A New Addition And Some Thoughts On Film

There is a new addition to my setup of cameras. Actually, it is two. The first camera is a Nikon F100 and the second, a Mamiya C220. Both cameras operate with film.

The Nikon uses 35mm film and the Mamiya 6×6 film.

Why in the world would I use film cameras in the 21st century? Good question. Here are some more:

  • Do they still produce film?
  • Don’t digital cameras produce better quality images?
  • How do you work with film in the digital age?
  • Are you moving back totally to film?
I learnt a lot during the last couple of months, when I started to re-look into using traditional cameras. Not only do Kodak, Fuji and Ilford continue to produce film, but they also continue development. Especially, Kodak has brought out new emulsions. Today’s film is better than any film I ever used before!
I learnt photography with film cameras and post processing meant spending time in the darkroom for hours, dodging and burning images manually after cleaning dust of the negatives and enlargers. Nothing was more frustrating than making a picture and to find enlarged dust on the print.
It is not all about nostalgia, photographing film. Film reacts differently to light than digital sensors. Film can capture a wider range of contrast than digital. Dust on the sensor is not an issue any longer, for every capture, I use a new sensor (frame of film). Colours and shadows look different to digital capture. Medium format images have a look, which is difficult to emulate with digital cameras. The depth of field is different. Looking through a viewfinder that shows the image you capture on a 6×6 cm screen is just beautiful.
The Mamiya medium format camera is probably about thirty years old and functions totally mechanical. It doesn’t even have a built in light meter. I work differently as a result. I measure light with an external light meter. I have to pre-visualise the image, before I expose the image. I can’t check, if I exposed the image correctly. There is no need for it. Instead of chimping (looking at the screen on the camera back immediately after the shot), I continue my interaction with my client.
As every exposure on film costs money, I shoot less images during my photo session. I make sure that every image, I take justifies the cost. Interestingly, I observe myself when I shoot digital these days that I apply the same philosophy there.
We live in a digital age. We upload images to our websites, Facebook etc. I do the same with my film images. Luckily, the development of high quality scanners does not stand still. I get my best shots scanned in high resolution by an expert. The size and quality of these scans are just out of this world. These are some of the finest digital image files, I ever worked with.
Does that now mean that I totally move back to film? At least not at this stage. There are plenty applications in my work, where for example speedy delivery is priority. For most of my corporate assignments, digital is more practical, though I aim to incorporate film capture, for corporate portraits.
For my private clients, I am offering (as from 1 October) portrait packages that include film photography and high end printing and framing for the final results.

 

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