Model Photography – Tenerife

Model Photography – Tenerife

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2017

 

Intro

This morning I woke up tired, still smiling, and more tanned than I was a week ago. I had landed back in the UK in the early hours after three full fun packed days of model photography in warm sunny Tenerife! As with all my overseas photoshoots here is the usual summary of what I got up to, some camera specifics and a few thoughts thrown in too.

Olympus Pen-F Film

Camera Bag

  • Hasselblad 500cm 6×6 film camera
  • Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens
  • Olympus Pen F film camera
  • Olympus Zuiko 35mm f1.8 lens
  • Olympus 35RC film camera
  • Leica M240 digital camera
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Lumix LX100 (Leica D-Lux 109) digital camera

 

L1002867v2crrop

Cameras.. including dusting off my Hasselblad 500cm for a trip away

I edited a Hasselblad film scan that I had taken in Paris back in February and I forgot quite how good the detail is in the 6×6 film negatives compared to 35mm. When I bought my first Hasselblad, a 501c, I really struggled to focus using the waist level viewfinder (WLF) so bought a PM20 prism viewfinder. I found this easier to use and the Hasselblad became more similar to the Contax 645 in that regard. I absolutely love the magic of my Mamiya RZ67 Pro 2 WLF so I’ve always been a bit disappointed that I didn’t get on well with the Hasselblad WLF and the acute matte bright focusing screen (glass). I think I often use the excuse that I’m not taking the Hasselblad as it is too big as this can be the case but it doesn’t need to be. The PM45 prism does add both weight and size to the camera and the Zeiss Macro Planar 120mm f4 is bigger than the kit lens. I’ve never been a fan of the Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens as I think it is softer than the 50mm, 60mm, 100mm and 120mm Hasselblad lenses in my opinion (the 150mm is buttery soft but in a great way). In 2015 when I was in full Hasselblad swing and fast become Mr Hasselblad rather than Mr Leica I bought a Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 because it is almost as small as the 80mm yet crazy sharp and with little distortion. I had it a week then decided it was a lot of money when I could just use the 120mm Macro Planar instead to achieve equally sharp results yet also get closer to my subjects without the need of an extension tube. I saw a classic shot of a Hasselblad 501c on Instagram and it reminded me how pretty the camera looks with their WLF compared to with a prism finder. A Hassy just doesn’t look quite the same without the WLF and it just seems right to see the image on the top of the camera. I decided to put my WLF back on my Hasselblad 500cm (the 501c awaits repair) and if I centre my subject on the ground glass cross hair for the part I want critical focus I can see to focus. On most of my other non-rangefinder cameras I can see to focus anyway within the frame but the Hasselblad Acute matte screen goes a little pearlescent/foggy if look at some angles. I practiced focusing with close up subjects and it seemed doable. I then switched back to view the same subject with the prism viewfinder and noticed the view was much less magnified. That made me like the WLF more and then main two advantages of having the WLF fitted is 1, it packs much smaller (and lighter) and 2, it just looks right and how it should be used (and very cool too!).

RW_151v2.jpg

So with that I now had a compact (standard rather than enlarged) Hasselblad 500cm camera body and film back ready to go. I was then back to the debate of what lens to take. The 120mm is big but very sharp and lets me go close but I find it makes me take mostly headshots as it sucks me into the subject. The 60mm focal length was my standard lens when I used my ARAX-CM (Kiev 88) in my earlier photography days. It let me go closer than an 80mm and the 35mm field of view was perfect for environmental portraits and street scenes when I was shooting in India and other places (search ARAX on my Flickr feed for examples). I bought the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF when I got the Hasselblad 501c and have used that for perhaps 50%+ of my photos. At the time I liked the images and for portraits of men I love the distortion a 60mm lens gives up close. For girls however I’m now starting to prefer the flatter less distorted view of a slightly longer lens (to avoid the big noise look!) the 60mm is also smaller than the 120mm Macro but still bigger than the 80mm. I was then back to deciding whether I would be happy using the little 80mm lens or not. I viewed a few 80mm lens photos I could find and didn’t hate them and then I viewed the few 100mm photos I had taken when I had the lens for a week. Wow they were sharp, almost too sharp even at f4-f5.6. Two days before my flight I got in touch with my friend at the now called Camera Museum in London and they kindly shipped out another Zeiss 100mm f3.5 CF lens for me. So I was all set with my new compact Hasselblad 500cm setup with WLF and uber sharp yet compact 100mm lens. My Hasselblad was looking sexy again!

IMG_4644.JPG

After taking my Leica film cameras on almost every overseas model photography trip I decided to mix it up a bit and pack my pocket size full frame 35mm Olympus RC35 as I was hoping it would be bright conditions and the camera is super sharp stopped down a little. I also packed another camera I have a real soft spot for, the amazing Olympus Pen-F half frame film camera. As I shoot 99% models/ portraits I often find I don’t photo other subjects on film as I think I will never use the images. The real beauty of the Pen-F is with 72 photos per roll you can be snap happy and photos anything and everything. I’ve started including a few non people photos on my @MrLeicaCom Instagram feed so I thought I could try to get some little arty shots with the camera in addition to portraits. Considering the Olympus Pen-F is half frame you would expect the film scan of the tiny negatives to be really low resolution but in reality it seems the opposite. I have made some crazy sharp photos with the Olympus Pen F camera. The effect can be made even more dramatic I you load fine grain film like black and white Ilford Pan F 50 or the amazing (yet pricey) Fuji Provia 100F E6 slide film. I decided to treat the Pen-F to a roll of 35mm Provia 100 and would shoot more black and white film in the Olympus RC35. For the Hasselblad I packed both colour film and black and white film and even included a roll of expired E6 Fuji Velvia 100 to shoot and then try cross processing it in my C41 Tetanol kit chemicals. I have two Sekonic lightmeters but I find because I am always shooting digital and film together I meter with the digital camera LCD instead. I packed the little Lumix LX100 (Leica DLux109) as a backup and my Leica M240 as the main digital camera. For my workflow with models I like to use a digital camera to warm them up first rather than shooting film straight from the first pose. The digital LCD also helps me show models what I am trying to achieve and often gives them a confidence boost once they know they look good on camera. If I was shooting only film I think a new model especially would struggle to not be able to see how she looks plus they can’t see what I am doing nor if the results are worth their time in front of the camera. Models can also spot things on the back of the camera LCD images I may not such as clothing malfunctions or hair not behaving itself or need for more makeup etc. As such this hybrid style of shooting using both film and digital side by side works well for me. I also find digital very beneficial when I am using strobes as you can’t quite visualize how a photo will look when flash lit compared to using available light.

IMG_4643v2

Overseas photoshoot with UK model

Normally when I do model photography overseas I work with local models at the location I visit. The problem my Coventry UK regular models have is we normally shoot in the house or home studio. I think I have used every wall, doorway and window so many times I now need something more inspiring. In addition to this, some clothes can look amazing on a model but they need the correct setting or backdrop to look their best. I asked Lindsay, a model I have work with quite a lot in the last 12 months if she’d like to do a photoshoot in Tenerife and to my delight she agreed. When booking flights and hotels with a model the key criteria for me is reliability. Many models have highs and lows so one week they will be really keen then they go off the radar for six months. That doesn’t really work for overseas trips. I visited Tenerife once before so I picked an area I was slightly familiar with. The difference this time is I have a model there to work with so I’m excited to see what we can create.

Available Light Portrait

Photoshoots – Day 1

Lindsay and I arrived into Tenerife late morning and got started straight away. Luckily for me Lindsay is great at doing her own hair and makeup and we’d discussed clothes beforehand so we had a pile of cool garments to work with. The weather was around 21 degrees in the morning and 27 degrees in the day with blue skies and strong direct sunlight. Our hotel room had a balcony with a sea view so we had that as an additional location to use. Being situated right on the coast we had a sea breeze which worked well for hair moving in the wind pictures. I started using the Hasselblad quite quickly and soon got to grips with focusing via the WLF (I think anyway!). The camera felt stable to use without a monopod or tripod and I was using shutter speed of 1/60 or faster. I realised there was some Kodak Vision3 50D Motion Picture film in the Olympus Pen F so I finished that roll on the first day. We went to the coast for sunset but the light dropped quite quickly and too fast for me to use my Hasselblad and f3.5, 1/60, ISO 100 film. It was a pity as Lindsay created some amazing hair for me and wore a red outfit I was looking forward to shoot. We got some shots in the low light but almost all on digital. Once the light had faded we went back to the room then I went out for a quick moonlight run just along the sea front. Not far as it got too dark to see my feet but I still loved it.

