If I may, a little background for this post. A few years ago I was deeply involved in street photography and had more than one blog that I was posting to and maintaining on the subject. In reality what I did was overextend myself to the point of burnout. I decided it was time to take a break, which I did. I pursued my music by playing bass, guitar and learning the ukulele. I also retired during this time so I had plenty of time on my hands.
A few months ago I injured the index finger on my chording hand and decided it was time to give it a rest so it can hopefully heal. Having my background in photography I decided to buy a camera to take pictures of my new granddaughter. From 2010-2014 I had shot many different systems including Nikon, Olympus, Leica and Fujifilm. I decided this time around to buy a Canon camera since I hadn’t owned a Canon Rebel since my film days in the early 70’s.
My first camera was a Canon M50 which I love and have used for people, nature and street. I then decided that I didn’t need a viewfinder for street, as I shoot from the navel and do all candids. After researching extensively and almost buying a Ricoh GR I decided that for the money a Canon M6 would work perfectly.
Before I talk about the Canon M6 I want to make it clear that this is a user review. It is not a technical review. There are great websites that do very thorough jobs with this. My favorites are Imaging Resource and DP Review. This review is about me using the M6 in a street photography situation.
I found one locally so I purchased it. I already owned the M50 so setting it up would have been fairly simple but I decided to buy a course through Creative Live to do it properly. John Greengo is the instructor and he does a great job covering everything from buttons to menus. I highly recommend anything he teaches as he covers many aspects of photography.
Unfortunately, I live in the Mid-Atlantic and it is cold. Shooting anything outside is uncomfortable at best but we were blessed with a couple of warm days so I was able to take the M6 out on its maiden voyage. I had it outfitted with the Canon 22mm lens so I was ready to go.
My first task was to set it up to shoot using zone focusing. The lens does not have anything on the exterior to help with this process but it can be done. In manual mode I set the camera to f/10 with a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. I used Auto ISO with a max of 3200. To deal with the focus I used auto focus to focus on an object about 8 feet away. I then put the camera in manual focus and went on my photo walk.
One thing I have learned with my photography is to always be ready which means the camera is on and ready to go when I leave the car. As soon as I turned the corner to the walking mall I saw this couple. I am glad I was ready.
I love this picture. There is affection and undoubtedly discussion going on. I have other pics of them I will share at another time.
I basically walked the mall shooting as I went. I love pics like the one above. I shoot candids. I have the camera hanging from my neck, resting on my navel ready to shoot. I look like a run of the mill tourist. I do not look through the LCD and I don’t pose people. I want to capture photography on the street, as people are, without them knowing they are on camera. Let’s face it, when people know they are having their picture taken they don’t look natural so a candid, normal shot is not possible, at least in my mind. My finger is always on the shutter as I look for a pic to take.
When I got to the end of the mall I decided to use the camera in auto focus. I was curious to see how it would focus and if it would be as good as the M50. It did a great job- on par with the M50.
Here are my first thoughts on the Canon M6.
Small, light and doesn’t stand out. Mine is black with black gaff tape over the Canon and EOS lettering.
Very easy to hold and use. Comfortable ergonomics.
It is fast and relatively quiet. More on this in the “Cons” area.
The picture quality is great and the CH mode works well. I always shoot in CH but only take 2-3 pics at a time, usually.
The RAW files convert to B&W nicely.
It cost me less than $500 without the lens which I thought was a good price.
No “silent” setting. It doesn’t even have a silent scene mode like the M50. I want the ability to turn off the volume of the shutter so it can be completely silent. For me, this is important. Without that ability I am limited in what I can shoot.
The battery. It is impossible to find an aftermarket battery, as in Wasabi, that will function normally. I have them for my M50 and my Panasonic LX7. I bought two from a battery warehouse but they wouldn’t register in the charger or the camera so I never knew how charged they were or what kind of battery life I had. Now I have to spend $50-60 on a small Canon battery. Listen up Canon. I understand profit but not when I can buy an aftermarket battery that works as well as the $50 version, for $5. Not cool in this situation.
The LCD is impossible to see under certain lighting conditions. I don’t use it to shoot but on rare occasions I like to see how a picture is framed or if it is in focus.
Here is how I decide how much I like a camera. If it was stolen, would i get another one? In this case- YES! Definitely. The weather is limiting me as far as street photography goes right now but when I get a nice day I will be out with the M6 right away.
On a side note, I have just received an Artisan 35mm lens from B&H with the appropriate scale so I can monitor distance and depth of field when I zone focus. I am really looking forward to shooting with this lens. I got use to this kind of set-up with my Leica cameras, especially my M8. More to come once I get a chance to try it out.
All in all, if you want something to shoot street photography that is small, light and more than capable, I highly recommend the Canon M6, even though the battery situation is a pain in the posterior.
The following is a seven part series on film that I have condensed together into one post.
