Friday Film on a Saturday – Leica M5 and Tri-X by Matt Forsbacka

Friday Film on a Saturday – Leica M5 and Tri-X

by Matt Forsbacka


You run a fun web site – your enthusiasm for photography is infectious. I recently visited Tokyo and Yokohama with my M5 and vintage 35mm Summilux during the iconic sakura season. All of the attached pix are Tri-X pushed to 1600 (developed and scanned by the folks at The Darkroom – I really enjoyed shooting film as an added dimension to my digital picture taking.

All post processing was done in Apple Photos, and I found the scanned files to be pretty forgiving for my amateur photographer purposes. Film or digital? I say both.










All the best,



  1. They are lovely photos. I have an M5 myself and I really enjoy using it. Keep up the great work. 🙂

  2. For anyone interested (and if I may be so bold Luc), Luc Mary-Rabine has a fascinating website, appropriately called

    Take a look there. It helps to be able to read French. I was particularly impressed by the image “Dieu était Americain”

    I hope you don’t mind me pointing people in your direction Luc!.

  3. I think there is a bit of venom creeping into people’s comments on this site. It is not nice and adds nothing to the mix.
    I have spoken to a lot of good photographers as I go to nearly every photo exhibition there is any way near me and usually attend opening nights etc.
    I have found these people to be gracious and encouraging in their manner.
    Let’s all learn from them!

    • I agree, and it’s getting to the point where I don’t bother visiting or, certainly, browsing through comments so much lately. Exemplified by that self-satisfied, arrogant twit Tom, with his demands for explanations and high handed trolling. Two threads ruined by him in one week. Has YouTube banned these people, so they now feel obliged to come here to regurgitate their bile? Please block this idiot, Steve.

  4. When shooting film (quite a lot I’m afraid; b&w only) I tend to to stick to 400 ISO, and use 400Tx, Retro 400s, Orwo N74 and Eastman Double-X 5222. The last two are movie stock, cut (by someone 😉 ) to deliver 27 frames in a 35mm cassette. Mine come from Nik & Trick in the UK. Retro 400s is aerial photography stock, a bit harsher than usual. Tri-X is Tri-X.

    I have the rolls by an old pro, sometimes giving polite instructions. He uses D-76 and Ilford’s HC110 equivalent. N74 pushed to 800 not good, Tri-X not a problem, 5222 at 400 neither. Scanning at 16Base, usually very good.

    Nothing beats a wet print by a pro though, as I’ve found out. That 5222 is just amazing.

  5. I used to enjoy reading the comments section of the posts on your wonderful site, Steve. I could usually be assured of coming away with a warm feeling that there is still some niceness left in the world.

    Unfortunately, I have just wasted twenty minutes reading through comments of two of the last few days’ posts. I see a worrying trend of unpleasantness and pettiness.

    I hope that this will not be a developing trend.

    Anyone ever heard “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything”?

    Paul M

    • The internet is a place where many trolls hang out and are mean to others as a way to make their own lives seem better. Sadly, I can not rid the world of these types, but do what I can. When a comment crosses the line, it never makes it to the site.

  6. Have always had a kind of interest in getting an M5 as it is a much underrated camera.Having the ability to change the shutter speed with a thumbwheel is a great advantage.
    I prefer film to digital as you don’t have to worry about rapid obsolescence as you camera is obsolete anyway! The look of film is different so it makes your images stand out from the crowd.
    I use Ilford XP2 and scan with a Nikon coolscan using Vuescan software.
    You images are nice,the one of the three girls crossing the road is my favourite.
    Keep shooting you are not alone believe me ! Lots of people shoot digital and film with equal enthusiasm.

    • XP2 is great stuff. I remember when the original XP1 was released and advertised as being usable from ASA 100 through 1600, all on the same roll. It wasn’t quite THAT versatile, but it did give (and XP2 does the same, but better) the photographer the latitude to choose shutter speed and aperture combinations that might not otherwise be available for a given lighting condition.

      As for the M5, it is the perfect complement as it has a good old-fashioned match needle meter and a longitudinal shutter speed scale in the viewfinder. You know instantly what the meter (a true spot meter, by the way) recommends, and how far and to which side your chosen setting is.

      I shoot digital Leica (M Monochrom and M-E), but I have a real soft spot for the M5, which remains my favorite camera of all time. I remember drooling over them in the mid 1970s magazines, and now I enjoy fondling and occasionally shooting with my own.

      You could do infinitely worse.

