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Old Jan 17, 2013, 09:41 PM   #1
JoeRito
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Still Using 35mm SLR?!

I know of a few successful photog's who are still using film and scanning. Any other resisters here who do the same? What's your main reason for clinging to film cameras (e.g. quality, flexibility, cost to switch, etc).
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 05:11 AM   #2
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I am a hobyist, not a pro, but I still shoot film (as well as digital). That said I don't use a 35mm SLR. My main reasons for shooting film are:
  1. Access to types of camera that are prohibitevely expensive or simply don't exist as digital
  2. Experimentation with different types of film and their response
  3. Higher quality

If we go from the top! I have 3 film cameras right now. These are:
  1. Leica M3
  2. Mamiya 645AFd
  3. Rolleiflex Old Standard TLR

I have the M3 because I was able to buy that with a 50mm Summicron (close focusing range version) for about 1000. Yes this is very expensive but a comparable second hand M9 (the only full frame comparison currently available second hand) is about 4000 without a lens

I have the Mamiya as it is a modern medium format camera. I picked this up with a standard zoom for about 500. The cheapest digital alternative is at least 6000

I have the ancient Rolleiflex as there are simply no digital TLRs. If you want to try this style of shooting you must shoot film. It's also impressively small for medium format.

I have shot these cameras on a variety of film types. Whilst various digital cameras have film simulation modes these really don't compare with actually shooting Fuji Velvia or Kodak Tri-X. And none offer anything like Illford Delta 3200.

Quality? Scanned medium format film still offers amazing resolution, tonal smoothness and dynamic range compared with even the best digital sensors.

Note I also have a Canon EOS 7D and a (very rare) Epson R-D1 for when I want digital!

Some examples:

Illford Delta 3200, Mamiya 645AFd, Mamiya 80mm f/.28

Untitled by r0bbieduncan, on Flickr

Kodak Tri-x 400, Rolleiflex (with built-in 80mm Zeiss lens)

Untitled by r0bbieduncan, on Flickr

Kodak Ektar 100, Leica M3, Leica 50mm Summicron

Untitled by r0bbieduncan, on Flickr

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Old Jan 18, 2013, 05:49 AM   #3
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I just bought a Pentax 645N medium format film camera, for the larger image size compared to my crop dSLR.
It's definitely not going to replace my dSLR, I'm extremely pleased with the results I get from it, rather this new film addition is to compliment it. Both of my current flashguns will work with it as well

The advantages I see are similar to Robbie's:
  1. Increased field of view (crop factor 0.6x of 35mm compared to a 1.5x crop factor)
    I've seen some pics on the net with huge areas of out of focus blur and a 3D rendering look with specific lenses, which really attracted me to the idea of a larger medium.
  2. Huge viewfinder. My dSLR has a nice bright viewfinder already but this blows it out of the water. It's Huge!
    My old Olympus OM-10 35mm camera that no longer works has a similarly huge finder, they're great!
  3. Slow down. Focus will really be on nailing that shot first time.
  4. Potential for huge blow ups. For certain landscapes I've the option of printing really big should I want to get the film professionally scanned.
  5. Fun. I've never developed B&W film myself before so that will be interesting.
  6. Price. Anything this size in digital would be prohibitively expensive for me.

The only significant problem I have is getting a good quality scan into my Mac. Coolscan 9000 is out of the question, so it's down to the Epson v500, v600 and v700... great prices in the US, but B&H nor Amazon will ship to my country...
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 06:27 AM   #4
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The only significant problem I have is getting a good quality scan into my Mac. Coolscan 9000 is out of the question, so it's down to the Epson v500, v600 and v700... great prices in the US, but B&H nor Amazon won't ship to my country...
That's a pain. All the above were scanned on a v700. I picked it up on eBay...
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 06:44 AM   #5
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That's a pain. All the above were scanned on a v700. I picked it up on eBay...
Nice, I'll keep my eyes pealed.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 08:47 AM   #6
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I know of a few successful photog's who are still using film and scanning. Any other resisters here who do the same? What's your main reason for clinging to film cameras (e.g. quality, flexibility, cost to switch, etc).
I shoot both digital and film; X100, X-Pro1, 5D Mark II on the digital side, Leica M2, and Mamiya 7 on the film side.

