Film SLRs before DSLRs (for a n00b)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by DavidChavez, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. DavidChavez macrumors member

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    #1
    To be true I almost have no big experience with photos, except a Nokia N73 that was my point-and-shot camera for 2 years and captured stunning photos. After that (it broke 7 months ago and I have no cell-phone from that) I stopped taking pictures, I used to take photos of everything and never had a real camera. Except for an old Canon Elph with film rolls, 5 years ago.

    Now I'm planning to take a big leap to "real" photos, but from the ground. I want to revive my old Canon, I only took like 100 or 200 pics before stop using it.

    The point is that I heard that film cameras are way better than digitals (not exactly in quality, practicality or technology, rather before using DSLRs) just because the way you can control light or film and many things. Recently I saw that Nikon still has a roll film reflex, the FM10 and its pretty cool because its retro style and relatively low price (for what it is, or what it was).

    I still don't know much about lenses and that stuff, I know some definitions as ISO, aperture and focal lenght, and I'm pretty sure I'll can handle them.
    Many people says that they learned a lot using film cameras before DSLRs or when they were already using digitals.
    But I'm not if I get the FM10 and then a DSLR, I'm not gonna use digitals all my life, there's another great cameras such as Lomo or Holga (probably my next birthday gift), or the forever funny Polaroid.

    Should I get a normal point-and-shot camera before a SLR? Should I revive my Canon Elph? Should I go straight to a DSRL? (in that case I'll post a thread with my options)
     
  2. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #2
    to be honest, film is expensive and not that practical anymore. A roll of slide film is like $6, to get that developed is $11 or so. Then to get those scanned (and good quality scan) is an extra cost.

    I haven't really dealt with prints (about all you can get nowadays without searching) ever.

    You would probably be better off with a digital camera.
     
  3. lewis82 macrumors 68000

    lewis82

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    #3
    I'm no photographer, but I do know that a DLSR will allow you to shoot lots of photos for cheap, unlike a SLR.

    It might be good for learning :)
     
  4. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #4
    +1. Every time I feel nostalgic and decide to shoot film I quickly remember why I switched to digital.

    Plus in my honest honest opinion, digital looks much better then film. Yes even very expensive film (not to mention if shooting in color digital color sees more then color film. Black and white is different though.)

    That being said if you've never done it it is a bit fun to develop your own film the first few times. But it is costly and mistakes are expensive. (Such as letting friends use your photo paper only for them to leave the lid off thinking that since they were in a dark room it didn't matter....:mad: )

    That being said I would say if you want to learn, go digital. The learning curve is much less steep. Learning on film alone takes a long time and a lot of money and patience. Learning on digital will be of much benefit because you see instant results. Instant is important in order for the concepts to stick.
     
  5. Drago89 macrumors member

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    Mar 22, 2009
    #5
    ..

    I have film SLR and DSLR.While i love my film slr i use the digital everyday and the film camera stays on the shelf most of the time.The think that the film camera could teach you is thinking of the shot you want to get.I mean with digital you have a card in your camera.You can take hundreds of photos - put them on your computer and then start again.With film - you have one roll.And as someone pointed already it's not that cheap shooting with films nowadays and you should be more carefull of what you want to achieve :) And ofc the feel of shooting film :rolleyes: I'm young as you can see and didn't have the chance to shoot film in it's time.So i would highly suggest getting both - film SLR and DSLR.And about the camera - i would get Nikon F100.I have it and it's great camera.One of the best you can get nowadays and you can have one in mint condition for ~ 200$
     
  6. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Ultimately, whatever you like more is better. But really, digital is better 99% of the time. What do you see 99% of people using?

    But I agree it's worth buying (or ideally borrowing) a used Nikon FE or Canon A1 or any good old film SLR, just to get a feel for the process. Get just one fast prime lens and a good kit should be around $100. If you use professional films (particularly real black and white, not the fake black and white; you can tell because if it says C41 anywhere on the box it's fake) and a good lab you can get great results, but even without...it helps put all the stuff DSLRs do for you automatically in meaningful context. The F100 looks wonderful but I'd save the money and put it toward digital.

    Don't dare get a hobby-level film SLR like the Rebels or whatever or a point and shoot film camera....worst of both worlds.
     
