Morris

Margate, England. 2022

This is Maurice Morris, 88, he’s a local legend around Margate, England. Morris has lived his entire life in the town and is a familiar figure to many. From the 1950s to 1990s Maurice worked in various roles at Dreamland theme park, including as an usher at the local cinema. I didn’t know any of this before I took his portrait sitting enjoying the day at a sea front cafe.

Please do click to enlarge the image, it was taken with a Voigtländer lens.

Voigtländer

Last year a friend of mine tried his hand at some street photography and he purchased a Leica M9 and a Voigtländer Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 II VM. Now he’s decided to buy a used Summilux-M 35mm ASPH and is selling his Nokton 35mm f/1.4 for £400. More and more I’m finding myself using a 35mm focal length, so with this in mind I thought I’d give this lens a try. I see no end of people using this lens, raving reviews about it’s performance and at a £600 compared new purchase price to a new Summilux-M 35mm £4400 it’s not surprising to me that photographers are using them.

I’m quite impressed with this little lens from Cosina. Well made, sharp mostly across the board although I will say the focusing is a tad stiff compared to my Leica lenses. It has a softer look to me and with digital I don’t think that’s a bad thing. With my Summicron-M 35mm and Summilux-M 50mm I think some of my pictures looked to sharp, clinical even, there’s just no life to them.

With the Voigtländer Nokton 35mm I kept an open mind and to be honest wasn’t expecting such good results. Does question why pay for Leica glass! This image above was straight out of camera, only little cropping and straighten was done here in Gimp 2.10

Even wide open at f/1.4 I’m pretty impressed with this lens performance and yes there is a bit of vignetting at f/1.4 but I don’t mind that in my images.

Think this Voigtländer Nokton is a keeper and I’ll use the Leica glass for film.

All images taken with Leica M-P (Typ240) and the Voigtländer Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 II VM lens.


Edit. Side note, Leica 6 bit coding test.

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Quality time

Isle of Sheppey, England. 2022

Leica MP, Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH, B&W neutral density filter on Kodak Pro Image 100 film.

Nikkormat

Sometime back I picked up a very cheap Nikkormat FT2 of eBay. In excellent working condition, all that was needed was a CLA service from Newton Ellis & Co. of Liverpool, England.

Nikkormat FT2

For me this was my first ‘proper’ single lens reflex camera I used in the late 1980’s at college. Up till then I had never had chance to use a Nikon nor any other Japanese made camera. Back then, this snotty nose kid had little or no interest in girls, but liked photography, had an unhealthy liking for cameras particularly Nikon, Canon FD and Leica R SLR’s, although I didn’t know it at the time, was suffering from G.A.S. I loved the FT2 rugged build qualities, light meter top plate display, mirror lock and it’s manual simplicity. Everyone else at college would choose to use a Nikon FE, FM or F2 we had use of, I’d pick up a Nikkormat, yet unfortunately I was unable afford one at the time. From then on I always wanted a Nikon F film outfit with all the prime lenses you could ever need. Years went by, I never did get the Nikkormat due to lack of spare funds but 2013 older, wiser and with spare cash in his pocket I start buying in items online.

Unusually for Nikon, as many of you know most Nikkormats have the shutter speeds are around the lens collar. I’d forgotten about this when I first used the camera back at college. For Olympus OM owners the shutter speed collar around the lens mount is nothing new and found once I got use to using the tab on the opposite side, it’s easy enough and soon remembered to watch the display in the viewfinder rather than tipping the camera over to the set speed. I have also admit the meter coupling on Nikkormat’s with the ‘Rabbit Ears‘ has always fascinated me and at one point did think of purchasing a very expensive Nikomat FT body in mint condition from Japan which was the first model to be produced back 1965.

Even without a service or new seals this camera was still perfectly operational even after 45 years since being manufactured. First roll of Fomapan 100 came through with very small amount of fogging along the edges of the film, this despite the seals in the body being near non existent and the foam on the back door long since crumbled away. Every one of the exposures I shot where spot on and matched my Weston Euro Master light meter, I was very impressed, it’s a joy to use. My only wish is that Nikon kept the back release latch design the same as the FT2 and it’s siblings, I find the Nikon FE door release with little lever around the rewind crank a bit fiddly sometimes to use.

Nikkor lenses.

Most of my Nikkor Ai lenses I purchased relatively cheap, with the most expensive lens being the 28mm f/2.8 Ai at £170 with metal hood and came with original Nikon box plus polystyrene packaging. My Nikkor 200mm f/4 looks like it’s never been used and the 135mm f/3.5 is mint and only cost £69 plus P&P. Ever since Digital came onto the scene, I noticed the Ai series lenses I wanted originally dropped in price, partly because of their age not being the AiS version but in the early days of Nikon digital would only work in full manual and non Ai lenses stop down metering.

