Why I think the M6 is the best Leica rangefinder

Japan Camera Hunter (aka Bellamy Hunt) tells us why he think the M6 is the best Leica RF (digital shooters will disapprove).

I have been through a lot of cameras in my time, and I have owned a few different Leica bodies. I have also got the enviable position of being able to try out more cameras than you can shake a stick at, and I have come to a conclusion that may put a few noses out of joint.

I think that the Leica M6 is the best M-series analogue rangefinder camera that Leica ever made! Now that I have your attention let me explain myself.

Cultivating my Leica envy I have to agree with that specific point, now that we can get them for less than 1400$ on the used market (body only !), even though I am an aperture priority kind of guy. I wish I actually had one.

Leica M6, Summicron 50mm f2 Lens, Top view
Leica M6, Summicron 50mm f2 Lens, Top view by Shawn Hoke

Kodak to sell film division?

It has been rumored that Kodak is trying to sell its still profitable film division.

What worries is that beside Kodak and Fujifilm, who makes color film? I like film photography in color. I do love color. If I can’t buy anymore film, I’ll be very sad.

Time to stock up, and hope that whoever buys Kodak film business, does it to keep it alive, or license the technology left to one that want to do it.

Digitising film with a DSLR

Scanning Film Negatives With A DSLR – A Maker’s Guide by DIY photography.

Right now I can get higher resolution and better image quality that what street labs give you on CD.

It is not just a matter of photographing the film with a digital camera. There is must much work behind the scene, and given the price and rarity of film scanner, and the performance of even high end flatbed scan with film support like Epson V600 and V700, it might be worth it. I have always thought I good do it that way, but never went the extra effort to actually do it properly. It is probably way easier with black and white.

Remember, slide duplication was done that way, albeit with a specialised duplication film that had some very specific characteristics.

When I build one of these rigs, I’ll let you know.

“Some Thoughts on Digital Camera Lifespan”

Minh Thein on Petapixel has some thoughts on digital camera lifespan

In the film days, the camera body and lenses lasted a long time; you invested in glass, got a decent body – one that fulfilled your personal needs as a photographer – and then picked the right film for the job. In that sense, image quality differences between brands were down to the lenses and the photographer.
[…]
Bottom line: the camera body now plays a much more critical role in the imaging chain because it also contains the ‘film’, and this isn’t something you can change when the equivalent of a new emulsion is released.

Before you increased the technical image quality with better lenses and better film. A 1950 Leica M can use modern Leica glass and modern film. Still the same camera body.

Also another point Thein raise is how digital camera are obsoleted by unavailability of things like batteries, and the risk of losing ones archive with file format incompatibilities, *cough* RAW *cough* , as well as storage solutions.

This is something to be thought about with our society being more and more throw away. I wonder if the amount of e-waste isn’t worse than the chemicals used for film processing and printing.

What slide film taught me

The essay What slide film taught me from Luminous Landscape relate what I basically feel about film photography, what happened with digital:

With digital, I have become sloppy. I can fix it in post processing – whether it is exposure (thanks to “RAW headroom”) or framing – crop with a few of clicks of the mouse. This has undoubtedly led to a lower quality of photographs.

I bought last year a Mamiya C-220 and rediscovered shooting film. Not that I got rid of the film gear I was using before, just that a TLR on medium format led me this new experience. I have been very happy with the result and the yield. I shoot mostly color negative with it, and this, with the scanning, offer some of the head room that slide do not offer. Still, thinking the shot makes my photography better.


Mamiya C-220, Mamiya Sekor 105mm f3.5, 1/60 f/8 – Kodak Ektar 100 negative film