1 Camera (M240) + 1 Slow Lens

1 Camera (M240) + 1 Slow Lens

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2016

Hamburg Agency Model

Broken Leica M240

Last December I was shooting with my Leica M240 in Poland only to find it was misfocusing and needed recalibrating.  The weeks past but I always had a need for my main workhorse camera, the Leica M240 so couldn’t part with it. I found if I used a 35mm lens and shot it at f4 I had sufficient depth to focus and get my subject sharp. As such the tiny Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 pancake lens became my do everything lens, every model photography trip and every Leica wedding photography shoot.

Fast Lenses

If you have seen my previous photography you may have noticed I love fast lenses, from my early Nikon days using lenses like the Samyang 85mm f1.4, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-S and Nikkor 200mm f2 Ai-S to some of my Leica-M mount lenses such as the Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5, Leica  Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH and of course the mighty Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0. All those lenses shot wide open kind of dissolve the background to leave just the subject to catch the eye in the photo.  You can pretty much shoot anything anywhere with a fast lens and it looks good and the look can’t be replicated with an iPhone.

To go from that way of shooting to suddenly having to shoot at f4 on a 35mm lens with most things in the photo in focus was a bit of a shock. I had to make ‘cool’ photos with everything in the photo in focus (or at least visible).  Hmm!

Learning to shoot without shallow DOF

I found shooting with most things in focus helped me concentrate on trying to use better or more interesting light, stronger or different compositions and alternative camera angles in addition to working more closely with the models to try to fine tune their pose, look or expression. I am certainly far more picky now and often assist with applying makeup or styling suggestions to help try to make a stronger final image in camera. For a time I used the M240 for test shots then either shot the final image on film with say the Leica M6 or Hasselblad 501C or more recently warmed the model up with the Leica M240 then switched to the digital Hasselblad H3D-31.

Leica Germany Repair

I managed to finally send my Leica M240 off to the Leica Germany engineers for recalibration at the end of July 2016 and the camera was back with me in August looking literally brand new. I’m 99% sure it received more than just a recalibration and all under the Leica warranty scheme. I cannot speak highly enough of the Leica customer service and you certainly get what you pay for with Leica (in my experience).

What did I Learn?

I now have the novelty factor of being able to shoot fast lenses again on the Leica M240.  I can also shoot a range of longer focal lengths again, 50mm, 75mm, 90mm and so on. Before the period of shooting with just a 35mm lens I regarded myself as a 50mm man. Coming out the other side I would say I’m probably equally 35mm or 50mm biased and do find 75mm and 90mm quite limiting with their tighter crop for regular use. Equally during my Leica Noctilux phase I shot everything at f1 regardless as to whether it was a flat brick wall or something against a distant backdrop.  Shooting this week with the Noctilux I am shooting perhaps ‘smarter’ in that if a model is against a wall I might stop the lens down to f2 to improve the sharpness or if a subject is further away I might shoot at f1.4 to get a slightly crisper photo than just everything very soft.  It is a battle of styles as I love super sharp such as the Hasselblad Zeiss 120mm Macro-Planar CF lens or the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO but also love pleasing bokeh and the painterly feel of say the Noctilux or Pre-ASPH Leica Summicron 90mm f2 shot wide open. It’s a balance and depends on the subject too.

Conclusion

It not ideal to have a semi-function main workhorse camera (or any camera to that matter!) but I don’t think it did me any harm overall.  That said it is nice to be able to use all my Leica M mount lenses again. 🙂

Here are a few recent example images with the Leica M240 and Voigtlander 35mm f2.5 Color Skopar in Hamburg, Germany

Calvin Klein Shoot

Hamburg

Runway Model

Agency model

 

Many more example images in my last Leica M240 post

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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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Ukraine Models 2016

Ukraine Models 2016

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

May 2016

Trip

I organized another model photography trip to Uzhgorod, Ukraine to catchup with model friends and hopefully also meet some new ones. After recently visiting Poland to shoot with the model agencies I had some ideas of what cameras I may like to take for this trip. I take only hand luggage on all my trips so it depends on the airline as to how much camera gear I can pack. For Poland I had a backpack and my small Billingham Hadley Digital bag so took 4 cameras, a strobe and a compact travel tripod to use as light stand. For Ukraine I only have the backpack.

