A Super Three Camera Friday “Late Night” Film

The Friday “Late Night” Film with the Leica CL, Diana, and the Bronica 645.

Its Friday, it’s 10PM and I’m sitting at home in my office going through some film scans that I picked up today. For some reason, two rolls of my film did not come out which SUCKS! They were both from the plastic Diana camera and I think there was just too many light leaks, or the film did not wind tight enough. It was so bad, the lab didn’t charge me. I think two out of 12 came out…so that kind of sucks! Anyway, I decided to wait another week on the review of the Leica CL as I have two more rolls with it that I have yet to get developed, AND I had some odd things going on with the meter the other day, so I want to get it looked at. So, until the reviews can be completed I decided to throw up some film shots from the CL, the Bronica 645 and the Diana, just for fun! Plus, it’s FRIDAY!

The Leica CL – 1st Shots

Here are a few of my 1st shots that came back from the Leica CL. These are all Tri-X 400 and what can I say? Gotta love B&W film! The CL is a nice little Leica that was manufactured in Japan by Minolta back in the 70’s. The cool thing? You can find these cameras, with a Leica 40 Summicron lens included for a few hundred dollars! To top it off, the 40mm lens works FANTASTIC on the Leica M8 🙂 The CL, even though it was made in Japan is still a great little rangefinder. If you buy one today, make sure the meter works! Many CL’s sold  today have bad meters. The one I shot with seems to have a good meter but it did start acting a little wonky a couple of days ago and it seemed to stop working for three shots in a row. I got it to work again, but who knows how long it will last. In any case, the results are fantastic and this camera is nice alternative to an M if you cant spring the extra $1000 for an M6 over this little guy. With it’s small size, great lens and easy to use nature, the CL is my fave of the three cameras I am talking about today. It also produced my fave images 🙂

My 1st roll, I am happy!

The Diana Camera

Ahhh, so much fun and for $39 you can have your very own medium format film camera! It’s all plastic, and it’s a cinch to use. Just load it up with film, set it to sunny or cloudy, set your focus distance and fire away! These are meant to have fun with but I have seen some powerful images come from these little cameras, as well as the other famous plastic “toy” camera, the Holga. The diana weighs next to nothing as its all hollow plastic, it has serious light leaks, and the film doesn’t wind on the spool all to well but again, it’s a fun little camera to shoot with and who knows what you may end up with? You get vignetting, weird effects and an overall cool look to your images. For $39, it’s worth it to own one as well as  $29 Holga!

Here are shots from my 1st roll almost two months ago, and one or  two from the last roll that did not come out to well!

The Bronica 645

A good friend sent me this camera to try out for a while and in two months I have only managed to shoot two rolls of film through it, mainly due to having so many other cameras to review and the fact that its 110 degrees every stinking day here in Phx, AZ! The Bronica is FANTASTIC though. It is a rangefinder medium format film camera and the build is amazingly solid, it focuses easy, and it’s not really that large. They can also be found pretty cheap on the used market if you look around. Also, the viewfinder is different on the Bronica 645 as it is vertical so it makes for a different experience. The VF is bright with easy t o read info inside. The only negative on the 645 really is that since it is a rangefinder the minimum focus distance is not very close. Still, it’s a great camera that can give super results with the right film, the right light and the right subject. I have more images that I took with this camera and will post more soon. Someone asked me if I liked it better than the folding Fuji  rangefinder film camera I reviews a while ago. Well…it’s construction is MUCH better but I still think I prefer the Fuji mainly due to the fact that it folds up and is easily carried. I also like anything retro, so the folding thing gets me every time. I’ll have more on the Bronica soon including a video and more images/details.

For now, here are some shots from my very 1st roll all using Kodak Ektar 100, which is a GREAT film!

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  1. I want that French Bulldog Puppy, Steve!
    Love the CL Stuff. Kind of a bummer about the Diana, but I’m sure you can figure out the light leak issue. The Bronica reminds me of the Fuji GA645 series camera. Nice shots from all cameras, but from the Cl is my favorite.

