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DBounce

Shooting Film For Stills - Am I Crazy?

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For me film is plain fun and I shoot all my personal photography on 35mm and medium format cameras. It helps to separate my day to day work stuff (product photography amongst other things) from my passion. There’s a lot to learn and a lot of experimentation which I enjoy. I like the results more than digital for family stuff, I spend less time in front of a computer and I love feel of the cameras. I like the delayed gratification of the  development process and the anticipation of seeing the results.

You can pick up a canon SLR for £10 and a roll of B&W for £5, lab development costs in the UK are £4 a roll and you can scan with a DSLR and an IPAD (light-table). 

Give it a go but go in gently I say. 

 

 

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5 hours ago, thephoenix said:

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).

4 hours ago, Anaconda_ said:

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.

I think that it's important to understand why you want to get into film in the first place.

If you're looking to use film for the aesthetic of modern film (great colour, DR, infinite bit-depth lol, etc) then you'll probably want a fully automatic camera that is easy to use and you can easily execute your vision by controlling it like a semi-modern camera.  
If you want the aesthetic of vintage film because there's a surprise and (I think) magic in the imperfect aesthetic then you may not care so much about being able to execute your vision, but in a sense it's more a case of pointing it in the right direction and seeing what aesthetics come out, rather than what you specifically tried to put in.

Both will (to a greater or lesser extent) give you the experience of using a film camera without burst modes or the ability to see the image until it's processed.

For me the attraction was in the process being slowed down, but also in the kind of random magic that came out, even from the Tintype app I used.  One thing I didn't mention about that app was that it stored the original image with removable changes on top, so you could revert it back to the straight image that the camera took, and I tell you, reverting to the original image removes 100% of the magic of those images.  The beauty is in the horrific distortion.  I would go out with the family to the beach and take maybe 20 shots (ie, went nuts!) and half of them would be keepers.  The distortions in that app are almost a nostalgic art production-line.  Almost anything looks great.

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Anyway, I'll stop now.

 

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Don't even bother scanning your negatives. Way too much money for a good scanner, and the results are worse than sending the negatives off and having a professional company scan, and even print them for you. Might be worth having a printer, but even that is better left to Pro shops to be honest.

I think the magic of this is getting and old camera with no Auto Anything and using a light meter to figure out what you need. If you are use to shooting you can use the Sunny 16 rule. But it will not be super accurate, especially if shadows are involved. This is more about being slow and observing your surrounds for a better angle to shoot more than just taking a picture quickly, then running to the next location.

It is about the experience more than the shots. Just slow down and enjoy it, don't make it a job. You are suppose to look back at the 10 shots you took when you get the negatives or prints back and smile about the experience, fun you had, that is what it is about. Remembering the beauty of the location, smiling about the person you took a picture of. I just don't think you can do that shooting a Digital camera. It is too easy to accomplish with one. Just less satisfaction in it.

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37 minutes ago, webrunner5 said:

Don't even bother scanning your negatives. Way too much money for a good scanner, and the results are worse than sending the negatives off and having a professional company scan, and even print them for you. Might be worth having a printer, but even that is better left to Pro shops to be honest.

I think the magic of this is getting and old camera with no Auto Anything and using a light meter to figure out what you need. If you are use to shooting you can use the Sunny 16 rule. But it will not be super accurate, especially if shadows are involved. This is more about being slow and observing your surrounds for a better angle to shoot more than just taking a picture quickly, then running to the next location.

It is about the experience more than the shots. Just slow down and enjoy it, don't make it a job. You are suppose to look back at the 10 shots you took when you get the negatives or prints back and smile about the experience, fun you had, that is what it is about. Remembering the beauty of the location, smiling about the person you took a picture of. I just don't think you can do that shooting a Digital camera. It is too easy to accomplish with one. Just less satisfaction in it.

Agree - no point in capturing in analogue if you are going to mash it up with a digital scan. Back in the day drum scanners did the best job with everything else quite a way behind apart from perhaps the Imacon. Not even sure if drum scanners are still around as the tech needed to run them is now obsolete. 

