From Nikon Digital to Leica Film

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by soren_nyquist, Feb 22, 2017.


Should I switch?

  1. Save Up and Buy Leica keep Nikon D7200

    3 vote(s)
  2. Sell Nikon and Buy Leica

    2 vote(s)
  3. Build on Nikon Kit

    0 vote(s)
  4. OMG sell your Nikon and buy a LEICA NOW!!

    2 vote(s)
  1. Hello world. Ive been shooting digital with my Nikon D7200 for a while now and I have also been messing around with film quite a bit. I have found that I enjoy shooting with my film camera 100 times more than my digital, given the choice I will take my Canon FTB with me over my Nikon any day. I find that I get more 'keepers' from my film than digital. I have been looking into a Leica M6 and a Voigtlander 35mm f2.5 lens that I could have for under $1800 however to acquire this camera in a reasonable amount of time I would have to trade in/sell my Nikon kit. Any thoughts? I just find that shooting film is so much more satisfying and rewarding. Thanks.
  2. Rangefinder cameras are an acquired taste. It's a big gamble to buy into Leica unless you know it meets your needs. You are limited to lenses in the range of 28 mm to 135 mm, unless you use expensive accessories. Even then focusing is not very precise for lenses 90 mm and longer, when used wide open. New lenses are extremely expensive, but there are a lot of good, used lenses available. Zeiss and Voigtlander make compatible lenses at a much lower price (but still expensive by Nikon standards).
  3. I don't know the US$ Leica market. I have handled tried an M6 once and read at least 3 posts "OMG I lost my battery compartment cover on vacation what shall I do?" I like Leicas. - I am not really well earning and never really warmed up with Leicas' built in exposure meters. My advice: Settle for either an M2 or an M4-P user beater and get yourself a nice Gossen. If you aren't shooting slides surely the better and even cheaper idea. - My local dealers offer bodies around 600 Euro. The big advantage of a handheld meter: You'll scout venues and your current environment with it. - If its too dark, the surrounding pickpockets haven't seen your Leica yet, you scared nobody into an exhausting smile while pointing your camera and you get a solid idea of what you are facing light wise. - With an M6 you have to lower the camera and read shutter and aperture engravings after metering. Knowing my light dictates my lens choices (4 stops between 35mm f2 and 135mm f4 handheld) and further moves towards my subject.
    I don't know Voigtländer's 35mms - I am happy with a Konica Hexanon results wise, although it's hood blocks bits of my viewfinder. I am a bit tempted to get an old Summilux someday.
    I guess film vs. digital was discussed before. - I'll do film again someday but: I am reluctant to buy the "more keepers" argument. - Did you treat both media equally? Scanned or printed to the same grain &/ pixel peeping size? - Shot similar subjects your way? 4x6"prints tend to remain shoe boxed because you brought so few of them home and a wee bit of camera shake or just slightly OOF isn't as visible in them as when you are peeping pixels 1:1. - I doubt you have to bin digital captures because you ran out of exposure latitude with your Nikon?
    Yes, I am overshooting with digital, if I am given a chance but I think I'll get more keepers that way, although I am watering down my ratio. Film prices went up since they burned a hole into my pocket when I did "spray and pray" when it seemed my only chance to shoot. I wouldn't give up digital. The world asks for files for mass printing or online publishing or to store my take of a shared vacation on their NAS. I can dropbox my RAWs but who'd mail out negs? Scanning is no fun and wet darkroom printing takes ages if you are an unskilled perfectionist. Biggest digital advantage for me: I can share easily or work of a meal do a real job with it or learn faster. - Studio lighting for example tends to be trial & error.
    YMMV. BTW: $1800 should buy an M8 +1 lens too.
  4. Heed that advice; certainly try before you buy. I did and rangefinder cameras are most certainly not my cup of tea.
  5. I chose the second option: sell the Nikon. My maths teacher always said that your answer is useless, even if it's correct, unless you can show your working. ;-) So, I'll explain a little bit.

    So here is my reasoning: sell the Nikon ASAP. You have a 35mm SLR, so keep that. While you shop around for a Leica kit, think about a few things. Firstly, should you buy a cheap RF + lens combination first, to make sure you like RFs? You know you prefer film, but you don't yet know if you will prefer RFs.

