5 frames with...

5 frames in Kolkata with a Leica M3 and Voigtländer 28mm f/1.9 – by Sroyon Mukherjee

February 23, 2019

I grew up in Kolkata, and after graduation I moved to London for work. Since then, I’ve gone back about once a year. Walking around the city with a camera around my neck is what some of my friends would call an NRI (non-resident Indian) thing to do – on par with asking for bottled water at restaurants. But the truth is I’ve always enjoyed walking around the city with a camera: a Minolta SLR as a teenager in the early 2000s, then a digital compact, then a DSLR… before returning to the Minolta about eight years ago, when I rediscovered the joys of analogue photography. This year, I had a Leica M3 – a birthday gift to end all birthday gifts, from my girlfriend and my parents.

The photos you see here were all taken with a Voigtländer 28mm f/1.9 Ultron. I already had a Summicron 50mm f2 and a Tele-Elmar 135mm f4 (more on those some other time, perhaps), and wanted a wide-angle lens to complete the line-up. With a self-imposed budget of £250, Leica lenses or the Zeiss Biogon 28mm were out of reach. In fact, for that price I think I was lucky to get even the Ultron; I just saw a good deal on eBay and went for it.

A wide-angle lens takes some getting used to, but I like the perspective it offers, and it has some distinct advantages in a city as crowded as Kolkata. Some of the most interesting lanes (as in the first photo) are also the narrowest; a ‘normal’ lens just couldn’t have contained the whole scene. And getting close to the subject (like in the last photo) is one way to avoid being interrupted by a constant stream of passers-by.

College Street area (Kodak ColorPlus 200)

Bhabanipur (Kodak ColorPlus 200)

Mechhua Bazaar fruit market (Kodak ColorPlus 200)

Taltala (CineStill 800T)

Theatre Road (Fujicolor C200)

Thank you for reading, and hope you enjoyed the photos. If perchance they inspired you to visit Kolkata, drop me a line!

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34 Comments

  • Reply
    Richard
    February 23, 2019 at 11:17 am

    Beautiful photos Sroyon!

    The light you captured in the fruit market really helps communicate the atmosphere.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 23, 2019 at 11:39 pm

      Thank you Richard! We went there early, around 6 am, because that’s when the trucks arrive with fruit from all over the country.

  • Reply
    Javier Cañada
    February 23, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Really beautiful photos. Some even alluring!

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 23, 2019 at 11:35 pm

      Thanks Javier!

  • Reply
    Danny
    February 23, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Lovely photos. My dad had an M3, such an amazing camera.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 23, 2019 at 11:37 pm

      Sounds like your dad is a man of good taste 🙂

  • Reply
    Peter Wright
    February 23, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Yes, the fruit market image is great, not just the composition but also the pastel colours. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 23, 2019 at 11:42 pm

      Thank you Peter, that one seems to be the most popular!

  • Reply
    J-Leman
    February 23, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Lovely collection of pictures!

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 23, 2019 at 11:42 pm

      Thank you, glad you liked them!

  • Reply
    Mike Hinkleman
    February 23, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    Yellow taxi in camo against the yellow stucco wall. You don’t see colors like this where I am most of the time, gray with gray background.

    Nice color ! on the set.

    And not much vignette except maybe just a tad on the fruit market?. Small aperture?

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 23, 2019 at 11:56 pm

      Thank you Mike! The chai shop was at f1.9, College Street and the fruit market were at f2.8, the taxi and Taltala were f5.6. I didn’t correct for vignetting in post, so credit to Voigtländer I guess!

  • Reply
    Jess Lantz
    February 23, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    Beautiful and organic colors!

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 24, 2019 at 12:12 am

      Thank you Jess!

  • Reply
    Zach
    February 23, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    The taxi and the fruit market were my favorite from the group. I’m not a big color shooter, but those two are outstanding! These photos are a step above what I have seen in other posts. You got the lens at a good price and it seems to be treating you well. I went with the Zeiss 28mm as I got it for a good price new in Tokyo, but I do find that f/2.8 can be limiting indoors. Other than that I really love the Zeiss for its rendering, flare resistance, and what seems like a small size for me.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 24, 2019 at 12:22 am

      Thank you Zach! I’m happy with the Ultron though I’d love to try out the Biogon. But what I’d really like is a smaller lens, preferably in chrome – even if it were up to one stop slower. I’ve thought about the Canon 28mm f2.8 LTM (but I’m worried the sharpness/contrast might be a step down from the Ultron), and the Ricoh GR 28mm f2.8 (but the ones I’ve seen are outside my budget). Oh well.

  • Reply
    James Northcote
    February 23, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Love this so much, photos and story. Beautiful

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 24, 2019 at 12:28 am

      Thank you James, that’s very kind!

  • Reply
    Louis A. Sousa
    February 23, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Gorgeous colors and contrast. An intriguing combo and the film performs beautifully along with your eye.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 24, 2019 at 12:30 am

      Thanks Louis! I shot 3 rolls of colour film (all different), and ColorPlus was the one I liked best.

  • Reply
    Nick
    February 23, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Beautiful work. There’s an art to using a 28mm well (as opposed to using it to ‘fit everything in’) and you’ve really mastered it here. Nice to see colour street as well 🙂

    I have almost the same set up for street, with an M2 and the VM version of the Ultron. Fantastic kit.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 24, 2019 at 12:34 am

      Thanks Nick! Some people seem to prefer the VM version (focus tab, higher contrast, etc.) Would be nice to try both, but when I looked the screw-mount was cheaper, so I went for it.

  • Reply
    Scott Edwards
    February 23, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    Absolutely splendid!

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 24, 2019 at 12:34 am

      Thank you Scott, glad you liked it!

  • Reply
    Dominique Pierre-Nina
    February 23, 2019 at 11:45 pm

    Awesome photographs, My wife and I are thinking about a visit mid of next year. India has been on our list for a long time , we visited Srilanka as a soft landing to India. I have never tried a wider lens than a 35mm on my M3 the 28mm looks great might give it a try.
    Regards,
    Dominique

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      February 24, 2019 at 12:43 am

      Thanks Dominique, and have a great holiday!

  • Reply
    Thomas Inman
    February 24, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    You’ve got a wonderful eye for colour and that fruit market image is just superb.

  • Reply
    Sroyon
    February 25, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks Thomas, much appreciated!

  • Reply
    Daniel Castelli
    February 25, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    There is not a bad photo in your presentation…
    There is an intangible, wonderful look to your photos. I enjoyed your story.
    The M3 & the 28mm lens make a nice kit. You seem to have natural feel for the 28mm.

  • Reply
    Sroyon
    February 25, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    Wow, thank you Daniel! When I got the Leica I toyed with the idea of taking a one lens approach (just a 50mm), but then I thought I’d add two more. Turns out I use the 28mm more than I expected to.

  • Reply
    Stephen Scarlett
    April 2, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    As everyone says great shots…love the two kids and their bike by the Ambassador. Kolkata is such a great city, I love the area where they make the gods and goddesses for the big festivals like Dussehra.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      April 2, 2020 at 12:35 pm

      Yes, Kumartuli 🙂 Thank you.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
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