Daily Inspiration #169 by Mike Thomas

Hi Steve,

Love your blog, and have been an avid reader (and sometime commenter) for a while now. I thought I’d send you a theme submission for “Daily Inspiration”, and in doing so I’ve taken the liberty to break your rules (sorry) just a little, and submit four photos. I thought I’d submit photos made with four very different rigs, each of which I shoot with quite a bit. I think of it as “horses for courses”. I hope you’ll consider running this little series on your blog.

Here’s a link to my flickr account, as well: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathomas/


Horses for Courses

The M8. When I found that used ones were going for “reasonable” prices I decided to jump. Though I’ve turned to film quite a bit lately (thanks to you and other enthusiast sites), I still shoot my M8 quite a bit, and sometimes am just amazed by the quality of the images. That, combined with the convenience and malleability of digital images, keeps me shooting digital.

M8 + Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5

B&W conversion in Nik Silver Efex.

I loved my M8 so much, and did so many B&W conversions, I decided to get a film M and shoot “real” B&W again (it had probably been 20 years).  I found a beautiful M2 at my local camera shop and bought it as a birthday present to myself. I find the M2 with a fast lens makes a great low-light setup (esp compared with the M8!).  Here, I was testing my beloved Sonnar, which had just taken a bad knock against a piece of furniture.  It obviously still took good photos but had a pretty bad rattle, so I sent it in for service.
Leica M2 +  Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5
Tri-X @ 1250, developed in Diafine
Scanned with Plustek 7300

Shooting 35mm film again led to a curiosity about medium format and the beautiful detail and smooth tones you can get from the larger negative. So, after doing a lot of research I bought a used Fuji on eBay. I have loved shooting this camera, which is known as the “Texas Leica”. Though it doesn’t have anywhere near the quality feel of the Leicas, the quality of the images is just amazing, and the camera is very easy to handle for a medium format rig.

Fuji GW690III, fixed Fujinon 90mm f/3.5

Ilford Delta 400, lab dev/scan

“The best camera is the one you have with you”. I’ve found that to be pretty true, and if the camera is a “Hipstamatic” (iPhone/iPod Touch app), then all the better. I’ve found the random nature of the output of this “camera” to be really inspiring and fun. Plus, I always have it.

iPod Touch + Hipstamatic

(John S lens and Ina ’69 film)


  1. Well, I can say for sure that Steve has an avid readership! My flickr stats show that I got 3-4x my normal traffic on the day he published this post. I appreciate all the comments I received over there, and here. Thanks again, Steve.

  2. Hi all,

    Thanks for your kind comments. It’s funny. I have been getting tons of nice comments on flickr today, and wondered what had happened. One of my commenters mentioned seeing my images on stevehuffphoto.com. I thought, “I made daily inspiration? COOL!”. So, here I am.

    @Michiel: You’re right about the focus. It was near-dark, so even with a nice viewfinder like the M8’s I didn’t nail it. I just liked his pose and the tones I was able to extract with Silver Efex.

    @Elaine: Yeah, MF has really awakened me to a whole new world of quality, and even slower shooting (esp. since you only get 8 shots per roll on a 6×9 camera)

    @Erik: Go for it! I got mine off eBay, and it has been really nice to shoot, if you like rangefinders.

    @TDK: Thanks. MF is all about tone and fine grain.

    @Andy S: Thanks for your kind comments. I agree that giving up some control sometimes gives us nice results. Looking forward to your Daily Inspiration.

    @Shawn Hoke: Thanks!

    @Andy J: I’ll bet you’re loving the Rolleis. Have you tried Rollei Retro 80S in one yet? Amazing stuff. Even 35mm looks almost like MF with it.

    @Cindy Flood: Hi, and thanks, and see you on RFF :-).

    And, of course, THANKS, Steve, for selecting my submission!

  3. Nice shots Mike! yeah, I’m down with the Plymouth shot too. I recently bought two Rolleiflex TLR’s (6×6 & 4×4) and just love the results I’m getting out of them. Hipstamatic on the iPhone rocks too, I love it, so very random 🙂

  4. This was probably my favorite Daily Inspiration thus far. Great images, Mike! I especially like the Fuji image. I think it has that “Leica Look.” 😉 But seriously. I like that one. And I’ll second your comments on the Hipstamatic. Not the greatest IQ, but I like the effects. Some of my favorite pictures have come from my Hipstamatic. Not because of their technical quality, but because the controls are taken away and the results can often be surprising. I’ve thought of submitting a Daily Inspiration. Maybe I’ll get the guts to try it one of these days.

  5. Lovely pics! Could be the knock, but focus is decidedly off in the first one. Unless you focused on the beanie instead of eye/nose. f1.5? Razorsharp DoF, very difficult to master.

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