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Thread: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

  1. #1

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    Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Hey guys i was recently i got to use my neighbors Pentax k1000 film camera. I know that most people are deep into digital cameras, but using her old film camera got me inspired.

    I am thinking about getting a good film camera. I was thinking about getting a 35mm SLR.
    I would like to known what your favorite film cameras are, what some good choices will be, and any general advice/information that you think would be handy. Super thanks.

    Also if there is anyone that wants to sell one please email me.

    Oh and here's some pix i took with the Pentax k1000.
    Please post. Thanks.
    P.S. These were taken in the BWCA
    Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!
    Last edited by OatsNWhay; 27th February 2013 at 05:10 AM.

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    I like my old Pentax MZ5

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    The Pentax K1000 was widely considered to be the workhorse of newspaper photojournalists, because its very basic mechanical functions meant that anyone who knew what they were doing could still get a picture as long as they had film to shoot.

    My last 35mm camera was an Olympus OM-4 T, which had possibly the best metering system of any 35mm SLR. This camera could spot meter up to eight different readings per exposure, and save that exposure value in memory for subsequent exposures. It also had a back-up mechanical shutter setting for 1/60th of a second, so if the batteries or electronics went down it could still take photographs at that shutter speed. I would have been even happier with the OM-3 version that had all mechanical shutter speeds but, try getting one of those without prying it out of someone's cold dead hands!

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Seth, to be honest, I would worry more about what kind of glass you want to invest in. Provided you know how to shoot manual, the camera is just a dark box. The only things that will actually 'touch' the picture are the lens, and the film.

    So don't get caught up in which camera is better than which...

    PS - for what it's worth, I own a Canon Ftb, and it works great for me, when I get around to use it!
    Last edited by Andrew76; 25th February 2013 at 03:36 AM. Reason: Added PS

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Quote Originally Posted by OatsNWhay View Post
    ... recently i got to use my neighbors Pentax k1000 film camera...
    My Dad had a K1000 so when I bought my first SLR I bought a Pentax ME Super, so he and I could share lenses. A few years later I was able to upgrade to a Pentax SFXn and I used that until 2011. It's not as reliable as it once was but that's my own fault. It got damaged quite badly and the only repair that was possible was to replace the back from another SFXn.

    Ken

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Hi Seth,

    Would there be any specific reason you would like to shoot film instead of digital?

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    Hi Seth,

    Would there be any specific reason you would like to shoot film instead of digital?
    Better still, list the drawbacks to using film, one of which is finding a source for developing the images. I have a film camera and I know of one source, a pharmacy, that still has film sent out for development. More and more of these facilities are disapperaing.

    Another issue is finding a source of film. The cost of film and developing the rolls will be a significant concern. I remember when I made the conversion from film to digital, I had a list of pros and cons to making the switch. And as the technology improved and cost began to match I finally decided to make the plunge.
    Even with these obstacles, I still want to utilize the technology if only on a limited basis.

    Incidentally, most of my film cameras were point and shoot, my favorite was the Polaroid SX70 which still sits on my shelf. I currently have an ALPA Si2000 which I use from time to time.

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Seth, I applaud your interest in using film. I must caution you, however, to make sure that you have a reliable processing service lined up, either nearby or via the mail. We filmies are suffering from the loss of D&P mini-labs but I believe that, on your side of the Pond, Costco are still offering a good service. As for cameras, it depends on how much you are willing to spend, but I would recommend that you look for a good Nikon FM or FE. Both have hybrid mechanical shutters which will work regardless of battery condition, and are very robust so the odds of any that you come across being sound, are good. If you go digital in the future, you will be able to use the lenses on a Nikon DSLR.

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    I when I shot film; I loved my Canon A-1 but, have not touched a film camera (nor had any desire to) since I purchased my first DSLR...

    However, I am not a retro type of person. I have no great desire to own an older car either, no matter how beautiful a vehicle like the Jaguar XKE is...

    One big problem that I always had with some of the arguably greatest rangefinder 35mm film cameras such as the Leica M models and the Nikon S models was that the bottom needed to be removed as you loaded a new roll of film. Having three items (body, film cannister and bottom) in a fast moving or dangerous situation (such as combat photography) was a juggling act I did not enjoy. I absolutely laugh at photographers of today who think that they need to use hemongous capacity memory cards because switching those cards in the field is a problem for them. Give me a break people!

