Leica M Cameras – All I Need

Leica M Cameras  – All I Need…?

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

January 2017

Camera Porn!

Keeping it Interesting

After returning from my Budapest model photography trip earlier this week I have been trying to think what other cameras I can take on my next overseas photo shoot to try to produce more interesting or different looking images to my recent photos.  I often shoot with a 35mm lens on my Leica M cameras whether the digital Leica M 240 or the Leica M film cameras.  (I write ‘Leica M’ camera / lenses as the Leica R camera is an SLR camera system rather than a rangefinder camera so different ‘rules’ apply).

Alternative Film Cameras

I often complain that I can’t focus as close as I would like to for my model portrait photos so I was thinking of cameras that can get nearer than the 0.7m Leica rangefinder standard minimal focal distance.  Other ways to create different photos to my usual view of the world might be to use a very shallow depth of field or perhaps use a longer lenses to get more compression in the photographs.  (I have done all of these things before but less and less over the last 12-18 months).

I still love my Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera and in my mind it has captured some of my high quality film photos but it currently needs a little TLC so I don’t really want to take it overseas until it’s repaired. I then have various other very good cameras in their own right such as the Mamiya RZ67, Mamiya 6, Fuji GF670, Fuji GA645, Hasselblad Xpan, Nikon F4, Mamiya 645 but when doing a quick comparison they all have some drawback vs. the Leica M camera system.  I then tried to think what each of these cameras offer compared to a Leica M camera setup and other than the film format (film size; 35mm vs. 645 vs. 6×6 vs. 6×7) the differences were minimal (in simplified terms*).

Different Lens Characteristics

I made a list of lens characteristics I see as positives from a camera/lens combination for my model photography and taste and then listed some potential Leica M mount lenses I use for each characteristic (non-scientific and my opinion only*)(I just listed the most obvious choice to me but many lenses could fit many lists*).  I use these lenses on any of my Leica M film camera such as a Leica M2, M3, M4-P, M6 etc.  (I state ‘film cameras’ as I want to compare Leica film to non-Leica film.  I am not too interested in digital photography but as I use a Leica M 240 digital camera the same list applies to my digital work).

Leica M Mount Lenses

  • Shallow depth of field

  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2
  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Leica M9 + Noctilux f1

  • Wide angle lens

  • Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5
  • Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8
  • Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8
  • Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 ASPH

Leica Street Portrait

 

Close focus ability (for tight headshots)(visually not in mm*)

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 + SOOKY-M (close focus goggles)
  • Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR (Dual Range) + close focus goggles
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Summer Love

  • Sharpest image quality

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Portrait Photography Workshop, London

  • Crisp contrasty modern look

  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Summilux ASPH 50

  • Soft glow vintage look

  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

Leica M8 B&W Portrait

  • Small compact lens size

  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5

Leica Fashion

  • Fast lens with wide aperture for low light

  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0

Noctilux - After Dark

  • Unique lens characteristics

  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0

Street Portrait

  • Compressed image style

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Leica Elmar 135mm f4

  • Low cost lens (In Leica M mount terms)

  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Industar 26M 52mm f2.8
  • Jupiter 3 50mm f1.5
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Leica M9 + Industar 26M 52mm f2.8

  •  Highest resolution images – Fine grain film stock

  • Ilford Pan F5o
  • Ilford Delta 100
  • Kodak Vision3 50D / Cinestill 50D

Leica M6 + Ilford Pan F 50

Image Resolution

For film cameras the equivalent of a high mega pixel digital sensor is fine grain films which play a huge part in the final look of a film photo no matter what lens is used.  As an example here is a half frame film scan from a Olympus Pen-F SLR camera.  Half frame means half the size of a normal 35mm Leica film negative.

Olympus Pen-F Fashion

As these photos are half the resolution of a Leica M camera photo (in terms of film negative size scanned) then with fine grain film and a sharp lens there is great potential to capture very detailed film photos without the need of a medium format camera.

