Hamish’s recent posts on gear you ‘need’ or/and ‘want’ set me thinking – if I had to chose just one camera from my modest collection which one would it be? Logically, surely my Leica M7, but then I’ve just lost my third, yes third, diopter correction lens from it and hate wearing spectacles when taking pictures.
By the way, I tweeted @leica_camera to ask why can’t they build in diopter adjustment into their M range, after all their R range and modern digital cameras manage it, as indeed does my 111F. I mean you’re spending £5,000 on a camera but who has perfect eyesight! I’m waiting for their reply…
So then if not the M7 maybe the Leica R8? It’s a great camera but it’s big and the shutter is distinctly audible so not a silent street shooter. Actually, thinking about it, size and shutter noise rules out the rest of my vintage SLRs (OM, Pentax and Nikon).
Then I thought about my 1953 Leica 111F – it’s small, light and nearly silent. It has built in diopter adjustment. The two screw fitting lens I have are the 50mm uncoated Summitar (dating from 1942) which is a great performer, and the Voigtlander Snapshot 25mm (with viewfinder). The 25mm is my perfect street lens.
But the 111F has no built in meter. How much of a drawback is that? Well actually not that much. I sling my Minolta Autometer around my neck, or use Lux on my iPhone – job done. I don’t fiddle around with exposure too much, one reading in shade or sun and I judge by eye after that. Shooting black and white makes this a perfectly viable workflow.
So, I decided to test this out by visiting Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park. I loaded with Kentmere 100 and set my meter to 400ASA, intending to meter for shadows and compensate when developing. I was using the Summitar.
I developed in HC-110, dilution ‘H’ for 12 minutes. The resulting negatives are richly dense capturing plenty of shadow detail whilst not burning out the highlights too much.
The 111F handles really well and is discreet and silent. I had it serviced earlier in the year (not cheap at £200) and it works well. So maybe it is the one camera I need?
Thanks for reading and if you’ve enjoyed this please head over to my website michaelscottfoto.com
PS – After writing this I took out my lovely Kodak Retina IIc and shot a roll of film with it – what a beautiful and well made camera. Decisions, decisions….