First roll with the Leica M3

By Hamish Gill

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks since the Leica M3 found its way to me. So much so that I’ve only managed to squeeze a single roll through it so far; I almost feel as if I’m doing it an injustice. Still, a roll is a roll, and the results have landed…

I decided it would be a nice idea to shoot the whole of the first roll with the Leica M3 (or at least the large majority of it) with my 50mm f/1.5 Summarit – a lens that’s contemporary to the M3. It’s a funny lens the Summarit, great in many circumstances, but certainly not an all purpose lens to my mind. For day time/well lit shooting – i.e. stopped down past around f2.8 – it’s sharp and tonally quite nice with its slightly muted and soft tones. But when shot wide open it can be a little trickier to work with, especially under artificial light which tends to get rendered in wildly more yellow tones than you might expect (edit. see comments). And that’s before you have taken into account its bokeh, how it transitions to out of focus and ability to turn even the slightest of differences in tone into a glowing edge.

Obviously it’s my intention to write a review about both this camera and this lens at some point – so I won’t get into too much detail now. Except to say that I am definitely happy with M3 (I’ve had the summarit for years). But for a few little niggles, the experience so far has been a very positive one … …

So anyway, here are a few shots from the first roll – A roll of Kodak UltraMax 400 – a film that I’ve not shot before.

First roll with Leica M3
The summarit showing its ability to defy its age

 

First roll with Leica M3
Possibly my favorite shot from the roll

 

First roll with Leica M3
My mate’s new little baby

 

First roll with Leica M3
Connie playing with one of her little friends

 

First roll with Leica M3
A proud father

 

First roll with Leica M3
The river severn doing it’s usual trick around this time of year

 

First roll with Leica M3
My kitchen

 

First roll with Leica M3
Obligatory cat photo

Plenty more from this camera in due course, but hope you enjoy these first few shots even half as much as I enjoyed taking them!

Cheers for reading!

Hamish

 

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About The Author

By Hamish Gill
I started taking photos at the age of 9. Since then I've taken photos for a hobby, sold cameras for a living, and for a little more than decade I've been a professional photographer and, of course, weekly contributor to 35mmc.
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Comments

Reed on First roll with the Leica M3

Comment posted: 15/04/2015

Hi Hamish, I have a very nice Summarit 50/1.5 with no scratches but some haze. Who did the cleaning for you? I'veheld off getting mine serviced because the coating is supposedly very easy to scratch on these. Reed DMC-365.blogspot.com
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 15/04/2015

I use a chap called Phil at a company called sprockets camera repair. I cant see any damage to the coating. But I also would expect any camera/lens repair company to know how to clean a lens without damaging coating. I say just go for it! :)

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First roll Leica M2 and a recently serviced 50mm 1.5 Summarit on First roll with the Leica M3

Comment posted: 08/04/2015

[…] were my thoughts last time I put a roll through this lens, it’s not the best all rounder, but it certainly has an endearing […]
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Ray on First roll with the Leica M3

Comment posted: 11/02/2015

Nice to see that first roll run through the M3 Hamish! Oddly enough, the Summarit is one of the few lenses I haven't shot yet on any of my bodies. May need to pick on up to play with. Catching up on some more posts now...
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 11/02/2015

Cheers Ray. The Summarit is a lovely lens I think. Though perhaps misunderstood by those with a more objective stance on lens quality. Cheers for checking in, I've not visited you blog in a week or so - since the 35mm 1.4 review in fact. I shall mooch over now I think!

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Ray replied:

Comment posted: 11/02/2015

It's definitely on my hit-list now! Glad you showed me this. (And yeah, nice theme - lol!)

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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 11/02/2015

As I said on twitter, we clearly have good taste! ;)

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JoyG on First roll with the Leica M3

Comment posted: 30/01/2015

Hi Hamish, Lovely post and lovely response to regarding d&ps. I was caught up in finding the best lab, till i found it was rather expensive and my photos don't really warrant that level of expertise. I should practice on composition, and the craft of film photography. I always wanted to stop worrying about, and your words are like a 'blessing'. Cheers and keep writing this really nice blog. JG
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 30/01/2015

Thank you, very kind! It's comments like this that really make my day ... and keep me writing this blog! :) Glad to be of service!

