Leica M 240 – Learn to Love

Leica M 240 – Learn to Love

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

May 2016

20150923-220808.jpg

Leica M 240

Having owned my Leica M 240 camera now for about 9 months I thought I better share my latest thoughts.  I wrote a review in January 2016 titled “Leica M 240 – It Wont Be Missed” (linked below).  Since then we have started to get along quite well and have learnt to live with each others quirks and flaws.  I am now happy to shoot both colour photos and black and white photos with the M 240 without commenting “It’s nice but it’s not as good as the Leica M9”.  I now like the M240 photos as they are and i’ve started to shoot much more colour digital photography even if my film photography remains mostly black and white.  I made basic Lightroom presets to apply to images, a few for colour photos and a few for black and white and that lets me quickly batch edit all images for models.

I used to shoot mostly wide open and in black and white and normally with a 50mm lens.  My current taste is to use 35mm lenses stopped down so the little Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens has lived on my Leica M240 for the last few months.  I used this setup for the Poland model photography trip and Ukraine model photography trip and am still using it now i’m back in the UK.

Here are a few digital sample photos from the Poland and Ukraine trips ahead of the film photos to follow, and also a few photos in the UK.  All photos shot with the Leica M 240.

Polish Models

Leica Fashion Photography
Leica Fashion
Leica M240 6x6
Greetings from Poland! :)
Poland Model Photography
Polish Girl
Leica M240 Fashion
Leica Fashion

Ukrainian Models

Leica M Fashion
Ukraine Road Trip
Ukrainian Model
Ukraine Model Photography
Leica M 240 - Learn to Love
Leica M240
Go Green!
Leica Fashion
Killer Smile
Light and Shadow
Loving the 35mm view

British Models

Leica Summicron 90mm f2
Leica Fashion
Leica M 240 in Colour
Leica M 240 Model Photography
Model Photographer

Conclusion

There is no digital camera currently on the market that I think would suit my needs better than the Leica M 240.  I love rangefinder cameras and I continue to enjoy the quality of Leica M mount lenses and the overall small size of the Leica M camera range, whether digital or film.  I don’t really lust after any digital cameras or lenses.  If I ‘need’ something new to buy to explore / test / experiment with I buy old analogue film cameras.  I am happy to use the digital photos for posting on the likes of Flickr, Facebook and Instagram but for me if I want to take a ‘proper’ photo I will always shoot it on film.

The Hasselblad 501C remains king (for me) until I find something that can ‘beat’ it!  See my last post comparing the Mamiya 6 vs Hasselblad for more detail.

Thanks

Matt

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Leica M 240 – It Wont Be Missed

Leica M 240 – It Wont Be Missed

..(& my Photography Journey so far)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

#excited 😁 I just found out that the Leica Summicron 50 DR with its close focus goggles will fit on my Leica M Typ 240! It doesn't fit on a M9 or M8. #result! #leicam #leicam240 #leicacamera #leicacraft #leicasphere #leica #summicron #summicrondr #ra

January 2016

My photography journey is now perhaps into it’s 8th year.  I started with digital cameras and worked my way through a Lumix G1, Nikon D90, Nikon D700, Nikon D800 but still wanted something more.  I tried my late Grandad’s Yasica MG-1 35mm film camera and then started looking at other film cameras. I bought a Contax 645 medium format film camera, ARAX-CM (Kiev 88), Mamiya RZ67 to name a few and then I bought a digital Leica M9.

Leica M9

The Leica M9 Kodak CCD sensor produced filmic looking images straight out of the camera without any need for hours of Photoshop or efforts in the dark room.  The Leica M9 pretty much killed my film photography journey for perhaps 12 months.  I then slowly started getting back into film cameras and new camera purchases included vintage 1950s Leica cameras like the Leica M3 and Leica M2. I also bought two large format 4×5 film cameras, a Pacemaker Speed Graphic and Sinar F2. I find I cycle between 35mm film, medium format and large format. Each format have their strengths and drawbacks.

