Back in from the cold - my journey back to film

Discussion in 'Film Forum' started by califlefty, Jul 28, 2007.

  1. califlefty

    califlefty

    946
    Apr 7, 2006
    A few months ago I'm staring at a box full of those little yellow packets that Kodak used to mail you your processed slides. Are you old enough to remember lead lined bags to keep film safe from airport xray machines? If you were clever you'd get them to hand inspect your camera and film but eventually there was no avoiding the dreaded fear of fog. So the strategy was to travel with those bright yellow pre-paid envelopes, buy your film on the road and when you got home there would be a stack of slides waiting for you in those little yellow boxes- oh joy, you take the picture we do the rest!

    So I'm sitting there thinking "scanner" to convert it all to digital and after two months of reading everything I can and agonizing over which scanner to buy I decided to order the Epson V700. Yes, it's a compromise but I'm pretty good at post processing and understand I'm going to have to work like heck to get the quality out of the image, but what the hey, I shoot with a D100 so a half-hour of tweaking a keeper isn't all that unusual. And then it hits me, if I'm going to have a scanner I can actually start shooting film again. Frankly, I'd pretty much abandoned B&W when I went digital. I came of age photographically speaking when it was tragically hip to run Rodinal in your bathroom and casually mention how a certain image failed to dynamically span all Zones. Digital B&W just never appealed, never had the quality of thus lustrous tones of black. The idea of hanging around a cafe with a Leica around my neck and a cigarette from my lip seemed about as valid as my middle aged neighbor's decision to buy a corvette; oh to be an artiste!

    But what camera? I'll just pick up an M6 and a couple of dozen lens and .... hello is that the morning alarm? I was having such a pleasant dream. And so the search begins. I'm looking at CameraQuest and thinking....hmmm, Bessa! It has that rangefinder panache and looks just like a Leica (think Seiko instead of Rolex) and I could do this financially, wonder if its any good? So another two weeks of reading and sweating the details of technology I haven't looked at in years. How about a Contax G system - sweet! Ha, try finding one in good shape. Maybe a Yashica? Canonnet? I'm chasing my tail yo-yoing from one extreme to another.

    And then I see it. On Ebay, calling my name. A perfectly new Bessa R2a in black with a 40 Noctor and viewfinder, like new from a woman that swears she's run only 10 rolls through it. She seems nice, thoughtful, assuring. It's an incredible bargain at a "buy it now" of only $525.00. Should I do it? It midnight. I'm reading the pros and cons one last time. OK, I'm doing it, hell I could sell that lens if I had to and almost break even. It's 1:00 AM. I go back to the item and OH THE HUMANITY! someone else bought it! I turn on my best "Nancy Karrigan wai" WHY?? WHY??? WHY??? He who hesitates is lost!

    Now I'm depressed, give it a rest. So I start thinking about what I'm looking for in a camera. Small, light, black, manual, but auto exposure too. I'm only going to shoot B&W, and only 35mm wide. Well I've got a perfectly good Nikkor that's dead sharp - is it back to the future with Nikon? How about an EM? Nope, just too toyish to appeal to me. But then I start looking at an FG. Hmm, same size as an EM, seems pretty respectable, but not really a pro camera, but heck lets take a look. So there I am at KEH's site and there she sits, a black FG rated EX+ for a few bucks over $100.00. This time no one is snatching this baby away from me.

    So in a few days time I'll be shooting B&W, and probobly in a few weeks I'll get it out of my system. Heck I dont even know what film I should use? Do they still even make TRI-X??
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2007
  2. Chris101

    Chris101

    Feb 2, 2005
    Arizona
    HA! The mere fact that you said "tragically hip" means you belong here. :p

    Congratulations on your purchase Lefty, you will no doubt enjoy your FG immensely! And of course, since you have the scanner ready, your pictures will be soon to follow. I, and no doubt one or two others here, believe that film remains the best medium for monochrome photography.

    Film? There are plenty, but yes trix is still as popular as ever, even though it has been reformulated, with maybe a sixth stop more speed, and a bit less contrast. Look through some of the older threads here, especially for work done by NB23 on developing the new trix. You might also want to look at some of the new Delta films by Ilford.
     
  3. cellison

    cellison

    178
    Mar 18, 2006
    Canada
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading that! I'm in a similar position having been weaned on D76 and Tri-X and many years later finding myself looking at my D200 B&W conversions and thinking something has gotten lost along the way. I ended up with this I bought from our own NB23.

    Welcome to the forum. You find a few of us crazies that not only shoot film but actually went back to it after shooting digital. Crazy talk I know.

    Chris
     
  4. "So in a few days time I'll be shooting B&W, and probobly in a few weeks I'll get it out of my system. Heck I dont even know what film I should use? Do they still even make TRI-X??"

