I’m a self taught photographer with 10+ years experience of photographing portraits, models and weddings. After my first 3 years I was teaching photography to fellow professionals in the UK and overseas and after 4 years I bought my first Leica camera. As a child my Grandfather inspired me to draw and taught me to paint with watercolours. As a teenager I taught myself very fine detail acrylic painting but went on to study science (and later finance) rather than the arts.
Photography came to me later after an ex girlfriend kindly bought me a camera one Christmas. I was immediately hooked and 3 months later a bought a better camera and then another. My inquisitive data driven mindset and tendancy to document things inspired me to start this blog as a personal project. When reading about photography and researching new cameras I find it is the perfect place to record everything I learn and I can share it with others.
Mr Leica Photographer Blog
Coventry photography studio based UK portrait and wedding photographer using digital Leica cameras and a wide range of film cameras. Analogue cameras include 35mm, medium format and large format and film developing is done in house. Cameras, lenses and films are tested during model photography photo shoots both in the UK and overseas. Blog reviews include a combination of technical detail, example images and side by side comparisons.
Before starting MrLeica.com I used to write technical articles for UK photography magazines. As I continue to collect and test cameras and photography equipment I now share the information here. I hope you find the content as enjoyable to read as it is to document.
Join me on YouTube! to see the latest and visual of some of the cameras!
Where to find MrLeicaCom!
If you want to follow me on social media just search for MrLeicaCom or Matt Osborne. It’s always great to hear from like minded people so feel free to get in touch! You can find me on Instagram and I share images on Flickr and Pinterest too.
A mini Nikon F4 film camera review comparing it in particular to a 35mm Leica M3 film camera + Nikon F4 sample photos (portraits and landscapes)
Nikon F4 Camera Review
Today I purchased a used Nikon F4 SLR 35mm film camera which was first released back in 1988 when I was only 10yr! I already own an older Nikon FM SLR film camera and have experience with digital Nikon cameras before moving to Leicas. I have owned a Nikon D90, Nikon D700 and still own and sometimes use my Nikon D800. My Leica M9 is my main workhorse camera now and has been for a while but the Nikon D800 is still a very capable camera.
Nikon F4 Lenses
I have a range of Nikon mount lenses, including Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s, 24f2.8D, 50f1.4D, 85f1.4D, 135f2.8, 35-70AF and the mighty Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-S. I also have Samyang lenses in Nikon mount including the amazing Samyang 85mm f1.4 and some M42 Zeiss lenses which I love to use via an adapter, Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.8 and Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8.
35mm Nikon Film Cameras
As I now enjoy mostly film photography for personal work and thought it would be nice to get another Nikon SLR film body to make use of these lenses. I looked at a range of options including Nikon F2, Nikon F5 and Nikon F100 but I settled on a Nikon F4. I wanted to try a 35mm film camera with autofocus so that ruled out the older F2. I like the idea of potentially buying a waist level finder so originally I had planned to get an F2 but then more recently I thought that if I start doing film only weddings a camera with autofocus might be nice for moving subjects. I then looked at the F100 and F5 but they both looked quite big and heavy. I preferred the Nikon F4 to the Nikon F4s or Nikon F4e as it is smaller without the extra battery grip.
Nikon vs Leica Film Cameras
I plan to use the Nikon F4 to compliment my Leica cameras. If I do a quick Nikon F4 review comparison with my current favourite camera the Leica M3 you can see some of the ‘advantages’ of the more modern Nikon F4 film camera body.
Here are a few points that are important to me rather than a complete list:
Nikon F4flash sync = 1/250, The F4 is great for strobist work
Leica M3 = 1/50, not ideal for strobist work so I often use Bessa R3a (sync 1/125)
#2. Maximum shutter speed:
Nikon F4shutter speed = 1/8000, removes need for ND filters
Leica M3 = 1/1000, M3 requires ND filters on fast lenses in bright sunlight
#3. Autofocus option?:
Nikon F4 autofocus = Yes, AF useful for moving subjects/ action.
