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Friday, 21 October 2022


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As I've been using 120 film again in my Super Ikonta A, I've been reminded of the advantages and disadvantages of film. As you say, there's the cost of the film, cost of processing, scanning or printing, etc. in exchange for the one advantage over FF "miniature" digital - that big beautiful negative and even 6x4.5 is seriously noticeable ;)

Even if this is simply one of the typical cases of Leica saying they will be in extremely short supply for a while (which is different from saying it will be a limited edition), for me there wouldn't be any difference. OTOH, that shelf full of LTM glass over there that I use with my Leica M Type 240 would work just as well on a nice Canon P rangefinder. If I wanted to get seriously into film again a pristine old Canon P and a handheld meter would be a tiny fraction of the cost of the new M6. Even a nice condition M4-P would be much less if I had to have the red dot on my film camera too...

Interesting that they've come out with the M6 now. Do they call it new? Revised? Updated?

I wonder how big the pool of people is for whom the following two statements are true?
1- Interested in a film Leica either to capture images, or to just put it on a shelf and admire it, poor thing.
2- Have nearly $6K they can spend on such a product.

I'm currently running film through a Canon 7, and loving it. When I consider I spent less than 10% of the Leica price for it, I cannot imagine that buying the Leica would give me images 10x better, or the user experience would be 10x better. (If anyone wants to buy one, and lend it to me for a while, I'd be happy to test out that proposition.)

Still, I hope they sell a ton of them, making the film world bigger, and maybe the price of film will come down. (I can dream...)

I believe Rob was refering to actual film, not film cameras…

[You might be right, but I thought he was referring generally to everything you need to shoot film. He specifically referenced enlarging paper, for one thing. --Mike]

Alas, $2,495 was more than I would have wanted to spend in 1992 and $5,295 is more than I want to spend for a Leica film camera today.

That said, what would you write today as an update to "The Leica as Teacher"? OCOLOY?

I owned the OM-4T (and other brands/models), but none suited me better than the Leica M film cameras, including the M6. Different strokes, as they say. But now, no longer having a home darkroom, I get similar comfort and enjoyment from the M9/M10 Monochroms (and some of the same lenses). And a lot easier time, and greater flexibility, using the ‘lightroom ’ rather than the darkroom. But I’m happy to see Leica offering these new/old film cameras, and hopefully making enough profit to feed the modern technology.

IMO, the best SLR camera to buy is the Nikon F, especially the pro models with the 100% viewfinder image. The advantage of those cameras is the modern Zeiss Otus lenses can be used with them.

I was going to buy the last copy of the book, but it doesn’t qualify for Prime. I ain’t payin’ $5.47 for shipping. That’s highway robbery.

Just for grins I checked the S&P-500 prices on June 30, 1992 ($408.14) and today ($3,665.78). If, at that rate of return, you had put $2,495 into the S&P 500 it would today be worth about $22,409.

But you wouldn't have all those great pictures.

As a 20+ year member of Photo.net I am amazed at it’s resilience. Recently bought out and updated it is a very active site.

Leica is Leica and I do not want the cost so when I want a similar experience I pick up my 50’s era Konica II B-m. Built like the proverbial chick brithouse and has an amazing shutter release. A cross between a Leica III and a M3 would be a fair way to describe it. Anyway I am thinking the crazy inflated cost of film will be it’s demise.

“Film only makes sense if…”

Why does it have to make sense?

Homo economicus… pfft.

Inquiring minds want to know. Has TOP turned into a gear site a la DPR?

[Yes, it's all I'm going to write about from now on! And only gear that no one wants. --Mike]

what was especially galling to me is when I shot my 90 and 50 M glass on my Z6, and then shot the 50 1.8 and 85 1.8 S lenses.

Don't do that, you'll be sad:) I still love my M6, and love that 90, elmarit it may be, Canadian it may be - but using them now is for the experience, not the results. Going back to grainy tiny 35mm film after already moving to 6x7 and 6x9 film negatives and 24+mp digital is more frustrating than fun most days.

