Compact Photographers

35mm Compact Photographer #15 – Frank Lehnen

February 21, 2016

I’m Frank Lehnen from Luxembourg, 52 years old, married with 4 big kids and working as a civil servant here in Luxembourg (not necessarily meaning that I have a lot of time for photography…). I love photography of course, reading, listening to good music, this definition being VERY broad!

2) How long have you been taking photos?

I’ve been a passionate photographer since I was around 15, first with film gear (of course – digital was a bit rare in those olden days), then a too long digital period and now, apart from my iPhone, I’ve gone back to film.

3) What sort of photography do you enjoy or partake in the most (street, landscape, etc)?

I like walking around with a camera in my hand or at least in my pocket, and I make pictures of anything that marks me. I do this mostly in my home city, in Luxembourg which offers a nice display from medieval to modern. But I won’t go as far as calling what I do street photography. That’s too daring a term. I consider myself an urban landscape photographer which does not exclude the occasional human being in my pictures.

4) Which is/are your favourite 35mmc compact/rangefinder cameras? 

I tried a lot – from the Leica CL (sorry, can’t afford / justify a ‘real’ Leica) to my Canon A-1, by way of Kodak Retina IIIc, Olympus 35SP and Olympus Trip…. My all time favourite compacts are the Olympus XA2, the Trip35 and a newer acquisition, a Lomo LC-A

5) How big a part of your photography life are 35mm compact cameras/rangefinders?

Might be about three quarters…. at least

6) What about the experience of shooting with these cameras appeals to you?

I love the thought of the cost of film – any time I press the trigger there goes a lot of money… But no, just kidding, I like the feel of the cameras, I like that there’s no screen to smudge with my greasy nose, I like that I’ll have to wait quite a while before seeing if my pictures are worth anything, that I’m not able to chimp…

7) How do you feel they have effected your style? become part of it? or are the reason for it…?

I am much more deliberate when I shoot film, so as to get an appalling number of keepers on film (ok, my threshold for keepers might be a bit low) which is not the case with digital. I try to get everything right first time, the framing, the exposure, the light, the moment. It’s a much more involved type of photography.

8 )What is it specifically about these cameras that appeal to you so much?

The feel, the handling, the fact of winding on the film (that’s why I dislike those noisy motorised cameras (sorry Ricoh GR, Nikon 35Ti…..

9) What was the path to this shooting habit? How did you discover it appealed to you?

The path, better call it the long any winding road…. As  said I shot film in my youth and went everywhere with my Nikon F (still kick myself for selling it) and a basket full of lenses. Then I get the same type of equipment in digital – Canon 300D and 400D, always with some zoom lenses and seamless focal lengths – you never know… Then I noticed that I left the cameras at home most of the time…. bummer. Sold them and I get the hottest kid on the block in 2011, the Fuji X100. Wonderful camera! But it had one flaw…. It tempted me to go back to film. And go back I did, with many detours and backing up. Often tempted to go digital, mostly because of the price of film, I have stayed strong and bow to film.

10) Show us your favourite/best image(s) taken with a compact or RF?

Yes, here’s a batch from my trusty Olympus XA2

151109 - 04-35

Too cold, too wet


151109 - 04-12

Ferris Wheel


151109 - 04-10



160122 - Ilford HP5+ - Olympus XA2 - 033



160122 - Ilford HP5+ - Olympus XA2 - 022

Into the sun


160122 - Ilford HP5+ - Olympus XA2 - 021

The Shopper


151231 - Ilford HP5+ - Olympus XA2- 029

Winter sun


151231 - Ilford HP5+ - Olympus XA2- 021

Peeping Tom

And then there’s the new one, the Lomo LC-A:

151109 - 05-24

Flowers – wonky colours


151109 - 09-12

The Watcher


151109 - 09-10

Daido Moriyama for the Poor


151109 - 05-35

Wonky Tower


151109 - 05-27


More on my Flickr

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  • Reply
    February 21, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Nicely done Frank. I agree that noisy compacts can ruin the moment with their whirring motors. I’ll take the silky, manual film advance of my Leica M4-P or Olympus OM-1 anytime. Lovely images. Would like to know more about your process. Film types, processing and scanning methods?

  • Reply
    Frank Lehnen
    February 21, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Thank you, JKL, if only I could afford a Leica for the moment….. but I will have to make do with my XA2 for the moment. Had an OM1n and OM2n for some time and they were really fine tools!

    The films I use are mostly HP5+ and cheap Fuji Superia, though I just bought some rolls of 100 ASA Fomapan to give it a try. As you can read in my former contribution on 35mmc, I have the films professionnaly scanned for the moment, as home scanning was simply too much of a chore for me and real good scanners are expensive.

    I play around a bit in Lightroom to get my preferred look – rather high contrast, some clarity a bit of sharpening and dehaze… the usual stuff. I don’t have any consistent presets in place yet – all depends on the image I’m working with.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Love that Ferris Wheel shot! Great pics

    • Reply
      Frank Lehnen
      February 21, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      Thank you, Dexter!

      • Reply
        February 21, 2016 at 4:20 pm

        I like that one too!
        The grain looks like why I used to get when I used to dev hp5 in ilfosol – rough, but somehow quite attractive

        • Reply
          Frank Lehnen
          February 21, 2016 at 5:13 pm

          I like it, but I find the grain a bit too apparent….. OK it’s HP5, but I think the scanner exaggerated the grain a bit.

          • Hamish
            February 21, 2016 at 7:53 pm

            That’s a good point actually, I was scanning my own negs back then too…
            Funny, just the look of it made me feel nostalgic

  • Reply
    February 21, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    I like the photos a lot, specifically the ones with the XA2. Nice that you give your photos names, that’s a part that is underdeveloped with me 🙂

  • Reply
    Frank Lehnen
    February 21, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Dank U Aukje!

    I don’t know yet if giving titles to pictures is good or if I should let everyone see what they like in the pictures.

    I appreciated your posts and photos too! For the moment, the lowly XA2 is good enough for me.

  • Reply
    Frank Lehnen
    February 21, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Hamish, with all those comments on my posts I get this strange longing for a scanner again…. GAS of course, but it would be a way to stay in control of the photos from the shooting to the final result….. Makes me wonder why I am so easily influenced by posts on the net….

  • Reply
    Fernando Filipe
    February 27, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Hello my friend, out of curiosity I also went back to analog because a guilty … Fuji X100, I now no longer have me but I held your space with the X100T and … XA, XA2, Olympus RC, Olympus mju 2, Olympus Trip 35 latter for simplicity and to work without batteries after a nuclear disaster lololol a pleasant surprise, I’m scanning in my new Epson V600, and organize albums on my facebook …. I came to be in love .. . thanks so much

  • Reply
    Frank Lehnen
    February 27, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks Fernando, keep on the good habit shooting film!

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