Olympus 35 RC

Photoshoots – Day 2

We set our alarms and walked down to the coast before breakfast to catch sunrise at 8:00. It was not that easy to shoot into the sun and correctly expose the model but we tried a few different setups. Once the sun was up we walled back and enjoyed an amazing hotel breakfast. Lindsay changed clothes, hair and makeup and headed outside again and found this fantastic derelict building. This was to be our playground for the next 2-3 hours. I was whooping every 5 minutes the light was that good and Lindsay just got better and better. I give models directional pretty much constantly throughout a shoot to fine to a pose before I click the shutter. I think models have to be quite patient with me barking orders at them and continually shouting “wait wait wait, again again” as I swap between cameras, and tweak my composition or point of view. Hopefully the pictures are worth it though and Lindsay mentioned she has got a lot more keepers (photos she likes) when shooting with me in the past so I guess that’s good. In the afternoon we did a lingerie shoot in the hotel room and then had a bit of downtime before the golden hours so I made the most of it and went for a run along the coast. As sad as it sounds it was one of the best experiences of 2017. I absolutely loved it! Running on single track routes weaving between the rocks and cactus, hopping across boulder fields and the beautiful coastline alongside. One of my wild ideas is to get into Ultras. These are 50K-100K plus endurance fell running events often on similar terrain to what I was enjoying. I just love the exploring aspect of it all. Running on tarmac roads around Coventry doesn’t really do it for me but I will try to build up a base fitness in the meantime. It will also work well for future Ironman events.

runv2

I got back from the run then we went straight out the door again for a sunset shoot. The sun was setting inland to where we were situated so only really gave us some low direction light rather than pretty classic sunset shots. I decided to load the Fujicolor C200 film into the Olympus PenF for an extra stop of light (verses the Fuji Provia 100 film). Once the sun had gone down we continued to shoot until I was at ISO 6400 on the Lejca M 240, f1.4 and 1/30. By that stage I couldn’t really see Lindsay anymore to focus so we finished our days photos and went for some well-earned food and drinks.

Leica Location Shoot

Photoshoots – Day 3

Last day already yet we’d done so much in just 2 days we felt we had been in Tenerife much longer. For sunrise I still had black and white film in the camera so had to use that first. I might pack 2 Hasselblad film backs for my next trip (one film back loaded with colour film and another film back with black and white film). I then wanted to try shooting a roll of Fuji Velvia 100 with the intention to cross process in C41 chemicals. From my research I believe the film scans will look completely red, with a lot of contrast and not much detail. I don’t know if the photos will be a success but I tried to compose some simple compositions and fired the 12 shots off in reasonably quick succession. After breakfast we did one more indoor shoot to use our hotel room before we had to checkout. I loaded a roll of 120 Kodak Ektar 100 and really hope the photos look as good as they did through the viewfinder. Fingers crossed! Prior to check out Lindsay accepted my look request of curly hair, my favourite retro looking red swimming costume and makeup to match. We went out and shot the red outfit against the blue sky and finished with my sunglasses the look was complete. I loved it but what photographer doesn’t love red! I finished my roll of Ektar film and that was the last photos for the Hasselblad. Six rolls of 120 film shot in total. I didn’t think we’d use all the 120 film so it shows how well we had done (I don’t shoot film unless I like what I see). I will bring more rolls of 120 film next time if these images turn out OK. I also finished the Fuji C200 in the Olympus Pen-F but we were mid-way through some amazing photos so I loaded the Fuji Provia 100F slide film to make the most of the red outfit and cool hair / makeup. Lindsay changed clothes and we took a walk along the coast. I saw some photogenic steps coming out the sea so we shot there first then Lindsay decided she wanted to lie on the rocks with the water around her. I said she was crazy but we got into position to get the shot. 30 seconds later a big wave came along engulfing Lindsay and washing her straight off the rock. I must have instinctively pressed the shutter as it happened and managed to catch the just before and the aftermath. Poor Lindsay was a bit scrapped and battered but saw the funny side. A few wet hair photos then back to hotel reception to rest. I made the most of my last free hour in Tenerife and went out for one last run, determined to reach the summit of a distant hill within the allotted time. I did it and even managed to shoot some video on my iPhone for my Instagram feed. I think I will finally buy a GoPro camera soon to capture some behind the scenes footage from our photosession and my various antics.

Leica Fashion

Conclusion

Tenerife was my first photoshoot trip where I travelled out with a model to an overseas destination. I did a debrief with Lindsay at the airport while we waited for our flight as to what we could do better if I was to organise a similar overseas photoshoot trip. Overall it had been a huge success and for me personally it was a near perfect mix of photos, sunshine and training and with great company too. Working 1-2-1 with Lindsay for 3 days really pushed our creativity to keep producing different looking photos time and time again. It’s quite impressive what you can think of when you try and have an environment that inspires you to shoot. Lindsay and I were both very keen to get to most out of our trip and as a result didn’t visited the hotel pool once to relax in the sun. We both agreed we are very keen to do it all again but next time also look to invite at least one more model and for a larger event the possibility of makeup artists and a stylist/ wardrobe person too. More models would mean individual models would get to relax a little between shoots. Makeup artists would be beneficial for models not as confident as Lindsay at doing their own hair and makeup and a stylist can bring unique garments that can’t be found easily on the high street. As a minimum, Lindsay and I will be going back to Tenerife for another 3 day shoot as soon as we can!

Sunrise

For me personally next time I would try to pack two Hasselblad film backs and more 120 film, using it as my main film camera for all key images where there is sufficient light. I would probably replace the Olympus 35RC and Olympus Pen-F cameras with my Leica M3 to capture high quality images when there is insufficient light for the Hasselblad. I could use the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens on the Leica M3 for low light and then use the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens on my Leica M240 for more unique looking images. If I had more people on the photoshoot I would pack a reflector for someone to hold and then not bother with taking any speedlights. If it was only me and Lindsay (or one other model) I may try to take my digital Hasselblad H3D and use it with strobes. Why take the H3D? Because it has a flash sync speed of 1/800 vs. 1/180 for the Leica M240.

Are you a model and potentially interested in joined me on a future shoot? Is it for you?

In summary if you are a creative (and reliable!) model that enjoys creating TF images in your free time and are happy to cover your own expenses plus put up listening to me for three days then get in touch! If you are good at hair and makeup that is ideal, if not I am open to models bringing their own makeup artists along if the MUA is happy watching or relaxing during our shoots. If you are a model with an interest in clothes then your creative mind can only help enhance our photos and you are very welcome. For anyone interested please get in touch and I can give you more details including approximate costs (based on this trip).

*Update – January 2018 Tenerife trip is already booked with limited availability for models but if it goes well with this bigger group then I will organise more model photography location shoots.

Sea View

1-2-1 Model Photography Workshops – Overseas

I could also look at potentially organising overseas 1-2-1 model photography workshops. If you want to shadow me working with Lindsay or another model and have the opportunity to take photos to build up your portfolio I’m sure I can arrange something. I have done 1-2-1 photography workshops in overseas cities before such as New York or Zurich but working with local models rather than UK models.

L1003969+1.jpgInstagram @MrLeicaCom

Related Posts

Panasonic Lumix LX100

 

 

Advertisements

Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2017

 

Leica Shoot Out

Well Overdue

I had originally booked to visit Ukraine in July this year (and Poland) but due to my Ironman triathlon training commitments I decided to forgo both model photography trips and rebook them after the event.  I wanted to try to get to Ukraine before the cold weather came so booked it as soon after the Ironman as I could.  I also rebooked Poland (to come!).  After no overseas model photography shoots since I think May 2017 it felt like it had been forever.  I was more than ready for this one!

