Compact Photographers

35mm Compact Photographer #16 – Patrik Rośen

My name is Patrik Rosén, and I’m born 1982, in Stockholm/Sweden where I still live with my wife Hanna and my kids Simon & Elvira. Daytime I work as a Project Manager for a big Swedish company in the telecom business. I also work with UX / Design in mobile app development projects. When it comes to my “free” hours I spend about 5-6 hours a week on cycling practice, doing some scuba diving and of course enjoying life with my family. My life is pretty hectic and high speed, but my photography has always managed to pull me back to a slower pace, gives me some kind of relaxation and put me in offline mode.

I got my first camera when I was around 16-18 years old and it was an Olympus OM-X of some kind. I don’t really remember what I shot back then, but my photography kicked off “for real” when I bought a Hasselblad 500C around 2001. I loved being out in the nature and the manual work behind each shot with focusing, exposure and external light metering. As many others I was pulled into the world of DSLR’s and when Canon released their 10D I got that camera. At the time I was working with 3D-visualization at an architecture company in Stockholm and I got to shoot a lot of corporate portraits as well as all the finished projects that the office was responsible for. It was everything from interior design, buildings, landscape design and also golf courses (the company had a golf course design department). I mostly used a Canon Eos 1Ds but on some of the early projects I shot, I actually brought my Hasselblad as well. At that time though, the time it took to get the rolls developed, scanned etc, was to long, and the DSLR’s was the “new” (hectic) way of working, so I stopped using the Hasselblad. Although, some of the Hasselblad shots was used for a very long time in marketing material for the company.

For about 7 years I was employed as a 3D-artist but I was also shooting all of the portraits at the company as well as a lot of architecture projects, the Canon Eos 1Ds was replaced by a 5DMKII and we also started to experiment with filming, until I quit around 2013. Until then I didn’t really do any photography on my own except for some of my friends weddings which I was asked to shoot. If you’re doing it all day long you don’t really feel like picking up a camera when you get home.

During 1-2 years I opened up a bike shop (http://www.dinvelo.se), and after passing it forward I started work as a Project Manager, a pretty non-creative daily work, which made the creative part of my brain to scream. This made me start getting interested in photography again, although my previous experience with DSLR’s didn’t really attract me in some strange way.

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During a trip to London I accidentally stepped into Red Dot Cameras, and after playing around with the M9 for some time I was totally sold. Until then all I know about Leica was that they were old and that they made binoculars and laser scanning equipment. But the M9 was expensive… way out of my budget.

That whole trip was suddenly about finding “the camera for me” without looking at the expensive M9. We visited a lot of camera stores, and when I got home I finally ordered a FujiFilm XPRO-1 with the at the time available lenses. When I got the camera I was in heaven! This was the kind of camera that I wanted! It was more discreet, I felt that it forced me to do some more thinking before taking the pictures, the quality of the Fuji lenses were awesome (for sure at the same level as the Leica lenses) and it slowed me down some steps. But I hated the manual focusing that I loved so much with the M9, and I still never used 90% of the features and functions the camera had so after a few months of shooting with the XPRO-1 I decided to sell it.

Somewhat apathetic I browsed the Swedish forums and suddenly I stumbled upon a Leica M8? What was that? Didn’t see any M8 models when I was scouting in London? And at a pretty low price! Including a Leica Summicron 40/2.0 lens even! I threw away an email suggesting a trade against my new XPRO-1 with two lenses (economically worth a lot more than the used M8) and he was interested! We met up, made the deal, and I had found the type of camera that I knew I would keep shooting for a long time ahead.

I didn’t really get as sharp and good looking photos with the M8 as I had got with the previous XPRO-1, but what I noticed was that I got a higher percent of quality shots. After a photo walk I returned home with 12 shots, where 10 of them was really good. With the XPRO-1 as well as the DSLR’s I returned home with 10 times as many shots, and less then 10 really good shots. After about 6 months with the M8 I was hooked by the Leica hook, and the M8 got upgraded to an M-P (The M8 pushed out some amazing B&W shots at low iso, but it was pretty much unusable for higher ISO color shots and above iso 640 it was even pretty ugly in B&W).