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Budapest Models – Leica Ms

Budapest Models – Leica Ms

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

January 2017

Budapest Tram

Model Photography

I’m writing this post on the flight home after 3 days of model photography in Budapest, Hungary. As usual, I booked myself up with models each day shooting 8:00-18:00 on the full days.  The models were a mix of agency models from NumberOne Model Group, friends of the model agency, models I met on past trips and a few pro-active models that organised a direct booking with me through Instagram (@MrLeicaCom).  I stayed in an apartment in Central Budapest and used this as my base. The ideal plan was to shoot outside on location as much as possible as we were located close to the Chain Bridge over the Danube river and opposite Buda Castle.  Unfortunately the weather was below freezing and there was ice in the river so we had to shoot inside for the most part.   The apartment was different to how I envisioned from the online photos with almost no window light and none that was bright enough to use for photos.  As such I had to get creative with my artificial lighting so bare this in mind for every indoor photo.

Budapest Models

Leica M Gear

I carried my Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag and in it packed the following Leica cameras and lenses (except the Summarit 50/1.5 that I added separately after).
  • Leica M 240 camera (digital body)
  • Leica M4-P 35mm film camera
  • Leica M4-P 35mm film camera (II)
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens (new)
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens (1950s)
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens + SOOKY-M close focus goggles (1950s)
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 (1950s lens)
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Leica Elmarit-M ASPH 28mm f2.8 lens

35mm Film – The Plan

The plan for Budapest was to try to keep it simple and shoot mostly black and white film after having shot a lot of colour film on my last model photography trips to Poland and Budapest.  I packed mostly bulk loaded Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 film but also some fine grain films to shoot as a comparison. Other films included Ilford Pan F 50 and Ilford Delta 100 film both which I regard very highly and also some Kodak T-Max 100 as I love the black blacks of T-Max.  I had thought about taking only B&W film but from fear of missing out I packed a few rolls of C41 Fujifilm Fujicolor C200 (as I like the fine grain), some Kodak Portra 400 (as I haven’t home developed Portra film yet) and a roll of my bulk loaded Kodak Vision3 50D. All these films are daylight balanced so no need for lens filters. (I use an 85B filter for my tungsten balanced films).  I plan to have one Leica M4-P loaded permanently with Kodak Double-X as my do everything film and in the other Leica M4-P camera use films specific for that model shoot.  I will try to shoot a few photos on both cameras so I can compare the results of different film stocks. That was the concept!

35mm Film – The Reality

In reality it didn’t happen as planned and after 2 days I had only shot less than 1 roll of colour film and 1 roll of black and white film. Why?  Shooting film (in addition to digital) is not suitable for all models or all situations.  When I create artificial light with strobes I cannot see the results until I have taken the photo digitally. This is fine if a model allows me to take a photo with both cameras without moving dramatically but some models move on every click of the shutter so are unable to repeat a pose that may have caught my eye and that I deemed good enough to capture on film.  Additionally some models inspire me more than others and for these models I shoot a lot more film than for those where the photos are not really my style.  I also prefer to shoot film outside to inside as I find outside photos more interesting but this is not always possible in the winter months.  I did manage to do some quick outside photos (and moreso in the last day in an attempt to use the city location) and most of the film was shot during these times.

When I was photographing a model against a white wall in Budapest I tried to avoid using film (mostly) as in Poland perhaps 80% of the photos had a plain backdrop which can be very boring to view unless the model is particularly interesting. I also tried to limit all photos taken against a plain white wall for Budapest where possible to try to make the photos different to Poland and hopefully more interesting as a result.  Although the apartment had almost zero window light it did have some unusual features so I tried to use every inch of the house to make pictures. Some areas of the apartment were used on multiple model shoots but that can only be expected when working with lots of models in a relatively small space.

