Kentmere 400 Review + Photos (Budget 35mm B&W Film)

Kentmere 400 Review + Photos (Budget 35mm B&W Film)

After exposing my first test roll here is a Kentmere 400 review with example images. It compares the budget 35mm B&W film Kentmere to other popular black and white film stocks. Article also includes a YouTube video of my Kentmere 400 vs Ilford Pan 400 shoot out test.

Kentmere film – About

I’m not new to the Kentmere film brand. I first discovered the Kentmere emulsion when I was running a photography workshop in New York maybe 4-5 years ago. I picked up a 10 pack of 35mm Kentmere 100 B&W film in the B&H Manhattan store and I was happy with the results. (Shooting the film in both Leica film cameras and a Hasselblad XPan). It wasn’t until a few years later that the Kentmere brand started to appear for sale in Europe.

Example photo captured on Kentmere 100 film:

Kentmere 100 Film Portrait

35mm Kentmere 400 B&W film – More info!

Despite the branding, Kentmere 400 film is actually manufactured by Ilford. Ilford sell Kentmere film as a more affordable alternative to their own Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film and Ilford Delta 400 film stocks.

Ilford state that 35mm Kentmere 400 has good latitude and is easy to develop. Being a cheap film Kentmere is also an excellent choice for students or any photographer on a budget (like me!). Kentmere film is one of the cheapest black and white films available but it still can’t compete with Fomapan 100 film. Foma 100 is the cheapest B&W film to my knowledge in Europe and it is still very usable.

(I shoot Fomapan more than any other film).

35mm Kentmere 400 B&W

Price -35mm Kentmere 400 (vs Delta 400 and HP5)

At the time of writing 35mm Kentmere 400 film costs £3.58 a roll in the UK. As a direct comparison 35mm Ilford HP5 Plus costs £4.54 a roll (25% more / ~£1.00 more each). Ilford also make their 35mm Ilford Delta 400 at £5.55 a roll (an additional +~£2.00 per roll). Ilford Delta is still cheap compared to the new Kodak TMax film prices (after the recent price increase).

In the past I used to shoot with Kodak TMax 400 as my main 35mm ISO 400 film. After the price rise I’ve switched to trying some new cheaper B&W film alternatives. (I can always go back to Kodak but it is nice to experiment with different film stocks).

Voigtlander 15mm Lens

Kentmere 400 vs HP5

Are Kentmere 400 and HP5 the same thing? I mentioned the speculation in one of my previous YouTube videos that Kentmere 400 film is the lower quality off cuts from the sides of Ilford HP5 manufacturing film rolls. I’ve now read that is isn’t true and Ilford claim that they don’t re-badge their film. Who knows! I’m not too fused either way but I thought I would mention it. I just buy film if I like the look of the results regardless of who makes it.

Kentmere 400 in Xtol/ Rodinal

Portraits with Kentmere 400 film

I’ve not yet had chance to shoot many portraits using Kentmere 400 film but when I do I will post them here. Here is a sample photo taken with a 15mm lens from my first K400 test roll.

Bessa L Portrait

(Update* I shot a roll of 35mm Kentmere film on a recent model shoot in Poland so I will embed more Kentmere 400 portrait images here soon!).

iPhone photo of monitor, flipped, left side of photo looks darker, just from screen, photos OK
Kentmere 400 Portrait
Kentmere Pan 400 Portrait
Kentmere 400 Review

First Kentmere 400 portraits from Poland! I’m really impressed with the detail captured but the film scan showed blemishes from the developing (I think that is the marks though it is not visible on the film itself).

Pan 400 vs Kentmere 400 vs Ilford Pan 400?

The original Kentmere 400 film box branding said “Kentmere 400” on the side (white box and cassette label). The new branding reads “Pan 400” on one side and it has a pink-purple box design. (“Kentmere” is written on the other side). If Kentmere 400 becomes known as Pan 400 it is very easy to confuse this film with the Ilford Pan 400. They are different film from my own testing but no wonder people get confused! I thought I would mention it.

AGFA Photo APX 400 vs Kentmere 400

While we are talking about similar films to Kentmere 400 I should mention AGFA APX 400 vs Kentmere 400. My local lab as stopped selling the current APX 400 film as stated that is it just re-badged Kentmere 400. I have no evidence of this but it is a reputable source so I have no reason to doubt. What this means is if you also shoot with AGFA APX 400 film you probably don’t need to buy Kentmere 400 film too.

Assuming both APX 400 and Kentmere 400 are the same emulsion I chose to buy Kentmere as it was slightly cheaper online.