    If you do get a film camera, I would definitely recommend getting a camera and lenses which were top-line in their day. There is not that much difference in the cost between a used top-line film camera or a entry-level SLR and the top line cameras/lenses are (IMO) a lot more fun with which to shoot.

    When I shot film, I would shoot 35mm slide and ocasionally shoot some snapshots at parties and family gatherings (at my wife's insistance) using negative color film. However, for serious photography (some photojournalism excepted) when using B&W or color negative film, medium format would beat the pants off 35mm negative film. The difference, IMO, was far more apparent that the peceived difference between crop and medium-format DSLR results.

    When I shot weddings for pay; I never used 35mm equipment for the ceremony or pre and post ceremony pictures because I would often sell 16x20 inch or larger prints and 35mm just didn't cut the mustard for prints that large. However, especially towards the end of my career, I used a 35mm Canon A-1 (with a Canon AE-1P backup) for the reception photos because that was more of a photojournalism exercise and because I almost never had an order for a print over 8x10 inchs in size. Besides, at advancing age, it was nice to put down the medium format camera and pick up the lighter weight 35mm gear at the end of a long and tiresome day of wedding shooting.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 26th February 2013 at 02:37 PM.

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    If you're trying to make really large prints, your choices are a medium-to-large-format film camera, or a medium-format digital. The former is expensive, and the latter is crazy expensive. On that basis, some film formats (above 35mm) still make sense for large prints.

    I still use my Canon A1E (the camera I learned on), but simply because I like strolling around with a leather camera strap and a pocket full of Tri-X. It's cool, and interacting with an old camera is very pleasing. Since I don't know how to develop my own film, I sacrifice control, so it's digital all the way when I'm planning to edit. I sometimes borrow my dad's 120-format Zenza Bronica when I want to run a truly old-school portrait session. The images are great, but it's mainly a quaint anachronism. I'm almost always shooting digital at the same time. In a nutshell, I use them, but more to keep up my skills and train on multiple cameras than to get good pictures.

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    in the UK at least you can still get films developed by Fuji.

    I shoot the odd roll of film, there is something satisfying about it. Curiously I'm about to send some off.

    I wouldn't use film over digital in the long run too expensive but if it interests you in photography then great.

    As an aside I was out with my 84 year old Dad the other day and found him looking at cameras in the window. Now whereas we'd all be oohing and aahing over the latest FF from Canikon my dad was oohing and aahing over secondhand Rolliflex(es).

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Quote Originally Posted by thequacksoflife View Post
    in the UK at least you can still get films developed by Fuji.

    I shoot the odd roll of film, there is something satisfying about it. Curiously I'm about to send some off.

    I wouldn't use film over digital in the long run too expensive but if it interests you in photography then great.

    As an aside I was out with my 84 year old Dad the other day and found him looking at cameras in the window. Now whereas we'd all be oohing and aahing over the latest FF from Canikon my dad was oohing and aahing over secondhand Rolliflex(es).
    If you are ever in Toronto (and I am sure many different cities have something similar) visit the St. Lawrence Market area. They have various stands with antique cameras. Normally one would just go to the nearest pawn shop, as risky as Ebay.
    Last edited by Shadowman; 25th February 2013 at 08:00 PM. Reason: added text

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    Hi Seth,

    Would there be any specific reason you would like to shoot film instead of digital?
    Well one main reason is the feel of it. There is just something special with photographing with film. Second nearly everything with film cameras are cheaper. Third it can also be a backup for my Canon T3i. And some other reasons.
    Last edited by OatsNWhay; 27th February 2013 at 05:06 AM.

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Hi Seth: I did quite a bit of film photography from 1980 up until about 8 years ago. I must say there is a solid, tactile nature about the equipment that is less so in many modern digital cameras. I put that down to two reasons, new materials and they have become more of a commodity. I did travel and nature photography using Nikon F3's - this camera is a classic 35mm professional workhorse offering spot aperture piority metering, plus full manual (even with no battery) and they are built like tanks. My other camera body was the Canon A-1, chosen for its wide range of modes: everything from Full Program, AV, TV and manual. I loved those cameras, but... There are drawbacks highlighted by the changes in technology...