Leica M 240

The next chapter in my photography journey was when my Leica M9 started to fail me.  The rangefinder became misaligned, it was quite bruised and battered from so much use anyway and the sensor needed replacing. I decided to say goodbye to the M9 and part ex’d it in for a new digital Leica M Typ 240. Initially I was excited by the M240.

As quickly as the Leica M9 had killed my film photography I think the Leica M 240 has killed my digital photography.  I would describe the M240 as producing equally unexciting photos as my Nikon D800.  Both are good cameras with many positives but neither make me want to take a photo for enjoyment.   The Leica M 240 is now only used on my model photography shoots for test shots and to warm up the models.  The photos are fine and the girls use them for their portfolio images but I may only use one or two as preview images until the ‘proper’ film photos are developed.

Upgrading

At roughly the same time as my Leica M 240 purchase I was experiencing a string of frustrating film camera issues.  The Leica M3 rangefinder also needed recalibrating, the Mamiya 645 was misfocusing, the Rollei SL66E film back was not taking the film, the Fuji GS645 had a sticking shutter, the Mamiya RZ battery always seemed to be flat. The list went on.  I decided to get a more modern 35mm film camera, a Nikon F4 SLR. I liked the photos and camera to use but wanted more resolution.   That lead me to buy another more modern film camera, a Fuji GA645.  The Fuji GA645 images were excellent but the camera is not that exciting to use. The search continued.

Hasselblad

During all the time I have been buying and lusting after different cameras I have not once considered a Hasselblad.  I’m not sure why,  I think I always wanted the greatest shallow depth of field so went for cameras like the Contax 645 and Mamiya 645 using faster lenses. Many Hasselblad lenses are f4 widest aperture and I was used to using  f1, f1.2, f1.4 on the 35mm Leica cameras.  I already had four 6×6 film cameras, ARAX-CM, Rollei SL66E, Fuji GF670 in 6×6 format and the Mamiya RZ with a 6×6 film back attached. Again, all nice cameras but none were perfect and I think it is that that lead me to a 500 Series Hasselblad.

If the Leica M 240 killed my digital photography then the Hasselblad 501C hammered home the final nail in the coffin.   The Hasselblad has single handedly transformed my photography for the better.  Of all the cameras I use I think only the Leica M9 had such a positive impact on my photography.  So what changed?

I enjoy composing the 6×6 Hasselblad square format and the Zeiss lenses give me the high resolution film images I like.  At f4 the subject detail is super sharp yet the background can still melt away.  The camera size makes it portable for location shoots yet slow enough to be selective about the photos I capture.

After experiencing the quality of a Hasselblad camera I then bought a 35mm Hasselblad XPan rangefinder.  (Blog post to follow).

The Leica M 240 wont be missed

So I started by saying the Leica M 240 wont be missed so where is it you may ask?  If you saw my recent New York (II) workshop blog post you may have noticed I took a digital Leica M8 (and my new Leica M6 film camera) not the M240.  Well in addition to losing all interest in the Leica M 240 images (due to the flat and uninteresting photos that require far too much time in post processing to create something worth sharing) I also noticed the M 240 rangefinder was out of alignment.  My M240 is currently with the engineers in Leica Germany and so the Leica M8 has stepped up to the mark as my digital camera for model photoshoots.

I think for the first 6 months of using the M 240 I ignored the fact that the photos looked like the Nikon D800 CMOS sensor photos.  Photos took a lot of work in Lightroom but I could usually get something from it to share.  I then recently went back to shooting B&W JPEGs (plus RAW) in the Leica M8 and it brought back the amazing memories of how I used to shoot when I first bought the Leica M9.  I could shoot 200+ photos with a model and have them emailed to her within an hour of her leaving the studio.  That alone shows how good the Leica CCD sensor is, whether Leica M8 or Leica M9.  Photos just come out the camera ready to share without hours wasted in front of a computer.  When I am using a digital camera to test the last thing I need is to then waste hours editing before I can give the photos to a model when I want to spend my time developing and scanning film.

