Tag Archives: BW

Leica M3 (1959) – Part 2

While using the borrowed 50mm 5cm Summicron-M f/2.0 (Rigid/2nd version) (1956), I decided that I really needed to purchase my own lens. Having just spent what I think is a considerable amount on the M3 body, I wanted to limit my lens purchase to something more affordable. Searching for an M-Mount lens on eBay led me to this lens, followed by some research, and a week of careful consideration.

The 7artisans f/1.1 50mm is a new lens made in China. According to the 7artisans website, a group of seven Chinese camera enthusiasts, having various professional backgrounds, came together to create this new lens. The 50mm lens is a Leica M-Mount and has an aperture range from f/1.1 to f/16. It has 12 aperture blades, and 7 elements in 6 groups. The lens itself is a heavy piece of glass and aluminum, with a copper core. It weighs nearly 14 ounces, so slightly less than 1 lb.

As I was doing some research on this lens, I wanted to see actual images taken with a Leica camera. However, all I could find were digital photos taken with Sony cameras. I determined that Sony users are the perfect market for an affordable prime 50mm f/1.1 lens. I found this review by Hamish Gill on 35mmc.com, where he used the lens on a Sony body. And then found this review by Emulsive, where he used the f2 version of the lens on a Leica film camera. Note/opinion: the f/2 50mm has a better review because the f/1.1 tested was a pre-production model.

The shots below are my initial results with the Leica M3. Being a Leica newbie, I must have done something very wrong because the first half of this roll did not come out. Overall, this is a solid lens. The build quality is good. The aperture and focus are smooth and easy to use. Unfortunately, a focus tab is not built on to this lens. They ship a rubber tab that you can stick to the lens barrel if you want, not ideal. The optical quality is what I would expect for the price. I expected the lens to be soft when it’s open at f/1.1, but was surprised by a few shots. The thin slice of focus is nice, but hard to achieve. And really, how often do you need something at f/1.1? This lens is also shipped with a focus sheet and some instructions on how to adjust the focus. Something I don’t think I’d attempt to mess with.

I spent a week in New York with the M3 and the 7artisan 50mm f/1.1. After a while, my biggest complaint became the weight. The 50mm Summicron-M would have been a better choice. Or anything smaller and lighter for that matter. Walking 7 to 14 miles in and around the city made me reconsider the choice I’d made. There were three days I left the camera behind. I’ll be sharing some photos of New York in the coming weeks.

Camera: Leica M3 (1959)
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono 100
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 10:00 @ 20c
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 

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Leica M3 (1959) – Part 1

Over the past few years of buying and shooting vintage cameras, there’s one camera I never thought I’d actually own, and that’s a Leica. Why? A Leica always seemed like a “bucket list camera.” Nice to look at, but too expensive to own. Of course, I had to ask myself, do they live up to the hype? Or do photographers tell themselves they are outstanding cameras to justify spending the money?

About a year ago, my friend Scott Smith purchased this M3 from our mutual friend, Maurice Greeson, who is a Leica collector and expert on all things Leica. Scott decided that after purchasing an M6, he wasn’t using this M3 as much as he used to. It was a hard decision for Scott to sell me the M3 because it’s in beautiful condition, and Maurice had taken excellent care of it. In a small way, I had to convince Scott to sell it to me. However, with all Leica camera owners, I consider myself the “current possessor” of this camera. The build quality will outlive me or any of its future owners. And as a side note, I’ve promised both Scott and Maurice visitation privileges as long as I have the camera.

Leica M3 (1959)

Production of the M3 began in 1954 and was the transition point for Leitz to move from screw-mount lenses to the updated Leica M Mount. The M Mount was able to give new M-series cameras a single viewfinder/rangefinder window. The M3 features a coupled rangefinder with an incredibly bright viewfinder, and a focal plane shutter with speeds from 1 to 1/1000th second. Early models of the M3 had a two-throw film advance, meaning you had to move the film advance lever twice to move the film to the next frame. And those early models also had German-based shutter speeds of 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, etc. This M3 is a single-throw model and came with a Leicameter MR.

Several version of Leicameter’s were made starting in 1951. The MR was manufactured from 1965-1967 and has CdS cell behind a small lens. The meter mounts to the flash shoe on the camera and is coupled with the shutter dial. A meter reading is taken by pressing the needle release button for 2 seconds, then using the channel scale, you know where to set the correct lens aperture.

When I initially purchased the M3, I didn’t have a lens. Maurice loaned me his 5cm f/2.0 Summicron-M (1956). This lens is the second version of the Summicron 5cm and is a rigid lens, meaning it doesn’t collapse like the original. The updated lens increased the distance between the front lens elements. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of this lens on the camera. All the photos below were shot with the 5cm f/2.0 Summicron-M lens, making this part one of a two-part post. In the next post, I’ll share some images taken with the M3 and the new 7 Artisan’s 50mm f/1.1 lens.

