Adventure in film – part 1

I am not into New years resolutions all that much, but starting new activities and projects, especially after receiving related gifts for Christmas is whole other story. There is few of those happening this week, and the one I am about to write a post about is going back to shooting film.

In upcoming series of posts, I will be sharing some of my experiences in buying film camera, developing it and other film-only related tips, so you can learn along with me. And maybe I can get you interested in expanding your tool box with this inexpensive gear to expand your creativity.

First, why at all would you like to try it?

Let me tell what the reasons were for me.I am sure many of you are familiar with this exercise for digital-only photographers, described for example in this article by Jeff Guyer for Digital Photography School. While simple exercise in imposing several limitations on your typical photo walk, I never could prevent myself from either limiting the number of shots, not to stop “chimping. Simply, did not work for me. getting the “real thing” was the way to go.
What goes with the lack of the LCD preview and the 24 pictures limit is a thrill of discovery after week or so passed, what treasure images are on the film when it comes back from the processing lab. And in terms of shooting, some more of selectivity what is really worth taking picture of. For me, it is more time spend evaluating the frame in the viewfinder, estimating if it really looks as good as I thought at first?

Secondly, how can you get your hands on a film camera?

For me, the first choices would be family and friends. I have tried to put hand on my father’s old film camera and/or borrow some from friends. You will be surprised how many people have stashed their old film equipment for various reasons. It limits your choices on what you can get, but is certainly cheaper, as long as it does the job, right? After all, after a week or two you might decide it is not for you, after all, and just give it back.

Well, since getting one of those film cameras for free was going nowhere for me, I talked my husband into getting one for me for Christmas. Which means I had to have a clear idea what I want and how much I want to spend before going on a shopping spree. Your requirements might vary from mine, but after quick reality check on proces of F4, legendary film Nikon camera, I posed those two conditions:

  • It is realistic to set a price for film camera at $50 or even less
  • It makes sense to buy just a body, and make sure it will work with the collection of digital lesnes you already own.

And with this last one, you need to be aware that your cropped sensor lenses will not work on a film camera. They will not have sufficient field of view. I actually have a cropped sensor Nikon D300, but for totally unrelated reason started to exchange all my DX lenses to FX lenses. Thus, I could put my newly acquired 50 mm f/1.4 lens on film camera and be set.

Nikon N65 film camera

With your requirements lists, you can either go online, to Amazon for example, and pick something from all the variety they offer. I made it easy for myself, and just visited a local camera store. Will you pay more? Probably. But sometimes, there is something to be said for a personal shopping experience. You can put your hands on new gear, see exactly how it fits in your hands, check where the buttons are. Maybe even get batteries or film thrown in the package for free?

And here it is- a Nikon D65, my new film camera. It is far more advanced than I expected I would get. It has a number of features, like bracketing, the auto exposure and focus. The buttons are in familiar places and it is of prosumer level, just like my first Nikon D40x was.

Now, how about you? Have you ever considered adding a film camera to your collection? Or maybe you already did, or, in fact, are one of those who decided to only shoot film? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments!

Coming next, some experiences in getting the film developed and how the quality of images differs between film and digital.

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