And yet I'm glad Leica still makes a film M camera, Don Quixote is always in need of another lance.

I've still got my OM2SP (Spot Program) that I bought brand new for about A$275 in the early 90s. I had 18mm, 21mm, 28mm, 50mm and 75-150mm Zuikos for it too, but all the lenses except the 28mm and 50mm went in a burglary in 1991.

I had a bit of trouble with mine. The ASA dial was scratchy and affected exposures. I wrote to Olympus in Australia and they asked me to send the camera to them. A few months later I was surprised to get a brand new body in the post from Japan.

However, I'd forgotten to remove the Beattie Intenscreen from my old body. These were quite expensive so I wrote to Olympus in Japan explaining that I'd like it back. Amazingly, they sent it to me a few weeks later. I was very impressed by all this service.

It's ridiculous, but at this moment there's still a roll of 36 Fuji Provia in the camera, waiting to be removed and processed, with about six shots remaining. Getting E6 processing done is not so easy now. I'd have to drive around 50km each way, twice, to get it done. I'd be fascinated to know what's on the roll, though.

I came within an ace of buying an OM4T in the early 90s. I agreed to buy it, new, in Singapore, but when I pulled out my travellers cheques, the shop owner wouldn't take them - cash only. I said I'd come back, but I never did.

I consider the OM4T one of the most beautiful cameras ever. The lines and angles are just perfect, and that gold titanium finish mixed with black - wow. However, I've seen enough worn bodies to know that the "titanium" was just a coating. It wore off and got scratched.

OTOH, my Contax G1 and G2 are real titanium. They don't scratch.

[The top and bottom plates actually were titanium, but they were painted with the champagne color. Supposedly because the plain titanium picked up too many fingerprints and tended to discolor. Seemed silly to me, but Nikon started the titanium thing, and people loved it, so there we were. --Mike]

When I bought my first M6 new in early 1992 (still have it), Leica must have had problems moving inventory, as they offered $500 off if you turned in any 35mm camera in exchange. Anything above a P&S, any condition. I suspect they collected a lot of thrift-store cameras.

Do you have a Jack Lemmon story?

[No, I bought it from a guy who was a counterman in a California camera store who said Jack Lemmon came in and traded some gear, including the M6, for the then-camera-of-the-moment, whatever it was. He provided a detailed letter describing the occasion, which I passed along to Art when he bought the Lemmon Leica from me. --Mike]

To clarify regarding “film and making sense”: yes, Valter was correct, in that the main thrust of my post was about the film side of the matter, and the cost of it today. One can’t forget how much lower prices, in real terms, were back even in the 80s.

However, I did go on to amplify, through references to other factors in the chain that conspire in making film less attractive. Much was lost for the professional printer with the gradual demise of graded papers, the introduction of vari-contrast materials and the substitution of a developed sense for paper grade selection according to the negative, and where you wanted to go with it, with what I consider a less effective technology. I printed professionally for many years, and despite that - or possibly because of it? - the change to using filters in order to change contrast was seen for what I still think if to be: nothing for the printer, everything for both Kodak and Ilford to save money by selling a single product rather than several.

Even worse, the introduction of resin-coated papers…

I still own an almost-virgin (interesting concept first brought to my attention in the movie What’s New, Pussycat) Nikon F3, which step backwards I was delighted to take in order to get rid of my F4s.

If film photography offered me one thing that I can’t reach today, it was both the visual and tactile joy of a well-printed image on white smooth glossy paper, beautifully glazed on a Kodak drum dryer.

Indeed, Rob L; Don Q can always be sold a new lance, and one intentionally made for him, a Q or Q2, must tick all the fictional boxes.

Personally, I have no gripe with anybody buying Leica stuff; it may well have been behind the curve ever since Nikon brought out the F, which is why I never bought Leica when I had my business and no problem writing it down, but if one makes folks feel cool, fine: we all need a little something to help us along now and again.

That Q series may not be the most wise of buying decisions, but nevertheless, it certainly does activate the GAS syndrome. Shape, as sometimes distinct from functional design, has alway been a valued part of Leica heritage.

I started my career with a Leica M2 a classic camera. My M2 was
a little banged up but with my student budget that's all I could afford.
That M2 still turned out beautiful images despite its dings.

I bought a used Q for half price and also can't help but feel it is an all too precious object- worse, I feel I must only shoot 'Leica worthy' subject matter using it!

My OM-2n & 50/1.8 cost £180 in 1983. According to the 2 UK inflation calculators I consulted that should equate to £545 or £742 today.

B&W film, paper and chemistry prices are increasing rapidly, they have increased significantly in the last 12 months. Ilford 35mm 36-exposure films are now £7-£9 per roll, even if bought in a 10-pack. I suspect will climb further with current hikes in the cost of energy and transport.


Thanks for recommending the book.

Amazon has new copies of the Leica M book priced at $740!! So I bought the last used one at 10% of the new cost.

I also have the earlier edition. According to Gunter Osterloh, it's the last one in English in his collection. It was nice of him to let me have it.

Dan K.

So he knowingly bought a lemmon.

It's good that some memories just go away. I have no Idea now how much I paid for my M6TTL in 2000... when I tried to remember I thought that it was around $2000, and maybe $1200 for the 35/2 ASPH. Could I have spent $2500 on the body? Those were (financially) better times.
Although I'd love to own a Leica M again (my all-time favorite hand camera), neither my budget or my picture-making needs run that way these days. Yet the temptation remains...recently a good friend offered me the use of his M240, with option to purchase at a low price. We tried to mount my 1959 Dual-Range Summicron on the camera; it fit but would not focus. Both of us took that as a message... he kept his camera, and I'll soldier on with my D600.

Hello Mike, which lens is the king of bokeh at the moment? I got myself the OLympus 17 1,2 and 45 1,2 - so far I am delighted but I have not yet tested them thoroughly.

With the Texas Leica-

I use film exclusively, take quite a lot of rolls, and at the prices my film cost when I bought it, film will cost me less in a year than a subscription to Capture One Pro! Plus, my cameras and lenses appreciae in value rather than depreciate... definitely couldn't afford to use this quality of digital!

[Yes, it's all I'm going to write about from now on! And only gear that no one wants. --Mike]

Oh no! I have been desperately hanging on, hoping for a post about dieting or pool.

1. " "miniature format," as it was sometimes called way back in the 1930s and '40s. I mean 135, a.k.a. 35mm. (What's in a name? We now call it "full frame.") ". In the early days it was also referred to as "the Leica format". Maybe T.O.P. can rekindle that term?

2. A European address for your olde Olympus gear is OM Labor. Everything from c.l.a. to gold plating. (Check the "Galerie" tab on the website.)

Yep, I went to Olympus and the OM-4T for the multi-spot metering. Shooting color slides required rather precise exposure and I thought I could do rather better than I had been without slowing things down a lot.

In practice, didn't make much difference.

And I sold the Nikon gear to get the Olympus. And then auto-focus became mainstream (and renting for a weekend proved it was very useful for me), and I went back to Nikon.

So, for me, Olympus film cameras were a mistake I made. (Then I ended up in Micro Four Thirds, which I still like.)

I’ve been trying (not too hard) to sell my two M6’s in order to buy an M10 Monochrome. Maybe it’s time to start trying harder!

Bought a couple of Leica M6's brand new with US warranty for about $1800 each in 1991. Leica periodically offered a very nice $500 rebate for M6 bodies at that time, plus offered an extra year's warranty.

M6 bodies shot up to around $2800 a year later, then backed down to about $2500, and shortly thereafter back to around $2000 brand new with US warranty.

In any event, the inflation calculator would put a new M6 around $3900 US today.

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