I started to take photography as my serious hobby over 10 years ago, when I was even in middle school. Since I got to learn more about different gear, and developed my interest in street photography, the Leica M-system inevitably occupied one place in my mind. I had experience with DSLRs, some Minolta film SLRs, later the compact cameras such as T2, T3 and Hexar AF. For a few years I stopped taking cameras and film out but just using my phone.
Early this year, the pandemic restriction in Hong Kong was finally lifted up, and I shot several rolls with my Hexar AF. I didn’t quite have confidence to the AF accuracy on my copy of Hexar, so although the manual focus experience is clumsy on it, I set it to 3m and stopped down to f/8 for most of the time. Those rolls, a little bit surprisingly, turned out to be quite good, I didn’t miss focus on those frames I expected to be well-done. After that, a weird feeling shot through my mind and I decided to try a real manual rangefinder for street photography. I bought a Minolta CLE and the Voigtlander 21/4, M-Rokkor-QF 40/2 and found a quite clear, haze-free M-Rokkor 28/2.8 with a jaw-dropping bargain price. Then as I realised my soul for photography has been burning so bright, I might not be able to afford the sky-high costs for purchasing the film rolls and the develop/scanning for a year. Thanks to the comprehension and support from my parents, we soon made up our mind to invest in a digital M, and shortly after I chose the M10-P, which has all I need for a street camera and was affordable. After several days of searching in local camera shops, I walked in the official HK Leica store in Causeway Bay, and to my great surprise, a pre-owned black chrome M10-P was sitting quietly in the shop window. That was the deal.
I got my hands on the M10-P with the Rokkor 40/2 and 28/2.8, and immediately fell in love with the handling and image quality, especially the high-ISO performance. However, these two lenses, as you know, suffer from invoking incorrect framelines on Leica M-bodies. I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying the ‘real’ 35mm frameline, so after some researching, I ordered a Voigtlander 35mm F2 Ultron II from Japan, which saved me roughly 1000 HKD compared to buying directly in HK stores.
Okay, the storyline has caught up with the present now. I have been practising guessing the distance and shooting from hip with my Rokkor 40 before I change to the CV35, so the transition has been quite smooth. I am very satisfied with the procedure of taking a photo now, where I decide the aperture, shutter speed and ISO manually, preset the focus distance for my imagined compositions, reach the guesstimate distance spot and then press the shutter, even without looking through the viewfinder.
The 5 frames selected here are a mix of using the viewfinder to wait the moment way and the ‘capture-with-instinct’ shooting from the hip way. I think the latest and most important thing I learned from carrying my M10-P all day long is to just enjoy the actions of taking photos, the more you take, the more possible a great moment will happen within your sight, and the more ready you’ll be to capture those moments.
I was discovering a place I haven’t been to before in Hong Kong. I walked out the MTR station and wandered toward the nearby shopping mall. Soon I found the mall gate was decorated with mirrors in blue and organized into the way of a diamond being chopped from various angles. I worked the scene here for around twenty minutes to find the interesting reflections, and the best one I got is this.
On the same place of the first shot. Actually this angle and composition was my first attempt when I spotted this decoration outside of a mall. I was waiting for somebody dressed in blue but then I realized it wouldn’t pop out from the background. Soon after I changed my mind, this yellow shirt guy came to the spot.
This little door with a little window has been my favorite spot at the famous Hong Kong Cultural Centre, a place with a great design full of the beauty of geometry. This is my rediscovery of this well-known photography site in HK… with some luck. I was hanging around this door, trying to play with the framing composition with the window. And suddenly I saw someone was coming out and luckily I had already held my camera up to my chest, so I hit the shutter immediately. And when I got back home and reviewed the pictures, I was surprised to see that the man framed up with his figure and an arm, and the iconic architecture of the Cultural Centre remained in the picture and was emphasized by the framing.
Yet another moment of surprise in my daily walk around neighborhood. I have been living here for 5 years and only until last week, I realized these pinky pentagons at daytime turned out to be the rainbow light installation at night! I made several attempts but still couldn’t satisfy myself. And I came up with the idea that rotate my camera a bit to add some dynamic feelings. This frame with the lady was the most dynamic one with her pose. Another lucky moment for me.
This futuristic barbershop has caught my eye for a while. This time when I was on my way to lunch in the mall, I found there was no one outside so I could take pictures without the stress of facing them. I didn’t compose very carefully, I just pressed the shutter with instinct. But when I reviewed it at the end of the day, I realized this photo contains a lot of similarities and differences: it’s like a mirrored image from the middle but actually there were quite a lot of subtle differences. I enjoyed viewing this picture and I hoped its charm could be conveyed to you as well.
Thanks for reading!
You can find me on Instagram and Youtube (only recently uploading my photo works in video).
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16 thoughts on “5 frames with the Voigtlander 35/2 Ultron II on M10-P in Hong Kong: The beginning of my Leica journey”
“I might not be able to afford the sky-high costs for purchasing the film rolls and the develop/scanning for a year.”
But I can afford an $8000 camera (maybe $7000 second hand in the Leica store?) and a $700 lens.
It might sound ridiculous to those who believe they benefit from “getting slow” when shooting films, who would think they don’t have the chance to compare the costs of films and an expensive digital camera like Leica. But I know the difference: I can shoot almost 20 rolls of films per day at ease with my digital, which helps me mastering zone focus at F2.8 at night easily, and I also enjoy the fun of using a rangefinder, shooting great photos. Shooting less won’t make you a better photographer; believe me, those comfort from “getting slow” is now more of cheating words to comfort yourselves.
20 rolls a day?
It means I can get over 700 frames for a half-day photo walk on street. I don’t feel ashamed of pressing shutter as those “slow” people. When I see or predict a scene, I will keep pressing the shutter but also keep moving around to find the best angle and framing. This is how the past masters working on streets; it is still the master way now, no matter you are shooting film or digital.
Past masters didn’t shoot 20 Rolls a day. That’s not just ridiculous, but also sloppy style. You don’t learn anything with this process and the work to cherry pick some lucky strikes out of thousand crappy others is more lottery then photography, not to talk about the time that needs instead focusing on image composition, framing, lighting etc
I’m just going to step in here. To begin with, all photographers work in different ways, to say no “masters” shoot like that is no more ridiculous than saying they do.
It’s also no more or less valid to learn through the high-volume repetition that digital allows. To say that Tony doesn’t learn this way, when you don’t know any more than of Tony than you’ve seen here is a little short sighted.
Play nice please.
To say the most polite words to reply you, I would say, get a copy of the book Magnum Contact Sheets, read it, then rethink if you want to say I’m lottery picking again.
Very good Tony, your images have a strong Star Trek vibe…
That’s an interesting remark! It’s the first time I heard that the photography style and Star Trek are mentioned together. Maybe it’s about the color scheme of the images? Or also the geometric shapes leading composition style? Cheers 🍻
Thanks for sharing, I very much liked your futuristic barbershop photo, it really looked like a mirrored image at first, well done.
What hood are you using on the lens?
The hood is a 3d printed one. The design pays tribute to the Summicron 35 pre-asph hood, iirc.
Wow, that’s unusual 🤔
Any chance you can share the blueprint, so I could print the same for myself?
Unfortunately I don’t have the blueprint, I ordered it on the Taobao, and I am not sure if you can found it on its abroad version Ali Express.
I took a look at your instagram as well, you have a great eye for the details on the street. Thanks for sharing this review!