  7. Nice lens camera combination. If you`re serious about b/w TRI-X try developing film yourself. My preferred combo for speed is TRI-X and Diafine rated at 1250ASA

  8. The photos don’t quite do it for me, but maybe next time. 🙂

    Film’s survival depends on proper scanning. Once again, I’m disappointed. Tri-X at 1600 is indeed grainy but not this grainy. Every photo lab I’ve seen does not scan properly. I’ve seen better results from pushed 16mm!

    • Photography is to me as golf is to others. I’ll never truly master it, but I enjoy trying. I appreciate your feedback.

  9. Oh the snobbery! iphoto and apple photos are terrific for minimum interference non destructive post processing. And the strap attachments on the M5 are excellent if you are partial to vertical carry.
    I’m betting this guys holiday albums are a cut above most peoples vacation footage.

    Now just to take the edge off I will make sweeping remarks about photography in general showing my own double standard about my poor photography:

    Real photography (making a semi permanent reflection of visible light) is a thing that only happens when you shoot iso 0.1 10×30 sheet film in a solid gold pinhole camera stand developed in the blood of the innocents and fixed with wishful thinking and prayers to the one who’s dead but dreaming. Everyone knows that.

  10. Thanks for sharing! I’m curious about the reason for pushing the film speed to 1600 ISO.

    • I was pretty much scale focusing, so I wanted to be able to use faster shutter speeds to shoot around f8 or so.

      • Ok..thanks for that explanation.

        I like the one of the 3 girls in the kimonos and the woman “biking” her dog.

    • No real theme here, other than being someplace different and playing with film. This is the first time for me shooting film at anything other than box speed.

    • Thanks, I haven’t had a chance to use other film M’s, but I really do enjoy the M5 — very intuitive for my use. To me, the styling is similar to the Audi Quattro rally cars while the other M’s are more like Porsche Speedsters.

    • Thanks. Japan was, for me at least, a very camera friendly place to visit. Very photogenic in every respect.

  11. Ha! The M5, the much maligned M. I had one for a while, couldn’t like it, sold it.

    As long as the scanning (and developing, obviously) is allright, nothing wrong with processing b&w film in LR. I do it all the time. Try some other stock as well; Double-X 5222 is an eye opener.

  12. Is it just me, but none of these street images really convey much about Tokyo?

    Density is lacking in some of these in PP.

    The only which piques my interest is the vertical.

    Can you tell us what your aim was with these images please?

    • When a film is pushed, it is under exposed (thus loosing shadow detail) and overdevelopped to re-balance. The final look is always crushed shadow, or drab gey ones, depending on what you’re trying to save. My correct exposure for Tri-X was always iso 200.

    • It gets the job done for me — for my uncalibrated eye. I do use LR as well, but I find Apple photo easier to use when emailing photos. Not that LR is a huge chore…

  13. Third from the end – “Three litlle maids from school”, straight out of Gilbert & Sullivan – really sings, and the girl on the zebra cossing is definitely a “decisive moment”! I must get some tri-X into my Leica IIIf ! Thanks for the nudge,

    • The M has sold many thousands of camera bodies, ergo, it is not unique (which is a one-off only).

    • Unique = one of a kind, can not be replicated.

      The following manufactured, and some still manufacture, rangefinder cameras: Canon, Fujica, Konica, Mamiya, Minolta, Olympus, Ricoh, and Yashica, Vivitar
      Hassleblad, Cosina, Voigtländer, Bronica, Kiev and Zorki, Contax, Kodak, and of course Nikon.

      There are others, some of whom you may not have heard of.

        • I’m with you Luc. Using a 40+ year old camera with an even older lens made me appreciate the craftsmanship that went into my camera (even though the M5 is often maligned). And making pictures with it made me feel uniquely privileged to enjoy the experience.

        • Incorrect.

          1. being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.”

          Unique has never happened before can not be replicated and will never happen again.

          A one-off.

          • Not so.

            I pointed out that the term, “unique” can not be applied to the use of an M Leica, since there are many thousands of such rangefinders worldwide, plus the other manufacturers who have, over the years, produced either replica Leica bodies of other similar rangefinders.

            Unfortunately you have gone down the path of merely pointing your finger and shouting, “Troll”, a bit like Godwin’s Law, but without the Hitler reference.

        • Comment of pure stupidity?
          “unique : particularly remarkable, special, or unusual”

          You did ask.

          • Ha! Didn’t you spot the word “feel” or what? Matt just wrote that using his Leica he feels uniquely priviliged and that is his very unique right. When I use my Hultafors craft knive (5 $ apiece or so – and they make them in millions) I too feel a unique joy.
            Aside of having some knowledge about words (or at least about using dictionaries) do you know anything about using them?

      • IMO, a gentleman shouldn’t stoop to such pedantry, especially when the writer may not be a native English speaker. Toujours la politesse.

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