Rolleicord III Review (My first TLR camera!)

Rolleicord III Review (My first TLR camera!)

Here is a short Rolleicord III review after recently buying my first TLR camera. I love it, especially the TLR experience it gives. Write up and YouTube video together with some sample photos.

YouTube! Rolleicord III Review

My first Twin Reflex Camera! (“TLR”)

If you have visited this blog before you will probably be aware that I don’t need any more film cameras. I have resisted the urge to try a TLR camera for years even though I was aware of their existence. I thought if I don’t look at them then I can’t be tempted to buy one. “Sadly” one of my YouTube followers suggested I try a twin reflex camera. He even went out his way to send me direct links to actual TLR cameras listed on eBay ha. That was just mean! He owns many Rollei cameras (Rolleiflex and Rolleicord) so was able to suggest the best models to look for. (At least I was well informed!).

Rolleicord III TLR camera

After being tempted by the Rollei TLRs I searched on eBay myself and got lucky to find a Rolleicord III TLR camera bundle. It was priced more than the Rolleicord camera alone (based on average price) but came with the Rolleinar close focus lenses which I was really interested in. (See more on the Rolleinar lenses below).

Leica iiia + Summitar 5cm

My Rolleicord (What is a Rolleicord?)

The Rolleicord III is a 1950’s twin reflex camera, produced from 1950 to 1953. It is a medium format film camera that takes 120 film and gives 12 6×6 images per roll. The lens that captures the images (the “taking lens”) is a Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 75mm f3.5. The camera comes with a Compur-Rapid shutter that offers shutter speeds of 1 second to 1/500 second (+ bulb mode). It is a leaf shutter lens meaning you can sync flash at up to 1/500 when connecting via the PC sync port.

If you have used large format cameras such as the Intrepid 4×5 Camera you will recognise the lens is similar in design. Leaf shutter lenses are quiet and can be used at slower shutter speeds handheld due to no mirror slap vibration. To take a photo you use the waist level finder and look down into the top of camera to focus and compose. This is different to SLR and rangefinder cameras which are used at eye level.

Rolleicord Price?

What did surprise me is that some Rollei TLR cameras can be quite affordable. I have only really looked at the popular Rolleiflex f2.8 cameras in the past which can come with a price tag similar to a Hasselblad camera. The more basic Rolleicord model is priced much lower and similar to a Leica iiia camera cost. (To put that in context Leica iiia cameras are excellent value for money compared to a Leica M Film Camera). Therefore the Rolleicord also offer great value as an introduction to Rollei TLR cameras.

Rolleinar 2 Close Up Filter
KMZ Iskra 6×6 folding camera captured with my Rolleicord III + Rolleinar 2 close focus lens

TLR camera vs Folding camera

Vintage folding cameras

In recent months I’ve really started to appreciate vintage folding cameras. These little cameras offer excellent value for money and in a very compact setup. A great example is the vintage Voigtlander Perkeo camera. A tiny 6×6 medium format folding camera that is similar size to a Leica camera body. Small enough to carry when out running or cycling. (See the YouTube video on my favourite small cameras if interested – https://youtu.be/J6ChIM_pFx8).

Rolleicord TLR camera

TLR cameras such as the Rolleicord are compact when compared to say a Hasselblad 501C or the Rolleiflex SL66E. All these cameras are 6×6 film format. To have the excuse to buy a Rolleicord TLR camera it needed to offer me something different (or extra). Folding cameras are rangefinder cameras so are great to photograph distance subjects. Objects at 1 meter or further distances are fine but usually no closer. For that 1 meter or closer the Rolleicord can help if fitted with a Rolleinar close focus lens kit.

Rolleicord III Review
Rolleicord III with Rolleinar 1 lenses attached (+ Rolleicord lens hood)

Rolleicord Rolleinar close focus lenses

The Rolleicord III camera bundle I bought interested me mostly because of the Rolleinar close focus lenses it came with. These are called Rolleicord bay 1 mount and also fit other TLR cameras with the same bay 1 mount.

The Rolleinar 1 close focus lens lets the Rolleicord focus at less than one meter and should be perfect for my portraits. The Rolleinar 2 lens set is more magnified and lets you photograph closer. I might try for headshots but have also used it for less macro flower photos. Call it an environmental portrait of a flower (with it’s surroundings!). There is also a Rolleinar 3 close up lens for extreme close up photos but I don’t have this one.

Rolleinar 1, 2, 3 difference

Each of these Rolleinar close focus kits are a set of two lenses. For each set the deeper lens fits onto the viewing lens of the Rolleicord (top lens). The more shallow Rolleinar lens of each set fits onto the taking lens (lower lens). Here is the Rolleinar 1, 2, 3 difference if looking to buy one.

Rolleinar 1, 2, 3 focus distances

When the Rolleinar is attached to the camera lens this is the useable focus distance (no infinity focus*) –

  • Rolleinar 1: 45cm – 1m (Half body portraits to headshots)
  • Rolleinar 2: 31cm – 50cm (Tight headshot/ creative portrait crop)
  • Rolleinar 3: 24cm – 32cm (Small detail photos such as a little flower)

Rolleicord portraits

I’ve not yet had the oppotunity to photograph any models due to the virus lockdown. The best I could do was some Rolleicord selfies! Once life is back to normal I will link some Rolleicord portraits here.

Rolleicord Selfie
Rolleicord III Selfie

More Rolleicord test photos!

Sorry subjects were limited during lockdown so I had to use what I had around the house (and the best light I could find!).

