Wide angle with Leica M6 and Kodak Portra 400 film

I have often praised the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 lens. Its a great value for money, and a superb wide angle for the Leica M. I almost exclusively use it with a film camera since on the M8 it becomes a 20mm lens, which is not why I purchased it for.

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The external viewfinder depending on my angle of view sometimes makes me frame incorrectly, so it requires getting used to it. Its a common problem with a rangefinder system, and I must have been quite careless lately, since I’ve got a few images with wrong framing !

I used the Leica M6 with Kodak Portra 400 Professional film (the latest emulsion that replaced the NC and VC versions). Its a great film, with very wide dynamic range and very fine grain (for a 400 ISO 35mm film, that is). The extra speed is very helpfull in dim light situations but not so helpful when shooting on a sunny day, since the Leica M film cameras have a top shutter speed of 1/1000. That means that you have to close the aperture at f/8 or f/11 which is not the optimum apertures for a 35mm camera. The 15mm has plenty of DoF, so on a sunny day a 100 ISO film is better. Of course, for an all day film, the higher speed allows you to shoot in overact of interior conditions. I rate the film at 320 ISO which seems to work best for me.

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Taking images of buildings with a 15mm allows you to capture the whole subject easily and if shooting from a little further you can keep your levels straight and with a slight crop get a good architecture photo without major distortion. Scanned with a Nikon Coolscan 9000 at 4000 DPI allows me to do a slight crop and still having plenty of information for a print. I will usually print at 30×20 cm maximum (that’s 8×12 inches) with a 35mm 100 ISO film. I have also printed at larger sizes with good results, but for bigger prints I will employ a medium format camera.

The M6 is a full manual camera so I work a little bit slower than the M7 which has aperture priority. Still, I find myself lately to use more the M6, its a fully mechanical camera that I can “abuse” more and shoot at any weather conditions. The M7 is great for street photography and the shutter accuracy makes it good for slide film or long exposures, but I rarely do street photos and I shoot only MF slide film these days. As for long exposures, digital is a more suitable medium since you can instantly preview your image.

This was my last 35mm color negative film. Currently, I have no plans of ordering some more, the 35mm format is quite low in resolution compared to a MF camera or my D800E. I think that I will use strictly b&w film from now on with the Leica M, which gets me that specific b&w look and feel which I cannot replicate with a digital b&w conversion.

Enjoy the rest of the images.

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(c)2013 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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