The Friday Film: How a 51 Year old Leica made me leave the digital world by Rikard Landberg

The Friday Film: How a 51 Year old Leica made me leave the digital world by Rikard Landberg

See his Flickr HERE

Hi! Steve, great and inspiring blog you run!

I just wanted to tell a story about how a 51 year old camera made me leave the digital world. I have been shooting both digital and analog for some time but my film Leica was the only camera that made any sense to me.

Like so many others I started with a SLR film camera in the late 90´s. It was a Canon AE-1 with a 50/1.8 lens. I loved being out on the street trying to catch that golden moment that would turn out to a great picture. Mostly in black and white.

I jumped on the digital SLR camera train and sold all my analog gear in a second without even thinking it through. I went from a Canon 350d (rebel xt) to a Canon 40d to a 5d in a short time.

I never really liked the digital cameras so I bought a cheap film rangefinder and I loved it! I told my self that I was going to save up to buy me a Leica M film and here I am! Proud owner of a Leica M2 and a Summicron 35. For a long time I had a Fuji x100 as a backup since I felt I had to have a digital camera. Going all analog was for crazy people! :P. But in early 2013 I sold my last digital gear and bought a dedicated film scanner and have not looked back!

It was a hard decision but it really felt right! I use my Leica M2 as i would with any digital camera. I shoot what i want to shoot but i think more before hitting the shutter. To make good pictures you need to be one with your camera no matter what camera you use. Buy the one you like and never let it go. Go out and shoot and just love it!

shoeman Empire state rock Valentine Central girls WTC crossroads Central Man Brooklyn Bridge MAn BB 8517196663_1e2170108c_b


  1. I am totally agree with you. I did the same.
    Sold my digitals and bought a black Leica M3 1965, i ve sold my M7 (not a real good camera) and my M6 (wonderful camera).
    Film is wonderful.
    I m so tired of digital cameras.
    There is so much ol great cameras and wonderful old lense.
    For web sites I ve only 2 (i stop to watch some like http://www.lemondedelaphoto), my 2 favorite are of course your web site, you do your best and you make it and of course for film and Leica I check both of them several time a day and return often in old review (what is the best Leica for you).
    Film is the best way to have pleasure. Digital is ok but more a trend and a big trade made by marketee, people who love photo and are not professional dont need digital these cameras and lenses have no value. There are toys.
    Thanks for this great review.
    Now with my Leica M3 I have great pleasure
    You want a nice combo
    Rollei 35 RF + Minolta Rokkor 40 + Canon Ltm 50/1’4. You will have a very good light camera with excellent meter and perfect viewfinder. Or find a correct M2 or M3 or an M6 with a recent Cla and you are.


  2. Zeiss Ikon 35mm is a great body too ~ and an excellent meter built in. Zeiss lenses are a bargain used – and second only to Leica glass – for 1/3rd to 1/5th the price. Superb ! Yes, I have gone BACK to FILM too … I prefer Tmax 100 for B&W, and FUji Provia 100 for COLOR. By far ! And I have gotten skin tones with Provia 100 that are incredible; as well as fabulous landscapes. I CANNOT get the Skin tones with ANY DIGITAL, that I can get with PROVIA 100 – or Portra 160 … Nor can I get the feel of crisp brilliance and clarity – esp. of snowscapes – like I can with Tmax 100. There is a special magic with ZEISS and Leica lenses. You don’t need a scanner – a local lab will develop & scan them at 3000 x 2000, or a Pro lab – I have them scanned at 5000 x 3400 – and they are INCREDIBLE ! My Mamiya 6 x 7 ( 6000 x 5000 ) !!! Can you say ~ Holy Smoke ? Razor Sharp !

  3. These scans are, I hate to say it, pretty horrible. Very soft and unfocussed. I use film a great deal, and scan with a Nikon LS9000ED and an Imacon 848. Apart from the difference in time spent on developing and scanning, the files I get are indistinguishable from those from my Leica M Monochrom. Scanning a negative is just as much an art as taking the photograph in the first place. Without prejudice, you should be glad to hear that you can follow your chosen workflow and enjoy far better images when you scan them properly.

      • Yeas, it might just be the re-sizing for the web. I shouldn’t judge and apologise if that was the case. A good scanner is a worthwhile investment if you like film and don’t intend to wet print.

        • No i think that you are absolutely right! It is really hard to scan a negative with a good result. What i meant i is that all the pictures you see on the page is scanned with a Epson v330 and it is very soft if you compare with a dedicated film scanner. So you are right about the softness in the pictures!;) Have a nice day!

