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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Old 10-01-2008   #81
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One more thought... Imagine if you will?
Old 10-01-2008   #82
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One more thought... Imagine if you will?

Twenty years from now, this overheard in a coffeeshop......

"Wow, 626, 820, Minox spy film, Kodak disc, 110, APS, Digital,...Where did they all go?"

OK with me. I could just use the income from teaching digital for a couple of more years... about the time digital implodes and disappears.
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Old 10-01-2008   #83
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[quote=irq506;905835]Well it looks like this topic has a lot of interest.
I work in a niche camera store in Seattle, and so niche that we are probably in a minority of less than ten stores of its kind in the US. <<<

Good post, I may have been in your store, I think I found a bulb for my Minolta 45M Color head. I also indirectly sent you a student and client, Zuzana, and was very interested in the general atmosphere of photography in Seattle, and spent a night at the Max.

Zu modeled for me in Prague, and developed an interest in photography. We were on our way to pass your way last month but ran out of time. She shoots many formats, and as I met her in a cyber café in Prague, she is both young and tech savvy, the only one who could reset my digital clock in my car, but really appreciates film images.

Always appreciate real "camera stores", I am wondering if a list of some kind is needed to keep the faith? There are a few in Ohio.

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Old 10-01-2008   #84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wlewisiii View Post
It's entertaining to watch this from a number of places.
If I can still buy a roll of Reala (or, I'll grant, an equivalent emulsion) for less than $20 USD for 36 exposures then I'll believe that film has found it's niche.


William

Probably the same price as a gallon of gas, if we are lucky. ;-)

At least we can bulk load film, save those cartridges.

J
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Old 10-03-2008   #85
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I'm 29 and started out with a digital P&S and a 35mm SLR around, maybe 5 years ago or so. I now have a 5D and a 1V, quite a lot of EF glass, mostly L stuff, I have a Voigtlander Rangefinder, Hasselblad outfit, A couple of 70's manual SLR's a couple of TLR's and a whole galaxy of fun and cheery "lomo'ish" plastic camera's including a holga and a Diana, wide angle and 135 modifications for those and also a Toyo View-G 4x5 view camera. I develop my own B&W and E-6 in a jobo processor but has sadly never been in a darkroom, I am desperately applying for the evening course at the local college every year and every year I get my money refunded because the course was cancelled due to lack of subscription. I scan and print my negatives digitally and have labs make prints, sometimes if I feel flush I get a commercial hand printer to knock out a silver/gelatin or two for me. Unfortunately it is not viable for me to attempt to build my own darkroom due to lack of space and a non-understanding wife.

I like using my 5D but I much prefer using my film gear.
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Old 10-04-2008   #86
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I'm 24 and got started with photography when I joined the military back in '03. I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan for a year an a half and was like, 'You know I might want to have some pictures to show the family and my buddies back home.' I went on eBay and found a nice Bessa R with a Heliar 50mm. I'm currently waiting on a Leica M6 .85 classic to reach me here in Athens, Greece so I can give my Bessa R3A (and yes my holga) a rest. I love the shots with my Bessa and my Holga, the colors from my holga are vivid and fun while my Bessa takes the ’classics’. And honestly I think my Holga took better pictures of the Old City in Jerusalem.

Pictures with film are earned; pictures with digital are just taken.
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Old 10-06-2008   #87
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I continue to be surprised at the interest shown in film photography, especially black and white, by kids. My 9-year old grandson and his friend stayed the night this last weekend. Of course, my grandson is used to my film photography; it's rather ordinary, perhaps boring, to him. But his friend was fascinated.

I had several rolls of 35mm HP5 to develop, using HC-110 direct from the syrup. His friend was fascinated by the whole process of loading the reels in the changing bag (I gave a 'play-by-play' description of what was happening inside the bag); mixing the chemicals; explaining each process step, what the chemicals did to the film and why it was important; and finally the finished product, 2 strips of negative images hanging to dry. Next, he wants to see the process of printing in the darkroom. With proper encouragement, I can imagine another film 'convert' in the making.