Rolleicord III Test Photo
Lockdown Photography! Rolleicord III
Rolleicord Xenar 75mm f3.5 Test

YouTube: Rolleicord III Review – First Thoughts

Rolleicord III Review – Summary

The Rolleicord III camera was the perfect introduction to TLR cameras for me. I really appreciated the TLR camera view of the world. Yes I know you can say it is the same as using a Hasselblad, Mamiya RZ67 or Mamiya 645 camera with their WLF (waist level finders). In theory it is but I can’t use these cameras when trying to photograph with the camera at waist height. I can with the Rolleicord as I can see to compose clearly.

The Rolleinar close focus lenses make this camera work for me and I think they will be on the Rolleicord most of the time. The Rolleicord III is the perfect partner to one of my portable vintage 6×6 folding cameras. Together they offer an excellent medium format camera setup which is compact enough to travel with.

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Lomography 800 Review (35mm Film & Lomo 800 120 Portraits)

Lomography 800 Review (35mm Film & Lomo 800 120 Portraits)

Have you been tempted by Lomography film but haven’t tried it yet? That was my position too until very recently. In this Lomography 800 review I test both Lomo 800 120 film and Lomo 800 35mm film stocks. See the results I obtained (mostly Lomo 800 portraits) below and my first impressions!

Lomography 800 film test

If you’ve read my Lomography Petzval 85 Art lens review you will know I have worked with the awesome Lomography guys before. Lomography UK kindly sent me some of their Lomo 800 film to try out and I share the results below.

I test 35mm Lomo 800 film with a Leica M4-P camera in Tenerife. For 120 Lomo 800 film I used two different medium format folding cameras. A Fuji GF670 using the 6×6 film format in the UK and a Fujica GS645 6×4.5 camera in Romania. (Cameras linked below).

Exposed 35mm Lomography 800 + 120 Lomography 800 films going to the lab

How did this Lomography film test come about?

When Kodak increased all their film prices earlier this year I started to look at alternative film emulsions to try. For black and white films there are many film stocks available but when it comes to colour film the options are more limited. This is especially true if you want colour 120 film for medium format cameras. There are various budget colour films such as Fujicolor C200, Kodak Colorplus 200, Kodak Gold 200 and so on but all these films are only made in 35mm film format. For this reason I wanted to try Lomo 800 as a cheaper colour film for my Hasselblad 501C, Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Mamiya 7, Mamiya 6 and so on!

120 colour negative films

If like me you are looking for 120 colour negative film for portraits the options become reduced to a handful. Kodak Portra (160, 400, 800), Kodak Ektar 100, Fuji Pro 400H, Cinestill (50D and 800T) and Lomography film (as the common options). One film I keep seeing mentioned on social media is Lomography 800 but they also offer Lomo 100 and Lomo 400 films. I have already tried all the non-Lomography mentioned films so I was keen to give Lomography film a try.

Mixed reviews online

If you’ve every searched for Lomography 800 review online you will probably find mixed reviews. Some photographers seem to like it, other less so. Lomography film seems to be considered a budget film stock but the film price doesn’t reflect this. I think the film was cheaper when it was first released but the often bad reviews and some of the results put me off trying it. Some call in a fun film, others not for serious application. Some suggest it is rebranded old film stock but I have no details on this. I wanted to give Lomo 800 a try anyway and kept an open mind.

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Poor image quality

If like me you use Flickr or Google images as a resource for example photos you are probably going to be disappointed. As with many of the photos I view when researching a lens or camera, you need to go through pages of images to find a few good photos. If you search Lomography 800 film you will find more bad quality photos than you can count. I’m sure this doesn’t help with sales of this film as it would be very easy to be put off buying Lomography film from such photos. (Maybe it is just me and I’m picky in my old age but I expect reasonable image quality from my kit).

I’m happy to see quirky colours or film quirks in general but some photos are just not inspiring. (I’m trying to stay polite). With all of that said I saw a few photos that gave me hope so I was keen to try some Lomo 800 film for myself.

120 Lomography 800 film

For my 120 Lomography 800 film test I wanted to give the film a fair chance. I chose two well regarded cameras, first the amazing Fuji GF670 (aka Voightländer Bessa III) and next the maybe less known Fujica GS645 camera. Both are Fuji medium format folding cameras.

Fuji GF670 + Lomo 800 film (Daytime shoot)

I shot the Fuji GF670 in 6×6 format to give me 12 photos per roll. It also offers 6×7 format as the name suggests but that only give 10 photos per roll. For the 1-2-1 photography workshop I ran in Birmingham I took a roll of Lomo 800 film to try. I knew there would be some colourful scenes to photograph and I had a good model booked. I chose the Fuji GF670 as I needed a compact medium format camera to fit in my bag. With the Hasselblad 501C and Mamiya RZ67 I tend to crop closer so the model fills most of the photo. With the Fuji GF670 it works well for environmental portraits and so I could capture colours in the background behind the models. The GF670 also has a very sharp less so it would show the film at it’s best.

120 Lomo 800 Portraits

All photos were shot in available light and from memory overexposed in camera perhaps 1-2 stops. This means I shot Lomo 800 film at ISO 400 or ISO 200. Why? The maximum shutter speed on the GF670 is 1/500 and I didn’t want to shoot all the photos at say f11. I know you can over expose colour film quite easily so I was not afraid to do so. When Cinestill 800T film hit the market a few years ago I used to shoot it at ISO 100-800 happily.

Film scans – Lomo 800 120 with the Fuji GF670

The results – Lomo 800 portraits working with models Maddison and Casey. The Lomography film was developed in the lab in C41 chemistry and then scanned at home with a Epson V800 flatbed scanner. I cleaned up the photos shared large (linked from my Flickr stream) and the other images were just quickly put through Lightroom.