Why do I "cling" to film? Two reasons:

1. It looks better than digital.
2. I enjoy the process of shooting film more than shooting digital.

Regarding point one, I should clarify; for equivalent formats, digital will always have higher resolution and will be cleaner. But to be honest, resolution is overrated, and I don't always want super clean. Modern colour negative film has dramatically better dynamic range than any digital camera (of any format), and films like Portra 400 can be pushed very nicely to ISO3200, without too much grain getting in the way. B&W negatives, in my opinion, look far and away better than digital B&W, even with great tools like VSCO or Silver Efex Pro. As for chromes, well...the colour and sharpness of a nicely exposed chrome (especially a medium format chrome) is something to behold.

Regarding point two, there is no question that I shoot differently with film vs. digital. Yes, I work more slowly and choose my shots more carefully, but there's more to it than that. I meter differently with film; in fact, I meter differently with different kinds of film, and with different kinds of film in different cameras. On the other hand, with digital, I have a much more rigid exposure workflow; similar, but not identical to what I do with chromes. The upshot of this is that by approaching the exposure differently, I am shooting differently, looking for different things, and getting shots that I wouldn't think of if I were solely shooting digital. Perhaps that is my failure to be creative enough without the technical differences of the different formats, but the bottom line is that I get different types of photos on film than on digital, and that's a good thing.

I will continue to shoot film as long as they make it. It's a brilliant, timeless medium that I enjoy very much.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 08:52 AM   #7
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2. I enjoy the process of shooting film more than shooting digital.
Ditto, although my combo is a EOS 30 and a Canon 550D, which means that except for one lens, I can use them on both bodies...

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Old Jan 18, 2013, 09:30 AM   #8
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2. I enjoy the process of shooting film more than shooting digital.
I must say I agree, although my fondness for film comes from the dark room rituals which I miss dearly.

After countless Canon DSLRs, I finally switched to a Fujifilm X-E1 and have found it re-ignited my love of photography again. Nikon and Canon make excellent cameras but they are sterile and joy-less to operate, IMHO.

P.S Your work is fantastic. Keep it up!
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 10:35 AM   #9
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There's a bunch of reasons. I've been doing it for 40 years, so I have a pretty good understanding of the process. I spend a lot of time as it is sitting in front of a computer screen. Do I really want to spend more time with Photoshop? No. Photography allows me to get away from the computer and work with just my eyes and hands (all of my cameras are mechanical models that work without batteries). Right behind me in this office I have a fully stocked B&W wet lab. Ironically, my photography hobby was reignited some years back by getting my first digital camera, which was so difficult to get anything decent out of I dusted off my old Nikon and went back to film. In recent years my shelf of gear has expanded due to so much stuff being available for cheap. Sometimes it takes you in some odd directions--I have a sizeable stash of #25 and #5 flashbulbs for my Speed Graphic. When you are out in the street with some of this stuff often people don't know quite what to make of it, which is kind of fun in itself.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 10:55 AM   #10
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I see the opposite happening... more photogs are taking the leap from digital back to film. Even though it's more costly it's coming back in to style. The colors, the "dreamy look".

I say if you're still using film, there's no reason to switch to digital Film will always look classic. I love using both!
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 12:57 PM   #11
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Rejoining

I'm an amateur. After a long hiatus from film I am rejoining. The most fun photography I ever did was many years ago using a 35mm Yashica TL Exectro-X SLR. It used screw mount lenses. I then "upgraded to" a more modern bayonet mount Yashica FR-II that had aperture priority. It was a good camera, but just didn't hold my photography interest like that totally manual Electro-X. So now I am going back to those original roots. I have a refurbished Contax 137MA coming (aperture priority +total manual mode) and also a Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 (total manual). Both of these will accept the bayonet mount lens I have from my Yashica FR-II days (including a Carl-Zeiss 50mm f1.4).

I will certainly be much more careful about the pictures I take than I do with a digital camera. It's very unlikely I will just "shoot away" using film. I will likely use it primarily for nature photography.