Time passing, many of the Ai lenses seem to have been now snapped up. Slowly over the last few years I’ve manage collect all the Nikkor lenses I wanted and all have one thing in common, they all use 52mm filter size making for a compact but extensive kit. Last month I finally completed my 1980’s Nikon line up with the last acquisition of a Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai lens with Nikon HS-8 metal hood. This was the last lens I wanted and it took me a while to find one at a reasonable price, most where either in very sorry state or mint condition with a high price tag.

In the above picture, the Ai lenses as follows, Nikkor 20mm f/4, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8, Nikkor 35mm f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, Nikkor 85mm f/2, Nikkor 135mm f/3.5 and finally the Nikkor 200mm f/4.

I picked up the Nikon DR-3 right angle finder for £28 of eBay, boxed and unused.

Incidently, the Nikkor 35mm F/2.8 Ai I picked up for £50 bought as seen. A ‘user’ lens, it came with no warranty, scratched, few nicks, no paint left around the filter ring, missing it’s rubber focusing grip, some dust within the optics yet had a very smooth focus and with snappy oil free aperture blades, it worked perfectly. It’s since had a CLA and this lens looks a lot better condition than when first purchased the it.

Since 2013 I probably spent around £950 which I think was around what this equipment cost in 1980’s and is around £2700 in today’s money. Dread to think what the equivalent Nikon digital kit would cost these days!


All film images taken with Nikkormat FT2 and equipment pictures taken with the Leica (Typ 240) M-P with the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH.

Mechanical perfection.

The Leica MP.

I should of posted this two weeks ago but with so much going on at home I completely forgot about it …my excuse, I got tied up building a new computer.

So the Leica MP, some say that MP stands for Mechanical perfection and Leica promotes this camera as the “the ultimate tool” …I just say it’s great knowing that there’s nothing like the feeling of a brand new Leica camera in your hands.

Leica MP chrome & Summicron 35mm ASPH

The MP which has been in Leica’s stable for nineteen years now, yes I couldn’t believe it that this rangefinder was released in 2003 and retail sales are still strong for this camera. Mine is a 2021 example from the holy city of Wetzlar and I opted for the Chrome version over the black paint. This was not only because everyone seems to have a black MP but reading reviews the black paint finish is designed to look brassed over time with use. I decided I didn’t want another Leica looking the way as my M240 M-P has already started to brass, in some areas quite badly, in other places the black paint has gone dull which to me doesn’t look great some how with a modern Leica body.

Leica M-P (Typ 240) brassing.

Think part of this might be to do with using alcoholic hand gel during the pandemic, before as a demonstrator at the Leica store London and since I’ve used the camera. Note the minor brassing on the Summilux focusing ring as well. I found after using the gel, my hands look black after handling the camera.

One thing I have noticed using this camera is how much heavier it is compared to the M4-2 and the M6. The brass top place and bottom do make a difference in weight over the M4 and 6 zinc body parts but not quite as much as the M3 body. I always liked the M3 wind on lever, not so much the M4-2 and M6 plastic levers. In your hands the MP lever feels right some how. My only complaint is as many have remarked, I wished they made the ISO dial on the back out of metal and not plastic. Changing the film speed I have found a little tricky to change, being small with large fingers the dial is very stiff to turn. Whether or not it’s because it’s new only time will tell.

ISO dial.

I found the camera is like the M3 but with a light meter plus extra framelines and the film loading speed of the M4-2. I’m not fazed by the rewind knob having used my late father’s M3 although I will say it does take longer to rewind 36 exposures. The MP’s meter is very accurate and unlike other centre weighted meters it is virtually a spot meter. As Leica describe it the meter has a diameter of 12 mm that corresponds to 13% of the full film format or approx. 2/3 of the short side of the applicable bright line frame in the viewfinder. There no excuse for getting exposure wrong here and the meter coped well with the shots below. I found I stopped using my Weston Euro Master meter after a while with this camera which is great for those days you only want to take out just a small camera and a roll of film.

All in all if your fortunate enough to own one I don’t think you’ll regret the purchase and with any luck should out last me!

Fresh out the box.

All images taken with the Leica MP, Summicron 35mm ASPH on Kodak Tri-X film rated at 800 ISO.


Of to French France next week with the M240 for street and the Nikon F60 for some landscape photography.

Glow

Minster on Sea, England. 2021

I took this last year on a very early morning walk with my dog. The curve of the shoreline looks so surreal but I can assure you this how it looked on this sunrise.

Leica M-P (Typ 240) with the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens.