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5 hours ago, Shirozina said:

Agree - no point in capturing in analogue if you are going to mash it up with a digital scan. Back in the day drum scanners did the best job with everything else quite a way behind apart from perhaps the Imacon. Not even sure if drum scanners are still around as the tech needed to run them is now obsolete. 

I'm not so sure that there is no point to scanning in digital. Epson make some fairly ok film scanners. I see quite a lot of video's online where the images are scanned and they look great. 

I think the real draw to film for me is the idea that you focus more on the creative process. Granted, you can disable everything and go full manual... which is largely how I shoot, save for focus. I like the more modern film look. 70s, 80s  through current... wait... I take that back. I like the "clean film" look. I'm not seeking to add artifacts to my images. I want a clean look, but with the organic soul that film has. I believe digital is a bit sterile. Looking back at some stills I took with my Fuji X-T3s; Fuji did a good job with their film emulations, but fall short of the genuine article. And frustratingly, the details are hard to pin down. 

Film seems quite forgiving of overexposure. Whereas underexposure is far less so. Digital the the exact opposite; performing quite well when underexposed, but clipping the highlights with far less resistance than film. Granted you can always do a long exposure with film, provided your subject is not moving about.... unless that's the look you are going for. 

It's entirely possible that I am simply misguided. It's not beyond reason that any interest in shooting with film is merely the result of some delusion. But nonetheless I'm liking the idea 🤫

Leica MA

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Hasselblad Xpan

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Hasselblad 500cm

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Hasselblad 500.jpg

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6 hours ago, Shirozina said:

Agree - no point in capturing in analogue if you are going to mash it up with a digital scan. Back in the day drum scanners did the best job with everything else quite a way behind apart from perhaps the Imacon. Not even sure if drum scanners are still around as the tech needed to run them is now obsolete. 

I agree when it comes to color negative and black and white, but not when it comes to slides. I compared some old cibachromes shot by a local pro with digital scans/prints of the same slides and discussed the difficulty in getting test strips etc. to match with cibas. For slides, scanning and printing digitally makes sense imo. Not so different from doing a DI! Large format Velvia scanned and printed digitally is still my favorite look for landscapes, even if some think it's tacky.

On the other hand, if you're shooting color negative I think going all analogue is cool. I saw some 8X10 color negative prints at a local lab enlarged to like 80X100 or something and it's just unbelievable how good they look... but the smaller prints look amazing, too. Especially small prints from rangefinders in black and white. Much artsier.

Years ago I started shooting slides with an old 1960s Nikon SLR (with a broken meter) and eventually dabbled in 4x5 (with no meter, of course). I had maybe five stops of dynamic range (and +/- 1/2 exposure latitude) on slide film. It got too expensive bracketing 4x5, $20+/shot, but I miss that a lot. It taught me to expose film better... but now I'm back to digital and am super lazy and have sold all that stuff, which is a little sad to me. I tried to find a tilt/shift lens to get the movements back but the image quality never compared. Foveon sensors have the micro contrast but not the color. 😕 But I bet the $50k digital backs are awesome. Obviously never tried one, but dream of a Sinar set up with the new Trichromatic back. That said I barely even shoot photos anymore.

Check out the Mamiya 7 btw. It's like a Leica rangefinder except big. Out of my budget, too, but I see them around. Or on a budget, the Minolta CLE is cool. I actually like the smaller formats when shooting black and white or color negative, larger formats for slide film, dunno why. The Hasselblad 6x6 is definitely cool, too. The stuff I shot on my old Nikon SLR on Velvia is definitely the best I've shot. 😕 There's some cheap stuff, Bronicas, etc. and even some of the Mamiyas that are almost as good but more awkward/larger, but it sounds like you have a budget for this. I was always looking at bargain options, of which there are many.

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35 minutes ago, DBounce said:

I'm not so sure that there is no point to scanning in digital

It depends on how you do it. For example, I develop my negs at home, then use an old slide scanner on an dSLR to take photos of them and then develop the image in Adobe RAW. This was you can really fine tune the image exactly how you want it to be. I used to send them off to the shop, but was never really satisfied with how they processed them (random chain store, nowhere near my develops in house anymore). This is a similar scanner, I got it for 5euros.

