Revival

The web is full of excellent pages written by film geeks and people with far too much disposable income.

I had hoped that getting into film would help me stop obsessing over cameras and just get out and shoot. But now I’m pouring over retro camera blogs and second hand dealers, because it turns out, old film cameras are even more beautiful than digital cameras.

Yashica Ts, LEICA Cs Contax Gs, Olympi (plural?) and Konicas are all calling my name. The annoying thing is that most blogs speak of finding cameras like the oly mju ii for under £10. Then you check the date and find that today; a decade later, the same camera will cost you around £100.

This is the price inflation of the film revival – amazing that old analogue cameras are appreciating in a way digital probably never will.

Another factor is that charity shops have got smarter. Many now have expert led websites or eBay shops where cameras are properly valued. Gone are the days of finding a bargain because the shop assistants don’t really know the value of the device. Presumably the internet has also informed pricing. In the long run this is good news for the charities, just not for hard up collectors.

First film

I processed my first film today – Ilford fp4. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to look quite so contrasty. The processing actually went ok, despite slight chemical burning to the hands and a lots of mess.

Sadly, there seems to have been an issue with the camera (I know, blaming my tools). A number of frames/negatives were blank. They had the manufacturers tags and numbering on the film borders suggesting they were developed but were unexposed. On closer inspection the camera shutter is sticking.

It’s a cheap point and shoot from the 80s or 90s and it has fixed focus. The resulting images feature lots of out of focus subjects and many completely bleached white by the flash at close range. But all in all this was a good start.

For those interested:

  • I used Ilford Ilfosol 3 developer.
  • The dev time was 4.25 as suggested by Ilford. They provide excellent fact sheets and videos eg here.
  • I used the ‘massive dev’ phone app which has customisable recipes and a good timer.
  • The camera was the Miranda ME-Z I mentioned recently.
  • I bought my tank etc from Ffordes who also have a great range of cameras.

Retro-spective

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This little camera was one of my first real cameras. I think it was a gift when I was around 11 or 12.

I was obsessed with photography, you can see this from the marks aside the lens. These are the remnants of velcro strips which I attached to fix on my home made filters – plastic and coloured acetate.

Having recently started shooting film again, I thought I’d bring this one back into service. I’m planning on making the film currently inside the first I develop myself at home. Perhaps some of the results will make it online.

This camera brings mixed feelings for me.  As well as being my first proper camera, it’s also the last camera I used between the my teens and my mid thirties.

I used it for a photography project at a youth organisation. Part of this meant receiving feedback on images I’d taken. I remember taking in my little book of prints to show the class. I was especially proud of a couple of shots and waited with great anticipation for the leader’s comments.  Unfortunately for me, these comments were not altogether positive. And constructive criticism was more than my 12 year old mind could handle.

I don’t think I lifted up a camera much again, for the next 20 years.

In my thirties, I began taking photos with a phone and reveived encouragement, especially from my wife, to start shooting again.  This has developed into a fulfiling hobby accompanied by a thicker skin to critics.

Sometimes I get to speak to groups of children about photography and I take the opportunity to encourage them to keep going despite knock backs.

A superior type of auto?

I recently became the proud owner of this lovely wee camera. I’ve spent hours pouring over similar specimens online and also incredible refurbished versions such as sold by Tripman. I finally purchased this from the veritable Aladdin’s cave of secondhand cameras that is Ffordes.

Here’s the thing. It’s a fully automatic camera which chooses the exposure for you, all you have to do is choose the correct zone focus setting. When using it I’m not the least concerned by this, in fact it’s quite freeing. But then creeps over me slight uneasiness at my feelings of pride and superiority when I lend a mft camera to a family member who always requests it set to intelligent auto mode.

Shame on me for this double standard, as if replacing a digital sensor with film suddenly makes auto mode more ‘technical’.

Film

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Since discovering digital photography well into my thirties, I’ve wondered why some luddites would still work with film.

But now I know. I get it!

There’s something magical about the feel of the shutter click and manually winding on the film. After the first few shots I looked at the back of the camera to inspect the image. But now I’m enjoying not knowing.

Things that bother me in a digital image I now welcome; I like the grain and the slight loss of crispness when shooting film.

Although, I’ve not gone completely manual. I’m using an OM10 without the manual shutter dial – essentially shooting in aperture priority. For purists, I suspect this is still cheating!