Some Fuji Reala Love…

I’m out in Arizona today and will be back home in IL on Tuesday with more reviews but for now a “just for fun” post. Last week I shot some Fuji Reala film and had a drug store process AND scan them last night. Nothing special, just some more family and friend shots but I have to say that I really am digging the Fuji colors, even in this “non pro” film. Fuji Reala is an ISO 100 film and is said to be really good for portraits but it seems to work well with just about anything! I have always had a soft spot for those Fuji DSLR’s mainly for the color and now I can get those colors with my film camera just by popping in a roll of Fuji film.

I will be shooting all kinds of film over the next 2-3 months and will be writing my thoughts about each film as I go along. Since I am not at home right now I can not scan these negatives myself but the scans that the store gave me are not so bad this time as you can see below. Fuji Reala can be bought for ABOUT $5.50 a roll so it’s not super cheap but it’s a great film.

The following images were shot with my M6 and was the third roll through the camera. Actually, I have been loving film so much that I decided to sell my LNIB M6 chrome AND my LNIB CHROME 50 cron!! Am I crazy??? Well, maybe. I just decided to buy a Black Paint Leica MP. I used to own one and I always told myself that I would own one again. It’s a great camera and I had the opportunity to buy a new one at a great price so I could not resist. The MP is the finest film rangefinder made IMO (though I have yet to try them all) I posted the M6 in the Buy/Sell if anyone out there wants a like brand new M6 classic with all packaging, etc. The 50 cron is chrome (heavier/more solid)  and also like new in box (was actually new old stock and the focus is PERFECT and smooooth). Pics here…

So, with my M6 plug out of the way….here are some shots with Fuji Reala which I think I prefer over Kodak Ektar 100! The Fuji blues are so nice IMO. The next film up will be some Fuji pro 400H. Cant wait 🙂

I have always loved Fuji colors, and the blues really pop with Reala. Skin tones are really good if not a little over-saturated but it is definitely not a “dull” film. Plenty of rich color and pop can be found within this film.

No tweaks, no PS, no editing. Just a cheap drug store scan. Also, this was shot with the old $300 Leica 50 Summitar. These old lenses work so well with film. As good as this lens is on the M9, on film it seems to do even better. The color in the following image is superb IMO.

The next few shots were also with the 50 summitar. They kind of show some of the great character of this lens AND the great saturation of Reala.

the next few images were shot with the Leica 18 Super Elmar

just a couple of  snapshots while my wife was driving…

If you want a film with great saturated color and very fine grain then Fuji Reala is great. I’m buying a bunch myself this week!

I will be back home tomorrow and will be working on the Epson V700 video overview which will hopefully be up by Wednesday. The Leica 18 Elmar review should be up by the end of the week! Thanks for reading!


  1. I really loved Reala for my photographic needs I found it superior to all other print films. My major regret is that I did not buy a ton of it when it started to get scarce.

    most of the images that I take are either landscape or architecture every once in a while I take people

    Will Fuji ever bring back reala back? What are people using as a print film as a replacement? Extar?

    I am getting back into film photograph after a couple years I also used to shoot plus x but that is no longer available also. Do you suggest ilford PF4 as a subtitle? I tried TMax a couple of years ago and I hated it. Not contrast enough for me.

    Thanks for your expertize

  2. Steve !!

    For Reala 100, what Exposure Index (E.I.) do you set your camera ASA at ?!!

    100?, 80?, 50? …..

    Thank you soooo much !!!

  3. Nice review, i hope you may have a chance to try REALA ACE someday, it’s only selling in Japan locally. :))))

  4. Hey Steve !!!

    Because of YOU, because of all your great posts on “Film is not dead”, I bought my first film camera yesterday.

    I can’t wait to read your review of the different film available out there .. Kodachrome, Velvia, Elitchrome, Portra, Tri-X, etc.

    In the meantime, I’ll get a few roll of Reala today for my first shots.