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The M-P is probably today the best camera I’ve ever used, coupled with the Leica lenses, the image quality is stunning, and the rangefinder way of working together with the manual controls and focusing really forces the person behind the camera to be focused, active and not fall back onto automatic programs, sport programs, landscape programs etc. The first year with the M-P evolved me a lot as a photographer.

When you buy a Leica and you start to like the camera, you’ll often start to hang out with other Leica Photographers, browse Leica Photo groups etc. This made me look at the other Leica M bodys that was available and somewhere here my G.A.S  started to kick off as well (at least when it comes to cameras, it was already active regarding FlyFishing, ScubaDiving, Cycling, Aquariums, etc). I also started to get the idea regarding film photography again, with many strong/good memories from the Hasselblad.

The blog I’m also contributing to now, hosted a photo competition where the rules was to use a camera + film valued to 15usd. This attracted me and I thought it could be a great way of testing film photography again! I visited all of the better second hand stores in Stockholm and managed to find a Agfa Optima 535 in pretty bad shape. It was a very funny competition, I didn’t won of course, but it really launched my film photography interest again! In a pretty short period of time, the M-P got some friends. A Leica M2, Leica Minilux as well as an Leica M6. I continued with film photography, developed my B&W rolls at home, purchased a used OpticFilm scanner, and the M-P was collecting a lot of dust on the shelf.  Soon I realized that I was probably not going back to digital, so I sold my M-P and I was now shooting 100% film.

Today I still shoot with my M6, and I’m also into panorama photography with a Fuji G617 (6×17). In a few weeks I’ll receive the final step for me when it comes to 35mm cameras, the Leica MP in black paint!

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

Since my days and free time doesn’t really give me the opportunity to do 100% focused photography projects I’m trying to use the time I have while going to meetings, doing shopping, picking up kids from kindergarten for photography so at the moment I shoot a lot of street photography, but I started with landscape and the Hasselblad and that was the main reason for me to buy the Fuji G617, to get out in the nature and do nature/landscape. My years as an architecture photographer also shines through when I’m out walking in the streets. So a mix of street, architecture and nature is what I shoot today. Although my main goal is to take pictures that really affect the viewer, and I’m not there yet…at all…

Which is/are your favourite 35mm compact/rangefinder cameras? 

Pretty easy to figure that out if  you’ve read the bibel above, but even though I haven’t received my MP yet, I can probably rate that camera as the best 35mm rangefinder camera. Not the most “bang for the buck” camera though, I would probably rate the M6 higher with that in mind.

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When it comes to smaller compact cameras I think they should not be forgotten! Actually the pictures I’m most satisfied with comes from the Leica Minilux, since it uses auto focusing and auto exposure, and I’m still to slow with manual focusing on the M and haven’t practiced zone focusing enough to capture “the moment” with my M6. Although the Minilux has a lot of flaws that I mention in my review, and I parted with it for a few months ago. My journey in the world of compacts will continue though, its a very nice compliment to an M camera.

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

Today 80% of my photography life are 35mm rangefinders, 5% is my Fuji G617, and the rest is my Samsung Note 4. Most of the family photos and every day photography is done with the smartphone, sadly. When I want to create something good my Leica M is what I pick though. At the moment coupled with a Leica Summarit 35/2.5, a new lens for me that I traded against a Summilux 35/1.4 Asph FLE to finance the upgrade from my M6 to the MP.

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

As I’ve described some above, the rangefinder way of shooting connects me to the subject I’m shooting, looking into an EVF has never attracted me, even though the later EVF’s are pretty good. The whole manual focusing / settings thing logically slows me down when I’m out shooting, and this is good. If you shoot a football game a rangefinder might not be optimal for you, but I’ve actually shot a cycling competition with the Leica M-P. The film shooting slows me down even more since I evaluate the shot before I take it. I really hate coming home, spending an hour on developing and scanning, only to see that I’ve shot boring stuff. I’m trying to make that quality sorting before I actually take the picture, I don’t want to do it in front of the monitor.

