5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Leica M4 – by Jochen Utecht

Do I know anything? Can I explain anything? If, then not with words. I am usually good at grammar (at least in my mother tongue German) and know more words than some people but I cannot express myself in conversations so well. Ever since I have been an eye-person. Eye see, eye draw, eye paint, eye take photographs. At the age of 15 I got my own b/w-darkroom and spent a lot of my childhood in darkness.

My first camera was the AT-1 (half-manual AE-1) from Canon until it died in Bali because it shared a backpack with a bottle of water, which threw up. The next one was a Nikon FM2n (Titanium shutter), still in use. For motorbike travels I had the Minox GT-E (Minox GT with a UV-Filter). Now R.I.P. (R.I. my cupboard)

Most of the time I shot slide film, because I loved to see the pictures BIG. Then, with the birth of our first daughter, I switched to digital because it was more instant – Fujifilm suits my way of shooting digital best. These days my love for analog photography has come back. Nothing can give you the satisfaction of pressing a shutter and winding to the next frame.

Another camera purchase was an automatic companion to the FM2n: a cheap FE. Unfortunately my eldest daughter moved out of the house and the FE and the 50mm E-series lens with her. But, since she makes good use of it, that’s alright!

Having owned an M8 for more than a year, which was the next best thing to shooting film, I lusted after a Leica again. I still had the 28mm M-Rokkor, so I only had to buy the body. The only affordable thing was an M4 from 1969 (around 400 €), 6 years younger than I am. Although the salesman said the light meter wasn’t working, I found it to be functional. Now I use it with hearing aid batteries put into the washer from a Wein Cell. In order to not drain the battery too fast, I only open one of the 4 holes of the Zinc-Air-cells. That way the batteries hold up their power for more than 2 month.

Some say the finder has a flare issue – I also find it annoying. If the sun is facing the camera, the rangefinder patch becomes invisible. I found out that if I cover the illumination window with a paper tape (the one you use to attach posters to a wall) the issue became acceptable. Maybe you get a better outcome if you change the finder to a newer one, but I am fine with the result. On the plus side it costs nothing.

I bought a 50mm F2 Zeiss Planar and a 35mm F2 Biogon to go with the 28 Rokkor and am quite happy with the combination.

I really like how you load the M4. It is a bit fiddly at first, but after you did it a few times it is very reliable. The shutter sounds great. Tsh-kk. The winding mechanism is super-smooth. I wish I had one of those cameras only to click and wind. So soothing. Am I crazy raving about gear?

Now here are 5 pictures from the first rolls of TriX400. We are living in Beijing – that’s why the pictures are from China.

This one of my youngest daughter came out unexpected as a double exposure. Never happened again.

This image reflects China quite well.

The framing is not perfect but I like the pattern.

Children are safer that way.


I hope you like the pictures. To see more of my work feel free to click the links below.

My (german) website is http://5intheworld.de
My Instagram name is echtjut
On flickr I am found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/echtjut/

More reading about the Leica M4 in Hamish’s review here

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  • Avatar
    Thorsten Wulff
    March 14, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Very nice, Jochen!
    I busy myself with an M6 and Tri-X these days, and print with a focomat 1c on 30 years old Ilfospeed ;))

    • Avatar
      Jochen Utecht
      March 14, 2019 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks for the nice words. And keep developing.

  • Avatar
    March 14, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    The one of your daughter doubly exposed…..!!!!! What a story that image could tell. Eye like. (Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.)

    • Avatar
      Jochen Utecht
      March 14, 2019 at 2:41 pm

      Thank you! She´ll like to hear/read that comment.

  • Avatar
    March 14, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Lovely article and beautiful pictures. I love the sound of the M4 – so soothing.

    • Avatar
      Jochen Utecht
      March 14, 2019 at 2:42 pm

      Thanks for your kind words. I have to go to bed now. Just one more picture…

  • Dan Castelli
    Dan Castelli
    March 14, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    a nice review. I like your tale of how some of your cameras met their demise. The pencil drawing was an unexpected bonus.
    My daughter did a watercolor study of my Leica as an assignment in art school. It’s framed & proudly displayed in our family room. I work with the M4’s younger brother: a M4-P w/a Leicameter MR-4. My M4-P is fitted w/a 40mm f/2.0 M-Rokkor. I find as I grow older, that it’s all the kit I need. I rarely find I’m missing a photo because of the lack of a certain piece of equipment.
    I’d like to add that I use a C.R.I.S. Battery adapter for my meter. It’s fitted w/a 386 battery and steps down the voltage from 1.5 to 1.35.
    You posted interesting pics. Continued best of luck with your photography.
    BTW: our daughter took my old Rolleicord when she went to college. It’s enjoying a third life!

    • Avatar
      Jochen Utecht
      March 14, 2019 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks Dan, how nice of you. Like I read on a T-shirt today: If you like like you´ll love love.

  • Avatar
    March 15, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    Lovely write-up and great sketch. I love the double exposure and the pattern underneath the trees. My father had an M3, he loved it more than his Hasselblad. Unfortunately, he sold both cameras before i was old enough to use them but i learned on his Miranda Sensorex and my Canon rangefinder. Today, I have my dad’s last camera, a Pentax K1000, which I am using to teach my son film photography. I also shoot digital with a Fuji X-T1, it reminds me very much of my old 35mm film SLRs from the 70s and 80s.

    • Avatar
      Jochen Utecht
      March 15, 2019 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Danny, thanks for your story. I agree the xt-1 is a film-like camera. The xpro-1 maybe even more so because it is slower. Coupled with a 1.4/35 its results are very good. I think I should make a sketch of that one.
      BTW The batteries for the Fuji´s hold their power for more than 36 frames. Have a nice weekend!

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