Leica as "Street Camera."

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by todd frederick, Aug 25, 2000.

  1. This forum seems to be dominated by "M" series cameras...no offense intended; hope none taken! I had an M3 and an M6 and both seemed uncomfortable to me...to ME...for whatever reason. I use SLR systems for formal photography as well as medium format. These are big and very "visible."

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    I recently (very recently...like a week ago!) acquired a nearly mint IIIF and a Imarec VIOOH viewer. I soon discovered that all I need is a high speed film (400-3200), zone focus from infinity to 8' at f/16 (more with a 35 lens), totally enclose the entire camera with my hands, leaving only the tip of the lens and viewer exposed, and I can move wherever and whenever without bothering anyone. New adventures!

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    Has anyone else discovered this particular attribute of the early Leica cameras? There are very few III series Leica forums for "show and tell!"
     
  2. Todd,

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    I also recently got a Leica IIIf (BD) with a 3.5cm 3.5 Summaron. I
    was just looking for something to use with my 15 Heliar, and
    also for a smaller, less conspicuous and less expensive camera for the
    type of photography you've described.

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    Both camera and lens were in perfect working order. The precision,
    fit and feel of these early Leicas are impossible to describe, unless
    you've actually handled one. All the little knurled knobs, levers and
    dials, the uncluttered viewfinder; it's a very satisfying camera to
    hold and manipulate.

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    The thing is in nearly perfect shape; it's scary to think it's older
    than I am. I hope I'm still looking this good when I'm nearly fifty.
    The shutter curtains must have been replaced not too long ago because
    they look fresh and new. Shutter speeds are amazingly accurate. The
    glass on the lens is completely clean and fog free. The viewfinder,
    though quite small, is crystal clear. And I love the little
    rangefinder's high magnification and instantly adjustable diopter, it
    makes accurate focussing in low light much easier than with the M
    cameras.

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    Loading it is a real chore, though. I hate having to trim the
    leaders. But, Gandy's suggestion that one should remove the lens and
    trip the shutter on "t" setting, so you can help guide the film into
    place with your finger through the lens mount really seems to ease the
    chance of misloads. And if you wear glasses....well, you can always
    get the Voightlander accessory viewfinders. And that little
    retro-looking, chrome Voightlander meter is starting to look better
    and better.

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    It's so small and quiet that nobody even notices when I've taken it
    out of my pocket inside stores, restaurants and other crowded places.
    One guy thought it was a cell phone. I'm now looking for a good
    collapsible 5cm 3.5 Elmar to make it even smaller inside my pocket.
    When you think about it, it's really absurd how large modern 35mm
    cameras have become.

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    And the most surprising thing was/is the quality of the 35mm Summaron.
    Wide open it's not bad at all. At 5.6 to 8 or 11 it's just
    wonderful, comparing very favorably with my Summicron. The out of
    focus areas are beautiful, creating almost perfectly round areas; it
    must be the ten tiny aperture blades.

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    For someone looking to get into the Leica thing for substantially less
    cost than the Ms, I'd highly recommend looking into the older SMs.

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    Sergio.
     
  3. Yes, ninety percent of my Street Photography is done with Leica M2/M3's
    and 35 and 50mm lenses. They just seem to be perfect for that kind of
    photography. But once in awhile I go out on the street with my 111G and
    50mm Summitar and it is a unique expercience, so small and compact,
    built rock solid, a real jewel. I have never zone focused in my street
    photography and I have no problem with the twin eye pieces, see
    picture, quick focus and click. Using the 111G is a real pleasure to
    use for street photography. Please take a look at some of my Street
    Photos at http://www.streetphoto.net
    Steve
     
  4. Question...your photos are wonderful Steve. Looks like New York.
    What do you do about model releases in order to "publish" these
    photos on websites or forums?
     
  5. Todd,

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    I don't do anything about model releases, meaning I do not ask for
    them. And as far as I know, as long as the subject is in public domain
    you can take and publish their picture. But, If I am wrong somebody
    please correct me.

