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Film - talk to me!

Discussion in 'Photography & Video' started by Shadowness, 11 Aug 2017.

  1. Shadowness

    Mobster

    Joined: 17 Sep 2006

    Posts: 3,586

    Location: Gloucestershire

    So I've had a craving for ages to get into film photography. But being born in the digital era, I know next to nothing about it.
    So I would literally be starting from scratch.
    So I guess I start with.....what body should I get, are they all pretty much the same? How do they differ?

    I would want one lens to start with, I guess a 35mm 1.4 or similar.

    I know 'of' many films, mainly from playing about with VSCO. So I'd love to try Kodak Porta, Tri-X and a few others. I didn't realise film as so expensive too from a quick search earlier.

    I presume you can send the film away to companies to produce digital scans etc?

    So I guess the first hurdle is, lens and body......what would you recommend? I presume you can pick up a good second hand body these days, as they don't really 'age' at all.
     
  2. Raymond Lin

    Capo Crimine

    Joined: 20 Oct 2002

    Posts: 68,178

    Location: Wish i was in .Lethal's house

    First question, what body do you have now?

    The logical step is if you have a Canon EOS body, go pick up a Canon EOS film camera like a EOS5 or even EOS 1 for dirty cheap. You can then use all your lenses.

    Similar thing with Nikon.

    If you don’t then and really starting from scratch then think about if you want an automatic film camera, then same thing apply, same thing like EOS or the newer Nikon body, of course, this means 35mm.

    You can go old school and get a old Nikon body with manual exposure, lenses etc which would be cool but obviously takes a lot more skill with no LCD preview, you need to know your film speed, sunny 16 rule or carry a light meter on you.

    Or go all out and get a medium format…but this is expensive still, body in equipment and film, making the niche more niche.

    The cheapest and easiest route is get a film body with TTL metering and auto focus that can use your current lenses, I have my first and only film body, a EOS30 (what the current 80D was evolved from, you can work it back to the original 10D and then before that was the EOS30), so I can use all my lenses on it (not sure about the Sigma but certainly all Canon made lenses). Of course, the lenses will not be cheap, you will not be able to go buy a cheap manual 1.4 lens for that. These really only apply to older bodies.

    As for what film to buy, get used to carry a note pad with a pencil and write down your exposure setting for every shot you took so you can remember why it was correctly or incorrectly exposed. Learn now to partially finish a roll, rewind and get it out and change it to another one because the ISO100 film in it now is too low and you now need ISO1600. Remember what frame you were in so you can forward it back to exactly the right place when you put it back in. You don’t want to do a double exposure and don’t want to waste frames.

    Or you can try on purpose, double or multiple exposures.

    The hardest thing is exposure, you won’t believe how good we have it now with auto ISO with the camera changing that to keep a minimum exposure. Where in film you have to constantly keep in mind the ISO number to your condition, this is why ISO 400 film is the most versatile film, and probably why ISO 1600 B&W film are so popular, you just stop down your aperture and shutter speed and take the hit on grain. Whereas with digital we have this obsession with clean, noise free images, with film, because the first time you see your photo is on print, most likely a 6x4, a bit of grain doesn’t really matter. As opposed to digital, looking it on a 27” monitor and 1:1 pixel zoom.

    So the first question is

    1 – what digital camera do you have?
    2 – do you want auto exposure?
    3 – do you want auto focus?

    Answer these will narrow down the brand/type of film camera you are getting.
     
  3. Shadowness

    Mobster

    Joined: 17 Sep 2006

    Posts: 3,586

    Location: Gloucestershire

    Thanks for the thorough reply!

    Like you, I'm a Fuji shooter. Currently have an X-T1 and X-T2 (with various X lenses).

    I thought the whole point of film is that is was manual everything (I know some have light meters built in etc)

    I'm happy with auto focus lenses, I guess having some exposure help in the body would be great, but without it is all part of the fun no?
     
