I shot a couple of rolls of film in the UK. I was kicking myself for not shooting more rolls, but it’s a good thing I didn’t. I took an Olympus XA and my grandfather’s Leica IIIa. I’ve been having focusing problems with the XA. I took it in for repairs before the trip. The shop told me they recalibrated the range finder. Unfortunately, I’m still having the same problem. User error is obviously a possibility, but there’s clearly something else wrong.

The Leica IIIa was a happier story, but it started off poorly. Those old Leicas were built for a different…what’s the word or phrase here…the film lead was narrower. To load today’s film rolls, you have to trim the lead. But some people hack it – they load the film and then adjust it by going through the lens. A couple of months ago I asked someone to walk me through that process. I shot about 10 images on that roll before my UK trip. I finished the roll in the UK, rewound the film, opened it up…disaster. The film hadn’t rewound.

I tried a new roll. This time I trimmed the lead. I shot the roll and unloaded it just fine. Some of the images actually turned out pretty well. I can still see a problem with the images, though, and I think it’s related to the shutter mechanism. I sent it off to be cleaned and repaired about a year ago to resolve those issues. Looks like it’s still happening, at least at 1/500th second. I’m not going to send it in again. I’ll just live with it and have fun using a piece of incredible machinery from the 1930s.

Here’s a photo from the anti-Brexit march on 19 October. It’s not a great image, but I’m happy with it. There’s no light meter on the Leica IIIa, so I was using the Sunny 16 rule. TriX 400 is forgiving, but still, nice to know I can get it close. I’m sure Chris at Panda Lab had a lot to do with the images being ok, too.


Anti-Brexit march, Trafalgar Square, London, October 2019.

Anti-Brexit march, Trafalgar Square, London, October 2019.