Leica M3 = No, can pre-focus focus or retain a set hyperfocal distance
#4. Long lenses:
Nikon F4 telephoto = SLR works great with any lens, wide to telephoto like my Nikkor 200mm f2 lens
Leica M3 = 50mm rangefinder. External finder for 50mm harder to focus
Nikon F4battery = Requires 4x AA batteries. Adds weight. Can add battery grip to take 8x AA
Leica M3 = No battery needed. I do prefer cameras without batteries.
#6. Light Meter:
Nikon F4light meter = Yes, Matrix, Centre-Weighted or Spot meter
Leica M3 = No light meter. Use external hand held light meter
#7. Film advance:
Nikon F4 film advance = Auto film advance. No manual film advance lever. Can work more quickly
Leica M3 = Manual film advance lever (Single stroke or Double stroke models)
#8. Film rewind:
Nikon F4 rewind = Auto film rewind. Great in a time pressure environment like a wedding
Leica M3 = Manual film rewind. Not ideal if needs to change film quickly
As you can see if you list the two cameras side by side the Nikon F4 should really compliment my two Leica M3 cameras. I look forward to reporting back soon once it arrives and I get chance to use it. For a full specification Nikon F4 review check out Ken Rockwell’s site linked below.
UPDATE: Since the Nikon F4 camera arrived I have used it a huge amount. Here are more Nikon blog posts using the Nikon F4 –
Nikon F4 Portraits
As a people photographer I have lots of Nikon F4 portraits as example images using this camera. The Nikon F4 even lead to me buying multiple new Nikon mount lenses including those listed below and the Tamron 45mm f1.8 lens + more. Great camera!
I enjoyed using F4 in San Francisco to for a few Nikon F4 landscapes (blog still to follow)
Nikon F4 vs Nikon F5
I have not had chance to write a full Nikon F4 vs Nikon F5 camera comparison yet but you can view my Nikon F5 review to get a good idea.
Wait! Do you have film?
After reading this article hopefully you are now ready to get out and start shooting! Have you got film ready to load? Here are some of my favourite / the best films that I use in the Nikon F4 camera for portraits.
Voigtlander Bessa T Review (Best Leica M6 Alternative?) + YouTube Video
35mm Voigtlander Bessa T Film Camera
Voigtlander Bessa T review / write-up with sample photos to follow the YouTube camera review video I shared. The Bessa T offers an affordable alternative to Leica M film cameras. From the current used prices this camera still seems be off radar for those looking for a 35mm rangefinder film camera. Here is a quick summary about the Bessa T and why you should consider buying one. (It could be the best Leica M6 alternative if you enjoy portrait photography with fast lenses like me!)
Cosina Voigtlander Bessa T
The Bessa T 35mm film camera was manufactured by Cosina Voigtlander of Japan from around 2001-2004. This is a 35mm film rangefinder camera with a Leica M lens mount! That’s correct. The Bessa T will let you use all your amazing Leica M glass on this body at a fraction of the cost of say the now very popular Leica M6 camera. It does have some quirks so keep reading before you look to buy!
Voigtlander Bessa T Specs
Built in rangefinder with +2/-2 diopter adjustment
No built in viewfinder (need to use hotshoe finder)
Built in light meter (display on rear of camera)
Bessa T light meter battery – 2x LR44 / SR44
Minimum focus distance – 0.9m
Maximum shutter speed – 1/2000
Maximum flash sync speed – 1/125
Voigtlander Bessa T weight – 385g
Voigtlander Bessa T Viewfinder ..or lack of!
Yes so just to clarify the Voigtlander Bessa T camera doesn’t have a viewfinder! What a stupid camera design you might say!? It’s just a different design. Instead of having a combined viewfinder / rangefinder like a Leica M camera it only has a built in rangefinder. (That is a step forward from the Voigtlander Bessa L camera that has no viewfinder or rangefinder!). To compose your image you need to use an external optical viewfinder that attaches via the hotshoe. Voigtlander make viewfinders for many of the lens focal lengths but they are also made by Leica, Canon, Zeiss and others. You can see a visual of these finders in this YouTube video – Voigtlander Viewfinders.