  4. Shadowness

    Mobster

    Joined: 17 Sep 2006

    Posts: 3,586

    Location: Gloucestershire

  5. Raymond Lin

    Capo Crimine

    Joined: 20 Oct 2002

    Posts: 68,178

    Location: Wish i was in .Lethal's house

    With a Fuji X-mount you would be starting from scratch with film.

    In 1 way, it is fun to do everything manually, of course, it is also the frustrating part, when getting a roll of 36 back from development and all of them is over exposed because you forgot you are using ISO1600 film and you dialled in ISO100. Or you miss focus loads because you are focusing manually and never done it before…this is another reason why rangefinders are great as you have a split focusing screen inside, when it line up, it is in focus.

    Once you shoot some film you will understand why street photographers shoot with something like ISO 100, F/16, 125th. I think that is the sunny 16 rule….you get a deep DoF, everything in focus, fast enough shutter speed, daylight. The camera then kinda becomes a point and shoot, you just point to frame the photo and forever everything else. In a way it is liberating but also of course, would mess you up if the angle of light source changes from back light to any kind of sudden cloud cover etc. But you might end up with photos you never expect either.

    Since you are starting from scratch, you will need to pick a system….Nikon FM1 would be a classic, like THE classic, but they are actually quite expensive, I want one as a display. The late 80’s Canon film bodies, plastic tastic ones are the cheapest. You can also look like Olympus cameras too, they have that Fuji look as well in terms of dials.

    As for developing, finding a good lab that you like is not easy, and finding one with a good printer too, basically the guy who does the developing and print is the one that do you lightroom…it is frustrating sometimes because I recall one time I especially underexposed a Lfilm for a silhouette shot and it came back that he pulled the exposure up and ruined my negative. These days all the highstreet labs have all but disappeared, so you have to look online and I am unsure which ones people go to now.

    The final problem is that any negative you shoot, you end up scanning to digital in the final step anyway, which to me, defeat the purpose of film unless you print.

    The alternative is that you shoot Slide, which if you think shooting negative is difficult, shooting slide is a step harder as the are even less latitude in push/pull the photo if the exposure gone wrong. Negative film generally have a bit of latitude if you go wrong, general 1 or even 2 stops (depending on the film). But with slide you are either right or it is wrong. Which makes you think that the D750 can pull 5 stop is just unthinkable back then.

    Also, if you are thinking about shooting film frequently, invest in a scanner, would save you cost in printing, you can just scan in your slides or negative. I recall, to shoot a roll of 36, you spend a few pound getting the roll, money on developing and more on top if you print. You are looking at minimum £10 per roll, so you are like click shutter, 30p….click shutter 30p….

    There is this satisfying feeling though when you do a shot, for example a long exposure, something that is 4mins long, you work it all out in your head by working out the stops and come out perfect. Because you will be in bulb mode and even if you have TTL you won’t be able to know for sure.

    Personally…if would go the Nikon FM1 route with a 35 or 50mm. Just because the fun of it, the body and the classic look. You could find a really old Leica M3….if you want to really splash out.

    For fun, you can get a Canon EOS5 or EOS30 (with eye control), and watch in marvel how 20 years ago they can track your eyeball in the OVF to the focus points….although hit and miss! You would feel right at home if you ever shot with a Canon camera too.

    Medium format if you have really deep pockets in day to day shooting.

    There are lots of fun to be had with film, but most of it comes with experimentation and not knowing what you will get, like cross processing, using out of date film, under expose a roll on purpose and pull it up again or vice versa. All these you can do digitally much easier but the fun is to see how the chemicals react. Kinda like how different sensors react.

    I would actually start with spend a day shooting with your Fuji with everything in manual, see how you get on, of course the EVF really takes away the most difficult aspect being you know you have nailed the exposure but you can always do the other aspects like focus, but at least it gives you an appreciation how much more work it is when you have to adjust all the settings. And remember to turn camera to single shot mode…and perhaps find a 128mb SD card or something, that is your digital version of a roll of 36. Shoot that and then that’s it.
     
  6. a1ex2001

    Capodecina

    Joined: 14 Mar 2005

    Posts: 14,302

    Location: Here and There...