    I love your Passion! Keep It Up man !!!

    Have a great week.

  5. Elaine,

    No problem at all. It does sound confusing but once you put it all together, it’s like riding a bicycle. Let me know if you need further help. As far as filters, the 50 cron takes 39mm and many other Leica lenses take 46mm. What I did is buy a “step up” ring 39mm to 46mm (B&H has them) and just use 46mm filters. B&H carries both sizes so that’s your call. I obviously find it easier and more economical to carry a step up ring and same filter size instead of buying a bunch of 39mm filters AND 46mm as well.
    BTW, didn’t understand your question about a Leica with filter on it. No lenses come with filters and if there is one on it, you would just remove it. You can also stack filters but that’s for another day 🙂

    Oh…also, I am going under the assumption that this is the spot meter you have



  6. Max,
    Thanks for the info. I am a bit confused about the metering on the Pentax in regards to the rotating ring. But I will read the manual, and keep reading this text that you wrote. I appreciate you taking the time to answer the questions I had. 🙂

    Would a ND filter fit a Leica that has a filter on it, or would I take that filter off to put the ND one on? Never used a ND filter. What do you recommend for a 50 cron on a M6?

  7. Hey Elaine,

    Well, you have the best spot meter there is already so you’re in good shape. The best way to use it is, in my opinion, as a zone system meter. Essentially, without going into excruciating details and if you don’t want to use a sticker right below the rotating ring with your EV numbers, just do this.

    Zones are from 1 to 8, where 1 would be pure black and 8 would be close to pure white. To visualize, use the window of that rotating ring as: all the way to the left as zone 2 and all the way to the right as zone 8. Example: set the ISO at 100 and take a reading of a blue sky. Let’s say it is 15 and you want to put it at zone 7 (bright but not washed out) that 15 number would be roughly a 1/4 inch from the the rotating dial’s window. You will see that the EV number 10 is almost buried to the left and that would be zone 2 with the number 11 being zone 3. If your scene falls entirely within those numbers, you can achieve a correct exposure with fine detail on both ends. Keep in mind that zone 5 will be smacked right in the middle of that meter window (your average 18% gray card in theory) Obviously, if you have a very high contrast scene, you would have to make a decision to either favor your highlights or shadows ( or, use a graduated neutral density filter to bring things in balance). With black and white film (and that is what Adams used to do) you can favor the shadows knowing that you will control and tame your highlights during development. With digital and a much more abrupt stop between properly exposed and blown highlights, you have less latitude but you can also recover some in post processing. It may all sound confusing but you’ll be surprised at how simple it can be once you practice and start visualizing the concept. Don’t hesitate to ask more questions. Also, practice a bit with your digital in full manual and using the meter.

    As far as film, can’t go wrong with Tri-X. On a bright day you are limited by the 1/1000 shutter speeds and can’t use wider apertures unless with a neutral density filter to bring down the light entering the lens (a 3 stop filter would essentially bring you down to 50 ISO and still retain the qualities of Tri-X) and then being able to use wider apertures to narrow depth of field and create your desired effects. Or just use Ilford PanF+ (50ISO) if you enjoy less grain and different tonalities. The possibilities are endless!

    As far as developing b&w and health issues, you would have to live in a darkroom doing tray development for any issues. With small tanks and developing a few rolls here and there, you essentially never touch chemicals and the amounts are negligible. Wouldn’t worry about it.

    ..and practice loading that M6. It can be a pain sometimes. If you shot TMAX 100 you essentially underexposed it by two stops which is not a big deal. You would have to increase developing time to compensate (example HC110 for ISO100-200 is about 6 minutes in dilution B and for ISO400 is roughly 11-12 minutes).

    Hopefully you are not totally confused 🙂

  8. Max, I just found my directions on the Pentax digital Spot Meter. I set the focus on the ring. Then I checked the spot metering, dialed the number I saw and it gave me a bunch of shutter speed and aperture combinations to go with the ISO I set. How friggin’ cool is that??? I forgot how easy it is. But, don’t I have to take a few readings to be more accurate, or an average of high and low readings? What would be the best way to use this meter?