    1. Digital allows you to see IMMEDIATELY what you have taken and make adjustment. When I was in the middle of nowhere it might take a couple of weeks for me to see if I got the shots right.
    2. Each shutter activation with digital is essentially free: that is FAR from the case with film, especially as the material is becoming less and less available.
    3. Unless you are resourced and prepared to do your own darkroom work you are in the hands of a technician to develop your precious images - I lost 20 rolls of 36 tranparency photos taken around NZ because the lab tech got the chemical temperatures wrong. They gave me free film in return and I had to do the whole trip again.
    4. Being digital you can back up your photos to many devices for security, as soon as you take them - in some cases via WiFi or even using cell phone technology. Rather hard to do with film.
    5. All film has a shelf life, digital far less so! Film is temperature sensitive, bulky and comparitively fragile.
    6. There is the issue of viewing your efforts: with digital I can keep them on my computer, and see them on rotating desktop of my computer screen, I can choose to publish them in diaries, blogs, on web-produced books or PPT files, have them on digital photo screens, on my phone, print them on almost any material including canvas - all comparitively cheaply. I can put them into the cloud via my own private storage or on public sites such as Flikr or some such. Before, with film, IF someone else like them, I might publish images commerically (transparency only) print them or display them on slide shows. These days digital offers far more flexibility and I would argue more accessibilty than the older media. I know you can convert film to digital but I really feel you lose quality in the conversion process.

    I would also argue that GOOD lenses today are better than good lenses from way back then.

    On the other hand I must admit I harken back with some nostalgia to the days when I had only to worry about ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Now digital cameras have more and more features, but sometimes the simple ones I want are buried in the menus.

    I am personally very happy with digital, and would not go back... that said I wish I had kept one of each body, plus a couple of lenses... just for display purposes, and occasionally to pick up, just for the feel and the memory....
    Last edited by Tronhard; 27th February 2013 at 04:34 PM.

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Quote Originally Posted by OatsNWhay View Post
    Well one main reason is the feel of it. There is just something special with photographing with film. Second nearly everything with film cameras are cheaper. Third it can also be a backup for my Canon T3i. And some other reasons.
    In that case Seth, I would say get yourself a Pentax 645 - real cheap. In SA you can pick up film cameras for next to nothing. Plenty of them sitting around in pawn shops - cheap,cheap.

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    Trevor wrote above: "Unless you are resourced and prepared to do your own darkroom work you are in the hands of a technician to develop your precious images - I lost 20 rolls of 36 tranparency photos taken around NZ because the lab tech got the chemical temperatures wrong. They gave me free film in return and I had to do the whole trip again."

    You are not the only one who has experienced this problem! Robert Capa, famous combat photographer from the Spanish Civil War. WW-II and the French War in Indochina (where he was killed by a land mine) made the landing with allied forces at Normandy on 06 June 1944. A darkroom technician in London was in a hurry to get the pictures and ruined his images in a film dryer which was to hot! I have been that type of position many times (in my career as a Naval Photographer) in which superiors assumed that just because the film was important and because some admiral wanted to see it; I could speed up the processing time. "What do you mean it takes xx minutes to process this film. The admiral wants it now!"

    I do remember processing B&W film in Dektol (Kodak D-72 print developer) for 90 seconds or so, running it through a quick trip in the hypo and doing a cursory wash. I would then squeegee off the negatives and print them wet on a waterproof base paper. Then quickly process the prints. The results were not fantastic but, I could get a print in about 15 or 20 minutes. Lots have changed since then. Now people argue whether it is better to shoot JPEG over RAW because of faster turn around times.

    Besides the virtual free shooting after purchasing digital equipment; I like digital photography because I can shoot 2-3 exposures and have them to edit and print, email or post on the Internet without wasting an entire roll of film. I also like the fact that I can change ISO midway through shooting. That could not happen without pulling out the film roll and shooting with a new roll.

    The ISO levels at which today's digital cameas can produce acceptable quality imagery are mind boggling. Film photographers have never had the luxury of those high ISO's at which to shoot!

    I also don't have to worry about white balance; especially when I shoot RAW.

    Most film cameras with focal plane shutters had a maximum sync speed of 1/60 second (although a few later models went way up to 1/125 decond sync speed). This would result in ghost images if you shot fill flash of a moving subject outdoors. Today's 1/200-1/250 second sync speeds (unlimited with High Speed Sync) would have been a godsend to the film photographers using focal plane shutters. And, if I wanted to use a between the lens shutter so I could shoot effective fill flash; I most often was restricted to a top shutter speed (not top sync speed, the top shutter speed; period!) of 1/500 second!