If you're interested in film then consider getting a good used camera that has a totally manual mode. Ones like a Yashica TL Electro-X (Pentax screw mount), a Yashica FX-2 or FX-3 series, a Pentax K1000, a Nikon FM10, Canon FTb and other similar cameras. These are commonly found on eBay at reasonable prices. Some of these utilize lenses that can be used on modern digital cameras (but without any "automatic" modes like aperture selection or auto focusing).

There is a special feeling of accomplishment in producing a photo where you have to do everything manually to get a good result. I'm kinda excited to get back into film photography again!
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 06:28 PM   #12
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I tried b&w film a few month ago, just for fun. When I got the prints I was blown away. Since then I started to develop myself. The first time you take your negatives out of the tank is really magical .
I use 35mm SLR(mainly because I don't have that much money ): Nikon FE2 and F65. I also shot me a Minolta Hi-Matic F from ebay for fun.
I only shoot b&w, but yesterday I got my hands on the Portra 400 and I'm really excited to see the results. Medium format is definitely alluring and of course there's the Leica.

Like Edge100 said: Resolution is definitely overrated. I still shoot a lot digitally, but the dynamic range on film crazy and I really like the look. Another thing I noticed is the much simplified workflow. It's really useful to have all those options in post, but honestly sometimes it's nice if you don't.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 07:53 PM   #13
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I just bought a Pentax 645N medium format film camera
Have you seen the work of Ian Cameron from the UK ? He uses a 645 and his work is amazing. He shoots some of the most beautifull landscape and seascape around the coast line.


http://www.transientlight.co.uk/
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 09:43 PM   #14
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I remained with film cameras through the transition to digital. I admit I miss Kodachrome and some of the other films of yore. However, due to some visual challenges I had to leave photography for a long while.

Most of my work was both 35mm and medium format. In fact while I sold nearly all my gear I kept a Nikon FM2 and a Fujica 645 rangefinder film camera. I'll probably part with them sooner than later. The only camera I'll likely keep for a reminder is a Kodak Instamatic 101 with flashcube. - That's where it all started for me.

Of all the best times in photog I had, they were cameras mounted to tripods (35-4x5) and catching that perfect moment.

My best work and personal enjoyment came with film cameras, darkroom printing and film development. B/W, E-6, C-41 and fine art printing (B/W fibre and Cibachrome). My commercial work remained with mostly B/W on RC papers.

I'll just say this particular thread reminded me just how much joy and expression film based photography brought me.
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Old Jan 20, 2013, 02:16 AM   #15
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Have you seen the work of Ian Cameron from the UK ? He uses a 645 and his work is amazing. He shoots some of the most beautifull landscape and seascape around the coast line.


http://www.transientlight.co.uk/
Thanks for the link Rob, I enjoyed looking through his gallery, I'm with you there amazing work!
Would love to visit the UK, some amazing scenery and castles on the beach
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Old Jan 20, 2013, 03:31 PM   #16
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Thanks for the link Rob, I enjoyed looking through his gallery, I'm with you there amazing work!
Would love to visit the UK, some amazing scenery and castles on the beach
We have great scenery but it's the weather you have to contest with. I went to CA, USA in Nov 2011 and was so surprised how nearly every night had a great clear sky and therefore a great sunset.

I find both at home in Wiltshire and here in London it's a week of clouds with maybe a fleeting moment of clear skies.

Back on topic, I shoot 35mm and 120. Why, because I have access to the tools. My dad used to be a photographer and shot a lot of famous people and the quality in some of the shots from 40 years ago matches a lot of the digital shots that I see today. He still has his old Hasselblad 500C(M) and 3 working lenses which I have sort of adopted. I love the DOF and detail as well as the difference of a square crop.

I agree with Edge100 that I enjoy the process and only having 12 shots per roll has really helped me focus on what I want to take and why I want to take it. On a digital shoot recently for a friends clothing company I took 400+ images (although there were quite a lot of setups with 4 models). If I am shooting film I take just 12 and sometimes that roll of film can last a few months (I have a few backs so have the option to chop and change for B&W, colour, High ISO) so there is also something great about seeing the passing of time and remembering old memories.

