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chris25

35Mm Film Photography

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In the early noughties I made the switch from film to digital. Convenience was the overwhelming factor. Not having to send a film to a processing lab and then wait, and the ability to edit and share photos at the click of a mouse made the change a no-brainer.

Last year I was looking through my computer and I suddenly realised that a lot of my old images had just disappeared. During the time I had got through 3 or 4 computers, and with each new computer I had supposedly transferred all my images, but it seemed despite that hundreds had gone missing.

Now, I suppose I should have printed them out and put them in photo albums at the time. But the trouble with digital is you simply take so many photos; as you are not restricted by cost or capacity, that in a simple short day trip I could have as much as 200 photos. Sorting through them, then sending the photos off would take hours. With a film camera I only used to take 3 or 4 photos and with every single photo I took I would do the best to ensure it was interesting as it cost me money.

Then there is the quality. I used to shoot with digital SLR's. The resolution was astonishing. You could zoom on a landscape and crop, and the photo would still be crystal clear. You would never be able to do that with film. However, there is something seriously amiss with digital photography and it's hard to explain.

When I look at photos taken on film I see a certain ambience. Like the image really is a capture of a moment. The tones are soft, colours are rich, the contrast more accurate. If I take a photo during sunset on film, the image will be warm and full of rich colour. On digital the colour is less pronounced, the image flatter, and whilst it will undeniably be sharper, it will totally lack ambience, unless I spend a lot of time editing it. But even after that it will still appear less real.

I think perhaps the way light is recorded via chemical/light reaction on a film in comparison to a binary code on CCD or CMOS digital sensor probably is what creates this ambience on film.

I made the switch last year, after one day just randomly buying an old manual Olympus OM1 with a 50mm lens on Ebay. I was expecting to sell it on after I got bored with it. I took 1 film, took it into the lab, waited a few days and then went and picked them up. Every image was beautiful. I am now totally hooked on film photography.

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It's the new digital!

Digital works if you ruthlessly edit the pictures down, pop down the chemist and get them printed off like we all used to with 35mm, and put them in an album. I know people who burn their best onto DVD and this is ok but I prefer an album as you can read it like a book rather than looking at a screen.

Having hundreds on your computer means you will rarely look at them, certainly nobody else will ever want to see them, and one day you wil lose them. I know somebody who does long flights in a ?paraglider (one man powered thing with decent range), has his own page with loads of videos on, meticulously updated and indexed. I've certainly never bothered looking at it other than when I was shown it. If he had a physical album with the greatest aerial shots he'd taken then I'd be interested.

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So what are the costs these days of film photography?

I think you can tell insstantly if something was shot on film, the same way you can tell if audio was recorded to tape. The mediums have strong characteristics.

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Film photography has always been much better.

Digital only developed because journalists and sports photographers needed a quick way of sending images back to the office. It did not improve the art of photography.

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i went back to film a couple of years back after building up a collection of old lenses which i had been using with my nikon dSLRs.

i've now ended-up with about half a dozen film SLRs and a bunch of 1960s Japanese compacts, full and half-frame, and a decent negative scanner.

there was a golden period when Tescos and some of the other supermarkets used to do cheap processing as a loss-leader (Tesco's colour process-only for £1.99! a roll), but that's all gone now.

there's still something about the look of film, not resolution but dynamic-range, grain structure and the colours.

nikon FE2 + 105/2.5ais (expired agfa film)

3601171336_cb9af1cb87_z.jpg

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So what are the costs these days of film photography?

If you originate the images on film, scan them and then use them digitally (e.g. edit in Photoshop, then print and/or email), not much. Bogstandard rolls of C41 film can be bought in pound shops, and my local ring-road Tesco will develop the negative for 99p. Note: don't have Tesco scan it, as you'll get low resolution, low colour depth, heavily compressed files back that have been scanned on auto-exposure - they look sh!te.

I have a Leica M3 and a Nikon F75 (plus various lenses), and do most of my photography on those. I take the odd mobile phone pic where speed is essential, but don't have a digital SLR or compact.

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I would say that standard/now ancient photography is still the best.

However, to the naked eye now that we are getting into regions of 4k2k, it's going to be VERY hard to tellany difference, as if it wasn't enough already/

\It's not a bad thing I guess and it's evolution is as inevitable as that from vinyl to CD, from CRT to LCD, it'll still be there - just no one (most) will care.