    • Last year, I travelled in Berlin. I thought that I need for that a “classic” Leica and I bought an old M6 with a Summicron 50 mm and I added a 2.8/35 mm Zeiss Biogon. It was a wonderful experience, and some Germans were surprise and satisfied to see this legendary german camera. Many stopped me in the street to speak about it.
      Take a look at :
      Best regards.
      PS : sorry for my bad english, but I’m increasing my level after reading day after day the Steve blog’s ! 😉

        • Thanks !
          I use KODAK plus-X 125 or Tri-X 400. I like these films.
          Some time after, I travelled in London with the same material and I enjoyed again ! (you can see this work on my website “London Calling”).
          I tomorrow, I leave Paris for Prague but with Kodak Portra 160 /400. Soon on my website …Best regards

  4. Great photos and a really interesting story. I too have been making some use of my old FM2 with 50mm 1.4AIS and intend to continue to do so. Quite a few people have made positive comments about the manual camera and the fun they had in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s before going digital.

    I need to get a film scanner though. Then there are all the dozens and dozens of boxes of Kodachrome 64 sitting in cupboards neglected…


  5. Love that second shot of the Empire State Building! Where were you when you snapped that image?

    I always get a kick out of reading how some people enjoy returning to film … and I understand why they do this. There’s a purity and simplicity to it that makes it feel more like craft & vision; like “getting your hands dirty” … as opposed to “clinical digital image capture.”

    Having said that, I started shooting film for the first time when I was a kid in the late 1970s. Have shot with my dad’s Leica III, a Canon EF, a Nikon F3HP, Nikon F90x, Nikon F4s – and occasionally some other film cameras, too – and can honestly say I have little desire to return to film.

    Been there (for years) and done that.

    The ability to review images immediately and see if you got the shot; not being limited to 36 frames at a load and having to carry film (and carry it through airport X-ray machines); the hassle of having to take in your transparencies and wait to get them back (only to discover a bunch didn’t turn out as planned); the sometimes noxious and time-consuming nature of developing one’s own B&W, etc, etc, etc.

    Moreover, the best of today’s sensors offer much better ISO performance in low light, and greater dynamic range to transparency film (though not to color negative film).

    We shot film back then because that’s the way it was. It was all we had, and all we could imagine ever having.

    And we enjoyed it.

    But the whole process now is cleaner and more efficient. Images are easier to display and share.

    I still remain nostalgic for those older film cameras, though … and wish I could put digital backs on many of them and shoot them (don’t need autofocus all the time; grew up without it!).

    Not to beat up on those who shoot film, though. As I said at the beginning, I totally get it. Sometimes I feel a strong compulsion to pick up one of those older film cameras (all of which I still have) and shoot with them, but the inconvenience stops me every time.

    The conversion is complete. 😉

  6. Great stuff!
    You can always get a Fuji XE-1 and shoot Leica glass on it. I do and I also shoot a 55 year old Leica M3 and have a dedicated Nikon Coolpix film scanner.
    The more I look at the scanned film shots, the more I prefer them BUT there are cool things I know how to do in the digital darkroom than I wouldn’t have a clue where to start with in an analog one,
    I think each medium has their place…

  7. Really, really a bunch of terrific images! I have the same feelings towards digital, even tough I mainly use my OM-D these days. I have a nice OM-1 with a great 50mm, and I am almost certainly getting a Nikon F3 – just because I had one a long time ago and really misses it! Perhaps a Leica M, but I just have to win the lottery first 😉 Anyway: GREAT SHOTS!

  8. Beautiful shots, well tought and executed! Btw, I can relate to you, I shoot my digital exactly as you shoot your Leica M2, taking more time thinking is a sure way to better photographs…

  9. Good to see that Film Friday is back again. I really enjoyed the postings from Steve realted to film photography.

  10. Very inspiring shots. Thanks! I did the same 6 months ago. Films only (using TLRs mainly). I am switching from scanning to enlarging (no more moiré and hours spent in front of a screen): 100% analog process! Silver halide techniques should not end with digital. It’s not better, not worse. Just different. Oil painting brushes never killed pencils… Keep hunting the light!

  11. Nice photos, and a very enjoyable write-up.

    I went the other way: my order for my first digital camera went in to Amazon last May. For me, that was what got me started (i.e. going from snapshots to photos) and I have loved it! (Alas, until the last couple of years, I have not been impressed by what I have seen from digital).

    So anyway, I convinced my wife to make the switch too: she went from the Nikon FA to the X-pro1. And she loves it too… and gave me her old Nikon FA and lenses and have never looked back. Sweet.