My point is that each generation rediscovers the world all over again, as if from scratch. They don't necessarily stand on the shoulders of their forebearers. They don't have the benefit of our hindsight. And rarely do they take our lessons to heart; they have to learn them for themselves. Film will get constantly rediscovered, as long as the materials are available. That's our job to ensure.

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Old 10-07-2008   #88
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I was all ready to write something pithy but I'll just write some snippets as to why I think there may be a resurgence in youth using film, just random personal thoughts and some things I've heard while on a photo-club "photowalk."

1. No different than the people who get joy in using so-called primitive processes, taking a pic with digital is "easy," while film is harder, more of a challenge.

2. Many people spend their day in front of a computer, photography for many is recreation and they don't want to spend their free time in front of a machine. I can relate to this personally. Even scanning film gives me more of a feeling that I created the work, despite not having made the emulsion, cameras, lenses...

3. It's hip and kitschy. Look at some TV commercials.

4. One thing for me...no chimping. Take the shot and go on. It's nice when doing some PBWA (Photography By Walking Around, taken from LensWork's Brooks Jensen) to just keep walking, enjoying and finding new opportunities instead of walking around with my face staring at the back of the camera. One friend loves shooting at parties, and just doesn't like the gang of people trying to look at the back of the camera.

5. Film has an aesthetic, one that is either mimicked to varying degrees of success with PS plugins or in camera JPEG style settings. Why not take the easy route and just shoot film, especially when you can get a CD with the pics for very little extra.

6. A little bit of useful pressure - if I'm going to pay 20 cents everytime I push this button, I'm going to make it count.

7. I know where my negatives are as well as the 4x6 and the CD. Recently, I was going to reprint one of my all time favorite photos and I THOUGHT I had a digital file backed up several times, but after searching two hard drives, I still can't find it. My digital organization isn't at the level of Sports Illustrated's, but I do have semi-pro workflow system.

8. The Rolex vs. Timex argument. The Timex tells time more accurately, but there's something special about that mechanical Rolex. Pro Digital is just way the heck out of most budgets, yet pro film equipment has that wonderful feel of quality and is within reach and still produces great results - it has elegance.

I'll admit I love both digital and film. For my weekend work, I shoot motorsports and wouldn't dream of going back to film. I like my DSLR for night, high ISO stuff as well. For personal stuff including family, I shoot a candid, "street" style, DSLRs are obtrusive (even small ones) and P&S digitals are too slow - a film SLR or better yet - a Rangefinder - works great.

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Old 10-11-2008   #89
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I started out with a DSLR in 2006, but by summer 2007, I was trying out film cameras. I now have about 7 of them.
Digital is great, but for me, there is something really special about film. I buy film almost obsessively, and to be honest, I use film cameras about 60% of the time, but medium format and 135.
BTW, I just turned 36 (much to my dismay).
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I just donate 4 SLRs to the local Community College
Old 10-11-2008   #90
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I just donate 4 SLRs to the local Community College

I had my Olympus OM-1 for sale (purchased here by another RFF'r), and the instructor for the B&W film course at the college where I teach community ed classes emailed me. She asked if I didn't sell the camera, would I consider a donation to her class. I put together a package of 4 camera/lens kits... 3 Minoltas and a Sigma.

When I met with her, I asked about the interest level in the classes.

The college has one B&W class per quarter. Credit classes.. not community ed. They cap the class at 15 and always have a wait list. There are also a couple of other film classes for credit hours.

I find this interesting and encouraging for film. I know that 60 B&W new users a year doesn't seem like salvation for film, but there's more interest than some may be aware of in the market.

