Budget Gourmet Episode 3: Satisfy Your Leica Film M Craving with a Canon 35mm Film SLR? Oh YAH!

Are you a photography enthusiast who wishes to capture the charm of film with a limited budget? Look no further because in this blog, we will explore Budget Gourmet Episode 3: Satisfy Your Leica Film M Craving with a Canon 35mm Film SLR? Oh YAH! In this episode of our budget gourmet series, we delve into the world of film photography, discussing the merits of the iconic Leica M series and uncovering an alternative that won’t break the bank – the Canon 35mm Film SLR. Join us as we compare these two cameras, evaluate their features and performance, and discover how the Canon SLR can provide a satisfying experience for film lovers on a budget.

Budget Gourmet Episode 3: Satisfy Your Leica Film M Craving with a Canon 35mm Film SLR? Oh YAH!

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Oh yeah, you know you want one. There’s something extraordinary about engaging an actual advanced lever, focusing manually, tripping that soft, very quiet mechanical shutter, or just running your eyes and fingers across one of the most cohesive industrial designs of all time: the Leica M. A piece build quality of a 35mm Leica M, like this one actually a single stroke M3 lent to us by our friends at keh in bargain condition, which is to say fully functional though it could definitely use some cosmetic work, but hey, that’s what makes it a bargain. But if a lack of film M is a bridge too far for you financially, we’re talking thousands of dollars, pounds, or euros, tens of thousands of renminbi, hundreds of thousands of yen or rupees for the body alone, a camera first released in 1954. Well, I think if one is open to a bit of lateral thinking, there is another way to experience all of these qualities, to varying degrees, to be fair, at a fraction of the price.

Vintage Canon SLRs

In fact, a far more economical way of entering and then, if you really enjoy it, building a working 35mm film camera and lens collection. Although, if you go down that path, you really should invest in the entire film workflow including darkroom, but that’s another episode for another time. In this instance, I’m talking about thinking era mid-20th century, rather than the form or brand of camera. I’m thinking, in particular, of a couple of wonderful Canon SLR 35mm film cameras I own. I bet you didn’t see that one coming, like this 1960s era FTQL or this 1970s era F1, either of which have much more in common with this 1960 M3 than they do with a 2021 R5, for example, right down to the surprisingly similar yet so very different ways one opens an M3 or FTQL to load or unload film, which in the case of the M is practically a Japanese tea ceremony in and of itself, even if the camera was made in Germany.

But maybe you’re thinking to yourself right about now, no way. Or really, Hugh, a Canon SLR? Not a Canon rangefinder like the hats of 1937 or 7s of 67. I understand. But if you can hold that thought, let’s get into it.

Why a 35mm Leica M in the First Place?

Hey everybody, I’m Hugh Brownstone for Three Blind Men and an Elephant, and today’s creative whack on the side of the head for our series entitled Budget Gourmet is: Why not a vintage Canon SLR instead of a Leica M film camera or the more obvious Canon rangefinders? But in order to answer that question, we have to ask ourselves why a 35mm Leica M in the first place.

Because hey, if you really want a Leica and you know precisely why only a Leica will do, why only, alternatively, only a rangefinder will do, I understand. Although if you are absolutely positively certain of this, candidly your time will be better spent doing something other than watching this video, like saving up for that Leica. I understand this too, still you might want to hang around for a bit as I attempt to deconstruct what makes that Leica, or more generally, 35mm film cameras so attractive. I’ve already enumerated a number of qualities inherent to this mid-20th century wonder of mechanical engineering and design.

To this, we might add other qualities like heritage, inspiration, a prompt to plumb the depths of one’s memory to a simpler, more joyous time if you are of a certain vintage yourself. Or perhaps, if you are of a more recent vintage, a pathway to feeling for the very first time today what it’s like to experience the luxury of time, perhaps the freedom from the ubiquitous whirring and beeping and grinding sounds that are endemic to every waking moment of modern life. Maybe an appreciation for the actual human beings who designed, manufactured, and assembled these cameras. Or the absence of fear every time you look through a high-resolution, high-refresh-rate, high-dynamic-range EVF that you are slowly killing off bits and pieces of your retina.