You might say at this stage well stop moaning about it and just buy another Leica M9 and sell the M 240 or better still sell the Leica M 240 and buy an enlarger to start printing my own film images with!  The problem I face is some clients want modern digital photos in colour and for that the Leica M240 does a better job than the Nikon D800 in my hands.  Until I can persuade all wedding couples to request only film photography images I plan to keep the Leica M 240 for wedding photography as the camera does have some advantages over the M9.  The M240 is a nice camera it just has a very boring sensor.

The Leica M 240 sensor captures lots of information in a very flat way making images great as a project to work on for hours in Photoshop but not the instant gratification of the Leica M8 / M9 I desire. I like to create images in camera not in computer.  The M240 is a camera where perhaps 50% of the image is created in camera, 50% in computer.  The Leica M9/ M8 B&W JPEGs can be created 95-99% in camera and I would say my black and white film images are 88% in camera/film developing, 2% scanning, 10% in computer to remove dust and do any basic darkroom style adjustments.

I hope Leica can release a digital camera in the future that excites me as much as the Leica M8/ M9 do but at the moment the future for me is looking like film.  As probably expected I have not missed the Leica M240 being away for repair.  When I had the Leica M9 I don’t think I could have imagined not having it with me. (That is why I used the M9 for over a year with a faulty sensor).  Big difference!

(Leica M8 images blog in the pipeline to show what M8 black and white JPEG looks like).

Leica M9 Part Exchanged for Leica M 240

Leica M9 Part Exchanged for Leica M 240

Matthew Osborne Photography

August 2015

After buying a used Leica M9 camera two years ago today I bid it farewell when I part exchanged the M9 for a brand new Leica M Typ 240. https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/20411540031

Leica M 240 – Why the sudden purchase!?

How did this come about you may ask considering I liked the Leica M9 and my heart is in film photography not digital photography?  I noticed my M9 camera rangefinder needed slight adjustment to get sharp focus at apertures wider than say f4. This is why I took the Nikon D800 to Poland and Ukraine as the M9 was not useable. A Flickr follower, Wolfgang then advised my that Leica Germany had a good part exchange deal. I contacted my friend Jimmy at the Leica Mayfair London store and he said they to had a similar part exchange offer on for the Leica M9. https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/20207868168

Leica M 240 – Offer details

Leica currently has a fixed price offer for a M9 suffering from a delaminated CCD sensor coating – Pay £2250 and exchange your M9 for a new Leica M Typ 240. The price of a new Leica Typ 240 camera is £4650 in Jessops (to put things in perspective!) (link below). Considering how well used my M9 camera was (high shutter count and strong signs of use including a chipped/ cracked screen), the fact that the M9 CCD sensor had been diagnosed as suffering from delamiantion and needed replacing and the rangefinder needed recalibrating it really was too good an offer to refuse! I find film cameras (Leica film cameras but also medium format and large format cameras) far more rewarding and enjoyable to use compared to modern digital cameras so some people might think I’m crazy to spend a lot of money on a camera that doesn’t really interest me. You would be correct if it was for personal use only but when shooting with model agencies or offering Leica wedding photography I need high quality digital images in addition to film.  I already have a 36MP Nikon D800 but I can operate a Leica rangefinder camera more accurately and quicker and the Leica M mount lenses tend to offer superior optics (across the board)(I recently bought macro lenses for the Nikon to achieve a level of sharpness I was acustom to with Leica). As I have written before, I can achieve sharp focus at f1.0 (using the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens) with relative ease on a calibrated Leica body yet I misfocus f2.8-f4 with manual focus lenses on the Nikon (especially at greater distances).  It is for that reason why I am 100% tied in to the Leica M rangefinder camera system.

Leica M 240 – Interest and expection was low

Considering the high cost and me being, in theory a “Leica Fanboy”, I wasnt really that excited by the thoughts of the new Leica M Typ 240 camera purchase. I was far more excited when I fixed the focus issue on my Mamiya 645 Super medium format film camera on Friday!  The Leica M purchase was more a job that needed doing ahead of my next wedding (so asap!). I arranged the purchase with the Leica Mayfair store a week in advance and during that time I read up on reviews such as ‘Leica M9 vs Leica M 240’ and asked questions on camera forums like ‘Did anyone buy a Leica M 240 and regret it’.  I then came up with the idea of buying the Leica M 240 then selling it wth zero accuations and buying another used M9. I contacted a shop that sold used Leica cameras and once we did the maths and took VAT into consideration it didn’t really make sense so I decided for now (at least) to keep the new M. I guess it is a bit like driving a taxi for a living.  You have you existing car that you know and love.  You know it’s strengths and weaknesses and have learnt to love it’s little quirks.  The car has been reliable since purchase despite the now high mileage but it suddenly fails it’s MOT.  The garage offers you a brand new car replacement on a new government scrappage scheme for half it’s list price. It has the same german build quality and same excellent customer service yet has no miles on the clock and benefits fromt the latest technology.  Would you say no!?

Leica M 240 – First Impressions

I said farewell to the M9 and hello to the M 240.  I decided to buy a silver  (“chrome”) Leica M rather than black to match my Leica M3s /M2 film cameras.  (I still have the black M8 also).  I didn’t need the manual and soon found my way around the settings from using a Leica M9.  I’ve read many Leica M 240 reviews and people normally always find something to moan about when comparing to an M9. From a handling perspective I quite liked the new thumb roller dial and bulge in body to act as a thumb rest.  I used the “Thumbie” accessory on the M9 body and didn’t notice a real difference.  I love the quieter shutter sound of the M 240. It will be perfect for church weddings yet is still audible.  The near silent shutter of my Fuji GF670 is just unnerving!  The 3 inch LCD screen is amazingly sharp and much welcomed.  The slight increase in size and weight wasn’t noticed and the larger battery capacity will be great for location shoots and weddings.  The optical viewfinder works as well as the M9 and I fitted my 1.4x Leica viewfinder magnifier to it straight away.  The lack of framelines in the viewfinder with the camera switched off is not a problem as I only use the camera when it is switched on.  So far so good it seems!

Leica M 240 – CMOS vs CCD

The Leica M 240 24MP CMOS sensor certainly produces nice sharp images but the CCD vs CMOS sensor is a debate for anothe blog post once I have used the camera more.

Testing new camera - Leica M Typ 240 + Noctilux. On location photoshoot with Mahi #leicam #leicam240 #leica #noctilux #backofcamera #model #photoshoot - Full details to follow on blog later - www.MrLeica.com

Leica M 240 – First Sample Images

(3 different lenses used – Noctilux, Noctilux, Summarit 50/1.5, Voigtlander 15mm)

Leica M Typ 240 + Noctilux

Leica M 240 + Noctilux Portrait

Leica M Typ 240 + Summarit

Leica M Typ 240 Street Photography

Leica M 240 – Related Links

(If you have the time and interest read them in order listed as you will see my opinion change (as date of writing, oldest first).  Second link has much more spec detail*).

Sony A7R vs Leica M9

Sony A7R vs Leica M9

My thoughts only, sorry no example images

July 2015

Sony A7R vs Leica M9

I ran a model photography workshop in London on Saturday and the photographer brought along his full frame Sony A7R camera.  I often hear good reviews about the Sony and Fuji cameras from Leica photographers using these bodies as a backup body or as a more affordable alternative.  I have had photographers bring the Fuji XT1 and the Sony A7R to the workshops before but I have never really taken much interest as my heart in in film photography (and digital Leicas).

The photographer owning the Sony A7R was keen to see how I worked and also see my Leica cameras.  I had with me the digital Leica M9 and Leica M8 bodies and was using the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens.  He had the Sony A7R with the Sony Zeiss FE 55mm f1.8 lens and also an old Leica Summicron 90mm f2 R lens with an Sony adapter.

We met the model and took similar photos side by side with our own cameras.  Over lunch we reviewed the Leica M8, Leica M9 and Sony AR7 images on a laptop full screen in Lightroom.  Small size the Sony A7R images look OK.  If i’m honest from a small size images I could not tell you what modern camera they were taken with, Fuji, Sony, Nikon.  (Canon photos usually have an orange pink tinge so are easier to identify!)  When we compared the Leica M9 colours to those from the Sony A7R the M9 colours were more natural looking with slightly better skin tones.  I was still not offended by the Sony images.