Here is a small selection of some of my recent shots.


Alex & Flo by acearchie, on Flickr


Emma by acearchie, on Flickr


At The Airport by acearchie, on Flickr


Should Be An Album Cover by acearchie, on Flickr


The Two Grumps by acearchie, on Flickr


Barclay’s Bike by acearchie, on Flickr


The Girls by acearchie, on Flickr

Last edited by acearchie; Mar 25, 2013 at 09:32 AM. Reason: Added a few more
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Old Jan 20, 2013, 04:27 PM   #17
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I am a hobyist, not a pro, but I still shoot film (as well as digital). That said I don't use a 35mm SLR. My main reasons for shooting film are:
  1. Access to types of camera that are prohibitevely expensive or simply don't exist as digital
  2. Experimentation with different types of film and their response
  3. Higher quality

If we go from the top! I have 3 film cameras right now. These are:
  1. Leica M3
  2. Mamiya 645AFd
  3. Rolleiflex Old Standard TLR

I have the M3 because I was able to buy that with a 50mm Summicron (close focusing range version) for about 1000. Yes this is very expensive but a comparable second hand M9 (the only full frame comparison currently available second hand) is about 4000 without a lens

I have the Mamiya as it is a modern medium format camera. I picked this up with a standard zoom for about 500. The cheapest digital alternative is at least 6000

I have the ancient Rolleiflex as there are simply no digital TLRs. If you want to try this style of shooting you must shoot film. It's also impressively small for medium format.

I have shot these cameras on a variety of film types. Whilst various digital cameras have film simulation modes these really don't compare with actually shooting Fuji Velvia or Kodak Tri-X. And none offer anything like Illford Delta 3200.

Quality? Scanned medium format film still offers amazing resolution, tonal smoothness and dynamic range compared with even the best digital sensors.

Note I also have a Canon EOS 7D and a (very rare) Epson R-D1 for when I want digital!

Some examples:

Illford Delta 3200, Mamiya 645AFd, Mamiya 80mm f/.28
Image
Untitled by r0bbieduncan, on Flickr

Kodak Tri-x 400, Rolleiflex (with built-in 80mm Zeiss lens)
Image
Untitled by r0bbieduncan, on Flickr

Kodak Ektar 100, Leica M3, Leica 50mm Summicron
Image
Untitled by r0bbieduncan, on Flickr
SOme pretty nice ones there. A friend of mine still uses film, along with digital. There is something still quite appealing with film - about getting it right in the camera. Though you can do the same with digital if you want.

Although in digital, I have the ability to use ISO12,800 or higher along with F/2.8, so I can shoot images of stuff in the dark and they are clear and bright. Particularly neat for things that might move, like animals.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 05:13 AM   #18
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I only use it for the form-factor. A tiny Minox is delivering a lot of quality when loaded with a Velvia 100, yet it is very unobtrusive and small.

But since I use the D800, nobody can convince me ANY other camera (except maybe a 10x8 inch sheet one for detail, it will lack on all other properties) delivers better IQ. It is complete bullocks to think that romantic of film. For example: the supposed high D-range of negative is toasted by the D800. Negative defaults to treat highlights very nice, but it totally stinks in the shadows. The D800 has come to a d-range that both threats highlights like old negatives, and has plenty of shadow recovery room.