Kentmere 400 street photography

For my first roll of Kentmere film I did some Kentmere 400 street photography or photography in the street to be more precise. Here are a some more film scans from that same roll. They are nothing special but it gives some real examples of this film in use under very mixed lighting conditions (harsh shadows and highlights).

iPhone video for Instagram story – Kentmere 400 film developed and hanging to dry

Kentmere 400 pushed +1 /+2 / +3 stops

It is probably worth mentioning but for the photos shared above I shot the film both over exposed and under exposed. Sadly from a scientific point of view I was just winging it on the day and guessed the exposure. What I can say is some images were shot in very under exposed conditions with the light being probably -2 stops under.

Highlights and shadow detail

From how I developed this film I would say the film performed better under exposed vs. over exposed. You can decide for yourself from the images above. I don’t think I lost too much highlight detail but the shadow performance was particularly impressive.

Film shot at box speed then pushed in developing?

There are different ways to over expose film. A common way if you lab develop your film is to meter the film in camera at say ISO 200 and then ask you lab to develop the film as normal. For Kentmere 400 this would be at ISO 400 giving a +1 stop over exposure (as you metered at ISo 200)(thereby giving the camera +1 stops of extra light on each image).

As I develop my own film I shoot it at box speed (meaning if the box says ISO 400 I meter at ISO 400 (or guess ISO 400 or just be aware the camera is expecting ISO 400). If I know that there was insufficient light when I took the photos and I really needed ISO 800 or ISO 1600 I make a note.

Under exposed film

When it comes to developing the film my notes would say Kentmere 400@800-1600. I then pushed the Kentmere 400 film 1-2 stops in developing by just extending the developing time. Black and white film has such wide latitude that I’m very relaxed with this process and there is no hard/ fixed rule. I just leave the film in the developer a few minutes longer and it always seems to work.

Over exposed film

Equally if I was shooting say a Leica M film camera on a sunny day the opposite would apply. The maximum shutter speed on a Leica M3 for example is 1/1000. If I had Kentmere 400 film loaded at was shooting at wider apertures my film maybe over exposed by 1-2 stops. In this situation I may write Kentmere 400@200 or 100.

My test roll results

In summary the film scans looked a lot brighter than reality. That being, what I saw with my eyes at the time of taking the photo, to the extent that I probably pushed Kentmere 400 +1 /+2 stops in developing. The last image in the photo gallery above is the perfect example – the train window. It was dark outside yet light inside the train yet look at the brightness in the sky captured in the photo! A fantastic effort from the Kentmere 400 film stock, basically turning night into day!

Kentmere 400 Review

Developing Kentmere 400 in Xtol / Rodinal

For reference, I developed the roll of Kentmere 400 (and Ilford Pan 400) from this film test in my usual soup of Xtol and Rodinal film developers. I’ve used this developing mix for so long it is as much of a safety blanket for me when it comes to film developing. My results may look very similar to when using Xtol developer alone but I feel Rodinal can add increased sharpness. You may find these links of interest –

Rodinal stand developing Kentmere 400 film

My developing method for all black and white film is often known as stand developing or in my case semi-stand developing. You can read more about my methodology here –

Kentmere 400 and Ilford Pan 400 film now developed, time to scan and check the results!

Ilford Pan 400 vs Kentmere 400 review

So to back track a little..

After buying a 10 pack of both Kentmere 400 and Ilford Pan 400 films I was keen to see how these two films compared. Both emulsions are made by Ilford and both are 35mm 400 speed black and white film. Time for a Ilford Pan 400 vs Kentmere 400 review / shoot out comparison test!

YouTube – Kentmere 400 vs Pan 400 film test

The film test. I took one roll of each film for a day of photos in London. My camera of choice was the Voigtlander Bessa L + Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide Heliar. Here is some footage from making the some of the photos shared in this article.

Conclusion – Kentmere vs Ilford Pan 400

After exposing my first roll of each film I would say the Ilford Pan 400 is worth paying the very slightly higher price tag. To my eyes anyway. I’m not a pixel peeper but Pan 400 just looker ‘better’ or at worst no different to Kentmere. Both Kentmere 400 and Ilford Pan 400 films perform great and I have no complaints with either. I just think Pan 400 has that edge for my taste. That being, slightly sharper or with higher resolution from my test. You can decide for yourself from the sample images I share.

My conclusion findings is very much as expected after using Kentmere 100 and Ilford Pan 100 films before. Pan 100 is an awesome film that is well worth trying if you can get it and Kentmere 100 is fine to use too.

35mm Panorama

Kentmere 400 review – First impressions

Kentmere 400 is a very usable emulsion that I will be happy to use it if I need 35mm 400 speed black and white film. The film latitude and especially the shadow detail is fantastic and the grain is not too over powering. Kentmere is very easy to develop, as claimed, and the price is good for a 400 speed film.

