboard out of the light.
1-best-selling-instant-read-professional-kitchen-digital-cooking-thermometer-100-money-back-guarantee-used-by-top-chefs-baking-soup-bbq-meat-thermometer-real-commercial-type-these-are_3771135

C41 Film Developing – Chemical Shelf Life

  • Developer: Diluted solution – 6 weeks / Concentrate – 12 weeks
  • Bleach-Fix: Diluted solution – 24 weeks / Concentrate – 24 weeks
  • Stabiliser: Diluted solution – 24 weeks / Concentrate – 24 weeks

*Note – Recommended shelf life is assuming chemicals kept in full / sealed bottled

Conclusion

So is colour film developing as impossible and risky as I feared?  Not at all.  I really wish I had started developing my own colour film 12-18 months ago.  Yes you need to watch the time and temperature of the developing chemicals more than if developing black and white film but it is merely like following a recipe in a cook book.  If you follow the instructions the results are a success!  I love the fact that I am now self sufficient and can develop and scan all my film in house.  It gives much better control in terms of not having the risk of film being lost in the post, a much much faster lead time (as can develop the film the day it was shot) and a big cost saving if you use the chemicals within their active lifespan (per above).

Going forward I will buy bottles of colour film developing chemicals separately rather than as a developer kit as each chemical has it’s different shelf life.  I also read that by doing a 3 bath C41 development (developer + separate bleach and fixer) rather than a 2 bath C41 development (developer + bleach-fix)(above) it gives greater control so win win. I understand you cannot ‘fine tune’ colour film developing like you can with black and white film developing but I will certainly try to modify my process after each film batch developed to try to get ‘better’ and better results.

E6 Colour Film Developing

Now I have tried C41 colour film developing I am now interested to look into E6 slide film developing as I love the colours of slide film.  Watch this space! 🙂

Related Links

Teaser.. 🙂

Kodak Vision3 200T Portrait

35mm Bulk Film Loader

35mm Bulk Film Loader

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

October 2016

Bulk Film Loader

After buying a 35mm film bulk loader (Computrol film loader as pictured) what seems like a long time ago now I finally started using it.  I bought the film bulk loader online as a bundle together with some 35mm Kodak Plus-X 125 black and white film.  I spooled the Plus-X  onto used 35mm cassettes by taping the new  film to the film stub end of the original film in the film cassette.  I develop my own black and white film so where possible I manually rewind the film in the cameras.  Most of my 35mm film cameras can do this; Leica M’s, Voigtlander Bessa R3A, Nikon FM, Nikon F4, Olympus PEN-F but the Hasselblad XPan doesn’t.  I rewind the film to leave the film leader protruding so when I removed the film for developing I don’t have to break open the cassette (and then discard).  I then use the bulk film loader to spool the desired number of film frames onto a used film cassette ready to use.

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I can spool for example the usual 24exp or 36exp rolls but also perhaps just 10 frames if want to test out a new-to-me old camera.  I always count 3-4 frames extra to what I need as some film will be lost (being exposed to light) at each end of the film when loading/removing from the bulk film loader.  Some cameras like my Leica M3 and Leica M2 will accept slightly more frames such as 39 frames but automated film cameras like the 35mm Hasselblad XPan just gives an error messages and locks up if the film is too long.  My Leica M6 has the known problem of jamming up after around 25 exposures (for me) so I now just spool myself 25exp rolls for the M6 and 39exp rolls for my M2/M3s.  The bulk film loader has a counter on the side so you can keep track of how many frames is on each roll you spool.

Reusable 35mm Film Cassettes

A second option is to buy reusable plastic film cassettes where the end unscrews to load/ unload the film. I have recently bought some of these as shown below.  To load film onto reusable film casssettes simply tape the end of the bulk film to the cassette central spindle. Once secure slip the cassette outer over the film protruding from the cassette inner so the film fits into the groove of the cassette (to look like a normal roll of 35mm film) then screw on the film cassette end cap to make the film cassette light tight.  Film can then be wound onto the film cassette with the 35mm bulk film loader and you are ready to go.
* (There are plenty of YouTube instruction videos on how to use a bulk film loader and how to load film onto a 35mm reusable film cassette if you need visuals).
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Advantages of Bulk Loading

The obvious answer of course is cost (in addition to my Leica M6 issue mentioned above!). Buying bulk film works out much cheaper per roll. The exact saving varies by film manufacturer and also by what length of bulk film you purchase. The more film you buy the cheaper it is. Many manufacturers sell bulk film in 100ft or 30.5m lengths such as Ilford film and prices in the UK are around £65-£70 (example price rather than average/norm). Foma make a 30.5m / 100ft Bulk Fomapan 100 roll for under £40 which is one of the cheapest options I have seen when buying new. The 100ft/ 30.5m length of film roll to my knowledge is manufactured for a target audience of still photo photographers. Kodak however also manufacture 400ft and 1000ft bulk film rolls (example lengths) of motion picture film for cinema and TV such as Kodak Vision3 500T which is the film CineStill modify before rebranding it as CineStill 800T (Please see my followup Kodak Vision3 blog post to come for more details).

