Home Features Leica M10-D meets M3, Minox, Yashica Y35 and Epson R-D1

Leica M10-D meets M3, Minox, Yashica Y35 and Epson R-D1

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All the talk about the new Leica M10-D with no screen on the back (so you can’t see what you’re shooting — or may, or may not — have shot) reminded me of another camera (which I haven’t used for a while) and which has no screen, and whose company was owned by Leica for a few years (so in a way it is a sort of Leica) and that’s the little 5-megapixel digital ‘pretend M3’ Minox.

We-ell, it really has 3 megapixels, but with some “interpolation” it gives the equivalent of — roughly — 5 megapixels.

Ah, correction: it DOES have a teeny screen on the back, but the screen’s of such really awful quality, and you can’t properly see what you’ve shot on it — just that you’ve probably shot something — that I’d forgotten altogether that it really does have some semblance of a screen. It also, like the M10-D, has a little wind-on lever which is just for show: it doesn’t actually do anything, but pretends to be a wind-on lever and to provide a bit of a ‘thumb-grip’, exactly like on the M10-D!

The teeny Minox ‘M3’ has a permanently fixed — but manual ‘guesstimate’ focusing — lens, with a pretty useless screen, and no frills. (Though it does have menus for over/under-exposure, white balance, but not shutter speed, aperture or ISO adjustments).

  Fairly useless screen; just good enough to set menu options with.
Fairly useless screen; just good enough to set menu options with.

It’s not much good outdoors, but — strangely — it can be really good indoors! (Those characteristics seem to be because (a) its AUTO white balance tends towards blue, and (b) it seems to choose mainly 1/10th sec shutter speed ..although occasionally 1/140th, but only in VERY bright light ..hence outdoors it tends to hopelessly over-expose, and to blur — with its slow shutter speed — and it gives a blue tint, too (..unless the white balance is altered from AUTO to Daylight).

  Above image and the two below: Minox indoors at Galeries Lafayette department store, Paris; automatic 1/10th second shutter speed, f2.8, manual (guessed) focus, ISO 100.
Above image and the two below: Minox indoors at Galeries Lafayette department store, Paris; automatic 1/10th second shutter speed, f2.8, manual (guessed) focus, ISO 100.

Oh, that black-&-white picture up at the top? That’s a receptionist at the London Leica Store, taken with a Leica which — just like the M10-D — has no screen on the back, and it has no light meter, either, but it does have a small sticky-out wind-on lever like the M10-D. It’s a 1954 original M3, with a current 50mm f/1.4 and a £5 roll of b&w, colour-processed, Ilford XP-2 film. (More from the screenless M3 below)

I thought I’d compare the little, teeny, inconspicuous, ‘toy’ and pretty much screenless Minox, with the big, hefty, “full-frame” screenless M10-D . Well, not the actual screenless M10-D, as I don’t have one right here (though I had it there for the picture) but its sibling, the M10-P. Same camera, which has a useful screen on the back, which I promise I won’t look at. There, I’ve taped cardboard over it to get the complete, full M10-D experience!

Incidentally, although screenless — and US$500 extra for being screenless — you CAN display on the M10-D whatever you’re shooting, or what you’ve just shot: simply clip on the £390 / US$575 (that’s only another US$575 to bring the screen back) ’Visoflex 020’ add-on electronic finder.

(So I’ve just spent US$1,075 on removing the screen, and on putting it back on again.)

That electronic finder lets you see what the sensor’s seeing, and then gives you 5 seconds’ — naughty for peeping! — playback for each photo. Or just use Leica’s Fotos app to display your pics on a nearby smartphone, via bluetooth from the camera.

Oddly, another digital camera arrived a couple of days ago: another one which has no screen at all, so you absolutely cannot see what you’ve just shot , and it has only an optical finder. And — like the M10-D — it, too, has a wind-on lever, but this one is actually used to “wind on”, or to pretend to wind on and to cock the shutter. That’s to say, there’s a mechanical interlock to stop you taking your next photo, until you’ve pushed the wind-on lever, just to get that pretend experience of film!

