Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Leica M6

 



I purchased a Leica M6 Classic 35mm film camera approximately a year ago. It's the camera I've lusted for years, but finally had the opportunity to buy one. It is my current favorite film camera even though it's not the most advance, it's almost completely manual, and honestly it doesn't take the best photos if compared to my more advanced SLR's.

However, the M6 fits my film photography style perfectly. 

There are many blogs posts, articles and write-ups that discuss the specs so I won't go into technical details. If you want a deep dive I'd recommend the following article by Emulsive

My Leica is an M6 Schwarz Classic. It was "crafted" in 1991. It's all black sporting the classic Leica red dot logo. I purchased it with a Summicron-M f/1.2 35mm lens. The lens was made in 2000. This is a perfect film street photography kit IMHO. This is what I primarily use it for, although it's also a perfect setup for landscape photography. I also recently purchased a Canon Serenar f/1.8 LTM 50mm (with an adapter) as my 50mm option.

I first saw the camera about 1 1/2 years ago at a camera swap / meetup hosted by a local fashion magazine / studio. I had a table selling some excess studio equipment. A gentleman (who was not a photographer) had a table across from me selling about 6 camera travel cases full of high end camera equipment. He was entrusted to sell the equipment on behalf of his uncle's estate. Amongst the equipment was the Leica. 

He was selling the M6 with the Summicron lens and asking between $5,000-6,000. He had done his homework on prices, but not on the working condition or marketability of the equipment he brought. I could tell the Leica had good bones, had been well used but not abused. However, it clearly hadn't been used in some time. It looked rough.

The camera when I first saw it. The photo actually makes it look better than it actually was in person

The gentleman let me look it over and test it out. I could tell the shutter speeds were off, the leather was coming loose in several places, the viewfinder was fogged and the film advance action was very stiff. I told him thanks, but it was out of my budget. 

Throughout the meetup I thought a few times I should buy it. However, I was serious about my budget so I just went about my business. There were several people who ogled, handled and negotiated for it, but no serious buyers. By the end of the meetup the Leica M6 hadn't sold so he came over and asked about my budget. I said $3,500. I thought he would just laugh, but he didn't. He said he would think about the price, try to shop it around, take it to a few camera stores. If it didn't sell he would get back with me. I gave him my contact information, but didn't expect a followup.

About 3 months went by and I didn't hear anything. I forgot about it. Then to my surprise he contacted me. He had taken it in to a local camera store for grading and gauge their interest. The store recommended sending it to Leica for repairs and a CLA. They offered what I suspected was a somewhat low price (market less their risk adjusted sales / inventory commission). He told me if I would split the cost of repairs he would sell it to me for my $3,500 offer (body plus Summicron lens). 

I told him he had a deal and we shook on it. It came back from Leica about 2 1/2 months later and my share of the repairs was $350. Leica replaced the leather, adjusted and cleaned the viewfinder, replace the light seals, adjusted the light meter, adjusted the shutter speeds, adjusted the speed dial, and CLA'd it. Wow!

I had my M6 for $3,850!! I think this is was a very fair deal and he said he was super happy it was in the hands of someone who would use it versus simply resell it.

I've put approximately 20-25 rolls of assorted film through the M6 so far. I've used it for street photography trips to NYC, Cincinnati, Chicago, and my home town of Indianapolis. I also took it with me this past October during a hiking vacation in the Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park. It's almost always in my camera bag. It's been superb. Easy to use, reliable and consistent quality.

As mentioned I'm not going into spec details, but it does have 1) an easy to use TTL arrow based light meter easily visible through the viewfinder, 2) ISO range from 6 - 6400, 3) shutter speeds from B - 1/1000, 4) works without batteries (simply use sunny 16 or external light meter, & 5) a hotshoe.

As a side note, the Leica M6 has a loyal following and a large demand so Leica recently re-released the M6 with only moderate upgrades. The M6 is available again! The new Leica M6 is essentially the same camera as mine which as of this writing is 32 years old. 

Here are some photos with different film stocks / lighting conditions / locations:

Fomapan 400 - Indianapolis

Fomapan 400 - Indianapolis

Fomapan 400 - Central Indiana Farmland

Fomapan 400 - Central Indiana Farmland

Fujicolor 200 - Rocky Mountain National Park

Fujicolor 200 - Rocky Mountain National Park

KiKi Pan 320 - Indianapolis

KiKi Pan 320 - Indianapolis

Fomapan 400 - New York City

Fomapan 400 - New York City

Fomapan 400 - New York City

Fomapan 400 - New York City

Fomapan 400 - New York City

Kodak Vision3 250D - Broad Ripple

Kodak Vision3 250D - Broad Ripple

Kodak Vision3 250D - Indianapolis

Bottomline, the Leica is a VERY well build, high end film camera well suited for street photography, general snapshots and landscape photography IMHO. The price (both used and the new version) puts it out of reach of most photographers so it's still a niche camera. However, I'm VERY happy I was able to get one!


Thursday, January 12, 2023

Kodak Duaflex II with Rerolled 620 Film


I recently shot 2 rolls of 120 film I re-rolled onto 620 reels in my Kodak Duaflex II. The Duaflex II is a compact TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) with basic features. The one I have is in pretty good shape for it's age. The Duaflex takes 620 sized film which is available online from a few sellers (expired or re-rolled). FYI, I tried to "jam" 120 reels in the Duaflex but they don't fit easily. 

The basics on the Duaflex:
  • 72mm f/8 lens
  • Range focusing
  • Aperture set with a slider under the taking lens at: f/8, f/11 & f/16
  • Cash shoot with B mode via a sliding switch under the shutter release
I shot a roll of re-rolled Fomapan 400 & expired Kodak Portra 400UC. The Fomapan images came out a bit "gritty" & white marks that appears to be light leaks. I think this was because there was a lot of black flakes on the inside of the lens that I didn't originally notice (since cleaned) and I think I creased the film when I was re-rolling it causing what appears to be light leaks. The Portra came out without these effects.

Here are images:













Friday, December 30, 2022

Film Manufactures


Sometimes a 35mm film you use isn't exactly what you think it is. There is an active business within film photography of repackaged, rebranded or white label film. The film may be branded with a cool or interesting name ... you think it's a unique or new film stock ... however it's actually an established or bulk order film that's simply been repackaged and rebranded. Several films stocks are widely used for this purpose like Fomapan, Vision3 and Kentmere. 

IMHO this is NOT a bad thing. It actually makes 35mm film more readily available. Pricing is sometimes better than competitive films.  Also rebranded film often have interesting names, cool marketing, fun packaging, etc. All of this adds vibrance to the industry. Or, you may want film options vs the typical Kodak, Fujifilm or Ilford. Repackaged films often gives you access to films not available like expired, oddball or large bulk amounts into 35mm sizes. I shoot repackaged film regularly.

HOWEVER, I also like to know what I'm shooting. This allows me to be a better consumer and spend my film budget wisely. Also it helps me know the characteristics of a rebranded film, especially if I've shot the underlying stock previously.

So, I keep a list of films the market has indicated is rebranded or repackaged. This list should NOT be considered all inclusive and unless the seller has specifically indicated the film manufacturer please use caveat emptor with this list. Also this list ONLY includes films that are repackaged or rebranded. It DOES NOT include films sold by the manufacturer (like Film Ferrania P80, Kodak Portra 400, etc.) or film stock  reformulated but not produced by the seller (like JCH Streetpan 400).

Here's the list and confidence factor since most film sellers don't indicate what the underlying film stock is:

Confident:

  • AgfaPhoto APX 100 = Kentmere 100
  • AgfaPhoto APX 400 = Kentmere 400
  • Arista EDU = Fomapan 400
  • Catlabs 320 = Aviphot Pan 200
  • CineStill BWXX = Kodak 5222 Double-X
  • CineStill 50D = Kodak Vision3 50D (with the remjet layer removed)
  • CineStill 800T = Kodak 5219 Vision3 500T (with the remjet layer removed)
  • Holga 400 = Fomapan 400
  • Kosmo Foto Mono = Fomapan 400
  • Lomography Earl Grey = Fomapan 100
  • Lomography Grey Lady = Fomapan 400
  • Lomography Potsdam = ORWO 54
  • Lomography Berlin 400 = ORWO 74
  • Rollei Superpan 200 = Aviphot Pan 200
  • Shanghai GP3 = ORWO UN54
Low Confidence, New to List or Being Researched:
  • CatLabs X Film80 = ORWO UN54
  • CineStill 400D = Kodak Vision3 250D (remjet not added by Kodak or removed by CineStill)
  • Dubblefilm Stereo = Fujicolor C200 (Dubblefilm is a pre-exposed film stock)
  • FPP Frankenstein 200 = Fomapan 200
  • FPP Mummy 400 = Fomapan 400
  • Kosmo Foto Agent Shadow = Kentmere 400
  • Rollei RPX100 = Kentmere 100
  • Rollei RPX400 = Kentmere 400

