Sunday, July 8, 2018


A few days ago I showed a photo on social media.  It was a cropped version of the original image.  A viewer thought it was quite good, considering the crop, and asked to see the original.  That gave me the idea to write about it here, with some additional examples.

I have shot film as well as digital, and I don’t have any preferences for one of the other, with the exception that digital is substantially easier to work with.  At the end, however, it is the results that count.  For that reason I have always been a fan of slow films like Agfapan APX 25 or similar.  Obviously, that is too slow in many situations.  In those cases I used to shoot occasionally with Agfapan APX 100, but my first choice then was Ilford XP-2 Super.  It allows to change film speed in mid-roll without the necessity of any development adjustment.  Another advantage is that, when shot at slower speeds, the film displays noticeably finer grain.

Reggi Anderson, Artist
Leica M6, 135mm f/2.8 Elmarit, Agfapan APX 25

I rarely, if ever, do use a tripod, on location as well as in studio.  I feel it eliminates some of the advantages of the Leica by adding considerable bulk.  It slows you down and eliminates the spontaneity the camera offers.

Subsequently some of the examples in this article are not of an ultimate quality in terms of sharpness and detail, but they are examples of what one can reasonably expect under real world shooting conditions.  I should also mention that not all of the shots are necessarily focused with utmost accuracy.  Especially when shooting on location, I mostly use hyperfocal settings on my lenses.  It allows the fastest possible shooting, without the time necessary for rangefinder focusing or, if it were available, automatic focusing.

Leica M6, 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit, Ilford XP-2 Super @ ISO 400

Especially in situations where speed is of the essence, we are not always able to frame a photograph to its best advantage.  Later cropping is often necessary to obtain the best possible result.  This is where Leica lenses offer substantial advantages.  Even severely cropped images often show a wealth of detail.  This has from time to time allowed me to create different photos from one and the same initial image.  Of course this extra performance also offers the possibility to make rather big enlargements, often with results that rival those from medium format cameras.

Statue at Chamberlain, South Dakota
Leica M8, 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit

There are a lot of good cameras and lenses on the market.  Shooting with Leica equipment definitely does away with the worry if another camera possibly might have given better results.  The old adage still applies; you get what you pay for.

Leica M3, 50mm f/2 Dual Range Summicron, Agfapan APX 25
There is some fine detail in this enlargement which is not visible in the full frame example

Leica M6, 50mm f/2 Summicron, Agfapan APX 25

Lou Bellami, Founder and Director "Penumbra Theater" St. Paul, Minnesota
Leica M6, 135mm f/2.8 Elmarit, Ilford XP-2 Super @ ISO 800, Stage Lighting

Harbor of Duluth, Minnesota
Leica M8, 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit

Leica M8, 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit

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