    Lol! Be very, very careful. :biggrin: I was in the same position back in January and now I'm shooting film almost exclusively! By the way that FG is an excellent little walk around camera. It's really no bigger than a rangefinder. When you get it just check the light seals and that fuzzy light baffling to the right of the mirror assembly. Have fun and welcome back to the future.
     
  5. Ah!
    Tri-X + D76 Stock is the right combo!

    Leica is maybe a little expensive but extremely rewarding. Just holding that thing is an experience on its own.
    I started with a Bessa but since all the roads lead to Leica, no matter how good the Bessa was, I ended up with Leica. I don't think one can compare both. There is that "magic" factor. But yeah, Bessa or Zeiss are great cameras. You'll just end up with a Leica, no matter. Sooner or later.

    -----

    Shooting digital is something I don't enjoy much anymore these days. I stopped shooting film for only 1 year when I got the D100 but quickly got back to 50/50 and since I got a scanner I'm 100% film except for paying jobs.

    Even my wedding stuff is 20% to 50% film.
     
  6. I've been feeling the draw of Leica. 50 summilux and the MP or some such.

    But I haven't bought any new photo gear for a while now, and I doubt I will toss that much money at it. Shame I hate selling stuff as much as I do.

    I look at Ned's work as well as most here and also Cartier-Bresson and realize that is my photography.

    I'd be happy enough with the FM3a, etc. but losing that loud noise would be awesome.

    Good thing that BH didn't have them in stock the other day...
     
  7. I wish you guys would stop stirring up the water like this!:biggrin: I was in the hall closet the other day.............the one with all the Hassleblad and view camera equipment............and got to lamenting how I miss the true depth of a well exposed, well printed B&W image. My mind started drifting off to scanners. Hmmmmmmm!
     
  8. Can you hear the Siren's call? Her name is Epson V700! :biggrin:
     
  9. GoGo

    GoGo

    Apr 20, 2006
    New York
    Your in the right place at the right time, and no the itch will not go away in a few weeks. You are infected for life, lucky you.

    ......................................................................................

    Hey Chris does tres branche ring a bell?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2007

  10. Gee thanks, Ray!!!!!:biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:
     
  11. califlefty

    califlefty

    946
    Apr 7, 2006
    Well it sounds like I've wandered into the correct nuthouse. All I can say is ...."I need more cowbell". Geez... I've got an old rolliflex... someone stop me!
     
  12. califlefty

    califlefty

    946
    Apr 7, 2006

    Stop -- you're giving me buyers remorse. There is no denying the beauty of those cameras, the action of cocking the shutter is unmatched and irresitasble. My problem is I just can't get used to using my right eye, and so have to drop the camera from my eye in order to keep my thumb from hitting me in the forehead! Is there a market for a "left-eyed" version of Leica?
     
  13. I'm a lefty and never ran into a camera/face configuration problem EXCEPT changing the focus points on my D2H with my nose.
     
  14. Chris101

    Chris101

    Feb 2, 2005
    Arizona
    You could hold it upside down, and push the button with your thumb... :tongue:

    Nah! You will enjoy your FG a lot!
     
  15. just put a Rapidwinder or Leicavit on the Leica, and cock the shutter with your left hand from the bottom of the body while your left eye stays glued to the VF...much more fun than motordrive
     
  16. Billy Ng

    Billy Ng

    722
    Jan 22, 2007
    Hartsdale, NY
    Digital B&W will never be film B&W I agree ... but its not THAT bad now people:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  17. matthew.paul

    matthew.paul Guest

    Those are nice B&W conversions.

    I typically spend 15 minutes minimum doing B&W conversion, carefully adjusting the curves to match a certain film at a certain ISO, overlaying real film grain from a scan, adjust the channel mixer until it is perfect.

    I never like them as much as a well exposed B&W film.
     
  18. I'm sure I'll get jumped on like a duck on a junebug, but I don't think digital will ever rival film. Digital certainly has it's place and does a nice job doing it, but it's just not the same. Just my take on the subject. :biggrin:
     
  19. Billy Ng

    Billy Ng

    722
    Jan 22, 2007
    Hartsdale, NY
    I do it often enough that my processing time is down to less than 45 seconds. I shoot everything in RAW, so I use ACR to do my conversion ... I have enough experience now where I can eyeball it and know how much shadows and contrast to add so that it will look good in B&W. Accept RAW conversion and when it opens in CS2, assuming I have nothing else to do, I hit the keys that will bring me up a new Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer and play with the channels a bit to get me the most pleasing conversion.

    The grain in the third photo above simply comes from using ISO1600 on my D200 and not running any noise reduction program.
     
  20. Those are very nice Billy.

    I keep hoping one of the majors will crank out a dedicated b&w digital camera. I'm surprised Leitz doesn't try that.
     
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