Leicaflex SL

Leicaflex SL – Walks in Barcelona – By Jordi Fradera

Once again my neighbor has loaned me a camera, in this case a Leicaflex SL that he bought second-hand in the 90’s for about 200 EUR and subsequently used for several years. In loaning me this camera, Alvar has given me the opportunity to try it as well as writing a new article for 35mmc, and for that I am really appreciative.

The Leicaflex SL is in good condition with only a slight bump on the top cover and a scrape on the Summicron-R f:2 / 50mm lens. Everything works even the light meter that still has the battery from the 90s works fine.

Holding it in my hands I remembered the Leica IIIf and the Leica M3 that I had in my younger years. I even took the liberty of gently touching the textile curtain with a finger. My ecstasy came when I looked through the viewfinder though, it was amazing – I had never seen such a clear and large image, not even my Pentax ME could overshadow it.

I’m not going to do a review, instead I decided I was just going to shoot with Miss Leicaflex SL, see what happens, and share some of the photos and experiences.

First I loaded it with a color film (Kodak Plus 200) and went for a walk with my wife taking pictures of my neighborhood in Barcelona. The last stop of the morning was at FotoJoma where I opened the camera and handed over the film for its processing. It was Friday and on Monday I already received the photos by Wetransfer. The photos were almost perfect – almost as detailed in fact as photos shot with advanced digital camera (forgive the insult). You can see some of them below.

From the balcony of my house - Barcelona
From the balcony of my house – Barcelona
Asturias street – Gracia neighborhood – Barcelona
Gran de Gracia Street – Barcelona
Leicaflex SL
Caller – Gracia Neighborhood – Barcelona

Some days later, I loaded the Leicaflex SL with a roll of expired Kodak 400X that Alvar had given me, and we went out again to walk Miss Leicaflex SL through Barcelona. Within a few days I received the files, here are some of them:

Leicaflex SL
La Tamarita Gardens – Barcelona
La Tamarita Gardens – Barcelona
Old Hospital de la Santa Cruz – Barcelona
La Boquería Market – Las Ramblas – Barcelona
Las Ramblas – Barcelona
Plaza Real – Barcelona
Canaletes Fountain – Barcelona
Whoever drinks from it returns to Barcelona

It has been a nice few days, I have not had to repair anything on the Leicaflex SL (a strange experience for me) and everything has turned out perfect. But, I feel I have to criticize something. I alway do, whatever happens.

I have found two subjective defects in the Leicaflex SL. Though taking into account its age and that the cameras are not made to be perfect for the individual user, I feel they can be classified as very slight.

  1. The photometer is activated by opening the frame advance lever. So, if you use, like me, the left eye, you close the lever with your forehead and it is no longer activated. I just used my right eye.
  2. The camera is heavy. This is in keeping with cameras of this ilk and era. Although it is not my custom, I hung it on its strap,

I already returned the camera to Alvar. It crossed my mind to steal it (just kidding) – I still have two cameras of his property that you will see in future articles, one of them may have been the camera that gave me the greater satisfaction making an article.

As for the walks, Miss Leicaflex SL, my wife and I have had a great time – but now she (the camera) will rest for a few more years.

Thanks for reading my article, I hope you liked it.

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11 thoughts on “Leicaflex SL – Walks in Barcelona – By Jordi Fradera”

  1. Love your images, Jordi. I understand that weight can be an issue (I have the SL2) but I think when these cameras came out photographers were a tougher breed than today’s.???? When I consider what I was prepared to carry around in my younger days, I wonder now how I managed!

    1. Jordi Fradera

      Thanks, I completely agree, one of my first cameras was the Canonflex and I remember its weight but then it was normal. I don’t dislike heavy cameras and I loved trying that borrowed LEICAFLEX. I already returned it to its owner 🙁 grrrr !!!!!!

    2. Your negatives are excellent. Well done! Maybe you were inspired by this big beautiful camera, one of the best from that era. The 400x (TMax?) frames are perfect for this setting.

      1. Jordi Fradera

        Thanks, I liked the LEICAFLEX SL and even more to take pictures with it, I have countless photos taken with other cameras of the time and I don’t see the same quality; perhaps because the negatives have aged before scanning.

  2. Left eyed also, thought it was heavy at the camera store.
    Never realized…it’s the lens!!! All in the lens!
    Make a 30″ x 40″ colour print!

    1. Jordi Fradera

      Thank you for your comment, because my language is Spanish I don’t understand its content very well, I think it says that you already saw the camera and it seemed heavy, that the lens is good enough to make murals. I am not a professional and for me 30 “x 40” (762×1016 mm) is a gigantic thing but it could possibly give a good result.

  3. It is possible, but every step has to be top quality. Camera on a tripod with a cable release. The film, the developer, attention to detail in processing. The enlarger (and enlarging lens such as a Schneider). I have done it many times. Thank you.

  4. I own a Leicaflex SL AND a Pentax ME – what a study in contrasts! They are such different SLRs (size, shutter type, features and shooting experience) , but as you mentioned, they both have excellent, big, bright viewfinders. I enjoy the fully manual Leicaflex for complete creative control, and the Pentax for its compact size and the ease of auto exposure. Wonderful images Jordi, thank you for taking us with you on your walk!

    1. Jordi Fradera

      Thanks for your comment.
      I already said that the LEICAFLEX SL is not mine but the curious thing is that I have had a Pentax ME (now disassembled, only the outer part) from 1972 to 1987 with which I have taken more than 6000 photos. I always used it as if it were manual, controlling speed and opening according to my preferences. It seems that we are soul mates. There will be more walks and Pentax ME!

      1. Ja Jordi,
        verwenden Sie wieder eine Pentax ME.
        Ich habe auch dieses Jahr damit begonnen, habe mir eine ME und eine ME super besorgt !
        Ich liebe diese schön designten Kameras .
        Und sie sind kleiner und leichter als alle anderen Spiegelreflexkameras.
        Ich liebe auch die SMC-M Objektive, die genau für diese ME, MX und ME super designt wurden. Im Moment sind meine Favoriten das SMC-M 50mm f1.4 und das SMC-M 28mm f2.8, welches ein sehr unterschätztes Objektiv ist und außerdem so klein wie ein Pancake ist. So eine ME mit 28mm passt in fast jede Jackentasche.

  5. I shoot regularly with a number of 35mm SLR systems – Pentax (LX and MX), Nikon (F2S, FE and F4), Canon (F-1n and A-1) and all do a fine job, but the exposures I make with the SL and SL-2 are always that bit more consistently and perfectly exposed (always amazes me when I look through a page of negs) and the look of the images from the lenses is especially lovely in some way one cannot always put a finger on. Apart from the Leicaflexes I particularly enjoy shooting with the combination of the Pentax LX and 50 f1.2 – magic there as well.

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