Wedding work with a Leica M6/M7 by Stefan Soser

Hi Steve,

I am a wedding photographer from Austria and I am sending you three images from a recent 100% film wedding.

As I started in photography, everything I photographed was on film with a Leica M6. And I really enjoyed it. However, with the start of my career as a wedding photographer I switched over to fully digital. Of course I enjoyed the benefits of digital but I badly missed the look and feel of film. Two years ago I started to think about switching back to film with the goal to combine the benefits of both worlds. What means to me, keeping the style of film and using the digital benefits in post production. The main problem was getting the negatives scanned in the highest possible quality. Some photographers are using Mini-Lab Scan Services which are ultra fast and cheap per scan. But I didn’t like the quality. They are ok but not for the product I want to offer. Then there are the high end drum scan services which of course have awesome quality but are very very pricey. With up to 20,- USD per scan it isn’t a possible solution when you want to have scanned a long wedding with up to 900 frames. So I searched for a fast high quality scanner and tried the nikon’s. They are fast and their scan quality is ok but only when scanning 35mm with the Nikon 5000 and the film roll adapter. Scanning MF with a Nikon 9000 on the other hand is really super slow and you can choose between newton rings and unsharp edges since each holder solution has its disadvantages. At this stage I got really annoyed with my project and I thought about stopping it.

Fortunately a friend of mine told me about the Imacon/Hasselblad Flextight X5 with the batch feeder option. So I called my dealer for a demo. There it was – fast, uncomplicated and high end quality scans … until I received the price offer from my dealer. Suddenly I liked digital more than film 😉

It took me a year to make the buying decision. At the end I bought it and said to myself that buying a good DigiBack for my trusted Contax 645 will cost me as much as the scanner and I still don’t have the look and feel of film. The scanner works so flawless and with the batch option so fast that I don’t regret my decision. I can now shot film in its highest quality and it is so much fun to use my “old” gear again. I mean there is no digital option for a rolleiflex or a XPan. Even the post production time is reduced since the scans are awesome right away. I only do some little work on them. I am probably the craziest wedding photographer on mother earth who scans his whole weddings on an imacon – but I can live with that 🙂

More images of the wedding are online at my blog:

My Portfolio Site (up to now mostly digital stuff):

I hope my english makes sense …

Greetings from Austria!


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  1. Wonderful moods and moments captured here. Sad to hear $25,000 was the price to pay for a good scanner! Makes the digital Ms look cheap! 😉

  2. Wonderful, lovely, beautiful images. I could get lost for hours in your website. Thanks for letting us in on the story that goes with your photographs.

  3. The camera does matter. Especially on a wedding. I think there’s said enough about that. The only way to find out whether that works is to try it for yourself. I did. I switched from a 5D2 to a M9 and it is a joy – and sometimes a pain – to do.

    I’ve made a Flickr account for rangefinder wedding pictures. Check it out and become a member here:[email protected]/

  4. Yes, these photos are fantastic…but I have to say, you’re not shooting anything that really warrants spending $20K on a scanner for your film. I see nothing that couldn’t have been shot using digital. Heck, you say you used your M6 and M7 to shoot, you could have bought two M9’s for the price of that scanner, kept your Leica lenses that you used on your film-based Leica’s and had some cash left over.

    And don’t get me started on how WAY overpriced the M9 is. I mean, if you are comfortable in shooting the Leica way, so be it. But since these are only tools, the cost doesn’t justify the output, regardless of what everyone says. The end result is the photo. It’s all that matters. No one could look at a photo and tell “oh, only a Leica or a Canon or a Nikon could have taken that photo”. No, it’s the photographer. Those photos you showed could have easily have been shot with a Canon 5D and equivalent lens for a fraction of the cost of your scanner.

    Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket, then buy away. It’s just that the end doesn’t justify the costs. No where near the costs.

  5. the imagery, and the quality of light i have not seen before. really amazing work.
    (i hate you). but thank you very much.

  6. Hi Stefan, I do weddings full time and shot digital with a Nikon D3 and this year I took the big step of switching to film as there is nothing like film. I also got a contax 645 like yourself and do plan on getting a scanner too. Great work and lets keep film alive.

  7. Hi Stefan, I liked your work. I thought that you might want to check Daniel Milnor is also does wedding photograhy (he is a documentary photographer) and shoots most with film and a Leica m6. I thought you might want to checkout this site and community as well. Enjoy.

  8. Hi Stefan,

    I agree with you about the look and feel of film and and your wedding shots are nice!