Grandfathers tools

I haven’t had much chance to get out and about last few days. So I’ve been thinking about maybe doing a little still life digital image like the picture I shot of my late father’s photo album picture Dad’s photographic life

After my father’s pasting I inherited all of the tools from his shed, many from both of my Grandfathers. Among these items are many old tins and cardboard boxes full of nails, screws and tacks of all sizes. I been fascinated by many of these old tins, some must be over 60 or 70 years old. Unfortunately some of these old tobacco tins have become so rusty or worn off the original painted labels have become unreadable. Along with many of his old hand tools, I liked the idea of a collage of his few belongs I possess as a still life.

These few tins are from my late Mother’s father, one Reginald Norman who pasted away before I was born in 1959. My Grandmother Elsie told me he died from complications from Emphysema and this was blamed on his smoking habit. He had health issues all his life and interesting to see the asthma, throat lozenges and ‘Potter’s Asthma smoking mixture’ tins which he had obviously been using due to his ill health. Sadly we now know it wasn’t Emphysema that caused his demise but Asbestosis.

Before and after the Second World War, Reginald was a plumber by trade and in those days they thought nothing about cutting up asbestos pipe lagging by hand, so you can imagine the exposure to the asbestos fibres he must had in lofts, cupboards and cellars while carrying out his work. Add to this during the war he was working in North London repairing, maintaining Army trucks and mobile canteens. Twice he was blown across the workshop floor by German bombs during the Blitz.

Image taken with LED bulb lighting the subject and daylight from shed window behind. B&W 2 x neutral density filter used for both images.

Leica M-P (Typ 240) with the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens.

Reginald Arthur Norman
1912 – 1959

A Dogs Life

Broadstairs, England 2021

Spotted this little chap sitting on his mistress knee outside a café in Broadstairs high Street and my dog Charlie didn’t even notice him sitting up there.

Leica M-P (Typ 240) with the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens.

Out & about with the M6

First roll with my new/old Leica M6 circa 1986 model.

Also new to me, I used Rodinal film developer for the first time processing these negatives. I’ve only ever used D76 or the equivalent ID11 developer.

For these pictures I solely used the Summicron 35mm ASPH lens and I shot two rolls of Fomapan Classic 100 film and rated it an ISO 800. The jury still out on the focusing tab, I’m 50-50 about using it and I mostly zone focused the lens on this photo walk. But by the end of the day I forgot the lens even had a tab and I have to admit with the smaller E39 size lenses the focusing tab used for precise focus does work well. Maybe I was a little too quick to dismiss it first time round and will get use to the tab in time. Glad I purchased the black chrome 1959 design of the Summilux which doesn’t have a tab unlike it’s modern sibling and really I think is totally unnecessary for a lens of that size.

‘Close up’
Tenterden High Street.

Do you think he forgot his reading glasses?

I’ve been pleasantly surprised how responsive the meter is on the M6 and it matched my Weston Euromaster lightmeter readings everytime. Despite the poor light, the LED’s in the viewfinder are clear, easy to use and very bright, if anything I found it easier than the Leica M-P (Typ 240) display, not bad for a 35 year old camera!

So this is Tenterden in Kent, England on cold, overcast December day, very soft light.


While walking along his gentlemen suddenly leaned in front of me talking on his mobile phone looking down the service road to the supermarket. Oh well, might as well take his picture now! Other side of the street, girl on the right was staring into space for ages, while the woman on her left, I think she was writing her memoirs.

Stop!

Gentleman in the middle of the image amused me, thought I was some sort of local litter enforcement, I was wearing flat cap, navy blue top, trousers, black body warmer along with my Domke F-5 bag and camera, hmm?! …think he might of dropped something he shouldn’t have.


Few pictures from the Sheerness, England.

I was amused by the local butcher was wearing a rubber turkey on his head for Christmas, taking a shot through the display window, relying the cameras meter for the exposure. On the right, a mother enjoying some phone time with her young son. I took the shot through the Cafe window, where we were having lunch at the time and guessed the exposure on this occasion by an extra stop.

Cyclist Dismount

Cyclists, you’ve got to love them!


All in all I’m very pleased with the results, what else did I expect with a Leica Meßsucher.

Well at £2400 British pounds or $3200 for just camera body you could say it’s an expensive tool or toy. Really with this camera other than different frame lines and a built in meter, is no different to my old Leica M4-2. While the Leica M3 was a lovely old camera with a fantastic built qualities, I personally found the viewfinder on the M3 much darker than my old M4-2 0.72x and the new M-P 0.68x viewfinders which both give a great view outside their frame lines too.

With prices of used Leica film cameras still climbing, I think I have made a good investment overall.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.