Camera Gear

  • Leica M240 digital camera body
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens
  • Leica M3 film camera body
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica M4-P film camera body
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens

Cameras and Film

I have been to both Budapest and Ukraine quite a few times now so I tried to select cameras, lenses and film stock different to previous trips. I wanted to take a medium format camera but had taken the Fuji GF670, Fuji GA645 and Mamiya 6 in the past and was not overly impressed with the results compared to a 35mm film Leica.  I think if you load a Leica with professional standard fine grain film they can capture super sharp high clarity images even with the smaller 35mm film format.  I’ve had great success in the past combining in particular the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens with  the fine grain black and white Ilford Pan F50 film.  I wanted to bring the Hasselblad but I didn’t have sufficient capacity in my hand luggage so settled for 2 Leica film cameras, one to shoot colour film and one for black and white film. I also tried to pack more rolls of colour film as I normally shoot mostly black and white. For colour film I bulk loaded a batch of Kodak Motion Picture Vision3 200T film which is tungsten balanced but I use it with a 81B colour correction filter in daylight. I also had some daylight balanced Vision3 50D to use but less of it.  For black and white film I selected what I believe is the best with regards to image quality (sharpness and clarity) and took Ilford Pan F 50 and Ilford Delta 100 film. For low light I packed some Kodak T-Max 400 film as I like the fine grain and some of my usual bulk loaded Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 which has such great latitude and seems to work in almost any light.

Leica M Lenses

When taking Leica film cameras rather than a different film camera brand such as Hasselblad, Mamiya or Nikon, I have the advantage that I can pack one set of lenses to use on both the digital Leica M 240 and the Leica film cameras.  Last time I was in Ukraine my M240 needed recalibrating so I used a 35mm Voigtlander Skopar lens stopped down to ensure I had a deeper depth of field. I was also using speedlights a lot for flash photography.  In contrast, for this trip I wanted to use less flash and shoot with a shallow depth of field. My obvious lens choice for available light photography is the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0. Digital photos to me can look very boring but the Nocti lens shot wide open can add a lovely filmic / painterly soft look to a photo and it is these imperfections that make the photos perfect (for me anyway). I like the small size of the compact Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens and it balances nicely on my Leica M3. It is also very sharp wide open.   I packed the 50/2.5 for those reasons but in hindsight I wish I had packed the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 as it is more suited to available light photography. I find the Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 can be a little too soft at f1.0 when shot on film (for many film stocks I’ve tried) whereas the Leica Summilux 50/1.4 ASPH can work well at f1.4 with film.  Lastly I chose the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens for a wider view yet suited for available light also. Again in hindsight next time I may pack 3 50mm lenses plus a 35mm for occasional use. It is frustrating to use two focal lengths side by side as I will stand in a place to compose for say a 50mm lens then when pick up the camera with the 35mm lens on the perspective is different and I need to walk forward for the same crop as seen with the 50mm, only to then step back again when I switch to the 50mm.  I think I’m currently back to being a 50mm shooter as my most used focal length. 35mm can feel too wide yet 75mm – 90mm can be too long/ tight.

Budapest

Budapest was only a short visit and hello to models en route to Ukraine.  I had two nights in Budapest city centre so booked three models each day. On day one the first model didn’t arrive nor even bother to write. Luckily the next two models were some of my most reliable in Budapest so they came prepared. What I learnt the most from the day is regardless of a model looks, the models I can make the best photos with are those that are as excited as me about making the pictures. Two creative minds on a photoshoot can lead to some amazing results and in particular I love models that are also stylists. They piece together really interesting clothing combinations and somehow source garments that you rarely see on the high street.  I was really happy with days photos despite the morning being wasted by a no show. The digital images I was seeing on the M240 LCD using the Leica Noctilux lens looking very promising.

I only had one evening in Budapest so even after a busy day shooting and not much to eat as soon as the last model left I grabbed my running kit and drank a quick coffee then did a sunset run along the River Danube. So beautiful and enjoyable. The perfect end to a perfect day!

Day two had another bad start with another cancel but I was tired so made the most of it and had some extra sleep. The rest of the day was two more reliable models so luckily stress free. I think the big difference for day two is the model had their own vision that was not my preferred arty style so having less input made it more like going through the motions. Day 1 I shot nearly 3 rolls of film. Day 2 I didn’t shoot a single frame! I think the longer I do photography the more selective I become, both in terms of models I work with but also the styling, location and general mood.  I only shoot film when I feel the capture deserve it.  Film doesn’t suit every photo, I think, or for me anyway. To be more precise, if the light does not interest me when shooting digital I will not reach for a film camera. Light is everything.

Slovakia

Normally when I shoot in Ukraine I fly into Slovakia from the UK and then get a bus over the border to Uzhgorod. For this trip I decided to fly to Budapest, then bus from Budapest to Slovakia, stay there overnight then get my usual bus from Slovakia to Ukraine.

That was the plan anyway. I am quite relaxed as a person and I arrived to the bus station at the exact time of departure and missed my pre-booked bus.  Luckily I was able to find another bus going to Slovakia 6hrs later that would arrive in time to catch my connecting bus to Ukraine. The long time waiting was less painful than feared and I arrived in Uzhgorod on Day 3 ready to shoot.

Ukraine

Window Light

Day 3.  I had a quick one hour shoot with an agency model I knew from last year and then my model friend arrived on her train from Kiev.  We set to work and had an extremely enjoyable and productive first day using the light right through until sunset. I can’t wait to see the photos!

Day 4 started with a pre-breakfast lingerie shoot which just showed the amount of thought and planning going into trying to make the nicest pictures.  Once we were both dying of hunger we stopped for breakfast. In the afternoon we shot a few more looks right up until it was time for the model to catch her 16hr return train back to Kiev. A very enjoyable first two days in Uzhgorod and the bar had been set high for others to try to follow.  I felt very fortunate a model would want to travel 16hrs (each way) for a photoshoot.

Leica M240 B&W

Day 5 was supposed to be my first full day working with local models friends with five models booked back to back morning til night. Sadly three of the five models cancelled putting me on a bit of a downer after experiencing such highs in the two days before.  The sun and warm 28 degree temperatures we had been enjoying also gave way to a day of mostly rain. The last model, my first ever in Ukraine six years ago, braved the rain and we shot under a bridge before retreating for coffee and cake.

Leica Fashion Photographer

Day 6 was my last in Ukraine so I’d booked in five more models. Luckily my endless hours on social media trying to organise all these shoots paid off and I had no cancellations.  Even the sun came back out for us!  I shot with a wide mix of ages and experience and I think I discovered a new super model at the age of only 15.  When I first came to Uzhgorod I shot with a 15yr old girl and now she’s based as a model in Paris (the last I heard).  I also had a lot of fun catching up with friends and it’s lovely when they seem genuinely thankful that I came back to visit them.  I was dead on my feet again when the last model finished but still decided to fit in one more run along the river despite being dark.  I even made two new friends on the pull up / dips bars outside one of the housing blocks.  It is probably not that common for ‘tourists’ to mingle with the local but I enjoyed it. A great memory to end my time in Ukraine.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1

Night Bus

The original travel itinerary was to stop off at a hotel in Slovakia on my way home via Budapest. After realising the night buses were not that painful I cancelled my hotel and booked a night bus instead. That gave me a full last day in Ukraine but also now some extra time in Budapest to fit in one last shoot.

My taxi was at midnight to go to the bus station. I jumped in the taxi, an old Lada Niva I remember well as a child and said ‘autobus station to go to Slovakia’. The driver said ok and we speed off along the empty pot holed roads, without a seat belt sitting in the passenger seat. (It is considered rude to wear a seat belt). I tried to show a driver an iPhone map photo of the bus station and he replied ok ok Slovakia. I soon realised he had misunderstood me and we were driving at speed in the opposite direction to the bus heading direct to Slovakia! To cut the story short I managed to make him stop the car and by describing roads and various Uzhgorod landmarks he understood and I managed to catch the night bus to Slovakia. The bus trip was great except we arrived to Slovakia 2hrs early.  It was perhaps 15 degrees colder than Ukraine and I now had a 3hr40 minute wait in a dark and deserted bus station. I wore all my clothes trying to keep warm but was very relieved to see my bus arrive to take me to Budapest. I slept the entire journey like a baby, including dribble!