Film scans and thoughts – UK model photoshoot

Very impressed with the film scans from the Birmingham photoshoot using Lomography film. Amazing details captured on the big 6×6 Lomo 800 negatives and nice colours too. Flattering skin tones with a warm look and vibrant reds, yellows and greens. Much better than expected.

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120 Lomo 800 Film Portrait
Lomo 800 Fashion
Fuji GF670 Portrait
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Lomo 800 vs Kodak Gold 200 film

During my workshop I was also using my Leica M3 loaded with 35mm Kodak Gold 200 film. To see how the films compare here are some Kodak Gold portraits from the same day.

Kodak Gold portraits (as a comparison)

Kodak Gold Skin Tones
35mm Kodak Gold 200 Portrait
Kodak Gold Portrait
Kodak Gold 200 Portrait
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Fuji GS645 + Lomography 800 film (Day and night)

After over exposing my first two rolls (1x 120, 1x 35mm (see below) of Lomography 800 for my third roll I wanted to test it properly. That being to expose the film at ISO 800 and darker (ISO 1600+) and use the film at night. I had the Fujica GS645 folding camera with me for my trip to Romania so I packed the 120 Lomo 800 film. I shot a few frames with a model, Patricia and then the camera seemed to stop working so that was it for that day.

Camera issues..

(It felt like the film was not advancing so that night I unloaded the film back at the apartment (under my duvet!) then reloaded it and hoped it would work. There is a light leak on one of the portraits. I can’t remember if I opened the back in daylight when the camera stopped but either way it is user error not a film defect).

For the rest of the Lomo 800 120 images I shot scenes as I walked around the city of Cluj. It was raining and almost dark when I took some of the photos yet it looks like daylight in the pictures. I was shooting at ISO 800 but my Sekonic lightmeter died so I was guessing the exposure at one stage. I shot the Fuji GS645 Fujinon lens wide open and f3.5 at 1/30 for some photos to try to get enough light into the cameras.

Scanning film – photo of monitor showing preview (*Not true representation)
Film scans and thoughts – Romania

After returning from Romania and seeing the images I was very happy with the Lomo 800 film scans. The film colours, sharpness, subtle grain structure and broad exposure latitude all exceeded my expectations.

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120 Lomography 800 sample photos

Lomo 800 Colours
120 Lomo 800 Colours
Lomo 800 Night Photography
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Lomo 800 vs Kodak Portra 160

When shooting Lomo 800 film in the GS645 in Romania I was also using a Leica CL / Minolta CL) (film camera). The Leica was loaded with 35mm Kodak Portra 160 so not suited to night photography yet both films are comparable. Why?

Medium format cameras often have slow lenses compared to 35mm cameras. For example if I used my Fuji GA645 camera it has a fixed 60mm f4 lens and say the Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM lens on the Leica CL film camera.

In this example if I use an f4 lens and Lomo 800 film this gives the same exposure as using a 100 speed film with an f1.4 lens. A f1.4 lens is 3 stops faster than f4 and ISO 100 is 3 stops slower than ISO 800. I tend to shoot Portra 160 @100 which slightly over exposes the film but roughly speaking photos with the mentioned lenses and films will give comparable image. As such this is why I share the following 35mm Portra 160 film scans. It helps to give a reference point when comparing the colours and tones from each film.

35mm Kodak Portra 160 sample photos- Romania

Leica M4-P + 35mm Lomography 800 film

For my photoshoot trip to Tenerife I packed a roll of 35mm Lomography 800 film to try. The camera I was using for this was a Leica M4-P rangefinder camera. Almost all images were taken with a Topcor 50mm f2 LTM mount lens, via an adapter. Due to the bright conditions I exposed the Lomo 800 film at either ISO 100, 200 and 400. Even though I had not used Lomography film before I felt quite comfortable to over expose Lomo 800 film. Almost all colour negative films benefit from additional light as film retains highlight detail easier than shadow information.

Scanning film – photo of monitor showing preview (*Not true representation)
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Lomo 800 35mm sample photos

I was using multiple cameras and film stocks in Tenerife but here are some sample images with Lomo 800 35mm film. Larger images can be clicked on to view full size.

35mm Lomo 800 Portrait
Lomography 800 Portraits
35mm Lomo 800 Overexposed
35mm Lomo 800 Portrait
Tenerife Lomo 800 35mm film photos – Thoughts

As with the Lomo 800 120 photos above I was very pleased with the 35mm film results. I appreciated the warm tones captured by the film and it worked perfectly to record the hot sunshine photoshoot images. Cooler film tones would have painted the wrong picture and different to how I remember Tenerife. Overexposing Lomo 800 film generally worked well for my taste. I especially like the fine grain structure and highlight detail was still retained well. Some images are perhaps I little to bright which probably resulted in the pastel shades-quirkier colour pallet but overall very happy.

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800 Speed colour films

When looking to buy ISO 800 speed colour film the options are quite limited. For medium format photography (120 format) you can use Cinestill 800, Kodak Portra 800 or Lomography 800 films. 35mm cameras need less light as have faster lenses available. I normally use ISO 100, 200 and 400 speed films in the Leica cameras I use.

Kodak Portra 800 vs Lomography 800

Kodak Portra 800 is the most popular choice for ISO 800 film if you are looking for a professional colour negative film. For paying clients Portra captures flattering skin tones and natural colours. Portra 800 is very popular for analogue wedding photography when there is often insufficient daylight. As Portra colours are more normal looking it perhaps doesn’t offer the same excitment as Lomography 800. I think Lomo 800 adds a bit of fun to images and I like the vibrant colour pop.

