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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Leica M6 vs Hasselblad 501c!

Leica M6 vs Hasselblad 501C (+ vs Leica M8)

(..or 35mm film vs medium format film)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
March 2016

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

Hasselblad vs Leica
Hasselblad 501C
Hasselblad 501C in the Studio
Hasselblad Portrait
6x6

Leica M6 + 35mm Ilford Pan F 50 Film

35mm Ilford Pan F 50 film
Leica M6 + Ilford Pan F 50
Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO + Film
Ilford Pan F 50 Fashion
Leica M6 Fashion
Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 + SOOKY-M
Ilford Pan F 50 Film Portrait
Leica M6 Portrait

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 M8 Loveliness!
Leica M8 B&W

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! 🙂

Leica M3 & Ukraine Girls 2015

Leica M3 & Ukraine Girls 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
November 2015

Leica M3 + Kodak Portra Fashion

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 + Ilford Pan F 50
Window Light Portrait
Ukraine Agency Model
Ukraine Model Fashion
Ukraine Agency Model
Delta 100 in Xtol
Leica Summicron DR
Top of the World
Kentmere 100 film
Ukraine Fashion Model
Ilford Pan F 50 Classic Portrait
Ukraine Photoshoot
Start of the film
https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/21381005359

Leica M3 Models, Ukraine – September 2015
Ukraine Model Photography
Ukraine Girl
Leica M3 Ukraine
Leica M3 Ukraine
Film Boudoir Photography
Leica M3 Tri-X Portrait
Ukraine Model Photography
Agfa Vista Film Fashion
Agfa Vista Film Fashion
https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/22733088089

A big thanks to all the models featured here. Hope to see you again in 2016! 🙂

Related Links

Leica Summicron 50mm f2

Leica Summicron 50mm f2

Here are some examples images using my Leica M9:

Leica Portraits

Leica Cron 50
Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5
Summicron 50
Leica Summicron 50mm f2
Leica Summicron

Other Example Photos

Merry Christmas!

Leica Summicron 50/2

Leica Summicron 50mm f2

Leica Film

Leica Summicron 50 vs Leica Summilux ASPH 50 vs Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50

Thoughts so far ..

The Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 (“Cron”) is fast becoming my go-to 50mm Leica M mount lens.  It focuses closer than the Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 C (Cron = ~0.68M / ZM 0.9M) and is lighter and smaller than the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 (“Lux”) lens.  The Lux can be quite clinical in it’s rendering whereas I think the Cron is closer to the Sonnar with more character.    Plenty more testing to be done with each lens but those are my initial findings.

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – UK Leica Photographer

Rekated Posts

Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50/1.5