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Do film images really look that much better? I'm not terribly convinced. Things like grain feel more like a "what you're used to" result, although film is unquestionably superior in dynamic range. The fact that I never had a half-decent film camera probably biases me towards digital though.

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although film is unquestionably superior in dynamic range.

Really? I shoot in 14-bit RAW on my EOS 450D (which is a ~5 year old design now I think) and I have been astonished at the detail it can dig out of chronically underexposed photos (usually candids at wedding receptions, I'm not generally in the habit of underexposing my photos :P ). I've found that shots that were probably 3-4 stops underexposed, which would be a grainy mess on 35mm neg stock, can actually be turned into a pretty nice picture in the Canon software, albeit still a bit grainier than if they'd been properly exposed. For a candid,

capturing a spontaneous moment, that's a very useful ability.

TBH when I bought the camera I thought I'd probably be a bit disappointed with the quality compared with 35mm, but I really haven't. I would imagine that the latest full frame 20+ megapixel cameras are probably quite superb, and if the price of them continues to drop I'll probably jump in once I can justify it- I only really use an SLR on holiday and at weddings, although I'm thinking of taking up trainspotting...

I would say though for those that have never tried it- Medium Format really is something else entirely. Even 645 is capable of eye-opening quality; I have a Fuji GSW690 MkII and it is capable of sensational results. A shame then, that I've never really got round to pointing it at anything particularly beautiful :rolleyes: . I should really start using it again, but with the price of a roll of 120 up from ~£2 10 years ago to nearly 4 quid now, and processing from £4.50 upwards, that's literally a pound a shot when you only get 8 on a roll :( . Still, I suppose I'm considerably wealthier now than when I bought it for 2 weeks camera shop wages, so I guess I should just get on with it! :P

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i went back to film a couple of years back after building up a collection of old lenses which i had been using with my nikon dSLRs.

i've now ended-up with about half a dozen film SLRs and a bunch of 1960s Japanese compacts, full and half-frame, and a decent negative scanner.

there was a golden period when Tescos and some of the other supermarkets used to do cheap processing as a loss-leader (Tesco's colour process-only for £1.99! a roll), but that's all gone now.

there's still something about the look of film, not resolution but dynamic-range, grain structure and the colours.

nikon FE2 + 105/2.5ais (expired agfa film)

3601171336_cb9af1cb87_z.jpg

Beautiful photo.

What scanner do you use?

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Half the time I see digital photos with some dreadful filter or amateurish FX applied. It shows that giving people who are unable or unwilling to learn a bunch of buttons to press only produces rubbish.

I remember doing photography as extra curricular activity at school. It was all about technique, composition, doing your own black and white processing and developing. The book we were recommended to buy was quite dry but detailed and comprehensive. I didn't feel that restricted by only having a 50mm lens on my second-hand Olympus and shots were eye-poppingly sharp.

Now, as a camera fan that gets asked about this stuff, people only seem interested in what fancy gear to splurge on.

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I remember doing photography as extra curricular activity at school. It was all about technique, composition, doing your own black and white processing and developing. The book we were recommended to buy was quite dry but detailed and comprehensive. I didn't feel that restricted by only having a 50mm lens on my second-hand Olympus and shots were eye-poppingly sharp.

Ansel Adams and the Zone System, by any chance?

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Really? I shoot in 14-bit RAW on my EOS 450D (which is a ~5 year old design now I think) and I have been astonished at the detail it can dig out of chronically underexposed photos (usually candids at wedding receptions, I'm not generally in the habit of underexposing my photos :P ). I've found that shots that were probably 3-4 stops underexposed, which would be a grainy mess on 35mm neg stock, can actually be turned into a pretty nice picture in the Canon software, albeit still a bit grainier than if they'd been properly exposed. For a candid,

capturing a spontaneous moment, that's a very useful ability.P

If the whole image is underexposed then there's probably not a lot of dynamic range in it in the first place. You can probably shift around more in what you've got with digital but the overall range isn't brilliant - it's very easy, for example, to have a correctly exposed landscape and a saturated sky.