120 Kodak Portra 800 example photos

Kodak Portra 800 Portrait
Hasselblad Model Photography
Hasselblad Misfocused
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Cinestill 800 vs Lomography 800

An equally popular ISO 800 colour film is Cinestill 800T. Unlike Kodak Portra 800 and Lomography 800 films Cinestill is tungsten balanced not daylight balanced. This means colours look accurate when the film is shot in warm/ tungsten light. In daylight it is recommended an 85B warming filter is used on the lens. Lomography 800 is better for skin tones in my experience, vs. Cinestill 800. If you use both films in daylight Lomo 800 actually gives an extra stop of light compared to Cinestill. If you use an 85B warming filter it cuts 1 stop of light going into the lens making the ISO 800 film into an ISo 400 film. For daytime photography my choice would be Lomography 800 for the interesting colours yet good skin tones.

For night photography there is no question that Cinestill 800T is an amazing film. It offers the Cinestill halation look too where street lights glow that no other film can offer. Lomography 800 film performs well at night and offers a different colour pallete to Cinestill.

120 Cinestill 800 example images

120 Cinestill 800T (No filter)
120 Cinestill 800T Landscape

Final Verdict – Lomography 800 vs Cinestill 800 vs Portra 800

For night photography I will use Cinestill 800T film for the halation effect and and the tungsten light balance. When I have paying clients and film wedding photography I will use Kodak Portra films for reliable results and pleasing skin tones. For travel photography, creative photos and fun photoshoots I will not hesitate to use Lomography 800 film. Lomo 800 is a great film and well worth a try!

YouTube – Lomography 800 Review

Lomography film on Amazon

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Leica Thambar 90mm Review (f2.2 lens) + Portrait Shoot

Leica Thambar 90mm Review (f2.2 lens) + Portrait Shoot

New lens! Leica Thambar 90mm f2.2 review and photos together with a short BTS YouTube video showing how I captured some of the images.

Leica Thambar Portrait

Lens Test! Leica Thambar 90mm

OK so I will come clean. The Leica Thambar 90mm is not a lens I purchased. I was fortunate enough to test it while visiting the lovely people at the Leica Mayfair store, London. Thank you for the amazing continued customer service!

Leica Thambar-M 90mm Specs

Firstly lets cover some details about the lens –

Portraits with a 90mm Leica Thambar lens

As a portrait photographer if i’m going to test a lens it is going to be via shooting portraits. Model Charli was with me in London so she kindly posed to let me try out the Leica Thambar lens. The 90mm focal length is perhaps less popular with Leica shooters verses say 50mm or 35mm. That said I own two Leica 90mm lenses and I know it is an awesome focal length for portraits. For me the 90mm on a full frame Leica is best for headshots or that is the sweet spot. At this close distance you can render beautifully soft out of focus backgrounds. Half body portraits are OK but for full length I rather use a 50mm lens.

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Leica Thambar spot filter

Unlike all the other Leica M mount lenses I own and use the Leica Thambar 90mm f2.2 is different. The Thambar-M has a removable screw on centre spot filter that fits on the front of the lens. The Leica Thambar spot filter is specifically designed to give this modern 90mm lens the vintage look to match the original 1930s Leica Thambar 90mm lens. With the spot filter attached the soft dreamy look of the lens is magnified 10 fold. Personally it was too much for me so I took the filter off almost immediately. (The photos looked so out of focus I thought there was a problem with my Leica camera!).

Comparision: Leica Thambar 90mm spot filter effect

This was not a planned comparison, they were just two portrait images shot at the beginning of our shoot. The photos on the left are with the spot filter attached. The photos on the right are with the Leica Thambar spot filter removed. (All other photos in the review are with the spot filter removed).

Original images (Camera JPEG, processed via Adobe Lightroom)

Close up crop of same images

Two aperture scales on the Thambar!?

This lens is also unique for me in that the Leica Thambar 90mm has dual aperture scales. The red numbers are for when using the lens with the spot filter attached. The white aperture scale numbers are for when using the lens without the spot filter. (*I used the lens at it’s widest aperture for the whole day and for all images shared).

First impressions of the Leica Thambar 90mm?

My immediate impressions were as I said is there a problem with the lens or the camera!? The image looked so soft it was difficult to tell if it was a rangefinder calibration issue. My first thought was to take of the Leica Thambar spot filter and that fixed the issue straight away. I saw no need to put the filter back on at any stage during the shoot. The photos were still soft and had that classic Leica glow, yet contained sufficient detail/ sharpness to be acceptable to me.

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Leica Thambar portraits – Model Charli

Here are some Leica Thambar portraits shot with the 90mm f/2.2 lens. The first set of images are JPEGs (as the loaned Leica M240 I was using was set to JPEG and I didn’t think to check it!)(*My M240 was in Germany for repair). The second set of Thambar portrait photos were captured as DNG file images. All photos were shot with the mentioned full frame Leica M240 camera and processed vie Adobe Lightroom. (I just apply one of my Leica Lightroom presets to all images then adjusted exposure if needed).

JPEG Leica Thambar 90mm portraits

DNG Leica Thambar 90mm portrait photos / samples

Leica Noctilux 50mm vs Thambar 90mm

As I have the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens here is a quick visual to give a Noctilux vs Thambar comparison. The Noctilux 50mm f1.0 version 2 lens has it’s own signature look but still captures that authentic Leica character. The Thambar 90mm vs Noctilux 50 was not a planned comparison but once I returned the Thambar lens to the Leica Mayfair store I went back to using my Noctilux. As the images are shot with the same Leica M240 camera, same Leica Lightroom preset, same model, same location and similar lighting I thought I would share how the images differ. After using the 90mm I kept wanting to be closer than the 50mm would focus. (Both lenses focus to 1m distance but with the longer 90mm focal length it gets you closer to your subject).

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 portraits (as a comparison)

Controversial perhaps but I prefer the Leica Thambar images!