Cameras

I took my newly purchased Mamiya 6 to Poland as it is smaller than the Hasselblad 501C.  I packed the Leica M 240 for digital and brought the Leica M6 to shoot more film.  I selected the Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens for its size, sharpness and lack of flare.  The Leica Summicron 50 f2 v5 flares too much for me so I left that at home and instead of packing the slightly larger Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 went one ‘better’ and brought the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO.  The 75 APO is my sharpest Leica M lens and maybe sharpest any lens and it lets me focus closer than nearly all standard Leica M lenses in terms of magnification.  Another camera I considered was my old Nikon FM plus Voigtlander 40mm f2 pancake lens but in the end I chose the M6. In addition to all of that I squeezed in my Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 collapsible lens and a speedlight (+ reflector). No tripod though.

Film

I currently favour 120 Fomapan 100 black and white film for my medium format cameras but I thought I better use up some existing film in the fridge before buying more Foma.  As such I packed mostly Kodak Tri-X 400 film plus a few different rolls to use up. For 35mm film I wanted to shoot more colour so brought along some Kodak Portra 400, Fujicolor C200 and for black and white 35mm Fomapan 100.

One thing I like about Fomapan 100 is I can shoot it at ISO 50-400 and develop as if at ISO 100.  I can also push Foma to 800 easily without any real issues. If I am planning to shoot ISO 50-400 I would go for Foma. For ISO 400-800-1600 range I would use Tri-X 400.  The weather for the trip was forecast unsettled so Tri-X might be the right choice.

Leica Fashion

Model Shoots

I like to make the most of my model photography trips overseas so managed to shoot 17 girls in 3.5 days shooting 9:00-21:00 back to back.  I worked with the local model agency, One Models, who kindly provided a few models that were available and not out on contract overseas. I also worked with some of the girls I knew from previous trips and also a few new faces, friends of friends.

The weather was not as kind as I would have liked (for the time of year) and we had a fair bit of rain.  As such I did more photoshoots inside the hotel than I planned to so I had to think a bit more.  The speedlight was a life saver in the low light conditions and I used it for the majority of the photos.  I do tend to favour using lights for most of my model photography and I think adding light can sometimes make a photo look more like a fashion photo which I like.  The speedlight helped me keep my ISO at 100-400 for almost all photos and I also had the lenses stopped down.  The biggest limitation was the flash sync speed of the Leica M6 of 1/50.  I noted on the film scans for a shoot we did outside in the rain that there was motion blur as the models were moving more than I noticed.  The Mamiya 6 has a max flash sync speed of 1/500  so that had no issues.

As I had no light stand or tripod I had to handhold the speedlight for the majority of the photos.  This is not ideal as it is difficult to exactly replicate the same light when swapping between cameras (digital and film) but better than nothing (for my taste). I didn’t use the reflector at all so may leave it behind next time.

Light and Shadow

Camera Performance

Leica M 240

I noticed my Leica M 240 needs the rangefinder recalibrating again (the second time) so I was shooting 99% with the 35mm Voigtlander Color Skopar lens stopped down a little.  I did use the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO for a few photos but I focused with the LCD.  The mis-calibrated rangefinder was less of an issue than it may sound as my current style is favouring lenses stopped down to match the film cameras for easy alignment of settings.  I shoot digital with ISO, aperture and shutter to match the film camera then when the model looks good I switch to film cameras. I have some nice Sekonic light meters but find at the moment I am not using them.  When using strobes I like to see the digital preview of the light prior to shooting film.  With daylight I would be happy to meter once then shoot film without chimping on the digital LCD.

Excluding the recalibration issue, the Leica M 240 is on good form and I love it more and more each day.  I would still say the Leica M9 and Leica M8 make better B&W photos (more filmic) but the M240 is no slouch and I am getting good results both B&W and colour.

