*First post jingle*
I thought this might be the most appropriate forum with which to share my experiences using a Leica iiiG, and the images I have made with it, having processed the film at home.
I realise my post fits neatly into three categories:
Leica LTM cameras.
Öand perhaps another.
I hope youíll forgive me for not splitting the post up into various homes. Perhaps an administrator can make a judgement on where it should sit most appropriately.
Iíve been using a Leica IIIG, with a collapsible Summicron 50mm (1952 version, I believe) with a yellow filter, and a Leica 50mm external viewfinder. Iíve found it to be the most enjoyable camera to use. It does what a camera ought to do, in my opinion, and take the role of a kind of extension to the eye and to the hands. It does what I tell it to, willingly. And with it, I find it much easier to visualise, looking through the viewfinder, how silver gelatine print will look, right as Iím about to release the shutter.
I carry it with me everywhere. But also, have used it to make some more formal portraits in my living room. Wonderful what one can do with a window, and a piece of wood painted blackÖ
The loading of Leica i, ii, and iii cameras is a much talked-about topic. So I just thought I would give my two cents: itís fine. Itís totally fine. Loading film into a camera is something I really don't mind taking a few moments to do anyway. In regards to the trimming of the film leader, well I just do those in bulk. Usually ten at a time. Which takes about fifteen minutes. And then Iím set for a good while - depending on what Iím shooting. YES, I have had a couple of instances of total frustration when the holes in the film just won't play ball with the spokes in the camera. But Iíve developed my own technique through trial and error which now enables me to have a 95% success rate, first try.
Most of the time Iíll either use zone focussing, or in a portrait situation of course I have the time to focus carefully. I would say the only downside to the camera - if you can call it that - is that focussing on a moving subject with an aperture of say 5.6 or wider is a bit slow. So shooting something moving in dim lightÖ.a bit of a risk. Luckily, thatís a rare occurrence for me.
Now, a little bit on the processing.
I use a semi-stand development technique that I have perfected after a lot of trial and a lot of error. I realise some of my methods that I will outline might turn the stomach of some stand-develop gurus (namely the agitations). But I can only let my results speak for themselves.
In a nutshell my process goes something like this:
Kodak Tri-X - often rated at 1600 (due to the relative speed loss from my yellow filter).
I pre-soak the film in filtered water (London tap water isn't great) for maybe ten minutes. Agitating occasionally.
NOTE - I now NEVER EVER use the agitation stick. I couldn't work out where some horizontal scratches were coming from on my film for ages. I wondered if it was the camera. etc etc. After many tests, I realised it was very tiny particles in the water scratching the negatives when spinning the spool with an agitation stick - thus creating annoyingly uniform scratches. For my experience, those sticks do more harm than good. And a light touch is really needed with my water.
I then add a solution of (per film): 500ml water, 5.5ml Rodinal, a pinch of Borax powder.
I perform eight extremely gentle full inversions. Then a little wine-glass swill. I tap the tank on the counter and slightly remove the lid to let air out.
At 30mins I perform another 3 very gentle full inversions.
At 1 hour, I perform ONE gentle full inversion, and a couple of wine-glass swill motions.
At 90mins, another few wine-glass swills.
At 1.45hr I rinse, fix, Ilford Wash as normal. Always using a final solution of De-ionised water with a few drops of wetting agent.
Then I hang my negatives in the shower with the curtain around to try and protect from dust etc.
This part of my workflow is a little punk-rock. I live in a small flat. Needs must. But so far so good.
A couple of points on this process:
I realise most stand development recipes with Rodinal state 1:100 ratio. Well, I just wasn't getting my negatives as dense as I wanted. I didn't want to over-agitate any more than some might say I am alreadyÖso slowly added a few extra drops, and have settled on this 500ml to 5.5ml (ish!) recipe. Someone with the know-how could calculate the exact ratio!
Equally - I wasn't happy with results from less agitations. I know so many get good results, but I just wasnít. Thin and undeveloped negatives, easy to spot by the faintness of the numbers below frames. I have found so long as my agitations are gentle. SO gentle. This method produces negatives that are a joy to print from.
I print my photos on Adox fibre paper in a local darkroom, and selenium tone them. I couldnít tell you exactly which chemicals the darkroom have set up as standard for printing. Sorry! I bring in my own Kodak rapid toner.
My rough darkroom process is:
Develop for 2.5mins.
Stop for 30 seconds.
Fix for 2.5 mins.
Wash in a drum washer for 5-10 mins. (Just while I make extra prints)
Selenium tone in a mixture of toner, and working wash-aid mix.
Then wash again in a tray of separate wash-aid mix.
Then wash in a print-washer for 30mins.
Squeegee, glaze, press.
Iíve waffled on long enough.
Here are some scans (made with a pretty crap printer/scanner) of my toned prints made from stand-developed Tri-X 1600iso, taken through a Leica iiiG and Summicron 50mm.
There was a time when I was considering the Leica iii, and considering developing methods, where I would have read a post like this. So I can only hope that it proves useful, illuminating, or enjoyable for someone.
I've tried uploading the photos to this post but I keep getting 'invalid file' - must be too big. So here are some links....