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38 minutes ago, DBounce said:

It's entirely possible that I am simply misguided. It's not beyond reason that any interest in shooting with film is merely the result of some delusion. But nonetheless I'm liking the idea

Don't let any fear of delusions stop you, but maybe let them slow you down a bit and start with cheaper gear and see how you like it. I'd love to have the Xpan, and have them saved on my search lists, but the prices definitely stop me. Stills is a hobby for me, and having the stereo cam I mentioned before makes it that extra bit different to carrying digital. The Xpan would also do the same but at 500x the price.

41 minutes ago, DBounce said:

I believe digital is a bit sterile.

Have a look for a Sigma DP1 or 2, I've had both but sold them because the batteries drove me mad, BUT if you look at that as a replacement for changing out your film roll, then they really do offer a great alternative to film. The images have a very nice quality to them, and despite their shortcomings they are very fun to use, and they hold their value very well. I bought both from the same guy for 150euros and sold them for 125 each hehe. @Mattias Burling also liked them, and he paid even less for his!

 

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1 hour ago, DBounce said:

 

Film seems quite forgiving of overexposure. Whereas underexposure is far less so. Digital the the exact opposite; performing quite well when underexposed, but clipping the highlights with far less resistance than film. Granted you can always do a long exposure with film, provided your subject is not moving about.... unless that's the look you are going for. 

 

I really like underexposed film though. Brings out the grain and looks really cool. Of course its a certain look that only works sometimes.

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So, I've shot film for 50yrs and still love it, but you can impose similar constraints with digital photography using equipment you already have. Turn your dslr to manual focus and fully manual exposure and shutter speed, turn off the back screen totally, no chimping.... Ever.... and wait until you load up the computer to see what you got. Then, strict culling, simple processing and PRINT PRINT PRINT..... It's not a photograph until you PRINT.... maybe you might need a light meter or simple metering app for your phone. If you can't work like that for 2 months, you might not get on with film 😎 good luck....

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My dad, now retired, got into scanning his old prints and slides.  He had the $1k slide scanner, but was lusting after the $5k slide scanner that occasionally popped up on eBay, because the difference was that on the $5k one you could adjust the plane of focus to get the sharpest results.  The problem with the $1k scanner is that it was calibrated to focus on the surface of the thickness of the slide, but with a very shallow DoF (like these scanners have) if you can adjust it then you can find the plane within the slide thickness that the focus is best and then scan that.  Kind of like having a tilt-shift MF lens instead of a fixed everything lens.

He tried putting shims in but that moved the plane of focus so it was above the slide thickness, so was the wrong direction.  Also, small errors that occurred in the position of the slide when it was being exposed meant that the focal plane might be skewed diagonally throughout the thickness of the slide, so the full tilt-pan adjustability is desirable.

Of course, paying someone else to scan for you is unlikely to meant them doing 20 scans to adjust the focus geometry for optimal results. 

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As a long time stills photographer, and as I never sell gear, but seem to collect it, I have a huge inventory of film, bodies, lenses, accessories, of many differing formats.
I wished more film was produced.  Kodak pissed me off with their mis-managed disaster.
I really miss film.
Film can still be produced profitably, I think Ilford still makes prepaid yearly runs of ULF, I don't know why this can't be applied to any other format/type.

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I love shooting film, it's just the whole part between shooting it and having the result that annoys me.

Personally, I would only advice someone to shoot film if he actually develops himself or is willing to go to a small, good (usually expensive) lab.

I have permanently changing assortments of analog cameras because I enjoy shooting film. I am/was shooting Canon EOS 3, Mamya 645 1000s, Rolleiflex 3.5f and Kodak Retina IIC. I like how film looks and I wish there was an easy way to have digital pictures look exactly as smooth and organic without tinkering 1h in Photoshop to get 90% there. But it has mainly to do with the lens and what film stock you use. 

When I shoot the EOS 3 (I have 2 of them so I can shoot different films in parallel, e.g. B/W+Color or ASA100 + ASA800) it has nothing to do with "slowing down, getting into the details" and what people like to use as a mantra for analog photography. It's just like shooting a EOS 5D but without chimping, especially when shooting e.g. Kodak Portra 400.
With the Rolleiflex/Mamiya everything is slow and deliberate but it's also sometimes annoying because when you didn't shoot with a waist level finder for a while your brain will forget that what you see is mirrored so composing the picture takes forever. In general I like both types of analog shooting.

