For the Love of Film

8 11 2010

Finally, I have purchased a film scanner. A very basic, 35mm neg/slide copier, but since it’s purely for the purpose of digitising my film for web use, and not for lab use (if I want a quality print from something, I’ll either do it myself, or use a good lab).

I do appreciate digital photography. Don’t for a second think that I’m one of those people who refuses to release my grip on the past, and enter the 21st century. I love it’s instant gratification nature, I love it’s ease of use, and lack of ongoing cost (compared to, say, buying and processing film). I like that I can go out and shoot a portrait session, and have the images ready for viewing the same day. There’s any number of other things I like about digital. It’s a fantastic medium, and I adore my Nikon D5000 – bought for the inclusion of the flip out screen, coupled with live view, making digital waist level shooting possible.

But film cameras are a different story altogether. Yes, the ongoing costs mount up, but as with anything, when you love doing something, you find ways to deal with it. There’s cheap film available online, and you can very easily develop your own black and white film at home inexpensively, then either digitise it for the internet using a cheap home scanner (you can pick them up from about £50 new, much less if you’re prepared to scour Ebay for secondhand bargains, and take the risk), or have them printed relatively cheaply at any number of high street and supermarket photo services. For a higher quality print, if you can’t find a lab who’ll print direct from negative, there’s plenty that are able to create a lab quality scan of your image and output it digitally onto high quality paper stock.

Over the last year, I think I’ve been shooting film far more than I’ve been shooting digital, partly because my collection of film cameras has been steadily growing, from various thrift shop hunts, car boot sale finds, and Ebay bargain hunting.

So, let me introduce you to the family so far.

Alice, the Bronica ETRS
Bought from Ebay, for a fairly bargainous price, complete with Metz hammerhead flash, Gossen Lunasix flash meter, two backs (120, 220) and a few extra bits and pieces which slip my mind right now. Alice is what really reignited my film-spark, I think. I’ve owned another ETRS in the past, but at the time, financial troubles meant selling it on. I’ve missed owning one ever since.

Olympus Trip 35
Currently one of my favourite cameras, for it’s ‘take anywhere, shoot anything’ functionality. A little cheapy flashgun I picked up a while ago fits on it beautifully, so it’s good to go for any light conditions. There is an aperture ring, which I’m told is better reserved for flash, and a fully automatic system, by way of symbols and distance markers. This system makes it fantastic for street photography and shooting from the hip, since you don’t need to focus the lens, just set the distance (one of four ‘clicks’ round the lens) and fire. Absolutely beautiful in its simplicity. Oh, and no batteries required, the meter is solar powered 🙂

Praktica BMS
A recent purchase, from a charity shop, for the princely sum of £10, including a 50mm prime lens, a 70-210mm macro zoom, a Cobra flashgun and a rather nice camera bag. I’m presently running a roll of Ilford 3200 black and white through it, and looking forward to seeing the results.

Minolta 7000
The very first SLR I ever owned, given to me by my grandad. This camera saw me nicely through college, and part of my degree, until a complete idiot of an ex-boyfriend managed to trip over it with a flashgun attached, ripping out the hotshoe. It still works just fine, thankfully, just no possibility for flash use anymore.

Minolta Dynax 5
Bought about halfway through my degree, since I already had plenty of Minolta dedicated equipment, and it was the first used Minolta body I found for a cheap price in my local photographic shop.

Agfa Isolette
This was given to me by my grandparents, in beautifully clean condition, with original leather cases, filters, hotshoe mounted manul meter and lens hood. It takes standard 120 film. I ran a film through it when I was first given it, and asides from some issues with exposure and correctly winding on (both faults on my part, rather than the camera) it came out just dandy.

Kodak Instamatic 133
Picked up today for £1, from a charity shop. No practical use really, since although 126 film can still be found on Ebay, it’s expensive when you can find it, and actually getting it processed would be the biggest issue. But for a quid, it’s something nice to have around for someone who appreciates vintage cameras.

I can’t see myself ever owning more than one DSLR, unless I ever decide to go the event route (unlikely), in which case I’d buy a second body as backup. Film bodies, though, I don’t really see myself stopping. I’m looking for a rangefinder, at present, to have a play with. It’s not just having different options on which to shoot, it’s also an aesthetic thing. Mechanical versus machine. Vintage, antique, old – things with history, things which, when they break down, are often very simple to fix, and which permanently and irreversably imprint your images onto tangible materials, versus the complications of circuit boards and solder, digital displays, images saved on a little piece of plastic and metal, so easily lost in a heartbeat. Professionally speaking, digital has made life so much easier, and far more cost effective, but there are so few ‘happy accidents’ with digital, and that’s both wonderful, and disappointing, in equal measure.

Hopefully, one of my next couple of posts will be reporting the results of this film scanner. I have a small pile of 35mm storage sleeves mounting up, some from as far back as June, so I’m probably going to need to dedicate at least a whole day to getting those scanned and uploaded somewhere.

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