Getting a new old film camera is always a little nerve wracking, to me at least. Will I be able to operate it correctly, understand its pros and cons, and work with them, etc? When it comes to old Leica screw-mount cameras I would add: can I load the film properly?
Well, now that I’ve loaded three films successfully, I have grown in confidence since the first attempt. For those unsure of what is involved, you have to cut the film lead, having pulled the film out a couple of centimetres. I thought I’d done it wrong the first time, as the film forward dial stuck rigid after a dozen shots. Luckily I live in Edinburgh, home to a great old-school camera shop, Cameratiks, who have a good collection of LTM cameras, and decades of experience in repair and maintenance. I was soon back in business, and given some tips on loading and usage, (thanks to Patrick!). Encouragingly he said my IIIG was one of the cleanest he’d seen.
As my first roll would be a test to see if the camera worked at all, I used an old film I found in the back of a drawer: Sensia 100. In my haste, I failed to notice or remember that it was slide film – I only discovered this while attempting to hand it in to a local lab for a one-hour service – not to be. I had to send it off. In the meantime I loaded a film the lab gave me for half price: Fuji Superia 400, not a film I had used before.
To my delight, not only did I load the film properly, but it actually caught some images! [Why am I always surprised?!]
Here is my Eastman AR503CE archtop guitar, caught in beautiful light by the Summar 50mm f/2 lens. I love the colour rendering of the Superia, and the lens gives beautiful out-of-focus areas such as the chair and bookcase. The highlights are almost overblown, but just about acceptable. For a quick shot – for which I calculated exposure with the “Light Meter” phone app – I was very pleased. In fact, that is a bit of an understatement.
During the time that roll was in the camera, a Voigtlander 21mm f/4 lens arrived from the 35mmc Shop, with viewfinder:
The viewfinder is magnificent – very bright, with clear frame lines. I clicked as soon as the girl appeared in the scene, far-left foreground. Thanks to the viewfinder, her presence really fills in what could have been dead space. Again, I like the colours, and they look quite gritty – a mixture of lens and exposure, I think. I like the effect, and it seems to suit the situation.
Soon after getting the above shots processed, the Sensia shots arrived, and they show a very different feel altogether, much cleaner, less warm, but the 50mm Summar lens shines through again:
These are all just test shots, and I have to say I’m very pleased with the IIIG, the two lenses and the Superia film. The Sensia is not 100% to my liking, but can see it could have its uses. My preferred films are Portra 400 for colour, and Delta 400 for b&w. I’ve since bought an Elmar 90mm f/4 portrait lens, which also seems excellent, and now enjoy using all three lenses on both the IIIG and a Leica Monochrom. I’m even surprised to see myself contemplating the IIIG-and-lenses replacing my much-loved Konica Hexar AF, which has been my go-to 35mm film camera for a good few years now. I might also invest in a few rolls of Fuji’s Superia 400 when warmth is required.