I am sitting here waiting for my first film camera in decades. I have the film, Premium Arista ISO 400, and I have the battery for the camera but the camera itself is arriving a day or two late.
Going back in time 50 years I still remember my first film camera- a Kodak Brownie Starflash. My Dad bought it for me at a gift shop in the Grand Canyon in April 1963. My love for photography began that day.
Fast forward to the mid-seventies when I purchased a Canon Rebel shortly after getting married. That was a fun camera that I used primarily for nature photos at the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park.
Three and a half years ago I purchased my first digital camera, a Nikon D5000. I have been taking pictures ever since. I have bought and sold cameras and equipment and am currently using mostly Leica cameras and a Nikon D700.
All of this to say along the way I kept hearing about people still shooting film and that it was the ultimate challenge. I wondered how they were getting their pics on the web so I investigated and found that film can be scanned and converted to digital. Why do that when a person can just shoot digital? That is the big question. Is there a different or better look to film that is scanned to a digital file? Well, hopefully in the next few weeks I will find out.
Today, my Yashica Electro 35 GSN has arrived in the mail. With shipping it cost me $50, on Ebay, which I think is a bargain. I wanted to begin with an inexpensive camera first to see how the process goes and to see if I like it.
I took the camera to downtown Leesburg, VA and worked my way through the 36 exposures. My main goal for this first roll is to get it scanned so I can download the files into LR5. I want to see what kind of latitude I have with them when processing and I want to see how they look compared to files out of my digital Leicas.
I ended up mailing the roll of film to The Darkroom in California because Costco doesn’t process this particular type of film. More about that later. To get it processed by The Darkroom it will cost $15 for processing, a CD and shipping. I think that is reasonable.
While I was waiting for my film to be processed I continued researching Leica film cameras. I went to my local camera store, Ace Photo in Ashburn, and spent 1.5 hours talking to the staff and one of their customers who has been shooting Leicas for years about what my options were for purchasing a Leica film camera. Bottom line was- Which one would work best and be affordable? The general consensus, after trying out 4-5 cameras with my Leica Summarit 35 2.5 lens, was that the M6 would fill my needs best. It is an all manual camera but does have a meter built-in. They did not have any available without an auto winder so I continued my search on Ebay while I waited for my pics.
I had no idea The Darkroom would receive, process and post my pics on the web by Friday. It was only two days after I sent them! To say I was excited would be an understatement. I viewed them and downloaded a couple. I liked the results. In fact I liked them so much I bought a mint, black M6 that night. It is in Hong Kong so I will receive it in about a week or so.
I have done some side by side comparisons with a digital pic and film pic of the same scene and I really like them both. The film has a special look.
Needless to say I am learning more day by day in this adventure called photography with Leica. Yesterday I learned a lot more about the Leica brand as we looked at everything from an M2 to an M7.
The black Leica M6 is on the way and I have ordered new batteries for its meter. I bought strap eyelets today for it so I am ready to go. Now I wait, which is always difficult.
In the meantime I have learned something about the film that is available today – specifically B&W. The first four rolls I bought were Premium Arista ISO 400. As I said earlier, I shot the 36 exposures and went to Costco last week as they said they could process them quickly and cheaply. Unfortunately I ran into a problem. They, as well as many others, only process C41 B&W film. I have been away from film for decades so I had to do some research on the internet to find out the difference. C41 film is easier to process as it is processed the same way and with the same chemicals as color film This makes it easier for the processing facility and cuts down on the different chemicals they have to use. Costco is set up this way.
So, in light of this, I bought one roll of Ilford XP2 Super 400 B&W film today. It is developed using the C41 process. I will shoot it tomorrow and drop it by Costco afterwards. I should have the pics tomorrow or Tuesday. I will be using my Yashica camera and be shooting some of the same scenes that I shot with the first roll of Premium Arista 400. My main reason for doing this is to compare the difference between the two types of film. Will they have the same “look” or will one have less grain or contrast than the other? From what I have read on the internet the XP2 is top-notch with a finer grain. I will have more answers in the next couple of days.
The lesson here is that if you want your local drug store to process your film buy one that can be developed using the C41 process. If you shoot a traditional film you can send it to The Darkroom and have access to your pics online in a few days.
Once I figure out which film I like best I will be buying quite a few rolls to store in my frig. By the way, the C41 is more expensive than the Arista. I bought the Arista online for $2.89. The best I can find the XP2 for is around $5. The processing for it is cheaper though. At Costco they will process the negatives and put them on a CD for about $5.
I only want the negatives on the CD as I will download them into my computer to Lightroom 5. I can further process them there by adjusting exposure and contrast etc.
I can’t wait to get the M6 and begin shooting. I have three more rolls of the Arista. After that, who knows what I will try?
I will have more to say tonight but I wanted you to know that the Leica M6 arrived today! I won’t have the batteries for the meter until tomorrow but it is beautiful, in perfect shape and functions perfectly.
More tonight and some figures about how much it will cost to begin shooting film, if you desire to do so.