Scanning I do with the Minolta Elite II. It is probably the best 35mm scanner ever made. Still does new prices on Ebay unfortunately.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 09:58 AM   #19
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But since I use the D800, nobody can convince me ANY other camera (except maybe a 10x8 inch sheet one for detail, it will lack on all other properties) delivers better IQ.
Firstly, you exaggerate a bit: the D800's resolution is roughly equivalent to 6x4.5 format film. A step up from 35mm, surely, but not anywhere near LF-quality performance. I shoot 4x5, so I know there's a difference. And I suppose you have compared the D800 to a Hasselblad H4D or Mamiya DM? Of course, those cameras are much more expensive, so I'd guess you could say that if the Nikon comes anywhere close for a much smaller price, it's a good value. And I routinely shoot with cameras that are 30-60 years old; no digitoy is going to last anywhere near that long.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 10:03 AM   #20
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Firstly, you exaggerate a bit: the D800's resolution is roughly equivalent to 6x4.5 format film. A step up from 35mm, surely, but not anywhere near LF-quality performance. I shoot 4x5, so I know there's a difference. And I suppose you have compared the D800 to a Hasselblad H4D or Mamiya DM? Of course, those cameras are much more expensive, so I'd guess you could say that if the Nikon comes anywhere close for a much smaller price, it's a good value. And I routinely shoot with cameras that are 30-60 years old; no digitoy is going to last anywhere near that long.
Moreover, the dynamic range of the D800, while excellent, isn't going to best Portra 400, for example. Yes, the shadow detail will be excellent, but the highlight retention will be nowhere near as good.

But that's really beside the point. If you like to shoot film, and you enjoy the results it produces, then no digital camera is going to be sufficient.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 11:13 AM   #21
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Don't underestimate Portra's shadow retention. It can be pushed rather a lot; I've seen it done up to 25000. It does get a tad grainy when pushed, but it really is an amazing film. It's too bad Kodak's management is not up to the level of it's R&D. Sadly I find Portra too costly to use in 4x5.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 11:19 AM   #22
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Don't underestimate Portra's shadow retention. It can be pushed rather a lot; I've seen it done up to 25000. It does get a tad grainy when pushed, but it really is an amazing film. It's too bad Kodak's management is not up to the level of it's R&D. Sadly I find Portra too costly to use in 4x5.
Absolutely agreed. Portra 400 is absolutely incredible stuff.

My standard method of shooting Portra 400 is to meter the shadows and push two stops. This helps enormously when shooting my Mamiya 7, where DoF is very shallow, even at f/4. So even in daylight, I'll shoot at f/8 or f/11 (~f/4 or f/5.6 DoF on 35mm), ISO1600, to give me the DoF I need. I've pushed to 3200, too, and it works brilliantly.

My local lab doesn't charge for pushing, so trying this stuff out is trivial.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 03:27 PM   #23
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Despite spending small fortunes and devoting So much time to my digital work i have a had a feeling of quiet unrest for a while and reading this has only made it worse, i miss my velvia slides and i had been thinking for a long time about buying a large format camera which is something i have always wanted to try but then velvia 4x5 production was stopped and that put the nail in the lid for that idea plus i wonder if i still have the skill to shoot positive film working to a third of a stop seems quite terrifying now!
I still have some velvia 35mm in the fridge and i may give it a go, some nice still life/landscape to get me fired up.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 06:18 PM   #24
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I never switched to digital, mainly because I like film, and like the process of framing and actually composing, or taking a photograph rather than simply firing off hundreds of shots.

Another issue for me was that firstly, digital SLRs were simply monstrous and enormously heavy, and secondly, in the early days at least, the quality of digital pictures didn't seem to equal the quality of the best film pictures.

A few years ago, when my Nikon F100 (a lovely camera) got stolen while I was working in the Caucasus, I debated switching to digital. In the end, I decided to go retro, and treated myself instead to a (beautiful, used) Leica R7, (a 35mm SLR) along with a few Leica lenses.

This is a camera which takes beautiful pictures, but which expects you to work for it, and put thought into it. Now that I have been bitten by the Leica bug, when funds permit, I may venture into the 'M' world (film first), and then, eventually, may progress to digital photography.

Actually, 'M' cameras will not be too alien, as my first decent camera, a virtual antique given to me as a present ages ago when I was a teenager interested in photography, was a Minolta rangefinder, which took exquisite photos, but had a rather disconcerting habit of tearing the film on the rewind.
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 07:52 AM   #25
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I'm shooting film and digital at the same time. As digital camera I'm using 5DIII and for film Practica PLC 2 (35mm). Started shooting film because 35mm digital camera was expensive but recently I've got 5D as a gift. (Previous camera was second hand 50D). As for digital vs film it doesn't matter what you prefer to use, result matters. I like colours from film more but digital is easier to process and generally more user friendly with better reliability
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