Ukrainian Model
Go Green!
Leica M Fashion

Leica M6

As mentioned the Leica M6 max flash sync speed of 1/50 is a killer for strobist work.  It is just too slow unless used in very controlled conditions.  I did get some nice black and white film scans but I also lost a few due to model motion blur outside.  The Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO pretty much lived on the M6 but strangely I found it too tight for my current taste on location.  I was loving the 35mm focal length on the M240.  I might take two 35mm lenses next time to match the view for easy composition across the two Leica cameras.

Black and White Fashion Photography
Leica M6 Portrait

Mamiya 6

After getting some quite nice results in Poland using the Mamiya 6 medium format 6×6 rangefinder camera, I was excited to see what I could do in Ukraine. (Poland photos still to come when i’ve edited a few more).  I am enjoying the size of the Mamiya 6 camera very much and it is very easy to carry it in my little Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag together with one complete Leica M camera or 2 Leica M bodies and 2 Leica M lenses packed down. I still have my Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6 post to write but in the meantime it is safe to say the Mamiya 6 is a keeper.  I still only have one lens, the 75mm which I like due to it’s smaller size and lighter weight (vs. 50mm and 150mm lenses) and the focal length.  That said I would like to use a Mamiya 6 50mm f4 G lens if I see one for sale at a reasonable price.  I think the wider view would be great for film wedding photography to capture a wider scene.

Film Fashion
Mamiya 6 Fashion

Ukrainian Models

I have been travelling to Ukraine for quite a few years now and I must say the level and quality of modelling from the girls this time is the best to date. The resulting photos may have been helped a little by me not having any majority camera issues (unlike previous trips) and being armed with more photography knowledge and experience.  In addition to that, I meet more and more models each visit so every follow up visit I pick the best of the best to maximise the chance of making photos I will like.  I always try to better my best work with every shoot and although it may not always be possible it keeps me fired up and as keen as ever.

As with all my trips, a huge thank you to all the models I worked with, to One Model agency and to the makeup girls where applicable.  I didn’t experience a single cancellation so that was a real breath of fresh air compared to the usual UK (and now Poland) high cancellation rates of 50-60% plus.  Big big thanks!

I have started to develop and scan some of the black and white film but the colour film is still to follow.

Thanks!

Leica M240

 

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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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Fuji GF670 Portraits

Fuji GF670 Portraits

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

Leica M9 vs. Fuji GF670!

(Fuji GF670 vs Leica M9 + Noctilux)

I originally bought my medium format film (6×6 / 6×7) Fuji GF670 Pro (aka “Voigtlander Bessa III”) folding camera to assist my Leica M cameras. I wanted a medium format rangefinder that was both compact and capable to fit in my hand luggage for photography trips away, whether model photography / fashion, wedding photography or travelling.  Since then I have bought several other medium format cameras including my Mamiya 645 Super and Rolleiflex SL66E.  My main photography interest is portraiture so I was uncertain that the Fuji GF670 rangefinder would tick all my boxes.  Rangefinders are not known for close focusing, fast lenses or a shallow depth of field.  Nine months on and I have used the Fuji GF670 for wedding photography, travel and fashion / portraiture. Here are some sample images (some you may have seen before on other posts):