    I think your clients will be thankful down the road that you shot their weddings on film because that look is just very hard to re-create on digital. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Hi Stefan,
    Absolutely beautiful works you have there. How do you process your film? Do you have your lab process it? I just bought a Jobo CPP2 and am about to do some color processing at home.


  10. Hi Stefan
    good to read your Article! You know I am in love with your work, I just wish Farida and myself got married two years later. It would still be you covering our wedding day, but this time only on Film…;)
    all the best

  11. Thanks Adam!

    Yes, I am pretty happy with my Nikon at that price point. Yes, more trips and more photos!

  12. @Cindereye

    Yes, this was using the standard Nikon Scan software that came with the scanner – all set to default settings. That said, I think different films scan better than others. Velvia is great, Kodak Portra 160NC is amazing as well as 160VC. TMax is great for black and white as well as Delta 100. It also depends on how good the lighting was when the photo was taken though. I know sometimes we are forced to take a photo in far from ideal lighting and frankly, these shots don’t scan well but then again, let’s face it, if it was taken with an M9, they wouldn’t look any better. The different is that M9 files are more malleable and a dud photo can be ‘saved’. I am fairly certain that barring a very poor scan or some fundamental problem with the scanner, the only time you need a M9/D700 or super high quality scans is when a photo is taken in extremely tough lighting conditions and a lot of post processing is needed. If the light is right these cameras and scans are not really necessary. One of the best photos I ever took was of a row of London houses, late evening, just after a thunderstorm with soft, pure, clean light and a dark sky forming the background. To say the picture jumped off the screen is a massive understatement. The camera used? A 2 megapixel blackberry phone camera, zero post processing. Go figure.

    • Thanks for the feedback Stephen! Whereas I find my beloved Velvia is awful to get good scans from on the V700 and why I’ve switched to CN film for colour, no problems with most BW film though and my favoured Fuji Neopan scans beautifully. Think I’ll start looking around for a Coolscan V ED next month once I’ve sold some photo gear surplus to requirements. I do find it upsetting that they now sell for more S/H than when new though but hey-ho.

  13. Thorkil,

    You are right on, stepping into the Imacon was like entering another world. There was a richness to the slides that I had never seen before. It seemed to my eyes (no scientific tests or anything) that the pictures finally came a alive.

    So many labs want to do the scanning for you, so its very fortunate that my local shop has one for rent by the day.

    And glad you enjoyed the images, there should be some new ones on the way.

  14. Stephen B,

    I believe the lab was using a Coolscan 4000. Since I no longer go there, I cant be for sure. Maybe the lab tech was a complete monkey. Your images do not look as “burnt” as mine did. If you can get good results for 1/10th the price, thats awesome. More money to devote to plane tickets and film.

    And thanks for having a look around my page. Always happy to have new eyes on the images!

    You have some really nice images too!

  15. Dude, you bought a 20.000$ scanner? Thats what I call dedication. However, better not imagine what you COULD have bought instead, (high End Nikon system with all the fast glass they got…)

    • Hi Foggerty,
      I have a Leica M9 and fast Leica lenses. High end Nikons, excellent as they are, are too big for my choice. My M9 complements nicely the alternative of using my M7 and film scanning with the Immacon X5.

  16. Compared to what many wedding photographers use in the digital realm (either multiple d3’s, 1ds’s etc or even worse digi backs) 20 grand can make sense, as long as Imacon has a solid warranty and customer service as if one of your M’s breaks, or a lens, your good, if you imacon goes and theres bad customer service your screwed

  17. no question about it. The Hasselblad/Imacon is way ahead of Nikon and epson scanners. More deepth in the whole picture, rich of details, the dark and the light areas have details the others just dont even are able to nuance. Its like stepping from a Nikon D40 to a M9.

    • Out of interest did you also use the Nikon scan software to scan those? I can only dream of getting such great results straight out of my Epson V700 sadly. 🙁

  18. Adam, just had a look at the flickr comparisons and wad astounded at the differences. May ask which Nikon you are using? I use the Cooscan 5000 ed and although i have never used an Imacon, I have not had problems. In fact compared to the light box the scans are darn close. I don’t do much pp with the coolscan 5000 ED so maybe I got a really good one 🙂 really like your shots by the way.

  19. Noel,

    Link:[email protected]/sets/72157625112378713/

    Here are a few images on my Flickr page that show the difference between a lab scan on a Nikon Cool Scan and ones that I did by hand on an Imacon.

