Photographs that I took with this camera, the scanning process (and the scanner itself) as well as more film-related stuff will be published in future articles. Expect a few months to pass though.
Recently, I found myself constantly looking at other people’s film scans. There’s something about film that you simply cannot achieve in digital post processing, no matter how good the VSCO presets are.
At some point, the wish to get back into film grew so strong that I decided to buy some colour film. I got a roll of Fujicolor Superia 200 and a roll of Kodak Portra 160 to decide for myself which one I would buy in heaps. I love black&white film and still have a roll of Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 loaded in my Nikon F2 (I also got 7 rolls of 135 Neopan Acros 100 and 5 rolls of 120 medium format Acros 100 in my cupboard).
What’s the problem? Quickly finish the film in the Nikon, reinstall the Photomic head and get out to shoot colour film again. But I don’t like simple…
At some point in the past I bought this Konica Autoreflex T3, marked as broken, for ten bucks. (Because I wanted the lens, obviously)
The camera turned out to work, as long as you don’t chose a shutter speed longer than 1/60s (where the shutter would get stuck).
I wanted to use the Konica for my film tests, but I had to discover that the seals on the door were all gone and the meter doesn’t work anymore. The Konica still makes for a beautiful prop and looks great on the shelf.
So, we buy a new film camera then?
This solution was obvious, since my Yashica TLR doesn’t have a meter either and that means I don’t have a film camera at hand.
For a short moment, I considered buying a Canon 7S Rangefinder with a Canon LTM 50mm f/1.4 (also known as the “Japanese Summilux”), but you can expect to spend 500 bucks and more for this combo, plus the rangefinder servicing is crazy expensive in Switzerland.
Back to SLR cameras, I thought about getting a Pentax with m42 screw mount (I’ve got quite a few 50mm lenses with m42 mount after all), and was ready to do some research on which model to get. But then I looked at my collection of lenses and noticed how there were several specimen with red dots and different focal lengths. Why did I not think of this right away?
Well, the Leica M6 rangefinder is one of my dream cameras, but it’s very expensive, and so are most other Leica rangefinders. I simply expected the Leica SLRs to be overpriced as well. Turns out they aren’t. (Except for the Leica R6 and R6.2, which were aimed at the “purist photographer” and didn’t offer anything other than manual mode. So they have to be worth more, no?!)
Leica SLRs never were among the prettiest, and the last models (R8 and R9) also were huge and ugly, imo. I had to discard the Leicaflex SL2 because my lenses are R-only (they don’t work on the early models) and I couldn’t find a good offer for the Leica R3 (my personal favourite, based on a Minolta XE, great build quality and rather good looking too), so I looked at the later models, based on the smaller Minolta XD. The R4 only has a 1/1000s shutter and loads of electronics issues have been reported with earlier models, the R6 is too expensive and the R7 never popped up on my searches.
Enter the Leica R5
I got the Leica R5 because it offers a fast shutter speed (up to 1/2000s), a great lightmeter (both integrated and selective (center-weighted)), is reasonably cheap (usually sells well below 100 bucks in great condition) and because it was a great offer that I couldn’t resist.
The seller offered his Leica R5 in a bundle with the Summicron-R 90mm f/2 at an already good price. I asked him to drop it another 20% and he did. Looking at the average “sold” price for the lens, one could say that I got the camera for free and he paid me 100 bucks on top of it to take the deal.
The camera came in its original box which is pretty nice.
The strap had never been used. (No surprise there. Why would anyone in their right mind decide to wear something this ugly?)
Except from a few little signs at the baseplate (the brass is showing through) and a nick in the paint at the side of the lens mount, the camera looks like new.
It really isn’t the prettiest camera, but I like the all-blake finish and prefer it to the black silver version which looks really cheap when compared to the Konica or my Nikon F2 which don’t look like painted plastic.
The camera doesn’t look great, but the handling is really nice. The viewfinder is great and all the important information is displayed with red LEDs. Also, you have a direct view of the selected aperture on the lens (through a tiny window).
Other than my Nikon F2S, the meter doesn’t just show you if you’re too bright or too dark, it shows you the best shutter speed to go with your selected aperture (Manual mode, where only selective metering is active. In Aperture mode (you can chose between selective and integrated metering for this mode), the viewfinder displays the shutter speed the camera will work with and it’s very responsive. In Shutter Priority mode T (where you can only use integrated metering for some reason), the meter will instead highlight the aperture it will select for the chosen shutter speed. You have to keep in mind to set the lens to the minimum aperture so that the camera can use all available values. I haven’t experimented with Program mode, but I don’t like that one anyways.
The viewfinder also shows you if the exposure compensation dial isn’t on the zero position, it doesn’t show you where exactly it is though. But the shutter speed/aperture indicator gives you a good idea whether you’re under- or overexposing (since you always have the selected shutter speed/aperture at the bottom of the finder too).
The viewfinder has a diopter adjustment built in, but my eyesight is way beyond the +/-2 it has on offer. Once I get the eyecup, I’ll be fine using my contacts.
The DOF preview is achieved by a lever that requires quite a bit of force to pull, but it works nicely.
The grip on the back comes in handy (pun intended) with the heavier lenses, but it looks and feels really cheap. I would’ve expected more from Leica to be honest.
I already ordered a strap from Gordy’s Camera Straps (black leather with red thread obviously) and added my Gariz soft release button (in black, the red one didn’t feel quite right) to improve the shutter button, but other than that I’m really happy with how the camera handles.
Right now I’m looking for a rubber eyecup, which turns out to be quite hard to find.. Any suggestions are highly appreciated.
For those of you who love lens/gear porn as much as I do, here are a few pictures of my Leica gear to gaze upon:
Who doesn’t love the design of Leica lenses?
Since I love lens coatings so much 🙂
My lenses on their own
And some more lens coating madness