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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120 Fomapan 100 Film

120 Fomapan 100 Film – Hasselblad Portraits

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

November 2015

Firstly sorry for the lack of new blog posts recently. There are a lot in the pipeline when I find time!

Fresh film. Perhaps the cheapest 120 B&W film in UK. Great for camera testing or for that softer classic look. #fomapan #fomapan100 #120film #blackandwhite #mediumformat #ilovefilm #ishootfilm #filmrocks www.MrLeica.com

120 Fomapan 100 Film

Fomapan 100 Classic is a traditional panchromatically sensitized black and white negative film made in the Czech Republic.  To my eyes it is as sharp as B&W films from Kodak such as T-Max but had a more classic grain structure more similar to Ilford FP4+ or perhaps Kodak Tri-X.  Again from my experience, Fomapan 100 prroduces low contrast negatives in normal lighting conditions.  Some of my Fomapan 100 photos are higher contrast due to developing or lighting used.

Fomapan 100 film is my current favourite / best value for money black and white film in 120 format. I enjoy using various B&W films from the likes of Kodak, Ilford and Fuji but Fomapan manage to price their film below the competition and the results are actually quite nice. I pay around £3 a roll for 120 Fomapan 100 film and the next cheapest would be I think £4 a roll for the likes of Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodak T-Max 100 & 400 and Fuji Acros 100 and then £5 for Ilford Delta 100 and 400. I try to find the lowest prices!

What I like a lot about Fomapan 100 is I can shoot it at ISO 50-400 and develop it at box speed. This may be true for other films but I have not noticed it. For medium format film photography shooting in available light ISO 400 is normally the go to film speed for me in the UK. In the studio I shoot ISO 100 films more. Fomapan gives me both. For ISO 800 exposures I would rather shoot Kodak Tri-X 400 or T-Max 400 films and push them
one stop in developing.

I constantly swing between the different film stocks trying to find a favourite but as yet there is no clear winner. Kodak Tri-X has some of the nicest tones and Kodak T-Max also. Ilford Delta 100 and Pan F 50 are amongst the sharpest films I have used and can look almost digital in 120 format. I would say I prefer Fuji Acros to T-Max 100 especially for portraits but both can create nice images. At this stage I prefer Kodak Tri-X to HP5 for the tones and overall look of the pictures.

Since getting my Hasselblad 501C I have been shooting much more medium format film and 35mm film is currently on hold!  Here are some examples of me shooting 120 Fomapan 100 film.

Hasselblad Film Portraits

Firstly a sneak peek from Poland! Full post to follow.. 🙂

Fomapan 100 Fashion

Next, more 120 Fomapan 100 film portraits shot in the UK

Hasselblad Sonnar 150mm

Zeiss Sonnar + Hasselblad

Fomapan 100 Classic

Hasselblad Zeiss Distagon Portrait

21mm Hasselblad extension tube

Hasselblad Zeiss 50mm Portrait

Fomapan 100@400

I am also using Fomapan 100 4×5 sheet film in my large format cameras so those results are to follow too!

Ilford Pan F 50 Film

Ilford Pan F 50 Film

Matthew Osborne Photography

June  2015

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

Ilford Pan F 50 Portrait

Bessa R3A + Ilford Pan F 50

Bessa + Ilford Pan F 50

Ilford Pan F 50 Model Shoot

35mm Ilford Pan F 50 Fashion

Model – Julia

Voigtlander Bessa R3A

35mm Film Sharpness

Ilford Pan F 50 Fashion

Ilford Pan F 50 in Xtol + Rodinal

35mm Ilford Pan F 50

Conclusion

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.

35mm Ilford Pan F 50 :)

Matt

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Other Black and White Films

35mm Ilford FP4+ 125 Film (2)

35mm Ilford FP4+ 125 Film

(Part 2)

Matthew Osborne Photography

35mm Ilford FP4+ 125 film was the first film I ever tried, in my late Grandfathers 35mm Yashica MG-1 back in 2012.  FP4+ film has a classic grain structure and negatives often have a vintage low contrast grainy appearance.  I find the grainy appearance of FP4+ and Kodak Tri-X 400 can sometimes be too much for my female portraits shot on 35mm film so I wanted to try to minimize grain when developing.

I bought 3 rolls of 35mm FP4+ last year to try it again (vs the Kodak T-Max 100 film I used mostly in 2013-2014) and last weekend I decided to load a roll in my 1950s Leica M3, with Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens at f1.  I developed the FP4+ film at box speed in 1:100 Rodinal, semi stand developed for 45 minute at 21 degrees.  Negatives were scanned with my new Epson v800 scanner at 2400dpi using an Epson v600 35mm film insert (placed on the v800 glass).  Please see the results below.  I think this film has a lot of character and it is up there with my favourites.