    Let's say you want to buy a Canon P (around US$100) and a 50mm LTM lens ($?). Nothing wrong with that. The P does not have the same kind of viewfinder as the M, but otherwise I rather like it. I'm not great with RFs so I don't use it much. But I have it for when I want to practise. I have been spoiled with direct-view on mirrorless bodies (and before them, DSLRs and SLRs). I think it is safe to assume that this is going to be similar to your experience. So it will take a bit of time to get used to.

    Ed makes a good point. You could use the RF for shorter lenses and your FTB for longer lenses. Maybe you should think about where your cut-off point is, approximately. You might end up with something like this: M4-2 with 28mm, 50mm, 90mm. FTB with 70-200/4 (or a 90mm macro and a 180/2.8 telephoto). I find it somewhat entertaining to think about lens combinations, and whether one should base one's lens kit on 35mm or 50mm. I am guessing you would be happy with 50mm to start with.

    I like digital because it's cost-effective. But film, as a medium, is just more interesting. I think a lot of photographers are starting to wake up to that realization. It's not about right or wrong, but about what is most satisfying to you and me.

    There are new tools being developed for film shooters all the time. For example, this portable developing tank:

    Some people might assume that even if you develop film yourself, it's a long, laborious process. Not so. With C-41 and b&w, you can develop film relatively quickly. Scanning is the problem, though. The Pakon F135+ is now very expensive. It would be the ideal home scanning solution - if you can find one! It was one of the few scanners which gave you great scans with very little fuss. Some labs do developing and scanning together.

    Edit: You might end up with a film SLR kit, too. That's worth looking into. They're very cheap.
  6. What the hell is wrong with PN? Paragraphs have merged into one. Anyway, I checked eBay, and you can get a Canon 50/1.8 LTM for under $200. FWIW. :)
  7. Keep the Nikon and save up for the Leica. Once you buy a camera then just keep it for many years and use it when it seems like the best tool..
  8. Forgot to add: You did not tell your film workflow. With SLRs you see the 4 borders of your neg. - With an M you end guessing them via frame lines. Offcenter focusing is impossible too. With slides or negs dealt with out of house you can't crop (and if 35mm provides enough space for cropping is questionable). I'm not sure how much this matters for your photography. When I am doing close ups I end chimping and sometimes reshooting and I am also noticing that portraiture seems to shout for cropping in PP.
  9. If you think you are likely to shoot digital again in the future, then keep the D7200, otherwise not. I have and would recommend the M6, but not everyone gets on with rangefinders - if you're not able to try one out first, you might end up with a camera you don't enjoy using. On the other hand, in a private sale it's a camera you can easily get your money back on. It's worth stretching to a Leica 35/2 if you can. A middle (and much cheaper) way would be to keep the D7200 and buy one of Nikon's film SLRs (maybe an FM2 or F3 if you like to shoot manually). With careful choice of lenses, you can build a system that will also work with your dSLR.
  10. Buy or sell nothing. Use the FTB.
  11. Soren --

    Before you sell or buy anything, you should consider carefully what you will be using your camera(s) for, as they each have different strengths and weaknesses.