What I hate, hate, hate about film photography comes now after shooting. I don't develop myself so where do you give the film?
If I give it to the drugstore for C41 development it's cheap but the quality is hit or miss. They've scratched multiple films before, one got completely lost and once I had fingerprints on the negatives. At our local drugstore it's mandatory to either get a CD with scans (oversharpened, oversatured, 1 Megapixel) or prints (so you take the cheapest and throw them away) but that may have changed. So that's what I typically do.
Alternatively I can give it to a specialist lab here for enthusiast hobbyists but they will charge enthusiast prices (10$ per roll 135/120 film for standard C41 development).

And what do you do then with the negatives? I digitalize by photographing them with a macro lens and a DSLR/mirrorless camera. As was mentioned before, a good scanner is super expensive and a lot of tinkering to get perfect results with. Ideally you get it done professionally, but the good lab mentioned before will charge between 5 and 15 $ for a single scanned frame in high resolution with basic scratch/dust removal, depending on the format (1-5$ low res). So buying + developing a roll 120 Tri-X for example shot through a 6x6 camera plus the cheaper scans will cost you for the 12 pictures a total of 85 $. That's not worth it to me to be honest because either I get good quality and it's expensive or I have to do everything myself which is just time I can't always spare in parallel to my career and other hobbies. So for me usually back to digital it is after shooting 1 or 2 rolls a year (chances are you'd anyway want to post-process the scanned negatives).

To echo some others, I would absolutely not sink Hasselblad/Leica kind of money into an analog camera before not evaluating for 6 to 12 months how much someone likes shooting analog with all that belongs to it. I feel like it gets romanticized way too much nowadays. A lot of people how grew up or lived shooting analog are more than happy to leave it in the past.

/rant over

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1 hour ago, Phil A said:

I love shooting film, it's just the whole part between shooting it and having the result that annoys me.

Personally, I would only advice someone to shoot film if he actually develops himself or is willing to go to a small, good (usually expensive) lab.

I have permanently changing assortments of analog cameras because I enjoy shooting film. I am/was shooting Canon EOS 3, Mamya 645 1000s, Rolleiflex 3.5f and Kodak Retina IIC. I like how film looks and I wish there was an easy way to have digital pictures look exactly as smooth and organic without tinkering 1h in Photoshop to get 90% there. But it has mainly to do with the lens and what film stock you use. 

When I shoot the EOS 3 (I have 2 of them so I can shoot different films in parallel, e.g. B/W+Color or ASA100 + ASA800) it has nothing to do with "slowing down, getting into the details" and what people like to use as a mantra for analog photography. It's just like shooting a EOS 5D but without chimping, especially when shooting e.g. Kodak Portra 400.
With the Rolleiflex/Mamiya everything is slow and deliberate but it's also sometimes annoying because when you didn't shoot with a waist level finder for a while your brain will forget that what you see is mirrored so composing the picture takes forever. In general I like both types of analog shooting.

What I hate, hate, hate about film photography comes now after shooting. I don't develop myself so where do you give the film?
If I give it to the drugstore for C41 development it's cheap but the quality is hit or miss. They've scratched multiple films before, one got completely lost and once I had fingerprints on the negatives. At our local drugstore it's mandatory to either get a CD with scans (oversharpened, oversatured, 1 Megapixel) or prints (so you take the cheapest and throw them away) but that may have changed. So that's what I typically do.
Alternatively I can give it to a specialist lab here for enthusiast hobbyists but they will charge enthusiast prices (10$ per roll 135/120 film for standard C41 development).

And what do you do then with the negatives? I digitalize by photographing them with a macro lens and a DSLR/mirrorless camera. As was mentioned before, a good scanner is super expensive and a lot of tinkering to get perfect results with. Ideally you get it done professionally, but the good lab mentioned before will charge between 5 and 15 $ for a single scanned frame in high resolution with basic scratch/dust removal, depending on the format (1-5$ low res). So buying + developing a roll 120 Tri-X for example shot through a 6x6 camera plus the cheaper scans will cost you for the 12 pictures a total of 85 $. That's not worth it to me to be honest because either I get good quality and it's expensive or I have to do everything myself which is just time I can't always spare in parallel to my career and other hobbies. So for me usually back to digital it is after shooting 1 or 2 rolls a year (chances are you'd anyway want to post-process the scanned negatives).