I plan to shoot more Kentmere 400 at ISo 800 and maybe 1600. For when there is more light I will continue to use Fomapan 100 as my go to 35mm B&W film for ISO 100/200 (to 400). Fomapan is cheaper and just as good as Kentmere or similar budget films.

Sample photo captured on Fomapan 100 film:

Nikon F5 Portrait

Kodak TMax 400 vs Kentmere 400

Yes Kentmere 400 is no match for the amazing Kodak TMax 400 film. TMax 400 is the benchmark test for me for 400 speed 35mm film. (Ilford XP2 Super 400 is also a fine detail 400 speed B&W film but this is a C41 film). In terms of sharpness and resolution there is no contest, Kodak TMax is the clear winner. Kentmere 400 vs TMax 400 is like comparing apples to oranges (as they say). These are very different films in most aspects and Kentmere is almost half the cost of TMax.

Example photo captured on Kodak TMax 400 film:

35mm Kodak TMax 400 Portrait
Classic look vs Modern (Kentmere vs TMax)

Kentmere offers a more classic look from being less perfect (vs. TMax), having more visible grain and lower contrast. Kodak TMax 400 is very modern and smooth looking from the fine T-grain structure. T-Max 400 is the best 400 speed film, especially in 35mm film format in terms of resolving power and look for my taste. That said TMax is so perfect it can look almost digital especially in 120 film format. I do quite like the classic look of film photography so Kentmere 400 will suit my needs in many instances and especially for low light.

More Kentmere sample photos

Once I have shot my 3rd, 4th, 5th roll of Kentmere 400 I will embed more sample photos. I’m keen to try some more portraits and try experimenting with this film pushed +2 and +3 stops especially (in a controlled environment!).

Where to buy Kentmere 400 film stock

You can now buy 35mm Kentmere film in the UK and Europe too. As mentioned, originally it was only available in the US.

  • 35mm Kentmere 400 film – Amazon UK / US

A sample of other black and white film reviews

You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!

  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit – HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE

Voigtlander Bessa L Review (Best 35mm Wide Angle Film Camera, for me!)

Voigtlander Bessa L Review (Best 35mm Wide Angle Film Camera, for me!)

Voigtlander Bessa L review, photos and YouTube video. Comparing the Bessa L to the Bessa T, Bessa R and Leica iii film cameras. Looking for the best 35mm wide angle lens film camera? (Excluding the Xpan!) You may appreciate the Bessa L. I love it!

Voigtlander Bessa L Review

Review of the Voigtlander Bessa L film camera

I love it! Get one! The end.

The ‘Modern’ Voigtlander Bessa L camera ?

The Voigtlander Bessa L camera is my most modern film camera.. I think. (Actually my Fuji GF670  is my newest film camera, released in 2008 and made until 2014). The Bessa L camera was slightly earlier and was introduced in 1999 and produced until 2003. That makes this camera 60 years newer than the Leica iiia camera I use! Funnily enough it was the Leica iiia camera that lead me to buying the Voigtlander Bessa L!

Buying the Bessa L camera

As with most of my camera purchases the Voigtlander Bessa L camera buy was completely unplanned. It wasn’t until the end of the buying decision when I was deciding between different Voigtlander film camera models that I went for the Bessa L model. I was not on the market to buy another 35mm film camera but when I discovered the Bessa L there was no going back!

Voigtlander Bessa L vs T (or R and variants)

One decision you may have if you look to buy a Voigtlander Bessa film camera is which model to buy. There is the Voigtlander Bessa L, T, R, R2, R3, R4.. I wont list all the camera specs of each version of the Bessa as you can find this information online already. What I will do is just list some of the key features to be aware of – see below. (This is what appeared important to me but your camera specs wish list might be different).


Comparison of Voigtlander Bessa L,T,R, R2,R3

  • Bessa L – LTM mount + No rangefinder + No viewfinder
  • Bessa T – Leica M mount + Coupled rangefinder + No viewfinder
  • Bessa R – LTM mount + Combined coupled rangefinder + Viewfinder
  • Bessa R2 – Leica M mount + Combined coupled rangefinder + Viewfinder
  • Bessa R3 versions – Leica M mount + Combined coupled rangefinder/ VF
  • Bessa R4 versions – Leica M mount + Combined coupled rangefinder/ VF

Key Specs of Voigtlander Bessa L (vs Leica M6!)

The Voigtlander Bessa L has the following features. I compare the Bessa L to my Leica M6 as that is a camera many rangefinder camera fans probably know of.

3 Reasons why I bought the Bessa L camera

(1) Camera Weight

My ‘need’ that related to buying the Voigtlander Bessa L is could I find a lighter version of my beloved Leica iiia camera. The camera had to weigh less than the 410g Leica iiia (which is already around 100g lighter than a Leica M camera).