This is the Kickstarter-funded Yashica (not the original Yashica; the name’s simply licensed now — as presently with ‘Polaroid’ or ‘Kodak’). It is the ‘Yashica’ digiFilm Y35 camera. It runs off two AA cells (which go in the ‘film chamber’ inside the swing-open back), it takes an SD card in the base (just like the M10-D) and uses so-called “digiFilm” cartridges — which look like APS film cassettes — to tell the camera how to “process” the photos. So there’s an ‘ISO 200’ cartridge for smooth results in bright light, and an up-to-ISO-1600 cartridge (for dimmer light, and grainier results), one for black-&-white photos, one for guess-what-you’ll-get weirdly “cross-processed” or “distressed” photos — and so forth.

You can take out and swap these cartridges at any time, to get whatever mixture of pics you want. Otherwise, of course, you can simply adjust your pictures in Photoshop, or whichever program you prefer, after the event. But as the Y35 delivers only .jpgs, you can’t start with a basic RAW picture from it and then make adjustments afterwards to that, to avoid quality loss in editing.

  Plastic ‘Yashica’ Y35 14 megapixel camera with manual ‘wind-on’ shutter-interlock lever. Fixed focus, fixed aperture, auto-only shutter speeds, optical viewfinder, under- & over-exposure adjustment (by guesswork) lever on top, no screen.
Plastic ‘Yashica’ Y35 14 megapixel camera with manual ‘wind-on’ shutter-interlock lever. Fixed focus, fixed aperture, auto-only shutter speeds, optical viewfinder, under- & over-exposure adjustment (by guesswork) lever on top, no screen.
  Open the back and slot in 2 AA cells and a ‘digiFilm’ cartridge.
Open the back and slot in 2 AA cells and a ‘digiFilm’ cartridge.
  DigiFilm’ cartridges, APS film cassette.
DigiFilm’ cartridges, APS film cassette.

And opening the back “mid-reel”, to change “digiFilm” cartridges, feels -v-e-r-y- -o-d-d- as if the film(?) inside will get ruined ..except that, despite its retro looks, there IS, of course, no film in it.

The camera really does look rather like an old Yashica Lynx, or an Oly 35 RC, SP or ED, but the whole thing is simply lightweight plastic, the ‘film rewind’ knob is just a pretend moulding on the top, and the simulated rangefinder windows don’t do anything at all; they’re also just pretence!

The lens is fixed to the body, and has a fixed focus range from about 3 feet to infinity. You can’t choose the aperture, and you can’t choose the shutter speed — it’s all automatic, just like the digital Minox (though the teeny Minox does have a choice of white balance and focus).

The Y35 DOES have that over/under-exposure knob on the top, though. It is, indeed, a ‘toy’ camera — as many a Kickstarter commenter has moaned — but if you like a bit of fun and nostalgia, and feel like forking out US$150 (about £117, or €131) for a quirky one-off, then why not? Except that — yes, I know — you can buy a decent used real Yashica 35 and several rolls of film for the same price, or less. But then you have to add processing and printing, and possibly scanning, costs.

(Incidentally ..uh, oh; here he goes again.. Dr Sugaya, who created many (most?) of the real Yashica film cameras — including those Porsche-designed Contax-branded models like the ‘139’ and the ‘RTS’ — told me that of all his ‘children’, he loved best the fixed-lens Yashica Electro 35, available for about the same price as this plastic ‘ersatz’ Yash, here on eBay unless it’s already gone.)

  Oxford Street Christmas lights on a dull day in London, Y35 camera, ISO 1600 ‘digiFilm’ (up to ISO 1600, low light, grainy) cartridge, but actually at ISO 300, f2, 1/215th second, 6mm (roughly 35mm equivalent) lens.
Oxford Street Christmas lights on a dull day in London, Y35 camera, ISO 1600 ‘digiFilm’ (up to ISO 1600, low light, grainy) cartridge, but actually at ISO 300, f2, 1/215th second, 6mm (roughly 35mm equivalent) lens.

I suppose what I like about the cheeky plastic Y35, besides its supposed 14-megapixel resolution (which is, frankly, hopeless once you start to enlarge or crop from it), is also the shameless and rapturous over-the-top hype of its Kickstarter campaign:

“YASHICA digiFilm Camera is a mean [sic] of capturing moments at your will. Randomness in a photo is never reckless, minimalist is never simple and leaving blank is never empty. Even the smallest scenery can have the biggest impact. What pours life into the images is the Y35, digiFilm Camera, and the eyes behind the viewfinder.”

