Leica Club

Leica Club Welcome Pack – Leica Film Cameras

Hello and welcome to the Leica Club! To help you enjoy your new purchase I’ve listed some information below to get you started and answer some of the common questions I receive.

Pack Includes:

  • Leica film camera accessories – Top 4
  • How to use your Leica film camera – Checklist
  • More tips for using your Leica film cameras
  • Best lens for your Leica film camera
  • Leica film camera YouTube videos
  • Film stocks – What film to buy
  • Join a Leica community
  • Film developing tips
  • Film scanning tips
  • Leica services and recalibration
  • Remote Leica support
  • Leica photowalks
  • Master your Leica

Leica film camera accessories – Top 4

After buying your Leica camera there are certain accessories you may want to get. Here are my top 4 –

1. External light meter

Some Leica film cameras have no built in light meter. You can use handheld light meters like Sekonic or small cold shoe meters that fit on top of your camera

2. Soft Release Shutter Button

An affordable way to customise your Leica camera is with a custom shutter release button. I have red buttons on some of my Leica cameras.

3. Strap (Neck Strap and/or Wrist Strap) – See on YouTube

Your Leica camera is supplied with a neck strap. A new strap is another easy way to customise your camera. I use wrist straps for street photography and a neck strap for events. Peak Design products are a popular quick release camera strap system if you use multiple cameras. There are lots of nice luxury cameras straps available too.

4. Half Case or Camera Bag – See on YouTube

As with camera straps camera bags are a personal choice. Ona and Billingham are popular brands. This is what I use –

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How to use your Leica film camera – Checklist

Leitz CL/ Minolta CL – checklist

  • Please see Leica M section below

Leica M film cameras – checklist

  • Load film then add tension with the rewind knob to get an extra 1-2 frames per roll (38 from a 36exp roll)
  • Easy check to see if film is loaded correctly – arrow will turn on the rewinds knob as you advance the film
  • Take your lens cap off πŸ™‚
  • Cock the shutter (advance the film)
  • Set your desired shutter speed on the camera (for the correct exposure)
  • Dial in your desired aperture on the lens
  • Focus using the rangefinder patch on the subject of interest in the viewfinder window
  • Recompose your photo using the viewfinder window
  • Breath in, lock your elbows against your body, push the camera against your forehead
  • Press the shutter release button
  • Smile and repeat!

Leica iii Barnack cameras – checklist

  • Remember to cut your film leader before loading for less chance of issues (and carry a spare roll pre-cut)
  • Load film then add tension with the rewind knob to get an extra 1-2 frames per roll (38 from a 36exp roll)
  • Easy check to see if film is loaded correctly – arrow will turn on the rewinds knob as you advance the film
  • Take your lens cap off πŸ™‚
  • Extend the lens and lock out if the collapsed lens type such as the Leica Elmar 5cm f3.5
  • Cock the shutter (advance the film)
  • Set your desired shutter speed on the camera (for the correct exposure)
  • Dial in your desired aperture on the lens
  • Focus using the rangefinder window, on the subject of interest
  • Move your eye to the viewfinder window, recompose your photo
  • Reminder – Compose via an accessory viewfinder on the coldshoe if the lens is wider than 50mm
  • Breath in, lock your elbows against your body, push the camera against your forehead
  • Press the shutter release button
  • Smile and repeat!

Leica R cameras + Leicaflex – checklist

  • Load your film (SLR camera style)
  • Cock the shutter (advance the film)
  • Set your desired shutter speed on the camera (for the correct exposure) or set camera to (A) auto mode
  • Dial in your desired aperture on the lens
  • Focus using the viewfinder, on the subject of interest
  • Recompose your photo
  • Breath in, lock your elbows against your body, push the camera against your forehead
  • Press the shutter release button
  • Smile and repeat!

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More tips for using your Leica film camera – CL, M, III, R

Leitz CL/ Minolta CL

  • Smallest lightest Leica M mount camera – suits small compact lenses
  • 40mm framelines so great with the Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm f2, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Use the full viewfinder area to approximate a 28mm view – great with TTArtisan 28mm f5.6 lens
  • Low magnification rangefinder/ viewfinder so less suited to fast 50mm lenses (hard to focus accurately)

Leica M film cameras

  • Buy external viewfinders to use wider rangefinder coupled lenses
  • Adapt wide angle non-rangefinder lenses (via adapter) and zone focus (15mm, 21mm, 25mm, 28mm)
  • Tape up your camera red dot logo for a more stealthy street photography setup
  • For screw mount lenses buy the correct L39-M adapter (with number on for your lens: 28-90 for 28mm or 90mm)

Leica iii Barnack cameras

  • Budget for a CLA and service (see below). These cameras can be 90 years old and will cease up eventually if not
  • Cameras have 50mm viewfinder so best suited to 50mm lenses (Leica iig has 90mm framelines too)
  • Buy external viewfinders to use wider/ longer lenses
  • If you shoot mostly wide angle 15mm, 21, 25mm, 28mm, consider the lighter cheaper Leica ic, if, cameras (no VF/RF)

Leica R cameras + Leicaflex

  • A soft release button dramatically improves Leica R bodies (less force/ travel required to take a photo)
  • Leica R film bodies have a built in viewfinder diopter so can be easier to focus if you wear glasses vs Leicaflex
  • Viewfinder diopters are available for the Leicaflex cameras but they are difficult to find
  • Leica R5 and R7 cameras seem to offer the best value if you want a second body
  • Consider a Leicaflex or Leica R6 /R6.2 if you like cameras that don’t require batteries to operate

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Best lens for your Leica film camera?