    Next I need to buy some film. Steve’s choices are nice. I think I’m going to either use Tri-X 400 or a color negative film in the 100-160 range. I notice the highest shutter speed on the camera is 1000 second on the M6, so I don’t know that I’d want a very fast film. It’s cheaper to use a C-41 process and send to a Costco or Wal.Mart. Then again, it’s only about 5 bucks to develop one roll of 36 exp. B&W without pictures at this specialty shop 25 miles from here. I really need to do my own film developing.

    I was talking to a man who used to develop his own B&W film. He said the chemicals messed up his breathing and now has asthma due to this. I wonder if it’s the stop bath that he couldn’t tolerate, which is why they recommend a water rinse now? Curious.

  9. Max, thanks so much for all of the info. I recall a lot of it now that you wrote it. I remember slide film being very exact. I loved slide film though.

    I will try this again, as soon as I load the M6 correctly. Oh yeah. I’m one of those morons who didn’t load it properly. Not only that, I used ISO 400 on ISO 100 TMAX film. Talk about having a bad day of it. Tells you how out of practice I am.

    I will check on the Goseen.

    I have a Pentax Digital Spot Meter, but have no clue how to use it. Back in the day I used it for my Rolleiflex. It didn’t come with a manual. I have no idea how to use the thing. I don’t think I knew how then either. I think I relied on my Nikon camera meter. LOL!

  10. Elaine,

    Using the center weighted metering in a Leica usually requires a little bit of math in your head and it only becomes more of an issue with digitals because of linear ways of sensors, Meaning that you go to blown highlights without a cushion (think 0 to 60 at the speed of light), where film, generally speaking, has a gentle curve. Obviously with digital you can recover some highlight detail during post processing. With digitals, you want to expose to the right, which means look at the histogram and try to expose as far right as possible without blowing highlights. For most situations this would require finding a middle ground between shadows/highlights and then slightly favor highlights to make sure that the sensor records as much as possible in the darker areas without losing too much on the other end. Incident light metering (as opposed to spot metering) is useful when the light on your subject is the same as your position with the camera and the Gossen or Sekonic meters are great with a variety of models to choose from. The tiny Gossen Digisix is my favorite to carry around in my pocket.
    I use spot metering with a modified zone VI Pentax spot meter when I really want accurate exposure using the zone system (have to read Ansel Adams’ book “The Negative” for that one) and when the light at the subject is different from the shooter’s position and you want accurate metering. Leica cameras, aside from the M7, M8 and M9 in aperture priority mode, use the led system () which is quite poor and confusing to find an average value with. The best one is the good old Nikon analog system with the needle (as in the FM3A camera for example). There, you have a very easy visual of where the middle is if you have highlights at 1/500 and shadows @ 1/125. You smack the needle in the middle of the two readings, hold the exposure lock button, and you have a correct middle ground. With digital displays it is a little easier but it can still be confusing.
    Metering with film requires a little different thinking as well, as in general black & white emulsions have a wide latitude and can take varying degrees of overexposure while still recording all details (as the old say goes, “expose for the shadows” there). Slides on the other hand have a more limited range and require much more careful exposure to avoid blocking shadows and/or blowing highlights. Overall, this can be a very complex subject and can drive one nuts. I would say, get yourself a cheap Gossen Digisix meter and use it. Also, practice some black & white film without a meter at all and using the “sunny 16” rule as a guideline. You’ll be surprised to see that it works well when you really want to keep it simple and for brain practice. You can also use this method with your M8 and keep track of what you are doing wrong in different situations. Hope this helps.


  11. Steve…

    Great stuff. I really love Reala, too…it always looks good. It really is the case that the more you shoot of it the more you will end up loving it.