I regularly update the list so stop back if interested, or if you have information to add or include please let me know.


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Kodak Vision3 Motion Picture Film

Vision3 250D in Cincinnati

I've been testing Kodak Vision3 motion picture films. Both 250D (5207) & 500T (5219). The following is what I've learned so far about using Vision3 film in a 35mm film camera. Remember this word. REMJET.

Color film is often out of stock in-store & prices have been going up. Kodak Vision3 movie film is being discussed & marketed as an alternative to traditional 35mm color film. Several online stores / distributors sell repackaged 24 or 36 exposures or 100' bulk rolls. You can almost always tell it's Kodak Vision3 if it has been renamed with anything like 250D, Cine stock, 500T etc. in its name. The cartridges will also indicate it should be developed with ECN-2 chemistry.

ECN-2 Chemistry

If you want to buy Vision3 film it's increasingly available but not always "inexpensive" because the repackager must purchase in bulk rolls (usually 400'), re-roll the film in 35mm cartridges and label the cartridge / box. This is not without cost. There is one KEY factor about Vision3 film that MUST be taken into consideration. That is REMJET. Unless you purchase reprocessed Vision3 film from CineStill ALL repackaged Vision3 film on the market has a remjet layer unless it specifically says it's removed. 

Remjet is a black, lubricant layer on the BACK (non-emulsion) side of the film. Remjet DOES NOT affect the exposure process.

Black remjet side of test strips

However, remjet is opaque and MUST be removed before the negative can be scanned. You will notice in the photo above that the remjet is black. Even after developing the negative the remjet layer remains (unless you used a pre-bath remover). It's easy to take off BUT it can be a sticky black mess.

That's why you NEVER have a photo developing lab develop film with a remjet layer unless they specifically say they are able to develop it. It will mess up their equipment, so best to double check.

Here are a few tips / experiences / info if planning to use Vision3 film. 
  • All Vision3 film HAS a remjet layer unless it specifically says it's removed.
  • Unless the photo lab is able to develop Vision3 film (or any film with remjet) you will need to develop and scan the film yourself. Home developing 35mm film is easy.
  • Remjet is removed as the 1st (pre-bath solution) or last step (manual water wash).
  • It's PREFERRED that Vision3 film is developed with ECN-2 chemistry but can be developed using C-41 chemistry with similar results.
  • Color tones for Vision3 films are best rendered with ECN-2 & SOME ECN-2 kits include the bonus of having a. pre-bath solution included.
  • You DO NOT need to remove the remjet before exposing or developing the film.
  • If you use C-41 chemistry or ECN-2 without a pre-bath you remove the remjet layer "manually" AFTER developing the film during the final wash step.
  • Even if you use ECN-2 with a remjet pre-bath it's recommended to manually give the film a wipe down after washing. My experience is even with a pre-bath not all the remjet is removed so you need to manually wipe down the film after washing 
  • If you use C-41 or ECN-2 your developer will get "black" flakes (remjet) in it. These flakes DO NOT affect the developer quality. If you don't like them you can filter your developer with a coffee filter.
  • REMOVING THE REMJET - After developing and fixing the film you will wash your Vision3 film as recommended (usually 3 minutes under water). I then take the film off the reel and submerge it in a warm water (102 degrees F) bath with a small amount (1/2 tablespoon) of baking soda. Use enough water to cover the film completely. Baking soda or washing soda is not required but helps. Let the film sit for about 30 seconds and then the remjet will easily wipe off. I use a clean microfiber cloth or my thumb (use latex or equivalent gloves). Be careful not to rub the emulsion side of the film if possible as it can be scratched. Check the negatives after you remove the remjet to make sure you have it all off. Hang to dry. Even the smallest amount of remjet will not removed will show on your scan.
  • Clean up. With normal film I just rinse the equipment. However, with remjet you should thoroughly clean your equipment. Remjet can and will get everywhere and it's sticky. Your reels will get black / clogged. Deal with it immediately.
  • Pay attention to the type of Vision3 film you purchase. There are 2 types: D (Daylight) and T (tungsten) color balanced. ISO are available from 50 - 500. You can daylight balance your T film with an 85 filter but you need to set your ISO to 320.  Personally, I like how tungsten balanced film looks in daylight without a filter.
  • My experience is that you can push and pull Vision3 film but I would recommend no more than 1 stop either direction. 
Bottomline, Vision3 motion picture film is a viable, easy to use color film. If you home develop there is only 1 additional step. There you go! ENJOY

