Leica M3 – First Roll

So – I finally bought a 1960 Leica M3 with my wife’s blessings and paired it with a 1957 “feet only” rigid Summicron.

There’re a few places in Tsim Sha Tsui within walking distance you could go to when you’re in search of a film Leica.

There’re generally 2 price ranges. The insane one is for collectors looking for pristine shrink-wrapped Leicas with original boxes and papers. The saner, within-reach price range is for cameras with some signs of use. Let them know you’re a user and you’re sorted.

I bought a clean-looking “user” camera.

My other lens, the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm SC f1.4, now lives with the Leica M6 which I’ve been using for the past 9 years.

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Do I need a Leica M3? I don’t need it. Any camera is good enough for street photography.

The Leica M3 is a few steps backward from the M6 (and hence a step forward in terms of the skill required.)

It’s about not having a built-in meter and having to rely on my judgement.

In my writing and work and all that, I need something to push against so as to stay sharp.

Of course, all I have to do is remove the battery from the M6 to disable the meter. The M6 then becomes an M4.

You can see I had this conversation with myself many times, prior to buying the M3.

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Taking pictures without a meter is easier than expected, if I keep in mind the Sunny 16 rule.

If in doubt, overexpose by a stop and we’re still fine. From what I’ve read, you can underexpose by a stop and overexpose by 3 stops with film in general, so there’s some leeway.

The Ilford XP2 Super film is very accommodating.

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As I wear glasses, I can’t fully see the 50mm view in the M3 viewfinder but that’s fine.

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The 50mm focal length allows for comfortable distance from people and it includes their environment.

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I’m noticeable but not in their faces.

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I thought the texture was nice.

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I like to shoot photographers.

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At rest.

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I looked up.

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I looked ahead.

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I’m the shoot shadow master. (That’s the Chinese characters for “photographer”.)

 

 

 

 

Leica M6 with 50mm Summicron Rigid

According to the serial numbers, my Leica M6 was made in 1987 and lens in 1957.

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The lens has its distance scale in feet only. It’s a bit annoying for me as I think in metres. Oh well. This teaches me to check before buying. But there’s a broad depth of field to work with when zone focusing at f16 so that’s fine.

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The lens and camera were a good combined bargain way back in 2011. I remember walking into a shop in Singapore. It’s either at Peninsula Plaza or Peninsula Shopping Centre – my favorite place for vintage cameras and electric guitars. I asked for the lowest-priced Leica M6 and 50mm lens. Didn’t like the first option and so I went with the second. They came with a 6-month shop warranty.

The prices for both the camera and lens had increased over the years. Could you say the same for digital cameras? A digital camera is like a smartphone these days – there’s built-in obsolescence at work.

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There’s no such thing as a purely analog process anymore, especially if one is scanning the negatives and displaying the images on the Internet. I can’t help but tweak a little bit for contrast.

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Film photography is about slowing down and understanding the light. The Leica M6 has a meter I can check to ascertain the range I can work with.

Zone focus, decide between f8, f11 or f16 depending on whether the scene is in the sun or shade and snap. It’s pure poetry – camera and lens and the mind are one.

We all need to find a sense of calm in a time of Covid-19. (My second-hand Washburn HB35, a semi-hollow guitar, is also getting a regular workout: “Mama take this badge off of me … I can’t use it anymore … it’s getting dark, too dark to see…” )

Zone focusing is actually faster than auto focusing with my digital camera. I missed a few shots with the Canon M50 as the lens hesitates once in a while and takes a little too long to decide.

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Neat display.

IMG_20200721_0036 15In the midst of things.

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I aimed at the wall and waited for someone to walk past.

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Selfie on glass display. This was outside my go-to place for film development, lenses and cameras, where I got the film (Ilford XP2 400) processed right after this shot. It’s sunrisephotohk. You could find it on FB.

There’s a Leica M3 in there for a nice price. The ground rule is you put down the cash and go for a spin with the camera and develop the film right there to check for issues. If you don’t like what you see, you get your cash back.

There’re other pricier places in Hong Kong you could go to in Mongkok and Tsimshatsui and they generally give you a 6-month or 1-year shop warranty. But a Leica M is a simple mechanical thing, relatively speaking, and generally serviceable. They are built to last.

I could pair the current lens with the Leica M3, and the M6 will be a permanent home for my Voigtlander 35mm Nokton Classic. Hmm…

 

 

 

Against a Wall

It’s a simple idea – one I’ve used many times.img_20160929_0023-640

A simple wall with interesting texture.

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A window.

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And equally interesting people.

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The composition takes care of itself.

Thanks for reading!

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander 35 Nokton 1.4 SC

Film: Venus 800

 

Finding Flow

Part of street photography or art-making is about finding flow.

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Such that one is immersed in the activity.

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Such that you could forget yourself.

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And find meaning in it.

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The notion of flow – many thanks to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

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It’s about looking, constantly looking.

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Thanks for reading!

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander 35 Nokton 1.4 SC

Film: Venus 800

 

The Street Makes Sense

The thing with Shamshuipo is that one could walk slowly amongst pockets of crowds.

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You could flow along comfortably.

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Even if you stop, there’s space enough for you to do so.

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So many people and things to look at.

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Hope and dreams of finding a space.

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The street belongs.

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The street can disintegrate.

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The street makes sense, if you keep looking.

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander 35 Nokton 1.4 SC

Film: Venus 800

 

 

Cheung Chau Again

Some more thoughts of Cheung Chau.

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One photograph, one thought.

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It’s a nice local economy one could believe in.

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It’s a personable economy.

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A joyful economy.

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Though sometimes you’d have to wait for a bit.

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Public sculptures.

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There’s time for a conversation.

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Time to stroll.

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Time to sort it all out.

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It’s all very laid back.

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Part of it is in shadow.

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It’s not always peachy.

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There’re always things to buy!

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People to look at.

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And a wall to lean on.

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 SC

Film: Ilford XP2