I did a shoot with Stacey recently in my home studio in Coventry UK. I decided to shoot my Leica M6 35mm film camera up against the medium format 6×6 Hasselblad 501C film camera. To give the Leica M6 rangefinder a fighting chance I loaded it with the super fine Ilford Pan F 50 film and attached the super sharp Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens. I did do a few wider shots with the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii lens which is also nice and sharp. The Hasselblad was already loaded with Kodak Tri-X 400 but for some reason I thought it had Fomapan 100 film is so shot the roll of Tri-X 400@100 and developed accordingly Both rolls of film were developed in Xtol developer. Click any photo for more details.
Here is a sample of the film scans:
Hasselblad 501C + 120 Fomapan 100 Medium Format Film
Leica M6 + 35mm Ilford Pan F 50 Film
I was also using my digital Leica M8 for the shoot and it still impresses me as to how film like the Leica CCD sensor appears. Here are a few examples.
Leica M8 Digital Camera
Leica vs Hasselblad – Results
I think the Leica M6 was at the top of it’s game and thanks to the choice of Ilford Pan F 50 film. I actually preferred the Leica M6 photos on the whole to that of the Hasselblad. That is quite an achievement as the Hasselblad has done nothing but impress me since my purchase. The real test will be using the Hasselblad 501C + Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens + 120 Ilford Pan F 50 film for sharp lens and super fine grain film. That said, it’s great to remind myself of how good the little 35mm Leica film cameras can be.
Big thanks to Stacey for putting up with my usual array of quirky cameras pointing at her! 🙂
For my second NYC photography workshop in January 2016 I focused on using available light on location to light a model. This was normally daylight during the day then any existing light sources we could find for the night shoots. I chose not to carry lights and the heavier bulkier Hasselblad 501 medium format camera and instead took my new Hasselblad Xpan 35mm panoramic rangefinder camera.
The Hasselblad XPan has panoramic mode (24x65mm) and shoots two 35mm frames side by side and also the standard film negative size of 35mm (24x35mm). Here are some examples using the Hasselblad XPan in New York split by film stock.
To recap the Olympus PEN-F is a 1960s 35mm half frame SLR camera. I bought the Pen F last month and i’ve now had time to shoot a few rolls of film in it. I must say i’m more impressed with the resulting images than I thought I would be. Half frame is certainly not half as good. I enjoy the size of the Pen F, the stylish sleek look, the vertical framing, the close focusing of an SLR (verses say a Leica rangefinder) and the fact I can get 72 shots on a 36 exposure roll of 35mm film.
Olympus PEN F – Diptych
I found I enjoy shooting the Olympus Pen F by taking photos in pairs (diptych) the most. My Epson V800 scanner recognised each pair of photos as one photo and then I just process the negative scans together and share as one image. Here are a few examples:
Olympus PEN F – Triptych
I’ve also tried a few triptychs by taking a series of three photos together:
Olympus PEN F – Detail and Resolution
Despite taking most photos in pairs I am still very impressed at the resolution and detail captured in a single frame:
No not the 2016 new Olympus PEN-F digital camera. A modern retro-styled 20.3MP micro four thirds digital camera. I mean a proper camera! 🙂 The original 1960s Olympus PEN F film camera.
The Olympus PEN F released in 1963 was the world’s first 35mm half frame SLR camera. Made in Japan this new half frame SLR camera had a vertical 18x24mm format compared to the usual ‘full frame’ standard horizontal 35mm format (36×24). In simple terms the PEN-F allows for 72 photos to be taken on a standard roll of 35mm 36 exposure film. Similarly a 24 exposure roll of 35mm film gives 48 exposures.
The Olympus PEN F model I bought was made between 1963-1966 before it was replaced with the PEN-FT. The FT has a light meter built in but I was happy to have the earlier fully mechanical PEN F instead. The PEN is an SLR not a rangefinder. In an ideal world I would have bought a Leica rangefinder half frame camera but they seem as rare as hen’s teeth and would be crazy expensive I imagine. The camera I bought comes with the Olympus Zuiko Auto-S 38mm f1.8 lens. 38mm on a half frame body equates to 55mm in full frame terms so perfect for my portraits being a 50mm man. The PEN camera lenses appear to be well regarded online and from some of the PEN F images I have reviewed on Flickr you would never guess it was not full 35mm. Very sharp and seemingly high res film negative scans. Obviously the choice of film will have a big impact so I will probably favour finer grain film.
Why a PEN-F Camera?
Yes I already have more than enough film cameras but I was introduced to this previously unknown to me camera format when I was teaching in New York. We were discussing the Canon Demi. The Demi is another iconic 1960s half frame camera. From there the research began. As you may imagine I am not buying the PEN F because I want more resolution from a larger film negative as the negative size is smaller than the standard 35mm film used in my Leica film cameras (Leica M6 etc). I bought the PEN F partly because the price is low and I like to experiment with different film cameras but mostly to see if it makes me shoot differently.
Half frame PEN-F
Why will the PEN-F makes me take photos any differently to when I use say a Leica or a Hasselblad camera. 72 photos on a roll film does make the cost of taking each photo pretty much half price (in simple terms) so I may take photos faster and think less. Perhaps good for street photography where is it easy to get less good photos (“keepers”) when compared to staged and controlled model photography images. As I do mostly portrait photography this is not high up on my needs list. The small size of the PEN F? Yes that is a big plus as I can carry the camera with me even easier than say the Leica M6 with a small lens attached. Again though perhaps not a big enough size difference to forgo not carrying a Leica.
I bought the PEN F as I want to try shooting photos in pairs and threes and sharing them as taken scanned side by side on the uncut section of negative. It will make me approach subjects differently, models or otherwise and then if I enjoy the style I can transfer that over to my full frame film camera work whether 35mm or medium format.
I like to experiment and if I find I then don’t use the PEN F I can probably sell it on eBay and lose very little if any money.
Sample film images to follow.. depending how long it takes me to shoot through 72 film exposures!
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
I booked two model photography trips to Ukraine this year, in July and then again in September. Here are some of the film photography highlights shot with my 1950s Leica M3 rangefinder film camera and a Leica Summicron 50mm f2 lens. For July I used a 1950s Leica Summicron DR lens and for September a more recent Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens. In July I lost a lot of photos as the Leica M3 needed recalibrating. For the September trip I had had the M3 rangefinder recalibrated but took less film photos. For both trips I shot with various film stocks and different models so please click any image for more details.
Leica M3 Models, Ukraine – July 2015
Leica M3 Models, Ukraine – September 2015
A big thanks to all the models featured here. Hope to see you again in 2016! 🙂
Ukraine July 2015 – http://mrleica.com/ukraine-model-photography/
Ukraine September 2015 – https://mrleica.com/ukraine-models-ii/
The more I learn about photography and specifically film photography, the more I am upset that I didn’t start my photography in the ‘good old days’ and before digital came along. I had disposable film cameras and remember having an APS film camera but it was only to take friends and family snaps. Our family used to send our film to TruPrint if I remember correctly and Dad had an Olympus Trip MD when we were kids (later years).
As I start to appreciate film photography and study both theory and images in my spare time I came across the discontinued film Kodachrome. Before a few weeks ago I can put my hand up and hang my head in shame and say I didn’t know quite how special Eastman Kodachrome film was. When I started to review the images and compare to the films we have now I am gutted I missed out on shooting with Kodachrome. The Kodachrome colours are just amazing and to my eyes nothing currently on the market in 2015 can match it?
Kodak Portra or Fuji Pro 400H
I shoot mostly black and white film as you may have seen but if am going to shoot colour I want the colour to add something to the image. Kodak Portra and Fuji Pro 400H give nice skin tones and all that but nothing really pops with these images. Velvia 50 can produce amazing colours for landscapes but I have seen very few usable portraits using Velvia film. Kodachrome film on the other hand captured the colours in portraits that just made the photo come alive. Vivid blues and reds that just makes me wish a joint venture could salvage the old machines and get it back into production. I guess similar to what the Impossible Project did with the Polaroid factory machines.
For those of you that used to shoot Kodachrome film (when it was still available and could be developed), can you tell me what film available today gives the nearest look and colours?
Agfa Vista or Ektar Film
Kodak Ektar is the only fine grain saturated film that can be used for portraits that springs to my mind? I shot some family portraits recently on Agfa Vista 200 Plus and I was extremely impressed with the results and rich colours. I would not hesitate to use Agfa Vista film again for none paying clients.
Ilford Pan F 50 film is super fine grain, slow speed, black and white film produced by Ilford. I bought a roll of 35mm Pan F 50 to take on my trip to Zurich for a model photography workshop. It was my first time using this film and I was interested to see the results. I often use ISO 100 speed black and white film such as Kodak T-Max 100 or Fuji Acros 100. I had not shot with slow speed film before but I was in luck as we had bright sunny weather for the shoot.
I shot the Pan F 50 film in my 35mm Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangefinder camera on the first day of the workshop. (My Leica M3 was loaded with Kodak Portra 160 and my Leica M2 was loaded with 35mm CienStill 50D film). The first model we worked with was Joy, kindly supplied by Option Model Agency. The second model was a local dancer, Julia.
Here are some sample images shooting Ilford Pan F 50 at box speed in my Bessa R3A camera and developed in a soup of 1:3 diluted Xtol solution + 1:400 Rodinal. I realise other developers may give sharper and finer grain results but I wanted to use the developers I know best at this stage. Most photos were taken with a Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens.
Model – Joy
Model – Julia
I was really impressed with the amount of detail captured with the 35mm Pan F 50 film. The resolution was something closer to what is achieved with 120 medium format films. My next test will be to shoot 120 Ilford Pan F 50 film in my Fuji GF670 stopped down for my sharpest possible negatives.
Would I buy this film again?
Ilford Pan F 50 film is certainly not an everyday film as it requires 3x more light than say the popular Kodak Tri-X 400 film. I believe Pan F 50 is more suited to my 35mm film photography than my medium format cameras as 35mm lens are often much faster with the likes of the Leica M mount Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0, Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH and Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4. I am also interested to try this film with my latest purchase, a 35mm Nikon F4 SLR with perhaps the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s lens. Most of my medium format camera lenses start at f2.8 (x2 slower than f1.4) or smaller with the exception of my Mamiya Sekor 80mm f1.9 C for the Mamiya 645 Super camera.
I plan to shoot Pan F 50 when I can during the brighter summer months of the UK and for some strobist work. Price wise Ilford Pan F 50 can be found for under £5.00 a roll in the UK making it cheaper than Fuji Acros 100 and a similar price to say Kodak T-Max. I invested in a 10 pack of 35mm Ilford Pan F 50 film to get a slightly cheaper price and to keep me going over the summer months.
Here is a series of 35mm Kodak Portra 160 film negative scans from my recent Zurich Model Photography Workshop. All Kodak Portra photos on the trip were shot with my 1950s Leica M3 rangefinder film camera with a 1950s Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens attached. Big thanks to Option Model Agency who kindly supplied three of the models.
Firstly a few sample images I shared on Flickr:
Model: Joy (Option Model Agency)
Model: Taisha (with Ben in some photos)
Model: Joy (Option Model Agency)
Model: Julia (See below in black dress)
Model: Nadja (Option Model Agency)(Not included here. Post to follow)
More Kodak Portra 160 film images from my Zurich trip:
(Includes two black and white conversions)
During the shoot with model Nadja I tested 35mm Kodak Portra 160 film vs 35mm CineStill 50D film. Nadja’s photos to follow in the next post.
As mentioned in my previous post Kodak Portra 400 & 800 Film, I find there is never enough light for my liking for colour film photography in the UK, especially in the winter!
I decided to treat myself to some 35mm CineStill 800Tungsten Xpro C-41 film and due to the high postage cost I decided to buy 4 rolls to average my price down. 35mm CineStill 800T is readily available in the UK online from certain stockists and mine arrived within 2 days.
For those of you that don’t know, in brief, CineStill 800T film is reverse engineered Kodak Vision 3 motion picture film that is balanced for tungsten light (3200K) rather than daylight (5500K). The Brothers Wright used the same emulsion technology from the latest motion picture film and made it into still photography film that can be developed using the standard C41 processing in any lab. Kodak Vision 3 is super fine grain film developed for the digital era so is said to be great for scanning and Kodak use this same technology in their current (new) Kodak Portra and Kodak Ektar film.
Normally I don’t shoot colour film in low light for two reasons. (1) There isn’t enough light if I only have ISO 160 or ISO 400 film loaded. (2) Tungsten light makes for unsightly orange photos on standard daylight balanced film like Kodak Portra.
CineStill 800T tungsten balanced ISO 800 film ticks both boxes. Firstly it is balanced for 3200K orange light so gives useable photos under this lighting. Secondly the box speed of CineStill 800T is ISo 800 but it can be used at any speed between ISO 200 and ISO 1250 without losing highlight or shadow detail. For daylight shooting it is recommended to shoot it at ISO 500 (as the original Vison 3 film is EI 500T film) and with a 85B filter (orange filter). (If not the photos will have a blue tinge when taken in daylight).
This film sounds amazing on paper and some of the the photos I have reviewed using CineStill 800T look equally impressive. I love shooting in low light with black and white film so look forward to putting this film through it’s paces in varied lighting conditions.
As my photography ‘matures’ different things become important to me. In the earlier years bigger was best. I remember getting my first big lens, the Nikkor 80-200 f2.8 AF, and suddenly I felt like a ‘Pro’ when at family weddings as all ‘Pros’ have big cameras and big lenses don’t they?! I then up’d my game and got myself a Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s prime lens. Now that is a proper lens and it makes you look more like the paparazzi than a wedding photographer.
All that was a few years back. Now I use Leica M cameras (+ medium format / large format film) and the opposite mentality applies. Smaller and more compact is best (for me). I have touched on this before but I am finding I am turning into more and more of a purest, with regards to my Leica M film cameras especially. I only want to use 50mm lenses on the Leica M3 (with it’s 50mm viewfinder) and I only ‘want’ to use 35mm lenses on the Leica M2 (with 35mm viewfinder). That is all well and good but the chosen lens needs to meet my requirements too. There is no point me having a small camera if I then hang a big lens on the front to imbalance it. Similarly, there is no point me putting a tiny lens on the camera if it cannot produces images that I ‘demand’. Therefore I need to find a happy medium / middle ground that ticks most of my boxes.
50mm (Leica M3) – My preferred lens is the 50mm Leica Summicron f2 v5 lens as it is smaller than the Summilux ASPH. I do use the Summilux if I need to work in low light and with colour film that I cannot push as easily. Black and white film is easier as I just develop as I need.
35mm (Leica M2) – I didn’t have a 35mm lens that I was 100% happy with.
35mm lens I have are:
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii lens which is very capable (and to me very usable shot wide open for paying clients) BUT all that comes at a cost. It is big and heavy. I think of it as my 35mm Noctilux with some slight similarities in certain conditions.
Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 Pii is perhaps my smallest lens but with an f2.5 widest aperture is not bright enough for many of my available light photoshoots.
Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 – low contrast slow ‘fun’ lens. Not for serious work but great for personal work
New 35mm I considered:
Older Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 Pre-ASPH
Older Leica Summicron 35mm f2 Pre-ASPH
Newer Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH
Newer Leica Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH
Zeiss ZM Biogon 35mm f2 T
Zeiss ZM Distagon 35mm f1.4 T
Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 SC
Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 MC
I spent a fair bit of time reviewing images from the Leica lenses and Voigtlander lenses. I was happy size wise with all the Leicas and the Noktons. They are all tiny lenses and all built to a similar high standard. I ruled the Zeiss ZM lenses out immediately due to their bigger size. I already have sharp 35mm lenses if size is no issue. I am not normally a pixel peeper but I read a few reviews of the Leicas vs the Voigtlanders and yes the new Leica lenses are sharper but I bet 99% of the population could not tell images from these lenses apart once they had received basic editing. The little Voigtlander ‘Classic’ as it is called is not perfect by any means. I know as I have a Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 already that I got on my Voigtlander Bessa R3A (that has 40mm framelines). Going back to the purest thing briefly, I could easily use the 40/1.4 on the M2 and I have done but I am not satisfied to guess between 35mm or 50mm framelines for the 40mm crop. I can’t compose precisely on film if I am guessing the crop / composition.
The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 MC is not perfect as it is less sharp wide open vs new Leica lenses (in tests done by others), has heavier vignetting at wider apertures, gives soft focus corners to images wide open, has distortion so a straight line becomes slightly curved in a photo, has ‘harsh’ bokeh with highlight edges to the circles, lacks the flare resistance of modern Leica lenses, and often has some focus shift issues (f2-f4 approx). On the upside, the colours are better (more saturated) than the cooler colours of Leica glass, I like the harsh bokeh, I like vignetting, I like soft corners for portraits, I don’t mind a glow from slight flare and I plan to use it at f1.4 so am not worried about shift. Better still you can buy a new Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 for about half the price of an old Leica 35mm lens and about 4 times cheaper than a new 35mm Leica Summicron ASPH /Summilux ASPH. I was tempted to buy Leica but the older lenses are at least as soft as the Nokton wide open (it seems) and the Nokton has character rather than being clinical like the new Leica lenses (like my 50mm Summilux ASPH). To me the Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 is like a mini Noctilux in that it is the imperfections and low light ability that attract me most of all. I have had some great results with the 40mm Nokton so that helped my decision to buy a 35mm Nokton.
I bought the MC (multi-coated) version rather than the SC (single coated) as it has slightly less flare and more contrast. People often say SC is best for black and white film and MC for colour film. As I develop my own B&W film I control the contrast when I develop the film so I can easily develop film to be less constrasty if I need to retain more shadow detail. On the whole it is better for me to have high contrast and more apparent sharpness in camera from the lens so I chose the MC. The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 MC will now spend it’s days on my Leica M2 for my ultimate travel companion and to pair with the Leica M3 + 50mm setup.
What triggered this purchase?
I was shooting in London yesterday and had my Leica M3, Leica M2 and Leica M9 cameras. I had the 40mm Nokton on the M2 and it fit like a glove. With the leather hand strap it was the perfect street photographer camera. Very minimal and HCB like! I then decided to take the Summilux off the Leica M3 to ‘borrow’ it on the M2 as I knew it was sharper. The size of the Summilux just ruined the whole feel of the camera and experience in general. I got home and thought to myself, I need a low light 35mm lens that is as small as the 40mm Nokton. I like the size of the 50mm Summicron but sometimes have to use the ‘Lux if low light.
I have also recently being tempted by 28mm lenses such as the Leica 28mm Summicron f2 or Leica Elmarit 28mm f2.8. I am most tempted buy the Elmarit for the M9 due to it’s compactness as the Leica M9 has 28mm framelines and I can adjust the ISO if need more light. That would be perfect for a compact digital travel camera setup but for my usual work, portraits and low light weddings I needed a faster lens and not quite as wide. 50mm is still my go to focal length for portraits but 35mm is good for environmental portraits, wedding photography, street photography and when working in tighter spaces.
Here are a few sample images using the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 to give an idea of what images may look like
..As you may imagine I am not too concerned that the 35mm Nokton is not sharp enough or has a list of other failings. It’s 40mm sibling seems to do OK 🙂