I am really past due giving Paul Pride a shout out and providing my first thoughts on his little adventure in analog photography with that little Nikon FE with a 50mm I sent him across the ocean. Since I really needed to take a breather from working on the next batch of film presets for Aperture 3 I thought I would post a quick thought or two. By the way - feedback on that first set of presets has been fantastic. I am so glad that so many of you are finding them useful. I'm hard at work on the next one - this time a collection of Fuji emulations.
Okay getting back to the Paul Pride Project. The very first thought I had was… Holy crap, you have gone through 4 rolls in a week or so… Ummm this might not be as cheap as I had planned. Concurrent with that thought was my oh my, if the results you are seeing from your first couple of outings aren't convincing you to shoot a bit more and maybe think about a 50mm as your only lens vs a 35mm maybe you should.
I personally think the look Paul is getting from that cheapo consumer film and a few dollars worth of easy to find gear are absolutely fantastic but then again I am a bit skewed as it happens to be THE LOOK I happen to prefer. It looks like it should look. Have a look for yourselves right here.
Let Paul know what you think - he has all of his stuff, every single frame up on Flickr as well. He has links to albums containing every frame from each of his first rolls through the camera in the post. I personally would have different picks than he decided on but that's what makes this endeavor of photography so damn interesting.
Here's what his wife says…
These images are full of light and life. They seem so organic and real, like you’re right there.Paul's Wife
My biggest surprise was how much the 50mm affected Paul. What I mean is the transition from his first feelings conveyed "like looking through a telescope" to the end of his first few weeks with the camera. I don't know if he comes right out and says it anywhere but I can tell from some of the comments he has made in response to the film on his blog as well as some of his twitter conversations I have been a part of that grabbing an X-Series with a 35 (50mm equiv) is haunting him. The reason this surprised me is typically with "us" single lens prime guys you are either a "35" guy or a "50" guy and not much will EVER change that assuming you have been doing this for more than a little while.
You know I happen to be a 50 guy, right? Well Paul up to this point including his initial reaction was that he thought he was a 35 kinda guy. My bet is that he's not based on how he uses his 35-ish X100, the results from his re-introduction to the lowly 50mm Series E Nikon and how enamoured he seems to be with grabbing a 35mm XF 1.4. I think some how he decided he was a 35 guy way back based on other people's opinion… Only time will tell, I cannot wait to see if he really is actually a 50 guy.
Now here's the other thing that might surprise all of you. In various discussions I have had with him surrounding the desire to acquire a digital camera with 50mm equivalent lens capability I advised him to seriously consider grabbing a used D600 and 50mm 1.4 of one sort or another. I will absolutely assure you it will deliver results that are "better" than the X-Pro-1 and 35/1.4 under just about every set of conditions at most likely a lower cost than a new Fuji kit. He may actually be considering it. I cannot wait to see how this part turns out.
The two paths… the non-logical part. He's an "X-Photographer" - part of his photographic identity that's tearing him in that direction. He's probably telling himself there is some huge advantage in size/weight with the X-Pro… He's also probably telling himself that the results of that combo will be about the same as the FE 50/1.8 or a D600 50/1.4. Now the logical part - they won't be anywhere close to the same look. The FF digi and a 50 1.4 wide open is a mile away from an APS-C 35 1.4 wide open. The sizes are not really all that different. The X is in no way superior from an IQ, responsiveness, stealthy-ness or any other measure. The magic sauce is not the Fuji or the Nikon, the focal length/aperture/capture medium size is a huge part of the aesthetic combo that just cannot be had with the Fuji. The magic sauce is actually Paul and how he shoots.
Now for my next prediction. After shooting some more film and digital together I will bet no matter what digital he chooses his color correction will start to look more and more and more like the film he shoots.