Aug 282015


A year with film – Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad

By Adam Laws

I hope your well and have a cup of tea close by, it’s pretty miserable here in London. It’s been awhile since my last submission and I thought I would write to you about my year of analogue photography with a Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad.

Since my last post on portraiture with the Sony A7 ‘apparently’ I have been going all hipster though I must say without the beard by shooting analogue.

The majority of my work is still shot on my Sony A7.

Sony images 1, 2 and 3 – 

Sony 1

Sony 2

Sony 3

However I have been supplementing my digital work with far more analogue images, furthermore I generally shoot all my personal snaps now on film. I don’t believe film is better in any way but I do believe without trying to sound all hippy film gives a more organic image. Most importantly I enjoy the process of shooting film more, and surely fun is the most important element in the creative process.

So I’ve gone through some cameras this year, which I will elaborate on why giving a brief synopsis/feel of the cameras.


I bought a Leica M6 TTL with a .85 viewfinder and 50 ‘cron. Leica’s are beautiful aren’t they? The lore written about them makes them sound at times like unicorns at times, as such I romanticized owning one.

My thoughts on owning one – Well they are beautifully built. Solid and satisfyingly weighty. I did struggle with ownership, which ultimately made me sell it after a few months. This is not the cameras fault but more the time in my life I purchased it. Soon after I started my part-time photography degree, I needed to shoot an element of film in a studio and the Leica with its limited flash sync was not ideally suited to this task.

I also struggled with the notion of how expensive it was. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful piece of machinery, which evokes an emotive response and for that I totally appreciate why individuals buy them. However for the less money I could purchase a Hasselblad 500cm, Nikon FM2n, and Contax G2 all of them with glass and have change. Is a Leica M6 better than all 3 of these cameras? And would I have less fun shooting these cameras. So I sold the Leica to find out.

Leica images 1, 2, and 3

Lecia 1

Lecia 2

Leica 3


This camera is a beast. Well it terms what I’m used to. The sound of the low thud of the shutter makes me smile. I do struggle with its size. I’m used to traveling light so having a big medium format camera is somewhat strange for me. It also interesting shooting back to front, something I am still getting used to.

The best thing about the camera, even more so than the negative size it produces is the reaction I get from the model. As soon as a model sees this camera in my experience they instantly get more serious about the project.

Hasselblad 1, 2, and 3

Hasselblad 1

Hasselblad 2

Hasselblad 3

Nikon FM2n

This is becoming one of my favourite cameras I own. The bright viewfinder, the solidness of the camera, and the big manual dials. It does not feel as good as the Leica, not as well made or smooth. I would say the camera is more utilitarian workhorse. I use it with an awesome Nikkor 50mm 1.2, which is a joy to use.

Generally this camera is loaded with FP4 film shot relatively wide own in a studio environment, where I would be using the model light as a source of light in-between shots with Sony or Contax G2. I have started taking this camera on the street with me when I fancy shooting B’n’W.

Nikon 1, 2, and 3

Nikon 1

Nikon 2

Nikon 3

Contax G2

The Contax is pretty much always in my bag. It can do everything my Sony can but it uses film. Unlike the Nikon this is normally loaded with colour Portra. The focus is always accurate and makes a great travel companion.

The contax does feels better in my hand than the Leica ever did. This is due to the thumb rest situated at the back of the camera. In addition the dials are a step up from that of the Nikon, but the camera feels very electronic with autofocus sounding something like Robocop. I also use this as a secondary studio camera generally mimicking the settings I had with the Sony to have a comparative organic film image.

Contax 1, 2, and 3

Contax 1

Contax 2

Contax 3


Generally there isn’t one. I think ultimately as long as you enjoy the process of creating images that is the most important element.

Sometimes there is a more suitable tool for the job, but that doesn’t also mean it is the most fun way to complete the job after all.

For me I like the organic images, the slower pace of shooting, the challenges asked of you using antiquated cameras, and thought processes that go through your mind.

I have enjoyed playing about with different formats and cameras. I think it’s always a great idea to play around with as many cameras as possible that way you know what you like and don’t. In addition the challenges posed by new equipment makes you think about your photography, which is never a bad thing.

You can view more of my work on my website:

However I regular update my Instagram with my newest work:

Jun 202014

Portraits from The Punjab

By Ibraar Hussain

And onto part Three! (Part 1, Part 2)

I only spent a few days in The Punjab, mostly round my Grandparents old Village with locals I absolutely love. Some were kind enough to allow me to make some portraits of them while we were out and about in the village. And then back to England.

You can see all my other stuff plus the majority from this and other trips at my Flickr:

All photographs:

Contax G2 45mm Planar T* Kodak Ektachrome e100vs
















Mar 072014

Friday Film: Contax 645 and Leica M7

by John Tuckey

Hi All, another film Friday offering for you to love or hate as you like ;-) These images are all from a shoot last weekend. The key camera was the Leica Mono with the Noctilux, just back from being calibrated for optimum focus at minimum distance, I was keen to see if it would deliver the results, as I was starting to get a little frustrated with the beast.