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Really? I shoot in 14-bit RAW on my EOS 450D (which is a ~5 year old design now I think) and I have been astonished at the detail it can dig out of chronically underexposed photos (usually candids at wedding receptions, I'm not generally in the habit of underexposing my photos :P ). I've found that shots that were probably 3-4 stops underexposed, which would be a grainy mess on 35mm neg stock, can actually be turned into a pretty nice picture in the Canon software, albeit still a bit grainier than if they'd been properly exposed. For a candid,

capturing a spontaneous moment, that's a very useful ability.

TBH when I bought the camera I thought I'd probably be a bit disappointed with the quality compared with 35mm, but I really haven't. I would imagine that the latest full frame 20+ megapixel cameras are probably quite superb, and if the price of them continues to drop I'll probably jump in once I can justify it- I only really use an SLR on holiday and at weddings, although I'm thinking of taking up trainspotting...

I would say though for those that have never tried it- Medium Format really is something else entirely. Even 645 is capable of eye-opening quality; I have a Fuji GSW690 MkII and it is capable of sensational results. A shame then, that I've never really got round to pointing it at anything particularly beautiful :rolleyes: . I should really start using it again, but with the price of a roll of 120 up from ~£2 10 years ago to nearly 4 quid now, and processing from £4.50 upwards, that's literally a pound a shot when you only get 8 on a roll :( . Still, I suppose I'm considerably wealthier now than when I bought it for 2 weeks camera shop wages, so I guess I should just get on with it! :P

yes RAW is the best way to go with digital, although technologies like Nikon's D-lighting and HDR are making inroads. my nexus 4 phone has a mild HDR mode that is really impressive. re. film, the latitude is so great that with several of my old non-metering compacts i can do exposures just by guesswork and get usable results 90% of the time.

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Minolta scan elite 5400 (version 1).

Wow, they ain't cheap!

But like everything in photography. You get what you pay for (unless its a 35mm body and 50mm lens, which are peanuts)

I was so disappointed by my labs scans. They were only 1908 X 1272, and the actual printed 6X4 picture had far better quality and low grain than the scan. When I right click them, at says they are 300dpi, is that any good?

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I know a couple of pro photographers and it is noticeable that while they wouldnt consider using anything but digital for professional jobs they often use film for their personal work.

In Japan there is a real trend to buy £5000 Leicas and a lot of them are just investments/status objects that never get used. A Leica from 50 years ago may have held its value really well but I wonder if in another 50 years you will even be able to buy film?

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Wow, they ain't cheap!

But like everything in photography. You get what you pay for (unless its a 35mm body and 50mm lens, which are peanuts)

I was so disappointed by my labs scans. They were only 1908 X 1272, and the actual printed 6X4 picture had far better quality and low grain than the scan. When I right click them, at says they are 300dpi, is that any good?

the 5400 is not made anymore. minolta got out of the business.

it's actually cheap compared to an equivalent nikon scanner!

its maximum scan dpi is 5400 and it has sophisticated dust-removal built-in.

there are some decent cheaper ones. this one is very good if you can find one, and don't mind scsi:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Umax-Powerlook-270-PLUS-Scanner/dp/B00006SG0L

non-professional lab scans are always a bit rubbish. tesco used to give you a scan cd as part of your £1.99 processing!

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I know a couple of pro photographers and it is noticeable that while they wouldnt consider using anything but digital for professional jobs they often use film for their personal work.

In Japan there is a real trend to buy £5000 Leicas and a lot of them are just investments/status objects that never get used. A Leica from 50 years ago may have held its value really well but I wonder if in another 50 years you will even be able to buy film?

One of my friends uses Leicas for his professsional (and artistic! ;) ) photography. As formats go the 35mm has outlived the LP record! :huh:

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Don't suppose anyone knows of a cheap-ish scanner for 120 format film? I've got about 300 frames of negative in the family archives (a lot of it colour from the '60s and '70s and so will have faded to pink, but I can fix that in Photoshop), and no way of scanning them. I look around online periodically, but can't find anything that will scan 120 at all for less than four figures. Even flatbeds with a lamp in the lid only seem to be the size of a 35mm frame.

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Fair enough y'all but back on the subject of digital, I'm looking to buy a lens for an olympus Micro 4/3 format camera. Can anyone suggest reputable used equipment stockists?

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  • 245 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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