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Are we addicted to film cameras and not film?
Old 06-06-2018   #1
Dante_Stella
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Are we addicted to film cameras and not film?

Today, I managed to buy 50 more rolls of film (40 in 35mm and 10 more in 120). Shooting this will bring my household 35mm film consumption up to 100 rolls in the past calendar year - which is more than I would have shot in a couple of years when film cameras were life's only option.

Owning an M240 and an M246, there is nothing that recommends the performance of 35mm negative film. ProImage 100 is slow, Ultramax is grainy; Ektar is testy; TMY is noisy. I don't really have the time to scan any of this on anything higher-res than a Pakon 135 plus. There is attrition in negative development. I miss a lot of pictures, critically of my own children. I have more 35mm film gear than I reasonably need.

Yet here we are. Why? Did I imprint on Konica SLRs? Do I associate Fuji G690s with old memories?* What is it? Does this happen to you?

Dante

*I actually use the Fujis for commercial purposes, where they deliver crushingly high resolution, so maybe that's not irrational.





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Old 06-07-2018   #2
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I think it's possible that we are.

We can fiddle with cameras all the time, even when not taking photos but what can we do with film?

We can smell it and feel it and see it before and after it's trapped in the camera but what can we do while it's in there? Protect it from light until we want to expose it.

We can of course think about and discuss film and how to treat it/ what to do with it, but we can't really fiddle with it while watching the tv or listening to the radio etc.

So I think cameras have more of a 'do' thing going on, whereas film has more of a 'be' thing going on.
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Old 06-11-2018   #3
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You sure take great pictures though.
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Old 06-14-2018   #4
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I think you're right in a lot of ways. When I use my Leica M 240 nowadays, I don't feel much sense of "work" in comparison to the Leica M7 I have. I can't load film into the M, advance the frame, rewind it, chuck the roll into my bag and move on. None of that's part of digital

With the M 240, I turn the camera on and... click the shutter? Most of the work is done for me, and I now find myself missing the film process. I barely seem to want to use it.

It's bizarre, because I'm a stickler for high quality images at the far end of the process, but now I would sooner use a film camera and get low-res Pakon scans than shoot with a 24mp Leica M.

Film photography is somewhat irrational

Digital VSCO Film



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Old 07-10-2018   #5
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Gee I'm mixed about this, after all this time I still love film and have a love/hate relationship with digital.
When my D810 goes I will only have one digital body, a Leica M240 which I really bought to go with my film leicas and lenses.
I have canon p and 7, the two leica m's, nikon F, F2A, F3, Rolleiflex 3.5e3, SWC Hassy, GSW690 III, Cambo wide 65, Linhof Technika III, Sinar Norma and I'm looking for an 8x10 back for the sinar. I have a darkroom and frankly love developing and printing, hate scanning.
I guess from my list of film cameras you can deduce I love film cameras, but truthfully I love film too. Hence my website address!
I also think it is probably irrational that I like film so much and partly that I started my first darkroom at age 14, am now 59 and have never NOT had a darkroom. I actually regard digital as having been very disruptive to my life of photography and wish I'd been such a stick in the mud like say Michael Kenna and stuck with the same film gear all the way through and just ignored digital, but I write for several magazines and digital is just plain easier, and expected.
By the way Dante, I loved your old website and am slowly getting to like your new one, thanks, Mark




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Old 07-11-2018   #6
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So whatever happened to that "digital back" we were supposed to get that snaps into our Leica M's?
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Old 07-11-2018   #7
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Well, I am certainly addicted to film cameras. Quite frankly, I find digital cameras have no substance, no soul. I suspect if I had never used a film camera I wouldn’t feel that way.

As for film photos themselves, particularly those of family, I suspect my bias is that film seems permanent whilst digital seems temporary. I don’t want my photos of family to be any less permanent than my family itself.

Archived negatives will likely survive the digital media in use for the next 50 years. Scary huh?!
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Old 09-01-2018   #8
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I have more old mechanical cameras than I can use. It's a hobby in itself. I can hold and admire them, the technology and workmanship. Can't do that with film, but without film the cameras can't be used. To admire the qualities of a film you'll have to look at the prints instead of the film itself.



Digital files give me the uneasy feeling of them existing in limbo. They can't be seen or touched. They can get corrupted and deleted with a simple click.
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Old 09-11-2018   #9
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Well, I love film cameras as mechanical devices and fondling experiences. There's very little mechanically that beats the feeling, sound and smell (yes, smell) of well kept cameras from the 60s and 70s, and derivative designs.

When I look at the rolls from my film cameras, I sometimes berate myself mildly for not paying more attention to composition. After all, every frame costs more money with film, whereas once you've paid for a digital camera, you've prepaid for every image you'll take with it.

Film itself is a mixed bag. I enjoy the look of film images but am very aware of their limitations under a lot of circumstances. My digital cameras produce technically superior images, even the m43 or 1" sensor cameras lacking only in dynamic range. Of course, there's all the convenience of digital, from liveview exposure and storage to processing and labeling/metadata which makes it much easier to shoot.
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Old 09-12-2018   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dante_Stella View Post
Today, I managed to buy 50 more rolls of film (40 in 35mm and 10 more in 120). Shooting this will bring my household 35mm film consumption up to 100 rolls in the past calendar year - which is more than I would have shot in a couple of years when film cameras were life's only option.

Owning an M240 and an M246, there is nothing that recommends the performance of 35mm negative film. ProImage 100 is slow, Ultramax is grainy; Ektar is testy; TMY is noisy. I don't really have the time to scan any of this on anything higher-res than a Pakon 135 plus. There is attrition in negative development. I miss a lot of pictures, critically of my own children. I have more 35mm film gear than I reasonably need.

Yet here we are. Why? Did I imprint on Konica SLRs? Do I associate Fuji G690s with old memories?* What is it? Does this happen to you?

Dante

*I actually use the Fujis for commercial purposes, where they deliver crushingly high resolution, so maybe that's not irrational.





Nice shots - Is that last shot in Greektown (Detroit)?
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Old 10-05-2018   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dante_Stella View Post

Yet here we are. Why? What is it? Does this happen to you?

I shoot film for exactly the same reason why I drive a manual transmission car; because it takes skill to get right.
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Old 10-05-2018   #12
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The cameras are certainly a part of it because each of them have their own modes of operation and it can take some time and practice to master the use of each camera.


But for me it is the entire process of film that attracts me. It is like a ritual and each step in that ritual leads to another until you finally have a print in your hands. Each part of the ritual takes practice to master. And even after you have mastered it there is still enough complexity and variables that you can easily flub one of the steps.


I am still working at developing that process, that feeling of mastering a ritual, with digital. I may get there eventually but I am not there yet. I am hoping that one day it will all click because it is another side of photography I would love to master.
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Old 12-26-2018   #13
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I think you're on to something. Nothing beats the fondle factor of a good film camera, and the 'novelty' (ha!) of having a couple of rolls of film in the bag. On Christmas day, I took the M9 and M7 with me, along with a couple of smaller digital cameras. The small digitals, with live view and pretty much instant response, produced the most well composed images. The M9 was a joy to use, as always. But the M7 gave a haptic and operational thrill which none of the others had.


I feel that one day, I'm going to get a MP or M-A and shoot a lot more film, really immersing myself in that process. But I don't even do that now with a M7, Contax T3, Pentax ME or Minolta SRT, so why would having a MP or M-A change this? It's as if I like the idea of shooting film more than film itself.
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It's the photons
Old 12-26-2018   #14
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It's the photons

Film permanently traps the light that touched the subject, e.g. my kid's face.. forever, on the surface of the film. There is something very simple and physical and real about this for me.
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Old 12-26-2018   #15
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Quote:
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Film permanently traps the light that touched the subject, e.g. my kid's face.. forever, on the surface of the film. There is something very simple and physical and real about this for me.
A perfect explanation of what film is.
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Old 12-27-2018   #16
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I like the fact that the current film camera economic landscape is such that a person of modest means can possess and use cameras and lenses with few restrictions. Curiosity can be indulged with few restrictions.