We then viewed the Sony A7R JPEG and RAW 100% zoomed in and I was shocked.  I am used to seeing the film like grain of the Leica M9 (and Leica M8) DNG and JPEG files when I zoom in.  It looks quite ‘real’ desite being an electronic image and reminds me more of film negative scans.  The Sony RAW and JPEG files however just looked like a mass of coloured noise with little structure.  It looked very artificial and computer generated.. of course it is but the Leica files look less so.  I have owned Nikon cameras for years, and before Leicas so am well aware how the Nikon NEF files look.  If I had to try to compare simply I would say the 18MP Leica M9 and 10MP Leica M8 DNG files are the most real looking, then followed by the 36MP Nikon D800 that gives a sharper and more modern look yet still the RAW files appear ‘real’ when viewed zoomed in, and lastly the Sony A7R files that look the least real.  For my taste the Sony images look too computer generated and not at all to my liking.  I like the look of film photography so it makes sense that the most filmic looking digital images are my favourites, from the Leica M9 and Leica M8.

Interestingly, we discussed the Sony A7R images and this very modern ‘over processed’ look and the photographer showed me some photos taken with an old Mamiya RZ lens on the Sony A7R via an adapter.  To me these images were far far better than the images produced with the Sony 55/1.8 lens.  They had more of a realness to them.  I think the problem is that when there is a Sony lens on the Sony A7R the in camera computer is doing so much manipulating of the files that it results in very over processed straight out the camera images.  When there in a non-Sony lens used with an adapter that doesn’t talk to the camera there is less in camera processing so the resulting image is nearer to what you can see with the naked eye.

In conclusion, if I had to have the high ISO ability and all the other mod cons of the Sony A7R or keep my old Leica M8 then M8 would win hands down despite it’s flaws.  For a more fair comparison, the Leica M9 vs Sony A7R, the M9 colours and rendering of the images is far more real and natural looking to my eye so I would never be tempted by the Sony.

(Only my opinion but I am glad I had the oppotunity to see the side by side comparison).

Sorry I do not have any Sony A7R images to share but there will be plenty to review on Flickr i’m sure.  For Leica M8 and Leica M9 example images you can find plenty of samples both on my blog and on Flickr.

Here are two examples from the workshop (more for the rendering than the colours!)

Leica M8 + Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 (DNG B&W conversion)

Leica M8 B&W

Leica M9 + Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 (DNG & colours made more satured in PP)

Leica M9  -  Is back!

(I’m sure many Sony users will disagree with our observations or point out that the colours of the Leica M9 image shared are far from natural but this blog is just my opinion based on my own experiences).

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR Lens

I have always had the old Leica Summicron 50f2 DR (“Dual Range”) lens on my ‘to try’ list despite owning a modern Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens.

New lens :) #Vintage #Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR with goggles for close focus. Looks beautiful on the #leicam3 :) #leicacamera www.MrLeica.com

When considering new glass my first reference point is Flickr. I ask myself ‘do the images with this lens have something special about them, regardless of the subject matter or talent of the photographer?’ My modern Leica Summicron 50f2 v5 lens is my least used 50mm as I tend to favour the Leica Noctilux 50f1 or Leica Summilux ASPH 50f1.4. The vintage Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 creates beautiful images but flares easily so not for all occasions. I sold the Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 and Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 but I don’t think I fully appreciated the strengths of the Sonnar until after it was sold. With the 50f1 Noctilux normally living on digital Leica M9 body I wanted another 50mm lens to live on the Leica M3 film camera. I shortlisted either another Zeiss Sonnar 50f1.5 or a vintage Leica Summicron 50f2 DR. I did a quick reality check for the usefulness of the two 50mm lenses.