(2) LTM Mount (Leica thread mount)

The camera also needed to be LTM mount as my smallest lightest lenses are LTM lenses (Leica thread mount). (Review and YouTube video of my LTM lenses soon!). When searching the web for such a camera I somehow stumbled across the Bessa L camera. At first I was tempted by the Leica T camera which has a Leica M mount. Why. Because I have more Leica M mount lenses so it seemed to make better sense. I then realised my sole purpose of this camera purchase was to get the lightest setup. The Voigtlander Bessa L is only 320g(!!!!) making it the lightest Cosina Voigtlander camera as far as I know. The Bessa L is also LTM mount. Tick box.

(3) No built-in rangefinder

The final reason that sold the camera to me was the fact that the Voigtlander Bessa L has no rangefinder. Why is that good? It is good as my Voigtlander Bessa R3A camera rangefinder has nearly always been out of alignment (even after having it repaired at least twice). Cosina Voigtlander rangefinders are not built as well as a Leica rangefinder. Repair guys have said to me “just buy a Leica”, in the days before I had a Leica!

One reason why you don’t need the Bessa L!

The obvious argument against buying the Bessa L is I could just use the Bessa R3A camera and zone focusing. Wallah! I have the same setup as the Bessa L and I save some money. Yes except the Bessa L is smaller and lighter so that was my argument to buy.

If you are a normal person (and are not trying to save one or two grams like me!) you can use any Leica M or Cosina Voigtlander camera. Get the 15mm Voigtlander lens and zone focus and you have basically the same setup as I am enjoying.

For my ultra running training miles and cycling adventures (previous called Ironman training!) I just prefer to have this lighter camera setup.


Voigtlander Bessa L Portrait

As a portrait photographer I wanted to try the Bessa L for portraits even with the Voigtlander 15mm lens attached. Here was my first attempt! (Cropped as a square).

Bessa L Portrait

35mm Panorama Cameras / 35mm Panoramic

Do you remember the APS film cameras of the 1990s? I do. I had one myself (as a non-photographer/ starting to realise I maybe like photos person). It was years later before I got into photography so i’m not even sure what camera I had. Some cheap point and shoot I think. I just remember being able to capture these ‘amazing long photos’ (panoramas / panoramic images).

It wasn’t until very recently that I gave this topic any thought. Did you know that the long impressive APS film images are just a narrow crop of a standard 35mm film negative!? I feel stupid for not realising this sooner but the point I am very slowly trying to get to is I can now do panorama images with my wide lens Voigtlander Bessa L camera setup!

(I may cover this in more detail in a future post if it is something I get into but in very simple terms it gives me a cheap lightweight compact Hasselblad XPan to play with!). (The XPan is of course better but for fun photos I want to experiment with the Bessa L).

Voigtlander Bessa L Panorama Photo

Here is my first attempt of a 35mm panorama photo with the Bessa L

Bessa L Panorama

More Voigtlander Bessa L Photos

If you see the Kentmere 400 film review or Ilford Pan 400 film review you will find more example images using the Bessa L camera. (I will link these reviews once they are written!)

Ilford Pan 400 Photo
35mm Kentmere 400 B&W

Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm lens – LTM

As mentioned the Voigtlander Bessa L comes with a 15mm lens attached and it’s own hotshoe mount Voigtlander 15mm viewfinder. The standard lens on the Bessa L camera is the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5 lens which is the LTM mount version. The LTM mount lens is different to the Leica M mount Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm as it is smaller and can focus to 0.3m vs. 0.5m. A great feature that I will use/ am already using. The LTM lens can be used on a Leica M camera via the Leica M – LTM adapter.

Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm – Leica M

For Leica M film cameras and Leica M digital cameras I already use the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide Heliar M mount lens. Optically I believe both versions of the lens are the same so you probably don’t need both. I only bought the LTM mount lens (which came on the Bessa L) to use specifically on LTM mount cameras (to get the smaller possible setup).

Super Wide Heliar 15mm
Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar
Brooklyn Bridge Black and White

Voigtlander 15mm purple edges issue (on digital)

If you plan to buy the Voigtlander Bessa L camera partly just for the 15mm Heliar lens you should be aware of the following. The Voigtlander 15mm Heliar Super Wide lens is fine on a film camera body (LTM version or M mount version of the lens), whether a Leica M6, Voigtlander Bessa R3A or a Leica iii camera, as examples. Where you see ‘issues’ is if you use the 15mm lens on a full frame digital camera.