To echo some others, I would absolutely not sink Hasselblad/Leica kind of money into an analog camera before not evaluating for 6 to 12 months how much someone likes shooting analog with all that belongs to it. I feel like it gets romanticized way too much nowadays. A lot of people how grew up or lived shooting analog are more than happy to leave it in the past.

/rant over

Honestly I was planning to develop the film myself, then scan the negatives. For me it’s part of the experience. 

I looked over several diy videos and it’s something I feel confident in doing. I’m pretty comfortable with manual exposure, as it’s the only way I shoot. I plan to use a light meter app as I don’t want to carry more gear. I think it should get me close enough. 

I believe there’s something to be said for starting with a cheap but good manual camera. Then if I find I’m hooked I can always buy whatever I want. 

What are everyone’s thoughts on film size?

35mm Vs 645 Vs 6x6 Vs 67 Vs 69 Vs Panoramic?

What makes the most sense? I’m thinking 67. But I’m curious what everyone’s preference is?

 

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What will you shoot ? Planning to print ? If yes how big ? And if you scan your films with what will you scan ? I guess you're gonna shoot b+w as you are thinking of processing yourself.

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2 hours ago, thephoenix said:

What will you shoot ? Planning to print ? If yes how big ? And if you scan your films with what will you scan ? I guess you're gonna shoot b+w as you are thinking of processing yourself.

I'm not convinced on what I will be shooting. I have a Canon Pixma Pro 10 which I will use for smaller prints. I send out larger prints. I also plan to get an Epson V850 Pro Scanner.  Yes, the B&W film development process looks pretty straight forward. So I do intend to shoot B&W initially.

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Decide what format you want. MF is on another level from 35mm. Even a 645 camera is vastly superior to 35mm. The difference is much bigger than between digital “full frame” and M43.

That said, I’m fine with 10x15 prints from 35mm. 

The larger the format, the slower the process. By comparing a Leica MA, 500CM and xpan we’re really comparing apples to oranges. Very different flow which leads to different kind of pictures. 

I’ve made most of my exhibition work with a 500CM for the last 14 years. It’s my desert island camera. The Zeiss lenses for Hasselblad are wonderful. I love the 6x6 format.

A Hasselblad is a lovely experience  and flexible with great lenses and interchangeable backs.

Unlike many 6x7 cameras it’s fine to carry around. Can’t recommend it enough. There’s a reason it’s a classic. Don’t forget the Rolleiflex.

The Leica MA is a dream camera of mine. If I shot Canon I would get the EOS 1V or EOS3. The Nikon F5 is the best of them all.

You’ll appreciate having M lenses to adapt to your digital system. 

I have my 35mm developed and scanned. Costs about 7€. Then I print the good ones. Excellent results. No hassle and not very expensive. Can’t get the film look from digital. It’s a totally different thing.

Medium format I only develop and print myself because it’s expensive to get done by a lab.

I really hate scanning. It’s a pain. If I would do it today I would buy the Nikon adapter for their macro lenses and simply take a picture of the neg with my Z6.

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On 6/12/2019 at 12:09 AM, thebrothersthre3 said:

Film really isn't that expensive and can be digitally processed pretty cheaply.

Film scanners are affordable.  It's not too hard to DIY negative development either.  If you're doing B&W it's even easier.

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I bought a Leica M9 two weeks ago. It's digital but the closest to shooting film imo.

All manual control, no EVF, the LCD is worthless so you don't really know what you shot until you get home, slow buffer, low storage (16GB cards max). 

No AF obviously, and parallax range finder focus system.

All this REALLY slows you down, in a good way of course. 

The best is the resulting IQ from the Kodak CCD sensor. Super filmic analog look.

I am tinkering with the thought of getting an M6/M7 which are film cameras but for now the M9 is best of both worlds.

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