Leica M3 + 35mm Ilford FP4 plus

Studio Shoot - Film

35mm Ilford FP4+ film - M3 & Noctilux

Leica Noctilux + Ilford FP4+ film

Ilford FP4+ in Rodinal 1:100

Ilford FP4+ & Leica M3 / Noctilux

Here is some of my early film days photography with Ilford FP4+ 125, both 120 and 135 formats – Part 1

Ilford Black & White Film

Ilford Black & White Film

Ilford FP4+ 125 film (35mm & 120)

Here are the first samples of me using medium format 120 Ilford FP4+ black and white film. Photos were shot on my Russian 6×6 ARAX-CM camera (Kiev 88)(aka “Hasselbladski” – Hasselblad clone) and a Russian Mir 3 65mm f3.5 lens. I shot the ISO 125 film at 250.

I develop my own black and white film using a Patterson tank. Here I used Rodinal stand development, 45mins 22 degree with 1 inversion (so semi-stand developing really). I used 1:150 rodinal to tap water. Once dried negatives were scanned with a Epson v600 scanner then cleaned up and contrast enhanced in Photoshop Elements 6. I found the negatives to be a little flat (with lens contrast) so next time I will develop for less time so the shadow stay black. I will also invert more than once to make the highlights brighter (as during stand developing highlights develop first then if left longer shadow detail next. I normally use Kodak T-Max 100 and 400 film. T-Max has a finer grain structure and can look more like digital if very sharp and contrasty. Ilford FP4+ film is more grainy with nice tonality give a more filmic look i think. I like it but i think for 35mm film FP4+ developed in Rodinal may be too grainy for my portraits (however fantastic for architecture).

Here are some more 120 Ilford FP4+ samples (2013)

120 Ilford FP4+
ARAX-CM
Ilford Film
6x6 Medium Format Film

As a comparison to the last photo shown, here is the same photo with the Leica M9 in colour. I have to say on this occasion for me the 35mm digital vs. medium format film battle is won by the 35mm digital.
Leica M9 Colours vs Kodak Portra Film

Here are a few old photos from when I shot my very first roll of black and white film on my late Grandfathers 35mm Yashica MG-1. it was also the first roll of film I developed – December 2012. I was both amazed and overjoyed when this seemingly old fashioned process of developing black and white film at home actually worked! 🙂 Even now they are some of my favourite film shots. They look like film and have a great retro feel, rather than all the later 35mm Kodak T-Max shots that looked more modern.

Yashica goes B&W

35mm Ilford FP4+ samples – home developed in Xtol (2012)
Ellie with Yashica MG-1
Ellie
Jodi with Yashica MG-1
Katie with Yashica, London

35mm Ilford FP4+ samples – developed by Ilford lab (2010)
Yashica  MG-1 B&W #2
Yashica MG-1 B&W #4
Yashica MG1 & Ilford FP4+
Yashica MG-1 B&W #5
Yashica  MG-1 B&W #1

Film vs. Digital Leica M9
I think when film can offer me something extra or different to digital then I get excited. During 2013 I shot almost all Kodak T-Max film. I then bought a digital 35mm Leica M9 rangefinder camera. The results from the M9 look filmic due to the Kodak CCD sensor. As a result my use of film temporarily stopped. Ilford FP4+ film gives a look that is more grainy that the images from the digital Leica and with a much greater dynamic range.

Voigtlander Bessa R3A
As I still have a Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm rangefinder film camera that uses my amazing Leica M mount lenses I am now excited at the prospect of shooting some 35mm Ilford FP4+ film. I have a roll of 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 in the camera at the moment and but I will definitely order some 35mm FP4+ film to try next. I also want to try some ADOS film as I have a soft spot for high contrast black and white images.

Black and White Film Developing
Tonight I have just developed a roll of 35mm T-Max 100 that was shot on the Voigtlander Bessa R3A at ISO 400 at the start of the summer (before the Leica M9 arrived). Most of the photos were shot at the end of the day in low light conditions using the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 at f1.4. Taking this into consideration, I decided to use Rodinal stand development 1:150 ratio again for 45mins but this time with 3 inversions during the stand. The plan was to push the highlights (so brighter) and underexpose the shadows (to give black blacks) to give some punchy high contrast negatives. The negatives are currently drip drying over the bath but I think at first glance I will have contrasty negatives that may be a little dark (perhaps) but I can brighten the highlights when I scan tomorrow if I need to. I did the shoot while in Edinburgh on a work trip with local model Emma and that combination usually produces some very rewarding images. New Kodak T-Max images coming soon!