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    Steve
     
  6. Todd,

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    Also, another great lens for a Leica LTM or M is the Kobaluk 28/3.5.
    $399 at Adorama, comes in screw mount with M adaptor and viewfinder.
    Only about 1 inch with lens hood on. Sharp as a razor blade and multi
    coated. On my web site, www.streetphoto.net look at the picture toward
    the back of the gallery where the people are at the french fry stand. I
    use this lens alot, mostly on a M2.
    Steve
     
  7. I'll second the recommendation for the Sumarron, the Kobalux 28mm and
    the Summitar (my favorite). But the lens I use most often is the 50mm
    f3.5 Elmar, the camera and lens easily fits in a pocket.

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    I agree that focusing is quick and easy with the magnified rangefinder
    window. I hardly ever zone focus.

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    Sergio, I've never trimmed the film leaders. I just wrap around the
    takeup spool, pop it in, and guide it into place through the lens
    hole. Never had a problem.

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    You're right, using one of these makes you wonder why current 35mm
    cameras have gotten so far away from the concept of "miniature
    format".

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    I've been meaning to start a "Screw Mount Gallery" thread for sharing
    photos made with these great machines. Want to join in?
     
  8. I've been cutting the leader, but one roll didn't thread properly and
    didn't go through. I need to watch the sprokets when loading and the
    rewind knob. I'm concerned about damaging the shutter curtain if I
    use my finger.

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    The "Screw Mount Gallery" sounds great...please start it.

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    I find rangefinder focusing hard on any brand so I try to zone
    focus...I need to practice.

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    My Canon A2E with vertical grip is actually bigger than my medium
    format!

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    I can totally hide the IIIF in my hands! :>)

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    Todd
     
  9. Yes, ninety percent of my Street Photography is done with Leica M2/ M3's and 35 and 50mm lenses. They just seem to be perfect for that kind of photography. But once in awhile I go out on the street with my 111G and 50mm Summitar and it is a unique
    Really nice photos, and nice site too.
    Question: do you take the camera to your face, or are you shooting from the hip, chest...? In other words, while many of the shots look as tho' your subjects didn't know you were taking their photos, others seemed to be sufficiently intimate that they must've known (esp. one that looks as if you usd flash- the woman getting a light from the man...)...?
    Tse-Sung
     
  10. All those pictures were focused and framed by eye. I cannot explain how
    but I am able to focus and frame very quick. The picture of the girl
    getting a light is of a prostitute picking up a john, the street was
    crowded and as I walked toward them I just lifted the camera (Nikon F/w
    Vivatar) focused and shot, then kept walking and I dont think they even
    noticed that I had taken their picture even with the flash. Anyway, hip
    shooting is a technique I have never used. I have practised dry
    shooting (no film in camera) for many, many hours and like anything
    practice makes perfect.
     
  11. Love to steal photos BUT disregard advice of flash.You can get into real problems.Guess you have to do that sort of thing if you use a Nikon F.Have done sneaks with it also.Removed Prism and shot using open finder.Makes the camera smaller.Tried old Leicas with screw thread.Too hard to reload.Use part of a shortened knitting needle to press film to sprockets.Use my M3 which is big compared.Thought of changing my Pentax 67 for EOS-3.Its almost same size....
    I dont use Pentax for street photos unless I ask 1st.The noise like Hassies is deafening.
     
  12. Beautiful pictures, Steve, thanks. My two cents, gentlemen.
    For street photography I use 0.72M-4P with 35mm f2.0 Summicron,
    28mm/5.6 Summaron, 21mm/3.4 S.Angulon , 20mm/5.6 Russar ; M3 & 50/1.4
    Summilux (in darkness only), and IIIf RD, my favorite for twenty
    years, with the above named lens, all of them are screw mount &
    Leitz M-mount adapters. No flash. Film 400-3200. I almost do not use
    any viewer and rangefinder when shooting with IIIf and short-focus
    lenses. In a few years of practice I can feel the frames of 21mm and
    28mm. The human eye focus is about 18-21mm. My rule is dont afraid
    to waste a frame. My favorite techniques with IIIf is not to look
    through RF/VF when shooting specially a tiny dogs, cats portraits
    on exhibitions, for example, or macro. I just set the f-stop for
    required DOF (from 4 or less) on the Russar and direct the IIIf to
    the subject as near as possible. Sometimes I get cartoons because of
    distortion, and its fanny. The IIIfs film advance is very smooth, I
    make it very fast and easy, just roll a wind knob with my thumb. NO
    one of Ms has double exposure feature, IIIf does. Seems, loading is
    so easy as M's.
    Best pictures.

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    --Victor.
     

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