    There is no more reason for film to be all manual than digital, the last few film bodies were pretty powerful beasts, for me the whole everything manual badge is a bit of a strange thing why buy all those electronics to help you and then turn them off for the sake of it? If you have a reason to shoot manual then yes do it but doing it for every shot wont make you a better photographer! Personally I only shoot manual when shooting with a flash in the evening at a party and then the flash is on auto so I'm still relying on the camera to get things right!

    Starting from scratch I'd look at an Olympus om body just because i love them.
     
  7. GTRacer

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 25 Jul 2007

    Posts: 1,675

    Personally I'd avoid any of the autofocus bodies as they don't really offer anything much different in terms of ergonomics to your Fuji cameras. They're good bodies but you're trading away the smaller size and lenses for autofocus.

    Personally I'd keep an eye out for a Nikon FM2n, they're fully mechanical and don't need batteries to fire (they only need batteries for the meter) or an FE2, which does need batteries but you get aperture priority in exchange for that. They're still pretty expensive today (compared to other brands) though as are the lenses which are compatible with most Nikon DSLRs.

    Another I'd look for is an Olympus OM1. Really great viewfinder and very compact for an SLR, I've seen them go for under £100 with a 50/1.8 lens.

    There's also the Canon A1/AE1, Pentax K1000/LX/MX. There are also rangefinders, such as Leicas (£££) and Olympus/Canon/Konica fixed lens ones.

    Good thing about having a Fuji is that you can just adapt any of the film lenses you get.

    Medium format can be had for a bit more (£200 up) and while you get less shots per roll (16 at max depending on the format), the quality is much better. Costs to develop are the same as 35mm.

    Honestly a camera is just a light tight box, they all function pretty similarly so get one that works smoothly or where a seller has a good return policy in case it needs a costly repair.

    As for film, negative film (Portra, 400H, Tri-X, HP5, FP4 etc.) is by far the easiest to start with. If in doubt, err on the side of overexposure since unlike digital, negative film retains far more detail in the highlights, whereas it's the opposite for digital. You only have a stop max in the shadows for film, even then it's a bit iffy.

    As for labs, I highly recommend Peak Imaging. Very consistent and clean, and their black and white processing is pretty good.
     
  8. Shadowness

    Mobster

    Joined: 17 Sep 2006

    Posts: 3,586

    Location: Gloucestershire

    I think that's the hardest thing! I'm looking at all these 35mm bodies, and asking....how are they really different?!

    I've read good things about the Canon AE1 (and is pretty cheap)
    The Olympus OM series seem good too (I like the one in the link I posted before)
    The K1000 is meant to be a bullet proof and good choice too

    I'm looking a lot on ebay, but I doubt I'll actually get it from there, as the camera could be in any condition, and I'd be none the wiser. LCE offer a guarantee with them so might go down that route.

    Thanks for the help so far!
     
  9. Shadowness

    Mobster

    Joined: 17 Sep 2006

    Posts: 3,586

    Location: Gloucestershire

    Excluding the camera, the costs seem to add up quickly!

    Rolls of film aren't exactly cheap, and the cost of processing......~£15 to scan to CD per roll! So you're talking at least £20 per roll to actually see the photos at all.

    It certainly makes you appreciate how easy things are with digital!
     
  10. GTRacer

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 25 Jul 2007

    Posts: 1,675

    Yeah its best to get a scanner and go develop only or develop it yourself. A decent Plustek can be had for around £100, or even a Epson V550, but don't expect digital sharpness from the Epson!

    As for differences between 35mm bodies, it's just like digital - in the grand scheme of things it doesn't actually matter much unless you buy an absolute lemon. Some have better viewfinders (Olympus OM1, Nikon F3), others have better shutters (Nikon FM2 tops out at 1/4000th, Leica M bodies are super quiet), others are just extremely refined and over engineered with some top of the line lenses (Leica again, Contax and the Zeiss lenses).
     
  11. Shadowness

    Mobster

    Joined: 17 Sep 2006

    Posts: 3,586

    Location: Gloucestershire

    Is £200 a reasonable price for the Olympus I posted before?

    I'll do some research on scanning later on. I'll get over the first hurdle first!
     
  12. Kei

    Mobster

    Joined: 24 Oct 2008

    Posts: 2,701

    Location: South Wales

    IMO, it seems a tad expensive but I'm out of touch with what 35mm bodies cost these days. I got my OM 50 f1.8 for £5 so the body seems a bit steep. A canon FD model like the A1/AE-1 you mentioned before is far better value. On the olympus side, I'd be looking at the OM1 like GTRacer suggested.

    Personally, having shot film for over 20 years, I'd go medium format with a 645 body either from mamiya or bronica. (A complete kit with standard lens goes for around £300 sometimes less) You get a significant boost in image quality from the format size increase. The obvious disadvantage is the size/weight, particularly in comparison to something like a modern fuji CSC. Film doesn't like being left in cameras so I've always found that the 15 shots per roll thing to be a moot point as it's easier to finish a roll without having to waste it on random shots. Because of the cost, you'll probably find yourself being more critical and selective. I took my 645 out with me yesterday and only took 11 shots with it all day. The limitation of 100 ISO and no tripod didn't help matters.
     
  13. Amp34

    Caporegime

    Joined: 25 Jul 2005

    Posts: 28,855

    Location: Canada

    Yep, Medium format all the way for me too. I have a few now and play with them occasionally (Mamiya C220 a box brownie style and an old rangefinder). If you're going for the "retro" feel of film you may as well go all the way and go for something completely different to what you shoot with now IMO.

    Bodies for medium format are variable cost wise- the C220 you may be able to get for about £200 with lense, or you can go up to something like the Fuji 617 pano (still on my wish list) which will cost you a couple of thousand. Film and developing will also cost you more. I estimated about £2 a shot depending on film and developer, but then you're only shooting a few shots a film* so you shouldn't rinse through them too fast, especially if you're shooting manually. It does force you to really concentrate on composition though, and it's fun shooting different formats. Switching from square to 6x9 for example is interesting. Yes you can do it digital (usually PP), but it not the same.

    Plus with MF you can play with slide film and get large large transparencies. :p

    The only real negative (other than development cost) is the weight as mentioned above. That said it varies significantly depending on camera, a couple of my cameras are probably lighter than my DSLR, but the C220 is probably as heavy as my DSLR with the Nikon 17-55 f/.8. The 617 is stupid...

    *12 shots for 1x1, 8 for 6x9 and 4 for 617!
     
    Last edited: 12 Aug 2017
  14. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 31,692

    The only film camera on would bother with would be a Fuji617. You will pay about £10 a shot though and the camera itself.costs the same as a D810. However, it will achieve results that aren't possible with a DSLR, or even digital MF.

    Otherwise I don't really see the point.
     
  15. Shadowness

    Mobster

    Joined: 17 Sep 2006

    Posts: 3,586

    Location: Gloucestershire

    Thanks again. I don't think medium format is where I want to go.....maybe later on if I get on with a standard 35mm camera.

    I'm away for a couple of weeks, so I'll do a lot of reading a see what seems sensible.

    Is it worth considering a plustek scanner if you're getting into film? The 8100 can be had for £170, so it doesn't seem 'so bad'
     
  16. Kei

    Mobster

    Joined: 24 Oct 2008

    Posts: 2,701

    Location: South Wales

    35mm is ok, but don't expect much more than 12-20mpx images depending on the film emulsion used and definitely expect fairly healthy grain even with slow films. (ISO 100-400) Not knocking it, as I do still use 35mm from time to time and have no issues with the results, just need a sensible level of expectations. A good lens is far better than an expensive body

    As to scanning it, I used to use an old minolta scan dual III with vuescan but it's grown rather grouchy with age so I've moved onto using an epson V750 which does all my medium format negs and 35mm. You can also use a simple light box and macro setup. The plustek scanners seem to have decent enough reviews. I'd prefer to use one with vuescan over the default software

    The lightbox method produces good results provided you get the film and camera very close to parallel.
    [​IMG]

    Epson V750 doesn't do a bad job either.
    [​IMG]