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

Related Posts

Yashica MG-1 (Contains the same example images)
Voigtlander Bessa R3A
ARAX-CM
Rodinal Stand Development

MrLeica.com – BLOG

MrLeica.com – BLOG

(Matthew Osborne Photography)

A one stop blog for Leica M cameras and Leica M lenses ..plus an array of film cameras, films and film formats

Leica M cameras are my workhorse tools for all types of photography, both digital Leica cameras and Leica film cameras. I also shoot medium format and large format film and my appetite for analogue film photography is stronger than ever.  The majority of the blog content is either Leica M camera related or film photography.  I am a people photographer, models, fashion, lifestyle and wedding photography so most of my photography is portraits, experimenting with various cameras, lenses and films.  The digital Leica M Typ 240 camera is my current do everything digital M camera but my favourite Leica camera is the Leica M3 film camera.  I am also a huge fan of Hasselblad medium format film cameras and I use them a lot for client film photography shoots.

Mr Leica – About:

Hi, I started this blog page in March 2013 as my Flickr followers keep asking me to share some of my thoughts. To give you a brief background, my photography began in 2008 after getting a Panasonic Lumix TZ5 for Christmas.  Today I have a lot of cameras and offer Photography Tuition to those who often get paid for their work. Besides teaching, I shoot as a Wedding Photographer and Model Photographer.  I am 100% self taught so thought a blog would be a great way to share some of the things I have learnt so far.  At the end of 2012 I started to develop a passion for Film Photography and in the summer of 2013 I bought my first Leica camera.  I am now officially a Leica nut and use a digital Leica M240 and M8 plus Leica M3s, M2, M4-P and M6 film cameras for most of my photography.  This includes Leica wedding photography, Leica lifestyle photography and Leica fashion / model photography.  I also enjoy using medium format film cameras such as the amazing Hasselblad 501C 6×6 camera (my main medium format film camera), Fuji GF670, Rolleiflex SL66E, Mamiya RZ67 Pro2 to name a few and 4×5 large format film using a 1947 Pacemaker Speed Graphic and Sinar F2.  In 2014 I started to teach portrait photography and lighting in London running monthly group photography workshops. Currently I teach photography on 1-2-1 basis providing 1-2-1 photography tuition (normally with a model) on location, often in London if on location and in the UK, from my Coventry UK studio or overseas such as New York, Zurich and Amsterdam.

Blog Content:

Sample of only. Please use the search box if you can’t see something listed (ie. lenses)

Leica Cameras

Non-Leica Cameras (A-Z)

Film (A-Z)

Destination Leica Wedding Photographer

Leica Wedding Photographer offering desination Wedding Photography both in the UK and overseas. Natural documentary style wedding photography fused with stylised wedding portraits.  As a Leica photographer I like to work quietly as an observer in the background and photograph by available light where possible.  I use both digital and film Leica cameras but my passion is film photography.

Analogue Film Wedding Photographer UK

Film wedding photographer that still prefers film cameras in the digital era.  I use 35mm Leica film cameras, medium format Hasselblad cameras and large format film cameras.  If you appreciate film photography as much as I do then I would be delighted to cover your wedding.  You may have already booked a wedding photographer but like the idea of a few special images shot on film?  I would be happy to oblige!

Engagement Sessions

Engagement photography is very rewarding and I enjoy working with a couple to create natural yet stylised images using a aray of cameras to give you as set of unique looking images.  E-sessions are invaluable for giving couples experience in front of the cameras ahead of their wedding day and it gives us a chance to get to know each other too.

Large Format Portrait Photographer

Large format camera portrait session that gives one of a kind photos.  4×5 format sheet film images and instant Polaroid photos.  I fuse my model photography experience with my passion for film photography.

Leica Lifestyle Photographer

I have realised from how I direct my model shoots that I am in fact a lifestyle photographer.  Posing often everyday people in everyday situations to look very natural.  I have not yet branded myself as a lifestyle photographer but it may be a route I take in the future as this style comes very naturally to me and I find it easy to work closely with my clients to get the best from the images.  If you are looking for new and creative photos for your social media site, blog, website or business then do get in touch.

Model Photographer

Studio based model photographer in Coventry specialising in black and white female portraiture using both digital and film cameras.  I help new models build a model portfolio and regularly collaborate with model agencies and published models in the UK, Europe and the US.

UK Photography Workshops

I provide 1-2-1 photography tuition and lighting workshops from my Coventry studio and on location.  I will help you to understand light and your camera to enhance your photography. Through 2014 I was running London photography workshops teaching small groups of photographers how to work with a professional model on location.  Currently I focus on providing 1-2-1 tuition rather than teaching groups both here in the UK and overseas.

I hope you find the content as enjoyable to read as I find it is to document.

Matt