    Here is a Reala set from Gloucester, MA. I drove up there one morning on a whim and shot a few photos…used a Leica CL, Bessa R3a, Summicron C 40/2, Voigt 28/3.5 (BTW the 28 is not fast but ASTOUNDING, cheap, and TINY). There are also some Silver EFEX mono conversions from the color files…otherwise no editing:

    Keep the good stuff coming. Glad to see you are enjoying film.



  12. Oops, one more thins. Yeah I know. I’m a pain.

    What is difference with the MP as opposed to the M6 camera? Is the MP a personal choice for aesthetics or is it a better mechanical camera than the M6? I’m just curious.

  13. Steve, (or anyone else),

    I forgot to ask you about metering in your Leica film and digital cameras.

    When you meter, do you meter off a grey area or try to? I know that the cameras both have center weighted metering and was wondering what the best approach for both film and digital cameras would be in the metering? Do you aim at your hand to meter, or shoot in Aperture Priority? Do you carry a hand-held meter? If so, which is an easy one to use? I would like to use the meter inside the camera, but i heard they aren’t too accurate, and I’ve noticed on the M8.2, that it kind of shoots brighter than what I’m used to, thereby blowing out the highlights? Anyone else notice this?

    As for the M6, I have never used one, so have no clue what the metering will be like with that. I think a hand held meter would be a consistent way to shoot. Set it and forget it, unless the lighting changes dramatically. What is a good hand held meter?

    All of you Leica users out there must know this one! 🙂

    (By the way, I love the film stuff, but I still want to see a review on:
    your iPad
    the Leica V-Lux camera
    and a comparison to what the best P&S camera would be for all-around use? The V-Lux sounded perfect except it doesn’t shoot RAW/DNG. I was totally bummed out to hear that. Should I wait for a D-Lux 5??

  14. The picture of your wife and son is absolutely gorgeous! I also love the lanterns. the colors really shine in those photos too.

    Steve, where do you buy your film?

  15. Steve, I hope you’re going to try out some slide film as well? I’ve been trying Kodak Elite Chrome and E100G and the results are just great.. eyepopping color 🙂

  16. Good stuff, Steve. The shot of Mina and Brandon is perfect. Great colors and feel to it. Congrats on the MP..after all, it is the natural heir to the “perfect” M3.

  17. hey steve, would love your opinion on what the best c41 bnw film is. I work at a drugstore type photo lab as a sales guy so getting stuff proccessed c41 costs me practically nothing, would love your opinion on currently available film as im not ebay hunting 😛

  18. can’t believe you’re parting with your m6 so soon. but for a black mp… the most beautiful camera ever?

  19. You`ve done it again! Is there no end to you`re provocation? Firstly you caused me to wake my F6 from its slumbers and now you`re responsible for my desire to return to my days of shooting Reala, with its rich, saturated colours ( sorry America, colors ! ) Gawd knows what you`re going to be getting me to do next !! (:~) Keep up the good work though Steve,you makes us think…….

  20. Steve

    Reala is great. It used to be my standard print film. Velvia for slides. I loved those Fuji films.

  21. Fuji Reala is my favorite color print film. There were some rumors that Fuji is discontinuing it recently so I bought like 50 rolls, which are now in my freezer.

  22. Beautiful photos Steve! you make me want to be as good of a photographer as you and you make me want a Leica film camera so bad!!!

    You are also making me envious of the easiness with which you manage to change your gear.. it isn’t as easy to change or find Leica gear in Israel as apparently it is in the U.S. or I would have already tried out other Leica lenses and cameras as the ones I have (M9+Zeiss 28mm)

    …or maybe I’m just getting crazy waiting for my Summilux 50mm ASPH to arrive…

  23. Somehow, I thought you would end up with the MP. I just bought a demo condition MP as well. It just felt so much smoother than the M6 and I basically justified the purchase by saying I would never need another film M ever again.

    Great post on the Reala. I gotta go try it this week.

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