INTRO

Ok, so you have made the decision to get on to the Analogue photography train, either for the first time or you are getting back on to it after spending time in the digital world, and after much thought and research, a camera has been purchased, lenses (if you have gone SLR or Rangefinder ILC) but now the big thing is what film do i shoot, or for returning photographers, what film is still around?

The latter part of the question is most definitely relevant to many as over the last 15 years we have seen many classic films disappear from basic 35mm colour negative films to legends like Kodachrome.

For probably the best list of what films are still available, check out Kosmo Photo’s blog for the list  PART 1 and PART 2    Though i am sure that the list is not complete yet…

Colour or Black & White?

The age old question among photographers.. do i shoot colour or black and white?   This is a question i have never been able to fully answer myself, so personally, i shoot both because a lot of things i like are in colour, but some things also look amazing in black and white too,  quite often i will carry a couple of cameras, one loaded with B+W and one loaded with colour film.

Colour film is the standard, it has been now for so many years, why? because it is still easily processed commercially by the majority of photo labs.

18198462_10155219399243926_3833711291807812040_n

Troops on Tank, Colour negative film scanned,

18740384_10155312028368926_8374042990719566167_n

P-40 at rest,  Lomography 400ASA B+W film

Black and white film gives that gorgeous look that can be moody and intense, or light and playful, plus most labs can still process it, or you can process it at home with reasonably basic facilities.

In the colour film world, Fuji films are known for their punchy/vibrant greens and blues,  whereas Kodak had gorgeous Yellow and red tones, even among one brands range of films, looks can be different. For example, Kodak Portra is well know for really nice pleasing skin tones, but Ektar is bright and vibrant, and the legendary Kodachrome film had a look all its own that even spawned a hit song by the famous songwriter and photographer Paul Simon.

Black & White films are generally regarded on their grain structure and also the tonal range,  some films have gained legendary status, while others do not get the recognition that is deserved. The other reason B+W film  is so popular, it’s easy to develop at home!

Films like Ilford PanF have a following among landscape photographers with its 50ASA rating, it has super fine grain, and allows massive prints to be made with excellent tonal range that will deliver deep rich blacks, but still deliver crisp whites. I personally have used PanF 50 and printed 20×24″ prints from a 35mm negative that looked stunning.PanF

Yet also from Ilford the HP5+  is a 400ASA film that delivers superb tone, with a bit more grain, but still very well controlled for printing.

Kodak’s Legendary Tri-X and T/Max films give black and white shooters fine grain production, but superb tonal ranges that street and portrait shooters love.TriX

One other Black & White film that deserves a mention here is the Ilford SFX200, this 200ASA film is an extended red film,  this gives some gorgeous effects, especially when combined with filters can deliver some stunning images

Another film type is Transparency Film, aka Slide film.. Slide film reproduces images as they are colour wise, they are not a negative like normal film, so this means instead of reversed colours, the colours are as they should be. The big thing with Slide film is that it requires a different process to develop them, and this process is a bit more complicated and expensive than a traditional colour film, and here in NZ at least, there are few labs that can process it in house (our lab service is one though) although you can cross process many slide films for a different look…

Among the well known Slide films, Fujifilm produce Velvia in 50 & 100ASA speeds, and Provia in 100ASA, and there are others by small companies such as Lomography, Rollei and others.

Kodak currently have no Slide film available, but have had some of the most well known slide films in EktaChrome and Kodachrome, Kodacrhome was discontinued in the mid 2000’s as it was pretty difficult to process and by the early 2000’s there was only one lab in the world who processed it. Ektachrome on the other hand, was more easily processed and the main process is still available in labs around the world.  Ektachrome was a staple of National Geographic photographers for many many years.
Motion Pictures were shot using transparency films, and even now a number of major motion picture directors still shoot film and have committed to shooting the medium even for major Hollywood pictures.Ektachrom12

As a result of major movies being shot on film, and a revival of analogue photography, earlier in 2017 Kodak announced that they would be bringing Ektacrhome back in 100ASA  for 35mm still and super 8 movie cameras.

The other neat thing is that there are lots of companies out there releasing films as well, companies such as Film Ferrania, Kosmo Foto,  Lomography, Rollei, Agfa, Godox , Revolog, Cinestill, JCH and Fomopan to name  a few.
So as much as people say Analogue photography is dead, i personally beg to differ, not only is it still alive and kicking, but it is getting stronger again!

My best advice on choosing film, buy lots of different film, shoot it all, process it and see how it comes out and if you like it, shoot it again!