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50f1.5 vs Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50f1.5

  • Fully functional on all my Leica M camera bodies
  • Modern lens coating so less prone to flare
  • Zeiss ‘3D’ pop look wide open
  • Sharp wide open
  • 50f1.5 is almost 1 stop brighter than 50f2 DR so more useful in low light
    BUT
  • Close focus only 1m (the reason I sold my first ZM Sonnar lens)
  • Some copies of the lens are said to have focus shift issues

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

  • Can close focus at 0.5m (0.478) when using goggles attachment
  • Sharp images wide open
  • Images have a signature ‘DR’ look that I dont see with the modern v5 Summicron lens
    BUT
  • Lens only functions at a range of 1-4m on my Leica M9 and M8 (no close up or infinity focus ability)(*note lens is fully functional on my Leica M3 and M2)(and non-TTL M6)
  • Have to attach-detach goggles every time you want to go from close focus (0.478-0.88m) to 1m to infinity

I was keeping my mind open then on a recent trip to Munich Germany I visited the Leica Munich store to say hello and to see if they had a Leica Summicron 50f2 DR lens in stock to try. Sadly they didn’t have in but instead kindly recommended a shop that may have one. I found the shop and my luck was in! They had two 50mm DR lenses. One copy of the lens was cheaper so I tried that one first. It was not calibrated with my Leica M9 so I tried the second copy and asked the store if I could take it out the shop to try in the street. I left the Noctilux lens with them as a small deposit and they smiled and agreed. What struck me most was the sharpness wide open at f2 and the beautiful way it rendered out of focus areas. It took maybe five test photos and that was all I needed to see. Sold to the man that has enough lenses already but felt a need for one more!

#cameraporn #leicam3 #leicacamera #rangefinder #vintagecamera #leica #summicron 50f2 DR + Goggles - www.MrLeica.com

I will sell my near mint modern Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens with box if anyone is looking buy one? I know many Leica shooters swear by them but I dont use it enough to keep.

Eager to try the Leica Summicron 50mm DR to its full potential I fitted it to my Leica M3 and shot half a roll of black and white Kodak T-Max 100 film which was already loaded in the camera. It was sunny and I felt I was missing out by not shooting colour during the golden hour. I had no 35mm colour film with me in Germany,  only 120 Portra for the Mamiya 645 Super. Luckily I discovered a small camera shop when out exploring and when I asked for colour film they opened a box of the old Kodak Portra 400 VC that they must have had in stock for years. I’ve only ever used the new Kodak Portra so was interested to try the older 400 VC Portra. The model had cancelled for the afternoon shoot so I took the opportunity to set myself a challenge.  Shoot a 36 exposure roll of film in one afternoon of anything and everything using the strengths of the Summicron 50 DR lens. To me this meant mostly shooting wide open at f2 with plenty of close ups and considering the out of focus areas for colour and bokeh. Results to follow!

#filmchallenge 1x roll of Kodak Portra 400 VC (36 exposures), 1x Leica M3 rangefinder film camera, 1x Leica Summicron 50f2 DR, 5 hours of walking the streets taking photos of anything that caught my eye and finished off with 1x KFC meal :) #kodakfilm #lei

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR vs Mamiya 645 / Mamiya RZ usage

My most used non Leica camera is currently the Mamiya 645 Super.  What I enjoy most about the Mamiya 645 and even more so the Mamiya RZ 67 (and Rolleiflex SL66E) which use bellows, is the ability to focus close to my subject.  To me that is one of the biggest weaknesses of the Leica M system, the 0.7m rangefinder closest focus distance. Now my Leica M3 will focus to 0.5m at f2 I am excited to try the Summicron 50 DR for my portrait work. Again, results to follow!

I feel the Leica Summicron 50f2 DR is the perfect lens for my Leica M3. The combination look beautiful together and function is on a par with form. If the combination looked pretty but wasnt capable of taking good images it would be worthless to me. I buy vintage cameras to use not to polish.

I hope to try the Leica Summicron 50f2 DR on both my Leica M9 and also Leica M3 this weekend so sample images coming soon.

Here is a test shot SOOC from outside the camera store.  Leica M9 JPEG

Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR - SOOC

Ken Rockwell is a big fan of this lens. More tech detail here – http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/50mm-f2-dr.htm

Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 – Collapsible

1959 Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 – Collapsible

Matthew Osborne Photography – “Mr Leica”

elmar 50v2

Continuing my quest for the smallest lightest most compact Leica M camera setup I decided to buy myself a smaller 50mm for when I need to pack light, a 15 blade 1959 chrome Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens with bayonet mount and E39 filter thread.   The newer version 4 Leica Elmar-M 50mm f2.8 lens is lighter, sharper and with only 6 blades but I wanted a lens with quirks and more character and also with a smaller price tag!  The older version 3 Elmar lens I bought can be picked up for about half the price of a used Leica Elmar-M 50mm.  The original 1920s Leica Elmar 50mm lens was f3.5 and even smaller.  I want to be able to use my 50mm Elmar lens when there is less than ideal light so I opted for the 1950s f2.8 version.  Version 2 of this lens is said to be the most popular Leica lens ever made until it was superseded by the first Leica Summicron 50mm f2 lens in 1953.

So why did I pick this particular lens?  The Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens is a collapsible design so the lens becomes more compact when not in use.  I could have bought a 50mm f2 collapsible lens instead such as a Leica Summar 5cm f2, Summitar 5cm f2 or an early Summicron 5cm f2 all of which share the same basic design where the lens is collapsible into the camera body.  In an ideal world I would chose f2 over f2.8 but the early 50mm f2 lenses are said to have very soft lens coatings so finding one in good condition is not as easy.  The slower Elmar lenses are also less in demand so old versions can be picked up on eBay at a good price and in nice condition.  Shot wide open the 50mm Elmar lens will have the old Leica lens soft glow look similar to my Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 but stopped down to f5.6-f8 it should be almost as sharp as my Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4.  I have seen sample images with the exact lens I bought and it is sharp at f5.6.  With clever use of light I will try to get it looking sharp wide open too.  (See the results from my new Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens shot wide open.  They look sharp to me and that is supposed to be a soft lens wide open).

When will I use the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens?  I think lens is too soft shot wide open for wedding photography but I will use it for at least three types of photography.  Personal work which is normally model photography and portraiture.  To be more specific I will use this lens when I want to pack light such as for a day trip to London or a location shoot in Poland.  I will use it for engagement photography if the Elmar has a signature look that I really like.  Engagement sessions let me get creative so I use more unusual equipment than I might at a wedding.  Lastly, travel photography.  When I was in Mallorca last year there was so much light I was doing landscape and street photography at f8-f11.  The little Leica Elmar is the ideal lens for this occasion as stopped down I could use any of my 50mm lenses and get similar results (I think!).

What camera will I use the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens with?  I will test the lens on my Leica M9 digital camera so I understand what it can and cannot do in different light conditions.  After that I will use it with my 1950s Leica M3 film camera for a full 1950s camera-lens combo!  I think if I load the Leica M3 with 35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 film and develop it in Rodinal as normal I can get sharp looking images at f2.8.  That is the plan anyway!  I don’t plan to use this lens with colour film shot wide open as I think it will be too soft.

Sample images coming soon!

Harriett & Ashley

Harriett & Ashley – Stylised engagement session in Coventry using a 1950s Leica M2 film camera, a Fuji GS645 film camera and my digital Leica M9. Photo show the film wedding photography style I plan to offer for 2015. I use a range of 35mm film, medium format film and large format film cameras in addition to Leica digital.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/14774898268

LeicaWeddingPhotographer

Vintage Engagement: Harriett & Ashley

http://www.MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk / www.MrLeica.com

Coventry Wedding Photographer – Location Shoot

Engagement Session, Coventry

As a Coventry wedding photographer that offers analogue film wedding photography and digital images, I like nothing bettter than engagement sessions. Here is another stylised engagement shoot in Coventry with models Harriett and Ashley. They are not a couple but work well together and it is then my job to then make it all look realistic.  All photos are 100% posed and directed by me yet they hopefully come across as natural.

For the e-session I used three cameras, two analogue film cameras, 1950s Leica M2 + 1980s Fuji GS645, and my digital Leica M9.  Colour photos are film and black and white ones are digital.  I love the look of film and I think the softer images and colours really suit wedding photography and engagements sessions.  The film photos below are in…

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