Leica MDa with Fujifilm Fujifilm Superia Premium ISO 400

Camera : Leica MDa
Lens : Zeiss ZM 25mm f 2.8 Biogon T*
Film : Fujifilm Superia Premium ISO 400
Developer: Tetenal Colortec C-41 

A view-finderless camera and zone focusing initially sounded pretty daunting, but it turns out it’s really straightforward. And although I have the odd out of focus shot the vast majority of the images come out just fine.

I’ll do a dedicated Leica MDa post at some point, but for now here’s a brief history. The MDa was produced from 1966 onwards, and the model I have is from the first year of production. I believe they were used for used for monitoring telephone counters initially.

First things first, the image quality isn’t the best – but remember the camera is completely mechanical, stripped back to the absolute basics and is over 50 years old. The age and the sightly challenging nature of the camera add to the feeling you get when you look at the images you have taken with it.

Wang a 35mm, 28mm or 25mm lens on it and it’s hard not to get the focus right. It’s ace for street and stealthy photography as it’s light, pretty quiet and you aren’t holding it up to your face for the viewfinder.

I bought this model because I wanted a Leica but wasn’t prepared to spend an initial £1k for a 50 year old camera body that may or may not work. I picked up the MDa body for £380 from the Leica Store Manchester. Yes, maybe I could have picked it up cheaper on eBay, but that store pre-services the used Leicas it sells and gives a 12 month warranty, and I’m happy to pay a bit more for that peace of mind. Also they give great customer service. 👍

Notes

So anyhoo, back to the roll of film. Shot on a trip to Kew Gardens, it’s only the 2nd roll of film I’ve put through it and I’m pretty happy with the results. Accept you aren’t going to get 100% perfection every time – but you are going to have an experience and get some true basic snapshots of time, with a side helping of a genuine sense of history.

It’s so easy to put your thumb over the lens 🙈At least that’s what I’m telling myself….

(click on any image to launch as a gallery)

Nikon FM2n with Fujifilm Industrial 100 film

Camera : Nikon FM2n
Lens : Nikon Nikkor 28mm F2.8 AI-S Prime Lens
Film : Fujifilm Industrial 100
Developer: Tetenal Colortec C-41 

This is the dream team in terms of 35mm and film combo to date for me. The Nikon FM2n is just perfect in every way – I can’t think of a way it could be improved on. Manufactured from 1984 until 2001, it has a built in light meter, double / multiple exposure / timer and is so easy to load with film.

I shot exclusively with this on a trip to New York (I’ll share the photos at a later date) and I had only used it once prior to the trip. Two days later and I was loading film whilst walking – it’s that easy.

If you are looking for a 35mm camera, this is an affordable and reliable option, it’s famed for it’s durability. There’s plenty of choice for lenses, it’s compatible with Nikon F-mount lenses from 1959 onwards, and Nikon have the manual online : Nikon FM2n manual.

I packed it on an overnight trip to Dublin, along with the 28mm lens which I hoped would give me plenty of scope for capturing some street action and inside Trinity College Library (that film is to come soon).

It’s an odd selection of photos as the start of the roll is from a family weekend away and moves into Dublin trip shots.

Notes

I’m a fan of the soft tones the Fujifilm Industrial 100 gives and it can often be picked up a really cheap and competitive price. Also kudos for sneaking in 38 frames 💛

Hasselblad 500cm with Kodak Ektar 100

Camera : Hasselblad 500cm
Lens : 150mm Sonar
Film : Kodak Ektar 100
Developer: Tetenal Colortec C-41 

A roll shot on the same day as this one at Exbury Gardens, when I was on a double exposure mission. I like how you can tell the colour differences between the Ektar and Portra if you compare the two set of negatives, the Ektar giving deeper, richer blues and greens.

I don’t know about you but starting out in film photography, film choices are a little hit and miss. You’re not likely to buy a really shitty film, but all you have to go on when choosing are the examples images the online store gives you, Analogue Wonderland in my case. Whilst the example images broadly give you a good idea of what the film is capable of, if you don’t shoot the types of images in those examples it can be hard to imagine how the film will translate to your own style and preferred subject matter.

Portra for now is my film of choice for beaches and Ektar is floating my boat for foliage. Personal preference FYI.

Notes

I am really pleased with these, bar the shot that I wrecked by trying to add an intentional light leak (but instead of slipping out the dark slide for a second I sneezed and left it open for too long #failz).

Lubitel 2 and expired 1968 Kodak Tri-X Pan Professional

Lubitel 2 and expired 1968 Kodak Tri-X Pan Professional

Camera : Lubitel 2
Film : Expired 1968 Kodak Tri-X Pan Professional
Developer: Ilford HC


First thing first, this roll of expired film has been my nemesis. Hard to wind on in camera, har to get onto the developing reel, and curling up ever since (despite being under a stack of books for a fortnight – it still curls up into reel formation if you lift up the books!)

I regularly swing between thinking ‘I should plan some really cool concept photos’ with expired film and ‘there’s no point going to great lengths for expired film incase it all goes tits up and I’m left kicking myself’.