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Leica Thambar glow

So do you need to buy a Leica Thambar 90mm lens to enjoy that famous Leica glow? No. You can save a lot of money and just pick up an older Leica lens (see next paragraph). For the Thambar itself it creates a blooming effect especially on highlights. I found it more easy to clip highlights using the Thambar on the M240 than I’ve noticed with other lenses. On the Leica CL or Leica M10 this would be less of a problem due to the better dynamic range of these cameras.

Other Leica lenses that offer the Leica glow

Other Leica lenses that give a vintage Leica glow look are the early Leica 35mm f1.4 ASPH and the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v2 (both which I don’t have). Of the lenses I use the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens – Collapsible (old version), the Leica Summitar 50mm f2, Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 lens and perhaps for the most glow the Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens (not a newer Summarit-M version). Most modern Leica lenses excluding the Thambar have lens coatings to minimise this glow effect.

Retro Leica
Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Leica M8 B&W Portrait
Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
Leica SOOKY-M adapter
Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8
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Soft focus filter

Another option is to attach a soft focus filter to a modern lens to try to create a similar look. This way you can use your existing lenses to capture that more vintage/ imperfect appearance. These filters are particularly useful on very sharp lenses and can be found easily on Amazon and eBay.

Leica Thambar bokeh

The Leica Thambar bokeh could be called ring bokeh, with a distinct outer ring to each bokeh ball. I’ve seen people describe ring bokeh as distracting or busy but I quite like it. When used at close range the Leica Thambar 90mm creates very pleasing out of focus blur and a clear subject background separation. The further you are from the subject the less you see this effect. (The same for most lenses).

Leica Thambar 90mm Portrait

Cheap Leica Thambar 90mm alternatives?

Is there a cheaper option to the premium price tagged Leica Thambar 90mm f/2.2 lens? From the lenses I use I would say the closest thing to a Leica Thambar alternative is my Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH lens (Mine has the telescopic pull out built in lens hood). The 90mm Summicron can often be found at bargain prices (why I bought it) on eBay (or it could a few years ago). The Summicron Pre-ASPH lens can create a very similar creamy bokeh

Leica Summicron 90mm vs Thambar

For the huge price difference and if you plan to remove the Thambar soft filter anyway the older Leica Summicron 90mm lenses are worth considering. In a Leica Summicron 90mm vs Thambar shoot out it is difficult to say which is the best. If you find their sweet spots both lenses are fantastic, especially for portraiture.

Leica Summicron 90mm portraits

Leica Cron 90f2
Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
90mm Summicron Headshot
Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
Cigarette Break
Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
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YouTube: Leica Thambar Photoshoot

Leica Thambar 90mm Review – Conclusion

So to summarise I really enjoyed using the Leica Thambar 90mm f2.2 lens. Shot wide open with the spot filter removed the Thambar images are acceptably sharp and pleasing to the eye. If you are buying this lens to remove the spot filter I feel it would be better to consider a Leica Summicron 90mm f2 lens and save some money.

The dreamy look of the Leica Thambar 90mm would be fantastic for Leica wedding photography but I generally prefer a 50mm lens. The 90mm focal length works very well for headshots and tight portraits but for all other images I would prefer to use shorter lenses. The Leica Thambar 90mm would also be ideally suited to baby photography or flattering portraits of people with less perfect skin. Often modern Leica lenses are so sharp they can be too clinical for some skin types.

Unplanned GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) followed this innocent lens test!

Unknowingly to me, testing the Leica Thambar 90mm lens was to have quite an effect. The days and weeks that followed this day in London became what can only be described as a completely obsessed mission to buy an old lens with the same soft look. That in turn spiraled completely out of control and three months later I have more lenses and cameras than before. You may have already seen the result of this research and buying in some previous videos and reviews.

Let me explain..

Normally I love super sharp photos but the Leica Thambar 90mm lens test let me appreciate the world differently. It opened my eyes to the imperfect actually being just perfect. I set to work to find myself a vintage lens for my Leica cameras. Many many silly late nights reading online and hours on eBay followed. In the daytime I was propped up by caffeine (or a wall), by night the research continued!

New acquisitions!

My first acquisition is what started all my photography GAS problems. I found that if I bought a vintage Leica lens with a camera attached the camera that came with it was almost free. Did I need one of these ancient Leica cameras? No, but as a Leica blogger and now YouTuber I thought it couldn’t hurt to own one. I bought a 1939 Leica iiia camera with the Leica Summitar 50mm f2 lens. That lead to the purchase of the Leica iiig camera. I then discovered the crazy world of Leica LTM lenses (Leica Thread Mount) and my GAS issues just went into overdrive. “So many great lenses that I didn’t know existed!”. (*Leica LTM lens review to follow).

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Non-Leica camera purchases

When discovering this world of 1930s to 1950s lenses I also accidentally discovered folding cameras from this era. They are so cheap! I couldn’t believe it. 6×6 cameras, 6×9 cameras, so many cool designs. I already owned some old folding cameras such as the Moskva-5 and I like how compact it is. My mission then turned to finding the smallest lightest cameras and lenses possible. I found the amazing LTM mount Voigtlander Bessa L (not old I realise but I discovered it during my research). I then spotted the Voigtlander Perkeo cameras and the Agfa Billy Record II to name a few. Reviews on all these cameras and lenses to come (if not already posted).

Dangerous but worthwhile!

I had no idea how testing one lens could be so dangerous ha. I’m happy I did it though as I’ve learned more about vintage cameras and lenses in the last few months than probably the last three to five years. And the more you learn the more you discover and so the exciting adventure continues!