Flash photography with a Bessa T: Wireless especially
Beware! One negative of the Voigtlander Bessa T camera design is you cannot mount you flash trigger in the hotshoe. The hotshoe is already occupied by the viewfinder which you need to compose you photos with. You can use PC sync cables to fire flash from the PC sync port but I prefer to use wireless flash triggers where possible. A small generic coldshoe bracket can be added to the base of the Bessa T camera, attaching via the tripod socket. You can then mount a flash trigger on the bracket and run a short cable to the camera PC sync port. It works but it is less fun to hold. This makes the Bessa T less ideal for flash photography vs. say a Leica M6 or Leica M4-P (cameras I use).
Beware of parallax! (Viewfinder parallax error)
Take care when using basic hotshoe viewfinders that don’t offer parallax adjustment. This is especially true when using longer lenses. If you focus close to your subject as I do for portraits, a standard viewfinder framing is not accurate and the final image will be different to what you visualised. Here is an example photo using a 90mm lens up close! I composed for the face to fill the frame but due to parallax error I missed! If I had used a viewfinder with parallax adjustment this can be avoided or you just remember the fact and recompose as needed.
Here is another more extreme parallax error example using the same setup on film I just developed. It is quite creative I guess ha!
Voigtlander Bessa T Rangefinder
If you are used to Leica rangefinder cameras.. or most rangefinder cameras I’ve used, the Bessa T is different. For most other cameras that come to mind the camera design is a combined viewfinder-rangefinder. This is the viewfinder window with a rangefinder patch in the centre. The patch is often rectangular but not always.
Unlike many cameras including Leica M cameras, the Bessa T has no viewfinder window at all. The Bessa T rangefinder design is a tube with a circular rangefinder patch in the centre. With a 1.5x magnification and the built in +2/-2 diopter I find the rangefinder excellent for critical focusing my portrait images.
Two step process – Focus then compose
I guess operating the Bessa T is a little similar the Leica iiia camera design with it being a two step process. Step one, use the rangefinder to focus. Step two, move your eye from the rangefinder to the viewfinder to compose your shot. Care is recommended so not to move the camera when repositioning your eye between the two windows. Leica iii cameras are easier to use in this regard as the windows are closer together. This is especially true on later Leica iii camera models such as the Leica iif or Leica iiig that I use.
Leica M6 vs Voigtlander Bessa T
As a Leica M6 classic camera owner I appreciate what the M6 can offer. I bought mine some years ago before the recent used prices increases. Would I spend £2100 on a Leica M6 today? No I don’t think so. Personally I prefer the build of the older Leica M2 and Leica M3 cameras although the M6 does offer some advantages over older models. If you use Leica M mount lenses (say on your digital Leica M8, M9, M240, M10 camera) and want a Leica M mount film camera there are a few options. The Voigtlander Bessa T is one of several Leica M mount cameras that you can use with your Leica M mount lenses.
Cheap Leica M mount cameras (*Cheaper)
So let’s ignore Leica M film cameras and look at a few other possibilities. For each camera I will mention why it may suit you for Leica M lens photography
Voigtlander Bessa T (This review + YouTube video)
One of the cheapest M mount cameras
Amazing rangefinder – accurate (magnified + diopter) Good with fast lenses (especially)
No viewfinder – Need external hotshoe viewfinder for each lens you use
Combined viewfinder/ rangefinder with 40mm & 90mm framelines
Poor (low magnification) rangefinder – not suitable for accurate focusing
Small and light
Reasons to buy the Voigtlander Bessa T
So there are two real options when it comes to a lower priced Leica M film camera. First the little Leica CL (Minolta CL) but for me this camera is better suited to wide lens photography and or with the lens stopped down. This is because of the low magnification Leica CL rangefinder. Wider lenses and stopping down gives a great depth of field so the rangefinder doesn’t need to be accurate. As a portrait photography this doesn’t really work for me.