Purple edge Voigtlander 15mm photo

Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm Purple Edges
Taken with a Leica M240 camera

Voigtlander 15mm lens on Leica digital cameras

On my digital Leica M240 and Leica M9 cameras I experience purple edges from the Voigtlander 15mm lens. This is not an issue if you shoot in black and white or on a crop sensor camera body but it’s worth noting. The lens should be fine on the Leica CL or Leica M8 for example.. or even a Lumix GH5.

Voigtlander Bessa L Review – Summary

If this article hasn’t given you an idea of how much I am liking the Bessa L camera then my YouTube video might (below). If you are looking for a lightweight LTM camera body or a cheaper alternative to a Leica you may like the Bessa L. If you enjoy the Leica i, ii or iii but want a camera that you can use faster (faster film loading, film advance, film rewind) and/ or you want a built in lightmeter then the Voigtlander Bessa L is a camera you may want to consider.

YouTube Voigtlander Bessa L Review (+ vs Leica iii)

More rangefinder camera reviews

  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE

Hasselblad 645 Photos (A16 Hasselblad 645 Back)(V vs H System 6×4.5 Film)

Here I share some Hasselblad 645 photos using the less common A16 Hasselblad 645 back. (This provides a more economical alternative to the classic 6×6 Hasselblad A12 film back). I also discuss the option of Hasselblad V vs H system for Hasselblad 6×4.5 film images.

Hasselblad 645 Photos (A16 Hasselblad 645 Back)(V vs H System 6×4.5 Film)

Here I share some Hasselblad 645 photos using the less common A16 Hasselblad 645 back. (This provides a more economical alternative to the classic 6×6 Hasselblad A12 film back). I also discuss the option of Hasselblad V vs H system for Hasselblad 6×4.5 film images.

Fomapan 100 Classic Portrait

Hasselblad classic 6×6 film back (A12 back)

The standard film back for Hasselblad V series or Hasselblad 500 series cameras is the 6×6 format Hasselblad A12 film back. The classic Hasselblad square format gives 12 photos per roll of 120 film. As much as I love the Hassy square format occasionally a subject or scene is better suited to a rectangular composition. Rather than just crop a square film negative scan to the desired more narrow final dimensions I rather see and compose the final image in camera.


A16 Hasselblad 645 film back

To be able to shoot rectangular format with the Hasselblad cameras I bought myself some A16 Hasselblad film backs. These are 6×4.5 format film backs that give an extra 4 photos per roll of 120 film. 16 photos not the usual 12. Not only does this make it more economical to shoot film but it means I can compose the final images in camera. The 645 film format often suits my portrait images better than a square (for my taste)(unless a Hasselblad headshot). The 6×4.5 crop also works nicely for some horizontal compositions.

Hasselblad Double Exposure

Hasselblad 645 Back + Hasselblad 500CM/501C

Here I show my usual Hasselblad 500 setup whether it is a Hasselblad 500CM or 501C camera. I usually prefer to use the 45 degree prism viewfinder as I find it easier to focus my images. In an ideal situation I would use a carbon monopod and a cable release as shown here. Often I don’t do this but it does help to keep the camera steady if using slower shutter speeds. On cloudy days in Europe I often shoot with a shutter speed of 1/60 with the lens at it’s widest aperture. Again, where possible I use a lens hood but if I have to travel with minimal kit I will use the Hasselblad without it and with a waist lens finder instead. (For the smallest lightest setup).

My Hasselblad Rig! 📷😁 #hasselblad501c #hasselblad #zeiss #zeissplanar #hasselbladlove #6x6 #cameraporn #sirui #monopod #120 #mediumformat #film #lovefilm #ishootfilm #bellows #camera #filmcamera #filmforever #filmphotographer #cameragear www.M

645 Hasselblad SWC /M setup

Here I show my Hasselblad SWC/M camera setup. The SWC is a fixed lens Hasselblad so it looks the same most the time. What you see here is probably the same as most photos you will see of the Hasselblad Super Wide.

Hasselblad 645 Portraits

120 Ilford HP5 Portrait
Hasselblad A16 Back Portrait
Mamiya 7 Double Exposure
Hasselblad 100mm Portrait

More Hasselblad 645 Photos (Hasselblad 501C/500CM)

501c Hasselblad Portrait
Fomapan 100@800
Hasselblad 80mm Portrait
Hasselblad 645 Portrait
Hasselblad 645 Film Back Portrait
Hasselblad A16 Film Back Portrait

645 Hasselblad SWC Photos

In addition to using the A16 645 film back on the Hasselblad 500 cameras I also use it on my Hasselblad Super Wide (aka. Hasselblad SWC/M). With the SWC camera the composition is often a guestimate, as is the focusing. There is no mirror or coupled rangefinder for precision focusing. This makes the 645 format good for me as I just aim at the horizon for a horizontal image.