Fuji GF670 Portraits / Fashion

Fuji GF670 6x6

Fuji GF670 Folding Camera

Fuji GF670 + 1:2 Xtol Dilution

Medium Format Rangefinder - Fuji GF670

Fuji GF670 B&W Portrait

Fuji GF670 Pro 6x7 Portrait

Fuji GF670 Portrait

Fuji GF670 + Rodinal 1:200

Fuji GF670 Portrait

Fuji GF670 6x6 B&W

6x6 B&W Film Portrait

Fuji GF670 Medium Format Rangefinder

Fuji GF670 B&W Portrait

GF670 Kodak Moment

GF670 + Ilford XP2 400

GF670 + Ilford film XP2

FUJI GF670 Analogue Rangefinder

Fuji GF670 / Voigtlander Bessa III

Fuji GF670 Pro Folding Camera

Fuji GF670 Pro - XP2 400 Portrait

Fuji GF670 + Portra Portrait

Fuji GF670 Film Portrait

#FilmIsNotDead

Fuji GF670 Rangefinder

Fuji GF670 Wedding Photography

Warwick Wedding Venue - The Saxon Mill

Coventry Wedding Photographer - Film

Coventry Wedding Venue - The Saxon Mill

Fuji GF670 Travel Camera

Fuji GF670 Travel Camera

Fuji GF670 Rangefinder

Fuji GF670 - Soller, Majorca

Fuji GF670 6x6

So can the Fuji GF670 match the likes of the Mamiya RZ67, Mamiya 645 Super, Rolleiflex SL66E or even the Leica M cameras for portraits?

Yes and no.  The Fuji GF670 will of course not let me focus as close as my other medium format cameras, being a rangefinder (0.9m close focus) so I am never going to be able to achieve the dreamy look of say Contax 645 portraits.  That said, the lens is sharp, very sharp and it is capable of taking strong photos.  I just need to think more before taking an image.  Hopefully you will see a ‘slight’ improvement with the photos at the top of the portrait list vs those lower down.  A nice model alone is not enough to make a good photo with this camera.  Nice clothes and a good pose in a pretty place is not enough.  I need to really consider strong lighting, composition, background detail and have the help of a great model.  Put those all together and we start to see better results.

You may say I need all those components for every image? 

Again, yes and no.  With close focus lenses (even on the the Leica M cameras) the model can be pretty much anywhere in any light with any background and no experience and with a little direction and a shallow depth of field I can pretty much always get a nice image.  I didn’t realise how much I rely on a shallow DOF until I no longer have it!

I guess it is a bit like getting used to a 50mm f1 Leica Noctilux lens or perhaps an 85mm f1.4 lens for a DSLR camera and then being given a standard f3.5-f5.6 kit lens and someone saying go take some nice photos.  As I normally shoot portraits and weddings at f1-f1.2-f1.4-f2 I have to start approaching my photography differently with the GF670.  It is not a bad thing and hopefully it will result in me becoming a better photographer but it needs to be considered.

The Fuji GF670 camera itself seems well built and has an almost unnervingly near silent shutter sound to the extent that if there is any background noise you don’t know if you have taken the photo or not!  Great for quiet wedding photography photos in a church but I must admit I much prefer the big clunk of the larger camera shutters.  The Fuji rangfinder is OK.  I am spoilt with my Leica M3 rangefinder so in comparison everything else seems poor.  The GF670 rangefinder is not up to Leica standards so accurate focusing wide open and up close is not as easy as I would like / am used to. Stopped down a little the GF670 lens goes from sharp to crazy sharp and has a very modern look (I think).  I now need to use the camera to it’s strengths and see what I can get from the Fuji GF670.  I have just ordered some super fine grain 120 Ilford Pan F 50 film and have some 120 Fuji Velvia 50 film to try.  Coming soon!

Matt

See here my analysis and thought process before buying the Fuji GF670 (plus more technical info) – LINK

,,,

CineStill 800 T Film Portraits

CineStill 800 T Film Portraits

MATTHEW OSBORNE PHOTOGRAPHY – “MR LEICA”

A quick recap of why I treated myself to a few rolls of 35mm CineStill 800 Tungsten film..

CineStill Xpro C-41 ISO 800 Tungsten 135/36

Firstly CineStill 800 T film is balanced for 3200K tungsten light so gives useable photos under this type of 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.

I took a few rolls of 35mm CineStill film with me on a recent trip to Poland to shoot on location with some of the Malva Model agency models based in Sopot.  I shot one roll with my Leica M3 film camera + Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens and another in the Leica M2 camera + Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens. For daylight shooting I metered at ISO 400-500 and used a 85B filter for colour correction.  For the late evening I metered at ISo 800 and for all the night photos I also metered at ISO 800.  I was interested to test the CineStill 800T under various light conditions, midday daylight, dusk, indoor tungsten room light, flurescent lighting, street lights and mixed lighting.