Advertisements

 

Intro:pop_pen_pen-ft

Ok, you have made the decision to go and shoot film, now the question is what camera do i want to use??  This makes decisions rather tough, as there are so many different cameras out there that do so many things and so many legendary cameras.  Rephrase the question & it will help your decision making.  Also what film format will also dictate camera choice too..

A better question to ask yourself, what sort of photography do i want to use this camera for?

The Choices:

SLR, TLR, Compact, Rangefinder, Interchangable lenses… Just some of the choices

Personally, when stepping back to film, i had decided to shoot medium format film, but then i also decided i wanted to shoot either 6×6 or 6×4.5,  and use it for landscape and or portrait, this narrowed my choices quite a bit.

The next  question would be do i want to have the ability to change lenses? Have changable film packs?

for me, i wanted Interchangable lenses, and the ability to have swappable film packs, again this narrowed down my choices, and took out cameras like Pentax 67, Fuji GX. Roleiflex & YashicaMat TLR’s.

This left me with still a large range of cameras to choose from, including Mamiya, Bronica, Pentax 645, Hasselblad.

The other major question to ask yourself, budget.. How much do i want to spend?

This is also a critical question, as setting your budget will also eliminate particular models and or brands from the search field.

For me, when i set my budget, it took out late model Pentax 645N & 645NII cameras, late model Mamiyas with AF,  and RZ cameras, plus pretty much every Hasselblad.

I ended up getting super lucky when a customer offered a Bronica S2a kit, it had everything i was looking for, multiple lenses, multiple backs and the price was right where i was looking.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Bronica S2a

The big thing with the Bronica, its a big heavy camera that while portable, still took a bit to move around.
Asking yourself questions about how you want to do things, what specs you want to have, all make searching for cameras easier.
If i wanted to get into street photography, a big MF camera would not be a good thing as they are pretty conspicuous,  so a 35mm camera can be a much better option, and again going down the 35mm route, there are plenty of questions, Changeable lenses? built in metering? Auto Focus?  Auto wind? SLR or Rangefinder or Compact? do you want to be discrete or not?

Minolta_Dynax_9_

Minolta Dynax AF SLR

Answering these questions, in any combination could give you a really good camera, and again the budget thing will play a critical part in the decision making,  no point in looking for something like a Leica M6 and Summicron glass when your budget is in the low to mid hundreds range. ( a quick look on ebay revealed M6’s sell anywhere from around $1500NZ up! and good summicron glass is similarly price) but if you are wanting a rangefinder and prepared to hunt around, then take a look at Voigtlander Bessa cameras? many were built with the Leica Screw mount or even the Leica M mount,  and prices are not as expensive as the Leica’s.m3

wanting a 35mm SLR, then the choices are massive, but you generally cannot go wrong looking at classic’s like the Pentax K1000, Pentax ME Super, Pentax LX, Nikon FM2, F2/F3/F4, Original Olympus OM-1/2/4/10 Canon AE-1,  Minolta X300, XG or any number of other cameras.

K1000

Pentax K1000

Compact cameras are the same, the choices are vast, everything from Olympus Trip to compact Leica’s and Contax’s  it all depends on what you want to use it for, and how much you want to spend.

Personally, i started looking for a discrete camera but didnt want to shoot 35mm, luckily i discovered 110 cartridge film was back in production, so i started looking, and found a Pentax Auto 110, this is cool, it is a proper interchangable lens SLR and the kit i eventually found had 2 lenses and a flash…  this is the ultimate in discrete cameras as the whole camera with 24mm lens fits in the palm of my hand, i can put it in a pocket, and shooting with 2 lenses and the whole kit weighs under 500g.

There are heaps of choices, many many many good ones, it all comes down to the questions you ask yourself for what you want out of the camera, what style of photography you want to try.

So ive made the choice of what i am looking for, found the camera and its here…

What film do i use?

 

 


PART 1: Making the decision

Intro:

For many shooting film is a part of photography that has gone the way of the Moa, its extinct.  But I love to tell people that it hasn’t become extinct, in fact, here at Southern Cameras we like many are seeing a revival of analogue photography, much like the Music industry is seeing a revival of Vinyl records. This is in thanks to a lot of photographers like myself who grew up using film, went digital, and become bored with digital, and the hipsters who have never shot a roll of film in their lives, and think it is cool to shoot retro film and fall in love for the slow pace and charm of film.

Hopefully this series of posts will help a little with making some decisions about getting into analogue photography. I will explain using my own experiences of getting back into film photography after a number of years shooting digital exclusively, and how i complement my digital work with my analogue work

For many who have never used film cameras, or thought about it, but do not know where to start, but another way to think about it, is what do i want to get out of shooting film, and what format do i want to shoot mainly?

WHY?

For me when i started shooting film again, it came about because i became uninspired with the always perfect look of digital, the fact that i spent more time at airshows/motorsport events looking through the viewfinder or chimping and missing action, only to get home and spend way to much time sorting through thousands of frames and then spending hours in post processing to correct things and make it look perfect. (my record so to speak was capturing 7500 frames in a single day at an airshow and over 3 days a total of 19,500 frames)

The idea of shooting film for me, was to slow down and go back to my basics of photography which are to get as much right when shooting the image so i don’t have to spend hours in front of the computer.

What format do i want to shoot?

This got me thinking about what format of film i wanted to shoot mainly,  and after a thought process that i toyed with going to mainly 35mm film, i discounted it because i would be tempted to by a CaNikon or Pentax and buy a DSLR body as well which was not the aim for me.

This pretty much left Medium format, but here is where medium format gets a little tricky, unlike 35mm where the frame size is standard, Medium format offers flexibility the most common frame sizes are 6×9, 6×6, 6×7 or 6×4.5cm,  there are many cameras out there in Medium format land,  a few offer the ability to shoot a couple of those sizes, but they are rare and expensive. Most will stick to one frame size, and the same roll of film, depending on camera will give a photographer between 8 & 16 frames per roll.

MFfilmcomp

Medium formats vs 35mm negative size

Why medium format, the negatives..  a small medium format negative is 6×4.5cm, this makes them approx 2x larger than a 35mm negative, and can provide some incredible detail and resolution when scanned  that will be larger than even the highest resolution 35mm DSLR sensor. That and there are LOTS of 120 roll films from many different manufacturers still available at reasonable prices, and most labs still process both color and black and white negs, plus a few can still do slide film as well.Ektar100TMAX4120

Another reason for going down the Medium format step instead of 35mm, well the big thing is i wanted to slow down my photo taking, no using machine gun like frame rates to capture 40 of 50 frames in 5 seconds, and 35mm felt too much like the mirrorless & DSLR cameras i have been using for the best part of a  dozen years. And most medium format cameras are manual, sure they have a light meter, but settings are still made manually, film is advanced manually on a large number and those that do have auto film advance do so at the not so rapid pace of 1 frame per second or even slower!

So decision made, i was returning to analogue/film photography, and going medium format, but what camera do i want to shoot with… this opened up another rather large question for me..

Next post… choosing a camera for you


Yes that is true, another legendary photographic name is now consigned to the history books..

Bowens,  the studio lighting company that produced some amazing lighting systems for studio, and on site portrait/product photographers has been shuttered by its investment group a little more than 1 year after they purchased it, thus ending 94 years in the photographic industry…..

 


Yes it is not often i have a rant on here, but today i think it is warranted

I have had several conversations lately with potential customers who are looking for equipment and have said but why buy from you and pay x amount of dollars more when i can buy it from an offshore based online retailer?

Well there are a couple of reasons, firstly  the NZ govt will charge GST on any item purchased online from offshore, and if a certain (and pretty low) threshold is hit, they will also add on Customs and Import processing fees, which makes many items, now within single digit percentages of the price of buying here in NZ

Sure the lure of saving money is always good, BUT when it comes to photographic/electronic equipment, saving a few bucks is not always a good thing, especially when something goes wrong and it needs to be fixed under warranty.

In the event of something going wrong with your Parallel imported photographic product even under warranty, you have 2 choices, why 2 choices i hear, well most photographic items now come with what is known as a regional warranty..  These warranties offer warranty protection in the country where the item was purchased from, not outside that country.

1st choice is to spend your own money and courier the item back to the country you purchased it from to get it repaired under warranty then spend your own money to get it back to you repaired, which will cost you around $200 there and back if going to the USA depending on weight, AND you could be without the item for several weeks…

2nd Choice is to send it to the NZ service centers, and pay to have it serviced as most Authorised Service Centers will not perform warranty repairs on items that are parallel imported due to most brands now having region specific warranties. This means you will pay the standard service rates for those brands, which here in NZ can range from $70 per hour incl Tax to $115 per hour PLUS tax which is 15% and most offer turnaround times of approx 10 working days but if you do chose this option, check before sending to make sure the wait times are not longer.

Sure you might save a few bucks to start, but IF something goes wrong, then your choices become rather limited and could prove to be expensive no matter what way you go.

