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First Shots from My Leica Sofort....
Old 08-20-2017   #1
Vince Lupo
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First Shots from My Leica Sofort....

I never planned on getting a Leica Sofort, but I won it on Friday night so I can't really complain. It was the 1st Place Award for the Leica Store DC's National Juried Exhibition, and I was the lucky guy

My only other experience with Instax Mini film was with the Fuji SP-1 wireless printer for my X100T, and I never liked the results from it. I was hoping that the Sofort would change my mind about this format, but so far the answer is no.

Below are my first shots -- I have to say they're pretty 'meh'. This is the Leica-branded monochrome film, and I find that the blacks aren't really black and the highlights are generally blown. On the plus side, the photos are reasonably sharp.

The camera has three exposure modes -- 'normal', 'brighter' and 'darker', so beyond that there isn't really a way to control exposure that I can see. It's pretty much just 'point and shoot'. Most of the photos below were taken at the 'darker' setting. Plus you can't control depth of field at all (it's an f/12.7 lens), so it's a bit of a challenge to get creative with it (at least for me!). You're really just left to use composition/perspective to make anything interesting, so perhaps that's a good thing for me. Definitely will test my abilities!

I think the next step is to try out the Fuji-branded monochrome film to see if there's a difference (I watched a YouTube video that demonstrated that there is), and then check out the colour film options. I'll post additional photos here as I progress (or regress???).

For what it is, the camera itself seems reasonably well-made, though it has the cryptic phrase 'designed by Leica' (meaning, Made in China) printed on the box. Plastic body and lens of course, though there is a bit of metal here and there (specifically the shutter release button, the camera strap lugs and yes, the red dot). Functionally it's interesting -- you do have some options in the menu (scene-shooting options, flash options, macro, self-timer, plus a couple of other things). It also has a tripod socket, a pretty decent camera strap and a rechargeable battery with charger (along with North American and European plug options). The camera also has an auto-shutoff feature if it hasn't been used for about 5 minutes, which is both good and not so good: If you have the camera's menu options set a certain way (flash off, macro on etc), once the camera auto-shuts off, you have to reset everything once you turn it back on to shoot. I have no clue how the Sofort compares with the Fuji Instax Mini 90, but one thing I know is that it's more than twice the price!

Overall the camera has potential, but I'm not sure how much I'm going to use it ($1 per mediocre shot will get a bit expensive after a while!). If anyone has any experience with the Sofort or thoughts about it, please do share!

My Big Prize!

From Dusk Till Dawn 3
by Vince Lupo, on Flickr

First Shots

First Shots from the Sofort
by Vince Lupo, on Flickr
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Old 08-21-2017   #2
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It will be interesting to see what an experienced photographer can achieve from this simple low-fi camera.
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Old 08-21-2017   #3
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Vince, your standards are obviously much higher than mine as I like those photos!
And the stormtrooper finish to the camera is cool.

I'm not sure how the film is different being Leica or Fuji branded, as it is all made by Fuji.

p.s. congrats on being the big winner.
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Old 08-21-2017   #4
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Looks great! :-)
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Old 08-21-2017   #5
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Well deserved!
First four are very impressive (by looking over internet)!
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Old 08-21-2017   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert blu View Post
It will be interesting to see what an experienced photographer can achieve from this simple low-fi camera.
robert
Robert you are quite correct! Very challenging indeed, and I'm not sure how successful I'll be. But it's a good challenge.
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Old 08-21-2017   #7
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Good luck, Vince. My first film pack with the Land 250 was not great. The light meter/sensor was off. The solution seems to be to go back and try again.
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Old 08-21-2017   #8
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Congrats on winning one... it may be $1 pre shot, but factor in the $300 you didn't spend. Have fun with it. I returned mine due to your same thoughts... but I paid full price.
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Old 08-21-2017   #9
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Vince, first congratulations on the win! Very cool.

Second, it's a new system. New camera, new film, give it some time. I'm sure you will get the hang of it. Try different films, lighting, hand-held flash (old fashioned slaves should work well) perhaps.

Again, congratulations on the win and the fun prize!

B2 (;->
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Old 08-21-2017   #10
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I buy the film on Amazon, and it works out to be about 50c a shot (colour film)
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Old 08-21-2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
......I think the next step is to try out the Fuji-branded monochrome film to see if there's a difference.......
Shouldn't be. Outside of a different colored margin, they're the same film.

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Old 08-22-2017   #12
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I'm making a few experiments to see how this camera focuses and try to understand how it chooses exposure.

Seems like it tries to go straight down the middle, so the highlights will generally blow out and shadows will be muddy. Additionally, this camera doesn't like backlighting -- the photo will usually turn out dark, so I'll have to compensate by choosing the 'brighter' option when I shoot those kinds of scenes.

This photo is pretty sharp in reality, and I think the camera actually handled this scene pretty well (this is the Fuji Monochrome film). Scanned with my Epson Artisan 710 flatbed -- nothing fancy and a few years old.

The subject matter? Well the wisdom of that choice is debatable


Sofort Vinny
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Old 08-22-2017   #13
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Cool ... kinda Fun
They look Great.... Moody and a look all their own

Congrats on your Winning !
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Old 08-22-2017   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenhill View Post
Cool ... kinda Fun
They look Great.... Moody and a look all their own

Congrats on your Winning !
Thanks Helen -- maybe I should enter one of these photos to next year's group show
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Old 08-22-2017   #15
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In honour of yesterday's festivities....


