Going wide angle with the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5

Medium format cameras are my first choice when shooting films these days. I have written many times about the (obvious) advantages MF compared to 35mm in previous posts. My film Leica M cameras have not seen some serious action lately, but still there are some images that I cannot capture with my MF gear, and that’s super wide angle photos.

The most used lens on my Leica M7 is the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5. Compared to my widest MF lens (which is 28mm equivalent), the 15mm provides a completely difference experience. It’s a fantastic lens with very good image quality, and very very small and light.

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(Leica M7, Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5, Kodak BW400CN film)

I shot a roll of Kodak BW400CN film with this lens. I always find challenging the experience of going out with a single lens even if its a specialty lens like a super wide angle. It makes you focus on specific subjects and think quite different than carrying a zoom or many prime lenses.

The BW400CN is C41 black and white, which means its developed like a color negative. So, you develop it in a lab, and you can also use the ICE function of the scanner to eliminate dust spots. That saves me lots of time in post process, since even with very careful developing, I always get spots in my b&w films. On the other hand, it lacks the look of a silver halide film like the HP5 or TRI-X. I use this kind of film when I don’t have the time to do a good development myself.

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(Leica M7, Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5, Kodak BW400CN film)

I prefer the look of the BW400CN over the Ilford XP2 which is another one C41 black and white film. It’s a pity it’s not available anymore in 120 format like the XP2. I set the ISO to either 320 or 250 depending on the situation and as you can see from the image above, it has a great dynamic range for capturing beautifully contrasty scenes.

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(Leica M7, Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5, Kodak BW400CN film)

The Voigtlander 15mm allows for some very special shots, either outdoors or interior. It’s slow f/4.5 aperture sometimes is limiting available light shots, but I can easily shoot with a rangefinder at speeds up to 1/8 and still get sharp images. The 15mm viewfinder is pretty accurate and the very wide focal length means that pretty much everything is in focus.

Shooting at 15mm requires great attention in order to avoid distortion. You can’t avoid it each time but by careful shooting and attention to levels, you can get very good images (and you can also correct some distortion with Lightroom).

Shooting this lens on my M7 has been a great experience and will probably shoot another roll of film with this setup.

Enjoy the rest of the images.

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(c)2012 Konstantinos Besios. All rights reserved.

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