    So now I have both the Nikon v1 and FA. Can’t wait to start putting the FA through its paces.

    Like you said: whatever gets you out there shooting, right?

    Have a blast!

  12. fine pictures Rikard.
    ” To make good pictures you need to be one with your camera no matter what camera you use. Buy the one you like and never let it go. Go out and shoot and just love it!”
    You are so right, that’s where it’s all about!

  13. Some fine pictures Rikard, well done! I recently started scanning old B/W pictures of my daughter when she was a baby and the pictures totally blew me away! Hard to describe, it’s got something to do with the tonal quality and sharpness. Since then I really got the ‘analog bug’ and purchased my first ever camera again (Minolta X-700), a Yashica 124G Mat medium format and a Olympus Trip 35 (awesome for street and with an amazing sharp lens!). I shoot also with Tmax and just loaded the Yashica with the new Portra 400. I hope to acquire an analog M in the future, because I also have a M8 with lenses. Don’t want to part with the M8 for sure so it’s waiting for the financial funds ;-).

  14. Great set of images, I really get it, shooting silver halide rather than digital. There is a quality with film that you don’t have otherwise. I don’t have the darkroom any longer, or the dexterity to load the film onto those metal spools, I would have returned to film processing (probably not), had Leica not produced the stunning MM. I find I take a little more consideration shooting with the Monochrom. You still need to ‘work’ on your DNGs as you did printing in the darkroom. The camera shoots like a film camera, I find that I’m more selective shooting it as opposed to the the ‘machine gun’ of a DSLR, maybe it’s the process of MF not AF, that slows me down. I’m more of an ‘Henri’ convert!

    • I always wince a bit when I see someone talking about digital being automatically about machine gunning photos.
      Just cos you have the ability, it doesn’t mean you have to. There are times when it is useful, but it is possible for a photographer to slow down with digital too. It is just about restraint!
      I use my digital cameras on Aperture Priority or M, I use my eyes, I take time, I explore a shot. I use Live View for checking focus, and very occasionally I chimp if I want to check my shot.

  15. Very nice stuff, you said you sold all your digital and your scanner. Do you stll scan in your negatives or are printing with enlarger and paper?

    • I sold my digital cameras to but a scanner ( and a lot of film;) ). I used to print copies in the darkroom but i don’t have room for a darkroom so i scan the negatives. The point is not that it has to be film, the point is that this is a camera that makes me take photos!;) I like to have a digital copy. But the way for me isn’t through a digital camera. Thats the only difference. I just think that we all should take pictures with the camera that you would really use, digital or analog.

    • I can se that! For me it´s not about being cool by shooting film. It´s just the only format that got me out and just shoot. I still like it to get digital in the end. I don´t have room for a darkroom anymore. So it’s a hybrid for me that works really nice. I tried the epson r-d1s and the Leica M8 but i didn’t use them. So this works for me and then thats what i will do!;)

      • If you prefer shooting film then go for it. Digital is improving all the time and is so versatile. However, I do wonder if too much is made of the Leica brand, not that it isn’t very good. I think if a pile of photographs from various cameras were thrown on the ground, few, if any, would be able to correctly identify the ones taken with a Leica. Modern machining and quality standards are so high, and always improving, that I wonder if its worth paying a premium for the name. And that’s before the photographs are worked on with the amazing software, much free, that’s out there that transform images into works of art.

        • I agree. The “best” rangefinder i have used is a Minolta CLE and i´m looking for one right now. For me i admit it really was the brand for a long long time but now it’s more the rangefinder i want. I want one with aperture priority and i´m looking for the CLE or the ziess ikon.

          • Hi, both great cameras 🙂 For me as you say it’s the process of taking pictures (with film or digital) is the bit that matters. My digital kit sits collecting dust but my film cameras shout at me to pick them up and go out there! Plus with film you can, via a good scanner, have the best of both worlds 🙂 Cheers Paul

  16. Thanks for the post. I really enjoed viewing your photos. I have a Leicaflex that I inherited from my grandmother. She bought it in Germany and it has been passed down through my aunt and now to me. I am quite an amateur but do love the process of taking film photos. When the pictures turn out well, they are better than anything I’ve taken with my digital.

  17. I like these, especially the contrast and composition.

    I have an M2 as well but don’t use it as much as I should, your post has given me the impetus to give it a go again.

  18. Welcome back home…you’ve been missed…I especially like the 9th (shot of the bridge) immediately drawn to the center and then back out by the shape and contrast in the stone work…

  19. Amazing photos! It’s inspiring that there are film exclusive shooters even to this day. I like the last four particularly. I like your use of driving lines. Keep on keeping on!

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