My first 3 weeks with a Leica

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by steve_harris|10, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. Thanks to helpful people on this forum I'm now getting to grips with my M6. I've linked a selection of photos I've taken this weekend in the hope that someone will give me some critiques.
    All are on BW400CN, rated at ISO250ish, all of these are taken with a 50mm Summicron.
    Hyde Park

    More here
    I'm aware that all of them are probably clichés, but I'm still trying to work out what looks good in black and white. I've not got the hang of it yet.
    As far as self critiquing goes: I think I need to try and go for wider apertures - I was a bit hesitant with the rangefinder accuracy, and it was bright enough that 1/1000th wasn't often letting me go over f/5.6. This film seems to have a lot of latitude though.
  2. Your technique seems OK as far as I can tell, but the lighting conditions you're shooting in do
    not appear to be very challenging.<p>

    The only "critiques" I would tell you for some of your shots are (1) move in much closer and
    eliminate all things extraneous from every frame. Think of the 24x36mm frame as prime real
    estate, and you're the landlord, and (2) try a slower film like Plus X or Ilford Pan F if you want
    to shoot wide open with a 'cron in daylight.
  3. Well, Steve, doing photography at Hyde Park without getting clicheed pictures is really
    hard no matter
    the type of camera! I think you did well. About wider apertures:
    your CN "survives" being exposed as if it were a 100ASA film well (this is depending
    on your scanner as well). With an orange filter you can 'loose' another 1.5 stops and
    thus are able to working with apertures in the 2.8-4.0 range. Of course an ND8 filter
    making you loose 3 stops is way more comfortable. I have one and use it often, even with
    I hope you can keep your camera around at all times and develop a habit of
    taking at least a few pictures per day. With such a routine, it's only a matter of a few
    months until your choice of subject, the use of wide apertures, slow speeds, etc. will
    daring and the pictures more varied.
    Cheers, Pete
  4. Thanks for the feedback.

    I have tried shooting with Pan F, but I didn't like the look so much as the C41 process films, and getting it developed is more of a pain.

    Funnily I never thought of just putting a filter on the lens! Good idea. I will also try just over exposing it yet further.

    I'm getting the lab to do my scanning, which is quick and convenient, but means I have to be a bit careful, they seem to have the contrast wound up quite high. I may buy a negative scanner at some point.

    I do generally carry a camera with me, usually my Panasonic LX2 P&S during the week, but recently I have carried my M6 sometimes. It's not that much bigger than the P&S. It is a lot heavier though.
  5. Unless you shoot flat subjects, 2.0 will leavea lot out of focus.
  6. Nice, Steve. Enjoy the M6 & Summicron
  7. Very nice. Perhaps a bit closer to your subjects.

    I liked the Waterloo tube station shot. Thanks for sharing.
  8. I think you're doing just fine. As for critiques, I'd crop a bit more off the edges of the first shot. You need the negative space to define the subject shape, but there's so much of it that my eye wants to just wander around in the dark frame.

    I really like the thistles; the bit of bank in the upper left of the swans shot annoys me (I'd crop it, and some of the left-hand-side water too), and about a half-stop less exposure would put more texture in the feathers on the birds' backs.

    Try a red filter to give you more texture in landscape skies like the last photo (though this was probably taken on a pretty gray day, which does make it hard.)
  9. Thanks,

    Yes, I meant to burn the highlight on the top of the swan picture, but forgot.

    Good tip on the tunnel photo, it does look better with less black around it. I'd originally hoped that more of the tunnel walls would have come out, but I misguessed the exposure, or the labs scanner doesn't have enough dynamic range. I've not checked the negative on a light table.

    I'm going to look into a red/orange filter - is there anything odd about filters for M lenses? I've got a summicron and a 35mm f/1.7 CV (ultron?). My existing filters are for 77mm, so are much too big.

    The lens cap of the Summicron says E-39 on it, is that the filter size/thread?
  10. Yes; the Summicron takes a 39mm filter. These will be hard to find in shops; B&H or some other online outlet is your best bet if you want one quickly.
  11. It will take quite a while to get the hang of it but you're doing great guns already. I started
    with exactly the same set up, well actually it was a M6 TTL, no matter, the thing i found
    was to just practice even at home without any film. Sounds odd but just picking the
    camera up and focusing on the telly, sacrifice a film and try and load it over and over
    again, play with the bright line selector, meter off things and set the correct exposure as
    quickly and smoothly as you can. I found that any excuse to fire the thing off was a joy.

    Also if you want some where good to practice with real film and people then try Portobello
    road on saturday(its where i lived until very recently), there is so much going on and no
    one will notice you with ya beautiful new camera.

    Good luck
  12. I have used BW400 with Leica, and found it to be inherently high contrast, without abusing it's rating! It's fine for older, lower contrast lenses (Summar and Summitar), but can be a bit much with later multicoated ones.
    I find that proper black and white film, (particularly Pan F and FP4) gives far superior results, with a lot of tonal range, and not a "soot and whitewash" effect. I agree that unless you process your own, it is much harder these days to get it done commercially, but the resultant scans have a full range from black to white, with no clipping.

    That said, I like the tonal detail in the teasles picture.
  13. I feel much less conspicuous with my M6 (also actually a TTL) than with my D200 with it's huge lenses and mirror clack. I would imagine that the average mugger has no idea a film camera might be worth stealing.

    I've had mixed results with ISO400 FP4, the first couple of rolls I got back had lots of very fine, sharp grain, which I didn't really like the look of. Another roll I just got back (from a different lab) looks much better, but I was shooting without a meter, so lots of the shots are way off in exposure, and if anything it doesn't have enough contrast for my tastes. The grain looks a lot less intrusive though. I will try some ISO100 FP4. Though, I'm impatient, and developing at the place that did the better job takes 7 working days, which is frustrating when you're still in the early stages of the learning curve.

    I don't mind the heavy contrast in general, but it depends on the subject. I've also shot some more XP2S since, and that seems to be a bit less contrasty, especially when shot at ISO400. It's good to have the choice on a shot-by-shot basis though.

    I have to say that having shot for a few weeks now I can see why it might be possible to justify an M8 purchase on a running cost basis. If you're good enough at justifying :) I can see me getting though easily UKP1000/year in film and processing, and the M6 is not my main camera.

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