It had been quite some time since I last shot slide film. In fact I rarely use any film below iso400. The already unforgiving nature of slide film paired with the slow speeds, difficulty scanning etc always kept me away. This is still the case but one thing has changed in the slide film world, ektachrome e100 is available in super 8 as well as 16mm film. For several years the only way to shoot reversal super 8 and 16mm was to use repackaged or expired film. I have always wanted to shoot a film on, well, film and project the finished work. Using reversal film for this project would be a lot easier, and a hell of a lot cheaper.
But first things first, I had to see what the film looked liked. The easiest way to do this would be to shoot a roll of 35mm. I was able to shoot a roll in Osaka with a few different lighting situations. All photos were taken on a Leica mp witha 35mm summicron asph v1 scanned with an epson perfection v750 pro and SilverFast software.
Frame 1 taken in a kissaten. It was dim but you get a good idea of what ektachrome is capable of. In classic reversal style the brightest highlights and darkest shadows have no information, but the colors are punchy and accurate. I was surprised that the tv wasn’t blown out too.
I started shooting as the sun was going down so I knew there was not much time and tried to get as many photos as i could to really test the film.
I tried to give an accurate representation of what the photos look like, but this photo in particular surprised me with how much information was still in the shadows.
I was able to capture these photos on the way to a fire works show/festival. The light was still good and the results are nice. Relatively easy to shoot and retain the slide film look.
Once at the festival the light was begging to fade. I rarely use f/2 on the summicron and speeds lower than 1/60th but I was pleasantly surprised at the results. Not necessarily the ideal street photography setup, but I gave it a shot.
Even as the light turned to dark, there were a few areas that had some light. Honestly I did not expect to get usable results once the sun set but quite a few of the photos were more than usable.
The results are quite pleasing and on the light table look even better. That being said, I am not an expert on slide film. In the past I tried provia and velvia as well as some outdated kodak. The reversal look and photographing process is not for me, but when it comes to filming it might be right up my alley. I did shoot about half a cartridge of super 8 in Osaka and when I can will digitize the footage and make a video talking more in depth about ektachrome. When I get the chance and decide on a subject matter to film I definitely want to give ektachrome a shot on super 16!
I tried out 3 50mm leica lenses today; the f/1 noctilux (not sure which version), the f/1.4 summilux asph and the f/2 summicron-m ver.4/5 (non asph apo).
All 3 are amazing any of them would be a great 50, maybe the only 50 you would ever need. I’ve been in pursuit of “the one” 50mm lens for a while now. Thought I should share my experiences with these lenses.
50mm summicron-m f/2.0
The smallest and lightest of the 3, but this does not affect performance at all! At f/2 it appears to be the sharpest. I really like the way that the summicron renders images. The colors, sharpness contrast everything is great. The pull out hood is nice too, but it does not lock like the summilux. There is no focus tab but I feel like it’s not necessary for this lens. The focus ring is really fast smooth and accurate, but still a focus tab would have been nice. The aperture ring is my favorite of the 3, a little more firm. The small size also makes it great for street or travel. I think f/2 is perfect, it won’t let you go too crazy with DOF and is good enough for low light(with modern digital cameras at least). The size, weight and feeling of this lens is also great! Also its the cheapest!!
50mm summilux asph f/1.4
This is really the all in one 50, it sits in the middle of the summicron and noctilux. Not as big as the noctilux but bigger than the summicron. Also price wise is in the middle. Build and appearance are similar to the summicron-m but with a focus tab and longer/bigger. Strikes the right balance and probably the best one lens setup for anything. Not as sharp as the cron but wide open it looks amazing! Would be a great portrait lens as well, bokeh is beautiful. If you can shoot street at 1.4 you would get amazing shots but id go with the cron for street. This is really the jack of all trades 50mm. I really like the focus tab,but the aperture ring is a little too smooth. It won’t move out of place, it’s just too smooth for my taste. Over all great lens, would love to have one!
50mm noctilux f/1
Largest of the 3 lenses but also the fastest. “Fastest” as far as aperture but the focus is not as fast as the cron nor the lux. The closest focus distance is also a bit farther. Not the best for street photography for sure. This would be a great portrait lens but is not as versatile as the other 2. It is a specialty lens for sure. Not as sharp as the cron and probably matches the lux at some apertures, but we all know this lens is all about being shot wide open! Haven’t shot this at night but I’m sure its great, I could hardly shoot at f/1 iso 160 during the day. Not available new but certainly a great lens that holds its own next to the new cron and lux.
For me the summircon was the best. The size weight price and fast aperture (f/2 is still fast!) really make it an appealing do anything 50. Would have loved a focus tab but it doesn’t really need it. In general a good choice. The summilux is great too if you need f/1.4. Sharp enough light enough it would make a great single lens set up for travel. The noctilux is too specialized for me. The images you get from it at f/1 can’t be replicated by the other 2 but it’s not as practice as the others.
samples shot on an m9 not wide open, these were the only pictures of the same subject with all 3 lenses.