Getting into Film Photography Pt1

20Sep17

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

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