The Leica M3 and SL in Tokyo, Analog and Digital
by Michael Hood
Last July I spent three weeks in the metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. I walked the streets for hours each day looking for interesting people, places and details. I created a series “Lotus Pond” and published them on my site at:
A short video can be seen here:
I am like many others here (and Steve!), a huge fan of Leica Cameras and I was very lucky to use the Leica SL and M3 with three lenses. I took the Summilux 50, Summicron 90 and 28. My usual setup is just the M3 with B&W film and a 50mm lens so this was pretty luxurious. The SL has grown on me after my early worries it was not for me, and I now really enjoy using it for a few reasons. It allows one to get a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) sharp focus very quickly with a 90mm at f2 and that lens is amazing. The ergonomics and build quality are so good and enjoyable to use and it just works well. The image quality and especially the colours are so nice
My M3 rangefinder is irreplaceable and quite a different experience to the digital SL. It is certainly the more pure photographic experience if you ask me and the images from the two systems that I made are quite different. I personally enjoy both the high resolution, full colour digital as well as the grainy, moody film aesthetic. Different tools to achieve a desired look. However, getting a successful shot with film is definitely more satisfying.
Many thanks to Steve Huff and team!
Images from the Leica M3…
And now images from the Leica SL…
I am very impressed by the quality of the M3 pictures! Congratulations!
On the other side I find the color ones coming from the SL lacking consistency. It is not possible to guess the light conditions of this set but I would have expected a better WB handling from the SL.
I can sense that you find the M3 workflow more inspiring. And I doubt that you have fun with the post processing part. If I were you I would put the vignetting apart and work on the temperature and tone to start with. I am sure that the SL can do better that what you show here.
Thanks for posting!
Hi, many of these were taken under pretty tricky mixed lighting conditions on the streets quite quickly. I did not do very much in the way of post processing and I personally like to just leave it mainly as is from the camera. Thanks!
Honestly, I don’t see either series as very captivating. Having been to Tokyo myself, I think the energy and mystery of the city is completely absent in these photos. I shoot both a Leica M10 and Leica M/A so I know it’s not the camera used. Take a look at photos by Daido Moriyama, they’re much more in the spirit of Tokyo, lively and dynamic.
I did not shoot or write this post but just chiming in to say I find most of Daido Moriyamas photos overrated, simple and even plain. Some jewels in there as there are with most photographers but there he uses tons of his high contrast to add more drama and eye appeal to a photo than there really is. Not a big fan of his work, but many are which shows everyone has different tastes. My point is we all have different styles, tastes and even EYES. We enjoy what WE enjoy, and the beauty of it all is, we are all different. I dislike when others try to copy styles of more well known photographers. Be yourself, be original and have fun.
Have a look at Tatsuo Suzuki, for a modern take on high contrast. And I agree with Steve; high contrast shoul not be a gimmick.
But I much prefer Colin Steel for b&w. Didn’t he post here, long ago?
Although the SL images are good, I like the b&w film ones so much more…
There’s just something special about B/W
These images are encouraging me to look into what it will take to do black and white film again.
develop the film yourself and “scan” with digital camera and macro lens.
Like Dirk says do it yourself if possible. Shoot with something available and affordable like HP5 or Tri-X and keep at it for consistency. Develop the film yourself so it is cheaper and it is quite fun as well. I use a Paterson tank that takes five rolls of 35mm film at once so you can save some time and chemicals. Use ID-11 or Rodinol (R09) for your developer as they are very simple to use and cheap. I picked up a Plustek OpticFilm 120 Film Scanner that gives very good results for the price. A film Leica is worth considering as they last forever and are really nice. Good luck!
I prefer the B&W film photos, especially the one of the girl sleeping in the subway car. The tonality of that one is lovely. And the one of the two women…a classic film look. Well done!
I very rarely shoot film. I have only shot two rolls this year. N=But i find the film images here on a whole other level to the SL shots.
Steve, film still has something special quality to it. This is JCH StreetPan 400 film that has a unique high contrast look without any editing. Thanks ( I really enjoyed your homeless project btw)
Much prefer M3.
Nice photos. How did you meter with the M3 and what version of the the 50 lux did you use on it?
Hi, Jason, I used an external light meter (Sekonic L-758DR DigitalMaster) that is a bit of a pain to carry but gives a precise spot reading. I am using the current standard 5o Lux.
Wonderful images. Thank you for sharing. I recently picked up a SL and am loving it.
Nice images, I prefer the M3 photos, they just seem to have more soul and mood.
Excellent eye! Love these photos 🙂
These are some of the most beautiful images I have seen on this site. Bravo. I love the mood of the film images and I love the modern rendering of the SL files. Really nice work.