Back from Photo Plus Expo 2012. Recovered from hurricane Sandy. Guess I am good to go. As usual I was bored to death at PPE this year. On the positive side - I got a couple of bucks worth of free Portra 400 in both 120 and 35mm film for free from Kodaks idiotically small booth. I also learned that they have some interesting high volume paper solutions for photographic output. Amazing stuff when compared with their typical c-print materials at an amazingly low production cost.
I also got a funny image - maybe the only image of Zack Arias shot using a Fuji X100. Well at least I think it's funny.
On to the topic the title suggests. I shoot film and digital. I hope to do so always. I continue to be really excited about both of my Fujifilm X-series cameras and hopefully remotely proficient with them in the next couple of months. God I need to shoot more… One of the things that I, along with many many others love about these cameras are the imaging characteristics in such a small package with relatively strait-forward controls and a decent viewfinder solution to top it off. Combine that with a reasonable set of presets for your look, LR or Aperture and you can have a fairly simple - fast post processing experience.
Focusing for a moment on the imaging characteristics / size combo / viewfinder combination that is absolutely a home run for the X-series - One of the things that a lot of you may have forgotten or maybe never really experienced up close and personal is that particular imaging/size/viewfinder package in a film capture device. I was chatting with a fellow X100 enthusiast today on twitter and as we were gushing over the X100 he happened to like a couple of random film shots that I posted and wondered what kind of film camera would give him that same experience.
I immediately rattled off a number of garden variety Japanese fixed-lens rangefinders from the 70's that the X100 was modeled after, inspired by, or copied. Cameras such as the Canon QL17, the Minolta Hi-Matic, the Olympus', etc. I even brought up the still crazy expensive ultra posh cameras like the cultish Ricoh GR, a Contax T, or heaven help us a Nikon 35Ti I did warn him that the viewfinders in those cameras are nowhere near as good as the X100 - and mentioned that a nice film camera for him might be an Olympus OM-1 or OM-2.
His reply was surprising in that he hated SLR's because they were just too damned big. I immediately snapped a comparison shot of my X-Pro-1 next to a black OM-1 and it blew his mind that the full frame OM with a fast 50mm lens was actually substantially smaller than the X-Pro-1. Check out the image at the top of the post for yourself. Maybe everyone equates film SLR's with Nikon F4's and F5's and those beasts which are about the same size as DSLR's. Heck even my Nikon F3 is in the same ballpark as the X-Pro-1 sans motor drive and there are dozens of others that are the same size or smaller. This along with the size of AF lenses is one of my major distresses and disappointments with digital gear. Yes the "mirroless" cameras are getting there but a lot of them like the NEX may be smaller but the lenses are idiotically large. As icing on the cake the OM1/2 have amazing viewfinders - check out this comparison.
On to the film thing - even though I shoot digital I still make absolutely sure that I shoot at least 50% film for my family images. I ran across this blog post by another very rational shooter a short while ago that shot film exclusively for a year after shooting only digital for a decade. While some of his conclusions for his professional needs do not intersect with my conclusions he is pretty much on the money.
He summarizes all of his findings with two pertinent things. First off he creates a film vs digital metaphor based on women. Digital being the practical, sensible, responsible, from a good family girl and film being the artsy, flaky, un-reliable artist that cannot be trusted with a credit card girl. I would probably characterize film more as the high-heeled, crazy, psycho, young-billly-bob-thornton-version-angelina girl that is impossible to live with but you have great sex and never forget you are alive girl. In any case - he goes on to say that he is planning to shoot his personal work and family on film while doing most of his business work on digital going forward.
Later down the road it looks like he changed his mind and is all digital again. I don't know if this means even his personal work is now all digital - if so I think he will probably be sorry for that part - the really really funny part is at the end of that post where after posting a bunch of film images he says…
Sweet Jesus – I almost forgot how much I love the look of film! Maybe I shouldn’t have sold my film stuff after all………
Do what you will but If you put the effort and a tiny bit of expense in - you will absolutely learn something, re-learn something, and definitely have a blast even shooting just a roll or two here and there. Even if you don't depend on it as your main imaging tool. The really cool part is it's a great way of dealing with G.A.S that does not break the bank and delivers some of the most gorgeous mechanical devices to your door for dirt cheap. Heck I accidentally bought another two OM cameras while chatting about the X100 today. Each with lenses - an OM-2 in black with a 1.4 and an OM-4 with 1.8 - both for under a hundred bucks. Amazing…