24 Sep 2012

Adventure into Film photography

I have been reading lots about film photography. It is interesting to me to know what the difference is to digital and why there are people who still shoot film. Everybody seem to say a lot about the dynamic range and the color rendition of film comparing to what is produced by a digital camera. All this got me interested in film and decide to take a leap into experiencing this medium.

I started photography seriously with a DSLR, although I had a point and shoot during the film era. So I can say that I have almost no experience with film photography. Rangefinder cameras have always fascinated me, partly due to curiosity of the style and the fact that I have never held one in my life.

I started reading about the rangefinder cameras, some are fully mechanical, some has electronics inside, and decided to purchase one, as I found a good deal on ebay. It is an old Yashica M II, fully mechanical with a selenium light meter build in, which is very handy to check my estimation with sunny 16 rule. :) It is a beautiful piece of equipment, fully mechanical means there is no need for batteries. Just put a roll of 35mm film and you are good to go.

Due to the age of the camera, the mechanical parts were stiff and needed CLA. Luckily all was relatively easy. I sprayed a bit of grease into the lens to lube the lens rings, as they were extremely stiff, calibrated the rangefinder for infinity focus accuracy and leveled up the rangefinder patch to match the height of the doubled images for better focusing. After all this, the camera was good to go.

I loaded a roll of Fuji Superia 200 into the camera thinking 24 exposures are only going to be enough for maximum couple of hours on street. :)

How naive I was. Shooting film is different, every time I expose a slide of film I ask myself "was it worth it?". This makes me slow down and think before taking a picture. The excitement and the anticipation of seeing the results adds to the whole process as well. The whole roll of film needs to be exposed before it can be taken to a lab for processing or you are just going to waste it. With digital cameras, one can view the result straight away, so there is no anticipation involve.

I took me almost 2 weeks from the time the film was loaded into the camera to when I saw the pictures for the first time. :) I was so excited when I got the prints back. It was easy to see the difference in color, dynamic range and the grain. The feel of the pictures is something cannot be described, I think the pictures have more "soul" to them.

It was a rewarding and enjoying process, and I will surely use the camera more.