Leica M - Film - Micro 4/3

Some clarifications from my last post regarding my choices, why they are right for me, and my subject matter. 80% of my pictures are rendered as 8x10 or smaller usually in books of some sort either digital or books I make from prints that I do myself. The other 19% are in prints that are approximately 11x14 in size maybe longer if I do full frame and the last 1% are bigger than that - usually for temporary exhibition purposes where people are not right on top of them. I love the way all of my film performs at 11x14 - even TX and TMZ from 35mm. It looks great. If the image is good the final output is good.

I don't shoot Macro, I don't shoot action from far away, I don't shoot birds, I rarely use a focal length beyond 90mm on 35mm or equivalent on any format. I shoot close - or at "normal distances" of "normal sized things". I can shoot all day every day with a 50 - occasionally a 35mm or maybe a 90. The "action" I care about is only a few feet away at best and based on long long experience shooting moving things with a 35-50 at 3 to 5 feet away AF and rapid frame rates are no better than manual focus and good timing - in many many cases they are actually more effective at getting the shot - the good shot. Don't believe me - put some work into it to the point where you are not totally incompetent at pulling the trigger and focusing and try both.

Autofocus, no matter what situation sucks at close distance where the apparent rate of change across the frame and back and forth are magnified by about 1000 compared to 25 yards away with a tele. I will go further to say they are a distraction of what is really effective - smooth, predictive focus and shoot based on what is about to happen. Heck even if the thing is not moving at all AF is useless at close distance and usually interferes with your compositional thought process.

Film looks good - I think most people forgot how good it looks. Does it look like digital - no. Especially at "100%" actually it looks horrible at things approaching 40x magnification. So the f%#k what - it looks fantastic at normal size. The color and gradation are incomparable within it's "region of fit". Just like my Zeiss lenses look fantastic even if their "specs" are a joke compared to a Nikon 24 PC. They have a rendering that is fantastic. This is what I care about overall. I really do not care what the underlying medium looks like at the ultimate magnification. Digital once "noise" is removed and zoomed in to actual capture pixels looks like … well… nothing. Why? Because it is nothing there is no medium to speak of. Now make something physical out of it - like a print on a typical piece of "satin" photo paper on inkjet and take a look at that under a high magnification - it looks absolutely awful - so what. The point is to judge the print and output you actually make on it's own merits not at artificial arbitrary "tests".

That is what is important to me. If other things are important to you make your own call.

There is one thing that has me worried - color film. I am a color nut when I choose to do color. I don't mean nutty wild color - I mean I want a certain look with very very subtle gradation and certain colors rendered certain ways. If I don't get it, it's trash. So I do worry about buying bulk color film stock and having it processed in a variety of labs so I am going to do a test, well maybe I will. Something I have never done before to see if worst case color is still okay. I am going to shoot a roll of 8 year old Kodak Portra 160VC, stored in suboptimal conditions, and processed at the closest drug store. Yep worst case, and see what happens. I will let you know how it goes.


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