How LF Influences How I Shoot In Other Formats

thronobulax

Very Active Poster
Registered User
Joined
Aug 29, 2020
Messages
1,032
I recently fulfilled a long time desire to own a Leica M series body. I found a rather reasonable deal (relatively - nothing Leica is a deal) on a just serviced M2 recently and have shooting with it on- and off.

Today, I was in one of my usual haunts - a working rail repair yard near my home - to check a just serviced lens for that camera. At one point, I realized that I was approaching everything I was shooting as if I were using 5x4 - Very static compositions designed to emphasize pattern and structure.

While this is fine, I occurs to me that this may not be the path to finding my inner Henri Cartier-Bresson. The one place where small format excels is shooting dynamically and in the moment. Years of 5x4 shooting have elminated this from my vocabulary. I need to rethink my approach to small format.

So what say ye? How have different formats you've shot intruded, enhanced, or complicated each other?
 
Last edited:
Interestingly, I have recently been given a Leica M4-P to sell for someone and have been told to use it until it sells.
So far I have only exposed a few frames from it simply because I found myself composing, and framing simple static subjects and I found it hard work and not inspiring.

I have since wondered if I should be taking a different approach with it, say setting the focus to a given distance, and just exposing it more loosely and freely.
 
Yes. But I’m afraid my subconscious mind seems to equate shooting freely with shooting carelessly and I generate quite a lot of dross. A red dot on the camera might help. Piggy bank beware!
 
Yes. But I’m afraid my subconscious mind seems to equate shooting freely with shooting carelessly and I generate quite a lot of dross.

So that's the thing. As LF shooters, we're used to taking great care when composing and exposing, thoughtfully pondering the many variables we must manage a la Scheimpflug (apologies for the Franco-German mashup).

But the smaller format begs me to not do that. To be more the moment. I don't think this means being careless, though. I think one can take care in other ways (zone focusing, pre-adjusting metering, bracketing exposures) with the intent of making the photographic event more spontaneous. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

I am also curious what, if any effect, a month or two of shooting teensie negatives will have on my LF discipline. Will I see things differently/better? Will I spot opportunities more effectively? I've certainly used smaller formats to "scout" locations for LF in the past.

Perhaps this will get me motivated to shoot handheld with my Crown Graphic ...

A red dot on the camera might help. Piggy bank beware!


For the record, I am not a "Leicaman" ;)

https://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/leica-man.htm

I am especially not fond of their newer cameras with the glaring dots and logos designed to be in your face at all time - not to mention being in utter disbelief at their stratospheric pricing.

I suppose everything we do has the potential to stress the aforementioned piggy bank. In this case, I've been careful to buy very used, but very serviceable body and lenses with the measure being whether or not I could recover my cost when I do sell. Again, we shall see, but the trend of late for all things Wezlar suggests this might actually become a profitable enterprise down the road.
 
Last edited:
It has been said that Leica makes jewellery for retired dentists. A bit unjust.
 
It has been said that Leica makes jewellery for retired dentists. A bit unjust.

In college, lo so many decades ago, I worked in one of the largest photo retailers in the US part time. One of my jobs was to take in and tidy up used equipment. I was amazing how much barely used Hasselblad, Leica, Nikon, and even the occasional Sinar we'd get in. I'd point out that the dentists, doctors, and lawyers (who usually were trading up to the very latest of things) were most assuredly not retired ;)

Leica, like Apple, has managed to transform themselves into a lifestyle brand. 2015 was supposed to be the last year they'd make M6 bodies and they sold 500. In 2023 they reintroduced it and sold 5000. I am skeptical that all those purchases were by hard core photogs going on assignment in Burundi.

I do applaud them for this though. It's created some uplift and interest in film photography in the larger zeistgeist which means people like me (and you, if you wish) can buy that old stuff as these lifestyle buyers rush to have the new shiny.

In my case, my M2 was made in 1961 and had just been CLAed prior to my purchase. It cost me less than my Wisner 5x4 Technical did. Of course, I now have to feed glass into this thing and the economic pain is palpable ...
 
I still have a Nikon F3 that was part of this process. This was bought from my local, “proper” camera shop, now gone, alas. An enthusiastic spender had first bought a complete Canon outfit, recommended by a friend. The pictures produced by the Canon didn’t satisfy him, so he asked what brand the professionals used. Nikon was the answer, so he traded in the almost-new Canon outfit for Nikon. Surprisingly, the Nikon failed to live up to expectations, so it was traded in for Leica. I later got the F3, an excellent camera. Sadly, even Leica fell short of expectations and had to go, in favour of Hasselblad. After that, we lost track, because my friend’s shop didn’t deal in (presumably) Sinar. …and after that the only way would have been Hubble.
 
I think rangefinder cameras are pretty much all used handheld, so there's a freedom from not having to carry a tripod as well as the weight benefit. Unfortunately I never got used to rangefinder shooting, but Iiked the heft of my M3, the bulk of the Fuji 690 and the design of the Bronica RF645, which may be my favourite camera of all time.
 
I still have a Nikon F3 that was part of this process. This was bought from my local, “proper” camera shop, now gone, alas. An enthusiastic spender had first bought a complete Canon outfit, recommended by a friend. The pictures produced by the Canon didn’t satisfy him, so he asked what brand the professionals used. Nikon was the answer, so he traded in the almost-new Canon outfit for Nikon. Surprisingly, the Nikon failed to live up to expectations, so it was traded in for Leica. I later got the F3, an excellent camera. Sadly, even Leica fell short of expectations and had to go, in favour of Hasselblad. After that, we lost track, because my friend’s shop didn’t deal in (presumably) Sinar. …and after that the only way would have been Hubble.
I have owned and used every Nikon manual focus body model from the Nikkormat Ft through the F3. I have a number of them laying around. It's kind of amazing realizing that my F bodies work pretty much flawlessly 60 years after they were manufactured. The F3 is absolute gem of a camera, perfect in almost every way except for that silly LCD illuminator business.

I too went through the "better equipment will make better pictures phase". Methinks it's not uncommon.
 
I think rangefinder cameras are pretty much all used handheld, so there's a freedom from not having to carry a tripod as well as the weight benefit. Unfortunately I never got used to rangefinder shooting, but Iiked the heft of my M3, the bulk of the Fuji 690 and the design of the Bronica RF645, which may be my favourite camera of all time.

I find that different cameras help me see differently, even within the same format. My purpose for owning a variety of equipment, now that the used prices make it possible, it to foster that creative spark that comes from shifting machines.
 
Back
Top