Miss Universe Hungary 2015

Leica M Lenses

Taking an array of different Leica M lenses to Budapest was a real plus and the biggest differentiator when comparing to other model photography trips i’ve done in the last 12 months. I had 1950s vintage Leica lenses; Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5, Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 and Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5,  that captured low contrast softer focus images with a nice glow and then lenses like the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO that gave high contrast super sharp very modern looking photos. I found I used the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 and Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lenses the least I think. The new Leica Summarit 50mm f2.5 lens was used the most (especially with film on the Leica M4-P cameras) and then the vintage Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 and Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 were probably used equally for inside photos. The Leica Summicron 75mm APO was used most outside. After shooting on 35mm lenses for so long I found the 75mm focal length too long much of the time and it more difficult working at a distance from a model, especially for fast focusing. I can’t imagine now how I used to shoot models on a 200mm Nikkor prime lens in my preLeica days.
I imagine most fellow Leica shooters would question why I bought the f2.5 50mm Leica Summarit lens when I have an f1.0 Leica Noctilux, f1.4 Leica Summilux and f2 Leica Summicron 50mm lenses already which all require lens light and give arguably better bokeh and better subject background separation. The truth is the small lens size is more important to me than all of those features (*When I have a choice of what light to shoot in.  Obviously for a Leica wedding a fast lens is the correct choice as I cannot control the light in every situation).  I often control the brightness of my strobes with the lens aperture to balance artificial light mixed with available light. As such the lenses are stopped down anyway a little so none of the faster Leica glass benefits would be seen or used. I also stop down a little sometimes when shooting film to get a balance of sharpness, detail and depth. Despite this comment, for the vintage lenses in Budapest I shot them wide open 99% of the time to get the maximum vintage look effect. I would also do the same with the Noctilux f1.0 otherwise there is little point in using this lens in my view.

Budapest Models

As with all trips the models varied enormously in personality, background, vision, style, experience and ability. Models that can create their own hair and makeup have an advantage over those that don’t and who don’t use an MUA (make-up artist).  Dancers often create the most elegant shapes and poses with their bodies and actors often create the best emotions and expressions with their faces. Models with an interest in clothes and fashion may have a huge wardrobe of clothes to chose from and those models in good shape can wear pretty much anything (or nothing!) and still look amazing.  Models with 3-5 years plus experience can also bring great ideas to the shoot from past experiences.  I guess to summarise, experienced models are often much more focused to get a job done and hopefully get the new images they desire for their model book/ portfolio.  For Budapest I experienced a mixture of all of the above in varying combinations but what impressed me the most was that they found time to fit in the shoot amongst often crazy busy schedules juggling work, business meetings, study, exams and other photo shoots both before and after me.  I think this level of commitment to a shoot is one of the most difficult characteristics to find no matter how beautiful the model.
Some of the models I met previously continued to impress and really were a pleasure to work with.  A few of the new faces I met were also a real delight to collaborate with and I think I grinned ear to ear throughout many of the shoots. I feel very fortunate to meet such individuals and I think it is these experiences that fuels my desire to find similarly talented people in the countries I visit. When very experienced models are smiling at the back of my camera LCD and saying they like our work it gives me a real boost and is also quite humbling.  I wouldn’t expect this sort of excitement or comments from professional models that have received photos a hundred times before.

1950s Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 + SOOKY-M

Thoughts

I like to have a debrief in my head after each model photography trip to try to understand what worked well and what I could do better.  If you have followed me for a while you may have noticed I like to cycle through my different film cameras to keep it interesting (for myself!).  I have used the 2 Leica M4-Ps cameras together with the digital Leica M 240 on the last two trips so I am tempted to take a medium format camera for the next overseas shoot.  The biggest limitation I have is my hand luggage size and the camera needs to create photos different to what I can do with a Leica camera to make it worth while.  I find all rangefinders have the same limitations whether a Leica film camera, Hasselblad Xpan, Mamiya 6 or Fuji GF670 and can’t focus very close thereby producing similar pictures.  The Mamiya RZ67 is just huge so too big to pack, the Hasselblad 501c can fit with one small lens attached (but I need to repair the shutter release button housing that had come off) The Mamiya 645 is slightly smaller than the Hasselblad so mighbe be an option.  The Fuji GA645 is the obvious small medium format camera choice but again I can’t get super close (0.7m).. Hmm.
As with the last three model photography trips for the next visit I will try to work outside more, weather permitting.  I think I will always pack both colour and black and white film as sometimes the models clothes really benefit from being captured in colour.  I will wait to develop the C41 colour film from Budapest before deciding if I prefer the film colours of ECN-2 motion picture film crossed processed in C-41 chemicals or the more standard C41 film colours. *ECN-2 film is the Kodak Vision3 film I use.  I hope the photos are as nice as I remember after all this blurb!  Coming soon but mostly digital for the reasons detailed above.  (I think the final count was 4 rolls of 35mm film, 2 B&W film, 2 colour film and sorry no film comparisons.  Maybe on my next trip!

Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5

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Budapest Models (II)

Budapest Models (II)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

Budapest Models

November 2016

I managed to fit in another model photography trip to Budapest before Christmas after a successful trip there back in June. For the last visit I had just purchased my digital Hasselblad H3D-31 so took the Hassy together with my trusty Leica M240 camera. As such I had no space for any of my analogue film cameras. After the initial digital Hasselblad honeymoon period I was soon back to my love of film.

Cameras

For this trip I had lots of cameras I wanted to take but as usual I was limited by my hand luggage capacity. The first must pack camera was of course the digital Leica M 240 so I could capture digital images to give to the models and model agency. Next was a 35mm film camera so I packed my Leica M2 with Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens. For the M2 I took colour Kodak Vision3 200T motion picture film and some black and white film, Fomapan 100 and Kodak T-Max 400. Next camera was my newly purchased Fuji GA645 medium format film camera. My first GA645 developed an electrical fault so I bought a replacement. It packs small and has a super sharp 60mm f4 lens. Lastly I was split between my 35mm Nikon FM SLR or my Fuji GF670 folding camera. I wanted to give my GF670 another chance so chose that as like the Fuji GA645 it packs small and has a super sharp Fujion lens. For 120 film I took black and white Kodak Tri-X 400 and Fomapan 100 film.

Models

I like to be busy so booked 11 model shoots over my 2.5 day stay.  It was a mix of agency models with international experience and model friends with a similar interest in photos. Overall the standard of models looked to be some of best I have yet to work with and it included two recent Miss Universe Hungary winners! NumberOne Models Group model agency kindly provided all the new-to-me models for this trip. Excited!

Location

I booked an apartment in central Budapest to use as both a base and also for photos if needed. November in Hungary is pretty cold and temperatures were not forecast to exceed more than a few degrees Celsius. That said, it was at least forecast to be dry so better than the current wet weather we have been having in the U.K!

Model Photography – 3 Days

I bring it on myself but day one was fast and furious. I had arrived into Budapest late so had not had chance to go food shopping then the first models arrived Sunday morning before the shops opened. I shot five models back to back the first day and managed to dash out quickly at 5pm between models to buy a quick Burger King late breakfast/lunch/dinner rolled into one. The weather was indeed cold so nearly all the photos were taken in the apartment. This really pushed my creativity limits, trying to use the same space to make different pictures for each model.  It was also dark by 4pm so I had to use a speedlight for the evening photos.  The light levels even during the day were really low inside so I was using both Leica cameras with their Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm and 35mm lenses  wide open at f1.4 and with shutter speeds of 1/15-1/60 handheld. I had high hopes to use my medium format cameras more but there was just so little available light I couldn’t. I did try a few photos with the lenses wide open at f3.5 / f4 and again with shutter speeds as low as 1/15 and shooting ISO 400 film at 800 and 100 speed Foma at 400. What little daylight I had really was beautiful and I loved every minute of shooting on location and being out of the studio. If money was no object I would be a 100% location shooter.  I find it much more stimulating and inspiring.

Day two was pretty similar to day one in terms of when I was shooting inside the apartment but the pace was more relaxed having only four models not five. The upside was I got to shoot outside with two of the models so it was really  nice to see beyond the four walls of my pad and some of the local area. I also got to play with colour a more after mostly black and white photos inside.