    It is possible to do post production and get the Nikons to look like the Imacon scans, but its a lot of work. Personally I try to do as little post production as possible. But even the Imacons need some work. Shooting Provia 100, the scanner can often enhance the magenta channels of an image. But overall it gives a scan that is much closer to the original slide. It also scans well without blowing out highlights.

    Additionally, there is a levels control on the scanner (similar to Photoshop and Lightroom) so if you wanted to adjust every single image, pre-scan, its possible.

  20. unglaublich wundervolle fotos stefan, hab mir deine seite angesehen und bin hin und weg, einfach genial, wie du es schaffst, stimmungen und emotionen einzufangen 🙂

  21. Elaine,

    Not sure where you live, but Imacons are often available for rent by the hour. I rent time at Photo Village here in NYC. Since not many people seem to be into scanning their own work, the machine is usually available.

    The quality difference between Epson and Nikon scanners is remarkable. Maybe someone could explain the technical differences, but the $19K price gap makes a difference, especially if you plan on making prints. If the images will only ever be on a computer than the difference is not so noticeable.

    But I figure it this way, I went through all the effort to get the best lenses money could buy, why would I skimp on the scan. Using a mediocre scanner is like putting a sand blasted filter over your lenses.

    • I’ll take your word for it. I never used an Imacon Scanner. I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t superlative for the cost.


  22. Hi Stefan
    Have you tried an Epson V700 flat bed film and slide scanner that does everything from 35mm to 8 X10 large format? Not really expensive but very flexible.

    I do not know how the quality compares with the Imacon. You would think that it should not come close for a machine that costs less than $1K when you compare it to the Imacon. Nevertheless I have not had any issue with the quality of the scan other than dust control. The ICE is also not as sophisticated as the Imacon but if the slides are clean, it can do some amazing things for what it is.

    • Hi Noel,

      yes I tried even the Epson V700. It works really well for this price. However if you have to scan really big amounts in a short time it gets a pain. But for single scans and this price point its really a good scanner.


  23. Elaine,

    I can scan slides in their cardboard. The normal max scan is 6400 dpi, but in the holder it can only do 5000 dpi. I thought that would be a noticeable difference, but there is not.

    Some people told me they prefer to scan at 3200 dpi to avoid some of the micro texture of the film itself.

  24. Geile bilder Stefan! Great work, really superb. We had a Flextight on a mag I worked for – the last time I saw it, it was sitting in the corner gathering dust, very unloved. That’s what happened when digital took over in the snow sports world – goodbye film… I think I’ll try and track down it’s whereabouts… lol

    If you’re ever in IBK, drop me a line,


    • Thank you so much Andy!

      Funny – I just checked your blog and saw your post about Patrick and Elke. I photographed a wedding in innsbruck recently where Elke was the make-up artist 🙂

      Little world.

  25. Absolutely amazing!

    The last picture – awesome!

    And your website is fantastic as well.

    Thank you.

  26. Just absolut wonderful pictures there Stefan!, and intoxicating sharp pictures which just confirm that film-wise its all in all a question about the scanner, and that Imacon/Hasselblad is the world leading scanner which obvious can be seen. (perhaps I should unpack that old untouched used Imacon Flextigh Precision II scanner on the shelf and call my photografer-friend who knows it so well to a little help)
    (and no it doesn’t take dias as the film is “tightened ud” as a virtuel drum so that the scanner-head are reading constant perpendicular(?) all the time while the film is moved in a circular movement)(a sort of drumscanning-like with a fixed reading head)

  27. Fantastic pictures, thank you for sharing. Ok $ 15-20 K for an Imacon. But then, I spent $4.8K on an M8 in early 2007, $3K on a second new one in late 08 and $7k on a M9 this year. And in 2-3 years maybe a M10 will be waiting.

    • Yes it does but I never tried it and I don’t think it would work really well since it can’t bend the slide – so you will probably run into focus problems. Also it only takes 1 slide per mask.

      • Hi Stefan and Elaine,
        I bought a Hasselblad-Imacon X5 scanner just over two years ago and have scanned more than 2000 images of various formats. It works wonderfully with cardboard mounted slides such as Kodachromes. Scan each singly, use auto focus if needed. I check each scan as it is scanned to ensure film grain is in sharp focus. For some I may need to scan emulsion up, rather than the usual emulusion down. Plastic mounts also work well. If I need the slightly extra image area cropped by the mount, I will pull the mount apart and scan the frame using the single flexible holder. Being a perfectionist, I always check each frame for perfect sharpness of grain no matter which format I am scanning. I don’t use an auto changer.