The other reason to shop local,  person to person service, advice and the ability to go back to them and get aftercare service and even tips and tricks to use the gear, here at Southern Cameras,  with every DSLR* or Mirrorless camera we sell, we offer FREE sensor cleans and Firmware upgrades while you own the camera as a standard part of our aftercare, plus you can come in, and get some tips and tricks for using the camera too. (heck I recently attended an airshow out of town and stood at the fenceline with a customer showing him a couple of tricks to get better results out of the camera he had recently purchased from us.)

Also looking big picture, if you buy online from offshore, then the only $$$ to stay in NZ are the $$ that go to the govt ie GST and Customs fees…  The local price for properly sourced items goes up as the camera companies make it more expensive to buy in NZ as there is less coming in via the official channels which makes the prices go up as it costs more per unit to ship, making in store even less competitive because more expensive prices for non parallel imported product make it more attractive to go off shore.. more off shore sales means less in store in NZ, stores close, all that in store after sales care and advice is lost, and it becomes harder to get things serviced in NZ as things close and service centers get moved offshore as well, making servicing gear harder and away for longer.

My advice,  Buy local, support your local stores, sure not every store has 100% of every range in stock and right there to go, but more often than not, from the factory warehouses here in NZ are 1-2 days to get them plus you get friendly, helpful advice  from staff who are generally as passionate about photography as you.  Plus you help the economy too buy letting those precious $$$ circulate around NZ and not go straight offshore!!

*please note that Sony SLT-A series DSLR cameras cannot be cleaned by us instore and will need to be sent to Sony or another photographic tech center for cleaning due to the fixed mirror SLT design


2017 has arrived with a bang,  and now nearly 3 months in a big portion of the talk in the photographic world has been about film.  Yes that Silver based, emulsion on an acetate base that captures light, that old out of date technology that nobody uses anymore because its so expensive etc etc etc.

Why has there been so much talk about it, well its simple, photographers are finding the love of film for the first time, or photographers who started with film and gone digital are also now going back to film (i am one of the latter) in some capacity.

Okay Okay, i can hear the choruses now, why go backwards, why shoot film?

For me, the answer is it slows me down, makes me more selective of what i will shoot and how i shoot.  I mainly shoot 120 roll film in a Pentax 645 or Bronica S2a. These cameras give me 8-12 frames in the case of the Bronica, or 16 frames in the case of the Pentax, so i can’t use the digital mantra of spray and pray and pick from thousands of images later on, I have to be careful and chose wisely.

The big thing with film is it is not only photographers going back to film,  several major motion picture directors including JJ Abrams, Christopher Nolan have committed to shooting some massive projects, including the last 3 Star Wars films on film stock.

Why? Because once the film is shot, edited and mastered, the negative is there, and will be there in 50+ years, whereas digital files, will have to be converted, and storage mediums changed with a rather high frequency to keep the files useable.

It seems like there are new films, and old films being announced as coming back almost every month, and it’s not just small companies like Lomography who are keeping things alive,  Adox, who produce Agfa,  the new Film Ferrania company in Italy, Kodak and others are all still producing, and re-introducing films to the market. The other side to this is Darkrooms are being re-commissioned, or in some cases, brand new darkrooms are being built, by Universities/Colleges, Schools and  in camera cafes as community darkrooms.

On the film side, lets start with the big Yellow & Red… No not Hulkamania to you wrestling fans, but Kodak.

Yes Kodak – THE legendary film maker who pretty much dominated film markets with classic emulsions like Kodachrome, Ekta, T-Max, TriX, Portra and many others, but suffered immensely in the digital age by not embracing the tech early on (despite building the first ever digital camera way back in the 1970s) which ultimately led them filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the USA in Jan 2012. But after basically a decade (they really never accomplished much between 2006 and now) they have made big waves at the beginning of 2017.

Kodak making big waves i hear you question, yip big wave, Kodak  has released a new Super 8 movie camera, that also records sound onto an SD card, so when you send the roll of film for developing, send in the SD card as well and sound will be added to your movie and sent back on DVD with the roll of film.

As part of that announcement, Kodak also revealed that they are reviving one of the most popular slide films ever in Ektachrome, which will be available in Super8 and also 135/36 from late 2017.

Kodak also are apparently investigating the feasibility of bringing back Kodakchrome.. which if that happens is a REALLY big deal as Kodachrome had a very unique processing formula and the last lab that was able to process it anywhere in the world closed the line to process Kodachrome in 2006!

Kodak are not the only ones bringing out ‘new’ film.  Thanks to crowd sourcing and a group of passionate investors, legendary Italian film company Film Ferrania is back from the dead, and returning their classic colour slide emulsions to the market in 35mm, super 8 and 120 formats, and also they have announced the return of the P30 Panchromatic 80ASA black and white film which is about to be released in Alpha testing form!

Ilford still make their classic films, PanF, HP5, FP4, Delta 100, 400 and 3200 Professional and SFX 200 are all still available, in 35mm and 120 formats.

There are Agfa, Rollei, Adox and a heap of other brands still around making film in a variety of formats,  Fujifilm still have films available too, the legendary Velvia, Provia and NPH films plus Acros B+W and some consumer level films.

The cool thing is there are blogs popping up all the time about film photography, and lots of people getting into it, or going back to it.

Its not just films that are being made again, papers are being made for printing, and there are lots of interesting products being developed too.  Lomography are becoming well known for re-creating some amazing old lenses, such as Petzval and Daguerreotype Achromat types as well as Juipter and Minitar lenses.

Another cool product for film photographers, especially those who would like to develop their own film at home  is on kickstarter, the LAB-BOX  is a modular design to process film at home without resorting to using a darkroom or large change bags.
The kickstarter had a modest goal of 70,000 Euro, and with 21 days left to run (7th March 2017) it had over 490,000 Euro pledged and they have added a fourth stretch goal.

Currently looking on the likes of Trademe (NZs version of ebay) or Ebay there are heaps of film cameras available, and still at reasonable prices, but i can see prices will inevitably rise as more people start looking for film cameras again.

Here at Southern Cameras (Located inside Dunedin’s Musselburgh Pharmacy) we have a range of film in stock, with Ilford B+W, Lomo color and B+W, and others arriving,  As part of the resurgence, we have created a few Intro to film packs in both 35mm and 120 to get photographers who are either new to film, or returning after a long digital hiatus, some different emulsions to see  differences and what films they like the look of once processed as each manufacturer produces things a little differently so the end results often have different tones, color saturations.

 


One of the most popular market segments for cameras is the action camera market.. Everyone knows GoPro, the original small form factor video camera with the ultra wide angle lens, that seems to sponsor so many action sports athletes from surfers and snowboarders to rallycross and drifting.

For a long time, GoPro absolutely owned the market space, with even major actions sports/motor racing movies being filmed using them for onboard action footage.

But times are a changing in the market segment, and GoPro have gotten into a pattern of releasing a bunch of new models and each model has some features, that others don’t or a mix of features, but if you want everything you have to buy the top model, but then to get certain mounts you have to buy a certain model, or spend another bucket load of cash on the accessories you need.

2 major factors have changed this market segment.  The first change has been the rise of cheaper imitation cameras from China, that deliver pretty much all the same features and specs as the GP models,  but at a fraction of the cost, and come with most of the accessories you will need, and this has squeezed the bottom end of the GoPro lines., but also the big camera making companies have started to get into the action camera market.  Sony were the first with their Action Camera’s  that have taken straight aim at GoPro and their market levels, with cameras designed to go up against each price point GoPro set, and these cameras have generally delivered with high specs, quality output and Sony corporate backing and marketing.

Ricoh entered with the WG-M series which are excellent rugged little cameras that do not need massive housing etc to survive outdoors, delivering pretty nice footage quality at great prices.

Olympus who have always had tough cameras entered earlier in 2016 with the TG-Tracker.. this awesome little camera shoots 4K video at 30fps, has GPS built in, wifi that connects to a smartphone or other iOS or Android device and can be controlled from that device, but also the GPS logs your course, altitude, direction the camera is pointing, acceleration/speed AND is Waterproof to 30m and shockproof to 2.1m without a special housing , and all this for the price of a mid range GoPro!

and lastly, Nikon entered the market with the KeyMission Range, with cameras designed to be wearable, rugged, and the top model will also capture images with a 360 degree view!

These cameras are meant to be fun, and almost as rugged as a mountain goat,  many cameras come with some form of protective case, others like the Ricoh, Olympus TG range and Nikon KeyMissions have a fair amount of protection already within the camera’s body. and no doubt there will be accessory cases that will improve the ruggedness even more come on to the market.

Action cameras are definitely something that are more than just fun, especially with many now boasting such sophisticated specs, and the ability to deliver supremely high quality footage that can be used in production of videos. It is certainly an area of the imaging business that is hotter than ever and even the originators are either struggling, or gone.