Rapturous drivel so similar to so much of Leica’s own PR waffle, such as:

…the Leica M10-D focuses on the desires of many photographers to concentrate solely on the act of making pictures”

— instead of er, baking a cake, tying their shoelaces, doing a raindance?

  More Oxford Street traffic and shopfront lights, Yashica Y35 ..reasonable exposure and sharpness, 1/110th, f2, ISO 300, fixed focus 6mm lens .
More Oxford Street traffic and shopfront lights, Yashica Y35 ..reasonable exposure and sharpness, 1/110th, f2, ISO 300, fixed focus 6mm lens .
  Same thing, Minox ‘mock M3’ digital camera: hopeless blur at 1/10th sec auto shutter speed, ‘burned-out’ highlights, auto white balance, really dismal outdoor performance. See what I mean about the blue?
Same thing, Minox ‘mock M3’ digital camera: hopeless blur at 1/10th sec auto shutter speed, ‘burned-out’ highlights, auto white balance, really dismal outdoor performance. See what I mean about the blue?

Of course, thinking of cameras with no (or a hidden, foldaway) screen, and a physical wind-on lever, there’s Cosina’s pioneering 2004 Epson R-D1, whose wind-on lever DOES actually cock the shutter! It is a converted film camera, after all, but with a six-megapixel APS-sized Sony sensor where previously there’d have been a frame of Tri-X, Kodachrome, or whatever. And it takes great pictures, with a Leica M-mount, so you can use whichever are your favourite Leica-fit lenses, although you do get an APS 1.5x ‘crop’ — or magnification — so a 24mm lens gives pictures which look as if shot with a 35mm lens on a “full-frame” sensor, etc.

  Epson R-D1 with APS-size sensor, Leica 75mm f2.5, auto exposure.
Epson R-D1 with APS-size sensor, Leica 75mm f2.5, auto exposure.

The R-D1, unlike any M Leica, has a life-size finder, not reduced to 72% or even less, so it’s very easy to focus. The odd thing, though, is that the rangefinder rectangle, in — roughly — the middle of the finder, appears to move up and to the left as you focus closer. The frame lines — manually selected with a little switch — actually move down and to the right, as with Leica rangefinders, to avoid cutting off the top of the picture as you focus closer, but in the Leica finder that central focusing patch moves too, and so you hardly notice the movement of the entire view, including informative LEDs, if there are any.

  Leica M10-P viewfinder; frame lines and focusing patch move down and to the right, for “parallax correction”, as focused closer onto the lens standing on the table.
Leica M10-P viewfinder; frame lines and focusing patch move down and to the right, for “parallax correction”, as focused closer onto the lens standing on the table.

The Leica finder — the optical window which you look through to focus — appears perfectly normal as you focus closer, but the R-D1’s finder patch seems to “take a walk” — up and left, the closer that you focus — because only its frame lines move, and NOT the focusing patch as well!

Above: Frame lines in the R-D1 also move down and right the closer you focus, but the focusing patch itself doesn’t move. This makes it seem to travel up and to the left as you focus closer. Things do look larger and closer through the 100% R-D1 finder, compared with the lesser magnification Leica finders.

The R-D1 finder isn’t as cluttered as current Leica finders, only ever having one single set of chosen frame lines in it, not pairs of frame lines as in Leica M finders — which currently have 35 & 135, 28 & 90, 50mm & 75mm pairs nowadays.

And here, to finish with, are a few more photos taken — like that first one up at the top — not with the screenless M10-D, but with another screenless M camera, which – just like the M10-D – gives no immediate access to your photos, and doesn’t even have a built-in light meter nor any kind of auto-exposure, although it does have a wind-on lever on the top, like the M10-D. This, though, is a film-loading Leica M3, so the wind-on lever really winds the film and cocks the shutter. Great in bright daylight. But no film is as good in dim light as a digital M10-D (or, for that matter, a Sony A7S).

