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Shooting Film For Stills - Am I Crazy?

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As of late I find myself a bit intrigued by the art of film photography. I've never really shot film. All my cameras have been digital. So instant gratification. But there is something about film... something hard to define. Film slows you down... it makes you think about composition. You don't have an endless amount of shots like in the digital domain. Every shot has to count. Every shot has to be thoughtfully taken. I believe these habits might serve well when shooting video also. 

I'm considering a number of bodies. I'm not committed to anything yet. But the Hasselblad 500 (MF) series looks interesting... as does the XPan (panoramic). I'm also kicking around the idea of a Leica MA. 

What are your thoughts? Have any of you considered going old school and shooting film?

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I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Mamiya RB67. It is a big Ox but if you are going to shoot MF, shoot 6x7. You have to crop the shit out of the Hasselblad 6x6 that you end up with only a 645 size which is not so hot. Why bother. Plus the view in the optical viewfinder, and even the pop up waist level finder is to die for. And you can print Really big with one. And the big bonus is they just about give away the bodies and the lenses. Cheap thrills. But they are not a speed demon.

Hell just go out and buy a 4x5 view camera and get crazy good results. You really learn a lot about movements using them. Shoot B&W, that is where they excel. Toyo makes a beautiful full metal Field Camera that is a piece of art for not much moeny. I like Horseman ones also. I have owned at least 30 MF cameras easy, and 10 or more view cameras.. They are habit forming.

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3 minutes ago, webrunner5 said:

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Mamiya RB67. It is a big Ox but if you are going to shoot MF, shoot 6x7. You have to crop the shit out of the Hasselblad 6x6 that you end up with only a 645 size which is not so hot. Why bother. Plus the view in the optical viewfinder, and even the pop up waist level finder is to die for. And you can print Really big with one. And the big bonus is they just about give away the bodies and the lenses. Cheap thrills.

I think there are some real gems out there. The Mamiya is an interesting camera. But is it something one could reasonably carry? 

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I actually just got a 90s Nikon 35mm camera. Film really isn't that expensive and can be digitally processed pretty cheaply. Film cameras are pretty dirt cheap too(depending on the model), 

I am only going to shoot film for paid photography work now. Its just way more interesting IMHO, digital photography is just a bit boring to me. Why try to replicate the film look when you can just shoot on film. 

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No not really. Mostly a Tripod camera. You can carry 645, 6x6 cameras but I just don't thing they are a big enough jump in quality to justify them. Go big or stay home using MF. Now I have had a few Leicas but they are just so damn much money I don't really think they are even worth the effort. Just go buy a Nikon F5 or a EOS 1n and be happy if you want to do 35mm film. They are as good as it gets in the film era. Crazy good AF and metering.

Go back and look at old 30, 40's B&W shots done on the old Press Cameras, God there is nothing better looking than 4x5 film. A lot the Hollywood Beauty shots of men and women were done with them. Just gorgeous stuff. Smooth as silk. You can't ever get that look shooting 35mm.

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5 minutes ago, webrunner5 said:

No not really. Mostly a Tripod camera. You can carry 645, 6x6 cameras but I just don't thing they are a big enough jump in quality to justify them. Go big or stay home using MF. Now I have had a few Leicas but they are just so damn much money I don't really think they are even worth the effort. Just go buy a Nikon F5 or a EOS 1n and be happy if you want to do 35mm film. They are as good as it gets in the film era. Crazy good AF and metering.

I'm feeling the manual vibe. It's more involving. Though it's crazy to think that those former best of breed cameras are so cheap to buy these days. I really like the XPan, though they fetch Leica money.

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I have Never wanted a Xpan. Too big of a camera, and I was never into Panos. Plus you go though film faster than shit from a Goose. Friend of mine had one and it sat in his closet more than he ever used it. They are a odd duck. It is very specialized. But they sold a lot of them for some reason? Leica could gold plate a dog turd and put a red badge on it and they would sell a shit pot of them. Leica people are...well sort of weird lol.

