Post Your Film Camera

Discussion in 'Film Cameras' started by dan swiger, Aug 11, 2018.

  1. dan swiger

    dan swiger Well-Known Member

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    We know your out there.
    I've posted a few threads & don't want to feel like the "Lone Ranger" o_O
    Here are some items to post
    1. Why are you into film?
    2. What type of gear to you have & use?
    3. Do you develop your own film?
    4. How do you process the images?
     
  2. Daryl Wilson

    Daryl Wilson Member

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    I used to shoot film back in high school, with a Pentax K1000 which belonged to my dad and, later on, a Pentax ME Super which I bought with my own money, but I had no formal training on how to use the cameras back then. I was, basically, learning what I could as I shot (expensive) film through it and took the exposed rolls to the grocery store or pharmacy for development, as I could afford it. Sadly, after high school, I didn't pick up a camera again until after I finished college, when I began my law enforcement career and was required to use a camera for crime scene investigations class in the academy, which included a two-day class on how to use the 35mm film cameras we would each be assigned upon being given our assignments (duty posts) after graduation. After hitting the road, however, I rarely used my assigned camera and, instead, used a "dummy" (fully automatic, pocket) camera because all of the dials and settings for the SLR camera just confused me. I understood the science and mechanics of how to use an SLR camera, but I was uncomfortable using it in a practical situation with the possibility of screwing up an investigation because I might get lousy shots due to incorrectly dialing-in the camera settings before each click of the shutter.

    Then, around 2001, I got the opportunity to test out a very early model digital camera (it had a 3½" floppy drive built-in, LOL) and I was impressed with the ability to take a photo and, within seconds, have that image loaded into my photo editing software on my computer -- no sending the film to a lab for development and needing to scan the images into my computer first. I bought the same camera a few weeks later and used it for my vacation aboard a cruise ship to the Bahamas. The images were small, there was very little in-camera editing possible, nothing like the digital cameras of today.

    As digital phones began coming out with built-in cameras that often paralleled the capabilities of these early digital cameras, I moved away from stand-alone cameras and only used the cameras in my smart devices (from a Motorola flip phone to a Blackberry phone, then on to Android-based phones), tablets (mostly a Kindle HDX model and a Dell tablet PC) or bigger desktop computers with USB cameras attached to them, or laptops. Over the next several years, these devices' built-in cameras and image editing software (apps) improved tremendously...often rivaling the images taken in DSLR cameras without post-production work (Photoshop and Lightroom being the most popular image editing programs still today). I even owned two Kodak DSLR cameras and used them to shoot around town -- of people at the skate park, or of people and their pets, and of everyday strangers on the streets, and I took lots of photos of landscapes and flowers and other greenery. After a while, I was invited to do a few weddings and then shoot for the U.S. Air Force, then a fashion runway, and family portraits, then corporate head shots and, eventually, I was asked to mentor younger photography enthusiasts who wanted to learn how to earn money with their cameras.

    But...

    ...the look of the images from these digital cameras -- even with simulated film grain for that "classic film look" -- never quite matched the look of authentic film and they rarely "moved me, emotionally" like real film used to. And, since so many digital photos are highly -- if not overly -- digitally manipulated ("Photoshopped" is an actual term to describe this) that every image is suspected of being faked nowadays. Therefore, a few years ago, I decided to dust off my old Pentax ME Super, buy some 35mm film (not such an easy thing to find nowadays) and shoot some real film stock through it. I also had to refamiliarize myself with shooting film vs. digital as there are, indeed, some differences to how you approach a shot, as well as how to setup your camera before clicking the shutter. Although I understood well how to shoot with my digital cameras (I have owned and used several over the years, including my latest Nikon D810 and a Canon t5i). I will add, though, that my favorite vintage camera in my inventory would have to be a Kodak Retinette IB -- it is just sooooo basic and compact (fits in my jacket pocket easily, unlike my very big and incredibly heavy Nikon F5) and is fully analog (no batteries needed). Now, don't get me wrong, I love my Pentax ME Super, too, and both are very easy to take stealthy, candid, impromptu street photos without garnering much attention, but the Kodak is about half the size and weight of the Pentax camera...and both are magnitudes smaller and lighter than either my Nikon D810 digital SLR camera or my Nikon F5 SLR film camera, both of which I carry regularly (one on each shoulder) and enjoy shooting with immensely, almost daily, in fact.

    One of the questions I am frequently asked by those who see me shooting with a film camera is, "Can you even buy film anymore?" This question is normally followed by, "Can you even get film developed anywhere?" Sometimes, I will then get the question, "Why would you want to shoot film these days when digital is so much better?", which I find to be a very subjective question. Afterall, people who shoot film do not attempt to make their pictures mimick digital, whereas many people who shoot digitally have multiple presets in their favorite photo editing software/apps to give their shots "that film grain look". I load my own black & white negative film into cassettes using my Lloyds Daylight Film Loader and shoot it, mostly, for a more vintage and artistic look, and I shoot color negative film for most other applications.

    I want to explore developing my own film (sure would save me a ton in developing costs) and print my own photos "old school", too, in my own dark room vs. digitally scanning my developed film and photo editing on my computer before printing with my color laser printer or inkjet printer at home. I like the way my shots turn out when I get them professionally developed and printed by my favorite local and online film labs, however. Further, by purchasing my film and supplies from, for example, The Film Photography Project (www.filmphotographyproject.com), and having my film developed and printed by local development labs who employ technicians with many years of experience with film, and teaching young photography enthusiasts (there is a growing interest from the younger generation to shoot film and it causes my heart to flutter a bit) how to properly shoot film helps to support film shooting overall.
     
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  3. Ben Egbert

    Ben Egbert Forum Helper
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    Good reply Daryl, and welcome to the forum.

    I started with a Nikon FE 35mm and shot mostly Kodachrome with it. Slide film is not easy to turn into a print, so I was mostly stuck with Slides. I never wanted to get into development or wet printing. I guess what I like about digital is that I have the complete process at home, where I process and print my own images.

    I am sure my images look manipulated, but then I was never happy with the DR of slide film, although I do try to get that Kodachrome saturation.
     
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  4. dan swiger

    dan swiger Well-Known Member

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    Daryl, great description of your film journey.
    I think my earliest intentional use of a camera was with a Kodak Brownie. It was more a point & shoot experience.
    When I ended up in Vietnam in 1969, everybody was getting an SLR. While most were getting Pentax, Canon or Nikon, I ended up getting a Topcon RE Super with a nice, big 50mm/f1.4. I knew very little about the physics of exposure/DOF, but the camera had a simple light meter to keep me close. I took a lot of pictures with that camera of village scenes, children, etc. The airbase had a photo hobby shop where I developed B&W & did some wet printing. I was hooked and soon began to lust after a medium format camera like the Pentax 6x7. All I knew at that time was bigger negative equaled more detail. On my way home, I picked up a nice zoom for the Topcon on a stopover in Japan.
    I did shoot a fair amount at local car races, but unfortunately, my interest in cars eclipsed my interest in photography.
    I still have the Topcon and after a recent clean & refurb last year, I have run a roll or two through and it still works!

    After 25 years of family and kids, my interest was re-kindled by a trip down the Colorado River. I only had a 2mp P&S (Canon S100).
    The shots I took weren't very good, but possibilities led me down the path of a better P&S, then finally a Canon 20D. Now I was hooked.
    I took on some photojournalist gigs, learning a lot and of course buying bigger/better DSLR gear. But at some point realized a couple of things. I was trading megapixels for vision. Occasionally I would get something special, but it was a lot of "spray & pray" shooting.

    Somewhere about 6 or 7 years ago I starting thinking about trying film again. I picked up an Mamiya RZ67 MF kit, with 4 lenses and started paying more attention what was in the viewfinder. It was a little hit & miss, but slowly began to figure it out. At first I sent out film to labs for develop & scan. Then I got an Epson 4990 scanner & just had the labs do the developing.

    When I started this film journey, I promised myself if I stuck to it, I would reward my efforts with a large format rig. I now have a Toyo 45A & a couple of plastic 4x5 cameras for single lens solutions.

    In the last few years I have switched to developing all my B&W film as it just requires a dark-bag to load the film. I still send out the color neg film, but do have the C-41 chemistry & will make that transition.

    There is something magical about pulling the developed film out of the chemistry and seeing the image for the 1st time. Only once have I completed the shoot/dev/scan in one day. I do have an old enlarger in the hopes of doing a wet print just for the experience.

    I have several film cameras now. My favorite 35mm is a Canonet QL17, followed by an AE1, then my Topcon.
    For MF, my favorite is a Mamiya 7 rangefinder which has exquisite glass. It has just enough technology with the metering to make it very useful and capable on hikes through the likes of Yosemite. I shed the RZ67 gear and replaced it with an older RB67 kit with 180 & 360mm lenses. This is my "Long glass" medium format tool.

    I have a new MF toy that is a 3D printed panoramic camera that uses large format lenses. It's a bit tricky to use but when I get it right, the images are stunning.

    My biggest weakness in film work is... I'm color blind! This can lead to too much red/green in post but I'm learning techniques to compensate & correct.

    I try to shoot B&W when I have a vision. An example of that is I'm going to Yosemite tomorrow to shoot the Dogwoods just in B&W.

    I still shoot with a DSLR when I want the spontaneity or the conditions are difficult, etc.

    I have some other posts about my film camera gear that I will point you to if you like
     
  5. dan swiger

    dan swiger Well-Known Member

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    My film preferences & processing steps as of now. This is of course evolving
    For B&W I have been using TMAX-100. If I'm going to do some "walking" around shooting, TMAX-400
    I have also enjoyed using Ilford Fan F, 50 ISO. Great for landscape work.
    I just came across 10 rolls of Kodak Plus-X, ISO 125, that I will be shooting

    For Color my goto is usually EKTAR for negative film. Great dynamic range & tight grain.
    Handles shadows fine if you DONT under expose. Basically I meter on the darkest part of scene & stop down 3 stops.
    Also true of B&W.
    For less contrasty color work, I use Velvia 50 ISO. Very punchy colors.
    Here I meter on the brightest part of scene & open it up by two-two & half stops
    Transparency film has the opposite problem with exposure. Over exposure causes highlights to "go white"

    For TMAX & EKTAR, I buy new both on Ebay & from stores like Adorama, B&H
    For many other films, I buy expired film off of Ebay that is advertised as "refrigerated"
    I have never been disappointed .
    A word of caution is that the faster a film is the faster it degrades.
    I have shot expired Velvia 50 NOT-FRIDGED, that was 10 years out of date & the colors were still good
    YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY.

    I have also tried some of the new cine film (movie stock) that has been respooled & rem coating remove.
    This is from CineStill, Go-fundme effort that is selling. They have some 50 ISO 800 ISO color.
    I have shot ISO 32 Panatomic that was almost 40 years old, stored in a garage and it came a little contrasty from "stand development"
    BTW stand development is a much diluted developer for up to an hour PLUS. Works great for unknown film age, or special effects
    The rule of thumb is a stop per decade.
    For B&W films, its fun to try older films if you develop yourself

    I started with some Rodinal stock from a Craigslist purchase but now am finally running out of it.
    So I'm switching to XTOL, and a home brewed D76 equivalent that is ECO friendly
    I use the Massive development https://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php for film development times.
    It is available as a cell phone app for use in darkroom
     

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