This permits me to try cameras and lenses touted by others, or legendary kit, or simply things which seem interesting to me.

In addition, I am fascinated and intrigued by well-made mechanical things. I appreciate the craftsmanship of some devices. Watches, for example. Certain firearms. Early vacuum tube technology. Jeeps. And yes, cameras and lenses. But the prices of most camera kit allow me to indulge myself more than other items.

Some here have attempted to shame those who accumulate or collect or 'hoard' kit. I won't be shamed. I enjoy it. I also enjoy photography, but the two are not always the same.

With regard to imprinting, yes. My first slr was a Canon FX my father purchased at a pawnshop. It is my favorite camera to this day.
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Old 12-27-2018   #17
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Originally Posted by Ted Striker View Post
I shoot film for exactly the same reason why I drive a manual transmission car; because it takes skill to get right.
I shoot film and digital, and it doesn't take any more skill to get film right than it does to get digital right.
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Old 12-27-2018   #18
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I shoot film and digital, and it doesn't take any more skill to get film right than it does to get digital right.
Agreed.

I am old enough to remember the 'purity' wars over AE and AF. Things have always been thus. We master a skill and now others can do it without having paid tuition. How unfair.

To be honest, something is always lost when automation enters. Whether or not that missing piece matters is up to you.

Those who used to roll their own cigarettes looked with disdain on those who smoked readymades. The difficult to master skill, feeling of accomplishment, and the superlative excellence of the one-handed roll made smoking as much about the enjoyment of the ritual as the actual act of smoking.

Is it not so?

We can choose to use purely manual methods with many digital cameras if we wish. The old disciplines still apply. But in a world of readymades, who does it?
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Old 12-27-2018   #19
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We can choose to use purely manual methods with many digital cameras if we wish. The old disciplines still apply. But in a world of readymades, who does it?
Lots of people. But it doesn't fit the stereotype film users wish to overlay on digital users, so they deny it. And there are plenty of automated film cameras and people using them, so this whole auto vs manual comparison is a lot of hooie.
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Old 12-27-2018   #20
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Lots of people. But it doesn't fit the stereotype film users wish to overlay on digital users, so they deny it. And there are plenty of automated film cameras and people using them, so this whole auto vs manual comparison is a lot of hooie.
I agree, my comment was meant to be a bit of polite sarcasm. I've often heard the rant that a digital SLR forces people to chimp, to fire machine-gun style, to use autofocus, to use autoexposure, to not, to not, to not...etc.

I have heard it argued so many times, and when it is pointed out to those ranting about it that they can CHOOSE to shoot completely manually, including using manual focus lenses, selecting their ISO, shutter speed, and aperture themselves, and that they can simply NOT LOOK AT the rear display if they do not want to, and they go silent - until the next rant, where they act like none of this was ever said. In other words, they won't argue with you because they know they are wrong, but they also won't admit it.

As I said, I'm old and remember when the exact rants were published in the Letters to the Editor section of photographic magazines when autofocus and ae were introduced to film cameras. NOT REAL PHOTOGRAPHY they wheezed and moaned and puked. Oh well.

I am no kind of purist. I like to shoot film in all kinds of ways, mostly manual but including AE and AF at times. I like to shoot digital the same way. Sometimes I spray and pray, shooting thousands of images at a parade or outdoor event. Sometimes I compose each shot and set my own aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and compose carefully. I even have an old split-focus viewscreen in one of my digital SLR cameras to better help me focus my old manual focus lenses on it.

But none of this matters in this generation where we choose sides and fight for them as if they were sports teams. You cannot enjoy both - you must choose. You have to choose film and be on the side of goodness and right, or choose digital, spray and pray your shots, chimp your results, suck and have no soul. You cannot do both, you cannot appreciate the advantages of both methods.

It becomes religion, and you know with religion, you must hate the other side, whatever that may be.
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Old 12-27-2018   #21
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When I pick up my Leica M4-2, the only things that are different from when I pick up my M-D are that it doesn't have a meter in it, I have to wind on to the next frame by hand, and I only have up to 36 frames to expose and all at the same ISO setting. Otherwise, I can hardly tell the difference.

I'm addicted to photography. I use film and digital cameras. They're all the same, and they're all different. Life is more complicated than being addicted to equipment.

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Old 12-27-2018   #22
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I'll say that I may be "addicted" to film cameras but also I would shoot nothing but film if I had both the time and space to develop my own. My Ricoh GRD IV makes incredible images but it is far nicer to shoot my F2 with a 28mm lens. I love working with my Bell & Howell Filmo 70s (70A, 70DL, 70DR) and I would shoot thousands of feet of 16mm film only if I could afford it.
I recently shot about 1.6 hours of footage on the aforementioned Ricoh GRD. That is almost $1000 worth of 16mm film to feed my Filmos. Digital is just more convenient that way and since the GRD was purchased used it has paid for itself several times over due to the convenience alone.
As a hobby camera repairman, I also have no problem working on largely mechanical cameras. Even the electromechanical bodies of the 80s and 90s can be fixed since some of the components are modular. So when I am craving some time where I am working with my hands and don't want to go out to work on my car, I grab one of my collection of cameras to either fix or rob a component from for a future repair.
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Old 12-31-2018   #23
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I shoot film and digital, and it doesn't take any more skill to get film right than it does to get digital right.


Hilarious!
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Old 12-31-2018   #24
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Hilarious!
Film proponents want to make doing film correctly some kind of alchemy that only the illuminati can master. It is not. It is a very straight forward process. But I understand the need to make it as complicated as possible. It erects barriers to entry so you can remain an exclusive little club. The real trick, however, is making a worthwhile image regardless of the medium. You see many technically perfect film and digital images that are not worth taking the time to look at. Finding an exceptional image is more difficult.
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Old 01-08-2019   #25
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I've done quite a bit of both film and digital. I like both and while at one time I might have been inclined to take sides on the matter, I've come around over the years to focus on the image. While it can be interesting and instructive to know how an image was made, I really don't care as long as it's good/interesting (not always the same).

I'm happy that I live in a time when I can take fantastic snapshots with my iPhone XR and turn around and do a B&W portrait with a manual focus SLR on Tri-X 400 developed in an Agfa Rondinax, should I choose to do so.
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Old 01-19-2019   #26
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For me it is the whole process, the careful composition, the waiting for the processing, the expectation building, the boring scanning, then the fun playing with the digital images in the digital darkroom.

Crazy - if I wanted digital images, why not just shoot digital?

I tried that for a while and my photography just went trivial. Like on holiday late last year watching a foursome of young people at a table in a restaurant each with their enormous DSLR's with massive glass on the front. They sat there and photographed their plates of food as they were served, and then looked at the back of the camera as if the picture would look somehow different from the food they had just photographed!

I found the same with digital, looking back at the images I took in those years, they were just rubbish, odd shots of my wife, mundane subjects I hadn't bothered to compose. Film just makes me focus on what I am doing and makes me try to get a better shot as film costs money and effort.

I sometimes wonder - TBH, my Opticfilm 120 is playing up at the moment, I have learned much more about Photoshop and scanning by scanning in all my old film, so am contemplating going through all my old film and scanning it in again and doing better with it this time around. Crazy, what!

Film keeps me off the streets and away from doing anything worse, my wife is happy with that, it's a quiet life.
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