More Leica Blog Posts

Hasselblad H2 Review

Hasselblad H2 Review

The Hasselblad H2 replaced my H3 which sadly died due to water damage. Here is a quick Hasselblad H2 review with sample photos + YouTube video. An amazing camera and reasonably affordable for a Hasselblad camera system.

YouTube: Hasselblad H2 Review!

What is a Hasselblad H2 camera?

The Hasselblad H2 was released in 2006 and followed the first Hasselblad H camera, the H1 announced four years earlier. The Hasselblad H system was the new camera design from Hasselblad and it replaced the classic 6×6 Hasselblad V series cameras (Hasselblad 500 system). Both the Hasselblad H1 and H2 cameras are basically the same with the H2 just having a firmware update. The H1 and H2 cameras are designed to take both digital backs and film backs and have more of an SLR camera design. At the time of the Hasselblad H2 release a film back is said to have cost $2000 and a digital back $20-30,000! Thankfully these cameras are now more affordable, reletively, in Hasselblad camera terms.

Hasselblad H2
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H Bodies: Hasselblad H3D-31 vs Hasselblad H2

You can see my reviews of my Hasselblad H3D-31 camera on the blog already so I won’t repeat myself too much. Using the Hasselblad H2 seems identical to using my H3D camera body. The only difference is on the H3D-31 I used a 31MP digital back and a film back. On the H2 I shoot only film now but I could buy a used digital back if I saw a need. Film is my preference so I’m loving the H2 as it is. It’s worth noting that I use the same Hasselblad HC 80mm lens and film back as I used on the H3D on the H2. The Hasselblad H prism viewfinder is the same model but replacement copy.

Hasselblad H3d-31 camera - with film back
My late Hasselblad H3D-31 camera with film back and 2 rolls of Ilford film

Hasselblad 500 vs Hasselblad H2

Common differences between a classic Hasselblad 500 series cameras and a Hasseblad H2:
  • Film format – Hasselblad 500 cameras give us the classic 6×6 square images. The Hasselblad H film back is 6×4.5 format (“645”).
  • Manual vs electronic – The 500 series cameras are fully manual but the Hasselblad H2 is electronic and battery operated/ battery dependant.
  • Lenses – Hasselblad 500 system camera lenses are made by Zeiss. Hasselblad H camera lenses are made by Fuji.
  • Lens focusing – The Zeiss lenses on Hasselblad 500 cameras are manual focus only. Hasselblad HC lenses as used on the H2 are autofocus lenses.
  • Lightmeter – The Hasselblad 500cm and similar cameras have no in camera lightmeter. The Hasselblad H2 has a built in Lightmeter.
  • Shutter speed – The maximum shutter speed on a Hasselblad 500 is 1/500. The Hasselblad HC 80 lens on a Hasselblad H2 has a maximum shutter speed of 1/800. Flash can sync at the maximum shutter speed on both cameras.
Similarities between a Hasselblad 500 series camera and the Hasselblad H2 are:
  • Modular design – Both the Hasselblad 500 cameras and the Hasselblad H cameras are modular camera designs. This means the camera lens, viewfinder and film back can all be removed and swapped out. This gives great flexibility for a professional photographer using multiple lenses and film backs. It also allows for upgrades as lenses from your existing cameras can be used on the latest camera body release. It also means you can use digital backs on your existing film cameras (*But please check first for compatibility).
  • Sharp lenses – Hasselblad HC lenses and the former Zeiss lenses used on Hasselblad 500 lenses are both stellar performers and offer amazing optics.
  • Expensive – All Hasselblad cameras are expensive when compared to some other film camera options. The Hasselblad H cameras have become cheaper so now the cost is more comparable to a Hasselblad 500 series.
  • High Quality – You do get what you pay for with Hasselblad. The image quality and functionality of Hasselblad cameras is exceptional (and a joy to use).
  • Leaf shutter lenses – Hasselblad camera lenses whether for the Hasselblad 500 (Zeiss) or for the H system (Fuji) are leaf shutter lenses with the shutter built into the lens body.
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Hasselblad H2 – On a shoot in Portugal

Hasselblad H2 photoshoot – Portugal

The Hasselblad H2 camera arrived to me just in time to take to Portugal for a model photography trip. Below are some photos shot with the Hasselblad H2 camera in Faro using two lenses. The Hasselblad HC 80mm f2.8 kit lens and the older Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 CF lens from my Hasselblad 500 camera system. I also included a few portraits taken in the UK using the Hasselblad HC 120mm f4 macro lens. Click on any photo for more details.

Lens adapter – Hasselblad V to H adapter

Are you tempted by a more modern Hasselblad H camera but already own a Hasselblad 500 system (aka. “Hasselblad V series”) model? Good news! You can use the amazing Zeiss glass from the Hasselblad V camera on a H body via an adapter. The Hasselblad V to H adapter lets you mount Hasselblad Zeiss glass on your H body. You can use any of the Hasselblad V lens lineup whether the C version, CF or otherwise. I enjoy the Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 lens on the Hasselblad H2 for a wider lens setup particularly.

Hasselblad H2 portraits

120 Lomography Potsdam 100 Portrait
Hasselblad HC80 Film Portrait
Hasselblad H2 Portrait
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Hasselblad H2 Portraits
Hasselblad H - V lens adapter
Hasselblad H2 Film Portrait
Hasselblad H2 50mm Portrait
Hasselblad HC 120mm Macro Portrait
Hasselblad HC 120mm Macro Portrait
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More Hasselblad H2 sample photos

Hasselblad H2 Test Shot
Hasselblad H2 + V Lens
Hasselblad HC 80mm f2.8 Photo

YouTube – Hasselblad H2 Review

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Hasselblad H2 review – Summary

I’m loving the Hasselblad H2 camera right now. It is giving me most of what I ask from a film camera. Sharp images shot wide open. Easy and fun to operate. Reliable results (which becomes less easy when working with older film cameras) and the ability to use existing camera lenses. The 645 film format is perfect for my portraits and I prefer this to 6×6 for my model photography. The H2 is a fantastic 645 format SLR style camera that is fast and intuitive to use. A real gem and I would say as good as or better than the very popular Contax 645.