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Old 10-11-2008   #91
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film is the real deal, what else is there to say?
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Old 10-12-2008   #92
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I'm 20 and I use film - I've always used film. I used to use digital (and I've got a rather nice Fuji F100 for basic work) but my DSLR was stollen so I stopped.
This was a completely renewal for me. When I went to britain I decided to take 3 cameras : my new Agfa Isolette, my Rolleiflex and a digicrap.
The digicrap was highly used for sure, but I ddidn't have that many good shots. The Isolette was used for one roll because 120 film is getting pretty unavailable in Britain, especially B&W and the colour rolls were too thick for the camera.
The Rollei ate 3 1/2 rolls in two weeks and was very happy, and so was I with the results. In the meanwhile I bought a correctly working Minolta X700 for the SLR job, along with a flash and a 35-70. I had already got plenty of Minolta glass and it was the reason of the choice.
I have to tell that there is nothing funnier than using a 28mm on a big VF and 1600-pushed bw film. Try this with a 5D...
As for the Rolleiflex, square format rocks! And you cannot get any contact with the people with a DSLR because it's big, black and common.
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Old 10-13-2008   #93
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I guess by your definition, I'm "young" at 28!

Yes, I do use digital for "work" related photography where volume is involved, but almost all my personal photography is done with film. The big push for me to go from all digital to mostly film is it feels real. Digital is just too sterile and lacks any character without any major post processing. I find it humorous that people edit their digital photos to look like film photos anyways. I also really enjoy using all mechanical film cameras so that when I get a great shot, I got that great shot, not some computer.
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Even digitals want to do film... NOT a Plug....
Old 10-13-2008   #94
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Even digitals want to do film... NOT a Plug....

The Fuji S100FS (the FS stands for film simulation) is getting mixed reviews.

Fuji has made quite an effort to simulate the saturation of Velvia, with a setting for chrome. Now the company has dedicated a camera to simulation of other emulsion.

I've used a number of Fuji's with the Chrome feature, and they still look digital to me. I think that's what younger people are experiencing.. the real differences in dynamic range plus a rebellion to the corporate theme that with digital, you need a new camera 2-3 times a year.

You still can't get an image from a digital camera that has the dynamic range and can be hung on the wall without Post Processing more than film development and enlargement, without some characteristic that screams digital.
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Old 10-13-2008   #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuzano View Post
. . . , without some characteristic that screams digital.
Yes, but what is it?

I refer to it as an 'airbrushed' look (which is why I normally prefer digital for soft focus shots).

Has anyone else a better definition?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-13-2008   #96
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I started learning more seriously about photography this year, my 37th- the dreaded ''middle'' age grade, to get a bit more control over the end results. Using film was a no-brainer as good cameras are cheap and so is film. As I have progressed (debatable!) I really enjoyed using old cameras and different formats, but have come to the conclusion that digital for colour work, for me, is the way to go. I only shoot b&w film now and will start to develope my own soon- I hope. For colour, I have used c41, Sensia, Velvia, and Kodachrome and have been wowed by them all (especially Kodachrome). Strangely, I am also wowed with digital. I have said this before, but it is amazing that it works so well- and will only get better. I bought a Pentax k200d in July and have already paid for it in terms of film/developement costs compared to how much colour film I had been using. Of course, cost isn't the most relevant aspect of it all: I am just as happy with images from the K200d as I am from my MX.

Next to my K200d sits the Minolta Autocord loaded with HP5. The Autocord has a wonky shutter that doesn't even fire if the focus is closer than 7 feet! Should get it fixed but it still such a pleasure to use. It is small(ish) and quiet. People think you are a surveyor when you use it- am contemplating getting one of those safety vests when I venture out!

Digital vs film to me is silly.
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Old 10-13-2008   #97
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I'm 24 now and i just kind of stumbled into film. Wondering what the hell a rangefinder was i took a ride to my local camera shop and saw the canonet that i ended up buying. I take it everywhere, i love how simple it is as well as its size. Shooting with my 20D is easy and i can fire off a bunch of shots and delete what sucks, i cant do that with film. Since film requires one to actually stop and think, compose the scene and then get the exposure right.

I actually read your article in shutterbug about the new leica summarits. That article made me look at what a rangefinder is , granted i ended up buying the canonet, i then bought a bessa R2A and cannot wait to shoot with it.