I shot with various models including Agnieszka, Teresa, Vicky, Karolina and Max that I shot on 35mm CineStill film.  Here are a few of the photos.  All images lab developed and scanned with an Epson v800 scanner.  Not all photos were scanned at the same time and some photos scanned discoloured so I had to try to correct the colour in post.  A few images were converted to black and white as I thought the colours didn’t add to the image.

CineStill 800 T + 85B Filter in Daylight (5500k) @ ISo 400/500

Facebook Cover Photo

CineStill 800T Daylight

Window Light

Cinestill 800 T - Daylight

CineStill 800 Daylight Portrait

CineStill 800 + 85B Daylight Portrait

CineStill 800T in the Snow

Leica M3 + Cinestill Film

CineStill 800T Fashion Photography

CineStill 800 Tungsten balanced film

35mm CineStill 800 T

CineStill 800T - Window Light

Leica M2 + CineStill Portrait

CineStill film - B&W

35mm CineStill B&W

Cinestill B&W

CineStill 800 T + 85B Filter in last of Daylight (5500k) @ ISo 800

CineStill 800T Colours - Portrait

CineStill 800T + 85B Filter

Voigtlander Nokton 35mm Vignetting

35mm CineStill 800T in Daylight

CineStill 800 Tungsten - in Daylight

CineStill 800 T + in Tungsten light (3200k) @ ISo 800

CineStill 800 Tungsten

CineStill + Leica M3

CineStill 800T Film

35mm CineStill 800 T film

CineStill 800 T + at Night with street lights (3200k) @ ISo 800

CineStill 800T Tungsten Light

CineStill 800T at Night

Cinestill 800T Colours

CineStill 800 Tungsten - Night Shoot

CineStill 800 T Night Shoot

Conclusion

I had high hopes for the CineStill 800T film but the resulting images exceeded all my expectations. I love the colours and tones and the fact that you can shoot a single roll at ISO 200-1250 in varying light conditions and it still gives great results.  I will definitely add it to my wedding film photography bag!

CineStill Xpro C-41 ISO 50 Daylight 135/36

I am looking forward to trying 35mm CineStill 50 Daylight film next with my Leica film cameras.  I think with my Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens wide open on the Leica M3 camera.  I also really hope the Brothers Wright get sufficient funding to start producing 120 CineStill 800 Tungsten film so I can use it in my medium format film cameras like my Mamiya RZ 67 and Mamiya 645 Super (plus also in my 120 roll film back for the 4×5 large format film Speed Graphic and Sinar F2!).

Related Post

CineStill 800 T – More Info

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

Ukraine

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 🙂

B Roll Photos – Saint Augustine

B Roll Photos – Saint Augustine, Florida
Matthew Osborne Photography
Leica M9 B&W JPEGs

After arriving in Saint Augustine, Florida after dark on Thursday, I went exploring on Friday to find the wedding venues for the wedding ceremony and wedding breakfast.  These were The Lightner Museum and Casa Monica Hotel respectively.  I went and spoke to the hotel staff and people in the museum to get more details and to introduce myself.  I knew the actual wedding ceremony would take place on the little bridge in the middle of the courtyard and I wanted to check possible camera angles and whether a 50mm focal length was long enough to get me close to the detail. I got some detail shots from each venue while I was there and then some of the surrounding town and buildings including Saint Augustine Fort.  The most used lens on my walkabout was the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5.  See a few sample images below shot with my digital Leica M9 and I will add the more wedding specific ones to the wedding blog post spread.

Related Posts

Posts still to come from my trip to Florida:

  • Marv & Paula’s Leica Wedding
  • Gun Culture
  • Lake Eola & Patience of a Saint
  • Dining at the Ritz

35mm Black & White Film Photography

35mm Black & White Film Photography
Leica Photographer

35mm Black & White Film Photography

Good news! I am back shooting 35mm film photography after my recent purchase of a 1958 Leica M2 film camera. I already had a Voigtlander Bessa R3A but the shutter has jammed so I decided to treat myself to a Leica film camera. I love my Leica digital cameras (M8 and Leica M9) but the older Leica M2 has exceeded all expectations.