Hasselblad SWC/M Super Wide Camera
Hasselblad SWC Portrait Photos
Hasselblad SWC/M
Hasselblad SWC-M Fashion
Hasselblad SWC Landscapes – 645 Format
Hasselblad SWC / M 645
Budapest Market B&W
Hasselblad Super Wide 645
Hasselblad SWC/M 645
Close up images with the Hasselblad SWC/M

You may wonder how it is possible to focus so accurately when you can’t focus the SWC camera via a mirror or rangefinder? The answer is you can get a Hasselblad SWC/M adapter to clip on the rear of the camera to provide a ground glass. The camera then becomes a mini 4×5 camera where you focus on the back of the camera. (See the full Hasselblad SWC/M review to see this in practice).

Hasselblad SWC/M Focus Screen
Zeiss Biogon Bokeh
Hasselblad SWC 645

645 Hasselblad Photo – Camera Options

The two common options to shoot 645 Hasselblad photos are –

  1. Hasselblad V series camera + Hasselblad A16 film back
  2. Hasselblad H series camera + Hasselblad H film back

Option 1 is covered above in this review where I use my Hasselblad 500CM, Hasselblad 501C and Hasselblad SWC / M cameras.

Option 2 was covered in my Hasselblad H3D camera review using a 645 film back – Digital Camera That Shoots Film!? (Hasselblad H Film Back)

Hasselblad SWC-M Portrait

Hasselblad H3D-31 Camera

The Hasselblad H3D-31 is a brilliant camera as the platform lets you use either a standard Hasselblad H digital back or a Hasselblad H film back.

Here is an example photo using the Hasselblad H3D camera with it’s 645 format film back. You can find a full review of the Hasselblad H system together with example images at – Digital Camera That Shoots Film!? (Hasselblad H Film Back)

Hasselblad H3D Film Back

Best Hasselblad 645 camera setup

What is the best Hasselblad 645 camera setup if your love Hasselblad and want to shoot 645 film rather than the standard Hasselblad 6×6 format? You should check out the mentioned Hasselblad H3D film back article (Digital Camera That Shoots Film!? (Hasselblad H Film Back) to draw you own conclusions but for me the H3D camera gives better photos.

This might be purely down to the autofocus lens of the Hasselblad H3D or the fact that I use the 80mm f2.8 lens on the H system. On the V series cameras I tend to use other focal lengths whether shorter (say 60mm) or longer (100mm, 120mm, 150mm..). There should be enough example images from both cameras shared to let you decide what camera setup would suit your taste best. If you are in the market for a Hasselblad 645 system that is.

Hasselblad H vs V system – What is better?

So what does better mean? Hasselblad H vs V system. In my conclusion I am looking only at the final photos. I am not considering all the pros and cons of each camera. To me it is usually the image that is the most important aspect of a camera. You can have a cheap simple camera that takes amazing photos and likewise a beautiful expensive camera that takes average photos. (I will perhaps write a Hasselblad H vs V system camera comparison in a future article).


My preferred Hasselblad H3D camera setup

Hasselblad H3D camera body + 645 film back + Hasselblad HC 80mm f/2.8 kit lens.

Hasselblad 500 vs Hasselblad SWC – In more details

More Hasselblad Camera Specific Blog Posts

You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!

  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit – HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE

How To – Fake Window Light with Flash (Speedlight Portraits)(YouTube Tutorial)

How To – Fake Window Light with Flash (Speedlight Portraits)(YouTube Tutorial)

Do you ever wish you had more light for window portraits? Do you live in a country with limited daylight during the winter months? In the UK there can be insufficient light for my portrait photography on grey overcast days. For this reason I boost the available light with flash (or additional light sources). See below for how I do it.

Tamron 45mm f1.8 Portrait

Single speedlight portraits (fake window light)

In this post I will show you how to fake window light with very simple setup. The YouTube video linked below includes lighting diagrams and behind the scenes video during a model portrait session together with example photos.

Digital cameras with high ISO – No need for flash?

It is worth mentioning that with many modern digital cameras you can use ISO 3200, ISO 6400 and higher (on some cameras such as Sony). With such a high ISO you will probably never need to use flash photography. That said, it is a good skill to have to be able to make light anywhere on demand.

Film photography vs Digital (Lighting)

When it comes to using film cameras light is much more important than it is for digital. It’s a necessity. The most popular film stocks are ISO 100 or ISO 400. There are then films like Kodak Portra 800, CinesStill 800T for if you need more light (than ISO 100-400). Above ISO 800 you have Ilford Delta 3200 and Kodak TMax 3200 as some very low light film options.

Personally I’m not a huge fan of these high ISO films. The extra film grain created when working in low light can be too much for my portraiture. For this reason I usually shoot at ISO 100-400 and create the light as needed. (Grain can look awesome but I prefer for other styles of photography, when the grain is that apparent.