Film is exciting to me , learning to take the time and really think about the shot makes this a more enjoyable hobby to me. I like my DSLR for its ease of use and its ability to let me be lazy , these film cameras have me full on.
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Old 10-27-2008   #98
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Hey you guys, I'm 19 years old and I've been shooting for the past few years. I started off w/ a Canon EOS (?) when I was 14, in school. That was a mandatory class, pretty uncommon for a German school. I used to develop and print my own stuff and I hated it. I have since moved to San Diego (High School) and back to Germany (Business School). I used to have a Pentax k10d, but sold it just to get a Canon AE-1 a few weeks later. Well what was next.. Yep I gave the AE-1 to a friend, just to get a Mamiya DX 1000. I've been shooting with that camera for some time now, and on Saturday I ordered my first m6. Now things have changed, I love going to the darkroom and shooting film. I actually convinced a few people of using film cameras as well, instead of going the all-digital route.

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Old 10-27-2008   #99
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I'm 27. I started attempting to learn photography last year, and the camera I started with is my great-grandfather's old Nikon Photomic FTn. I've since bought a Leica M2 (yes, I got in over my head a bit early), but the F is still one of my favorite cameras to use. I adore slow-speed black & white film when light permits me to use it, and for everything else there's Tri-X or HP5.

I started out by taking film to a local lab for processing and scanning. I am lucky enough to have two nearby that do black & white processing inexpensively. Later, I started developing film at home and bought a Nikon film scanner to complete my workflow at home. I've been to a local darkroom several times, but as it's fairly expensive to work there by the hour, my time there is limited. Once I have the room, I want to set up a darkroom for printing at home, as the silver prints I've made are prettier than any digital print of my work I've managed to produce.

I've grown up with computers and completed a computer science major in college, so one might expect that I'd be on board with digital 100%. I do have a DSLR, but the experience film gives me is so different from my usual day-to-day that it's extremely satisfying. I'm tapping into a store of knowledge that's much older than me or the computers I use - not to mention, I'm using cameras up to nearly twice my age. That means something to me when computer technology is so disposable.

I keep flirting with the idea of getting into medium format, but I always come back to reality by reminding myself that I have a lot yet to learn with 35mm.
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Old 10-27-2008   #100
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At the Photoplus Expo here in New York last week there were quite a few student groups, and I'd say they were the majority of people I saw with film cameras on their persons at the show. I spoke quite a bit with Patrick DelliBovi from Freestyle, and he said the Holgas were getting lots of attention, as well as the new "Blackbird Fly" 35mm plastic TLR from Japan. The coolest camera at the show was the new Holga 6x12 Pinhole camera that just came out about a week ago (alas, the Fujifilm 667 was not to be found). Check out the scene at the Freestyle booth--

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Old 10-27-2008   #101
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Well... Many younger have never owned a digital camera and always shot film! Am I still a "younger" at 28?
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Old 10-27-2008   #102
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28 here.
Never had a digital camera nor zoom lens on any of my cameras, started about 10 years ago in high school with Zenit developing my own Pan 100, 400 and HP5+. Then crappy Canon T70, Konica Auto S3, Yashica GSN, last year ETRSi and Ricoh GR1. This week R4A + CV 25/f4 should arrive to me from cameraquest, hope to be my last 35mm camera ;-)
Never even held a decent DSLR, I'm afraid to get rash or something.

BTW: My first post here.

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Old 11-23-2008   #103
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Old 11-23-2008   #104
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24. shooting for 10 plus years and never had a digi. whats the point?
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Old 11-23-2008   #105
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I have 9 film cameras (4 rangefinders) and 2 digital ones. The digital ones rarely, if ever, get used. My pictures aren't that good, but when people my age (and younger) see my pictures, they think my pictures are great. Why? because film just has that look about it. It looks "serious" or "real". Something like that.
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Old 11-24-2008   #106
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. . . It looks "serious" or "real". Something like that.
Of course I agree. But what is it? And how is it distinguishable even by non-photographers?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 11-24-2008   #107
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Quote:
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Of course I agree. But what is it? And how is it distinguishable even by non-photographers?

Cheers,

R.

I wish I knew what "it" is, but my guess is that our eyes just don't see things like a digital sensor sees things. If you focus on one thing, like the words on the screen you are currently reading, everything in your peripheral vision and behind the screen are out of focus. Our eye-brain connection recreates images in our head in a much more film-like way. Having everything so sharply in focus doesn't connect with us on that intimate level. Also, our memories are hardly digital-sharp, they often are fuzzy or grainy, much more like film captures light versus how a digital sensor records it. Is that "it"? I dont know, but it sounds good to me.
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Old 11-24-2008   #108
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The colors never quite look real. "Sharpening" only sharpens edges big enough to really stand out like the legs of a table. The grain pattern in the wood either becomes too noticeable if it gets resolved, or doesn't show up at all. I'm not sure how much of this is just the different look of the film itself or people going nuts in the post processing just because they can.
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Old 11-24-2008   #109
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Quote:
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I wish I knew what "it" is, but my guess is that our eyes just don't see things like a digital sensor sees things. If you focus on one thing, like the words on the screen you are currently reading, everything in your peripheral vision and behind the screen are out of focus. Our eye-brain connection recreates images in our head in a much more film-like way. Having everything so sharply in focus doesn't connect with us on that intimate level. Also, our memories are hardly digital-sharp, they often are fuzzy or grainy, much more like film captures light versus how a digital sensor records it. Is that "it"? I dont know, but it sounds good to me.
Sounds good to me too -- at least as convincing as much of what passes for 'expert opinion' on the internet. Thanks.

Then again, I'd add that the incredible sharpness of a good contact print can't be duplicated by digital either -- and that such pictures correspond to those things that are seared at a deeper level than idle recollection. Or possibly they correspond to things we see for the first time...

Cheers,

R.
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Old 11-24-2008   #110
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been using film since 1999. and im "only" 27.

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Old 11-24-2008   #111
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I just recently started using film (I had maybe shot 3 or 4 rolls of film in my life up until a month or two ago). I really like everything about film; how relatively cheap film is (itself and related equipment), developing it, having a hard copy of everything, etc.
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Old 11-24-2008   #112
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25 and have a few cameras, mostly use my EOS 3, but also have an Olympus Trip 35 and XA, and also a Mamiya C330 which is so much fun to use.

I develop and do all of my own prints, I do have a scanner but it's only to share over e-mail and Flickr. I don't print digitally as I find the result from the wetprint process is so enjoyable and excellent in every way.

I do have a digital camera on my phone which I'll use but it's not that good (3.2MP of freyed edges and JPEG artefacting, yum) I did have a digital camera once in 2004. It lost all my pictures when the battery compartment door broke (internal memory on the camera.)

I was not at all pleased. I used disposable cameras for the rest of the week in Tunisia and got some of my favourite photos of all time.

I have used digital SLRs and modern point and shoots and their OK for the majority of people, but I enjoy the whole non-digital process. It's fun!

Cost isn't too much of a part of it but I work in IT (web development) and I know how computers go, and I don't want my cameras to be throw away digital equipment, I want them to be things I will treasure in the years and decades to come.

That said, I'm no pro-shooter; if I was, digital would make more sense for quick + easy mass results.
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Old 11-24-2008   #113
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. . . I do have a digital camera on my phone which I'll use but it's not that good (3.2MP of freyed edges and JPEG artefacting, yum) I did have a digital camera once in 2004. It lost all my pictures when the battery compartment door broke (internal memory on the camera.)

I was not at all pleased. I used disposable cameras for the rest of the week in Tunisia and got some of my favourite photos of all time.
Great story. Interesting how IT professionals and others who have worked professionally with computers, other than as users, tend to polarize into 'Computers are God' and 'I don't trust the things further than I can throw them'. (I used to write technical promotional material for mainframes and associated software...)