Option two is the Voigtlander Bessa T and the reason to buy this camera is for the accurate rangefinder. Now I can use fast lenses such as the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH accurately for portraits. The rangefinder and built in diopter also benefits use of longer lenses such as the Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH (An amazing portrait lens!). The Bessa T is also much lighter than a Leica M camera so it works great as a travel camera too. I pair my Bessa T with Voigtlander hotshoe viewfinders and something like the Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 (or Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm) for a wider view.
Click the photos to see the lens used on the Bessa T and the film stock / film developing details.
YouTube: Voigtlander Bessa T Review (vs Leica M6)
Verdict – Is the Voigtlander Bessa T for you?
The answer is it depends on (1) what is important to you (2) how you like to photograph. If you want a cheap (*cheaper than Leica!) rangefinder camera and are not limited to Leica M mount lenses then the Bessa R (see below) is an excellent choice. If you use Leica M mount lenses then your cheapest options are the Bessa T or mentioned Leica CL / Minolta CL. I would use the CL for wides (35mm or wider) and the Bessa T for precision / portraits. (There is also the Minolta CLE you could consider, again for wider lens shooting – I think).
For me the Leica M3 is still better than the Bessa T for my portraits as it offers the combined magnified viewfinder/rangefinder but if I want a lighter setup I now go with the T.
Hasselblad HC lens portraits using a Hasslblad H2 camera plus Hasselblad H film back (645). Comparing images from the 4 Hasselblad HC lenses I use and why I use each of them. (Including full res images as featured on YouTube).
Best Hasselblad HC lens?
So in this post I share the four lenses I use for my Hasselblad H2 medium format film camera. The best Hasselblad HC lens depends on what you are photographing and how you like to work. I use a Hasselblad HC 50mm, 80mm 100mm and 120mm lens and each have their strength.
Hasselblad H wide lens
The standard Hasselblad HC 80 kit lens is great but it is not wide enough to use for my film wedding photography. I wanted a Hasselblad H wide lens to capture both the subjects in the photo and also the fun happening around them. This is especially important for indoor photography when a wider lens is needed for tighter spaces. In portrait terms I wanted to create wider environmental portraits vs standard portraits of 1 to 2 people with the 80mm lens.
Hasselblad HC 50mm f3.5 lens
After enjoying using my Zeiss Distagon 50mm lens on the Hasselblad H2 in Portugal (via an adapter) I got on eBay when I got home. An auction was ending one lunch time with seemingly few bidders and a low price point. I bid slightly higher just in case to test my luck and to my astonishment I won the auction! So I’m now the lucky owner of an autofocus Hasselblad HC 50mm f4 lens in mint condition which will be perfect for Hasselblad wedding photography especially. Fast and accurate focusing for my moving subjects. Very pleased!
Portraits with Hasselblad HC 50mm f3.5
Hasselblad H kit lens / Smallest Hasselblad HC lens!
The standard Hasselblad H kit lens is the trusty Hasselblad HC 80mm f2.8 glass. For many camera systems a kit lens is “average” at best but in this instance the 80mm lens is a great performer.
Hasselblad HC 80mm f2.8 lens
The biggest advantages of the Hasselblad HC 80mm f2.8 lens is the small size. The 80mm HC is the smallest lens available for the Hasselblad H system / series cameras. It makes the H2 setup almost portable and this is my preferred one lens setup for overseas travel if I need to pack as light as possible. The 80mm is a good all rounder but doesn’t offer any special look. It isn’t wide, it isn’t fast glass and it isn’t a macro lens, it’s just normal. I guess that’s why they call the 50mm equivalent focal length (in 35mm terms) a normal lens. Great performer for anyone looking for a Hasselblad H one lens setup.
Portraits with Hasselblad HC 80mm f2.8
Hasselblad H macro lens / portrait lens
One feature of standard kit lenses is they normally can’t focus very close to a subject for detail photos. As an ex-macro photographer (before turning to portraits and weddings) I still appreciate the finer details. For this reason I think is it always nice to have a macro lens available for wedding photos. Many macro lenses also double as a great portrait lens which is helpful.