Best is different for everyone depending on your needs. Check the big list of Leica M, LTM, R mount lens reviews (written reviews and YouTube). If you are still not sure what lens to buy make use of my Leica support service.

Leica M mount cameras

You can enjoy any rangefinder coupled M mount lens and focus via the built in Leica M viewfinder/ rangefinder.

  • Premium Leica M mount lenses – Leica M, Voigtlander VM, Zeiss ZM
  • Cheaper Leica M mount lenses – TTArtisan, 7Artisans, Lomography
  • Smallest Leica M mount lenses include – Voigtlander Skopar 21mm f4 + Skopar 35mm f2.5
  • Leica screw mount lenses via L39-M adapter (see the next section)

Leica screw mount cameras

Use any rangefinder coupled screw mount lens and focus via the built in viewfinder/ rangefinder.

  • Premium vintage screw mount lenses (“LTM, L39”) – from Leica
  • Cheaper vintage screw mount lenses – from Canon, Nikon, Voigtlander
  • Cheapest vintage screw mount lenses – Soviet rangefinder lenses: Jupiter and Industar
  • Smallest Leica screw mount lens – Leica Elmar 5cm f3.5
  • New/ modern screw mount lens – Voigtlander Heliar 40mm f2.8 LTM

Leica R mount cameras

There are less lenses available for Leica R cameras from third party manufacturers

  • Some Leica R lenses are expensive but certain focal lengths are often much cheaper – 135mm, 180mm
  • Consider zoom lenses. The Leica Vario-Elmar 35-70mm f4 out performs the fast prime lenses and is excellent
  • Cheaper zooms are the 28-70mm (Sigma collaboration), 35-70mm f3.5 (Minolta collaboration)
  • Smallest Leica R lens – Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v1

Leica film camera YouTube videos

If you want to see Leica YouTube reviews from other photographers see the Leica YouTubers directory.

Watch my Leica film camera YouTube playlist here –

Join a Leica Community

If you are new to Leica you might want to find a friendly Leica community. You can find Leica groups on Facebook and you can also join our Patreon group where we have a private Facebook group and 2 monthly Zoom calls.

Film stocks – What film to buy

If you are new to film photography trying to decide what film to buy might be a little overwhelming. Find detailed film stock reviews with sample photos here and see this page for the latest film prices. Here are a few basic pointers (not a complete list*) –

  • Budget B&W film – Fomapan, Kentmere, Arista (Still great films)
  • Standard B&W film – Ilford HP5, Ilford FP4, Kodak Tri-X, Rollei
  • Premium B&W film – Kodak TMax, Ilford Delta, Ilford XP2, Fuji Acros
  • Fine grain B&W film – Kodak TMax, Ilford Delta, Fuji Acros
  • Classic grain B&W film – Kodak Tri-X, Ilford HP5, Fomapan 100
  • Budget colour negative film – Kodak Gold 200, Kodak Colorplus 2, Kodak Ultramax, Fuji C200 Colorplus
  • Premium colour negative film – Kodak Portra
  • Tungsten balanced colour negative film – Cinestill 800T
  • Premium colour slide film – Kodak Ektachrome E100, Fuji Provia 100F, Fuji Velvia 50

Film Developing Tips

If you are new to film you might find these articles helpful –

Film Scanning Tips

If you are scanning film at home there are various methods you can try. My preferred approach for high volume film scanning (relative for one person) is using a flatbed scanner. I did use the Epson v600 and now the Epson v800. The latter has 2x more capacity plus offers 4×5 film scanning. Epson scanning software is not great for colour film. Currently I use SilverFast 8 software and it does all I need (colour and black and white).

Leica Services and Recalibration

This section is more important for these old film cameras. For older cameras problems might include; ceasing up (especially Barnack cameras)(camera needs a CLA), holes in the shutter curtain (can fix with liquid rubber if a small hole) and rangefinder calibration (vertical, horizontal or both). You can adjust the rangefinder yourself with the correct tool or send it to a Leica service centre near you.

Remote Leica Support

Struggling with your new Leica camera? Use my Leica support service to quickly resolve the issue. See the Zoom testimonials section.

Leica Photowalks

Join a small group of fellow Leica photographers for a photowalk workshop with MrLeica.Com.

Master your Leica

To get the most from your Leica camera book a 1:1 workshop with a Leica expert. Teaching Leica workshops worldwide since 2014. See the workshop testimonials.

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