For my last day I had to check out by 10am so we shot inside first then outside. For the inside photos again there was some overlap of styles I had shot with other models but the models themselves hopefully got some nice pictures. I think I had used every inch of available light space by the end of the trip!  The last photos of the last day were perhaps the most crazy.  We climbed out the luxury apartment window of the city centre model agency head office onto the scaffolding platform outside. I proceeded to shoot a series of images whilst the model smoked three cigarettes in quick succession and then we clambered back in through the window we came from.  All in the name of art! Surprisingly after the initial shout of I guess ‘what are you doing?’ in Hungarian from the workmen we simply said “jó reggelt” (good morning in Hungarian) as the workmen manovered past us on the scaffolding planks as they just smiled went about their work.

Pushing Forward

I always strive to improve my photography with every shoot I do. I realize this is not always possible but I like to be constantly learning and pushing myself to keep it interesting and fresh. For me a good photo, in model photography terms, needs three key elements. A beautiful model lit with beautiful light positioned in an interesting location (just my thoughts) and the forth would be some kind of feeling, story or emotion capured in the image. The standard of models for this visit exceeded all expectations and the beauty before me was so mind boggling at times I think I giggled like a small child.  I tried to use the window light we had inside to excentuate this beauty yet further and make model / pose fit the surroundings.   There was only so many angles I could shoot at to use this light but I would like to think I tried most of them!

Results

From the Leica M240 LCD preview I am hopeful I captured some nice images that are sharp enough to share.  It is fingers and toes crossed for the film photo results as I was pushing both the film and my hands to limits taking photos frequently as slow as 1/15 and 1/30 second.  I was disappointed I could not shoot the medium format cameras more, especially the Fuji GF670 where I only shot one roll and even then had to finish it at the airport. I did use the Fuji GA645 a bit more but a lot of it was with the speedlight so I think the results will be less dramatic than those shot using only available light.  I was happy with both the Leica M2 and Leica M240.  I found even the 40mm Voigtlander too telephoto at times so I have certainly become more of a 35mm man than a 50mm shooter.  I didn’t miss a 50mm once and I even wanted to go wider such as a 28mm or 25mm.  Next time maybe!

Thanks

A huge thanks to all the models who gave up their valuable free time for photos and to Andrea at NumberOne Models Group who helped facilitate everything and even modelled again.  Models Tamara, Natalia, Niki, Kyra, Dora, Petra, Rebeka, Eszter and Francesca, THANK YOU!

New images coming soon!

Matt

P.S. To put in perspective quite how much I was on cloud 9 after this trip, I managed to completely miss my flight home and worse still didn’t really seem to care. It wasn’t going to spoil my day. I just wrote this article while I waited and had a coffee. 🙂

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Expired Kodak Plus-X 125 Film

Expired Kodak Plus-X 125 Film – Poland

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

November 2016

Leica M2 Portrait

Kodak Plus X – Intro

To my knowledge Kodak Plus-X 125 film was discontinued by Kodak in 2011 and dates back to before Kodak Tri-X.  Kodak Plus X is said to have been first on sale in 1938 to use with movie cameras similar to the modern Kodak Vision3 motion picture film that I am now using today for colour 35mm photography.  I bought my expired Kodak Plus-X film as a bulk roll short end on eBay.  I spooled some of the film and took it with me on my model photography trip to Poland.  I shot the Plus-X at ISo 100, developed the film in Xtol and scanned the film on an Epson v800 scanner.  Here are some samples –

Natalia

Kodak Plus-X Fashion
Kodak Plus X Fashion
Window Light Portrait

Agnieszka

Kodak Plus-X 125 Portrait
Kodak Plus-X Portrait
Leica M6 + Noctilux
Leica Summicron 50mm DR
Kodak Plus X Film

Teresa

Leica M6 + Kodak Plus-X
Kodak Plus-X Bulk Film
Kodak Plus-X Bulk Film

Paulina

35mm Kodak Plus-X
Into the Sun
Expired Kodak Plus X 125

Kodak Plus-X  – Thoughts

I was impressed by the lattitude and fine grain expecially considering it was expired film.  I would happy use Plus X 125 again if I acquired some.  I would say it is perhaps like a finer grain Ilford FP4 plus film with a creamer look.  On the whole I found Plus-X to be lower contrast than the modern Kodak T-Max 100 T grain film.