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Rob on First roll with the Leica M3

Comment posted: 22/01/2015

Some cracking shots there, Gromit! The beardy guy with the glasses - great, natural shot. Funnily enough, I don't mind the yellow. It will be interesting to see some XP2 shots.
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 22/01/2015

Thanks Rob! ... Here you go, loads more shots from the Summarit, including some from way back when taken with the Epson RD1 and Sony NEX-5 https://www.flickr.com/photos/hamishgill/sets/72157631792416223

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Nurzhan on First roll with the Leica M3

Comment posted: 22/01/2015

Hamish, thank you for a great blog! I've recently started to learn film medium (prefer to stick with BW for the time being) and still struggle with scanning negatives. Meanwhile, its a fairly simple process with BW film, I'm puzzled a bit how to accurately scan color negatives as I don't want to ruin rich tones of film like Porta of Fujicolor. Whats your routine for digitization of negatives?
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 22/01/2015

My routine is probably not the answer that you want unfortunately... I was never satisfied with the scans I could get out of my scanner, so I just asked my local high street D&P shop what the highest quality scans they could produce for me was. The photos on this site are the answer to that question. The scanners on even the most basic mini lab produce much better scans than the I could with even my fairly expensive flatbed scanner. So in short, I get someone else to do it... I'm happy with the results I get, though I know they aren't perfect... If I wanted perfect I would go to Richard Photo Lab or similar, but frankly, I don't see myself, and my snaps, as needing that level of care taken. Johnny Patience has a very interesting post on RPL here if you want to read more about getting perfect results. But as I say, I just don't feel I need that standard... Have a look here - A week in Wales - I shot a lot of Portra on that trip. You should hopefully see just how good results even a basic lab can produce if they put their mind to it. The trick is having a good relationship with a lab... I have a good laugh with Jinny and the other staff at my local lab, and pass a lot of work their way ... so they look after me in return!

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Eddie replied:

Comment posted: 22/01/2015

Hi Hamish, I was also going to ask about your scans, but was just beaten to it. I shouldn't have clicked on the link to RPL. The main attraction of film to me is to get back to the simple basics of aperture, speed and composition, with the ISO/Din dialled in on loading. But the RPL or Jonny Patience level of control makes a DSLR look simple. Is it just me? Their level of sophistication is way out of my league. Not sure if I understood it all either.

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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 22/01/2015

Its not just you ... I feel much the same. Johnny's work impresses me, but I have no inclination to emulate it ... Well apart from the fact that his Zeiss Sonnar shots make me want a Zeiss Sonnar :D You have to remember though, he is a fine art photographer. Thats a different game to just taking photos for a bit of fun, a hobby or "to get back to the simple basics..." Photography will give you what you put in to it. Stress about the level at which other peoples work is of a higher objective quality and you will likely get stressed, worry about the complexity of it all, and you will find yourself overwhelmed. But if you want it to be basic, let it be so ... take your shots to a high street d&p and be happy with the results... or try another d&p until you are... you might like to worry about the likes of RPL one day, but if it seems overly complicated now, there are probably better things to be occupying your mind/learning curve with!

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Eddie replied:

Comment posted: 22/01/2015

Thanks for the reply and apologies for my typo error. My brain said "shouldn't" have but the stupid fingers (or predictive text) typed "should've". But ever onwards, my whisky glass is always half full. The next step is a TC-1, already tried out and simply superb plus a Rollei 35 (probably an S) with a hand held meter as per JP. But my local D&P sucks, so it will be by post to the good guys. Thanks for the stimulating posts. Cheers

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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 22/01/2015

I got what you meant ... The TC-1 is an awesome camera, I've just picked up a Contax T3 which I expected to be as impressed with as the TC-1, but my initial response is not. THere is just something special about that little minolta... And that lens... if you can cope with the vignetting, its nothing short of jaw dropping! Funnily enough, I have also just got a Rollei 35se, another hugely enigmatic camera. Yet to put a film through it ... But I have high hopes!

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Aadi on First roll with the Leica M3

Comment posted: 21/01/2015

Hi Hamish, Long time reader, first time commenter :) I think the yellow tint probably has more to do with the film, than the lens. Fuji Superia films (which have a "4th layer") might better under artificial lighting. I might be wrong though :D -Aadi
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 21/01/2015

Hi Aadi I suspect you are right to a great extent, but I'm almost certain the lens has some warming/yellowing effect when shot the wide open ... I've just recognised it too many times under too many situations I'll do some comparison shots the next roll of colour I shoot if you like? It would be good to see conclusive evidence that I'm not being crazy... ;) Cheers for being a long time reader ;)

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Aadi replied:

Comment posted: 21/01/2015

I suppose it's possible due to the older lens coating, there would be some yellowing tint. But a comparison shot would be great! We could all benefit from it.

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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 21/01/2015

Hey Aadi, I bow to you superior experience with colour film. I can only assume a series of coincidences and badly made assumptions on my part. In my defence, it's shots like this that built on the assumption. Was worth the experiment, I've been expecting more yellowy photos from this lens for so long that it's nice to know it's not a reality! Best get back to my comfort zone of black & white film I think ... ;)

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Aadi replied:

Comment posted: 21/01/2015

We're all learning, and it's part of the fun of shooting film! :)

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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 21/01/2015

Ain't that the truth. This blog has certainly steepened the learning curve ... And the stupid curve for that matter ;)

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