  7. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #7
    It makes me sad to see film bashed so readily.

    I love the organic and imperfect nature of film. I don't really like color negative film much, and that's what people often have in mind when they compare film to digital. When you bring slide film into the mix, it's a much different game. In my view, nothing looks as good as slide film done well. Nothing looks as bad as slide film done poorly.

    I love slide film, along with B/W film.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #8
    AGREED!

    When I went to Penn State years back I had a photography class where I wasn't allowed to use my Canon 20D since they wanted us to use film and learn all about the history of photography...

    Um..ok that stuff has its place but it should be up to the student to research. No wonder kids come out of college unprepared, there is too much focus on the "old ways" of doing things and not enough focus on new, cutting edge technology that employers are after.

    Ooops enough of that tangent. I eventually won my argument that film was dead and we should be using current technology and learning an all digital workflow so I got to use my 20D :)
     
  9. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #9
    You would have been stopped dead in your tracks at Arizona State. You still have to use film to start with, and in fact your entrance into the official photography program is dependent on making at least 10 B/W prints that are judged by two separate juries. That's what awaits me. Fortunately, I love film, and look forward to making many more film images than I already have (which is at least a couple thousand in the past year). Eventually, digital comes into the picture, but not right away.

    You can take individual classes that don't require it, but many are within the photography program, and you can't go there until your work has been approved by the aforementioned juries.

    Further, there are many people out there working on a wide variety of variations on film and alternative processes (like platinum and copper). I know someone right now who is well versed in those areas, and she's younger than I am. I think some people here would be surprised to know that plate-based photography is still done in art photography circles.

    Done right, film still looks beautiful.
     
  10. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    You've got a point, but I don't agree with your conclusion that film is completely dead. Those awful mid-90s transitional cameras are, but old film cameras have their charm and large format has resolution and perspective control (way beyond tilt/shift) that's still pretty unique. The ability to shoot film as a resume-builder may be pretty much dead, though, yes. But almost all college classes are totally pointless.

    For what it's worth: the nicest print I've ever seen (72''X96'' chromogenic) was taken on 8''X10'' C41 film--the most maligned of all processes.
     
  11. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #11
    But almost all college classes are pretty pointless.

    Please explain what makes you say that. I would like to know.
     
  12. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Don't really want to divert this discussion, but I'll put it this way:

    You'll find out once you graduate (unless you have and are at an MFA because you discovered the obvious, that you can't get a job with a BA). College is halfway between a country club and summer camp. The better your school is in terms of cost and prestige? The truer that statement.

    Just my opinion, though.
     
  13. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #13
    I don't really have any expectation of getting a job related to photography after graduation, so however true that statement may be, it basically doesn't matter in my case.
     
  14. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #14
    I'm not sure if this is how the other poster feels but here is my take:

    A lot of students expect college to teach you everything, and then come out knowing almost nothing or what they wasted their time. In reality, college is a stepping stone (in the US anyway) and they get you started, but you have to study and learn a lot on your own time to be proficient by the time you leave college.

    A lot of students don't do this and hit the world totally unprepared. You only get out of college what you put into college but a majority of the students don't realize that.

    Last semester I had a 3D modeling class (first one ever) and the students wanted the school to teach them how to use the software. The school had a few examples but like any software, you gotta dig through the help files and online tutorials. The rest of the class was unsatisfied and did nothing but make excuses on why they couldn't get their projects done on time.

    Me on the other hand, instead of crying and whining went and loaded up Lynda.com and DigitalTutors.com, spent all day learning Maya (the rest of the class used 3Ds Max but since Im a mac...) and working on 3D models and animation (I never had to really mess with that stuff much before this class) and I turned in a project that landed me the highest grade in the class. When others saw my project they assumed I've been learning this stuff for years. Nope. I just went out and worked for what I wanted and learned a TON in the process.

    Ok enough of that but thats what I am assuming the other poster meant.

    Anyway to the person with the slide prints, those are very nice :) I wish my cat would let me take his picture :(

    To the OP: If you want to learn film, I suggest learning digital first, then transition to film. Its much cheaper that way :)
     
  15. Schtumple macrumors 601

    Schtumple

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    #15
    That's a truely stunning photo, I love film so much.