        Ray S

  28. Really nice style! I like your pictures very much. I also use some similar approach to wedding photography. I also like the film style look of photographs, so when I’m shooting weddings I normally use both digital and film cameras (Leica M and Hasselblad); then I scan my films in two different ways: 1 – Using a Nikon d700 with a 105 micro lens and a back light opaline to illuminate film (35 mm)
    2 – Using an Epson Scan For 120 rolls of film.
    The result is pretty good, for my budget… 😉
    In this way the feel of film style and old cameras appears in my photos, also if it’s digitalized.
    Thanks for share your ideas!

  29. Hey Stefan,
    Great post, I agree the IMacon is a brilliant tool. A few years ago, I started digitizing my film. Hi-Res scans were anywhere between $15-$25 per image. I did a few to compare to the medium res scans offered at other labs. Most scans are crap. If they come back and look good, then the Hi-Res images will look even better.

    After half a dozen labs and needless arguing with lab techs, while standing over a light box and saying “Do you see this color? Its not in your scan!” I started using an Imacon. OMG, life changing.

    The scanner gives brilliant color for slide film. And it can handle 35mm, 120mm, and 4×5. Granted the machine is $20, but considering the price for a medium format back, its not such an outrageous price.

    I would say anyone who is letting a lab or Costco scan your film you are missing out big time. Get your best image done on an Imacon and compare the results. You will be amazed.

  30. Stefan, your work is absolutely amazing. I’m not a wedding photographer, I did it just one time, and at the time I used a nikon D3, and just 3 fixed focal length, 24, 50 and 105. The 24 and 105 were manual focus so my work were “phisical” using no zoom and no Autofocus.
    But I have to say that the D3 high iso’s help me a lot.
    How do you hadle low light situations? Which kind of films and lenses do you use?

    • Hi Matteo,

      yes low light situations are tricky with film. I am using Tri-x pushed up to +2 and Fuji Neopan 1600 exposed at 1250.
      Lens wise I am using the fastest lenses I can get. However – the main problem are fast changing light situations. Sometimes you have bright sunlight and still virtually no light in the church. Therefore I have preloaded bodies in the bag.


  31. For $20K (ouch!), you can go into business for yourself scanning photos if all else fails. NICE QUALITY PICS!

  32. Awsome images, sudenly I felt the impulse to get a Hasselblad scanner and do film again. I miss so much using the XPan, the 503CW and my thinner leicas M6 TTLs in black and chrome hanging both around my neck. It feels so long ago.

  33. One more thing, what do you use for film cameras and lenses in your weddings? Does it vary? I’m curious if it’s the M6 and a medium format? I know a lot of people in the day shot with medium format Hasselblads.

    • Hi Elaine – thanks for your feedback
      this is now my Setup: M7 0.58, M7 0.72, M6 0.72 – Lenses: 21 Lux, 28 Cron, 35 Lux, 50 Noct, 75 Lux
      Contax 645 with the 80/2.0 and 140/2.8
      Plaubel Makina 670

  34. LOL! I saw this scanner too about 3 months ago! Quite an expense, but being that you’re in a very competitive business which pays well if you’re good, the cost of that unit probably pays for itself in the 1st or second year. I’m drooling over that scanner. Awesome. Great photos. You have a wonderful eye.

  35. You go get ’em, Stefan! You found what works for you and nothing else matters. Congratulations!!!! Love the imagery…..

  36. Stefan, Wow!!! Wonderful work. The wedding photos out on the website are fantastic. The first photo above is my favorite. Thank you and Steve for sharing.

  37. Stefan…you made the right move and the images speak for themselves. If you are like any other digital shooter you have probably spent more on cameras over the last 10 years to make the price on that Imacon look like a bargain 🙂 Enjoy and keep up the great work!

    • Yeah that’s a great, and sensible, way of looking at it. Digital cameras become expensive paper weights in such a short time. I’d love an Imacon myself, the wife say’s keep on dreaming! hehe 😀

  38. One word: fantastic! And kudos for your decision to jump ship (back) to film, it pays off in the really outstanding quality of your pictures! (I grew up in digital age, and I’m used to the digital look, so maybe your pictures are really just good from a 1970’s perspective – but in these times, the look you achieve by your hybrid solution is rather uncommon to most viewer’s eyes, and I find them very very pleasing.)

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