Back in Budapest

A model friend from a few days earlier met me at the bus station in Budapest and we had a very enjoyable and hopefully successful shoot.  I suggested we shot at the location and it gave very different backdrops to the rest of my Budapest images. A good decision. We then also shot a bit more on the metro travelling into the city before I caught my bus to the airport.

CV Nokton 35mm

Thoughts

I believe the number of rolls of film I shoot on a trip is a good indicator as to how successful it was. I managed to use ten rolls of 36(/37) exposure 35mm film and for once I think more colour than black and white.  I was trying to push the equipment and materials to their max to see what I could achieve so I’m interested to see the results. In particular using fine grain film with the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 shot at f1.0-f1.2-f1.4. I don’t think I stopped the lens down beyond f1.4.  I fear at f1 the photos will still be too soft (for my taste) but I wanted to try so I know my equipment limits.  Another sign of success for me was every film photo was taken with available light which I was keen to do (after so much flash film photography in the last 12-18 months). It’s easy to make light but harder to find it.  To again push myself I took no reflector to bounce available light so I’m excited to see how we got on.  I tried to mix up my styles even using the above mentioned parameters and I also shot outside as much as I could to use the locations.  Where possible I tried to not photo a model against a wall and kept the lenses close or at to their widest apertures. (The opposite of when I was doing a lot of flash photography and had the lenses stopped down (higher f. stop for a greater depth of field)).

I know many photographers prefer the diffused light on an overcast day for taking portrait photographs but for me I love nothing better than blue skies and direct sunlight.  Living in the UK where we often have cloudy weather I found I really appreciated the sunny days of Budapest and Uzhgorod. If I simplify things, the entire model photography trip was just one big light hunt! I think I need to relocate to a sunnier warmer destination. San Francisco perhaps!

Overall I was really happy with my week away and I don’t think I would have changed anything other than pack the hugely missed Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens to use with the Leica film cameras.  I really wasn’t feeling the 35mm focal length and I would have been happy with only 50mm lenses. The best performer of the trip was without doubt the mighty Noctilux 50f1 lens.  The cameras were fighting over the Nocti as I wanted to use it to shoot film with but also to get the instant gratification when using the Noctilux on the digital Leica M240 and seeing the image on the LCD.  I don’t feel at any point that I missed not having a medium format camera.  Previously I have enjoyed the high flash sync speed (1/400-1/500) of most of the medium cameras to control ambient light when using flash. As I did nearly all available light photography the fast (f1.0-f1.4) Leica M mount lenses were much more suited (than f2.8-f4 MF lenses).  I am interested to see what the smaller 35mm film format Leica cameras achieved.

I think I write this and the end of every blog post I share but I’d like to think some of the images to come are my best yet.  I certainly tried!  Coming soon.

Big Thanks

I’ve not named models individually throughout this post but a huge thanks to models Eva, Nadja, Lili, Galyna, Inna, Dana, Angel, Nikoletta, Franciska, Alexa, Maryna and Valeria. It wouldn’t be possible without you.  Also apologies for the models I didn’t see this year.  I know I missed quite a few of you in Ukraine due to time constraints but I hope to be back again next year!

Thanks

Matt

Related Posts

Nikon F4 – Ukraine Girls 2016

Nikon F4 – Ukraine Girls 2016

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

September 2017 (from July 2016)

Dusty Film Scan

July 2016

Here are some of the film photography scans I took on my last trip to Ukraine last summer. I cancelled my return trip to Ukraine in July 2017 as wanted to concentrate on my Ironman triathlon training but managed to fit in another trip before the end of 2017 to catch up with my model friends. It feels like ages since I was last there!

 

Camera Gear

When packing for Ukraine last time I planned to do strobist work so decided to take my Nikon F4 SLR instead of my usual Leica film cameras. The Nikon F4 has a flash sync speed of 1/125 instead of 1/50 so it is easier to balance ambient light and strobes. For the Nikon F4 I took the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 pancake lens as it is small and sharp and the Nikkor 60mm f2.8 Micro. All the film scans seem to be shot on black and white Kodak T-Max 100 so it looks like I was keeping it simple!  All photos were home developed using Kodak Xtol and scanned with a flatbed Epson v800 scanner.

 

Nikon F4 and Kodak T-Max 100 Film Portraits

Kodak TMax 100 B&W
Voigtlander 40mm f2.0 Ultron SL II
Nikkor 28mm f2.8 E Series
Ukrainian Women
Kodak T-Max 100 Portrait
Film Scan
Film is King!
Nikon F4 Portrait
Nikon F4 + Kodak T-Max 100
Kodak T-Max 100 Portrait
Nikon F4 Portrait
Film Scan Portrait
Girls in Ukraine
Available Light Photography
Nikon F4 Portrait
Nikon F4
Fine Art Portrait
Nikon F4 Fashion
Nikon F4 Portrait
Low Key Film Portrait

 

Nikon F4 vs. Leica Rangefinder – Any difference?

As I normally use Leica film cameras such as the Leica M3, M2, M4-P, M6, that are all rangefinder style film cameras I thought I would summarise how I find shooting with the more modern Nikon SLR that accepts auto-focus lenses.

I am short sighted and don’t wear glasses for photography so an SLR style camera is OK for me to use accurately if I use up close to a model (perhaps at =<1m distance) with a manual forcus lens such as the Voigtlander Ultron 40m f2.  For longer distances I have to rely on auto-focus lenses to capture a subject in focus.

The Nikon F4 is quite chunky and heavy with the 4x AA batteries in the battery grip vs. a solid yet more compact Leica film camera.  When I am packing small I would always pack a Leica as both the cameras and lenses are smaller.

Leica cameras such as my 1950s design Leica M3 are built to last and just keep going.  That said they do need recalibrating now and again to be able to capture accurately focused images using fast lenses with a shallow depth of field.  The Nikon F4 too is built like a tank.  I dropped my F4 down a flight of concrete stairs on a workshop in Zurich and to my amazement both the camera and Nikkor 60mm Micro lens continued to work when I caught up with it!  You couldn't do that with a modern camera (I think!).

For image quality with film cameras it is down to the lens and choice of film probably more than the camera body itself.  If you select a good lens for the Nikon F4 I would say I probably could not tell the difference vs. a photo taken with a Leica film camera.  I think I compose better with a rangefinder camera like a Leica and probably work faster with it but in terms of sharpness I think generally speaking the images would be quite similar in most cases with both cameras.

Lastly if I could pick only one film camera I would chose a Leica M3 as I prefer cameras that don't rely on batteries, that are as small as possible, it's simplicity and the magnified viewfinder for accurate focusing.

 

Full details of the trip

For full details of this trip to Ukraine please see my Ukraine Models (#2) linked below.

 

Related Posts

Budapest Models: Leica M240+M3 & Nikon FM

Budapest Models: Leica M240+M3 & Nikon FM

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

August 2017

Here is a post I wrote but didn’t get chance to share from May when I went to Budapest –

Leica Photographer

Budapest, May17

I’m just heading home after a very enjoyable few days in Budapest. It was not quite my normal style of cramming in 5 models a day morning til night but I still managed 8 photoshoots and got to see a little bit of the city too!

Cool Bikes

If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed I’m currently training for an endurance triathlon called an ‘Ironman’. I was very aware that I couldn’t just stop training when I got to Budapest as it would put me back a few weeks in terms of progress. I had hoped to run each day but annoyingly I’ve picked up the standard Achilles’ tendon issues due to over training. My plan was therefore to use the Budapest Bubi bikes to keep my legs moving but just before going to use one I read on Trip Advisor that tourists have ran up huge bills by taking a bike out for 24hrs. They are more designed for locals to use and drop within 30mins. Instead I found Bikebase Budapest and hired from them a retro single speed bike to cruise round the city on. I was really sad to give it back after 24hrs! On the last day I then found myself will a spare hour before the first model arrived so I ran to the shop, literally, hired another bike from them and went and did a quick 20km loop along the Danube river before dropping it back and running back to the apartment just in time for the first model! I loved every minute cycling in the sunshine and the Budapest cycle paths are much better than most of the cities I’ve cycled in in the UK.