Here is me in my scruff testing my first roll of bulk loaded Kodak Plus-X in a mirror in the garden with my Leica M2 camera before taking it to Poland! 🙂

Kodak Plus X

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Nikon F4 + Fujicolor Fashion

Nikon F4 + Fujicolor Fashion

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

June 2016

Nikon F4 Portrait

Here are a selection of photos I shot in May with Sophie.  All photos were shot on Fujifilm Fujicolor C200 35mm film and lab developed / scanned.  Photos were taken using daylight only and with my Nikon F4 SLR camera.  I used two lenses on this shoot, a Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro lens and Voitglander 40mm f2 SL-II pancake lens.  Photos watermarked in Lightroom.

I tend to prefer black and white photography / B&W film photography but on occasion I really like colour film.  This is one of those occasions and I was really pleased with how the photos came out.  I am getting to the point now where I have far more photos to share than I can post in 1’s and 2’s on the likes of Flickr and Facebook.  As such I  have started to share similar photos in groups of 3 on Instagram – @MrLeicaCom

That said I will also try to share more frequent smaller blog posts like this one containing a series of similar images.

47510015LR47510016LRv247510017LR47510019LRv247510021LR47510022LR47510023LR47510025LR

Ukraine Models 2016

Ukraine Models 2016

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

May 2016

Trip

I organized another model photography trip to Uzhgorod, Ukraine to catchup with model friends and hopefully also meet some new ones. After recently visiting Poland to shoot with the model agencies I had some ideas of what cameras I may like to take for this trip. I take only hand luggage on all my trips so it depends on the airline as to how much camera gear I can pack. For Poland I had a backpack and my small Billingham Hadley Digital bag so took 4 cameras, a strobe and a compact travel tripod to use as light stand. For Ukraine I only have the backpack.

Cameras

I took my newly purchased Mamiya 6 to Poland as it is smaller than the Hasselblad 501C.  I packed the Leica M 240 for digital and brought the Leica M6 to shoot more film.  I selected the Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens for its size, sharpness and lack of flare.  The Leica Summicron 50 f2 v5 flares too much for me so I left that at home and instead of packing the slightly larger Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 went one ‘better’ and brought the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO.  The 75 APO is my sharpest Leica M lens and maybe sharpest any lens and it lets me focus closer than nearly all standard Leica M lenses in terms of magnification.  Another camera I considered was my old Nikon FM plus Voigtlander 40mm f2 pancake lens but in the end I chose the M6. In addition to all of that I squeezed in my Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 collapsible lens and a speedlight (+ reflector). No tripod though.

Film

I currently favour 120 Fomapan 100 black and white film for my medium format cameras but I thought I better use up some existing film in the fridge before buying more Foma.  As such I packed mostly Kodak Tri-X 400 film plus a few different rolls to use up. For 35mm film I wanted to shoot more colour so brought along some Kodak Portra 400, Fujicolor C200 and for black and white 35mm Fomapan 100.

One thing I like about Fomapan 100 is I can shoot it at ISO 50-400 and develop as if at ISO 100.  I can also push Foma to 800 easily without any real issues. If I am planning to shoot ISO 50-400 I would go for Foma. For ISO 400-800-1600 range I would use Tri-X 400.  The weather for the trip was forecast unsettled so Tri-X might be the right choice.

Leica Fashion

Model Shoots

I like to make the most of my model photography trips overseas so managed to shoot 17 girls in 3.5 days shooting 9:00-21:00 back to back.  I worked with the local model agency, One Models, who kindly provided a few models that were available and not out on contract overseas. I also worked with some of the girls I knew from previous trips and also a few new faces, friends of friends.

The weather was not as kind as I would have liked (for the time of year) and we had a fair bit of rain.  As such I did more photoshoots inside the hotel than I planned to so I had to think a bit more.  The speedlight was a life saver in the low light conditions and I used it for the majority of the photos.  I do tend to favour using lights for most of my model photography and I think adding light can sometimes make a photo look more like a fashion photo which I like.  The speedlight helped me keep my ISO at 100-400 for almost all photos and I also had the lenses stopped down.  The biggest limitation was the flash sync speed of the Leica M6 of 1/50.  I noted on the film scans for a shoot we did outside in the rain that there was motion blur as the models were moving more than I noticed.  The Mamiya 6 has a max flash sync speed of 1/500  so that had no issues.

As I had no light stand or tripod I had to handhold the speedlight for the majority of the photos.  This is not ideal as it is difficult to exactly replicate the same light when swapping between cameras (digital and film) but better than nothing (for my taste). I didn’t use the reflector at all so may leave it behind next time.

Light and Shadow

Camera Performance

Leica M 240

I noticed my Leica M 240 needs the rangefinder recalibrating again (the second time) so I was shooting 99% with the 35mm Voigtlander Color Skopar lens stopped down a little.  I did use the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO for a few photos but I focused with the LCD.  The mis-calibrated rangefinder was less of an issue than it may sound as my current style is favouring lenses stopped down to match the film cameras for easy alignment of settings.  I shoot digital with ISO, aperture and shutter to match the film camera then when the model looks good I switch to film cameras. I have some nice Sekonic light meters but find at the moment I am not using them.  When using strobes I like to see the digital preview of the light prior to shooting film.  With daylight I would be happy to meter once then shoot film without chimping on the digital LCD.

Excluding the recalibration issue, the Leica M 240 is on good form and I love it more and more each day.  I would still say the Leica M9 and Leica M8 make better B&W photos (more filmic) but the M240 is no slouch and I am getting good results both B&W and colour.

Ukrainian Model
Go Green!
Leica M Fashion

Leica M6

As mentioned the Leica M6 max flash sync speed of 1/50 is a killer for strobist work.  It is just too slow unless used in very controlled conditions.  I did get some nice black and white film scans but I also lost a few due to model motion blur outside.  The Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO pretty much lived on the M6 but strangely I found it too tight for my current taste on location.  I was loving the 35mm focal length on the M240.  I might take two 35mm lenses next time to match the view for easy composition across the two Leica cameras.

Black and White Fashion Photography
Leica M6 Portrait

Mamiya 6

After getting some quite nice results in Poland using the Mamiya 6 medium format 6×6 rangefinder camera, I was excited to see what I could do in Ukraine. (Poland photos still to come when i’ve edited a few more).  I am enjoying the size of the Mamiya 6 camera very much and it is very easy to carry it in my little Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag together with one complete Leica M camera or 2 Leica M bodies and 2 Leica M lenses packed down. I still have my Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6 post to write but in the meantime it is safe to say the Mamiya 6 is a keeper.  I still only have one lens, the 75mm which I like due to it’s smaller size and lighter weight (vs. 50mm and 150mm lenses) and the focal length.  That said I would like to use a Mamiya 6 50mm f4 G lens if I see one for sale at a reasonable price.  I think the wider view would be great for film wedding photography to capture a wider scene.

Film Fashion
Mamiya 6 Fashion

Ukrainian Models

I have been travelling to Ukraine for quite a few years now and I must say the level and quality of modelling from the girls this time is the best to date. The resulting photos may have been helped a little by me not having any majority camera issues (unlike previous trips) and being armed with more photography knowledge and experience.  In addition to that, I meet more and more models each visit so every follow up visit I pick the best of the best to maximise the chance of making photos I will like.  I always try to better my best work with every shoot and although it may not always be possible it keeps me fired up and as keen as ever.

As with all my trips, a huge thank you to all the models I worked with, to One Model agency and to the makeup girls where applicable.  I didn’t experience a single cancellation so that was a real breath of fresh air compared to the usual UK (and now Poland) high cancellation rates of 50-60% plus.  Big big thanks!

I have started to develop and scan some of the black and white film but the colour film is still to follow.

Thanks!

Leica M240

 

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Nikon F4 vs Leica M3: Photo Test

Nikon F4 vs Leica M3: Photo Test

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
April 2016

Last year I bought myself a Nikon F4 SLR so shoot alongside my Leica M3 double stroke and various other film cameras. I thought it might be quite nice to compare the 35mm Nikon SLR to the 35mm Leica rangefinder. For each camera I chose my go to lenses (at the time) and loaded both cameras with 35mm Ilford Delta 100 film. It was a bright day so I shot both lenses at f5.6 for the shoot. Harriet was modelling for me and kindly offered to be the subject for this short series of shots.

Leica M3 + Summicron 50 DR

Cameras:

  • Nikon F4 SLR + Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-S lens
  • Leica M3 double stroke + Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens

Film developing:

I developed both rolls of film together in the same tank using 1:3 Xtol developer solution at about 20 degrees (I guessed as no thermometer to hand) for 11 mins and once dry the photos were scanned with an Epson v800 flatbed scanner.

35mm Ilford Delta 100 Film Test:

Nikon F4 SLR + Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-S

Nikkor 50mm f1.2
Nikon F4 + 50mm f1.2
Nikon F4 + Ilford Delta 100
Nikon F4 + Delta 100
Nikon F4 vs Leica M3 :)
Nikon F4 vs Leica M3

Leica M3 double stroke + Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR

Nikon F4 vs Leica M3 (II)
Leica M3 + Delta 100
Leica M3 + Delta 100
35mm Ilford Delta 100

35mm Ilford Pan F 50 Film:

On a seperate occasion I was again shooting with Harriet and the Nikon F4 + Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-S lens but this time the F4 was loaded with Ilford Pan F 50 film. Here are a couple of Pan F 50 images to compare to the Ilford Delta 100 film scans. I am a huge fan of both of these film stocks.

Nikon F4 + 50mm f1.2
F4 + Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-S

Nikon F4 vs Leica M3 – Thoughts

Unlike digital photography film cameras of varying price ranges from my low cost Nikon FM or Olympus 35RC film cameras to the more expensive Leica M6 and Leica M3s can all produce similar quality results with decent film loaded.  I would not say that is the case with digital.  I think with digital, to an extent you get what you pay for.  For example I would expect significantly better results from a £30k medium format digital Hasselblad vs a Leica M240 or Nikon D800 and the same with the M240 or D800 vs an entry level camera.  I recently tested my Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera against my 35mm Leica M6 film camera. The 6×6 film negatives did hold more detail but the gap between the two cameras is less noticeable to my eyes.  This may also be the case for the photos from the aforementioned digital equivalent cameras but I would generally expect better results the more I paid with digital (to an extent)(some brands are perhaps over priced such as Leica!) 🙂

F4 or M3?

The Nikon F4 SLR is much bulkier and heavier than the Leica M3 so if I am travelling light I tend to chose a Leica. For film photography when I am using lenses shot wide open at say f1.4 I would always chose the Leica as I feeel the results are better at the maximum apertures. If I am stopping the lenses down to f5.6-f8 I could use either film camera happily. For close subjects I prefer the close focusing Nikon F4. For a subject more than a few meters away I prefer the Leica rangefinder focusing. The Nikon accepts autofocus lenses for fast action and has various other advantages being around 30yrs newer (approx) than the 1954 Leica M3.  The M3 accepts some of the smallest lenses I own such as the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 collapsible  and Vougtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 so both cameras have their pros and cons. I normally select my camera to use based on size and weight restrictions for that particular shoot if overseas.  In the UK and moreso if in my studio I tend to rotate all the various film cameras to keep things interesting!

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