A M3 was my favorite one I had. The last of the small, light ones. Plus they even worked without a battery. Might be the last ones that did that.

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I think most photographers go through a 'film' stage at some point. At the very least there is a sort of romantic notion to it. I bought a Voigtlaender.

Yes it slows you down which is a good thing - but I am not sure you need a film camera for that. I dont think it is very much of a 'learning experience' because the timing of the results are so divorced from the actual shot. The instant feedback of digital does give a much faster feedback in terms of a learning loop.

I have to say I got over my film stage pretty quickly after I tried it.

Perhaps consider something cheap and cheerful first before investing too much into it....

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34 minutes ago, DBounce said:

I think there are some real gems out there. The Mamiya is an interesting camera. But is it something one could reasonably carry? 

Finally it's time for the roles to be reversed and for me to tell someone else that their setup is tiny and they're worrying about nothing!! 😆😆😆

Think about what a typical video setup looks like:

shape_blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k

and now think about the size of a MF stills camera.....

I hand-hold a GH5, Rode VMP+, and all-metal MF primes for hours while on holiday - anything short of a film camera requiring bellows is reasonably carry-able!

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Edit: I played around with an app for iPhone that simulated the experience of film.  It gave a square format, introduced a random amount of shutter delay, and wouldn't let you take photos faster than a few seconds apart.  It then applied various filters to degrade the image (which had random factors built-in) and would save the photo but not show it to you.

Even with this "far from analogue" setup the experience of shooting photos was remarkably different, in a good way.  It made you slow down, there was anticipation about what you'd get (eg, if the tin-type stains would frame the person or obscure their face!) and the photos had some X-factor to them that made the whole thing worthwhile.

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12599085_1509073859398435_1413673086_n.j

 

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13 minutes ago, Robert Collins said:

I think most photographers go through a 'film' stage at some point. At the very least there is a sort of romantic notion to it. I bought a Voigtlaender.

Yes it slows you down which is a good thing - but I am not sure you need a film camera for that. I dont think it is very much of a 'learning experience' because the timing of the results are so divorced from the actual shot. The instant feedback of digital does give a much faster feedback in terms of a learning loop.

I have to say I got over my film stage pretty quickly after I tried it.

Perhaps consider something cheap and cheerful first before investing too much into it....

No I don't think that way. You Only have in the case of say a 4x5 view camera maybe 5 or 6 shots. You damn sure slow down and take your time. And you make it count. I had way more keepers than than I do with Digital. You just get lazy with Digital. And it was more about finding the wonderful place to shoot at more than the shot itself. It was more relaxing, rewarding. And the anticipation of the wait for the negatives to come back. Sort of like Christmas every week. It is special..

2 minutes ago, kye said:

Edit: I played around with an app for iPhone that simulated the experience of film.  It gave a square format, introduced a random amount of shutter delay, and wouldn't let you take photos faster than a few seconds apart.  It then applied various filters to degrade the image (which had random factors built-in) and would save the photo but not show it to you.

Even with this "far from analogue" setup the experience of shooting photos was remarkably different, in a good way.  It made you slow down, there was anticipation about what you'd get (eg, if the tin-type stains would frame the person or obscure their face!) and the photos had some X-factor to them that made the whole thing worthwhile.

12826313_961309653957108_1239575143_n.jp

 

12599085_1509073859398435_1413673086_n.j

 

Wow, nice shots. Sweet. What is the name of the app?

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3 minutes ago, webrunner5 said:

No I don't think that way. You Only have in the case of say a 4x5 view camera maybe 5 or 6 shots. You damn sure slow down and take your time. And you make it count. I had way more keepers than than I do with Digital. You just get lazy with Digital. And it was more about finding the wonderful place to shoot at more than the shot itself. It was more relaxing, rewarding. And the anticipation of the wait for them negatives to come back. Sort of like Christmas every week. It is special..

Wow, nice shots. Sweet. What is the name of the app?

I agree about the feeling of it feeling special.

I used a few different apps, the first shot was from an app called "Tintype by Hipstamatic" and I can't recall the other app I shot the second photo with, but googling will find some cool apps.  In a way the app doesn't matter much as long as it does those delays and limitations.  I really recommend Tintype though, a great all-around experience, and as you can see it can deliver really lo-fi results!

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I grew up shooting with film cameras as a young child, before my family ever bought a digital camera. I used old Kodak disposable cameras a lot, and occasionally an old Voigtlander Bessamatic. I still use the Voigtlander 50mm for special shots these days. I've recently shot a tiny bit on 16mm with a Bolex. I guess for me I always try to be sparing with shooting, both photos and video, so film isn't much different. I'd rather rehearse 5 times and shoot one take. Shooting on film never feels any different to me, to be honest.

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F'ed up film looks nicer than F'ed up digital, can be a desirable look. 

To me well exposed film and well exposed digital look identical. Under or overexposed film looks really nice tho, depending on the type of film of course. 

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2 hours ago, DBounce said:

As of late I find myself a bit intrigued by the art of film photography. I've never really shot film. All my cameras have been digital. So instant gratification. But there is something about film... something hard to define. Film slows you down... it makes you think about composition. You don't have an endless amount of shots like in the digital domain. Every shot has to count. Every shot has to be thoughtfully taken. I believe these habits might serve well when shooting video also. 

I'm considering a number of bodies. I'm not committed to anything yet. But the Hasselblad 500 (MF) series looks interesting... as does the XPan (panoramic). I'm also kicking around the idea of a Leica MA. 

What are your thoughts? Have any of you considered going old school and shooting film?

DSC9975r.jpg

14020.jpg

367982_2_1000x1000.jpg

depends what you want to do with it. it's like every other tools. some are best for this and some others are best for that.

had lots of them, still have some and also have a part of my freezer full of 120 220 4x5 and 8x10 film

leica is quite expensive and only good if you shoot b+w, color isn't that great.

there are tons of good cameras. just don't forget that it is the lens takes the picture. so a good part of your budget should go on the lense(s).

as for film you also want to find a place where they know how to process. you will also probably want to scan your films ? so before buying a system look also for a proper scanner, thinking that the good ones are not that hard to find but parts and people able to fix them are pretty rare.

 

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2 hours ago, DBounce said:

A Film slows you down... it makes you think about composition. You don't have an endless amount of shots like in the digital domain. Every shot has to count. Every shot has to be thoughtfully taken.

DSC9975r.jpg

14020.jpg

367982_2_1000x1000.jpg

Nothing stopping you from doing this with digital if you just put your mind to it.

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In my opinion, and I know many people won't agree, but I wouldn't buy a film camera just for the experience. You can get that digitally. Turn off all burst modes and all auto functions. Limit yourself to one click every couple of seconds, turn off the preview and don't put the card into your computer for a few days. Of course it's still different, but the lessons of intention will still apply, and you'll quickly find it's not all that romantic. The Sigma DP1 and DP2 do a very good job of replicating the experience. As for making it look like film, yeah sure, nothing beats the real thing, but why stop with stills? Grab a 16mm camera for video while you're at it.

With all that said, film cameras are mega cheap. I don't want to tell you how to spend your money, but I'd definitely start out with an old AE1 before moving to the Hasselblads and Leicas, test the waters before jumping to the big guns. Also, maybe consider a camera that does something a digital body cant. For example I do shoot a fair bit of 35mm, but only because there's no worthwhile, reasonably priced digital equivalent.

The Stereo Realist and others like it expose two full 35mm frames with each click, so you have the standard photos, but you can also make a stereo image, which is really immersive. Queen's Brian May has always been into this type of photography, and his website www.londonstereo.com has some great info on getting started etc.

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