Vision3 250D

Vision3 250D

Vision3 250D

Vision3 500T

Vision3 500T

Vision3 500T








Wednesday, November 10, 2021

DIY Redscale Film - Kodak Portra 800

 



I recently purchased a 2 rolls of CineStill Redrum 120 film. Redrum is a limited run 120 film re-rolled 800T by CineStill. Redrum is a redscale film. 


Here's an example of a photo from the CineStill Redrum shot in a Mamiya 6 & developed with CineStill C-41 chemistry.



My results had a yellowish red tint. The amount of red can be impacted by the light conditions and the ISO used. The box speed of Redrum is 200, but next time I might shoot it at 50-100 ISO.

Well, I decided to DIY some redscale 120 film. Since CineStill Redrum is 800T I decided to use some expired Kodak Portra 800. 


From some basic research on redscale film I read the film is shot through the back of the film and at 200 or lower ISO.

The process I used was simply (in complete darkness):

  1. Unrolled the Kodak 800 keeping the film / backing paper on the reels,
  2. Taped the backing paper (film up) to a table,
  3. Removed the taped end of the 120 film from the backing paper,
  4. Flipped the film over and re-taped the film (I precut a pc of painter's tape the length of the film width) in the exact spot it was originally taped,
  5. Rerolled the film onto the spool. 
  6. Taped the film roll to securely close it.
Not surprisingly, the trickiest part was re-rolling the film. The film has a natural curl from the original rolling and while rolling it up I had to overcome the natural curl. Also, you need to keep the film tight to the backing paper as you re-roll the film so the film doesn't bunch up. In the dark I had to roll, unroll and re-roll it several times to get it tightly rolled.


Here are a few images shot in my Mamiya 6 on a fairly bright fall day. The film was shot at 200 ISO and developed with CineStill C-41. I increased the contrast & black point of the histogram slightly in Adobe Creative Cloud Lightroom Classic.




A few things I noticed and this might be due of the age of the film. First there is considerable grain in the DIY version and a slight wave pattern in the lighter areas (noticeable in the sky of the 2nd image).

This was a fun experiment that worked better than originally envisioned. However, because redscale is such a novelty effect I doubt I'd do it more than occasionally. Therefore, it probably makes more sense to simply buy Redrum when it's available and use the real stuff even if it costs more than rerolling your own!

But if you want to DIY redscale this process works. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Kodak Tourist (6x9 folder)

 


I recently shot a roll of Ilford Delta 400 through this Kodak Tourist. The camera takes 620 sized film, so I rerolled a reel of 120 onto a 620 core in a black bag. This is a 6x9 negative format folding camera with bellows. The camera is completely manual. There are a couple of versions, but the one I have has the T, B, I speed setting (unless you are shooting bulb it's really only 1 speed. The aperture range is an f/2.5 to 32. Pretty impressive for such an old camera.  

The nice thing about the camera is that you can easily hold / shoot it in both landscape and portrait format. When not in use it folds up into a very compact sized.



You get 8 shots out of a roll of film. I home developed the roll of Delta 400 with Ilford Ilfotec DD-X (my go-to B&W developer) at 1+4 for 8 minutes and scanned the negatives with my Epson V800. Here are a few images.