Lens Filters for Leica M Cameras

Lens Filters for Leica M Cameras

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

January 2018

P1050178LR

For model photography and my usual Leica portrait work I don’t normally use camera lens filters that often, and especially not for digital photography (more with film cameras).  I own yellow filters, blue, various ND filters (neutral density), IR-cut, polarising filters, warming filters, cooling filters and lots of UV filters (and Skylight filters) in various sizes.  Each filter has a purpose.

Lens Filters Explained

Quick summary of what I use each lens filter for (plus a few extra filters I have for other cameras) –

  • Yellow filter: Black and white film photography (portraits & landscapes) – to lighten yellows/ darken blues
  • Orange filter: B&W film photography (landscapes) – to lighten oranges/ darken blue skies (higher contrast), and helps penetrate mist and fog
  • Red filter: B&W film photography (landscapes) – to lighten reds more and makes blues skies turn black (very strong contrast), also helps penetrate mist and fog
  • Green filter: B&W film photography (landscapes) – to lighten green foliage
  • Blue filter (“cooling filter”) (shades of blue like 80C & 82B): Colour film photography – to colour correct tungsten balanced film when used in daylight. Film like Cinestill 800T, Kodak Vision3 200T/ 500T
  • Warming filter (shades of amber like 81A & 81C): Colour film photography – to colour correct daylight balanced film when used in indoors with tungsten light. Film like Cinestill 50D/ Kodak Vision3 50D, Kodak Portra 160/400/800, Fuji Pro 400H and most colour film available today
  • Polarising filter (or more specifically circular polarising filter): (landscapes) – to darken blue skies and make the clouds “pop”.  Can also be used to adjust reflections on water / surfaces (to more or less reflection)
  • Neutral density filters (ND filters): For fast lenses (lenses with wide maximum aperture like f1-f1.2-f1.4)(all cameras) – I use ND filters when shooting in bright conditions with flash and also on the older Leica M film cameras (such as a Leica M3) that only have a maximum shutter speed of 1/1000 (vs. 1/4000 for the Leica M240). In practice I only really use ND filters on the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens in the UK as the weather is rarely “too bright” for most lenses.
  • IR-cut filter (Infrared cut off filter): (digital Leica M8 colour photography) – Without the IR-cut filter the colours from the M8 are not natural looking. (*See details in link below – Leica M8 & IR-cut filter post)
  • UV filters: I went through a period of getting clear UV filters for most of my Leica M lenses to protect the front element from damage.  I find I attach the UV filters for my Leica wedding photography mostly after an expensive lens was damaged at a wedding (Nikkor 35mm f1.4 G lens – pre Leica days).  Apart from wedding photos and some travel photography I don’t use UV filters too much now.

Using filters on a Leica camera (compared to on a SLR/DSLR)

Leica vs. DSLR – Using filters – Disadvantage

One thing to note for fellow Leica photographers is if you’ve not used a circular polarising filter (CPL) on your Leica camera before you might find it is a bit of a fiddle (I did!).  This was especially the case for me when I was frequently moving locations and shooting in multiple directions (north, south, east, west and all angles in between).  When photographing with a SLR/ DSLR camera you look through the lens to compose an image. This means that with a CPL filter on the end of the lens you can just look through the camera to see the effect of the filter. Easy. (For example if you point the lens at the sky and then rotate the CPL filter you can see the sky get lighter or darker blue and you can stop at the desired look).  With a Leica camera we don’t view or focus an image through the lens like a DSLR.  Therefore to see the impact of a polarizing filter you have to take the CPL filter off the lens and hold it up to the scene/ sky  to look through it and see what angle of rotation gives the desired look. You then need to reattach the CPL filter to the lens and remember the preferred orientation (for example to give a more vivid blue sky might be number 5 on the CPL filter ring at the 12 O’clock position ). To complicate things further, if you are then switching between landscape and portrait orientation when holding the camera you need to turn the polarizing filter each time you turn the camera. If you are then using a clip on lens hood (as I was) that covers the filter you need to take off the hood to see/ move the CPL every time you take an image in a different direction or orientation. Maybe I just like to make life difficult for myself!

For normal/ traditional landscape photography however where you setup a tripod with the camera pointed in one direction and wait for a few hours for the best light to hit a scene, this will not be an issue as you only need to go through the filter “setup” process once.

*Note – Please note this is only an issue with a Leica film camera or an earlier digital Leica camera such as the Leica M8 and Leica M9.  The digital Leica M240 (and Leica M10) both have LiveView so you can review the impact of the filter if you compose with the LiveView option rather as with the viewfinder.

Leica vs. DSLR – Using filters – Filter Advantage

DSLR users don’t always have it easier than Leica photographers though. When it comes to neutral density filters like a 10 stop Lee Big Stopper,  with a DSLR camera you need to focus on the subject first then attach the ND filter otherwise you can’t see anything through the lens. With a Leica camera you view the scene via the viewfinder/ window on the top left of the camera body rather than through the lens so you can leave a ND filter attached throughout a shoot and make various new compositions with ease.

*Note – The only downside to not looking through the lens with a Leica camera is you can leave the lens cap on all day and not notice until you get back to your computer/ dark room that all the images are black.  (This is more of an issue with a Leica film camera as most digital Leica cameras have the rear LCD and default to a preview image after each photo is taken.  With film Leica cameras there is no chimping at the LCD so you need to be more focused and make sure the lens cap is off!).

Filter Rings (Step Up Rings)

A set of good quality filters (such as some of those mentioned above) is expensive so it doesn’t help when lenses come in different shapes and sizes.  Leica M mount lenses come in a variety of filter thread sizes and mine vary from the smallest thread size being 39mm (classic Leica filter thread size) through to 60mm for the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens.  Some Leica photographers choose to invest in a set of lenses with a common filter thread size so any filter fits any lens.  An example from the lenses I own is the following lenses all have a 39mm filter thread; Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8, Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5, Leica Summicron 50mm f2, Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4  and Leica Elmar 135mm f4. For this reason a bought a few 39mm filters to retain the small lens size/ diameter/ compactness of the 39mm lens-camera setup.

For my main set of filters I use the 52mm size as I already owned some 52mm filters that I had used on my smaller Nikkor lens (pre-Leica days).  I then bought various low cost Chinese step rings on eBay to step up the filter diameter size from 39mm, 43mm, 46mm and 49mm to 52mm filter size.  This is a much cheaper option than buying a set of filters for every thread size and I can use one set of filters on nearly all my Leica M mount lenses.  The only exception is the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens where I had to get a few larger 60mm filters for it but I find I use these on some of my non-Leica camera setups (or with a 52mm-60mm step ring on smaller Leica M mount lenses).  I guess the best tip is buy a set of filters to fit your largest lens and then get step-up rings so they can be mounted on your smaller lenses.

Summary

I’m sure most readers knew 99% of that information already but if you are currently using a DSLR camera and are tempted to make the jump to a Leica rangefinder camera it may be of some use.  Equally if you are just starting out with your photography and have perhaps one camera and one kit lens some of this information might save you some money in the long run.  Lastly if you have never used a film camera but are looking to try film in 2018 I think the coloured filtered used with black and white film photography give some of the most interesting results.

Related Links

 

Thanks

Matt

 

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B&W Film Wedding Photography: Harriett & Ash

B&W Film Wedding Photography: Harriett & Ash

This is what I would like to do for you at your wedding!  Leica wedding photography images using a 1950s design Leica M3 film camera (and other Leica cameras plus a Hasselblad).  If couples give me the time and showed interest these are the type of wedding photos I would like to do at every wedding (plus more outside wedding pictures when the weather is favourable!) 🙂

Link to photos below:

B&W Film Wedding Photography: Harriett & Ash Coventry Wedding Venue: Best Western Weston Hall Hotel, Bulkington Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica.com December 2017 Before I share some of my Leica wedding photography from the real weddings I was booked for last year here is a wedding look photoshoot from the end of 2017. UK […]

via B&W Film Wedding Photography: Harriett & Ash — Leica Wedding Photographer (MrLeica.com)

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

January 2018

“LEICA’s biggest secret – It’s LEICA’s smallest and lightest 90mm bayonet-mount lens ever made, and it also is among LEICA’s very highest-performance 90mm lenses of all time….”

(Ken Rockwell)(Link below)

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – why I wanted this lens

After my first cycling-photography adventure to Fuertventura I wished I had owned a compact telephoto lens.  My existing Leica telephoto lenses are not compact and are on the whole quite heavy.  I have a Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens and a Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH lens. Both Summicron lenses are fast (f2) so are relatively big and heavy (in Leica lens terms) due to all the glass elements inside.  I also own a chrome 1960’s Leica Elmar 135mm f4 lens.  The 135f4 is lightweight but I use it less than the Summicron lenses as I find it a bit soft shot at f4-f5.6.  This is potentially due to misfocus issues if my Leica M240 is not exactly calibrated with the  135mm lens.  For my next cycling adventure I thought I for landscape photography (and general snaps of things I saw on my travels) I didn’t need a fast lens such as a Leica Summicron lens with an f2 maximum aperture, nor even a Summarit with an f2.5 maximum aperture so I did a web search for Leica Elmar lenses.  Leica Elmar lenses have a f4 maximum aperture and as such tend to be lighter and more compact in size.  I found myself back on Ken Rockwell’s website and decided the lens that I wanted was the super compact Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 telephoto lens.  With a 39mm filter thread and it only being only slightly longer than my 28mm Leica Elmarit-M lens the 90mm Macro-Elmar seemed the perfect travel companion.  As you may have guessed I bought a Macro-Elmar 90f4 after finding a nice deal on a used lens.

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – size comparison

Leica 90mm, 50mm, 28mm ..jpg

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 ...

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – Test photos

When the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm lens arrived I did a few rough and ready test shots in the garden and around the house:

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4

Leica Macro Elmar-M 90mm

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – Wedding Photography

I then had the opportunity to test the Macro-Elmar 90mm in a real situation (for my usual style of photography (portraiture – models and weddings) prior to taking it on my second cycling / photography adventure.  I packed the 90f4 Elmar for a bridal shoot / mock Leica wedding photography photoshoot and the results were fantastic even with the lens wide open at f4 and a 1/60 shutter speed.  It gave really nice subject background separation for portraiture despite being a slow f4 maximum aperture lens.  I will blog the wedding photography look images separately but here are a few 90mm examples from the day at Weston Hall Hotel:

Leica Wedding - Leica M3!

Leica Wedding Photos

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – Model Photography

I took the Macro-Elmar  90f4 on my repeat cycling trip to Fuertventura as planned and used the lens as originally intended, for Leica landscape photography. Again, I will blog my thoughts once the accompanying photos are ready to share.  The photos were all shot on film and I still need to develop the film.  Since Fuertventura I have used the 90mm lens on most of my photoshoots including when I was in Budapest over the Christmas break.  Yes, blog to follow but here are a couple of Macro-Elmar 90mm samples from Hungary:

Leica Headshot

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm Headshot

After Budapest and starting 2018, the Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm lens continues to be my new favourite lens which I seem to keep gravitating to.  Here are some recent photos shot in the studio with the 90mm:

Leica Studio Shoot

Leica Photoshoot

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – thoughts so far

As you may have sensed I have been extremely impressed with the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens.  The small size is perfect for my overseas trips yet I still reach for it in the studio too.   It focuses closer than I think any of my other Leica M lenses in terms of magnification so I love it for tight headshots where I normally find I cannot get close enough.  My next best lens for close up headshot photos is equally impressive but larger  and heavier Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens.

To conclude, the Macro-Elmar-M 90mm is small, lightweight, close focusing (even without the Leica Macro adapter)(I don’t have) and super sharp wide open.  If you don’t need a fast lens such as f1.4-f2 the Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 lens is a real winner.. and seemingly hidden gem amongst the Leica lens line up.  I have not noticed many other Leica photographers using this lens online or seen any rave reviews about it (other than Ken’s review linked below).

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – Specifications

Rather than repeat the information readily available online please find a link to the Ken Rockwell’s 90mm Macro-Elmar-M review below including full lens spec.

Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 – Related Posts

Destination Leica Wedding Photographer

Destination Leica Wedding Photographer

Before I start sharing some of my Leica wedding photography from 2017 I thought I would take the opportunity to share a small sample of images from a wedding I covered in Florida back in 2014.

Link to photos below:

Destination Leica Wedding Photographer Before I start sharing some of my Leica wedding photography from 2017 I thought I would take the opportunity to share a small sample of images from a wedding I covered in Florida back in 2014. This is the furthest I have travelled for a destination wedding and it was my […]

via Destination Leica Wedding Photographer — Leica Wedding Photographer (MrLeica.com)

Leica Wedding Photography: Flic & Mark

Leica Wedding Photography: Flic & Mark

Happy New Year!

One more example wedding from those covered in 2016 before I move onto wedding photography taken in 2017. Flic and Mark’s wedding shot in October 2016 at the Birmingham wedding venue Fazeley Studios, Digbeth.

Photos taken with a Leica M240 and Leica M8 digital cameras using a few different lenses (listed).

Link to photos below:

2016 Leica Wedding Photography: Mark & Flic Birmingham Wedding Venue – Fazeley Studios (191 Fazeley St, Birmingham B5 5SE) http://www.MrLeica.com October 2016 Mark & Flic Mark and Flic chose the Birmingham wedding venue Fazeley Studio in Digbeth. I knew the area from my model photography and the area attracts some of the most […]

via 2016 Leica Wedding Photography: Flic & Mark — Leica Wedding Photographer (MrLeica.com)

Shared: Fstoppers.com – 5 Popular B&W Films Compared

Shared: Fstoppers.com – 5 Popular B&W Films Compared

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2017

I read an interesting Fstoppers film photography article a few days before flying out on my last photography trip comparing five popular black and white film stocks.  I think I was searching for a comparison of Ilford Delta 400 vs. Kodak T-Max 400 film as I enjoy using 35mm T-Max 400 but wondered if Delta 400 would be even “better” for me.  I love and really appreciate Ilford Delta 100 film and think it is one of the best films I use in terms of detail and sharpness and to showcase what a camera-lens setup can achieve. Ilford Delta 100 film example image:

Ilford Delta 100 Portrait

The Fstoppers film review however compares five ISO 400 film stocks and illustrates side by side example images of the same subject captured with five of the “best”/ popular black and white films. Each film is compared for tonality, grain and apparent sharpness.

