Week 19: The fifty-year-old lens…

Like some of you, one of my motivations in taking the 52 rolls challenge was to try to focus on using only one or two focal lengths to improve my photographic skills. And, of course, to combat the desire to buy more cameras or lenses. However that doesn’t mean refusing the generosity of friends of course! So, when at the end of the last week, I was offered on (long-term) loan a lovely Chrome M6 with a Summicron M-50 of course I said yes! Together with the Leica came two smaller Leica point-and-shoot cameras, a Leica Mini and a Minilux zoom. All of the above in perfect working order. So, I put one roll of Tri-X through each of the three cameras. Here are three photographs from each.

First up, the Leica mini. It is a tiny point-and-shoot (less than 200g with film) with a fixed aperture 35mm f/3.5 lens. Max shutter speed 1/250s, so I guess you can’t take photographs outside in summer with Tri-X? It was fun to use, but you can never tell what the shutter speed or aperture chosen was, so it is a bit random. But this photograph is one that worked out, one of the many protests that that we have around Paris these days, which I snapped on my lunch break. So it is handy having a small camera like this.


Street protest (leica Mini)

Now the Minilux zoom. Searching on the internet I found a scathing review from KR for this camera. Most of the points he makes are fair, I supposed I wished too for more manual controls with this camera. But it is a point and shoot after all! The results are nice, the autofocus and exposure seems more reliable than the mini. It is however quite a bit larger.  Here is one of my standard “test photographs”, Parc Montsouris. Look at those lovely Tri-X tones:


Parc Montsouris (Leica Minilux zoom)


The best is the last. The Leica M6. Having spent too much time on the internet, I  knew that you could look up Leica serial numbers and find the date of manufacture. I did this with the lens that I had been loaned, and I was shocked to discover than it had been made in… 1965! In the first roll, I took this photograph, a still life which I am calling “Parisian Breakfast” and I was really amazed how wonderful the image is:


Parisian breakfast (M6, Summicron 50 v2)


Well, I said at the start that I would shoot at least one roll of film with my M6 and a 50mm lens per week. Now I have a choice of camera or lens to fulfill this assignment :-). It is also really clear to me now that at “normal” apertures, probably for most of the second half of the 20th century, the thing which controls the image quality the most on film is… the film itself and the developer. Which is great, because it means for us film photographers we can focus on taking the images.  And the ‘black and white’ modes as I said before on these cameras is really excellent :-).

After developing all the rolls from my Japan trip I thought I was going to calm down a bit on film. It seems that this is not happening, especially as one of the other loans I had was a nice four-reel steel tank, so I can now develop a LOT of film at once! Thanks for reading, back in a week or so with more photographs…


6 thoughts on “Week 19: The fifty-year-old lens…

  1. The Parisian Breakfast is the best kind of breakfast! Last summer when I visited France (Arras, Vimy, and Vimy Ridge) I had a similar lunch sitting in the countryside between the village of Vimy and the famous Ridge.


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