Film! How I’ve missed you! It’s been about 1 year now since I last shot film, and it actually took me about 6 months and 4 locations (Melaka, Penang, Kedah, and Kuantan) to actually finish a 36-roll Fujifilm Superia 200 for this “review”. Why 6 months? Well, thats mostly because I kept this camera in the glove compartment of my car, and only used it when I saw something interesting or when I went to somewhere new, and since I was swamped with work, that didn’t happened as frequently as I expected it to be. Oh yes, some other times, I just happened to forget that the Leica was even with me.
A word of disclaimer, the roll I used to try out this camera was a very-very badly expired Superia 200. How expired, you ask? Well, it’s from 2010, and as mentioned earlier, I stored it in the scorching hot glove compartment of my car.
Back to the review, I got the Leica from a reseller online for about $100 (MYR400), and it was brand new. It was so new, in fact, it still had it’s price sticker from the 90s stuck on. And yes, for $100, it came with all the instruction manuals, mint box, unfilled warranty card and a leather case. A definite steal then.
So how is the Mini to use?
In a word, minimalistic. That’s honestly the best way to describe this camera. There are a few modes to choose from, such as Fixed Infinity Focus, Force Flash ON and OFF, and Fill Flash, but other than those, there’s really nothing to it. It only has 1 AF point (yes, just 1!) with what I can assume to be center-weighted average metering, but it works. 90% of the images I took are in focus and with decent exposure (even with bad film). Speaking of the AF, it’s not as dissapointing as I expected it to be. Sure, don’t compare it with other modern point and shoots, but it holds it’s own (relatively) when compared to my XPro-1. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t restrict me, and it’s reliable enough.
The sharpness of the bundled lens is decent. Don’t expect too much of it, but as a lens, it’s definitely not the worse I’ve used (more so for a point&shoot). The rendition for the out-of-focus elements are also quite pleasing, if present. There is some vignetting present, but that could just be my badly expired film, so I’ll keep some reservations there. Battery life is also very decent I’m glad to report. I’ve finished a roll of film and it’s still full (as indicated).
The first cons that struck me was how once you switched off the camera, it wouldn’t maintain the selected mode. I prefered to have it at “Force Flash OFF”, so everytime I took the camera out, I’ll need to toggle it back on by pressing mode 4 times. It’s best just to leave the camera on when you’re out shooting. The other annoying quirk is the highly innacurate framing grid, especially up close. When you’re pretty far from the subject, it’s all fine and dandy, but the suggested framing isn’t that accurate when it comes to parallax correction, so do bear that in mind, and move back a foot or two.
For now, that’s my early review of the Leica Mini 3. I’m planning to shoot another roll with it, but this time perhaps with either an Ektar or Portra (unexpired). Maybe by then I’d have more to elaborate on the Pros and Cons of the system. For now, however, I’d say it’s a definite keeper.