In the case of this film, I popped it in my bag on a day trip to Kew Gardens and randomly snapped away.

Notes

Not sure how relevant it is, but it was a bloody hot day shooting this – like 34 degrees. However I’m guessing one hot day in 50 + years of ‘goodness knows how it was kept’ film is not going to make a huge difference.

I wound on to the 3rd frame before I had realised so the first 2 shots are blank. I KNOW. What a prize twat. And then the film got totally stuck after frame 9 so I left it for a couple of hours before trying again – luckily it wound on – begrudgingly.

The only way to get a digital copy of these was to use the scanner and even then the curling was a struggle. 🙈Mind you, when you consider it’s been curled on the reel for 50 + years it’s hardly surprising…

It’s pretty cool to see the print from the paper backing engrained on the negatives, one of those glorious imperfections that I adore so much.

I’ve been reading up and I’m pretty sure I should have developed for longer to try to boost the contrast – but I live and learn!

Lubitel 2 with Kodak Tri-X

Camera : Lubitel 2
Film : Kodak Tri-X 400
Developer: Ilford HC

Hanging at at Kew with my homies Gemma, Tanya and Eleanor and a few different cameras. The only medium format I packed was my super light 1956 Lubitel 2.

It’s the ultimate ‘European city break weekender camera’ because it’s small and doesn’t take up much room, you don’t have extra lenses to consider, it’s reliable, changing film is pretty easy and it’s light (for when you don’t want to lug around extra weight). Extra points for feeling cool as f*ck with an old Soviet camera.

Notes

Classic Annie impatience shows in these shots – I entered the Palm House and was far too excited to be in there taking photos that I didn’t really bother about waiting for the lens to stop misting up. 🙈

I hadn’t used this camera for a few months and my exposure estimations were a bit off, especially on the double exposures.

No. 2 Issues loading film onto metal developing reel (still really like that effect!)

No.6 Should have gone in darker for a double exposure

Hasselblad 500cm with Kodak Portra 160

Camera : Hasselblad 500cm
Lens : 150mm Sonar
Film : Kodak Portra 160
Developer: Tetenal Colortec C-41 

From a stolen hour at Exbury Gardens with the kids in tow. I had just discovered how to take a double exposure with the Hasselblad 500cm and went on a bit of a practicing rampage.

Notes

I was happy with the results considering I hadn’t read up on how to create a double exposure at the time. I feel confident that now I’ve read up on this that I’ll more consistent results in the future.

Lessons learnt :
– Generally under-expose each shot by one stop
– Try to shoot the darker of the subjects first, for example a silhouette of a person first, followed by the clouds / landscape / whatever

No. 9 Removed the back and ever so slightly removed the dark slide for a second to try to get an intentional light leak.

No. 5, 10, 12 Turned the camera for each shot during the double / triple exposure to see what the effect would be.

The Tetenal Colortec is the only colour developer I have used to date but I’m really happy with it. I’m a little bit too slap dash to keep to the exact temperatures and I haven’t had a roll fail on my gun-ho style just yet! 🤞

How to take a double exposure with a Hasselblad 500cm

I freaking LOVE taking double or multiple exposures with the Hasselblad and it’s really simple to do.

  1. Take your first shot
  2. Re-insert the metal dark slide
  3. Remove the back
  4. Wind the camera on as usual
  5. Re-attach the back
  6. Remove the dark slide
  7. Take your second shot
  8. Wind on – if a double exposure is all you want to take. Repeat steps 2-7 for every additional exposure you wish to take.

Enjoy!

Here’s some I made earlier…

ARAX60 with expired Ilford HP5 PLUS

Camera : ARAX60
Film : Ilford HP5 PLUS expired 1990
Developer: Ilford HC

When my mum told me she had bought a bag full of film for 50p at a car boot I rubbed my hands with glee. Amongst the bounty we’re a few rolls of Ilford HP5 PLUS with an expiry date of Jan 1990. So I popped a roll in the ARAX60 one Sunday and took it to Sunday lunch at the in-laws.

Notes

Loading rolls onto metal reels is a skill I still learning. I actually like the effect of the film buckling a little when loading, as you can see in the photos below.

Quality wise I can’t see much difference for it being expired, maybe a little ‘foggy’. I am noticing expired film generally seems harder to load without buckling – not sure if that’s a ‘thing’ or just me…

Contact sheet

ARAX60 with Kodak Tri-X

Camera : ARAX60
Film : Kodak Tri-X 400
Developer: Ilford HC

I bought the ARAX60 a week or so before the Hasselblad 500cm and consequently, in the midst of popping my Hasselblad cherry euphoria, the ARAX lay neglected.

Thought it was about time I used it a bit more, so I ran a roll of Tri-X through it one Sunday afternoon to see how it performs compared to my other two 120 regulars. I’ll write up my initial ARAX60 thoughts soon. 👍

Notes

This was my 2nd attempt at loading 120 film onto metal developing reels, a couple of ends of the frames got damaged from this but overall I am preferring the metal vs plastic reels.

Liking the shorted development times of Ilford HC vs Ilford DDX that I was using previously.