5 frames with...

5 Frames in Barcelona with Leica M3 and Lomography Potsdam – By Steve Karsten

May 9, 2020

I went to Barcelona for the first time in September of 2019.  I was in awe of the beautiful, vibrant city as much as the beautiful, vibrant people that live there.  Walking Barcelona was quite enjoyable, and whenever I got tired there was always a nice little vermuteria nearby.  For those that are not in the know: good vermouth, a couple cubes of ice, carbonated water, an olive and an orange makes for the most beautiful day time drink you could ever wish for. (please follow appropriate age guidelines, cheers)

I love shooting on rangefinders and for a long time my preference has leaned towards the Leica M2, mainly because of my love of the 35mm Zeiss Biogon f/2.8. But, as it will happen, I started to drift towards the 50mm focal length, and even though it is nice to have the M2 and the ability to see your subject enter the frame. Long story short – this is only my preference – but I really enjoy shooting 50mm on a Leica M3. It is just soooo clean in that big, beautiful viewfinder. 

So that was the combo I found myself shooting with whilst walking the Catalonian streets: A 1960 Leica M3 and the Summicron dual range (I kept the goggles in the bag).

While walking throughout the winding streets of the Gothic quarter and into El Raval I stumbled upon a Lomo store.  The store manager was very friendly and we chatted in spanglish about shooting film and whatnot.

After that pleasant interaction, I walked out with my first ever roll of Lomography Potsdam Kino (a rebirth of sorts for a classic german cine film stock). I wanted to spend more money on some of the gorgeous refurbished polaroids, but one roll of film would have to do.

Overall I’m quite pleased with the tones. I love the contrast, of which there is more than I thought there would be based on the reviews I had read.  It did pretty well with the shadows. The most interesting characteristic for me is the combination of low grain that has a softness rather than a sharpness to it.  Keep in mind these are low end scans done at home, on a canon scan 9000f.  Not sure how this holds up in the dark room or when professionally scanned, but for my intents and purposes I like it.  

My love for Lomography film has been growing after early skepticism kept me at bay. I wouldn’t say I am going to stop bulk loading Ilford HP5 anytime soon, but I definitely won’t hesitate to run some more Lomography rolls, especially b&w, through my camera in the future.

Stay safe everyone!
insta: @stevekars


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  • Reply
    Charles Morgan
    May 9, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    It’s history as a film is wonderful, excellent of Lomography to bring it to a wider audience, but it’s an Agfa film from the 30s (improved over time) that was made at the massive Agfa plant at Orlen, south of Berlin. After the war it was in East Germany, and Agfa prevented the use of its name, so it rebranded itself ORiginal WOlfen (Orwo). I shoot both this (now the uN55) and the 400 (now N75). You can buy it in bulk and self load like I do. Wonderful film, really dreamy and cinematic!

  • Reply
    Jim Hanes
    May 10, 2020 at 12:35 am

    I have been looking for a medium format film with a look similar to Kodak 2238, which is a sharp, low grain, high contrast film with iso of 25. I had bought three rolls of Potsdam 120 3 weeks ago hoping that it might be close to the higher contrast look that I like. Potsdam clearly has the look, and a higher speed as a bonus. Time to load up my Super Ikonta with a roll of Potsdam. Thanks Steve Karsten.

  • Reply
    Bruno Chalifour
    May 22, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    Wow,… don’t you find the contrast highly problematic?

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