Single Speed

Models

I found some of my go to model friends were out of town during my stay but luckily I headhunted a few new girls to join me for photoshoots instead. I get more and more picky with the models I work with year on year so that makes the task 10x more difficult! If I wouldn’t include a model in my portfolio then I don’t ask to work with them. I met 5 models I’d worked with on previous trips to Budapest and then 3 new girls. The models I knew from previous visits really stepped it up a level and on the whole produced some of our best images together to date I think. Picking new models based on Instagram photos can be risky as most models are now pretty good with the various editing apps to the extent that that you would not recognise them in real life! Luckily for me though, the unedited photos I was seeing on my Leica M240 LCD with these girls far exceeded any expectations I may have had from Instagram. Iphone selfies with lots of filters applied can be nice I’m sure but they don’t compare to a proper camera. From the models positive responses it seemed it was not just my opinion!

Some of the photos I was capturing on this trip were instant favourites but I was consciously working differently to how I have been taking pictures recently.

Back to basics

In my earlier model photography I relied heavily on using available light to illuminate models. That was especially true when using my Leica M2 and Leica M3 as I can’t use my flash triggers on them (as easily) but also for all the much earlier work with cameras like the ARAX-CM, Yashica MG-1, Pentacon Six TL, Voigtlander Bessa R3A and others. More recently I have favoured cameras like the Hasselblad 500CM/ 501C, Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Leica M6 Classic, Leica M4P, Mamiya 6, Hasselblad XPan all which let me use wireless off camera flash easily. Likewise for the digital photos I nearly always use flash when shooting in the UK and often when overseas also to create light when I want and where I want. (There will always be exceptions such as Budapest last autumn when I was using the Leica M2 for some available light work).

Budapest Models Blog Post

I was digging through my old photos on Flickr and thought to myself, I never take photos like that anymore yet I quite like them. Most of my model photography was with available light and I used all my lenses at their widest aperture for dreamy shallow depth of field portraits. I think as I started to use more and more flash I started to stop the lenses down and I often shot with a model against a wall so I didn’t need a shallow DOF. Another reason for stopping lenses down on the Leica M240 over the last 6-9 months is I noticed the rangefinder needs recalibrating again but I’ve not had 6-8 weeks free to send it away to Leica Germany. As such I just use the M240 stopped down a little (f4 on a 35mm lens).

I think partly due using lenses stopped down lens I have not been as excited to take photos with the Leica M240 as I used to. I packed the ‘M’ to bring to Budapest as it was the only camera that gives high quality images and high resolution for the models that packs small in my bag and can work well in low light if needed. I did consider the Leica M8 but some experienced models almost expect the super polished modern look from a CMOS sensor so don’t always appreciate the 10MP more filmic style. I appreciate both.

Rangefinder or LiveView

I was partly through the first photoshoot in Budapest shooting at around f4 on a 35mm lens and I suddenly had a light bulb moment. I could focus the image with the LCD in LiveView mode and then shoot my lenses wide open. That was that and I didn’t look back once! I shot all photos after that wide open using LiveView to critically focus and I got quite quick at it by the end. I also shot almost the entire trip with available light at perhaps ISO 800 max. (There was one exception where due to the photo style the model wanted we used flash and stopped down!).

Lumix LX100 Fashion

Most of the photos I took will therefore look a bit different (hopefully!) compared to my photos over the last 6-12+ months or so I think. It was so nice to use the lenses wide open again and for what they were designed for. The star of the trip was without doubt the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH which was on the M240 camera most of the time. I will definitely get the M240 recalibrated at my earliest convenience. One point to note is although LiveView is a good plan B option, I believe the rangefinder focusing method is still king. It is faster and the camera is much more stable resting the camera against the forehead so to me is better for critical focusing and allows the use of slower shutter speeds.

Camera Gear

  • Leica M240 digital camera body
  • Leica M3 film camera (recalibrated)
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 classic lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Nikon FM SLR film camera
  • Voigtlander 40mm f2 SL II pancake lens
  • Lumix LX100 digital compact (backup)

35mm Film

I have been using mostly Kodak Double-X 5222 black and white film over the last six months and Kodak Motion Picture colour film stocks (As I bulk load them). I therefore decided to take different films for a change and went back to film I used to use a lot in my early film photography. I took Kodak T-Max 100 and Kodak T-Max 400 and a roll of Kentmere 100 to use up. For colour film I took Fujicolor C200 as I like the fine grain and some Kodak Porta 400.

Thanks

As usual a big thank you to all the models I worked with in Budapest. It is the models that make the trip. In no order thanks to Franciska, Cynthia, Nikoletta, Daniella, Flora, Sara, Lili and Tamara. You may recognise a few familiar faces! 🙂

First look

Here are a few photos I have processed since getting home but as always there will be more to come to my Flickr feed and Instagram account (@MrLeicaCom) in the coming days/ weeks.

…luckily as it has taken me so long to post it here are quite a few photos from Budapest!

Leica M240 Digital – Colour

Leica M240 + Voigtlander Nokton 40mm
Leica Fashion
Hello from Budapest :)

Leica M240 Digital – B&W

Voigtlander Nokton 40mm
Nokton Classic 40mm
Leica Art Nude
Leica M240 + Voigtlander 40mm
Central Budapest
Leica M240 B&W
Leica B&W
Budapest Models
Budapest Model

 

Leica M3 Film Scans

Modern Vintage
Leica M3 Portrait
Leica M3 + TMax 400
35mm Kodak TMax 400
Leica M3 + Nokton Classic
35mm Kentmere 100 Film

Sadly both rolls of Kodak T-Max 100 film I’d shot didn’t develop properly (massively under exposed) hence most of the film photos shared are from the same shoot.

Nikon FM

I have yet to develop the colour film shot in the Nikon FM SLR as most of my time has been going into Ironman triathlon training, hence this late post. Once developed I will be sure to share the results! 🙂

Related Links

Poland Models 2017: Leica + Hasselblad

Poland Models 2017: Leica + Hasselblad

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

March 2017

I just finished my latest overseas model photography trip in Sopot, Poland.  3.5 days, 14 photoshoots, 11 models and 7 new faces. A very productive and enjoyable trip despite less favourable weather at times!

Cameras

As usual I was struggling with what cameras to take but I decided on my recently purchased Hasselblad 500CM (that replaced 501C) as my main film camera and a 35mm Leica M4-P camera. I took a wide assortment of film to use including some expired 120 colour film for the Hasselblad. I also packed Kodak Ektar 100 film, both 35mm and 120, as I’ve not tried developing Ektar myself and was also hoping to use it on the beach for some saturated blue sky photos. Most of the film I packed was colour film as I’m enjoying the nice surprise associated with colour film developing (especially with expired film and Kodak Motion Picture film).  I love black and white photography but I still believe a good colour photo can have more impact that the same in black and white as colour gives another dimension and can be used to portray mood for example simply by warmer or cooler tones.  I took only a few ‘emergency’ rolls if black and white film for when a situation really benefits from monochrome (such as to simply an image if colours are distracting).

Leica M4-P

Final Camera Gear

  • Hasselblad 500cm 6×6 film camera
  • Zeiss Macro Planar 120mm f4 lens
  • Digital Leica M240 camera
  • Digital Lumix LX-100 backup camera
  • Leica M4-P film camera
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Siri Carbon Monopod
  • Speedlight

White walled hotel rooms

After now visiting quite a few different countries and during all season throughout the year I would say that my ‘go to’ hotel in Sopot is the least inspiring and offers the plainest canvas to work with. As such, the white wall model photos I captured look more a like basic (and potentially boring) white screen studio shoot which I even try to avoid in my own studio.  The white rooms produce very even diffused light when there is no direct sunshine so I relied heavily on my main speedlight to illuminate the majority of the indoor photos.  As it was less easy to create interesting light (or more importantly interesting shadows) I found myself trying to create the usual beauty lighting for the most flattering portraits for the models. That said, I did create a few nice lighting setups and it always amazes me how many different types of lighting you can make with just a speedlight!  I enjoy the problem solving aspect of creating light.

