Leica M Cameras – All I Need

Leica M Cameras  – All I Need…?

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

January 2017

Camera Porn!

Keeping it Interesting

After returning from my Budapest model photography trip earlier this week I have been trying to think what other cameras I can take on my next overseas photo shoot to try to produce more interesting or different looking images to my recent photos.  I often shoot with a 35mm lens on my Leica M cameras whether the digital Leica M 240 or the Leica M film cameras.  (I write ‘Leica M’ camera / lenses as the Leica R camera is an SLR camera system rather than a rangefinder camera so different ‘rules’ apply).

Alternative Film Cameras

I often complain that I can’t focus as close as I would like to for my model portrait photos so I was thinking of cameras that can get nearer than the 0.7m Leica rangefinder standard minimal focal distance.  Other ways to create different photos to my usual view of the world might be to use a very shallow depth of field or perhaps use a longer lenses to get more compression in the photographs.  (I have done all of these things before but less and less over the last 12-18 months).

I still love my Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera and in my mind it has captured some of my high quality film photos but it currently needs a little TLC so I don’t really want to take it overseas until it’s repaired. I then have various other very good cameras in their own right such as the Mamiya RZ67, Mamiya 6, Fuji GF670, Fuji GA645, Hasselblad Xpan, Nikon F4, Mamiya 645 but when doing a quick comparison they all have some drawback vs. the Leica M camera system.  I then tried to think what each of these cameras offer compared to a Leica M camera setup and other than the film format (film size; 35mm vs. 645 vs. 6×6 vs. 6×7) the differences were minimal (in simplified terms*).

Different Lens Characteristics

I made a list of lens characteristics I see as positives from a camera/lens combination for my model photography and taste and then listed some potential Leica M mount lenses I use for each characteristic (non-scientific and my opinion only*)(I just listed the most obvious choice to me but many lenses could fit many lists*).  I use these lenses on any of my Leica M film camera such as a Leica M2, M3, M4-P, M6 etc.  (I state ‘film cameras’ as I want to compare Leica film to non-Leica film.  I am not too interested in digital photography but as I use a Leica M 240 digital camera the same list applies to my digital work).

Leica M Mount Lenses

  • Shallow depth of field

  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2
  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Leica M9 + Noctilux f1

  • Wide angle lens

  • Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5
  • Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8
  • Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8
  • Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 ASPH

Leica Street Portrait

 

Close focus ability (for tight headshots)(visually not in mm*)

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 + SOOKY-M (close focus goggles)
  • Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR (Dual Range) + close focus goggles
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Summer Love

  • Sharpest image quality

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Portrait Photography Workshop, London

  • Crisp contrasty modern look

  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Summilux ASPH 50

  • Soft glow vintage look

  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

Leica M8 B&W Portrait

  • Small compact lens size

  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5

Leica Fashion

  • Fast lens with wide aperture for low light

  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0

Noctilux - After Dark

  • Unique lens characteristics

  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0

Street Portrait

  • Compressed image style

  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Leica Elmar 135mm f4

  • Low cost lens (In Leica M mount terms)

  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4
  • Industar 26M 52mm f2.8
  • Jupiter 3 50mm f1.5
  • Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Leica M9 + Industar 26M 52mm f2.8

  •  Highest resolution images – Fine grain film stock

  • Ilford Pan F5o
  • Ilford Delta 100
  • Kodak Vision3 50D / Cinestill 50D

Leica M6 + Ilford Pan F 50

Image Resolution

For film cameras the equivalent of a high mega pixel digital sensor is fine grain films which play a huge part in the final look of a film photo no matter what lens is used.  As an example here is a half frame film scan from a Olympus Pen-F SLR camera.  Half frame means half the size of a normal 35mm Leica film negative.

Olympus Pen-F Fashion

As these photos are half the resolution of a Leica M camera photo (in terms of film negative size scanned) then with fine grain film and a sharp lens there is great potential to capture very detailed film photos without the need of a medium format camera.

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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! 🙂