Kodak Vision3 vs Kodak Portra – Cost

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Buying 400ft of film offers excellent value for money if you think you will use that much film. A 100ft bulk film roll is said to equate to about 18 rolls of 36 exposure film and so a 400ft film roll will give 72 rolls of 36 exp film. Quite a lot of film but if you were previous buying for example 35mm Kodak Portra 160 /400 film at say £6 a roll you can now buy Kodak Vision3 bulk film for less than £1 a roll! A crazy cheap price for professional colour film. (AGFA Vista 200 Plus colour film can be bought in the UK for £1 a roll but I would argue that Kodak film gives ‘better’ results)(better being grain structure/latitude/skin tones – for my taste*).

Blog post to follow to show results I obtained using ECN-2 Kodak Vision3 500T film and Kodak Vision3 200T in my Leica M cameras and Hasselblad XPan. I bought a bulk roll of each!  If you want to see previous example photos using the Kodak Eastman Double-X black and white film see the link below.

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Polish Models – Mamiya 6 (Film)

Polish Models – Mamiya 6 (Film)

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

June 2016

Hello,  I finally get chance to share some of the film photos from my last model photography trip to Poland.  If you read my blog post review in April you may remember that I decided to take the newly purchased Mamiya 6 medium format film camera rather than the Hasselblad.  As such you may see a difference in photo style compared to last year when I took my Hasselblad 501C.  The other main difference to note is for this year I was shooting the Mamiya 6  mostly with strobes whereas I used the Hasselblad with ambient light only.

Mamiya 6 Fashion

In no particular order here are a selection of model photography / fashion / portrait / beauty photos from Poland all shot with the Mamiya 6.  As I get chance to process more I will try to add them to the gallary below.

You can click any photo to see details of film and developing methods used.

Black and White Film

Karo
Mamiya 6 Fashion
Mamiya 6 + Fuji Acros
Summer Vibe
Mamiya 6
Mamiya 6, Poland
Analogue Fashion
Analog Fashion
Polish Model - Mamiya 6
Film Fashion
Editorial Shoot - Mamiya 6
Film Fashion - Editorial Shoot
Light and Shadow Fashion

Natalia
Mamiya 6 Portrait
Mamiya 6 Fashion
Mamiya 6 + 75mm f3.5
Mamiya 6 Model Photography

Teresa
Mamiya 6 Boudoir Photography
Mamiya 6 + 75mm

Julia
Mamiya 6 in Poland
Fashion on Film

Sylwia
Fomapan 100@800
Mamiya 6 + Fomapan 100@800
Fomapan 100@800
Fomapan 100@800

Ana
Mamiya 6 B&W
Mamiya 6
Mamiya 6 Rangefinder

Colour Film (sorry not many processed yet!)

Karo
Mamiya 6 + Kodak Portra 160
Kodak Portra 160 Fashion

Mamiya 6 Conclusion

I am happy with some of the photos shared above but I think the Hasselblad 501C takes far sharper images with more clarity and ‘pop’.  I took the Mamiya 6 to Ukraine (photos still being processed) but I think for the next trip I will try to pack the Hasselblad instead.

Lastly, as mentioned in the last post a big thanks to all the models and to the agencies (Malva Models and Future Models Management) for the collaboration.

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Nikon F4 + Fujicolor Fashion

Nikon F4 + Fujicolor Fashion

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

June 2016

Nikon F4 Portrait

Here are a selection of photos I shot in May with Sophie.  All photos were shot on Fujifilm Fujicolor C200 35mm film and lab developed / scanned.  Photos were taken using daylight only and with my Nikon F4 SLR camera.  I used two lenses on this shoot, a Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro lens and Voitglander 40mm f2 SL-II pancake lens.  Photos watermarked in Lightroom.

I tend to prefer black and white photography / B&W film photography but on occasion I really like colour film.  This is one of those occasions and I was really pleased with how the photos came out.  I am getting to the point now where I have far more photos to share than I can post in 1’s and 2’s on the likes of Flickr and Facebook.  As such I  have started to share similar photos in groups of 3 on Instagram – @MrLeicaCom

That said I will also try to share more frequent smaller blog posts like this one containing a series of similar images.

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