However I also wanted to test out my new medium format joy toy (the Contax 645), and ideally get a comparison between the medium format monster and 35mm from my M7.

After a little musing I figured out that if I shot the Mono & Nocti at f1 and ISO 400 with a 3 stop ND grad, I’d be able to set the lights once and just jump the flash trigger onto the Contax at f2 with ISO 100 film, and the M7 with the 50’lux at f2 and ISO 50 film (M7 has a much slower flash sync speed) – score!

So, here’s a small selection for you. I’ll stress this isn’t meant to be a in-depth scientific comparison, it was a bit of fun while trying out new toys, and with over 90 frames to choose from this is a pretty eclectic mix! But it is interesting to see the difference in grain between the film formats even with the 35mm taken at a lower ISO. As someone said in a recent post ‘a good big’un beats a good little’un’!

Finally for those interested in comparing the Contax 645’s f2 DoF to the nocti at f1, the digital shots are here:


Leica M7, 50mm Summilux ASPH @ f/2, 1/50, Ilford PanF ISO 50, Elinchrom flash


Leica M7, 50mm Summilux ASPH @ f/2, 1/50, Ilford PanF ISO 50, Elinchrom flash


Contax 645, 80mm f/2 @ f2, 1/125, Ilford Delta 100, Elinchrom flash


Contax 645, 80mm f/2 @ f2, 1/250, Ilford Pan-F 50, Elinchrom flash


Contax 645, 80mm f/2 @ f2, 1/125, Kodak Portra 400, just usign a modelling light in a soft box


Contax 645, 80mm f/2 @ f2, 1/125, Ilford Delta 400, natural light


Contax 645, 80mm f/2 @ f2, 1/125, Kodak Portra 400, natural light.


Contax 645, 80mm f/2 @ f2, 1/125, Ilford Delta 3200, natural light (or rather, lack of)


All the Best

John Tuckey

Aug 032012

Tri-X: The Real Deal by John Shingleton

I cracked a wry smile as I read Anand Asar’s post -“How to get that film look“( 30th July) and the torrent of not always polite comments which followed. I felt for Anand but found myself asking “But why try to digitally emulate film when you can still have the real thing”?

Regular readers of Steve’s blog may have read my story of my personal photographic journey back in February HERE. In this I set out my philosophy of minimizing my camera gear and travelling light .

Since writing that post my photographic journey has taken an unexpected turn .For some time I had felt that I was taking too many photos and I was in danger of becoming a “snapper” as opposed to a photographer .The tipping point came whilst I was travelling in Europe a couple of months ago . Everywhere I travelled there were hordes of tourists touting big DSLRs and they were just “snapping”, often unthinkingly raising their cameras to their eyes and shooting away without making any effort to compose the photo yet alone think about or even observe what they were taking .I could see myself going the same way. To avoid this horrible fate I decided that I needed to get back to my photographic roots and to embrace “slow”photography in the form of film or analogue photography. I had done the Leica thing for over 40 years so there was no point in going there again. Ever since I had been interested in photography (52 years ) I have lusted after a Hasselblad (Blad) medium format SLR although in the last 10 years I had forgotten about this enthusiasm in my rush to embrace digital. For those not familiar with iconic camera brands Hasselblad was the king of cameras before the digital era and was embraced by both top line professional photographers and wealthy collectors. The Apollo astronauts took Blads to the moon with them–I understand that they even left one there –probably to save weight on the flight back to earth.

Spurred on by a friend in the UK I looked at the prices of ‘Blads and was really surprised by how affordable they have become . To cut the story short I picked up a beautiful vintage Hasselblad outfit/camera body/magazine and three lenses for $1000. Now the Hasselblad is a beautiful piece of kit with superb precision,  Swedish engineering made of steel, aluminium and glass with not a piece of plastic in sight and just handling it is a tactile experience. Not something you can say about many digital cameras apart from the Leica M9.

At this point I can almost hear the gear heads saying “is this guy crazy”? $1000 for a vintage clockwork film camera? For that money I could buy a super new Panikocany XZS 100-DM with 24mp ,auto focus faster than the speed of light, 128 very confusing menus , loads of little buttons , a touch screen but no viewfinder.”That would be totally missing the point.

This wonderful device called a Hasselblad has already given me enormous pleasure and I have only shot four 120 films -48 exposures so far. It is certainly slow and difficult to use . Even loading the film is a slow, tricky operation and the viewfinder is very dim and reversed which can be very confusing. If I tried using it after a few beers I would probably fall over. But setting the camera up, taking the photos ( it makes a wonderful noise as the mirror flips and the two shutters fire) and then waiting for the film to be processed to see the results is a completely different experience to digital photography. Yes, black and white film photos have a totally unique look and I have really embraced the black arts and purchased a developing tank and chemicals so I process the films as well. I did have all this gear once but gave it away thinking that I would never use it again.