Eclipse of the Figs
by Vince Lupo, on Flickr
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Old 08-22-2017   #16
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Looks good Vince. I suppose you'll grow to like it like all other things.
I'm of the opinion that this camera was designed for the fun factor.
A good way to introduce people to photography.
The Fuji Instax are a hit with the younger ones.
Been wanting to click the buy on this, but keep going back to the Instax Wide 300.
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Old 08-22-2017   #17
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Again, congratulations, Vince, and also on the new toy. The more I look at it, the more it reminds me of the original Polaroid Swinger, which was the first camera I ever owned (1970).

I know you'll get used to using it as you learn its intricacies. Nothing at all wrong with the compositions, which makes the final results all the better. It was designed as an enthusiasts camera, so don't expect too much.

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Old 08-23-2017   #18
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Great looking images, Vince!
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Old 08-23-2017   #19
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I'm trying to think back to the 4x5 stuff I used years back. I never remember the blacks being so blue. The color stuff I did with the S70 was pretty much right on.

B2 (;->
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Old 08-25-2017   #20
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A little walk in the park. I scanned this print as a 'grayscale' - much more neutral than the blue/green cast of the figs photo:


Wilde Lake
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Old 08-25-2017   #21
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Congratulations on winning the competition, those cameras are really trendy out here in Bangkok.

cheers, michael
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Old 08-27-2017   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelbialecki View Post
Congratulations on winning the competition, those cameras are really trendy out here in Bangkok.

cheers, michael
Many thanks Michael -- Not sure that I'm going to fully embrace the trend over here, but I'm giving it a go.

One from this morning...apologies to the spirit of George Harrison!


All Birds Must Pass
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Old 08-27-2017   #23
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The blown highlights and softness of the images are part of its charm. I have the Fuji model and use it for party shots, weddings, etc, and pin all photos in real time to a white board. People love the "instant gratification" and get a kick out of it. For for more serious stuff, you would need to go to a larger -- and way more expensive -- instant format ($2/shot vs $0.5/shot with the mini format).

I was reading an article the other day about a famous "war" photographer who takes the Fuji mini to all of his assignments. By making a quick picture of the subject and handing it to them as a gift, he is able to "sofort" win over the hearts and minds of his subjects, which helps his professional work tremendously.
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Old 08-27-2017   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giganova View Post
I was reading an article the other day about a famous "war" photographer who takes the Fuji mini to all of his assignments. By making a quick picture of the subject and handing it to them as a gift, he is able to "sofort" win over the hearts and minds of his subjects, which helps his professional work tremendously.
I bought a Fuji SP-1 printer a few years ago for that very purpose when I travel out West (mind you, I'm not a war photographer!), but I returned it to B&H Photo a month later for a full refund. I thought the image quality was so horrid that I considered it an embarrassment to give someone one of these little images. Instead I got a Canon CP910 dye-sub printer with a battery pack that makes a pretty decent 4"x6" print, and I can take the SD card out of my Monochrom 246 and make a print of exactly what I shot for my subject (I can also hook it up to my laptop via a USB connection). It's definitely a bigger thing to carry around than the SP-1, but it's much more versatile and the print quality is leaps and bounds beyond the Instax Mini film.

Not sure if I'm going end up holding onto this camera or not, but for the time being it's a nice diversion and challenge.
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Old 08-28-2017   #25
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Backyard Buddha
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Old 09-02-2017   #26
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Nice shot. I had the mini 90 and now have a Sofort. Due to its landscape design it looks more like a camera. The mini Fuji's are all portrait designs.
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Old 09-02-2017   #27
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Enjoy the Sofort! And don't try to think of it as just 'another camera like the others' ... Instant film is different and has a totally different aesthetic from regular 35mm or digital capture.

Every time I pick up one of my Polaroids and shoot a pack of film, I'm disappointed the first time out. Then my eye and my brain reconnoiter the different landscape and I start to see with it, and the same camera, same film, all of a sudden turns into something different. It takes time and certain amount of letting go of what you're familiar with, but there is great charm in it too.

I like the photos you've posted so far. Keep on going! In limitation there is creativity...

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Old 01-27-2018   #28
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I got a Sofort a year ago as a birthday present. It’s a fun camera to have on hand at family gatherings. I used it a lot last Thanksgiving to photograph family and my young cousins enjoyed seeing it in operation and keeping the pictures I took of them. I have a similar reaction to Vince when it comes to bw photos, but I like the color images it produces. Vince’s color photos above look great.
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Old 01-27-2018   #29
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Seems to be a recurring theme here, people got the camera for free and are trying to figure out how it can be of any use. I mean, plastic lens, fixed aperture, scale focus with 3 positions - good thing it has that iconic red dot, otherwise it would go straight to a landfill.
Maybe I’m being too harsh, Fujifilm sells exactly the same cameras and many photographers seem to enjoy them. And Leica is not the first company to turn goodwill into hard cash.
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Old 01-28-2018   #30
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Vince, some instant photographers are using ND and polarizing filters over their lenses to gain some manual exposure control.
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