leicacamera

Massive Film Backlog by Simeon Smith

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I’ve no idea when I fell out of love with developing my own film. 

At first it seemed like magic; the images appearing in chemicals. The mindful, mindless, meditative process of mixing, rinsing, drying and scanning.

Recently, it’s just seemed like hard work. 

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I think part of it, is that the more you learn, the more you know can be done. Steps are added to the process, which becomes longer, more time consuming. 

When I didn’t know better I could process, scan and edit three rolls of film in a night. 

Now, I know the care and attention to detail that each image could be worthy of. 

But, in the end it all comes down to that old aphorism, attributed to Voltaire:

“Perfect is the enemy of good” 

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And don’t get me wrong, there are times when I aim for perfection. My two exhibitions have only had 4 images each, and I of course wanted each to as close to perfection as possible. 

But with stacks and stacks of negatives either developed and not scanned, or not even developed, it was time to try an old process. 

Around a year ago I bought a flatbed negative scanner. Every image you’ve seen of mine since then has been scanned using that scanner. It renders beautifully detailed grain and amazing contrasts. 

It also takes me around an hour to scan one roll of 35mm. A roll that I might only use 2 or 3 images from.

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So in order to work through my massive scanning backlog, the flatbed was put away, and my tiny old 5mp scanner came out of the cupboard. Is it good? Weeeellll…. It was good enough for my first book, but I guess no, in comparison it’s not great. But it has a great thing about it, and that is that I can scan a dozen films in an hour. 

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These images would never see the light of day if they waited for the flatbed. 

And who knows, maybe this post will encourage me to scan and edit these photos “properly”. 

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Rome on Film [Another Gallery] by Simeon Smith

I went to Rome earlier this year. Shot some film, and some digital. These are the film shots, the digital ones I uploaded a couple of months ago. You can see them here. 

I’m debating whether to print these in a zine or not, but decided to share them online anyway. They’re a weird mix of holiday snaps and street photography.

Enjoy.

S

All photos shot on a 1937 Leica IIIa with an Industar N61LD lens, to Fomapan 400 film. 

Make it Personal by Simeon Smith

The best photography is personal. 

The mechanics of creating an image is now so simple, so ubiquitous, so automated, that we sometimes forget that it’s Photography with a capital Ph. 

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It’s rarely conscious, but when I scroll through my Instagram feed I’m digesting images differently to when I go to an exhibition, or open one of my favourite photo books.

But the best photography crosses over those thought processes. 

The greatest moments in a gallery for me is when you catch a glimpse of the artist’s process. When you see into their lives, into their thoughts and into their emotions.

And the greatest posts on social media are the ones that for some reason or another make you feel a little more than usual, make you question the thought process behind the image, make you appreciate the post for the art held within it. 

Camera Review: Leica IIIa (1938) by Simeon Smith

Considering how many cameras I’ve reviewed, I’m really not that interested in camera reviews. 

Hang on. That sounds egotistical. 

But, I guess it’s the truth. 

I’d quite happily write reviews for cameras and lenses all day, but I’m not that into reading other people’s reviews. I suppose everyone’s entitled to my own opinion. 

The reason that I’m not that interested in most other people’s reviews is because they don’t tell you what I REALLY want to know. 

I don’t care about construction, features, or economics. I’m all about what it feels like emotionally to shoot with a camera, how inspired am I with it round my neck, how satisfying the buttons and knobs are to use.

Other reviews of the Leica III will tell you about the history of Oskar Barnack’s 35mm cameras. They’ll tell you about the groundbreaking features. They’ll tell you about the quality control which meant that most of these cameras are still in great working order 80 years after they were built. They’ll tell you that bottom loading cameras like this are a pain in the arse. They’ll tell you that their unique way of loading the camera is the right way, and they’ll tell you that this is THE BEST camera to shoot street like Cartier-Bresson. 

But none of them will tell you what a 1930’s Leica smells like. 

In case you hadn’t guessed, this is not an objective review. Objectivity is overrated. 

This is my favourite camera, and I’ll tell you why. 

I was just getting into film photography, a good few years ago. I walked into Cardiff Camera Centre, and they had a showcase full of barnack cameras. A proper collection, probably put together over decades spent looking for rare variants. 

At the time I was shooting with a Holga and a Smena Symbol, just playing around on the Lomography site. 

I must have grilled the guy behind the counter for at least half an hour about his collection, and left telling myself I’d save up and buy a Leica IIIa.

It took a while to find a camera body cheap enough and from a source I knew would sell me a quality, serviced camera. In the meantime I shot with a FED3, also a Leica thread mount camera, but made cheaply in the soviet union, and started buying cheap soviet lenses to go with the camera body I had yet to buy. 

I patiently waited watching stock come and go on reddotcameras.co.uk - an amazing website for everything Leica. 

A few months of watching the site and the perfect IIIa for me came up. Great working condition, a bit of brassing, but someone had drilled through the top plate to add a flash sync port (something the original lacked). This made it great for someone like me that wanted to shoot with the camera, and pretty much worthless to a collector. 

When it arrived I understood why people say that you can’t compare the russian copies to the real deal. Almost 80 years since this first left the factory and everything still works amazingly well. 

There’s so many reasons this is my main camera.

 

  • I want to carry it everywhere with me, regardless of if I’m using it. It’s beautiful, it’s compact, I’m not scared it’ll get damaged because, well, it’s lasted this long!

  • I love the experience of shooting with it. The feel of the film advance knob. The spring-loaded shutter speed. The firm release button. 

  • It disarms my subjects.

It’s not better or worse than any other film camera. It’s a way of presenting light to the film. But it’s my way of presenting light to the film, and I just love it. 

I’ve since bought a back-up, and between the two cameras I shoot maybe 90% of my images.

The camera bodies are nothing without lenses, and I pretty much shoot 3 lenses, all 50mm, all cheap, all Soviet, all bloody amazing. 

  • Industar N-61 LD – Make sure you get a later LD version of this lens, as the coating makes all the difference. Contrasty, forgiving, light, built like a tank. 
  • Industar 22 – Collapsible. With this on the Leica, it fits in the pockets of my ever-present denim jacket. Looks like a Leica Elmar. In my opinion, better than the Leica Elmar. Definitely cheaper than the Leica Elmar. 
  • Jupiter 8 – a lovely lens for low light, but the aperture ring doesn’t stay put, so it’s a pain to shoot. 

Other recommendations:

The Voigtlander wide angle lenses are beautiful and pretty reasonable. The Lomography copy of the Jupiter 3 is just outstanding, but pretty pricey. The Canon 50mm’s are great, but if you’re in the UK you’ll probably have to buy them in from Japan.

by Simeon Smith

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#leica#leicacamera#rangefinder#buyfilmnotmegapixels #35mm#industar#ishootfilm #filmisnotdead#cameraporn#blackandwhiteisworththefight#blackandwhite#bandw #35mmfilm#filmphotography#35mmcamera#analogphotography#analoguephotography#35mm#35mmphotography #analog#igerswales#at_diff #hashtagfloosie#nothingisordinary#my_365#ihaveathingforwalls #heyfsc#streetphotography#everyshotmatters