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

I haven’t really found my style yet, I’m still searching and learning. My big issue is to approach people for close up street shots, since that’s something that gives that extra “thing” to an image. I’m only shooting at 35mm and thinking about adding a 21mm or 28mm lens to that, but I’ll have to learn to get up close before getting lenses in that range. Lets just say that I arrive home with a lot of shots on people from behind. Learning and mastering zone focusing will probably enhance my images a lot though, I have high hopes on that at least. The Leica M has got me into photography again though, and the shots I’ve taken the last years has been the best shots I’ve produced for sure.

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

If we still talk about the M cameras I like their size, and the way they blend in, especially the all black M-P and MP models. This is kind of a cliche, but I’ve actually experienced it IRL many times. For example stepping into a café with a friend wearing an digital M with the red Leica dot, and myself wearing my M-P without the red dot. We’re standing in front of the counter, and the guy giving us service to order our coffee approached my friend and started to ask questions about the Leica, where I could have snapped away a few shots at the same time, unnoticed.

A part from the the shooting style, I love the quality feeling when it comes to the Leica M body and lenses. There are no other brand out there close to the built quality in a Leica. But the thing that makes me love the Leica M is the fact that there are no cameras out there that I actually can see myself shooting in 20 years ahead. The new FujiFilm XPRO-2 is probably one of the greatest digital cameras out there today in the “compact” section, together with maybe the Leica Q and the new digital Leica M, but no one of these will last more than maybe 5 years. My (soon to come) Leica MP will never be obsolete and I honestly think my son will inherit from me.

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

My path was described in the first section of this post so I’ll just skip this question, otherwise I will just bore you to death.

What films do you shoot with and why?

I mainly shoot B&W since I want to develop them myself. What film I choose depends on what I’m about to shoot and the weather/season etc. I often shoot Tri-X pushed to 1600, and Acros 100 as well.
When I want to shoot color I use Portra and for nature I shoot Ektar.

Show us your favorite/best images taken with a compact or rangefinder camera?

Alright, so here is a few of my best shots, taken with a rangefinder (Leica M-P, M6) and compact camera (Minilux).
Enjoy and thanks for the fish!

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6 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Eddy
    February 27, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Wonderful photography Patrik. Thanks for sharing. There are too many great shots here to pick a favourite but I just *love* the snowy building with tree. And the one where your camera caught the interest of that little dog makes me smile. Nice work.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    jon
    February 29, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Pick up a Nikon FE2 with a nikon 50 f1.2 its all pretty inexpensive at the moment and its and wonderful picture making machine, I have the X-Pro 2 on pre-order and shoot daily with the Nikon D810 and 5d Mark III, but your right, non of the new camera will ever stand the test of time as the classics.

    Film is no where near deal and I hope you much success with your photography.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Patrik Rosén
      February 29, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      Thank you Jon! My MP (that will replace my M6) was shipped from Japan yesterday so I’m kind of jumping up & down 24/4 at the moment.
      I haven’t shot a lot with Nikon although I’ve had them in my hand and I’m sure they are a joy to shoot with as well. At the moment I think I’m pretty stuck on rangefinders though, but we’ll see, that might change in the future, who knows 🙂 Good luck with your XPRO-2! I have some friends shooting with it and they are very happy with it. The image they get out from it is amazing as well.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Dexter
    March 3, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Lovely shots mate – especially the one of the escalators!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Patrik
      March 4, 2016 at 7:28 am

      Thank you Dexter!

      Its taken with a Canon 50mm/0.95 which has a story of its own. My father is working with hospital equipment, and for 6-8 years ago he saved a lens used for taking pictures of Xray plates, since he thought that “it looked to good to throw away”. It sat in his basement for all these years, and last year he showed it to me. The first google hit was Steve Huff’s review of the lens, and I realized that it could be converted to M Mount. Shipped it to DAG and got the conversion done! A truly amazing lens in many ways, for me it was too clumsy though, and I’m a one lens guys so decided to sell it, and split the profit with my dad. The lens is owned by a great photographer in Stockholm now!

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