    • Thanks!I LOVE French Bulldogs and that white one was so cool. The Diana is an easy fix for the light leaks, just some painters tape all over the seams. I have seen this done many times and now I know why 🙂 Thanks Elaine!

  2. Great to see some shots from the CL and the 40 Summicron. I saw the pics you shot with it on the M8, super sharp! The Bronica shots are great too, nice DOF and bokeh. The Ektar colours look great, will stick a roll through my CL soon 🙂 Thanks Steve, nice work.

  3. Hi Steve, great shots. Will you be testing Lomo at some point? Would be very much interested in.

  4. Hey Designed,
    I used to shot the Mamiya 7ii for (2 years) and loved it. The only reason I stopped using it was because I was gifted a Hasselblad kit with lenses. My only complaint about the Mamiya was that it was weird looking and attracted attention, lots of it. The optics, metering, and no frills functions are great. The suggestion I would make to Mamiya would be to make something that doesn’t look like a cobbled together box of optics and buttons. But beyond the look of the camera it is a great way to take medium format on the road. The resolution and color saturation will embarrass any Canon or Nikon user. On the computer screen there is a visible difference, but ask any 35mm to make a 40″x40″ print and they will not compare to a 120mm.
    As for me, I travel with an M9 and M6 and use the Hasselblad for tripod shots abroad or in the studio.

  5. Nice work Steve!
    The CL meter tends to get “sticky” and not move when the lever is pulled out to turn it on. Opening the lens and/or slowing the shutter may get it to unstick (maybe a sticky “bumper” that it sits against when off), or snapping the lever out a few times. I recently had mine serviced for this problem (and good CLA in the process), and now it’s a fantastic little camera again, and the meter has been right on.
    You comment “… even though it was made in Japan is still a great little rangefinder” – but back before SLRs Japanese companies made several very nice rangefinders – started by copying the Leica III after the war. My uncle had a Canon IV with a Zunow 50 F1.1 lens that had great “classic” capabilitites.

    • Thanks! The meter does seem to be spot on and it only gave me this problem three times in the same time frame. Its a lovely little camera isnt it?

  6. Steve! Since you have already done (or are doing) the Bronica and the Fuji, I’d like to hear your thoughts about Mamiya 7ii. I saw one being used to shoot rally the other day (!) and it came up very high on “50 greatest cameras of all time” list by Photography Monthly (not that I agree with the list, but still). I hope you can find one for review. Nice to hear about the CL too. Keep ’em coming!

  7. I really like Ektar in 120 format. I like the 35mm version too but when you shoot the 120 version you really see the sharpness and lack of grain. I like grain in B&W but for color I like it more smooth and I was really delighted when I saw how nice Ektar was when I scanned it in. The color rendition is nice too. A bit muted and unsaturated but for portraits it’s quite nice. If I want color pop I can always shoot Fuji or Portra VC 🙂 For the Friday Film articles, you should start looking at some of the classic cameras too. I think there’s a resurgence in popularity with the old Bronicas and Rollei / Mamiya TLRs these days!

    • Love Fuji film but so many of Fujis best are slowly dying. Ektar, like you said is fantastic in 120 and still good in 35 but not quite at the level of the 120. But what 35 is? I plan on shooting more classic cameras soon..hopefully my idea works out 🙂

  8. Three different cameras, three totally different sets of results, each with their own positive characteristics. The lomo effect on the Diana is fun but it’s Leica for me every time!!!

  9. Have to say that the Bronica did it for me but the CL is amazing too. Ektar looks superb!

  10. Hi Steve,
    Thank you for your excellent review, as always. I recently bought a used CL and mine has a broken meter. 🙁
    I use mine with a voigtlander light meter.
    I like how small the camera is and the position of the shutter speed dial is just brilliant!
    Here are some shots I have with it so far.
    Looking forward to your full review.

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