Hasselblad HC 120mm f4 macro lens
The best tool for this job for a Hasselblad H camera is the Hasselblad HC 120mm f4 macro lens. As the name suggests it offers macro photography but with a 120mm focal length it can be perfect for portraits too. Macro lenses are also crazy sharp (for any camera system) so they are a good lens to use if you enjoy high resolution images.
The seller that listed the Hasselblad 50mm lens also had a Hasselblad 120mm f4 macro lens for sale. The auction finished shortly after the 50mm lens mentioned above so I was able to bid on both items. Again I went in with a late and low yet slightly higher bid and won that lens too! I couldn’t believe it! What a crazy day that was. Two new Hasselblad HC lenses ready for my analogue wedding photography booking the following weekend. (Sadly the COVID-19 virus then swept the world so all the 2020 wedding bookings were pushed back to later dates. No Hasselblad H2 wedding photos yet but hopefully soon).
Hasselblad V to H lens adapter
The Zeiss 120mm f4 macro lens is also a real favourite of mine on the Hasselblad 500 system. I have shot many 6×6 portraits with the Zeiss 120mm f4 CF lens on Hasselblad 501c and Hasselblad 500cm cameras.
The Hasselblad V to H lens adapter let me use the Zeiss Macro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens on my Hasselblad H3D-31 camera too. Check out the Hasselblad H3D-31 review for example photos. It was that setup that lead to me buying the autofocus Hasselblad HC 120mm f4 macro lens!
Portraits with Hasselblad HC 120mm f4 macro
Hasselblad fast lens / dreamy bokeh lens
Dreamy bokeh is a look many photographers enjoy but as a portrait and wedding photographer this is even more important. I use fast lenses on the Leica cameras such as the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 but sadly it is less easy for medium format cameras. Unlike 35mm camera lenses where there are f1.0 lenses, f1.2, f1.4 and so on most medium format camera lenses start at f2.8. There are some exceptions including the Mamiya 645 80mm f1.9, the amazing Contax 645 Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 or the Pentax 67 105mm f2.4 lens.
Mamiya Sekor 80mm f1.9
The Mamiya 80mm f1.9 lens gives a nice shallow depth of field to portraits but as a manual focus lens it is easy to miss focus. I use mostly manual focus cameras and lenses and the Mamiya 645 misses more than average for me. When it nails a shot it is beautiful but I wanted an autofocus lens to have a much higher hit rate.
Contax 645 Zeiss Planar 80mm f2
The autofocus Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 lens is amazing and it give a look like no other for dreamy portraits. Sadly I sold my Contax 645 some years ago and now the prices are so high I wouldn’t want to buy another. The SLR style autofocus camera appealed to me for wedding photography and I lusted after a lens like the 80mm Planar.
Hasselblad HC 100mm f2.2 lens
I think I just found my dream lens! The Hasselblad HC 100mm f2.2 lens offers a look comparable to the Contax 80mm f2 lens but mounts on my H2. Like the Contax lens the 100mm HC Hasselblad lens is compact and fast. It will be the ideal lens for the Hasselblad H2 camera to create the Contax 645 look. I feel the shallow depth of field really suits wedding photography and this is the best lens in the Hasselblad line up for the task.
Used Hasselblad HC lenses on eBay
Ebay strikes again! After doing my research and due diligence I had been watching a Hasselblad 100mm f2.2 lens on eBay. More as a bookmark than anything else to be honest. The price of this lens is more the the 50mm and 120mm lenses so I didn’t really want to spend the money. After forgetting I had even looked at this lens one day I received an eBay. Hasselblad 100mm f2.2 lens – 25% off one day offer from seller! My eyes need popped out my head. That made the lens now almost too to good an opportunity to miss. If it makes the unique analogue wedding photography images I was lusting after it was priceless. Done and with a wedding booking a just a week away it was perfect timing! (I’m all set now for after the Coronavirus lockdown anyway!).
I enjoy offering different style of photos to the masses. Even though I don’t advertise my wedding photography other that listing it on my homepage I do really enjoy it. Yes wedding photography editing takes time but if the images are shot creatively it can be enjoyable post processing work. I guess compare it to editing photos of your favourite model or old car. If the photos look nice it is fun. If Hasselblad wedding photography images inspire me from using this 100mm lens I will be more likely to start chasing after wedding bookings. How good would it be to use this lens every month for a wedding!
