Film's not dead, it just smells funny
January 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment
Is that a film camera? Yes, yes it is.
It's a question I get asked a lot. I still shoot with a Rolleiflex, Leicas, Nikons and most recently a Hasselblad. I get asked the usual questions - where do you get film for that? Do you have to process it yourself? and (usually by other photographers) why?
Now yes, I know I could just set my dslr to manual and do a similar thing. It's not the same though. My digital is my bread and butter. I shoot with it to earn a living. When I want to shoot for fun, I want to remove myself from my "work" atmosphere. Switching to a film camera helps accomplish that. I enjoy the analog buttons, the woosh of a timer for slow speeds, the mechanical nature of my cameras. There's no battery to worry about. A watch repairman could probably fix almost anything on my cameras if push came to shove. There's no rush, no deadlines, no push to get the shot right. Just me exploring my world. That's not to say I won't use a film camera for work; They're a bunch of fun for portraits, landscapes and more. I've been published and exhibited work with both. It's just they're not the cameras that pay my bills. In fact, with the cost of film and processing (and time to scan) they cost me a fair bit.
I also find that there is a different feel, especially with medium format cameras. Yes I know I could get a digital back for the Hassey. Anyone have a spare $15,000 they want to give me? Same goes for my Leicas. I'd love to try an M9, but I don't love it $7,000. The changes in depth of field and feel with a larger format give me enough reason to keep shooting with my film cameras.
Sure, I get less keepers and I wouldn't want to shoot sports at that speed, but it's doable for a lot of situations. My prime lenses are easily a good stop and a half, two stops faster than the zooms I use with my digital. I can get away with shooting at ISO 400 or 800 with my Leica, whereas with my DSLR I'd be at 1600 or 3200 (or higher).
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