Here I share my latest YouTube video – the Leica M8 in 2020. I consider 10 points as to whether the near ‘vintage’ digital Leica M8 is still a viable option today. The M8 is the most affordable digital Leica M camera and also the first digital M, released in 2006. It has a 1.33x crop CCD sensor and a jaw dropping 10MP!
YouTube: Leica M8 in 2020
More of my Leica M8 posts
For sample photos with the Leica M8 please click the links below:
This post and embedded YouTube video introduces the concept of using vintage Canon LTM lenses on Leica cameras. The video includes the Canon 50mm f1.8 LTM, Canon 35mm f1.8 LTM, Canon 28mm f2.8 LTM and Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM. Leica cameras featured iinclude a vintage Leica iiia, Leica M3, Leica M6 and Leica CL mirrorless camera. The video explains what lens adapters you need to mount LTM lenses on a Leica M camera. You can also mount LTM lenses on Sony, Fuji and Micro 4/3 cameras. I use the LTM lenses on my Lumix GH5 M4/3 camera.
My appreciation of LTM cameras started when I bought my 1930s Leica iiia. Other examples of cameras which I own with the Leica screw mount include Leica iiig , FED2, Zorki C and Nicca iiis. There is also the more modern Voigtlander Bessa L with the same LTM mount.
Leica Thread Mount (“LTM” Mount)
For those that are not aware of the term LTM it stands for Leica Thread Mount. To confuse thinks further it is also called Leica screw mount, L39 mount and in terms of screw thread diameter M39 mount too.
Vintage Canon LTM lenses
The vintage Canon LTM lenses date back from the 1950s where the cameras they were designed for had the LTM mount. At that time many cameras used the same mount and not only Leica despite the LTM name. These means there were many lenses made with the Leica screw thread design. Canon LTM glass is among some of the best from that period. The sharpness of some Japanese lenses from the 1950s out performed some Leica lenses of that era. The Canon 50 f1.8 LTM is much sharpen than my Leica Summitar 5cm f2 LTM for example (wide open).
What Canon LTM lenses I use
Canon 50mm f1.8 LTM
Canon 35mm f1.8 LTM
Canon 28mm f2.8 LTM
Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM
Canon 50mm LTM Portraits
LTM lens adapters (LTM to Leica M adapter + Others)
Part of the Canon LTM lens video explains what LTM lens adapter you need to mount a LTM lens on a Leica M camera body. You need to be careful to buy the correct adapter for the lens focal length you will use. The adapter for a 35mm LTM lens is different to the adapter needed for a 50mm LTM lens. This is because these vintage LTM lenses do no trigger frame lines in a Leica M camera. You need to buy the respective LTM adapter to activate the framelines you want to see in the Leica M viewfinder. These LTM adapters normally give a pair of framelines.
You can also mount LTM lenses on Sony, Fuji and Micro 4/3 cameras (via an adapter). The video features the LTM adapter I use to mount Canon LTM lenses on my Lumix GH5 M4/3 camera. Some of my previous YouTube videos were recorded with the Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 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 3: 24cm – 32cm (Small detail photos such as a little flower)
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.
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!).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
120 Lomography 800 sample photos
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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
See my interview / article shared by Lomography.com – Lomo 800 Film