I wont spoil the article if you want to read it in full but overall I was very impressed with the C41 B&W film – Ilford XP2 Super 400. I wont say anymore ahead of the link but if you want to hear my thoughts please see my conclusion below.

Shared Link: https://fstoppers.com/film/what-black-and-white-film…

Conclusion

As hinted above Ilford XP2 Super 400 was the clear winner for me for detail captured (in this test example) but the image consisted of varying shades of greys and lacked interest. The film with the most impact for me and seemed to be the best compromise for all desired traits (for me) was the very popular Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film with its classic grain structure, good apparent sharpness and thick blacks. I have shot Kodak Tri-X film in the past but found 35mm TriX too grainy for my female portraiture so instead I favour the fine modern grain of Kodak T-Max 400 film. I find 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film much more useable as the grain is less apparent and I have used it a lot in my Hasselblad 501C /500CM cameras, especially if I need to push film to ISO 800-1600 in low light.  In abundant light I often use the low-cost Fomapan 100 film (35mm and 120 Foma 100) and rate it from 100-400.  That said I must give Kodak Tri-X another try soon!

Ilford XP2 Super 400 film

Fuji GF670 Medium Format Rangefinder

ARAX-CM (Kiev 88) 6x6 Film

120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film

Rollei SL66E Tilt Portrait

Mamiya 645 Extension Tube

Fuji GF670 Folding Camera

35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 film

Leica M2 Portrait - Tri-X 400@200

Kodak Tri-X Love!

 

And for a comparison, the B&W film I maybe use the most – Fomapan 100..

35mm Fomapan 100 film

35mm Portrait

Hungarian Model

120 Fomapan 100 film

Hasselblad Headshot

Fuji GF670 Camera

Thanks
Matt

Mr Leica on Pinterest

Mr Leica on Pinterest (Back on it)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2017

pin

Pinterest Inspired Photography – Black and White

Ahead of a recent photography trip I found myself browsing vintage black and white film photography images on the Pinterest app.  I used to use Pinterest on and off for a period maybe pre-2015, both for collecting inspiration images and sharing a few of my own photos.  I found Pinterest great for creating mood boards ahead of photoshoots where I could gather together a set of images to help a model visualise the look I was going for.  I have started using Pinterest again so if you want to see the photos that inspire me just look me up – @MrLeica.com (link to profile below).

pinscreen.PNG

After scrolling through pages and pages of images on Pinterest and pinning some of those I liked the one thing that struck me is most of the black and white images I admire are high contrasts black and white photos with black blacks.  My older photos used to include a lot of high contrast black and white images, especially when I used to share images straight out of the camera as B&W JPEG files, firstly from the Nikon D800 and then from my Leica M9 camera.

2013 REPOST: Samyang 85mm f1.4 Portrait

Leica Summilux ASPH Bokeh

Summilux ASPH 50

I didn’t get a look I liked straight from the camera with the Leica M240 so since selling my Leica M9 my images are all processed through Lightroom (and/ or Photoshop) to get the desired look.  One thing I am aware of since using my Leica M240 is my photos tend to be different shades of grey rather than strong black and white as I think I try to retain as much detail as possible in an image. These Leica M240 photos below are probably more grey than many of my recent images as I am aware I prefer high contrast so try to use it much as possible.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 Portrait

Mr Leica - Poland

Leica lens flare

With my black and white film photography I think again I have often lost the thick blacks due to the film stocks I commonly use.  Fomapan 100 and Kodak Eastman 5222 Double-X film both have wide latitude and retain shadow detail well.  My black and white film developing methods also favours retaining both shadow and highlight detail to produce a flatter negative (depending on the light conditions etc etc).

Leica M3 + Leica Summicron 75mm APO

Leica M6 + Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222

So with all that said I want to get back to proper blacks, or try it again at least!   That’s the plan anyway.  I will see if the Pinterest pins I add to my boards continue along this theme going forward.

(For colour photography and especially colour wedding photography you will see from Pinterest that my favourite look is the bright washed out looking fine art wedding photography style but I have not mastered the look yet. Living in the UK doesn’t favour an overly bright photography style! (That’s my current excuse anyway!))

 

pinit

  • MrLeica Pinterest Account – HERE