Leica M240 vs Leica CL - Ektachrome vs Provia

Advantages of 35mm film cameras

When I’m not using flash for portraits I often shoot with 35mm film cameras such as the Leica M3 or Nikon FE2. The advantage of the 35mm camera system is you can use fast lenses with maximum apertures of f1.0 (Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens), f1.2 (Nikkor 50mm f1.2 ai-s lens), f1.4 (Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens) and so on. I usually shoot with a shutter speed of 1/60 handheld for my portraits as it seems there is always insufficient light. I can’t remember the last time I used 1/125 so I must live under a cloud!

Mamiya 7 Review - Photo

Disadvantage of medium format cameras

Unlike 35mm film cameras medium format cameras tend to have slower lenses. There are a few rare fast lenses such as the Mamiya 645 80mm f1.9 lens and the Contax 645 80mm f2 lens. Both are great portrait lenses and let me work in less light. For most other medium format film camera systems the fastest lens is usually f2.8 and many lenses being f4. The Hasselblad 501C is an good example of this. An f4 lens on a cloudy winter days is not going to work for window portraits unless you push the film to perhaps ISO 1600. For that reason I use flash to mimic daylight. Some old film cameras can work with flash triggers, some with PC sync cables, and with some there is no option to use flash at all.

Fomapan Retropan 320 Soft

Window Light Portraits

Below are unedited images from the Leica CL camera SD card preview. Which of the following sets of portrait images are made with flash? A,B,C,D,E,F as marked below.

See the YouTube video for the answer (linked further down in this post).


YouTube Lighting Tutorial

In this YouTube video I also include diagrams of the different lighting setups I use. You can then hopefully replicate the setup to get a similar look.

YouTube Video – Window light portraits with a speedlight

Speedlight Related Blog Posts

Here are some more photo shoots as examples using speedlights for portraits

Leica iiia Review (+ vs Leica M3) + Buying old Cameras/ Lenses on eBay

Leica iiia Review + Buying old Cameras/ Lenses on eBay (+ Leica iiia vs Leica M3)

Do you know what a Leica iii camera is? Me neither until one week ago! This Leica iiia review will explain some of the basics and I will share what I now know. It also accompanies my new Leica M3 vs Leica iiia review video on YouTube (linked below)

Leica iiia + Summitar 5cm f2

Why did I buy another Leica camera!?

If you have seen my YouTube channel or follow this blog you will know I don’t need any more cameras. I was happy with what I had. I didn’t even really know what a Leica iii was other than an ‘old Leica’.

So what happened? Well I blame the Leica Thambar 90mm lens! (Review still to follow!) Why? After using the Thambar lens and appreciating the vintage look rendered by this glass I decided to get on eBay. I didn’t go online to buy a £5000+ Thambar lens though. Instead I thought it would be smarter and much cheaper to just pick up a very early Leica lens. Early Leica lenses often have no lens coating so can create that vintage look straight out the box. A vintage look may commonly be thought of as low contrast, soft corners to the image, risk of lens flare and often more interesting bokeh and with less clinical rendering.

Leica iiia + Summitar 5cm f2

Vintage Leica lenses (Especially LTM Leica lenses)

I already own some of the early Leica M mount glass such as the Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens and Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 lens. My plan was to therefore look for even older lenses with the early 1930s lens design. Lenses of this period are the Leica screw mount or Leica thread mount (LTM) design. These early Leica lenses screw into the camera body rather than the standard Leica M mount bayonet fit. You can then use a cheap eBay adapter to mount Leica LTM lenses to Leica M cameras (Leica M – Leica LTM adapter).

Leica iiia + Elmar 5cm  f/3.5

Leica lens or vintage Leica camera + lens?

After scrolling through pages of vintage Leica lenses listed on eBay I noticed that in some cases the lens was being sold with the same period 1930s-1950s Leica camera. What surprised me more so was the additional cost to buy the same lens with a camera included was minimal. Why buy just a lens when I could have a lens and a new camera to play with!? “MrLeica should own at least one vintage Leica camera” I told myself! With that I put a bid on and it was happily accepted. Woohoo!


Risks with buying vintage Leica equipment on eBay

Buying vintage Leica cameras on eBay

If like me you become inspired to check out the old Leica gear on eBay in search of a bargain you need to be a little bit careful. If a camera is 80 years old there is a chance it may be in need of a full service or CLA before it will work as originally intended. The shutter speeds may be slow and not accurate for example. Some eBay sellers state that the camera will work/ “may not work”/ “just for parts”. My seller shared a YouTube video showing the camera working so I felt safe to make my purchase.

If you look at multiple listings for the same camera this will give you an idea of the price range from cheapest to most expensive. My observation was that often for the best deal you should look to purchase a camera with a lens attached rather than buy a camera and lens individually.

Buying vintage Leica lenses on eBay

For vintage Leica lenses the uncoated front elements were very prone to scratches. With an 80 year old lens from this era it is also common to find haze, fungus or dust inside. A 1930s – 1950s Leica lens can be a gamble but you may get lucky. Often the cheaper lenses listed will be in the least mint condition but you may find a gem amongst them. Equally the more you pay the better condition the lens should be in but this isn’t always guaranteed. You may just pay over the going rate for a bad copy of the lens. It is worth checking the eBay seller’s photo and description carefully to try to determine if the lens has clear optics before buying.

Leica screw mount cameras or LTM mount

Before the days of the very popular Leica M cameras there was the original Leica cameras. Oscar Barnack designed the first Leica screw mount camera and these were produced from the 1930s to the 1950s. In the mid-1950s the Leica M3 was released (the first Leica M film camera) and that soon replaced the earlier Barnack-design Leicas. There was some overlap with the Leica iiiG being released after the Leica M3.

Leica Elmar + Nooky Hesum

Leica iiia vs Leica M3 – Build quality

With my background being Leica M cameras I’ve always said the Leica M3 is the best M camera. One reason is it is beautifully made with seemingly no expense spared. If anyone asked me I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the best made Leica is the Leica M3. Then I bought my 1939 Leica iiia. That changed my opinion instantly! I don’t buy cameras to polish and put in a cabinet and for me a Leica is a tool. Saying that I was still blown away by the beauty and elegance of the Leica iiia camera. It is the closest camera I have seen to an over engineered finely crafted swiss time piece. I think I would be happy just to photograph it as a subject and use it as a prop!

Leica iiig Portrait (of the Leica iiia)
Photo of the Leica iiia taken with a Leica iiig (Leica iiig review to follow!)

Leica M3 vs Leica iiia – Ease of use

Yes the Leica iiia camera is beautiful but it is slower to use so will not suit everyone. Unlike the Leica M3 with it’s big bright combined viewfinder/ rangefinder window the Leica iiia has two separate tiny windows. Looking at the back of the camera the left window is the rangefinder, so you can focus you image. The right window is the viewfinder to compose you image. You need to move you eye from the left window to the right window before taking the photo. The Leica iiia reminds me of my vintage 6×9 Soviet Moskva-5 camera in that regard (See here for sample images – Moskva-5).

The Leica iiia viewfinder/ rangefinder design together with the film advance nob rather than a lever makes the camera slower to take photos. The Leica iiia is also slower to load film into as the back plate of the camera does not open. This makes it a little bit more fiddly to ensure that the film is engaged into the sprockets correctly.


How to load film into a Leica iiia (YouTube)

I have recorded a YouTube video to demonstrate how to load film into a Leica iiia camera (or any Leica iii camera). I will link it here once posted.

Leica iiia portraits / test photos!

Leica Elmar 50mm f3.5
Elmar 5cm f/3.5 Portrait
Leica LTM Portrait
Leica iiia Portrait
Summitar + Nooky Hesum Adapter

Summary of the Leica iiia vs Leica M3 Specs

*I couldn’t find anywhere online about the Leica iiia viewfinder magnification, sorry

Cheap Leica film camera – is there such a thing!?

Actually yes! Yes there is such a thing as a cheap Leica camera. For the price of a second hand Nikon SLR film camera you can actually get yourself a beautiful vintage Leica camera! I know this fact as I have bought both these cameras in the last 12 months. Yes the Nikon F cameras are far more practical but if you really have you heart set on a Leica it is possible on a budget. The Leica iiia is approximately 1/3 of the cost of a Leica M3 camera. Prices vary widely but i’m basing this on paying £200 for a Leica iiia camera body and £600 for a Leica M3 camera body. You can pay more or less for both these cameras on the used market depending on the camera condition etc.


So what are my thoughts so far of the Leica iiia?

As summarised above, I love the lightweight compact yet elegant build of the Leica iiia camera. Perfect for fitting into a jacket pocket when going out for the day or in my case to fit into a jersey pocket if cycling/ hydration vest pocket if running! The Leica iiia is better suited for when you have time to take your photos. It would not suit a fast paced environment such as a Leica wedding shoot. (Too slow to operate and too slow film loading). I’m very glad to have discovered these older Leica cameras and I look forward to taking it on trips in 2020. (You will be able to see when I do as I will show my’ adventures’ on YouTube!)(I’ve booked a few cheap flights already to try to help keep things interesting!).

Leica M3 vs Leica iiia (YouTube)

More Leica articles

  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE