Blake is a fellow reader that has not really had a whole lot to do with film in his photographic endeavors. He has been looking into shooting some for a bit and we have exchanged a few emails about it and he finally took the plunge when he added a new member to his family. I asked him if he would share a few thoughts on the subject and he replied with what follows. Not too bad for only shooting this kit for a short time so far…
Thank you for letting me share my experiences regarding getting into film! First, let me say that I am simply your average Joe who enjoys taking pictures. Like most, I spend too much time jumping from site to site and blog to blog reading the latest and greatest about all things photography. I am sure most of us are in that same boat - we know enough to make us dangerous, and take decent enough photos that all our friends say the same thing: "Wow, great shots! What camera do you use?" ;~)
Anyway, I decided a few months ago to look into getting a film camera. Having just turned 30, I never had any real experience with the stuff other than the few high school photo classes I took years ago. I made this decision after coming to the realization that I prefer the look of a "photograph" rather than a "digital picture". To me, shots with film seem to be softer and smoother than the so annoyingly crisp files digital cameras seem to produce. (That it not to say soft/out of focus, but more organic/natural.) The gradations in the B&W film and accurate color in the color film is just amazing (with no post processing, to boot!).
My first choice for my film camera was a Nikon F100. This only made sense as I'm a Nikon shooter and already have several lenses that can be used on the body. Let me tell you, the mere sound that the shutter makes is reason enough to buy a film camera! Plus, I picked mine up for $175 on Craigslist (and the body still sells new today for $750… go figure). And don't even get me started on the full frame viewfinder! Makes me hate my D300 that much more.
When my wife and I welcomed our daughter into this world last month, naturally, I brought my new toy. (On a side note, those days in the hospital were rough!)
While my F100 is a fantastic camera, I have always wanted a Hasselblad. The allure of the name itself has always pulled at me. So, after a good little hunt, I picked up a body, 2 lenses, and 3 backs on Craigslist for $500. I mean, this stuff is basically free today! After dropping about that much more in getting it cleaned, lubed, and adjusted I was all set to play with film some more. But, man, learning to deal with a reversed viewfinder is rough!! Additionally, the quality of the lens construction is simply out of this world. Both of my lenses are 40 years old, but they feel so much more solid than my high dollar Nikon glass. Just the focus rings themselves feel so sturdy and true, as opposed to the plastic-like feeling of the current generation of gear.
love how real the skin looks in all these photographs. And guess what, I spent zero time on post processing. Digital always needs something to make it look decent (usually a contrast/curves adjustment and white balancing, at a minimum).
In closing, working with film has taught me two important things about photography. First, I have learned to slow down and think about every single shot I make. Digital makes us lazy, in that we just blast away not caring about any particular frame. Film costs money… it forces you to make sure you want to press that shutter button. Secondly, I love getting my scans back from the lab and being done. It's so funny that so much software and post processing technique is solely focused on achieving that "film look". Hey, why not just shoot film?
If you need some real inspiration and a reason why to shoot film, check out some of the work from Jose Villa, Jonathan Canlas, or one of the best ever Steve McCurry (maybe the most famous NatGeo photog of all time).
That's all! Have fun trying something new - you may just like it.
Now… if I could only get my hands on a Leica M6 and 50mm… ;~)