Using a speedlight was great when the Hasselblad sync cable is working but I found it intermittent at best so used the Hassy less than I had hoped. Two days of rain also meant there was not enough light to use the Hasselblad easily with available light only (f4, 1/60, ISO 100 film). I did try a few photos at 1/30 shutter speed but they might be blurry so I try to keep to 1/60 as a minimum.   I was shooting the expired film at ISO 100 so needed more light than say ISO 400 for Kodak  Tri-X.  I was mostly in colour shooting mode so had times when I didn’t want to shoot the black and white film that was already in the cameras as I was ‘seeing’ in colour.  I used all my fine grain 35mm colour film quite quick so should have taken more but when packing I was hoping to shoot as much as possible with medium format 120 film.

The Studio Look

Beach photos

We did get outside on the beach on the second day and very briefly on day 3 but the last 2 days were almost entirely in my mock studio / hotel room.  Models (and the clothes they bring) suit certain locations more than others.  Lingerie is often better shot inside for example!  Some models are also better suited to digital photography and others I really want to shoot on either 35mm film and/ or 120 film.  I find I love the Hasselblad for headshots or tight portraits especially when using the Zeiss 120mm macro lens.  As such, sadly I don’t think I used the Hasselblad on the beach.  I often deem it a waste to shoot film against white wall backdrops but I found I did it anyway this time as wanted to use the film cameras!

Lumix LX100

Exciting new location (1) – Model’s apartment

I had the real treat of working with a local Sopot MUA / model, Dorota and shooting her in her own apartment. A new location for me is probably almost as exciting as working with a new model. New light, new shadows, different views and backgrounds, new textures and colours all make for a very inspiring shoot.  Multiply all of that 10-fold and it was close to the amazing creative space that Dorota had created as her home / makeup studio. She even had not one but two ring lights!  I was impressed!  So that was the amazing location and then I had a very creative model/ MUA/ stylist/ photographer/ cool person who could add to the photos as much or probably more than I did.  Normally it is mostly my input to create photos so when models have their own cool concepts it’s really nice and the end result tends to be much stronger.  Two minds is always better than one!  The shoot was as enjoyable as it sounds and the photos are very different compared to my usual Sopot model photography, in all respects. Excited to see the results!

Vintage Pin Up

Exciting new location (2) – The stables

One of the new models I met was the 2015 Miss World finalist / 2015 Miss Poland finalist, Marta.  We shot in the hotel in the morning and enjoyed it and then a different model cancelled for later in the day.    Marta mentioned she owned horses and kept them less than 10 minutes from the hotel so suggested a photo shoot with her horse.  I have tried to plan model shoots with horses in the past but they never happened so I jumped at the chance. The weather was dry and in our favour and I shot film with both the Hasselblad and Leica M4-P.   It was such a rare opportunity for me and proved a very enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to share the photos and hope some are sharp / keepers despite a moving horse (at times).

Model and her Horse

Models

After visiting the small Polish beach resort of Sopot so many times now it still blows my mind at how many beautiful girls live in the surrounding area.  I go to capital cities like London and Paris and really struggle to find anybody to photograph and even when I do they are often just visiting the city themselves (Paris especially).  (Budapest is my exception as is now one of my favourite model photography locations).  Before travelling to Poland I wanted to try to find more new faces to work with. After many hours of Facebook and Instagram trawling I managed to organise 7 new faces of the 11 different models I worked with.  Quite a good result for how many times I have visited the same location. The standard was generally very high and even some of the models I had met on previous trips seemed to have become very body confident so we did more lingerie themed photos than previously.  I guess for some of the photos I was also shooting with Instagram in my mind so the results might be a little different to my usual photos.

I love working with new models especially those that are already very talented or have something special but lack the confidence to take it to the next level.  In the modern age of Instagram filters it is difficult to know how a model will look when they arrive, both face and body. Literally everything can now be artificially enhanced for Instagram!  I was impressed with I think all the new models where they almost all seemed to photo far better than their existing images portrayed.

Thanks

As always a huge thanks to all the amazing models that entrusted me after just a few messages online and then gave up their often very limited free time arriving between study periods or work. I find it all very humbling. In no particular order a big thanks to models Dorota, Marta P, Marta M, Agnieszka, Izabela, Irmina, Gosia, Laura, Kinga, Klaudia, Julia, MUAs where applicable and to Monika at the hotel.

I wasn’t planning to go back to Poland for a while as I have a busy summer ahead but now I think I will ‘have’ too. There are just too many amazing individuals I was to collaborate with again!

Next stop, Budapest again in May but first I have all the new Polish photos to look forward to. Coming soon on Instagram (@MrLeicaCom), Flickr and here on the blog as I get time.

Related Links

Paris Models & IMG Paris

Paris Models & IMG Paris

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

February 2017

Brazilian Model

Paris Model Photography

This was my first visit to Paris for about 10 years and I had no model contacts there so it was going to be interesting as to whether it would be a success or not.  When I visit the same cities over and over (Budapest, Poland and Ukraine especially) I build up a large pool of contacts so I then pack my days with as many as five models back to back.  I thought I would travel to Paris from the UK by Eurostar but it actually worked out much cheaper to fly with Air France instead.  I am so used to flying with Ryanair and Wizzair now (for the destinations I enjoy visiting) that Air France all felt very civilised and nice.

For model photography trips I tend to use my hotel or apartment as a base for most of the photos and / or the surrounding streets but generally don’t travel far so not to lose time.  Paris hotels and apartments were much more expensive than I am used to so I booked a tiny apartment and then planned to work with models on location around Paris to include some of the classic landmarks.  This plan is great if it is not raining!  We had rain on and off for 2 of the 3 days so that made it more challenging!

Leica lens flare

Timing is everything

This is of course very true for photos but also for when visiting Paris as a model photographer.  I found a low price flight online so based my stay in France purely on the cheap flight days.  I didn’t consider anything else.  One huge factor that I overlooked is February 28 – March 8, 2017 is Paris Fashion week.  Although I had spoken to some of the Paris model agencies prior to flying when I arrived I found that trying to work with any of the girls was near impossible as all the agencies had the girls booked out for casting ahead of the fashion  show.  What a disaster!  A huge selection of models in town from all over the world and some very interested in working together yet not possible as the agencies would not release the girls to test in case they were needed for casting calls.

IMG Models Paris

I was fortunate enough to still have a day shooting with a model from IMG Models Paris after endless emails trying to find a girl who was available. Considering that IMG is the number one model agency in the world I was impressed with the quick replies to my messages.  Working with IMG Paris is perhaps my biggest achievement to date I think so I was thankful for the opportunity and hope it is the start of a strong working relationship together going forward.

IMG Paris

Freelance Models

I had been busy messaging models I had found on Instagram in the weeks leading up to Paris.  I managed to organise 3 models for my second day, a Norwegian girl who had come to Paris after participating in London fashion week, a Brazilian girl from Rio who was living in Paris with her boyfriend and a local French guy I found via a French photographer’s Instagram photos that I knew from Facebook as a fellow Leica photographer. Everything was perfect except for the strong wind and rain!

The start and end of the day were cold but mostly dry but the main shoot during the daytime had to be postponed while we sheltered from the elements mid shoot. With all that against us I am still very excited to review the resulting photos!  I enjoyed working with all 3 models but the last shoot with the male model was perhaps the most different to my usual photos.  I work with girls so often that if I find a guy with a strong look, a passion for fashion and with real vision then it really gets good.  As I’ve written in the past, lighting a male model is completely different to lighting a girl so I loved the lighting aspect of the shoot especially.

My last day in Paris was wet again and every model and agency I had spoken to seemed to be fully involved in the Paris fashion week casting.  Booking a model in Paris during this time is very last minute so you don’t know if you have a model for the following day sometimes until the morning of the day itself. After a busy first two days sadly there were no models available for day 3. I was pretty tired after three late nights planning and two early mornings to travel to shoots so I decided to catch up on sleep for once until it was time to go to the airport to fly home. My body was probably very grateful of a rest even though I felt very unproductive and it was a rare opportunity in Paris wasted.  I will be back.

