I was blessed to have borrowed the Leotax rangefinder camera from my friend Frank, an avid film photographer (poisonous but friendly guy) for a roll on Saturday afternoon. Without hesitation, he handed it over to me with a VCII light meter and a Canon 50mm f1.8 lens.
Loaded was the Kodak Eastman Double X film, placing the ISO to 200, I started out at Bugis, the place I promised to shoot for another person who requested for it.
It took a little hands on to getting the hang of the double viewfinder, which I found very interesting, left one, a close up and the right one the ‘bigger picture’. What I did was to look at the left one first to get the image aligned in this beautiful and slightly weighted rangefinder, then I composed the picture and took the shot. Mind you, this is all manual and there isn’t any auto focusing here. You have to be swift and accurate. That’s part one.
Part two was facing my fear of shooting subjects up close. This setup indirectly forces you to be very near your subjects in order to fill the frame right. Frank promised me that people wouldn’t notice that I was even there taking a photo. (I honestly beg to differ as many a times, people did notice that I was there and taking a picture) Perhaps size does matter when it comes to stealth photography.
Here are some of the photos that came out. Others didn’t turn out well as in under exposed or blurred due to my poor judgement or slow shutter speed which happened in about 4 exposures.
My 1st shot was tough as I had to quickly focus and I was very near him. He did look up at me a few times and finally managed to focus and capture him.
This shot was also kinda close up but a little easier because he was not looking up at me. He was busy looking at his phone. Yes, he did look up once, I guess it’s because I’m a big guy who is standing right in front of him. Who wouldn’t sense me?
Shooting people from their backs is a whole lot easier than shooting from the front.
Even I got the focusing off. Practice Eze, practice makes you better.
This was better wasn’t it?
I was trying to shoot the nice guy who was holding the signage when his supervisor started walking up to me and asking me to stop, by that time I had already taken this shot, said sorry and walked off.
This was a planned shot. I aimed my camera at the wall and took a reading. Then I waited for a passerby to walk past and took this shot. Thank God it came out pretty okay because as you can see, there is some darkness right after him.
Isn’t it nice to share.
I love images like this, grandparent and grandson. I was thinking of my son when I took this photo. Sadly, not super clear eh?
I noticed this guy walk past me and I followed him to the traffic light hoping to get a side profile shot of him. Who knew he’d turn around and I snapped it. Nice?
This was another shot that was taken where the lady was eating her ice cream. Then she noticed me as I pressed the shutter. It’s times like this where I lower my camera and quickly walk away.
In the end, I forgot to take a picture of the camera and its lens. So, what better a way than to just take a self reflection?
My overall impressions of this camera:
The weight of the body quickly took a toll on my hand as you can see the body is small, and because of that, my big hand needed something to grip onto. Yes, I was warned about the weight by Frank and hell yeah, I’d still take it for a ride. When olden cameras were ‘built like a tank’, they really meant it.
It’s really small despite the weight. Unlike the huge DSLRs you have, this camera is small and not very noticeable, which is a good thing because people won’t really spot you, therefore allowing you to capture more natural pictures.
The shutter allows you to shoot to 1/1000 of a second and thanks to the VC2 light meter, it made shooting a whole lot easier. I’m not at that stage where I can run around without a light meter yet, so having one really helps. The button placement for depressing is a little further in so if I took off my finger from it and placed it back once more, it would usually go to the film advancement knob/film counter knob instead of the shutter itself.
Focusing on the canon 50mm f1.8 lens proved to be a challenge for me. Frank was right, you can’t master a camera using one film. Being a rangefinder camera, you’d have to bring two images into one and that would be in focus already. So it took time for me to bring them together, and then I had to move my eye to the right side to compose.
This is a beautiful setup to have and Frank was right when he told he it could be loaned out but not sold. Despite the weight, everything else works well and with the help of the VC2, it made life a whole lot easier. Would I try another camera with the similar setup? Probably not. I guess it would be so much easier with just one viewfinder. Trying it out alone was a fun process. Having a RF camera also kinda forces you to be more up close to your subjects (yes, I’m not a fan of zoom lenses). Then again, that might be the beauty of photography, capturing life, up close and personal.
Follow me next as I try to use my Rollei 35 camera with a film that has been blessed by a fellow film friend, Ray.