    I have, and use, a variety of gear: Leica M2, Canon P, Nikon Df, Nikon FM, Nikon F, Canon FTb, and a variety of lenses. Some personal (and possibly idiosyncratic) comments, for what they are worth:
    • Leica -- Best used with lenses between 28mm and 90mm, IMHO. Nothing wrong with the optical quality of wider or longer lenses, but you would need to use accessory viewfinders. At closest focusing range of lenses, parallax error can be a problem in composing photo -- what you see in the VF is not what you get. (This is true of all RF cameras, not just Leicas.) Some very large aperture lenses available in the 35mm - 90mm range, and bodies have quiet shutters, so excellent for unobtrusive available-light shooting and environmental portraits, as long as you are aware that the longer lenses have shallow depth of field at maximum aperture and can be a challenge to focus accurately in dim light. Superb mechanical quality. New bodies & lenses are expensive. Used ones can be entirely satisfactory, but do typically require at least a CLA, and might possibly need additional work. Most of the new lenses offer exceptional image quality. Even 50 year old used M lenses can deliver very high quality if CLA'd. Can also use old Leica, Canon and other LTM lenses with a LTM/bayonet adapter. (The old Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM, Canon 35mm f/2 LTM, and Nikon 85mm f/2 LTM are particularly good.)
    • Canon P -- Best with lenses between 35mm and 85mm. Uses old Canon and Leica LTM lenses. Well-built, though not as well-built as Leicas. No built-in meter; use a hand-held. Will almost certainly require a CLA. Used to be available cheap, but have become collectors' items so no longer bargains. Not bad, and capable of taking high-quality photos, but I like my M2 better.
    • Nikon Df -- Can use a very wide range of lenses, from very wide to very long, and from old Nikkor Ai-converted, Ai and AiS manual focus lenses through D autofocus lenses to latest AF-S autofocus lenses. Can deliver telephoto sports and nature shots which a Leica M just can't do (not without a Visoflex, anyway). Expensive, but more accessible and comfortable than other DSLRs for photographers accustomed to older film SLRs. Smaller and lighter than many other DSLRs, but a reassuringly well-built and durable feel in the hand. Noticeably better image quality than the D5200 I used to have -- nothing wrong with the D5200, which was very good, Df is just better. I really like this camera.
    • Nikon FM -- Excellent manual SLR for use with non-Ai, Ai and AiS manual lenses. Smaller, lighter and quieter than other old Nikon SLRs. Has built-in metering, but check whether the meter still works before you buy. Can use a wide range of lenses, but no autofocus.
    • Nikon F -- Can use a wide range of non-Ai, Ai and AiS lenses, many of which are of very high optical quality. Manual focus and aperture only. Legendarily rugged, built like a tank, feels reassuringly solid in the hand, but rather heavy to lug around. I have one with a plain prism, which I use with a hand-held meter -- the metered prisms are larger, heavier, and in many cases the meters are no longer working. Price will vary depending on condition -- many were used professionally, some with motor drives, and may be rather worn out. If you buy one, factor in a CLA along with the purchase price. A great camera, even now, though I prefer the Df.
    • Canon FTb -- Very good older SLR. Can use FL (stop-down metering) as well as FD lenses, most of which are of quite good optical quality. Manual focus and exposure only. FL lenses used to be dirt cheap, but have apparently become collectors' items. You may be able to buy used FD lenses for less than comparable Nikon manual lenses, but it may not be as easy to find a wide range of focal lengths. For years, I had a similar but slightly less expensive TLb body, which I literally wore out; bought a used FTb to replace it. A good camera, certainly capable of taking fine pictures. Having used all of them, I personally prefer the Nikon Df, FM and F, but I have nothing bad to say about the FTb.
    One can cover rather a wide range of photographic subjects with a Leica M2, a hand-held meter, and 35mm, 50mm, and 75mm or 90mm lenses,. Having said that, the Nikon Df can tackle a wider range of photographic subjects, particularly longer telephoto work, that a Leica can't handle. Personally, I enjoy using the M2 quite a bit -- I grew up using manual focus, manual exposure RF cameras, and am comfortable working with them -- but the Df delivers high-quality images more consistently, for me at least.

    As the old carnival barkers used to say, "Ya pays yer money an' ya takes yer choice." Whatever you decide on, I wish you good luck and enjoyment with your photography.
  12. I agree with FWS, If you like shooting film, keep using the FTb. However, I would continue to think further about the Leica option. The plus is the small size of the body and particularly the lenses, but they are expensive (not so much the film bodies, but the lenses always are relative to competitors). I do not sing the praises of rangefinder viewing either and the Leica M is not nice to hold in portrait mode unless with a grip or similar. But having said that, I owned an M3 and M6TTL for about 20 years and loved using it.
  13. Perhaps you are having a wave of passion and desire for Leica film, which isn't a bad thing at all. A couple thoughts.

    If you post pictures to the Internet, where will you get them now?

    If you are printing B&W in your darkroom, fantastic! If you plan to scan negatives, make sure you appreciate what a pain that is.
  14. As many others have said, try it out first! Maybe your have a friend with an M body or you can rent one maybe?
    Cheapest/best way to get into Leica rangefinder is without a doubt the Leica M6, another option could be to get hold of an M2, they can be found pretty cheap but then you need to feel confident with shooting without a light meter, which isn't that hard really. I've went through M8, M9, M-P (Swicthed to 100% film) M2, M6 and today a Leica MP is my daily camera, and I think I'll never replace it. Regarding lenses the Zeiss and Voightlander lenses is good options, but I could also recommend the Summicron 40/2.0 (came with the Leica CL), its a great and compact lens, and they are really cheap! I used one a lot on my digital M-P and it produced some really nice shots:

    At the moment I'm shooting a Summarit 35/2.5 on my MP, also a very affordable lens, and image quality wise its as good as summicrons or summiluxes, but its not as fast.