Overall, I’m very happy to have an M3. A few friends have joked with me about becoming a Leica snob, or professing the “Leica lifestyle.” It’s been an ongoing joke with me and Mike Williams. I don’t see myself becoming obsessed with Leica gear. I may have champagne taste, but I’m always on a PBR budget. I’ve never used a rangefinder that has such a big, bright, viewfinder. That’s probably my favorite thing about Leica cameras. And the camera is so quiet to operate, you almost don’t hear the shutter click. And again, I could go on-and-on about the build quality of this camera because it is incredible.

Camera: Leica M3 (1959)
Lens: 50mm 5cm Summicron-M f/2/0 (Rigid/2nd version) (1956)
Film: Kodak Tri-X 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 9:45 @ 20c
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 


Hasselblad 501CM (1997)

Over Memorial Day weekend last month, I rented a Hasselblad 501CM kit from Acme Camera in Sugarhouse, Utah. The camera itself is a medium format SLR and came with an 80mm Planar CFE 2.8 T* lens. The 4lb camera shoots 6×6 images on 120 film and features a leaf shutter with speeds from 1 – 1/500th of a second and bulb mode. The Gliding Mirror System in the body provides you with a full view of your image in the waist level viewfinder, and it’s incredible! It’s bright and clear from edge-to-edge. All of these images were shot on Ultrafine Xtreme 400, a film from Photo Warehouse. I used my Gossen Luna Pro S to meter the light. If I ever decide to buy a Hasselblad, I would want a pentaprism viewfinder with built-in meter. The slap of the mirror when firing the shutter is an incredible sound on this camera. And because this camera is a single-piece, cast aluminum body, it simply feels like a piece of professional gear in your hands. Overall, this camera was enjoyable to use. I’m still undecided on the Ultrafine Xtreme 120 film. It seems a bit grainy compared to other medium format ISO 400 black and white films. Even when trying to darken or lighten the images in Photoshop, I’m not really satisfied.

Some of these photos were part of a family day trip to two ghost towns in Utah. The trip was inspired by Jennifer Jones at The Dead History. The first ghost town we visited was Thistle, Utah, where a large landslide in 1983 blocked the Spanish Fork River. This caused water to engulf the town within 2 days. People moved away and the town was deserted. The next ghost town we visited was Spring Canyon, outside of Helper, Utah, where a town was established in 1912. The main purpose was to mine coal, and they were successful from 1924 – 1942. In 1969, the town was abandoned. Many of the homes and buildings have been torn down, with the exception of the main mining building, where coal still sits in a large bin.

Camera: Hasselblad 501CM
Film: Ultrafine Xtreme 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 14:00 @ 20c
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 


The Negative Positives Double-Exposure Film Exchange

After being a guest on The Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast with Mike and Andre, I offered to help with a double-exposure film exchange. The idea behind a double-exposure film exchange is that one photographer shoots a roll of film, rewinds the film, and then sends it to someone else, who then shoots on the same roll. Listeners of the podcast signed up via a Google form and filled out their preferences to shoot black & white, color, etc. The resulting shots can be anything from artistic to crazy.

The response to the exchange was fantastic, being that it was the first time. Forty-two photographers from around the world signed up, shooting a total of twenty-one rolls of film. Some listeners were so enthusiastic to shoot and share that they signed up twice.

My partner for the Negative Positives Double-Exposure Film Exchange was Dan Cottle from Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Dan provided a roll of Ilford HP5+ black & white film, and shot the roll around his city, including Cadbury World where they produce some of the world’s best chocolate. Dan was even kind enough to send a Cadbury Egg to me with the exposed roll of film, which my wife promptly enjoyed.

After receiving the roll of film from Dan, I set out and exposed it a second time around my part of the world in Utah. Many of my shots included the Utah State Railroad Museum and the Hill Aerospace Museum. While Dan and I planned to line up our shots in the camera, it didn’t quite work out as planned. And from others in The Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast Facebook Group, their intentions were the same.

This film roll exchange was a great way to become acquainted with another film photographer. It was also a good exercise at some abstract previsualization. We didn’t set any rules and had no grand expectations. However, our resulting images are interesting, mysterious, and creative.