Hasselblad H2 + Camera bag for the photoshoot

Hasselblad H2 wedding photography

For my analogue wedding photography bookings I can’t wait to treat the clients to some Hasselblad H2 film photos. I like to offer clients the best so I decided to invest in some new HC lenses for weddings (especially). I used to enjoy my Contax 645 wedding photography so here is a sample of what i’m talking about. The following photos were all captures with the Contax 80mm f2 Zeiss Planar lens. The lens I just got for the Hasselblad H2 should create the same look!

Contax 645 - For Sale!

Contax 645 wedding photography – as a reference

Wedding Film Photography
Bridal Photography on Film
Film Photography - Bridal Shoot
B&W Film Photography - Bridal Shoot
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Contax 645 Wedding Photography
Contax 645 Asian Wedding
Contax 645 B&W Wedding Photography
Contax 645 Wedding
Contax 645 Wedding :)
Wedding Film Photography
VW Camper Wedding
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Hasselblad HC lenses

My Hasselblad HC lens review post will follow once I have some more example images to share using each lens. I will link it back to here.

Hasselblad HC 100mm f2.2 Portrait

Hasselblad Camera Specific Posts

Hasselblad H articles
More Hasselblad blog posts

120 Cinestill 50D vs 120 Cinestill 800T Film Comparison

120 Cinestill 50D vs 120 Cinestill 800T Film Comparison Review

120 Cinestill 50D vs 120 Cinestill 800T film comparison after shooting one roll of each with my Hasselblad 501C and Hasselblad SWC/M super wide camera in Budapest.

Exposed 120 Cinestill 50D and 800T film going to the lab

Cinestill 800T film – recap

When Cinestill 800T first came to the market is was available in 35mm film format only. I was an early adopter and you can see my results using 35mm Cinestill 800T shot with a Leica, Xpan and other 35mm film cameras. Without repeating myself to much, (see the 35mm link for more) Cinestill 800 film is a tungsten balanced film.

Tungsten film

The T in Cinestill 800T refers to tungsten or tungsten balanced. Most films are daylight balanced meaning the colours we capture are similar to what we see with our eyes. Tungsten light (3200K) is warm (yellow-orange colour) light rather than daylight (5500K) which should appear white. (The middle point between warm light and blue light).  At the start and end of each day daylight is more of a blue light hence it is called blue hour. Cinestill 800T is repackaged Kodak Vision3 500T motion picture film (movie film). As with Cinestill the T in 500T relates to the fact that it is tungsten balanced.

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The Brothers Wight

The Brothers Wright launched the Cinestill brand after developing a process to remove the RemJet layer from Kodak movie film. The black anti-static RemJet layer is needed when Vision3 film is used in movie cameras but not for still photography. By removing the Remjet this film can then be developed in standard C41 chemistry. (Kodak Vision3 is actually ECN-2 film so if the Rejmet layer is still on it should be processed in ECN-2 chemistry. (*To obtain the true film colours. Processing Vision3 film in C41 chemistry is cross processing the film).

#CineStill800T #film :) www.MrLeica.com

Developing Cinestill film

Pre-removal of the Vision3 film Remjet layer was a brilliant idea as the film can now be developed in your local film lab. Film labs usually offer the service to develop two types of colour film. C-41 chemistry for colour negative film (including Cinestill) and E6 chemistry for colour positive film (slide film).

Kodak Vision3 500T bulk roll

Don’t take Kodak Vision3 films to your lab!

If you buy standard Kodak Vision3 motion picture film with the Remjet layer on you can’t take this to your film lab. The Remjet layer on the film will contaminate the labs C41 chemistry. I shoot Cinestill and Vision3 films and you can see how to develop movie film at home (including removing the Remjet). Shooting with Vision3 film stocks and then developing it at home is much cheaper but it takes more time and effort. When I only want to shoot 1-2 rolls of movie film it is easier to just buy Cinestill and get it lab developed.

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The Cinestill 800T halation look

Cinestill 800T has a unique and signature look which can be the reason to buy the film instead of Kodak Vision3 500T. A side effect of removing the anti-static Remjet layer is it also removes the anti-halation properties of the film. Halation means if you photograph a point of light (say a street light) you will see a glow around the light bulb. With most films you would just see a bright bulb then quick fall off of light to dark. This effect is also lens specific to an extent. A modern lens with modern lens coatings will show little halation with standard film. Example – Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens . A vintage lens with no lens coating flares more easily when pointed at a light source so you see a greater halation effect. Example – Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens.

Cinestill 800T Night Photography
35mm Cinestill 800T Halation example

For me the Cinestill halation look is one of the main attractions to buy Cinestill 800T film. *If shooting Cinestill 800T film night. If taking photos during the day the halation look can be less desirable.

120 Cinestill 800T test roll

Cinestill 800T film latitude

One amazing benefit of shooting with movie film is the emulsion is designed to have greater latitude. This means retaining more highlight and shadow detail. Cinestill 800T latitude is excellent and I rate the film from ISo 100 to ISo 1600. I then develop the film as normal at box speed. No push or pull. For me Cinestill 800T film is better over exposed as there is less apparent grain but that is personal preference.

120 Cinestill 800T Landscape
120 Cinestill 800T test roll (6×6 crop)

My first roll of 120 Cinestill 800T

I backed the Cinestill 120 kickstarter projects and I still have some Cinestill 800T Beta rolls in the fridge to use. The Beta film was delivered to my sisters house in the US (at the time) so there was a big delay receiving it. Once received, it was bad timing as my interest had switched more to 35mm film photography – Nikon FE2 (at the time).

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120 Cinestill 800T sample photos

So yes I’m very late to the Cinestill 120 film party but I finally shot my first rolls! Here I share photos from my 120 Cinestill 800T test roll shot in Budapest, mostly in daylight. Ideally I would have shot more night photography with the film but it was just the film loaded at the time.

Hasselblad cameras

The cameras used to take these photos were a Hasselblad 501C and Hasselblad SWC/M super wide camera. I took two cameras and two film backs then swapped the backs between each body. The Hasselblad 501C was fitted with the Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens. The Hasselblad SWC-M super wide is a fixed lens camera with a 38mm Zeiss Biogon lens attached. The film back loaded with 120 Cinestill 800T was a Hasselblad A16 645 format film back so it gives 16 photos per roll. That is why the photos are rectangular not the usual Hasselblad square format.

Cinestill 800T daylight photos – No filter

I didn’t use the often recommended 85B warming filter when shooting the Tungsten balanced Cinestill 800T film in daylight. This gives the film negatives more of a blue cast that I can correct in post later as needed. I tried to photograph a variety of colours for a fair test including a few portraits.

Epson v800 flatbed scanner preview of film negatives (*Photo of PC monitor so not true colours)
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120 Cinestill 800T Portraits

120 Cinestill 800T (No filter)
120 Cinestill 800T test roll – edit
120 Cinestill 800T test roll

Cinestill 50D film – Recap

After the success of Cinestill 800T film launch The Brothers Wright also released their Cinestill 50D film. Again this film is repackaged Kodak Vision3 motion picture film. It is Vision3 50D film stock with the Remjet layer removed to allow it to be developed in standard C41 chemistry. Unlike Cinestill 800T, as the name suggests, Cinestill 50D is daylight balanced film. D for daylight. This makes 50D daylight balanced like most colour negative films whether Kodak Portra, Ektar, Gold, Fuji Pro 400H and so on.

I already shoot with both 35mm Kodak Vison3 50D and 35mm Cinestill 50D. I will try to share some of my Vision3 work in future posts. 120 Cinestill 50D is new to me.

120 Cinestill 50D
120 Cinestill 50D test roll

Super fine grain and great latitude

Cinestill 50D is an ISo 50 film stock like say Ilford Pan F 50 so offers super fine grain. 120 film photos have less grain due to the film negative size compared to 35mm film. This makes 120 50D film look almost digital in that there is little or no apparent grain. As with Cinestill 800T, Cinestill 50D has great latitude and does particularly well retaining highlight details.

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First roll of 120 Cinestill 50D

As I already had 120 Cinestill 800T in the fridge I thought it would be nice to buy a roll of 120 Cinestill 50D to compare. For this film test as mentioned above I used two Hasselblad cameras with two film backs. 120 Cinestill 50D was loaded into a standard Hasselblad A12 film back giving 12 photos per roll.

120 Cinestill 50D sample photos

Cinestill 50D 120 Portraits

120 Cinestill 50D Portrait
120 Cinestill 50D test roll – edit
120 Cinestill 50D test roll
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Film developing and processing notes

Both rolls of Cinestill film were lab developed in C41 colour film chemistry. The film negatives were scanned at home with an Epson v800 flatbed scanner and processed via Silverfast software. The film scans were then imported to Adobe Lightroom to crop and resize. Small size photos shared have basic edits only and straight from Adobe LR small size. Some of the larger photos shared were also put through Adobe Photoshop to clean up before being posted full size to Flickr. You can click on the large size edited images shared to zoom in via the Flickr website. A two tap zoom lets you see the film detail up close for any pixel peepers out there.

120 Cinestill 50D vs 120 Cinestill 800T – Verdict

Both Cinestill 50D 120 and Cinestill 800T 120 are excellent films. I would happily use either film again. If I could only use one of these film stocks it would definitely be Cinestill 800T. I love the halation effect offered by the 800T film and the ISO 800 film box speed makes it a very versatile emulsion. There are not many films that can be shot at ISO 100 to ISO 1600 on the same roll. If you are looking for a super fine grain colour film Cinestill 50D offers that. The ISo 50 is limiting though so you may need to use your camera on a tripod, use fast lenses or only photograph in good light.

Cinestill 50D vs Cinestill 800T colours

Here is the same scene shot with the same camera. One photo is 120 Cinestill 800T and one photo 120 Cinestill 50D. You can see the blue tones from the Tungsten balanced film shot in daylight without a warming filter.

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Cinestill film alternatives?

Cinestill 50D alternatives

There are other fine grain colour films available. You could shoot with fine grain slide films such as Fuji Velvia, Fuji Provia or Kodak Ektachrome E100. If you want saturated colours from a colour negative film you could try Kodak Ektar 100 which can also look near digital.

Cinestill 800T alternative films

When it comes to ISO 800 colour films the options become much more limited. The most popular choice is probably Kodak Portra 800 film but there is also Lomography 800 film. I have been playing with some Lomo 800 film so I will share the results soon.

Budapest trip video – 120 Cinestill film B roll

When in Budapest last year I was just starting my new MrLeica.Com YouTube channel. I had my GoPro with me (Yi4K Plus Action Camera) so I shot some B roll from the time I was taking the above photos. The video shows the location some of the photos were taken, the cameras and the camera bag I used for the trip.

Shooting 120 Cinestill film in Budapest – B Roll

Cinestill film on Amazon

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