    Regarding the development and post processing it takes some time to figure out YOUR process, but from my own POV I spend about the same time developing, scanning as I did when I shot digital, with the difference that I spend the time on sorting/choosing/editing hundreds of photos after a photo walk to settle with 15-20 really good ones. Today I arrive home with 20-25 shots, develop them (15 min) eating dinner while drying, scanning (15 min) and I have 15-20 shots that I'm satisfied with. I'm doing my raw scan with my Epson Perfection Photo V600, which scans 12 frames in one go. The gems I re-scan (if I want to print them) with my OpticFilm scanner.
  15. It's possible to shoot both digital and film.

    Debates about which is "better" are merely expressions of mood and taste, not facts of nature.
    And, anyhow, there is no "better" without relation to purpose.
  16. Keep your digital even if you are overwhelmed by the carefully crafted romantic imagery surrounding Leica film cameras.
  17. SCL


    I'm a long time Leica user (almost 50 years now), and love the Leicas I've owned and still own. Having said that, in all honesty, I've owned numerous other 35mm film cameras as well as 4-5 digital ones. Today I use digital (specifically mirrorless mcro 4/3) more than anything else, but go back to my Leicas for relaxation anf enjoyment. So, the dilemma....what should you do? If money is no object Leica is the way to go. However, from a quality of output standpoint you can do just as well with Canon or Nikon film bodies and lenses, unless you are doing mural sized enlargements, using tripods all the time, and working with a professional master printer. Keep the digital under all circumstances...there's nothing wrong with the modern conveniences they offer, and instant feedback isn't all bad, nostalgia aside.
  18. I'd also recommend looking at Pentax, Minolta, Contax and Olympus. I like a lot of Nikon and Canon film bodies, too, and I have a couple. But I wouldn't limit myself. You can also get some cheap 645 systems, too, FWIW.
  19. Leica film, no, but Leica digital, maybe.

    Like @SCL above, I used a Leica M2 (film) for nearly 40 years before buying my first DLSR, a Nikon D1x. There was no turning back. A couple of years ago, I bought an used Leica M9, to lighten up and make use of Leica lenses accumulated over the years. I am very comfortable using a rangefinder camera, so there were no surprises in this regard. This presented an opportunity to compare a film camera, Leica M3, in the same situations with the same lenses.

    My conclusion was that film was far too limited compared to digital, whether Nikon or Leica. The resolution is not there, scanning (I have a Nikon LS-4000 and 8000) is time consuming and color balance with negative film a challenge, at the cost at about $15/roll for film and processing was not justified. Warm, fuzzy memories aside, it was a practical decision to retire the film Leica.

    The Leica M9 digital is an awesome camera. The colors are gorgeous, wide angle shots are sharp from corner to corner, even wide open (unlike Nikon), and the camera itself is small and relatively quiet in operation. However my aging eyes now require a diopter on the viewfinder. Even so, I found it hard to focus a 90 mm lens without a magnifier (which obscured frames for lenses shorter than 50 mm). The images are incredibly sharp, but only if used on a tripod. This is near sacrilege to traditional Leica users.

    When the Sony A7ii came out late that year, it was an easy transition. I could use the same lenses, with a full-frame view in the finder regardless of focal length. Focusing was easy and very precise (5x magnification and/or edge enhancement), and with in-body image stabilization, I could leave the tripod in the car. It has the same width and depth as the Leica, and only about 1/8" taller considering the viewfinder. It also takes zoom lenses, which are a boon or bane, depending on your philosophy and needs.

    For the OP, rather than plunge into the deep end of the film pool without a float, you could buy a used F3, which has nearly the same footprint as a Leica, and the best mechanical operation of any camera I've owned. Flash is a problem, but no more so than with a Leica M. It's also rather noisy (e.g., a loose rail at a train crossing), but it feels nice in the hand, and is compatible with any Nikon lens with a diaphragm setting ring. Nikon made the F3 from about 1985 until 2006, spanning three generations of SLRs and DSLRs.That should say something about it's usefulness.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
  20. Try the Voigtlander lens on a Canon P body: will cost a fraction of the M6.

    If you like it- get the M6 later, the Canon P is a great second body.

    Don't spend too much money before you try RF photography.

    The OP has not been on since this thread started- not sure where all of this will go. Myself, I have Nikon Film and Digital, and Leica film and Digital. I'd go with the Canon P and 35/1.7 Ultron for starters, will run ~$500 for camera and lens.

    Of course- Nikon RF's are also an option...

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