Photographer #1
Dan Cottle
Birmingham, UK
Camera: Nikon FE

Photographer #2
Shaun Nelson
South Ogden, UT USA
Camera: Nikon F2

Film: Ilford HP5+ 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) @ 20° 13:00 Min
Scanned: Epson Perfection V600 Photo


Kosmo Foto

In 2017 Stephen Dowling, a Soviet camera aficionado, decided to release his own film called Kosmo Foto Mono. The 35mm film is a 100 ISO black and white stock that is a pre-existing emulsion from a European manufacturer. Since it’s release, there’s been a lot of buzz online about Kosmo Foto being a re-branded this-or-that, blah, blah, blah. Who cares! The majority of the online film community is very supportive and delighted to see a new film, and that’s what really matters.

After shooting my first roll, I consulted the development chart and found that Kodak D-76 was not listed. I remember Alex Luyckx talking about his experience with Kosmo Foto and developers on the Classic Camera Revival Podcast. A quick instant message to Alex on Facebook and he provided me with a developing time. Below are some of my favorite shots that show the impressive balanced contrast and grain. As a plus, this film lays perfectly flat for scanning. I’m looking forward to shooting and using more on this film stock.

Camera: Yashica Electro 35 GS (1970 – 1973)
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono – 100 ISO BW
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 9:00 @ 20° C, Kodak Indicator Stop Bath 1:00, Kodak Fixer 5:00, Kodak Photo-Flo 2:00.
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo


Konica Autoreflex TC

The Konica Autoreflex TC was manufactured and sold from 1976 to 1982. The body was lighter and smaller than previous Konica designs because the camera frame is metal, everything else is plastic. Looking at photos of the camera, you would never know that so much of this camera is plastic. It is however, very sturdy and well built. The Autoreflex features a metal focal plane shutter, shutter speeds of 1/8th – 1/1000th sec & bulb, an ISO range from 25 – 1600, split-image focusing on a microprism ring, and a CdS TTL light meter.

I found this camera in a local pawn shop for $10 and couldn’t pass it up. Why? Instead of the normal 50mm lens seen on most cameras of this age, it has a Hexanon AR 40mm f/1.8 pancake lens. This lens was typically sold with the Konica FS-1 and was eventually packaged with the TC. The lens is f/1.8 to 22 with auto exposure. With the light weight molded plastic body, and smaller lens design, the TC is a great camera for travel. The pancake lens has also achieved some recent popularity as an affordable sharp lens for Sony digital cameras with an adapter for photos and video.

I can see two problems in my images from this camera. One, this was one of my very first rolls in 2017 where I started to process all my own BW film in Kodak D-76. The negatives are spotty and have some residue on them. Second, the camera originally took two PX675 1.3v mercury batteries. I suspect using different batteries in the camera caused some meter discrepancies due to voltage differences.

Camera: Konica Autoreflex TC (1976 – 1982)
Film: FPP EDU 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo


Europe 2017 on Film

This year will always remain memorable because my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by taking a 3-week trip to Europe. We went with a small group and visited Italy, Switzerland, and France. I took three cameras: Canon 6D, Pentax K1000, and Olypus OM-1MD. I spent most days taking digital shots, but used the two film cameras for early morning walks and evening adventures. Trying not to pack around too much gear each day, I’d swap one of the two film cameras in and out of my bag. Many people have asked us, “What was your favorite place to visit?” There’s no way possible to answer that question. From day-to-day we kept thinking, “Wow, today was fantastic! It can’t get any better than this.” Only to be surprised by the sights and experiences we’d have the very next day.


Nikomat FTn

I found this Nikomat FTn at a local thrift store in October. After purchasing the camera, I searched through the bag it came in, and found that it was purchased in the Tokyo Airport in 1971 by a Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint) missionary returning home to Utah. The camera and lens are in excellent condition, and based on the film that was also in the bag, it likely hasn’t been used since the late 1980’s.

The Nikomat FTn was manufactured and sold by Nikon from 1967 to 1975 in Japan. The FTn was part of the Nikon F and F2 family and was based on the original Nikkomat FT that was commonly used by professional photographers. Nikon marketed the FTn to the consumer and prosumer markets as a cost-effective alternative. The camera came with a card that reads: On the “Nikomat” camera name… The brand name of this camera “NIKOMAT” Is used for the cameras being sold in Japan, while “NIKKORMAT” for the export model only. There is, however, no difference at all between the two in specifications, functions and performance.”

It’s a fantastic camera with all the features and specs you might expect: ISO 12 – 1600, metal focal plane shutter with speeds from 1 sec to 1/1000th, bulb, TTL metering center-weighted average with a CdS cell powered by a 1.3v battery, visible meter in the viewfinder and the top of the camera body. The camera came with a Nikkor SC Auto f/1.4 50mm lens. While the FTn is built like a tank, it’s not as heavy as the Nikon F with FTn Viewfinder.