Cheers,

R.
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Old 11-24-2008   #114
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Great story. Interesting how IT professionals and others who have worked professionally with computers, other than as users, tend to polarize into 'Computers are God' and 'I don't trust the things further than I can throw them'. (I used to write technical promotional material for mainframes and associated software...)
Very well observed, I'm very much of the thinking I don't trust them and so long as I have the mains in my reach, I'm still the boss of it, but without that, I don't think I'd be quite as cocky! I've been very careful whilst enthusiastic about technology and IT/Computers to not become dependent on it and run my life by them. That would be dangerous!
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Old 11-24-2008   #115
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I'm not young but I am immature.
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Old 11-24-2008   #116
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One more thing I would add is that a lot of the younger kids, I'm talking like 15 and younger, are so used to seeing and producing digital point-and-shoot and camera phone snaps, that when they see a "real" picture, they are taken aback. Wow. Depth of field. Who knew?

Their frame of reference is so shifted from the film pictures that older people grew up with. I see this with my nephew for sure.

Last edited by Gradskater : 11-24-2008 at 14:32.
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Old 11-24-2008   #117
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I shoot both film and digital for my professional work. Depending on the needs of the shoot, and the client (timeframe, cost, final usage requirements, etc.)

My personal work is 98% film - in 135/120/4x5

33 years old. Started shooting in 1985 with a minolta XD-11, and graduated to a Yashicamat 124G shortly afterwards.
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Old 11-24-2008   #118
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I call this passing the torch. This was during a photography field trip taken when the boy showed an interest in film. He was 12. Who knows what attracts younger people to film in an age of instant gratification. All I can say is that the boy was hooked when he saw his first print come up in the developer.

Sorry about the crappy image - I have a cheap scanner. But I have a nice darkroom!
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Old 11-25-2008   #119
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well, I'm back in the game... Just bought a NIB Hi-Matic 7s and I'm signed up for a B&W class at my college. Finally gonna learn how to develop and print!

I foresee a darkroom in my future...
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Old 04-07-2009   #120
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Firstly, I would like to apologise for reviving an old thread. I'm wondering if anyone bothers, but this thread struck a cord with me, so I'm just going to go ahead with my 2 cents.

I'm 29 this year and I really only got into photography last year. What attracted me? Holga and Lomography. I bought into the hype of 'imperfection' pictures and crazy colour shifts due to cross-processing. Guess what? I'm still loving it.

Is that the end of the stroy? Hardly. I do agree that it's all marketing and over-hyped, and I don't agree with their mantra of 'don't think, just shoot'. After fiddling with the Holga for a while, I realised I don't have much control of what I'm doing, so I picked up my dad's old Yashica FX-2 and started to shoot with it. After so long and no dry cabinet, there's still no moulds to speak of! (I live in a very humid country, Singapore.)

In the mean time, I picked up an old LC-A and other 'toy cameras' to fiddle with and is always surprised at how sharp the pictures turn out - with not much control to speak of too.

I 'graduated' into a Yashica GT (amongst other Yashicas) and was introduced into the world of RF. Now, I'm waiting to get a Bessa R to get into the 'serious' stuff.

To answer the question, why film? I guess in the beginning it was all about colours and the excitement of waiting to see if you did something right (i.e. capturing a photo). Then it was about trying to get things right with the proper controls (aperture, shutter speed, etc.) in my hand. Well, I recently also realised why I never had a digital camera. Something new is always coming up and I could never catch up with it. I want something I can use for all if not most conditions. I also love how a photo comes out when shot with film - the grains and everything. Like someone commented, it's funny how for all its advancements, digital cameras are trying to mimic the feel of a film camera.

I guess I have the over-hyped and marketing machine of Lomography to thank because without which, I would never have discovered the wonderful world of film photography. Oh, a lot of my friends who are into Lomography are also really well-versed in film photography such as processing and stuff.

Oh. This is my first official post (in public) in RFF. I just have to say I have found this forum to be most friendly and most helpful in me searching for useful information.
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