Hasselblad H2 vs Contax 645 Selfie Test
When I had my Contax 645 camera I did a mirror selfie with the Zeiss 80mm f2 Planar lens. As a non-scientific comparison I decided to do a mirror selfie with the Hasselblad H2 and the 100mm f2.2 lens. Here are the results.
Portraits with Hasselblad HC 100mm f2.2
YouTube: Hasselblad HC Lenses + Sample Photos
You may also like
Hasselblad H wedding photography
Here is a link to a wedding a shot with my Hasselblad H3D-31 with 31MP digital back. All photos were shot with the Hasselblad HC 80mm f2.8 kit lens – Hasselblad Wedding – Sarah & Cris.
If you love the idea of buying a Leica Summicron lens but the price is above your budget then keep reading. The Minolta-M Rokkor 40mm f2 lens is near identical to the Leica Summicron-C 40mm f2 lens. The Minolta 40mm f2 lens also comes for a fraction of the price of a Summicron 35mm lens!
Unplanned discovery of the 40mm Minolta lens!
I hadn’t planned to buy the Minolta 40mm Rokkor lens for Leica M mount. It was a purchase fueled by photography GAS (gear acquisition syndrome!) when I was looking at the highly regarded Leica Summicron 35mm f2 lens. Summicron 35mm lenses are crazy expensive and I didn’t want to spend that much money. I saw the size of the Leica Summicron 40mm f2 lens and the much lower price tag and I was immediately interested. I headed over to Flickr to find examples of this lens and reviews seems very positive.
Leica Summicron 40mm vs 35mm
The verdict online seems to be that the Summicron- C 40mm isn’t quite as good as the 35mm Summicron lens but the 40mm offers exceptional value for money. The 40mm Summicron is said to be the smallest Leica M lens but I’m not sure that holds true. Collapsible lenses like the Leica Elmar M is smaller when collapsed. Some Leica LTM lenses are also smaller and other brands made small lenses such as the Voigtlander Skopar lenses (M mount and LTM mount)(examples – Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mm f4 lens / Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens) and Canon LTM lenses.
Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm vs Summicron 40mm
If you come to buy the Leica Summicron 40mm f2 lens you will find there are 3 similar versions. The Leica Summicron-C 40mm f2, the Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm f2 version 1 and the Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm version 2. Optically I understand that all 3 lenses are identical but the Minolta 40mm later version is said to have better lens coatings.
Minolta CLE 40mm lens or Minolta CL 40mm lens
The version 2 of the lens was the Minolta CLE 40mm lens whereas the version 1 was the Minolta CL 40mm lens. Better coatings makes the Minolta 40mm v2 less prone to flare (unlike the Leica Summicron and Minolta v1). For this reason I purchased a later copy of the Minolta 40mm.
Great Value! Minolta 40mm lens on eBay
Being non Leica branded the Minolta lenses also often sell for less than their Leica sibling. That works for me! I called myself MrLeica.com some years ago but I’m not loyal to any one brand. I just try to use the best cameras and lenses I can afford regardless of the name.
If you are a loyal Leica brand only shooter then you might prefer the Leica badged version. If you search online for the Leica Summicron C 40mm lens you will find it is particularly affordable for a Leica Summicron lens (and tiny!). It is almost unbelievably cheap when you see the cost of a Leica 35mm Summicron lens.
If you use a Leica M film camera you will know that these cameras do not have 40mm framelines. To get around this I use a 40mm hotshoe viewfinder. See the YouTube video embedded below for a visual.
Camera with 40mm Framelines
If you want a film camera with 40mm framelines “build in” to the viewfinder then check out these two cameras –
This compact lightweight affordable lens for Leica M mount offers excellent value for money. It seems a bit of a forgotten gem in the Leica lens option line up. I would have bought the Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm f2 lens in my early Leica days if I knew it existed back then. The size and weight makes this a perfect travel lens. I’ve been really happy with it so far both for shooting film and digital.