5 Frames… With ADOX SILVERMAX 100 (EI 100 / 35mm format / Leica M3) – by Louis Sousa

ADOX SILVERMAX 100 is one of my favorite black and white films. The tonal range is extremely wide, and if exposed properly the imagery is free of grain. I used my sublime Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 ZM lens for the first time with a film camera. Using this lens with the Leica M3 added a twist since the M3 has no 35mm frame line. I composed to the edges of the viewfinder as a solution. Seated atop the M3 is the effective Voigtlander meter. The lens is a work of art. It is hefty but balances well on the M3 with ultra-smooth focus and an ergonomic aperture ring.

Since my bottle of Silvermax developer is long in the tooth, I processed with fresh Kodak HC-110 in dilution B according to the Massive Development Chart. The film and lens and developer combination produced acute sharpness and detail. The Providence waterfront imagery was shot from the beautiful footbridge just built to span the Providence River, giving a wonderful new perspective of the City’s skyline and the electric power plant. The duplicate window images were shot on Wickenden Street, Providence’s SOHO.


My Leica M3 continues to perform beautifully. I am irreparably bonded with the camera. We were both birthed in 1957 and are ageing together gracefully! The film advance is as smooth as a silk scarf and the wonderful viewfinder is second to none. I prefer the simple film loading system of the M3 over the “improved” system in the Leica M6 but concede that with M6 practice, one is less prone to film misalignment and failing to seat the leader. 

During my visit to his home, Youxin Ye observed the M3 has some de-lamination in the viewfinder window as he CLA’d my M6. This does not affect the shooting experience, but out of deference to my trusted M3, I’ll bring it to him soon to give it a bath and a general rehab. I spent an entire day with Youxin at his home. He had my M6 reduced to bits and bobs in about an hour. Youxin has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Leica not only from employing his able hands but from interaction with company personnel and visits to the manufacturing facility. Without a doubt, some of his suggestions materialized in Leica’s products. Youxin made one thing very clear to me – Leica lenses are without parallel.

No man is complete without a good woman, and Youxin’s wife Wen is certainly one. While Youxin rehabbed my M6, Wen toiled away at restoring a vintage Leica lens. The living room in their home is loaded with unopened boxes containing cameras awaiting repair. Luckily, I live close by and Mr Ye was kind enough to give me personal service and a day to remember, including a tasty lunch.

As for the M6, it is now mechanically sound, but the meter has gone south and it must go off again for repair. A meter is not needed, but broken things gnaw at me! All the more reason to love the simple durability of the M3.

My photographic journey is shown on my blog, named and continued for the memory of my deceased daughter Victoria Marie. I hope you enjoy the SILVERMAX images and are inspired to experiment with this wonderful film.

Cheers to all.


~ Louis

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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

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Louis Sousahttps://victoriaslight.blog
I live in Bristol, Rhode Island and the sea is a big part of my life. I have sailed on it and swum in it and fished in it and it is the inspiration for much of my photography. At times I yearn for more variation, but its call yields solemnity to my complex life. I have 2 daughters and one wonderful and loving wife.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Lou,
    Thanks for posting an informative review about this film. I like how you handled the “Martini’ sign with the abrupt shadow & highlight.
    I had to smile at your description of the 35mm Zeiss lens. ‘Sublime’ is not what I’d say about that lens. Two years ago, I rented one from Lens Rental. It was sharp, large and thank goodness for IF. I had it on my M2 and it was the first time I really saw the ‘famed’ 3D look this lens produces. I shot on HP5 and home processed the film. BUT, it’s too heavy for me. Oh boy, what a lens!
    Dan (a fellow New Englander)
    flickr.com/photos/dcastelli9574

    • Hi Dan the lens is a “heavy” in rangefinder terms. On my Leica digital camera using a thumb grip helps with balance when using heavier lenses including this one. For the M3 I use an Artisan and Artist leather cover and it has a small extrusion on the right side that helps nominally. I keep the cover on more to guard against drops and such. The shop window on Wickenden Street in Providence is constantly changing and I photograph the window and inside of the quirky second-hand store often. I have shot quite a few rolls of this film. Going forward, I am going to stick with old faithful Kodak Tri-X for a consistent approach allowing lots of versatility….Soon warm weather will return to New England….Thanks for the kind reply.

  2. Enjoyed reading this as well. Also Live your “ABOUT” and share your interest in photographing the coast, sailing, etc but on the nearby Chesapeake Bay.


  3. How timely – I live in Providnece and will be headed to Mr. Ye in about a two hours to drop off my how-to-me ’58 M3 and a Summarit 50mm 1.5 for a thorough CLA!

    Thanks for the images…

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