Cameras

As usual, I spent a few weeks trying to decide what cameras to take to Paris, and trying to visualise what cameras may be best for my needs.  I took the Mamiya RZ67 to Budapest because the Hasselblad 500 series was broken /out of action.   I still think the Hasselblad 501C has captured some of my highest quality photos I’ve taken so I decided to buy a replacement Hasselblad camera body in the meantime. I was then tempted to take my Mamiya 6 medium format film camera too as it is more portable than the Hasselblad and I can use it at slower shutter speeds handheld as it is a rangefinder.  Never someone to make life simple I thought I would also take the 35mm Leica M4-P film camera as standard practice but then I also considered the 35mm Hasselblad XPan to try to capture some panoramic scenes in Paris.  I had my digital Leica M240 camera as my main camera and also packed the new digital Lumix LX100 as a digital backup camera. Many cameras!

Hasselblad 500 Series

The new Hasselblad camera I bought was a well used 1982 black Hasselblad 500cm body (only) to be exact.  Hasselblad v series cameras have leaf shutter lenses so most of the controls are on the lens itself.  The Hasselblad camera body is merely a box to attach the lens, viewfinder and film back.  As such I bought a new ‘box’ and transferred the lens, film back, acute mate focusing screen and PM45 prism viewfinder from my existing Hasselblad 501c onto it. I now have a fully functional Hasselblad to take to Paris! I decided to take the Zeiss Macro Planar 120mm f4 lens for more compression and a close up option rather than the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 lens that I usually pack.

Mamiya 6

I had decided in my head that I would use the Hasselblad with a longer lens but then wanted something wider and medium format film to make the most of being in Paris.  The standard Mamiya 6 lens is 75mm f3.5 so I decided to buy the highly regarded Mamiya 50mm f4 G lenses for the Mamiya 6 camera for something wider.  The Mamiya 50/f4 G is said to be one of the sharpest lenses and in 35mm terms give an approximate view of 28mm. The new lens arrived just in time for my trip so that secured a place in my camera bag for the Mamiya 6 + 50G lens.  The smaller lighter Fuji GA645 60mm f4 camera was another option but I wanted to use the Mamiya 6 even if it is bigger and heavier.

Hasselblad XPan / Leica M4-P

The plan was to take both the  35mm Hasselblad XPan and the Leica M4-P film cameras but when I checked the weight of my bag I was well over my limit so I had to leave the Leica M4-P and Hasselblad XPan 90mm f4 lens behind. I just took the Hasselblad 45mm f4 lens for wide angle panoramic photos. I could also use the camera in normal (non-panoramic) mode as a standard 45mm lens.  At least it was a change to my usual camera choices and the panoramic photos would be different to the digital photos. (The Leica M4-P photos can look very similar to the digital photos as I use the same lenses and same film format.

Leica M Lenses

My preference was to pack both wide, standard, fast and telephoto lenses for the Leica M240 to cover all situations but cabin bag weight restrictions limited me a little. I had to leave behind the Leica Summicron 90mm f2 lens and the Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 ASPH lens. I packed the tiny Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5, my go to Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens and a fast 50, the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens.

Summary

When I’m now more accustom to working with around 10 models on my model photography city breaks, working with only 4 models in Paris was very disappointing.  I was hoping to photograph maybe 2 to 3 models a day to account for the additional travelling between photo shoots but I had not accounted for Paris fashion week.  All photos were outside the apartment and the models were very different so it should produce some more varied photos to my usual style.  I didn’t use my Hasselblad 500cm as much as I expected, partly due to less models but also the poor weather and less light.  The Mamiya 6 was a complete disappointment as the 50mm G lens didn’t seem to ‘talk’ to the camera so the camera wouldn’t fire. My fault for not testing prior to flying.  (It was later returned to the seller).  After my eyes have got so used to the Leica M4-P viewfinder I found the Hasselblad XPan viewfinder very smaller and harder to focus. Fingers crossed I nailed the focus on the XPan photos.  I used the Hasselblad XPan the most of the film cameras, mainly for the speed and ease of 35mm film. I tend to use medium format film more sparingly these days.  I used mostly black and white film; 35mm Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 (bulk rolled), 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 and 120 Fomapan 100.

Paris Model

The model style in Paris was to me quite different to Budapest and Eastern Europe. I find Budapest much more glamorous in the way girls dress and prepare their makeup.  Paris is much plainer but strangely still quite photogenic when done properly by a French girl. I didn’t work with any French female models this time but I got a taste of the style from reviewing lots and lots of local model profiles when searching for potential models.  I didn’t find I noticed girls (at all) when walking through the streets of Paris in contrast to the East. It was more like being in the UK but generally a slimmer version in terms of body shape but with less makeup and maybe plainer clothes styling.  I found I had similar observations in other areas of France in the past when there on business too.  I will travel to Paris again to work with the Paris model agencies but in general I find Eastern Europe much more to my taste. That said, I found the French language much easier as I had studied French at school so I remembered some of the basics and it is the shortest distance to travel from the UK.

Feel like Dancing

Thanks

A big thanks to IMG Models Paris for the collaboration opportunity and to quite a few other Paris model agencies I spoke to ahead of future trips.  Thanks also to the individual models I had the pleasure of working with; Bronwyn, Linn, Flavia and Clement, each bringing their own style to my photography and made the trip as enjoyable and memorable as is was.

Regrets

  • Check the dates of fashion shows prior to booking an overseas model photo trip
  • Check cameras fully before packing them (I do normally)
  • Always always pack a Leica M film camera. Leica film cameras are much more practical than the most of my other film camera options (faster lenses, reliable, compact, no mirror slap and a good viewfinder….)

Paris Fashion Week

What’s next?

More digital Paris model photography photos to follow and then the film photos too once I get time to develop them.  Next stop is back to Sopot, Poland in March and then Budapest, Hungary is booked again for May. I also have Ukraine planned for June so lots to look forward to and more opportunities to try to improve.

Related posts

Panasonic Lumix LX100

Panasonic Lumix LX100 (Leica D-Lux Typ 109)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

February 2017

Panasonic Lumix LX100 @ ISO 1600

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Purchase Recap

If you read my “Budapest 2017(2) – Leica vs Lumix” blog post you will know that I just bought myself a new Panasonic Lumix LX100 digital compact camera.

 

lumix-lx100

panasonic-lumix-dmc-lx100-digital-camera-black-6

If you didn’t read it as a very quick recap I misplaced my Leica M 240 battery charger when in Budapest on a model photography trip so bought myself a replacement / backup camera. Here is an extract from the aforementioned post –

.. “My mind then started to wander away from Leica cameras and onto other alternative camera options. I thought aha I could buy a small but capable camera to finish my model photography in Budapest and then use it as a vlog camera or camera to use for making Instagram videos / photos and also as a digital backup camera for travel. I wanted a camera with full manual controls, a hoteshoe and 4K video in a compact package. I will write a separate full review but I looked at a Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) camera and that lead me to buying a Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera with an equivalent 24-75mm f1.7-f2.8 fixed zoom lens”.

and as part of the summary at the end of the trip I wrote –

“Day 2 saw me using the new Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera. I was learning on the shoot so there were more blurry photos than when I use a Leica due to the auto focus and lag. That said the photos will look different to the Leica M 240 so I am excited to see and hope the photo quality is up to my needs. As I am used to Leica lenses and Leica sensors and also the 36MP Nikon D800 and my digital Hasselblad I guess my expectations and ‘needs’ are quite high in terms of image quality, resolution, sharpness and clarity. The little Panasonic Lumix LX100 has a lot to compete with. One fact that gives me some confidence is that the Lumix LX100 is pretty much identical to the Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (inside) and I know Leica will not put their name on a bad camera. That said the Lumix LX100 has a smaller 13MP micro four thirds CMOS sensor so it would be unfair to compare directly to my full frame digital camera sensors. I used the LX100 in manual mode for shutter, ISO and aperture but I didn’t discover how to manually focus until after the day’s photo shoots so the auto focus caused for a few miss shots. I also noticed my composition was much worse using the LX100 verses a Leica (so far)”.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 / Leica D-Lux
Lumix LX100

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – First Impressions

After using the Lumix LX100 for a day including model photography with agency models and freelance models here are my thoughts so far. I tried to summarise into two simple lists, pros and cons (for me and my taste only)*