As the Voigtlander Bessa had jammed mid roll of film I decided to rewind the film in camera then load it into my Leica M2. I then fired off 15 shots with the lens cap on to advance the film (the Leica M2 film advance lever motion is to die for!). I then fired off some shots around the house to finish the film and to check the M2 was operating aswell as it felt in my hand.

As I still had a roll of undeveloped film from last year in the fridge, I decided to develop both rolls of film at the same time. Both film spools were 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 exposed at ISO200. I developed my black and white film in a Paterson tank using semi-stand development and Rodinal + water. My thermometer was not working so I just used a temperature that was warm to the touch. Luckily film is very forgiving! I stood the film for 35mins and then checked the results after fixing. All good. Both rolls of film were exposed correctly. Phew!

Here are a few samples of the negatives I have scanned so far

Voigtlander Bessa R3A + CV Nokton 40mm f1.4
– Monika
Kodak T-Max 100

Leica M2 Test Shots (Please excuse the subjects!)
M2 + CV Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii
Leica M2 Film!
Leica M2 Test Shot

I will try to add more photos to this post as I scan them.

There will be plenty of new Leica M2 film photography example images coming soon. It really is a beautiful camera and my new favourite to operate of all my cameras. (Examples will include me using the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens on the Bessa R3A in London that can be compared to the Leica M9 B&W images).

(The header image was shot in Edinburgh in 2013 with model Emma using the Bessa R3A + CV Nokton 40mm f1.4)

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – UK Leica Photographer

Compact Voigtlander Primes Trio

Compact Voigtlander Primes Trio – 40/1.4, 35/2.5 & 15/4.5
Leica Photographer – Matthew Osborne Photography

Compact Voigtlander Primes Trio

As a Leica Photographer I have learnt to appreciate the compact size of both the Leica cameras and some of the Leica mount lenses. Over the last six months I have gained quite a nice collection of Leica M mount primes from the likes of Leica, Zeiss and Voigtlander. I have some of the well known great lenses such as the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 but also some less well known ones such as those made by Voigtlander. I recently travelled to London where I would be shooting street model / fashion photography in daylight and at night and candid Leica street photography, again during the day and at night. I wanted to take two Leica camera bodies with me to be safe (in case one failed) so I packed my Leica M9 and Leica M8. i then wanted compact lenses to cover my needs. Of all my lenses I chose three to take in my Leica camera bag. They were all made by the same company, Voigtlander.

My lens choice
Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 ii – Super compact pancake lens for street photography
Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 – Compact and perfect for portraits and low light photography
Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5 – Wide angle for environmental street photography showing the people in their surroundings

My Ona camera bag still had space and I wanted to take a film camera. I packed a Nikon FM SLR with a Rollei Planar 50mm f1.8 lens attached. The Nikon FM did well but I lusted after Leica film. When I got home I ordered a 1958 Leica M2 35mm film camera. My camera bag is now complete. Three camera bodies covering film photography and digital photography (Leica M2, M8, M9) and three compact lenses covering all I need (15f4.5, 35f2.5, 40f1.4).

Here are some sample images from my day in London using the aforementioned equipment –

Leica M9 + CV Nokton 40mm f1.4
St. Paul's Cathedral
Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4

Leica M9 + CV Skopar 35mm f2.5 ii
London Photography Workshop
St. Paul's
London strobist workshop
Leica M9 Street Photography

Leica M8 + CV Skopar 35mm f2.5 ii
Model Photography

Leica M9 + CV 15mm f4.5 Heliar
London Street Photography (2)

I am really looking forward to shooting 35mm film photography with the beautifully crafted Leica M2 on my next outing. A full review of my 1958 Leica M2 film camera to follow once I have example images.

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer