Leica CL with 40mm F2 Summicron-c + Sony NEX C3 Review

Well I decided to send back my Sony RX1 and preorder a Fuji X100s. The RX1 takes beautiful photos but the price different and built in viewfinder + all of the improvements over the original X100 swayed me back to Fuji. Since it might be a while to get the Fuji X100S (I preordered at Amazon HERE) I decided to pick up a camera I have been eyeing for a while. A Leica CL along with the 40mm Summicron-c. PLUS a super cheap 16mp Sony NEX C3 to use that awesome little Leica lens on as well.

The Lens

This “Leitz Wetzlar Summicron-c 1:2/40” lens is pretty sharp even wide open at F2. Just a hint of glow, softness & reduced contrast. The out of focus highlight are sort of “ringy” wide open. Stopped down to F2.8 it looses this and appears to be much smoother. I have heard this lens and it’s sister lens, the Minolta 40mm Rokkor called  something like “Water Lens” in Japan. I guess because of how it renders bokeh. Here is a cropped example at F2 & F2.8 to highlight the effect:

 

The CL

Probably the cheapest M mount Leica you can get. It’s crazy this camera is around 40 years old! The one I got from eBay overall is in excellent condition. The Light Meter works (which seems to be a rarity) and I found these batteries at Amazon that supply the correct 1.35 volts: WeinCell. Mine came with an alkaline 1.5v batt and when shooting ISO200 film I had to set the camera iso to 25(!) for the light meter to meter accurately. Guess that is what + 0.15v does. I found this manual online that helped me to figure out how to load film (it’s been a while) and understand how the meter works (film has to be advanced and the film lever pulled out a little).

My very clean Leica CL… well besides for the finger print near the lens release button and the lens has one speck sort of imperfection on one of the inner elements. Works great though! Glad it came with the original hood and a drop in B+W series 5.5 filter too.

 

The NEX

Part of the reason why I wanted to pick up a CL + 40mm was to shoot some film since I haven’t in about 10 years. The other part was to try that lens out on a Sony NEX of some sort. I found a deal on Amazon Warehouse, a “Like new” Sony NEX C3 with the 16mm pancake lens for only $261! Too cheap to pass up. You can check here to see if there are anymore: Used NEX C3 w/ 16mm lens The crazy thing is is that there are parts of this cam I like better than the Sony RX1 I had just sent back. Like the ability to use focus peeking without the camera forcing you into a magnified view. The tilting screen is handy too. Obviously the image quality isn’t the same and neither will the Fuji X100S be as good image wise as the RX1. Overall usability will be though and for $1500 less I can afford to keep the NEX & CL even after I get the X100S.

 

Works good, this is at F2!

 

Film

Shooting & developing film inexpensively seems to be pretty much a impossibility now that it is a nitch product. I found a 24 exposure x4 pack of  Fuji ISO200 for $8.99 at one of my local Walgreens. Then I found a 36 exposure Kodak ISO 200 single roll for $2 on Amazon the price seems to fluctuate slightly but seems like the best deal I have found. I also got some ISO 800 & ISO 100 to try out eventually too.

So far I’ve only shot an ISO 200 roll of the Fuji. Walgreens will give you just negatives for $5. Supposedly regardless of # of exposures too. My 1st roll I decided to get prints as well (10.99 for 24 photos) and wow what a disappointment! I think they must scan the negatives and use their dye sub printer they use for their digital prints. Next time I will be just getting the negatives.

I’ve been “scanning” my negatives with my Nikon D600 & a Nikkor 55mm F3.5 AI micro (macro) lens. Using my iPad mini as a light table with the film in a holder used for flatbed scanning. I got this idea from this digital rev video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgOTk4ApEYs. Another tutorial that helped me was this one here too: http://www.petapixel.com/2012/05/18/how-to-scan-film-negatives-with-a-dslr/

I’m still perfecting my technique and waiting for a Nikon PK-13 adapter so I can do 1:1 macros. The 55mm Nikkors only goto 1:2 “out of the box”. Obviously you will see I need to work a bit more to get the colors right. Once I perfect my technique I’ll have to write a little tutorial.

 

 Obligatory self portrait in a bathroom mirror when getting a new camera:

 

Few more pix… guessing you can figure out which were shot on the NEX with the 40mm & which ones were shot on the Leica CL.

 

Conclusion

Shooting some film again is sort of fun. Especially using this little Leica CL. I love the size and the placement of the shutter speed dial feels great. Viewfinder is pretty good and focusing isn’t too hard. Being completely manual really slows you down…set the focus, shutter & aperture then snap the shot. Need to plan ahead with the film ISO speed too. I picked up a 3 stop ND filter to make it a little more versatile. I like the fact that I can use the lens on the little Sony NEX too. Since the sensor is smaller than 35mm it is equal to about a 60mm lens. Not too horrible a combo when combined with the 16mm Sony (24mm equivalent). I feel like I should use these a lot now though because once the X100S comes not sure I will!

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