This is probably the first film camera I’ve reviewed on UTFP that I will be sharing almost the entire test roll. I’m not a “car guy,” but I do enjoy photographing car shows to mainly shoot the details. These images are from the annual Kulture Krash Car Show in Clearfield, Utah. I was accompanied by my friend, Baily, who was shooting film for the very first time. I’ll save that story for another day. For a review of the exported Nikkormat FTn, head over to Jim Grey’s site.

Camera: Nikon Nikomat FTn (1967 – 1975)
Film: Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo

 


Ferrania P30 Alpha

Olympus OM-1N MD (1979) & Ferrania P30 Alpha

The resurrection of Italy’s Film Ferrania from 2014 is an ongoing process. While preparing for full scale production of their 100 ASA color reversal film products, they’ve released an 80 ISO panchromatic black & white motion picture film for still photography. P30 is based on Ferrania’s high silver content film from the 1960’s. The film was released as an Alpha product in limited quantities, giving Kickstarter backers the option to change their backing to P30 film, wait for the color film, or keep the color film and purchase P30 early at a discount.

I kept my original backing, purchased the max limit of 5 rolls, and decided to develop the film myself. While placing the film on a Patterson reel, the edges of the film at the sprockets cracked, twice. This is what I expect from old film, not new. And though Ferrania has published and updated a data sheet of best practices for developing this film, there still seems to be a bit of guesswork involved. I developed mine in Kodak D-76 with a dilution of 1:1 for 13 minutes at 20° C. After developing, I found that this film scratches very easy. And it’s almost impossible to determine which side of the film is the emulsion side, making scanning difficult. My resulting images are high contrast, like I’ve seen online from other photographers. Keeping that in mind, I knew what I was getting into with an alpha product. These are the best that came from my 36-exposure roll.

 

Massive Dev Chart App - P30 Developing Time

Camera: Olympus OM-1N MD (1979)
Film: Ferrania P30 Alpha
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 13:00 @ 20 C
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo


Nikon F (1959 – 1973) and FTn Viewfinder

Up to this point, I’ve only ever used one other Nikon film camera, the Nikon EM. After spending a few weeks talking with friends, I decided it was time to get a proper Nikon SLR. Something a little older. A classic Nikon. That’s when I learned that I really didn’t know a lot about Nikon SLR’s. My friend Maurice Greeson suggested I start with the Nikon F. Before I continue, I’m sure a seasoned Nikonian will correct me if I describe something inaccurately. Please do, no offense taken.

Maurice gave me a Nikon FTn viewfinder/exposure meter with a 50mm Nikkor-S f/1.4 lens. All I had to do was find a Nikon F body, which isn’t hard to do. What is slightly hard to do is find one on eBay in acceptable condition. As I was searching, I’d send Maurice an email and ask, “What about this one? Or, this one? This one?” What I didn’t understand is the F was originally sold with a standard prism viewfinder. The eye-level penta-prism can be interchanged with a waist-level viewfinder, as well as the FTn. The FTn is essentially a viewfinder with a built-in light meter. When changing the lens on the camera, the meter coupling pins must be indexed with the lens. To summarize, the FTn needs to know what aperture values are available on the lens you are mounting. This was something entirely new to me, but it makes sense.

The Nikon F was manufactured from March 1959 to October 1973. The F was known in the 1960’s as the camera used by photo journalists, capturing images from Vietnam, the US exploration of Mt. Everest, and the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs. There were eight types of viewfinder screens available, as well as interchangeable high capacity backs and motor drives. Originally priced at $186 USD (camera and 50mm f/2 lens), that’s about $498 today, the camera attracted both professional and amateur photographers.

According to the serial number on my Nikon F, it was produced between April – July 1970. This camera is a tank! According to kenrockwell.com, the camera and FTn viewfinder alone weigh 1.92 lbs. When you add the lens, it’s easily over 2 pounds. If I were a photojournalist in Vietnam and found myself in a dangerous situation, I think I would have used this camera as a weapon.

The FTn viewfinder and photographic screen both have 100% coverage, giving the photographer a bright viewing area. The camera has a split-image focal screen and a titanium foil focal-plane shutter. The FTn has an ASA range from 6 to 6400, shutter speeds are 1 sec – 1/1000th sec and bulb.

The Nikon F is a classic camera. This camera set the bar for SLR cameras and showed the world that Nikon, and Japanese camera manufactures, were capable of producing exceptional photographic equipment. Special thanks to Maurice Greeson for donating the FTn, lens, and book Nikon F Handbook of Photography (1971 Edition) by Joseph D. Cooper and Joseph C. Abbott.

Camera: Nikon F (with FTn Viewfinder) (1959 – 1984)
Film: Kodak BW400CN
Process: RepliColor SLC
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo