Leica M6 + summaron 35mmF2.8

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That’s it, it did not took me one year to upgrade, or at least expand my Leica toolbox.

I was a bit frustrated last summer when trying the M240 for nearly 4 days. This is of course a wonder of a camera but I found all in all a few issues. Definitely for its price it is not the one fits all camera I am wishing for; it cannot take Circular polarizers, the close range is not so close, older lenses are visibly outdated, for the price you would wish every shot to be a piece of art which actually it is not. Also, having to wear glasses to see things at short distance the back screen and live view is a total loss for me (maybe there is something I have to learn here). Don’t get me wrong I had a lot of fun, and probably I will end up owning one sometime, but really I felt no urge to do so. I concluded my small review saying that instead I would more likely invest in a newer film body in the short term.

I already own a M4 with a Summilux 50mm V2, a Leica IIIc with a Summitar 50mmF2 and a few Ltm lens; most notably a Color Skopar 21mmF4. I was quite interested in getting a body with a meter and a wider lend. I ended up purchasing a boxed M6 Classic black and a Summaron 35mmF2.8, the version with the goggles.

Subodh Gupta – Le Domaine du Muy – France Shot with Fuji Provia 100 ISO, Summilux 50mmF1.4

Both pieces come in excellent condition (but I am not a collector), no dents or scratches, difficult to see how much films they shot.

I have now shot 6 films with the M6 and the Summaron or the Summilux and I must say I am very happy. Both works very smoothly and are very easy to use.

The metering is a lot better that using a handheld meter. Actually this cause a bit of a problem because if I have the M6 and the M4 in the bag, the M4 tends to stay there. Focusing is very easy; the finder is very bright, although I suspect there is a bit of haze in one of the front glass. With the goggles of the Summaron the viewfinder is a bit less luminous, something I would not have though of.

Compression de Porsche – César – Mougins – France TMAX100 – Summaron 35mmF2.8

There is absolutely no difficulties using the M6 if you had another M before; actually I would think that if you played with a few film cameras before it’s difficult to come with a surprise. The only small problem, which Leica solved in the M6TTL is the size of the speed dial. It is quite frustrating to manipulate it when looking at the meter arrows inside the finder.

The Summaron is a nice piece of kit; the infinite lock is particular and easy to handle. The focusing is smooth and does mot require as much course as the Summilux. I think F2.8 is fine for daylight. Some shots have a very nice 3D effect as the lady from the lab puts it.

All in all I am very happy; for the price of a new Elmarit 28mmF2.8 (That I did not found great last year) I have a new kit. I went on my summer holidays with the two bodies, the two lenses and the Color Skopar a very happy combo. All of this fits in a Crumpler 6Mio, with a couple of spare films, wallet, keys, sunglasses and reading glasses.

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Church of the black Nazarene – Manila – Philippines – Portra 400 – Color Skopar 21mmF4

Film wise, I had the chance to shoot a mix of :

  • Provia 100 slides
  • Kodak Tmax 100, my favorite B&W for daylight
  • Kodak TriX and Rollei RPX400, different grain but both nice for street shots
  • Kodak Portra 400, an excellent film, unfortunately under bad weather
  • Cinestill 50, first try, very promising

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La Kitchenette – Katong – Singapore – Cinestill 50 – Summaron 35mmF2.8

It is difficult to conclude. Having a better film camera is not replacing having a digital body, none of the shortcomings of the M240 are solved by the M6, but I can do better Leica shots. But I feel I did a good move. I saved a lot of money, I can happily have my new toy around my neck and still agree that the D700 is the best camera I ever had without looking like a fool. Which is important at my age.

Leica M6 + summaron 35mmF2.8

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day four, Monday)

So this is (was) Monday and time to bring back the camera to the shop. I woke up early and decided to walk there armed with the old Summitar 50mmF2.0 and the Voigtlander 21mmF4.0 Color Skopar.

First stop is at the Hong San See Temple on Mohammed Sultan Road.  The M240 shows no mercy for the WWII area screw mount lens : it is obvious the lens back focus; as I said yesterday no point using it if not with live view. The back focusing problem is visible even on the location, so no bad surprise when going back home.

Yes on the close and wide open shots the lens shows some “character”…

A bit frustrated I follow my journey along the Singapore river and put on the Color Skopar.


It is almost midday, the sky is cloudy as usual, so the light is not great. The colorful Alkaf bridge looks very dull on the above. Including the fact that the pictures are coming out with a wide purple band on the right side, even with the leica 21mm profile selected, this is really a no go.


The above is a bit better, but also required a bit of tweaking in Lightroom to remove the purple fringing on the right side.

 

CONCLUSION

So time for conclusion, I have played with the M9 and the M240 this summer, used some new and old lenses and…

1- I won’t rush to buy it: I think this is the most fair assessment I can do: I can probably afford to go to the shop and get a M240 + an Elmarit 28mmF2.8 but my test did not convince me that I really need to do it now.

2 – No mercy : the M240 has no mercy for lesser lenses : you may be lucky with a gem of an old lens, but clearly for me all these old ltm lens I have are useless. No point getting such an expensive kit to produce such below par shots. The weather in Luxembourg and Singapore is quite different but the 28mm Summicron results were far superior to the Elmarit.

3 – Back to film : Do not be mistaken, I really enjoyed the experience, going through the 800 to 900 shots of the week end was a bit painful, I could have done some things better and I may try again next year. Meanwhile I think that I would be more tempted to get a newer Leica film camera and a nice lens like a Summicron 35mm and wait before going digital. But meanwhile the meanwhile, I’ll go back to “junk” gear and Nikon digital. On a side note, I have been shooting recently with the D700 and 1980’s manual lenses again and unlike the Leica I am amazed by the results.

 

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day four, Monday)

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day three, Sunday


This morning I am very adventurous and I try to mount my old LTM lenses on the M240 using some 5 bucks adapters that I own. I have tried the 50mmF3.5 Industar 22, the 50mmF2.0 Summitar, the Jupiter 35mmF2.8 Jupiter 12 (the one that goes so deep inside the camera) and the Canon Serenar 135mmF4 (the bad version) The good news is I did not break the camera and all lenses can fit. I would not bother you with some test shots as I did not make a very scientific test but here are the results:

  • The Serenar does not focus at all, but with Liveview can produce some acceptable pictures
  • The Jupiter seriously back focuses
  • The Summitar back focuses slightly
  • The Industar, probably focuses alright but picture quality is really crap

This said they can probably be focusing problems can be used with LiveVew; if ever you can use it. I found myself having problems focusing with the screen in bright light and I need my reading glasses to do so. This is another lesson for me: LiveView on the go is not really for rme, why would I want a rangefinder if I though otherwise?

So I finished playing and walked to Little India with the Summilux and the Elmarit. First stop Tekka Market.


Once again the pictures are taken at a too low speed. Color rendition is fine for me.

Next I change from the Summilux to the Elmarit and walk to the “” temple when there is a celabration

I spend a while trying to get a nice shot of this musician,; I really like the focusing of the Elmarit; unlike the Summilux which have such a long range. Another cool feature of the M240 is the continuous mode, really handy for street or travel type photography.

I made several more stops on the way back home and in the afternoon I take my back to take some pictures of east coast park and the sea side. On the way back, Right on time I rode back via the new sport hub (below)

I pass by gardens by the bay for the sunset over Marina Bay Sands

This was a nice day. I just  forgot to bring the LTM adapters to try the Color Skopar and the Jupiter outdoors, but that’s life.

Final round of shots tomorrow morning before giving back the camera.

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day three, Sunday

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day two, Saturday)

So Saturday I woke up pretty excited and checked the dream was true and the M240 was still on my desk : yes it was. I am not a pro and no capacity of doing any technical test; all I am interested is to see how the camera feels and how it fares for my usual type of shooting. So I have planned a kind of tour of Singapore for the week-end, visiting some of the places where I often go when I am free and in shooting mood.

This morning direction Chinatown, in walking distance from my place. I still have the Summilux on the camera and I’ll keep it for the whole day.

First stop at the Tan Si Chong Su chinese temple, to take some pictures of sculptures and decorations. Here comes the first revelation of the day : the original Leitz filter of the Summilux is hazy! This beautiful peace of metal and glass that goes for a fortune on ebay is just no good. I never spotted it on film. So the filter goes in the pocket and I go on with my walk.

 

On the way to Chinatown if the popular area of People’s Park Comples with many eateries like the above roasted duck store. The quality in subdued light is nice and I would day the color rendering is perfect to my taste.

Getting into the Chinatown Complex, I walk to the wet market where you can find a lot of different things, including frogs and turtles. The above is quite sharp with focus on the eye of the frog on the left.

Fish stalls are the most attractive, but for vegetarians you can also find vegetables stalls. The above shot is my favorite, but as someone pointed out lacks of sharpness.

At this point I must give my second conclusion of the day: I messed up with the auto ISO and the Aperture mode. I was happy to find this mode on the M240 and the M9 because this is how  like to shoot in the Nikon world, however here because of my lack of knowledge of the settings, the camera chose some ridiculous low speeds instead of cranking up the ISO. So a lot of my indoors shots are lacking crispness because of minor camera shake.

 

Outside of the Chinatown Complex is an area where older men are playing Chinese chess and checkers. It is always a delight to shoot the game.

 

The Summilux close and wide open

It is quite nice to have such a small camera, people are not afraid of it, it does not look out of place like my D700 would. All in all I look like a tourist with a retro looking compact digital camera.

Back in the Chinatown complex, I head for the food center (In Singapore life revolves around food) for  a drink (Sugar Cane juice) and browse through the stalls of the hawkers. Here again my pictures suffered from the same issue with speed and ISO.

 

Life is not only about photography and I must go on the other side of town to have lunch with a friend and collect my bike. Cycling home, I have a nap and head for a traditional show later in the afternoon. On the way some young dudes are doing some graffiti on Somerset skate park.

 

The pictures of the show are useless but that’s nothing to do with the camera.

This first real day of shooting was great, this is a nice camera for what I am usually doing. There is nothing that I do not like. Some small remarks:

– yes I should have known, but this is not really a camera for close range, the minimum range for the rangefinder is about 1 meter so it is not great for shooting food or firend over the lunch table

– on the Summilux it takes a while to adjust from close to far; I much prefer the quick focus of the Elmarit or the Summicron; I will have to try a Cron 50 or 35

– unlike it has been said in some reviews I did not hit the “M” (movie) button once,

– the On-Off button is very easy to use,

– my half case however press on the live view button and this is a bit annoying

 

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day two, Saturday)

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day one, Friday)

This is it, I finally found a way to get my hands on a Leica M240 without breaking the piggy bank : I have rented it for a week-end. I never really thought of renting camera gear, but actually that makes a lot of sense. I managed to have 3 days to play around with this expensive toy for a fraction of the cost. I rented a M240 black and an Elmarit 28mmF22.8 here in Singapore at Camera Rental on new bridge road for less than 400 SGD where the combo costs something around 13K. Quite effective, oh did I mention this is my birthday present (the rental).

So this is it, it is nearly 4pm on Friday and on the way to work I collect the beast. As I said in my last post I borrowed a M9 and Summicron 28mmf2 a few weeks back so I am not overly surprised by the first contact. There are however a few immediate differences:

  • the screen in larger
  • the shutter is a loss less noisy (I could not figure out why the M9 had to make so much noise)
  • the Elmarit is so small, the idea of its price makes me laugh, nobody would ever believe it

I have brought my old Summilux 50mmF1.4 and tries it in the shop, it looks to be working well and frankly it will hardly leave the body.

On the way to the office I stopped at the Yueh Hai Ching Temple  and take a few shots, the weather is overcast and sun quickly going down anyway, so nothing exceptional.

I tried a few portraits while in the office with the available light. Wide open the results are a bit soft and probably suffers from some little camera shake due to the slow speed set by the camera. Yes I made the mistake to set the speed to Auto, I did not realize until later that instead of cranking up the ISO the camera lowers the speed until it reaches 1/focal length. But as the Summilux is not recognized by the camera the lower speed is not calculated (I think) so some shots were done at 1/12th and 200 ISO: ridiculous.

Later I go outside for a walk and take some handheld shots of Marina Bay with the 28mm with manual settings, clearly that fares a little bit better.

I have big plans for the Saturday, so I go straight to bed after work.

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day one, Friday)

A couple of hours with a Leica M9

Mrs B with the Noctilux at F2
Mrs B with the Noctilux at F2

 

In Luxembourg for a few days I had the chance to borrow a Leica M9 from my friend Herman. The camera was passed to me with the Summicron 28mmF2.0 and the Noctilux 50mmF0.95. It was feeling like Christmas in July! As I am planning to rent a M240 + Summarit 28mmF2.8 when back in Singapore this is a very good opportunity.

Theatre de Luxembourg Summicron 28mm
Theatre de Luxembourg Summicron 28mm







Theatre de Luxembourg Summicron 28mm
Theatre de Luxembourg Summicron 28mm

Owning a Leica M4, the Camera feels familiar. It is strange not to have to carry a handheld light-meter with a Leica and not to have a winding knob. The internal meter with its red arrows indicating the over or under-exposure is easy enough to use but probably needs some time to get used to as it’s quite different to other camera’s I own. The speed selector enables an “auto” mode, which enables Aperture priority as in many SLR’s, this is really a great feature. The ISO selection also enables auto mode.

Menus are quite simple, I managed to configure the setting for the Summicron which is not a coded version (ie not recognized automatically by the camera) and change the picture resolution.Gelateria Summicron 28mm

The access to the battery and the memory card by the bottom plate is more funny than anything else. For a few hours I did not need a lot of access, just changing the card for the session.

The optical rangefinder is great, on the 100 odd pictures I took none was out of focus (although not all were artistic).

Le Pacha Summicron 28mm
Le Pacha Summicron 28mm

The Noctilux is awesome, but frankly it is bulky so expensive that I was frightened to drop it. With high iso available do the average shooter (aka me) needs .95? I’ll try my old Summilux 50mm1.4 soon and see how it fares for indoor and night shots.

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Nothing to say on the Summicron, I love the 28mm on full frame, full stop. This lens Is a bit on the expensive side and I will rent the twice cheaper Summarit, albeit F2.8 only, with the M240. There is not much visible distortion on the pictures, BUT the lens does not come with a viewfinder and the camera viewfinder full field is about 35mm. This is probably not an issue for casual shots, but it is a bit frustrating.

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One negative point: some of the grey areas in some of the pictures are showing some artifacts. I will check carefully during next try how often this happens.

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A quick conclusion: this was a very good but short experience, I am now looking forward to renting the Leica M240 this week-end, nearly 3 days shooting in Singapore I will also have the opportunity to test my older lenses. It is a bit early to say if this a definite buy or not.

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A couple of hours with a Leica M9