  Glass-making in Murano, Venice; M3, modern 24mm f1.4 lens, with unknown-brand (rebranded Kodak?) ‘Lomography’ ISO 800 film.
Glass-making in Murano, Venice; M3, modern 24mm f1.4 lens, with unknown-brand (rebranded Kodak?) ‘Lomography’ ISO 800 film.
  Sachertorte chocolate cake (yum!) at Sacher’s hotel tea room, Vienna; M3 and old Leica ‘dual range’ or ‘Close Focusing’ 50mm f2, indoors, ISO 800 ‘Lomography’ film.
Sachertorte chocolate cake (yum!) at Sacher’s hotel tea room, Vienna; M3 and old Leica ‘dual range’ or ‘Close Focusing’ 50mm f2, indoors, ISO 800 ‘Lomography’ film.
  Film shoots digital, Venice; 2.5 megapixel scan of M3 photo, ISO 800 ‘Lomography’ film, 24mm f/1.4.
Film shoots digital, Venice; 2.5 megapixel scan of M3 photo, ISO 800 ‘Lomography’ film, 24mm f/1.4.
 I ndoors (obviously), gallery, Paris; 2.3 megapixel scan, M3, ISO 800 ‘Lomography’ film, can’t remember which lens; probably 21mm f/3.4.
I ndoors (obviously), gallery, Paris; 2.3 megapixel scan, M3, ISO 800 ‘Lomography’ film, can’t remember which lens; probably 21mm f/3.4.

Five cameras: M10-D, Minox pretend ‘M3’, ‘Yashica’ Y35, Epson R-D1, original M3. All screenless (..well, the Minox is almost screenless, and the R-D1 screen folds away to invisibility). All featuring a ‘wind-on’ lever. All with a different shooting experience. But all take decent pictures, once you get the hang of them.

But only one can take pictures forever without needing a battery. Though you do have to replace the film every 36 shots, for the cost of a £ fiver ..and you do have to push its winder TWICE for every shot you take, as these pictures were taken with an early, therefore “double-stroke”, M3).

P.S: I also have an “I’m Back!” on the way: that’s a new, chunky plastic clip-on device, which sits on the back of a film camera, allowing (low-grade) digital pics to be shot with an M3 (the horror!), OM-1 or OM-2, Contax G, Nikon F, or (almost) whatever old camera(s) you still have lurking in the cupboard. Now why would anyone want to do that?

So stay tuned – with Mike’s indulgence – for another, later, report on the silly, but nostalgic, crowdfunded “I’m Back!” back.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Love it, David.

    I’ve always wanted an R-D1 for some reason. They’re harder to find but a bit cheaper than an M8. But ive never been game to pull the trigger on buying one. Or an M8 either!

    • I was very disappointed with the M8 ..rushed to market, awful behaviour in tungsten light when pointing at anything black, such as at a wedding or any other formal event.

      Noisy shutter, poor low-light performance – generally disappointing.

      The R-D1, with a similar APS-size sensor, is fun, though, with its quirky circular dials, wind-on lever, better viewfinder, built-in digital colour filters ..it really is a film camera, but without that 36-shot restriction. Poor battery life, though: you need spares in your pocket.

      Better still, I think, is the APS-sized Ricoh GXR with the Leica-mount module. Quiet (..or even silent, if chosen in a menu..) shutter, better low-light performance, smaller, lighter, optional electronic finder which shows you what the lens sees, fits in your pocket, far better battery life. Great little camera.

      • David B
      • Yes, the GxR has tempted me a few times but the lack of built in EVF is a negative for me. I’d rather not carry one around . Same for the TL, which is becoming quite affordable now.

        I’m not as bothered by the IR issues of the M8, as it helps with beautiful monochrome output. But there’s the real risk of an expensive paperweight if something fails.

        Compromises, compromises, lol.

      • That was true at launch, but colour correction reducing IR influence solved that problem. Liked for its mono rendering and deliberate IR, the M8 remains an attractive entry point for Leica aspirants. I enjoy using mine.

  2. How odd!

    ..I thought this article might encourage discussion about how many megapixels are needed for a ‘decent’ photo, and about the ‘dynamic range’ of different sensors and software (..that little Minox gets easily overloaded, so highlights become just undifferentiated white blobs..) and how great (?) the scanned film images look.

    I was wrong.

    I thought an article about different – but slightly similar-looking, but quirky – cameras would be interesting ..but – again – I got it wrong.

    Perhaps I should have been writing for Leicaddict ‘pictorialist’ photographers, or just writing about the M10, CL, Q, TL and SL cameras ..but I’d thought that people might like a break from those, and enjoy a little whimsy, a little info about the Epson compared with the M cameras, and thought that Macfilos readers might have a few things to say about the very ‘forgiving’ XP-2 black-&-white film (..that photo at the top..) which lets you mix photos at ISO 400, 800,1600 on the same piece of film, and still delivers usable pictures without any special processing.

