A neighbor gave me a good old Minolta manual focus camera a while ago (an SRT 101), so I decided to put a couple of rolls through it, and was pleased with the outcome. Then, since I already had a collection of good Nikon lenses, I decided to buy a Nikon F3, which was produced in the 1980s in the transition between manual and automatic cameras. The F3 is a very fine professional’s camera with an Aperture priority automatic setting and a center weighted meter. You can get one quite reasonably on Ebay, or perhaps more realiably from KEH.com. My old Leitz-Minolta CL rangefinder’s meter is broken, but it has a super sharp lens, a Rokkor 40mm f/2., and I’ve never had a problem setting exposures with a hand meter. I enjoy these excellent old manual film cameras when I’m shooting at a leisurely pace.
But, why bother with film at all, you may wonder? Shooting digital costs nothing, gives instant results, and is so much more convenient to process. Yes, all that’s true. And I enjoy shooting digital for all those reasons and more. But, here are the reasons why I also shoot film:
1. Unless one has lots of money to buy a full frame DSLR (at least $3000), the way to get 35mm pictures with lots of data (which afford greater detail for enlargements) is to use a 35mm film camera and scan the negatives. My F3 cost me $215 and my Epson V500 photo scanner (a flatbed, very versatile), cost $180. So, for less than $400 I get digital files that have even more information than a much more costly full frame digital camera can produce.
2. Secondly, I like the look of film. I suppose if I were really expert at using color balance on my digital camera, I might achieve the color trueness which I found myself achieving immediately with Fuji Sensia film. I love the range of grayscale tones I get with Ilford black and white films. And Velvia 50 color positive film (generally used for slides) makes the colors of autumn so gorgeous!
3. Maybe this will seem silly to some readers, but I’ll say it anyway: I love using my vintage film cameras because they are mechanically so fine! I love the smooth feel of winding the film transport lever. I love the sound of the shutter when it trips. I love the feel of a compact, all metal camera. If you have a couple hundred bucks to spend you can find a honey of a film camera . You just might find, as I did, that there are still good reasons to shoot film.
It snowed like crazy in Delaware recently. I took two mechanical 35mm film cameras outside to record this historic event because I didn’t want to risk harming my digital cameras in the wet conditions. Below you’ll see some of the results, shot on Ilford HP5+ black and white film (400 ISO) and Fujichrome Superia Reala color negative film (ISO 100). I scanned all the negatives on my Epson V500 .