Maybe you think a Leica M is a worthy investment. I understand all of this too, and I would agree with you. But I want to tell you that you can achieve most of these ambitions, get that same feeling from these particular Canons. The same heft and mechanical precision, more or less. The same joy from silky smooth manual focus with hard stops and dedicated aperture rings. Along with the sense of accomplishment one obtains by mastering their use. And of course, the utter absence of worrying and beeping and grinding. Oh my!

Advantages of Vintage Canon SLRs

There are distinct advantages to the Canons too, beginning of course with price. Whereas a beater M3 can set you back 1500 bucks or more, you may be able to pick up a Canon F1 in excellent condition for less than four hundred dollars with a Canon 51.8, maybe a 1.4. The F1, for those of you who don’t know, was the absolute flagship of the entire Canon line when it was introduced in 1971 to take on Nikon’s mighty F2. The F1 was also the body that introduced the new FD mount, which would eventually number 135 lenses from Canon alone. Or even closer to an M from a design, manufacturing, materials, and capability perspective, a Canon FTQL with an FL 51.8 for less than a hundred bucks. This was Canon’s take on the Nikonmat that Nikon had introduced a year earlier in 1965. We are talking about order of magnitude differences in price compared to a Leica M.

Then there is the fact that an F1 or an FTQL (the QL stands for quick load) is much faster and simpler to load, even after you become familiar and comfortable with the M3’s procedure. Perhaps most importantly, to my way of thinking, parallax. Because, in any SLR, allows for much more precise framing, composition, and focus than an M. Because unlike the rangefinder M, the premise of a single lens reflex is the “what you see is what you get” light path. When you look through an SLR viewfinder, you are looking in real-time through the lens. There is no need to adjust for parallax as one must when using a rangefinder. In that system, you are not looking through the lens at all but through an entirely separate optical path, a viewfinder mounted above and to the left of the lens. Because you are looking through the lens on an SLR, you also don’t have to worry about focus calibration the way you do with a rangefinder, which also means that you can preview the depth of field. That is see exactly what will be in and out of focus. And again, this is simply not possible with a rangefinder. Well, Leica did make a Visaflex reflex housing, but then one wouldn’t be using the rangefinder anymore, and that particular type of Visaflex is…

Budget Gourmet Episode 3: Satisfy Your Leica Film M Craving with a Canon 35mm Film SLR? Oh YAH! – FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Budget Gourmet Episode 3 about?

A: Budget Gourmet Episode 3 focuses on satisfying your Leica Film M craving with a Canon 35mm Film SLR. It explores the idea of achieving similar results without the hefty price tag.

Q: Why choose a Canon 35mm Film SLR instead of a Leica Film M?

A: The Canon 35mm Film SLR is a more budget-friendly option compared to the Leica Film M. It allows photographers to experience the charm and quality of shooting film while being affordable.

Q: Can I expect the same image quality from a Canon 35mm Film SLR as a Leica Film M?

A: While the Canon 35mm Film SLR may not offer the exact same image quality as the Leica Film M, it still delivers excellent results. With proper technique and using high-quality lenses, you can capture stunning photos with the Canon 35mm Film SLR.

Q: Are there any specific Canon models recommended for this purpose?

A: Some popular Canon 35mm Film SLR models for budget gourmet photography include Canon AE-1 Program, Canon A-1, and Canon T70. These cameras offer great features and compatibility with various lenses.

Q: What are the advantages of shooting film with a Canon 35mm Film SLR?

A: Shooting film with a Canon 35mm Film SLR allows you to experience the nostalgic process of analog photography. It helps you slow down, focus on composition, and appreciate each shot. Additionally, film photography has a unique aesthetic that many enthusiasts find appealing.

Q: Are there any downsides to using a Canon 35mm Film SLR?

A: Some drawbacks of using a Canon 35mm Film SLR include the limited number of frames per roll, expenses associated with film development and scanning, and the absence of immediate feedback that digital cameras offer. However, these aspects can also be seen as part of the charm and challenge of shooting film.

Q: Where can I find more information about the Budget Gourmet Episode 3?

A: To learn more about Budget Gourmet Episode 3 and other related topics, visit our website or subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates and exclusive content.

I hope you find useful my article Budget Gourmet Episode 3: Satisfy Your Leica Film M Craving with a Canon 35mm Film SLR? Oh YAH!, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

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