    Nope. I misunderstood people’s likes and interests.

    So I apologise if this feature was of no interest to fellow Macfilos readers; I’ll have to ‘re-tune’ my sensitivity to what people like and dislike.

    I should mention, though, my thanks to Elaine and Ivor Cooper of Red Dot Cameras for their loan of the M10-D which sits alongside the teeny Minox in that photo above.

    Yours in a bit of bewilderment,

    David B.

      • Yes, do!

        I know there’s the “sunny-16 rule”, but I always go by ISO 100 = 1/125th at f5.6 in average Manchester UK weather. So indoors, depending on how much light there is, that’d probably mean using 1/125th – or 1/60th – at f2.

        The shot at the top was XP-2 at ISO 800, so it’d have been about 1/250th at f1.4.

        Do try it ..the current version is XP2 Super ( https://www.ilfordphoto.com/xp2s-135 ) and just have it developed in normal colour (C-41) processing at any ‘mini-lab’.

        I’m sure you’ll be delighted!

        • David B
  3. Nice piece David, I haven’t commented because I hadn’t read it until just now.

    It seems to me that whatever is done to try to give the modern digital camera the film experience, it just never quite cuts the mustard. I have just been reviewing my old photos and clearly the best pictures from a technical standpoint are the ones taken with the various digital cameras that I have owned. Even with 50+ year old lenses, the sensor, whether "full frame", APS-C/H, or smaller yields sharper images than film.

    Somehow, as in your pictures here, the film pictures have something about them, difficult to put into words, but something more "interesting" to the eye… Your sequence at the bottom being a good example, and your Leica girl at the top is excellent.

    As for the screen, it depends what camera I am using, the screen on my Yashica Mat 124 is excellent, but the one on my Leica CL is set to off at the moment, and I haven’t missed it.

    Just lately though the cameras that I use most are one of my three ancient Leica’s (well Leitz really), I have a iii loaded with classic film, in my pocket, and I have colour in an M4 and B&W in an old CL, although that changes depending on whim, currently using a lot of out of date Agfa Vista.

    I choose which of the bigger cameras I take with me, moments before walking out of the door.

    As for the Yashica, I remembered when I recently bought the Yashica TLR that my first serious camera was indeed a Yashica Electro 35, a very simple camera that gave good results. Not sure, even though I like novelty, that I would go for that new Yashica of yours though. A very strange affair. I like pinhole for my novelty stuff.

    So anyway, that is my comment on megapixels David…

    Meh.

    Having said that, I really liked the M10-D when I got a hold of it in RedDot recently, apart from the finish which was somewhat less than that of my M4, Ivor assured me that it was teething issues, I can certainly detect an itch, but I will wait until there are a few used ones in the marketplace.

    • “.. I have just been reviewing my old photos and clearly the best pictures from a technical standpoint are the ones taken with the various digital cameras that I have owned..”

      Mmm, my digital pictures always looked far sharper and clearer than my analogue film photos. Till I took my negatives to a better scanning lab. And when I bought a (2nd-hand) Nikon 4000 scanner and scanned them myself, there was a HUGE jump in quality.

      (One was always at the mercy of developing labs, who may have used beyond-their-exhaustion-date chemicals just to squeeze more use out of them instead of filling their developing machine with fresh juice.)

      “..Somehow, as in your pictures here, the film pictures have something about them, difficult to put into words, but something more "interesting" to the eye… Your sequence at the bottom being a good example, and your Leica girl at the top is excellent..”

      I think that’s because I got so much practice with digital cameras (unlimited shooting; not restricted to 36) that I generally became much more proficient, and that improvement carried over to film, when I go back to that for a change. (I inherited my father-in-law’s 1954 M3 several years ago, so whenever I go somewhere in mainland Europe where he might have gone, I use his camera to shoot with! ..Just for nostalgia’s sake!)

      “..I have a iii loaded with classic film, in my pocket, and I have colour in an M4 and B&W in an old CL..” ..apart from being a bit noisy, those old CLs were, or are, terrific; small, light, light-meter built-in, easy to use, almost un-noticeable.

      I’ve never been able to get on with square format photos ..I like to see them, but I just can’t shoot square format: it just doesn’t agree with me!

      Thanks for your comments, Stephen.

      • David B

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