Remember a week ago when I was deliberating on small, light, high quality equipment to choose for some upcoming "real" photographic projects that I have planned? I think my initial thoughts might prove to be the answer. At least for me. I want high quality color, high quality B+W, and a very very small digital option that will all fit in my Domke F-809 bag. If you do not remember - here it is - two Leica M bodies (film bodies that I already own) a couple of Leica lenses (most I already own - probably) and a micr0 4/3 digital chucked in for good measure.
Phase one paranoid testing is over. I have been using my Leica M for black and white film work continuously for the last year. Now how about 35mm color? As an acid test I shot some 9 year old Kodak Portra 160 VC film that I found laying around. I decided to really test this by looking up my nearest drug store for the cheapest process and scan, I shot a roll inside of an hour, paid my six bucks, and guess what - It worked. With some real film I will be more than satisfied to shoot film for the "real" stuff and hopefully satisfied with an Olympus E-PL1 for quick and dirty digital shots for web things. More on the E-PL1 soon.
Jumping to the matter at hand. These images are not the best photographs ever shot by me - or anyone for that matter. What they are are drug store quick and dirty with patented Shitty-Scan™ 8bit low res drug store scans. Untouched by me - just a resize. I think I will be fine with film - even under non-optimal circumstances. This was a quick test under horrible conditions - 9 year old film, my out of practice rangefinder technique, bad lighting, shallow depth of field, slow shutter speed (1/30 and 1/15) in most cases seen here. All shot with my 50mm Summicron.
I can live with this as a worst case. Could you? I do not need to blow these up to see that focus is fine, color is fantastic, tonal gradation is better than good, skin looks great, etc, etc. Hooo-freaking way I get to shed what feels like 5 tons of DSLR gear and paraphernalia and still get the "look" I want. Want intense color and contrast - shoot different film. As film ages the color goes, the contrast gets low, the grain goes up - and ugly, and the speed goes down. I shot this at ISO 100.
Now what lenses do I really really need that I may not have. Hey I love gear too - I just saved $6000 on not needing an M9.