Is it the end of Leica (…for me)?

I have been using various Leica M cameras for the last 7 or so years, and until recently it has been a system that I have really enjoyed.

However, limited time to process and scan film has led me to shoot digital more and more. I still ultimately prefer the look of film, but mostly so when it is either in medium of large format sizes.

When it comes to 35mm, I have found that since I picked up an old Nikon F3, I have actually preferred it to using a Leica. It is much easier to focus and I actually prefer the look of the images with the Nikon 50mm 1.4 Ai lens attached. Yes, it’s massively flawed compared to a 50mm Summilux-M ASPH. However, those flaws give the lens a lot of character. It’s also really sharp once you stop it down to F2.8 – F4. The Bokeh with the Nikon lens is also incredible.

Then there is the case of mirrorless, specifically Fuji and Sony. I have picked up a mirrorless system in the last 6 months or so. I resisted it for a long time, as I thought (!) I preferred optical systems. However, the ability to see a scene through an EVF in black and white was a total game changer for me. My main interest in photography is shooting in black and white. I also love to shoot in colour, but’s that easy in some respects. I find having to ‘convert’ a scene into black and white in my mind a pain – actually seeing it in monochrome to start with makes the whole process much more enjoyable and rapid. With street photography seeing and shooting quickly is the name of the game a lot of the time, as once a moment has gone, well it has gone!

Then, at least with the Fujifilm cameras, there is the user experience. They are fantastic and fun cameras to use. The Sony is not quite in the same league in user experience, but the incredible AF system combined with a wide angle lens for street photography, is another game changer for me.

With a Leica, I find that my photos are more distant and ‘classic’ in a Cartier-Bresson sense. With the Sony in particular the silent shutter and rapid AF with reliable face / eye detection, it means that I can get a lot closer. The images are more dynamic and ‘modern’. It’s also a lot more fun to shoot in this way, as the whole process feels more emotive and engaging. I know that I can put a wide angle on a Leica and get a similar experience, but on so many levels for me now, it just isn’t working for me anymore.

I also feel that my photography is changing, in the next couple of years I should see more time on the horizon to do things that have been very difficult now – more family time, more travel, less work! My interest in street photography remains strong, but I needed to mix up my approach and make it more dynamic to keep my interest. I feel that this has started to happen. I am going to keep that area now to digital. I will be keeping film ticking along, but this will mainly sit within medium and large formats for either specific projects or family portraiture.

I also want to do more video work. I am terrible at it at the moment. With having a young family, it makes me wants to capture their experiences on video. One of the things that I never had in my childhood was video or audio-recordings of me, just a few photographs (my parents weren’t big on creating imagery!). I am looking to buy a gimbal to stabilise the camera and create some nice smooth images. I would also like to shoot more videos, incorporating time-lapse, astro-photography, drones, hand held, etc. These would be similar to the sort of videos made by others I have been periodically posting up on this blog over the last couple of years.

So, I feel that it’s time to part ways with what’s left of my Leica equipment (much of it has gone to fund my mirrorless revolution). In some ways, I will be sad to let it go. However, I don’t like having cameras sitting around in storage not being used. I like to have cameras that I use at least on a semi-regular basis. The only exception to this is my Ebony 5×4, as the man who made them has retired and you can’t get them new anymore. Change is good, particularly when you feel that it is in a new and exciting direction! 🙂

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365

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Tuesday 9th August 2016

 

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Wednesday 10th August 2016

 

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Thursday 11th August 2016

 

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Friday 12th August 2016

 

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Saturday 13th August 2016

 

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Sunday 14th August 2016

 

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Monday 15th August 2016

Some thoughts on Adox Silvermax

Recently, I have been trying out a black and white film called Adox Silvermax. It’s an ISO 100 film, although I have heard some people say that it is better rated at ISO 400. I have just left it at its box speed. The film has a higher silver content than most black and white films. This means that there is more tonal range within the images.

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I haven’t been able to print the film traditionally in the darkroom (the enlarger and what not is in my attic in (very) long-term storage). But, I have obviously scanned it. It scans very well, better than Kodak Tri-X to me as the film is inherently less contrasty and holds more details in the shadows. I am using a Epson V850 scanner at the moment with the standard Epson software. I have a Plustek 8200AI scanner with the dedicated Silverfast HDR suite as well, which produces much better ‘RAW’ scans as it has a great multiple exposure mode). But, I have loaned this out to a friend so that they can scan some of their film work (it’s much more portable than a flatbed!).

Whilst it’s a slow film, it’s quality is very good. I have been really impressed with the amount of information that the 35mm negatives contain. You can zoom in on the images and pick out a lot of detail.

The images here are from a recent trip to London during photo week, where I originally went with the aim of seeing Zhang Kechun‘s excellent large format work done along the Yangtze called ‘The Yellow River’. After visiting the exhibition, I just wandered around making photographs, eating and drinking a lot of coffee. I am hoping to go to London in October to see the exhibition of William Eggleston’s work, which no doubt will involve some street photography afterwards – probably in colour!

It’s a film that I really enjoyed using, so much so that I have ordered more of it. It doesn’t have the speed and flexibility of Tri-X or HP5+ but in good light conditions, it produces lovely toned and detailed images. Definitely, one for where the extra quality is needed over speed.

Salisbury gathering

I took this shot whilst the visiting Maori group were rehearsing with the cathedral singers for the ceremony opening the arts week here earlier this summer. I like the ‘Wicker man’ feel that this shot has to me! Now where is Sergeant Howie? 😉

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Clothes of Southampton

It’s been a busy weekend, but I have started to scan some of the films back from the processor for the 365 project. Keeping track of what I shot when is a bit of a ‘mare as the film numbers don’t match up with my notes. Still, I can work out what was taken when.

Here is one of the shots. Weird how everyone is pretty wearing the same dull colours in the shot – even the car!

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Salisbury Street life

One of the things that is nice about street photography is that you can just concentrate on capturing life as it happens. You don’t need a ‘higher motive’ like when shooting a project.

Hopefully, tomorrow the films will be ready for collection (and then scanning by me). I would like to get some shots of the 365 project up over the weekend. We’ll see…

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Another London Shot

This shot and the last post are images that I have only just scanned tonight – this is how long it takes for me to get around to doing this sort of stuff!

I should, however, be picking up the film from the processor this week with the images from the 365 project on it. Hopefully, they will be posted up at the weekend. I have also realised that this is also one of things about film – I have no idea what I have until I get the film back. So, some of the images might be pretty crappy!

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