Kodak Portra 160 & Zurich Models

Kodak Portra 160 & Zurich Models

Zurich Model Photography Workshop, May 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography – “Mr Leica”

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)

Portra 160 Model Shoot

Kodak Portra 160

  • Model: Taisha (with Ben in some photos)

Model Photography Workshop

  • Model: Joy (Option Model Agency)

Kodak Portra 160 Model Photography

  • Model: Julia (See below in black dress)
  • Model: Nadja (Option Model Agency)(Not included here. Post to follow)

Leica M3 + Kodak Portra 160

More Kodak Portra 160 film images from my Zurich trip:

(Includes two black and white conversions)

$6-03 $6-04 $6-05 $6-06 $6-07 $6-08 $4X6 PORTRA2-20E $8X10PORTA VERSION-09 $8X10PORTA VERSION-10 $8X10PORTA VERSION-11 $Portra Horo 4X6-06E $Portra Horo 4X6-07E $Portra Horo 4X6-08E $Portra Horo 4X6-09E $Portra Horo 4X6-10E $Portra Horo 4X6-12E $Portra Horo 4X6-18E $portra horo-16E  $Portra Horo 4X6-01E $Portra Horo 4X6-02E$Portra Horo 4X6-25E$4X6 PORTRA-13E$6-09

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.


Related Links


CineStill 800T 35mm Film

CineStill 800T 35mm Film

(aka “CineStill 800Tungsten Xpro C-41″)


#CineStill800T #film :) www.MrLeica.com

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.

I will report back with samples soon! 🙂

Size Matters – Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4

Size Matters – Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 MC

Matthew Osborne Photography

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.

Nokton 35mm f1.4v2

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

Leica M9 B&W Portrait

Leica M9 Fashion

Voigtlander Bessa R3A Portrait


Leica, Ukraine

Leica M2 + Nokton 40mm + B&W Film

Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4

CV Nokton 40mm f1.4 Bokeh

Leica Portrait

Leica M9 Fashion

..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 🙂

Kodak Tri-X Film

Kodak Tri-X Film

Matthew Osborne Photography

Kodak Tri-X - The Film of Champions! :)

For anyone who has followed my work for a while will know, for black and white film photography I normally use Kodak T-Max 100, especially for 35mm film.  I have tried various black and white films and will continue to experiment but I am finding I am now completely hooked on Kodak Tri-X 400 film.  The modern T grain T-Max films have very little visible grain so can look a little too much like my Leica M9 black and white JPEGs which have a slight filmic look despite being digital.  I was an easy convert to medium format 120 Tri-X as grain is less apparent with the larger negative size.  For 35mm Tri-X I was a little worried the the classic grain structure might result in too much visible grain for my film wedding photography and portraiture.  I shot a roll of 35mm Tri-X when I was out in Florida covering a wedding and was pleasantly surprised. Samples below.

What do I like about Tri-X and what is it that made me convert?

Broad lattitude – I can (and do) shoot Tri-X at anything from ISo 200 (-1 stop) to ISO 1600 (+2 stops).  It can do it all and will even go to ISo 3200 and beyond (not yet tried this but others have with success).  This means that for available light photography it is perfect for my needs.

Contrasty – Other than the grain structure, the biggest difference I notice when comparing Tri-X to T-Max is the beautifully contrasty mid tones.  The deep shadows are rich blacks, the highlights retain their detail and the mid tones are what makes it for me.

Price – I am now starting to use quite a lot of film, both 35mm film in my Leica cameras (M3 and M2) and 120 Tri-X in my medium format Mamiya 645 Super, Rolleiflex SL66E and in my 6×7 Horseman 120 roll film back for my 4×5 large format cameras.  I need a film that I enjoy using yet is also affordable.  120 Kodak Tri-X 400 5 packs can be bought in the UK for £20 a box if you shop around. £4 a roll is competitive at today’s film prices. Calumet are currently offering 120 Tri-X 400 for £20 a box and free postage so I stocked up!

Calumet UK, Film – http://www.calphoto.co.uk/category/film-darkroom/film/

Developing – I develop my own black and white film at home and favour the R09 Rodinal stand developing  / semi-stand developing method.  I am still fine tuning my times and temperatures to develop Tri-X at box speed but also pulled 1 stop to ISO 200 and pushed 1 stop or 2 stops to ISO 800 and ISO 1600.  Depending on the lighting conditions I shot in I can then adjust my times accordingly.

Sample Images (various)

Kodak Tri-X 400@200 (135 & 120)

Kodak Tri-X Fashion

Happy New Year Everyone! :)

4x5 Speed Graphic + Aero Ektar Portrait

Leica M2 + 35mm Kodak Tri-X

Leica M2 Portrait - Tri-X 400@200

Leica M2 + Tri-X 400@200

Mamiya Sekor 80mm f1.9 C

Kodak Tri-X Love!

Leica M2 + Zeiss ZM Biogon

Saint Augustine Fort - Tri-X

American Trucks - Tri-X

The Lightner Museum Saint Augustine

Kodak Tri-X 400@200 - American Truck

Kodak Tri-X 400@200

Kodak Tri-X 400@400 (120)

Retro! Luna's Converse

Kodak Tri-X 400@800 (120)

Home developed 120 Tri-X - 400@800

My Bro

Leia with ARAX/ Sonnar -Self developed

Old John, Bradgate Park, Leicestershire

Kodak Tri-X 400@1600 (120)

Rollei SL66E = Smiles Allround

Rollei SL66E Tilt Portrait

Rollei SL66e Tri-X Portrait

Rolleiflex SL66E Tilt + Tri-X 400@1600

The Darker Side of Modelling

Full Frame Cameras – 35mm vs 50mm

Full Frame Cameras – 35mm vs 50mm

Matthew Osborne Photography

If anyone asks me “Are you a 35mm man or a 50mm man?” I always reply 50mm.  50mm is my go to focal length for any full frame camera.  My favourite camera is my Leica M3 as it has 50mm frame lines filling the 0.91x magnified viewfinder.  My favourite combo for full frame film is a Leica M3 + Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 + Kodak Tri-X.  My favourite Nikon lens is the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s.  Even for medium format film photography I used the equivalent of 50mm on a full frame (35mm) camera.  80mm for medium format cameras roughly equates to 50mm for my Leica or Nikon cameras.  For the Mamiya 645 Super I use a Mamiya Sekor 80mm f1.9 C and for the Rolleiflex SL66E a Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 HFT.

Why do I like the 50mm focal length?  It provides the same field of view as the human eye and the most ‘natural’ or life size view as if I was looking at the same view without a camera.  I use many different lenses but 50mm just seems to suit me best.  If a want a small Leica camera setup I use the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens on the M3 or the M9.  Great little lens.

Am I missing something when chosing 50mm?  For me personally, yes.  I tend to shoot as close to 0.7M-1.0M as I can for most of my portraiture, whether on location or in the studio.  This means I can have amazing scenery around me and the model yet I blur it all completely by shooting my lenses wide open and then cropping in portrait orientation to remove any background that was in view.  It makes me wonder sometimes if it is worth visiting other countries when a portrait photo could have been taken in my back garden.

50mm for wedding photography?  If I use one camera body for a wedding my normal focal length is 50mm.  I have used the Leica Noctilux 50f1 for weddings and have had to back into the corner to get a wide enough field of view.  That or I just take a 50mm crop of the scene.  I do take wider lenses too so to get a complete set of wedding photos but 50mm is often the norm.

35mm for wedding photography? A few days ago I was looking back at some wedding photos from over 12 months ago where I used the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens for the majority of a wedding (on my M9).  I had also done an earlier wedding with a 28mm Voigtlander Ultron f2 lens and liked those images too.  For both sets of images I got to see not only the wedding couple in the images but the wedding guests or venue around them.  I also liked the perspective the wider lenses gave.

To recap my standard camera setup, for digital photography I have a Leica 1.4x magnifier on my Leica M9 camera viewfinder.  Permanently.  If a lens is wider I just guess the composition, review and refine if needed.  The 1.4x magnifier gives me a 50mm view like the Leica M3.

35mm for model photography?  On location. Today I decided to remove the M9 1.4x magnifier and attach my Voigtlander 35f1.2 ASPH lens rather than a 50mm lens.  As usual I focused the lens near to as close as it could focus (0.7M) most of the time but now I found myself shooting more in a horizontal format, rather than mainly a portrait orientation (as I mostly do with the Mamiya 645 Super and WTL).  This meant I was starting to make use of my surroundings and composing my images to include both the model and space around her.  I liked it!

35mm for model photography? In the studio.  After today’s location shoot we continued the photography back at the studio (in the warm).  I tried to push myself and stick to the  35mm focal length throughout despite it not being ideal in the studio.  On the whole I did however I did swap to longer lenses a few times.  For me 35mm is too wide for portraiture in a smallish studio.

Conclusion?  Am I a changed man?  Well not really, I still prefer 50mm overall but I can now appreciate that for multiple subjects, such as a wedding I might go for a 35mm lens  first and for model photography with a single person I will keep using 50mm if in the studio but consider wider when on location.  That or just try to back up from my subjects more to capture a wider scene with a 50mm lens.

Sample Images (some of which break the above general comments)

50mm on location

Leica M2 + 35mm Kodak Tri-X

50mm in the studio

Leica M9 + Noctilux Portrait

35mm on location

Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ASPH

35mm in the studio

Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5

35mm wedding

UK Leica Wedding Photography

50mm wedding

Leica M9 Noctilux Wedding

The need for Two Leica M3s!


The need for Two Leica M3 Cameras

I originally bought my Leica M3 as a second Leica M film camera body to join my Leica M2.  I was blown away by the clear big and bright 0.91x magnification M3 viewfinder and now only really use the M2 for 35mm or wider focal lengths.  50mm has become my favourite focal length on the Leicas so the M3 is now my go to 35mm film camera.  My problem now is if the M3 is loaded with colour film and I want to shoot black and white film I have to use the M2. I think I will get a second M3 and then one will always be loaded with black and white film and one with colour.

Film Camera Wedding Photography

If I was photographing a wedding using film cameras I could load two Leica M3 bodies with Kodak Portra colour film and that way would not need to reload film in a mad rush at risk of missing a photo.  I would have the M2 loaded with black and white film such as Kodak Tri-X and then have everything covered. 

That’s the plan! 🙂

Editorial Fashion – Kodak Portra + Leica M3 (2)

Editorial Fashion – Kodak Portra + Leica M3 …(Gina – Session 2)

Editorial Fashion – Kodak Portra Film + Leica M3

Model – Gina Underhill

Photographer – Matthew Osborne Photography (“Mr Leica”)

November 2014

Editorial fashion photography spread using a 1950s Leica M3 camera, 35mm colour film and minimal post processing. Below are photos from a recent shoot with Coventry model Gina who joined me in London as part of a portrait photography workshop. I was demonstrating how easy it can be to get a nice photo with minimal equipment and just daylight. One camera, one lens. We had an amazing day with a great location, a beautiful model and even some brief winter sunshine!

Here are photos taken when Gina arrived to London ahead of the orange dress shoot (first  post).  Hair still pinned up from transit but I said leave it like that as a bit different.  I chose the hat.  Gina was less keen!  I was also using my Rolleiflex SL66E 6×6 medium format film camera loaded with 120 Fuji Pro 400H so will share those soon.

More info –

Camera – 1950s Leica M3 Rangefinder film camera
Lens – Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 @ f1.4
Film – 35mm Kodak Portra 160 colour film
Development – C41 processed lab developed and scan
Lighting – Daylight only
Location – Street close to Victoria Station, London
Stylist / Hair / Make-Up – Gina / Matt

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