    I could go on and on like this... The film cameras have a nice nostalgia about them but, for me, they belong in a camera museum. I would not think about shooting film but, certainly understand where photographers might get the urge to use that medium. If for nothng else but trying it.

    OTOH - I like to ride horses but, I am glad that I don't have to saddle up old Betsy for a trip to the supermarket...

    BTW: It would not take too many rolls of film to be purchased and processed to add up to the cost of an new entry-level or used prosumer grade DSLR camera.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 28th February 2013 at 02:35 PM.

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    I.m still using my canon AE-1
    no problem getting film on amazon and plenty of places on line for developing (i.e. the dark room).
    try EBAY for buying.

  18. #18

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    I still have nostalgic feelings for a Rolleiflex, that is a 2.25x2.25 Twin Lens Reflex. But I doubt if you will find one in a Pawn shop as they still command prices pretty close to the new price. You can get a developing tank , daylight loading loading means you load it in the dark but subsequent developing and fixing can be done in daylight. After washing away the fixing agent you hang it up to dry and then get the negatives scanned, or copy them yourself with a digital camera.
    But it is what you take that matters not the gear you use and digital is so superior

    edit ... "Richard .... Having three items (body, film cannister and bottom) in a fast moving or dangerous situation (such as combat photography) was a juggling act" Add a flash gun into the equation and it is worse Goodbye Leica and enter Topcon 35S with its opening back helped. Plus the flash fitted on the hot shoe instead of the sync gadget monopolising that... I upset my boss somewhat by hacking into one of his Leica's to fit a sync contact inside the camera.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 11th December 2013 at 07:25 PM.

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    I still shoot on film. Yes it costs money and you never know what you will get until you get your prints/scans back. But that's part of the fun. But with that in mind you do need to slow down and think about what you are shooting. There is no spray and pray in film photography.
    Film is of course still available, many companies have reduced what they used to offer, There are even people like Ferrania film who are making a come back in 2014. Companies like Ilford are still going strong and even the Lab that I use has seen an increase in the film side of the business.
    Film isn't for everyone but those like me who like the look and the whole process of film. I'm happy to stick with it.
    I still use digital but I get more satisfaction with film.

  20. #20

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    Re: Turn back the clock: Film Cameras!

    The camera you select depends on the quality of the "glass"(lenses) which can a long search. I use a Minolta srt 202 and two zoom lenses. A Minolta 35-70 and a Minolta 70-210. I like doing landscape and nature and these two lenses are perfect for that. The top brands are Nikon and Canon, and at the time I bought the Minolta, the prices for Nikons and Canons were much more expensive. But we're talking about today so buying a good Canon or Nikon shouldn't be hard on the wallet. You are in a position to get auto-focus SLRs and the lenses are plentiful. As for the arguments of film being costly compared to digital it's a moot point. Going digital at the start can be easy, with a point and shoot. But moving up to a Digital SLR will mean researching what brand, how many pixels , and there is the search for the lenses that will work best with your model DSLR. After the expense of getting started, there are numerous accessories that you will need. Storage for your work. If you want to just look at your work you will need equipment that will let you see your photos. A computer is generally used which means programs for your photos. Ask some of the digital shooters what "gear" they tote with them when going out to get some shots. You'll be wondering why so much extra little "do-dads" are needed. Extra batteries, a portable digital storage (hard drive) memory cards, they do get full and you will need to have an empty one. Then there is the labeling of the SD cards. Better write small to keep track of what SD has what in it. I was considering going digital, priced the camera, found the two lenses that I would use, knowing that the spending would continue to "keep up" with the technology. I read a note on a web site concerning the choice of going digital and the writer made a point of explaining how the technology is changing so fast that buying the top of the line DSLR could be "old hat" in two or three years. I thought about the idea that digital can be very expensive and kind of depressing. I like using film, I like shooting slide. When I go out in search of good landscape or nature shots, the only gear is my camera, two lenses, extra film and good health. Sure you have to send your film to a lab, you won't know how you did until the film comes back. But you can open the folder and look at them. No screen needed. No SD card, no hard drive and all of depending on the electricity being there all the time. Who can say a digital storage wouldn't go bad and lose all the work. If you like film, stay with it. Choose a camera brand, whether a point and shoot or a range finder, or a SLR, select which lenses you think will do the job and give the results you want. Enjoy what you want to do, there are a lot film users out there and I don't think film will totally go away.

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