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Pros

  • Macro photography – amazing! Can focus at 3cm distance to give a very shallow DOF
  • 1/2000 flash sync speed! – at f1.7-f2.8 and 1/4000 speed at f4-f16 (leaf shutter lens)
  • Hotshoe – a must for my strobist work
  • Small form factor – perfect travel camera
  • EVF option – good to use in bright light conditions instead of LCD
  • Aperture ring – great to see on a compact (makes it feel like a proper camera)
  • Full manual controls – a must for me
  • 4K video – same as the larger Lumix GH4 camera
  • 24-75mm fixed zoom lens – 24mm is perfect for wider shots and 75mm for portraits
  • f1.7-f2.8 lens aperture – f1.7 at 24mm to f2.8 for 75mm. f1.7 perfect in low light
  • Wifi connectivity – great to transfer photos directly to my iPhone for Instagram
  • ISO 100-25,600 – Impressive low light ability and good results at ISO1600
  • 13MP micro four thirds CMOS sensor – Sufficient resolution for A4 prints (for me)
  • Weight 393g – perfect lightweight camera to carry everywhere

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Cons

  • EVF lag – a Leica OVF is much better than the EVF for me. EVF too slow
  • Startup lag – slow compared to a Leica but useable
  • Battery capacity / life – said to take up to 350 photos per battery if using the LCD
  • Position of the video record button – awkward (for me)
  • No tilt and swivel LCD – so not great for selfies/ videoing handheld such as vlogging
  • No external mic jack (input) for microphone such as a Rode Video Mic or Zoom H1
  • Doesn’t use full size of micro four thirds sensor – crop options 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1
  • RAW files are affected by in camera settings such as crop selection and filters

Note. Panasonic Lumix LX100 vs. Leica D-Lux Typ 109

The Panasonic Lumix LX100 is near identical to it’s Leica twin camera, the Leica D-Lux Typ 109. Inside the cameras are extremely similar but with the Leica D-Lux using Leica software. On the exterior the Leica D-Lux has a much cleaner more sophisticated high end typical Leica look than the Lumix but the Lumix has a more practical and user friendly hand grip. For a lower cost I was more than happy to not consider the Leica D-Lux yet have knowledge that the LX100 uses the same Leica Summilux lens.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 (aka Leica D-Lux (Typ 109))

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – For Me

I have only covered a small percentage of the Lumix LX100 features that are important to me. There are many other settings the camera has which may interest you more such as frames per second rate or the details of the video setting options. The LX100 is not a new camera, released in 2014, so all of the above has already been documented many times before if you want more details after seeing this post. I just covered the basics of my experience and thoughts so far and with a Leica M camera background as a comparison.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Image Quality

After having time to review some of the Lumix LX100 photos from Budapest I can say that the photos were perhaps as good as can be expected. The LX100 image quality was sub-Leica M standard (because of the smaller sensor as an obvious reason) in terms of sharpness, resolution and clarity but the images are far from being offense to my eye. From the RAW images captured so far I would say as a sweeping statement, that the highlight detail is lost much easier, the images are rendered softer and the lens has more flare. The JPEG images look very good and have nice colour but the RAW files colours are less impressive when trying to recover in post. I took photos up to ISO 1600 so far and the results were useable/ good enough (even though there was less information to work with in post (without introducing too much grain).

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Ergonomics and Handling

I love the small form factor of the Lumix LX100 camera. The LX100 is smaller and lighter than a Leica M film camera and is more similar in size to my Olympus Pen-F half frame analogue camera. As a Leica photographer I find the LX100 camera has far more buttons than necessary and it feels a little cluttered but that said I was very thankful to see the aperture control ring and shutter dial. I think an ISO control dial instead of the exposure compensation dial would have suited me far better as a manual settings photographer. I really don’t like the position of the video record button and I found it very it extremely awkward but maybe I will get used to it in time. The camera is larger than a generic compact camera so wont fit into a small suit or trouser pocket but will easily pack into a larger jacket pocket or small camera bag.

As a rangefinder camera photographer I rely 100% on an optical viewfinder to focus and compose my photos. I have never been a big fan of an electronic viewfinder (“EVF”) so I was never tempted to get the Leica EVF for my Leica M240. The Panasonic Lumix LX100 EVF is better than a few I have had experience with but I struggled with the lag between photos. You really can’t appreciate how amazing an OVF is until you have used and EVF. With an OVF you can see everything all the time. I am reasonably particular when composing with a Leica camera but I noticed after seeing the Lumix photos on the computer that my composition (at the edges especially) was worse and less considered. I found with the LX100 that I started off using the EVF but later moved to using the LCD to focus instead. I guess I am now using the LCD to focus as if the camera was my iPhone rather than a ‘real’ camera. I found the LCD focusing approach more enjoyable than the EVF even if still a little foreign to me. It is early days with the LX100 camera so my preference may change.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Macro Photography

I used to love macro photography prior to specializing in portraiture and before I moved to Leica cameras. I miss macro work. Even my iPhone never lets me focus as close as I would like. The macro ability of the Lumix LX100 to me is perhaps it’s strongest feature focusing as close as 3cm at 24mm and giving beautifully shallow depth of field and bokeh that you might expect from a DSLR camera rather than a compact camera. Very impressed.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Flash Sync Speed

The LX100 camera with its leaf shutter lens boosts an amazing 1/2000 flash sync speed for apertures from f1.7 to f2.8 and 1/4000 flash sync speed for apertures f4-f16. I have yet to use this feature but it excites me a great deal. My Leica M 240 maximum flash sync speed is only 1/180 and even my digital Hasselblad is only 1/800. As a photographer that enjoys using off camera flash this is exciting stuff!

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Fills the Void

As I have quite a few cameras already, all of which are arguably ‘better’ and higher spec’d than the little Lumix LX100 how will it fit in. The Leica M240 is my main camera for everything, whether portrait sessions, fashion photography or Leica wedding photography. My other digital cameras are used from time to time, the Leica M8 at Leica weddings for example, the digital Hasselblad on bright days using strobes when size and weight is no issue and the Nikon D800 as a general backup camera. With a love for film cameras rather than digital I tend to use the Leica M240 to do a test shot and then often take the important photos with a film camera.

So the LX100. What can it bring to the table. Surprisingly a great deal for my needs. It might be clearer to list the uses I have in mind for my new Lumix.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Uses for Me

Macro photography

More specifically detail photos of cameras and equipment for blogging and Instagram

Wifi connectivity

Can take better photos than an iPhone and upload to social media without a computer

Test photos before shooting film

The LX100 is better than a light meter and smaller and lighter than a digital Leica

Behind the scenes photos/ videos

I can operate the LX100 camera with my iPhone to capture BTS footage

Vlogging

I enjoy teaching photography so will use the camera to capture more short videos

Video footage

Whether of a model or otherwise it adds an extra dimension to my work

Small size so carry everywhere

I am more likely to carry this camera with me than any other because of the size

Travel camera

Great for my overseas trips where size and weight matters

Family photos

Perfect for spontaneous and fun family photos that can be shared via Wifi

Backup camera

I will now use this as a digital backup camera for overseas model photography trips

For fun

A Leica camera is a serious piece of equipment whereas the Lumix is more a fun camera

Model photography

The LX100 photos are to me good enough to use for my model photography shoots

Wedding photography

The LX100 camera will now join me for wedding photography assignments too

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Summary

As you can see I am quite impressed with the Panasonic Lumix LX100. Yes it is not Leica M quality but then it is not Leica M cost either. Every camera has their strengths and weaknesses and I look forward to using the Lumix LX100 for when the Leica M camera is less suited. I will write a follow up review once I have spent more time with the LX100 camera but exciting times ahead and I think new and different work coming soon to my Instagram feed (@MrLeicaCom).

Non-model Test Photos (Lightroom Exports)

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II
Leica M4-P
Olympus Pen-F

Film vs. Digital

Using the micro four thirds sensor Lumix LX100 camera really lets me appreciate my film cameras.  The resolution of even a classic grain film stock such as Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 still exceeds the resolution of  the digital camera sensor at this level (from my own personal experience*).  Don’t underestimate film if you have never used it! 🙂

Lumix – Full Circle

My first serious camera was the interchangeable lens Panasonic Lumix G1.  I taught myself the basics of photography using the Lumix G1.  I later bought a used Lumix G3 to try for a short period.  Now onto the Lumix LX100!

Related Links