13 September 2016, I bought my first serious film camera- Nikon FM2, with a 50mm f1.8 lens.
I love it.
It’s sturdy as a tank, even though it had let me down once and I had to send it for repair.
My first film was an expired Fujicolor C200. The images from my first roll of film suck. Many were underexposed. Later I learnt that I am not supposed to change the ISO for individual shot because the machine develops the roll as one exposure.
So, if you are using ISO 200, you have to stick to it for the whole 24 or 36 shots. If you change the ISO midway to 1600, you will underexpose by 3 stops and the machine cannot compensate for the loss of light for you.
Shooting film has helped me to be more aware of the exposure triangle. I am not saying shooting digital cannot, it’s just that film really forces me to.
As of now, I will adjust my setting according to the weather and the effect I want to achieve. For example, if I want bokeh effect, I will use aperture of f/2.8. If I want to freeze movement, I will use shutter speed of at least 1/125th.
Although people keep saying the benefit of shooting film is that you are less prone to gear acquisition syndrome, I beg to differ. Yes, it’s true you don’t need to upgrade your camera every few years, but there are so many good and rare cameras for us to hunt for.
Furthermore, most (if not all) film cameras are second-handed and their price is cheap compared to digital. Gradually, you’ll find yourself becoming a collector.
It’s all down to each individual whether we have self-control and contentment or not. I totally lack discipline and I was not satisfied with my gears.
After chasing gear after gear, from Nikon FM2 to Hasselblad 500C/M, I realised that no matter how expensive my camera is, if I lack artistic vision (either by nature or acquired), my photos are just a pile of snapshots. They might serve as archive in the far future but who doesn’t want their photos to receive recognition by peers?
Hence, I have stopped hunting for gears. I want to be like Fan Ho, who used only ONE camera in his life time, yet able to get so many breathtaking shots.
In an overview, after buying and selling my cameras, my keepers are Nikon FM2, Leica M6, Lomography La Sardina (because nobody will buy it from me), Rolleiflex 2.8D, Hasselblad 500C/M and ONDU Pinhole camera.
Nikon FM2, with Nikkor f1.8 50mm lens, is sturdy like a truck. I use it when I want to shoot portrait, street, double-exposure and basically everything.
Leica M6, with Carl Zeiss Biogon f/2.8 35mm lens and Leica Elmarit f/2.8 28mm lens. This M6 is with me just because it’s a Leica and gifted by my father. But I must say, I feel really comfortable gripping it and I have been enjoying its rangefinder system. I use this M6 mainly for street and travel.
La Sardina, with an intact 25mm wide angle lens, is good for fun shots and double exposure.
Rolleiflex, with a fixed Carl Zeiss Plannar 80mm lens, is my beloved medium format. The image quality & resolution is insanely good. I feel like a cool kid using it. Countless of times people came up to chat about this beauty when I was shooting with it.
Hasselblad 500C/M, with a Carl Zeiss CF* Plannar 80mm lens, is a SLR medium format I also adore, even though it’s quite a hassle to operate.
ONDU Pinhole Camera, with a hole the size of a pin, is another toy I fancy. I wrote a review on it and ONDU shared it without prior notice. As it is not a paid review, when I saw that it was being shared by them, I was like ‘oh my god, did I bitch about the camera?’ Of course I didn’t. I love the pinhole.
I was overly excited by film. As mentioned, my first film was Fujicolor C200. I hated it. Now, I love it.
The colours of Fujicolor C200 is evenly saturated and comfortable to the eyes. It’s cheap, yet great for day-to-day photography.
In this one year, I have tried the following colour negatives:
- AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 400
- Kodak Ektar 100
- FujiPro 400H
- Fujicolor C200
- Fujicolor Industrial 100
- Fujicolor Industrial 400
- Fuji SuperiaXtra 400
- Kodak Color Plus 200
- Kodak Gold 200
- Kodak Portra 400
- Kodak Proimage 100
- Kodak UltraMax 400
- Lomography Colour
- Lomochrome Purple
- Rossmann 100
- Tudorcolor XLX 200
- Walgreens 200
- Cinestill 800T
From these 18 films, I honestly cannot decide which are my favourite because they are each beautiful in their own ways. Furthermore, the outcome also depends on the lab/person scanning it.
For black & white, I have tried:
- Ilford HP5+400
- Kodak Tri-X 400
- Fujifilm Neopan SS (expired)
- Rollei Agfa APX 400
- Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros
- Ilford Delta 400
- Ilford Delta 3200
- Lucky SHD 100
- Kentmere 100
- Kentmere 400
- Fomapan 400
- JCH Street Pan 400
- Ilford Pan 400
- Lomography Earl Grey
- Kodak BW400CN
- Kodak Tmax 400
It’s so much easier to choose my favourite black & white film: Kodak Tri-X 400!
I like how Tri-X render a moody and dark image. But I guess the outcome is also depending on the type of developer we use. Currently, I am using Kodak Tmax Developer. After I finish it, I might want to try Kodak Hc-110 or Kodak D76 developers.
In one year of film photography journey, my photography knowledge has improved from being ‘automated’ by digital to fully (sometime semi) manual in film cameras.
I have upgraded to medium format.
I have acquired greedily a few cameras I do not need, but have the courage to sell them off.
I have learnt that expensive camera doesn’t necessarily produce award-winning photographs.
I have learnt that it’s better to focus on a few cameras and spend money on experience.
I have also learnt that the best person to please is yourself.
For all my older blog posts, START HERE.