But enough from me . I’ll let some of my first photos from the Blad do the talking. These are like the first beer made by a home brewer, I am sure I will improve with practice. These were taken on either Ilford FP4 or Kodak Tri-X film. Yes ,Tri-X the real deal. No digital emulation here.  In case you are wondering I won’t be taking my Hasselblad travelling with me. It is far too heavy and cumbersome for that. If I took the Blad outfit on a plane it would use all my luggage allowance. That’s no way to travel! A Blad outfit and one pair of underpants! No, the Leica X1 is safe .

If you want to see how my slow photography develops watch my eclectic blog on and please don’t comment that I am crazy as I already know.


Aug 022012

Three Months of shooting film and here is what I learned by Ryan Lussier

Hello Steve,

A few months back I had sent you a few shots to see if I could be part of your daily inspiration. Thank you so much for posting that I was so happy to share some thoughts and hear back from some great photographers who read your blog. In that post I mentioned that I had ordered a Contax G2 and I was about to embark on a film journey. Well some time has passed and I wanted to share with you and your readers how the journey is going.

Kodak Portra 400 and Zeiss 50 f/2

First a quick recap…

I’ve grown up on digital I’ve never shot film and I love the fuji X series. For awhile I had been using programs like DXO film pack, VSCO, and others to try to emulate film and then having seen the post from Ibraar I had a feeling that despite some really good programs that are out there the look and feel of film is something all of its own. Now I am no expert in this and this post is to hopefully guide someone as new to film as I was (and still am) on some suggestions on work flow. Why shoot film in the first place, for those of you who haven’t I can only describe the results as a sort of creaminess that I haven’t been able to accomplish or see from digital files. There is a beauty in the transitions from highlights to shadows and a softness to the skin tones that I love.

I know that digital can resolve more fine detail in some cases is smoother and cleaner but there is a beauty in the imperfection of grain, and more importantly film has taught me that you don’t need a razor-sharp film or to be able to see the tiny hairs on someone’s upper lip viewed at 100% to have a photo with soul and character. Some of the results of film even when I’ve messed up have surprised me in their beauty despite their imperfections.This is not meant to be film vs digital as I use and love both this is more of me urging people to try out film if you haven’t or for those who have to come back to an old friend. The fact is with the recent announcement of Fuji cancelling Velvia 100f some of these wonderful films may be gone before you’ve had a chance to try them, and I truly think that is a shame.

Kodak T-Max 400 and 45 Planar

You can pick up a used film camera for cheap look around read reviews there are tons to choose from. Most of the examples that I’ve included are shot on the G2 and scanned myself so this is where I hope to add some value. I haven’t had any luck in lab scans they take control away from you and put in the hands of the lab so my first suggestion to you if you want to start shooting film is to buy a scanner. These can be fairly cheap I bought and use a dedicated film scanner OpticFilm 7600i by Plustek through B&H Photo for around 269 on sale not bad. So now you have the scanner what about the software I use and love Vue Scan 80.00 bucks for the professional edition.

My workflow is simple set up Vue Scan to scan your negative in RAW format which creates a RAW TIFF. I usually scan at 3600dpi, 48RGB and 16RGB Gray for black and white. Now that you have your RAW negative it’s time to turn that negative into a positive this is where ColorPerfect comes in, it’s a plug-in for Photoshop that will convert the negative file into a positive thus allowing you to skip the scanning softwares colour profiles that don’t really look good anyways. In ColorPerfect you can adjust the gamma (I use this for black and white) and they have a handy highlight recovery tool that works great if your scan has clipped some highlights. ColorPerfect has a ton of profiles for different films and I’ve been very happy with the results. I then bring my new tiff file into Aperture 3 to fix up any dust spots, do a light sharpen to restore what you loose in the scan and maybe tweak colours or curves but my intent is to be as true to the film as possible. Speaking of dust spots my first few months were filled with anger over the amount of crude I had to remove until I found Antistaticum by Ilford as well as canned air to help me out. I can scan 36 exposure and do some quick adjustments in about an hour, my developing costs 3.95 a roll.

Kodak Ektar 100

So all in all the costs of film are not bad. Skip the Starbucks in the morning and you can develop your film at a lab. There are cheaper ways by developing yourself and buying in bulk, but I haven’t done this myself. So there you have it! My thoughts and suggestions for someone feeling like I was that it’s time to get some film and give it a go. Most of these shots are very personal to me as I got into photography to photograph my lovely family and friends. The beautiful blond in the shots is my wife, she is ever so patient with a camera stuck in her face every time she turns around, and my constant stream of new and old cameras and all the time spent reading Steve Huff photo.


Ryan Lussier

Kodak Ektar 100

Delta 100


Kodak T-Max 400


Fuji Reala and the 45 f/2

If anyone would ilk e to find a Contax G2 for themselves you can try Ken Hansen (email him at [email protected])  who always seems to have used film gear, or even B&H Photo has a used Titanium G2 for under $600 right now as well!


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