Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Color Roll Through M6 Camera

These photos were all from one roll of Fuji Reala ISO 100 film I shot in less than 5 minutes. Racing against the clock to get as much done before my dog Ozzy was ready to be picked up from the Groomers.

I converted some of the Reala film files into B&W because I wanted to see the results. I think they came out pretty good. All of these photos were taken with a Leica M6 equipped with a 50mm Summicron 2.0 lens and Fuji Reala ISO 100 film.

Okay. So I botched the first two B&W rolls by having to push them. I am only developing one of those because of the expense and the fact that I don't develop myself. (Yet.) I only wanted to develop the B&W roll that was of a Jack & Jill party anyway. Who knows if they will even come out? The place where the party was held was so dark, (hence the pushing of the film), that I don't think one single shot will be workable. Again, the stock I used was old anyway.

Then yesterday, I burned a roll of Kodak Gold 200 ISO film (dated 2005), and the pictures came out with a greenish cast. The film was 5 years old. I had received a brick of it, and now I know Kodak doesn't fare very well in a cool dry place for 5 years. LOL! The pictures were taken at a dog park, and they came out pretty good considering, but I think CVS did such a terrible job , I'll never go back there. They couldn't even cut the pictures evenly. I spent about $9.00 for developing and printing a roll of 24 exposures. Granted, the film was from 2005, but still, CVS did a crummy job cutting the prints. Oh well.

Which brings us to today, and the roll of film I shot in Northampton, Massachusetts. I purchased a roll of Fuji Reala ISO 100 36 exposure print film for $5.83 from Iris Photo. I dropped off the B&W film there to be developed. The cost for the B&W developing will be $4.50, plus the cost of the push processing which is a whopping $5.00, then to put the B&W pictures on a CD will cost $4.99. Total cost without tax and shipping will be: $14.49 (without prints). Ouch! It would pay to do my own developing of B&W film. It will take a few days to do the B&W so I'm having them mail me the negatives and CD, if they even come out. I joined the Iris Photo Club to get discounts as this processing is all so very expensive. (I forgot how much of an expense film developing and printing can be compared to instant digital). The cost for a yearly membership is $19.95, but that gives me discounts on buying and printing, so I think it's worth it. I can even mail my film in, as they provide the order forms online on their website. This is convenient for me as I don't get to Northampton very much these days.

Now, I bought the Reala film from Iris Photo, and burned the roll in 5 minutes just to see if this Leica M6 worked, which it does. I noticed that the files on the CD had a greenish cast to them. Not sure if that's the Reala or their developing. Anyone know? I did some post processing in Photoshop. (Not much, just some adjustments and sharpening.) So, I know the camera works fine. It came with a 50mm Summicron 2.0 Lens. Both worked flawlessly.

I'm not sure if I'm liking the cost of the film and developing, though I like film a lot. The M6 was easy to use, though I still have a brain fart when it comes to loading it. I just make sure the knob turns as I wind the film. If I didn't have to burn the roll so quickly, the shots would have been more interesting. Again, this is a test roll that I rushed through the camera to see if it worked.

As for metering with the M6, I followed the "Sunny 16 Rule", and then adjusted from there. The meter worked flawlessly. It's me who didn't recall how to work a manual camera. Too funny. I figured it out quickly though and I can even focus better now that I've been practicing at the Dog Park.

Do I like the Leica M6 film camera? I love the feel of it in my hands. It fits perfectly. I like the idea of film, and get excited at the different types I can use for different situations. I'm not happy about the cost of film, the cost of developing, but I do love the idea of having a real physical negative to store again. So, I'm not rich, and can't afford to burn film in wasteful way, but on occasion I can thoughtfully run a roll through the camera and be secure that the shots will come out, and that I will be holding onto the negatives for years and years.

I still love digital for its easy access, and the "auto everything", especially AF which my eyes crave. But, film has its place and the different look it gives can be wonderfully unique these days. (I almost bought a Pinhole Holga camera, as Iris Photo had every Diana, Lomo and Holga available there. Three cheers to Iris for embracing films and toy cameras.) If you'd like to see Iris Photo's website click on the link here.


  1. I'm from over at Steve Huff's site. Donald. You and I are kind of in a similar position. I just got an M7 in absolutely mint condition and then I bought a 50 Cron, also in great condition. Long time digital photog wanting to shoot rangefinder Leicas and ready to "take on" shooting film. Like you, I've only put about three rolls through my new kit. Your second to last paragraph really sums up a lot of where I'm at.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the M7. But film? This is a big big challenge and so far I'm not happy. Long story short, I went out and bought an M9. lol! And I got a 35 2.5 Summarit to go with it. I'm stunned by the results.

    But I still have this gorgeous M7 and I can't quite accept the idea of getting rid of it simply because I'm struggling with the problem of properly digitizing film images. And the hastle and expense of film and developing. And the lack of instant feedback that digital provides.

    My issues are as follows. I KNOW the film is capturing a much better dynamic range than digital. But through two different processing and scan jobs, one at Los Angeles's venerable A&I labs, and now another process and print job from Walgreens, what I'm seeing is a lack of shadow detail and blown highlights. Everything looks like very very bad digital images from 10 years ago.

    Yours are BETTER, but still, you are also just starting out on this path and I'm not insulting you but you've got a way to go as well in terms of getting results like the film guys over at Steve Huff's and most everywhere else are getting. It's not a photography thing. It's a SCANNING or digitizing issue. And it's a tough one for me. I don't know if I'm up for it or how much longer, especially now that I have an M9, I'm going to fight and SPEND to try to get film results like these other folks are getting.

    Anyway. Love your site and your shots are sweet. Much better than mine.

  2. Well, let me clear something up right away. This roll of film wasn't scanned by me. It was scanned by Iris Photo onto a disc for me. I think they did a pretty good job. God only knows what it would look like if I got a scanner and scanned it. Then again, f I had a V700 like Steve, I think I'd do fine.

    Are you saying that the film from your M7 lacks shadows even though they are scanned at fine labs? Seriously? Hmmm. i wonder why?

    As for the M9, it's a beautiful camera. I have the M8.2 and the files are smaller due to the sensor size, but it still produces wonderful files. My only complaint is that the files need to be worked on more so than with film. I think all digital files need tweaking anyway. Nothing is perfect.

    So, are you going to sell the M7? Maybe you should keep it for the occasional roll of film. Why sell it when you already have it?

    I know what you mean about film though. It's hard to go back to the waiting and the expense. I know that i shoot less exposures on film than on digital. But I love film, and I miss it. I'm going to keep plugging away at film and see what i come up with. I still use digital, because it's instant and I love it, but film holds a place in my heart. I like both, and will use both mediums. It's not an "Either, Or" thing for me.