    Digital has detail
    Film has style

    They both have their pros, they both have their cons. If it was viable, all I'd shoot with would be film, there's just something so much nicer about it.
     
  16. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #16
    I would say that it is a good idea to learn how to shoot film well, though you don't need to make a big investment in equipment. Just enough to learn how film works, and how to expose it properly and to fix in development when you didn't expose properly. Specifically, work with B&W film.

    So much of how digital works is based on the 100+ years of film. Just about all DSLRs state their specs in 35mm film equivalents. Unless the sensor in a DSLR is, iirc, 24mm x 36mm then the focal length stamped on the lense is inaccurate. It is the equivalent to what you would see if you were working with 35mm film.

    Just about all of the basic controls in Photoshop are based on the film experience. Curves, exposure, fill light, etc. etc.

    I love what digital has brought to colour photography. In the days of film, put a bunch of B&W photographers in room (with beer) and they would talk all evening about dilutions, temperatures, developing Agfa film in Fuji developer, toning, paper choices, developer choices, fixing choices, drying the paper, etc etc. Each one of those choices having an effect on the final print. Put a bunch of colour film photographers in a room, and they would talk about the colour cast of each film, and what a Fuji neg looked like on Kodak paper, put their martinis down and leave in an hour and half. After talking hockey for 45 minutes.

    Now.... oh boy has it changed. You can put a bunch of digital photographers in room and they will talk all evening and all morning about drivers, and 3rd party inks, and plugins, and the choice of inkjet paper now rivals or even surpasses what the old B&W photographers had to choose from, and there are sharpening techniques, and noise reduction strategies, and monitor calibrations, and colour gamuts, and sensor technologies, and RAW processors, and - wow. Just Wow. All of these things are tools for the serious image maker to consider when creating their image. I think we are in the golden age of photography. Even of the old farts who remember the "old" way of doing things, and are driving the quality of the images and prints to new heights. Enough youngs 'uns who understand the art of making of digital images in a way the old farts never will, but who understand that fancy techniques can't stand on it's own ... so make their images as good, or better, as the old farts.

    I grew up using film. Loved doing B&W. Love what I can do with digital, though I don't know that I ever be as good with digital as I was with B&W analog. But I can teach the young 'uns (and I do) what a good image looks like, even if I can't show them how. But I hold my own. And I still have some tricks up my sleeve. :)

    But.... it all started with film. You can't go wrong playing with it for a while.

    My prediction is that B&W film is here to stay, the realm of Fine Art photographers. Colour film, except for some speciality work, will be gone in 10 years.
     
  17. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    The others above have made a lot of more general points, but I'm not sure anyone has said:

    If you buy a film SLR, do not buy the FM10: it's very badly made.

    It's not actually made by nikon, rather it's a cosina or somesuch. You are infinitely better off with a real nikon like an FM, FM2, etc.
     
  18. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

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    #18
    My photo class at RISD... Holgas only!
     
  19. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #19
    If you buy a film SLR, do not buy the FM10: it's very badly made.

    There were people around me buying FM10s for just a tiny bit less than I paid for my F5 (in virtually new condition).
     
  20. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Right, but they want you to use Holgas so you can focus exclusively on composition, as the camera is technically terrible and has limited control. This isn't a new thing; forcing students to start out with toy cameras is very common. The OP here wants a camera that's technically excellent and offers good control, however, which is the opposite of what you get with a toy camera.

    I've never used an FM10 and the camera might be terrible for all I know, but Cosina manufactures the new Zeiss primes and the entire Voigtländer range, both of which are superb by all accounts, so Cosina can't be all bad. I have heard bad things about that camera, though, and I think you're right to point out its issues. The F5 is the best camera for the money because it's designed for sports photographers who have all switched to dSLRs. I have an F4 (for sale on eBay, heh) and it's amazing but just so big. I would personally prefer an F2, call me crazy, but there's no denying the F5.

    I shoot film so I'm one to talk, but "I recommend film camera because my expensive college uses it" is hardly a reason to recommend film. If he were asking which photo department to apply to it might matter, but that's not the question at all. Back on topic, just get a D5000 or something. Oh, and if you want "film colors" just push your greens toward blue and oranges toward magenta, crush blacks, and apply fake grain. I hate to say it, but that's 80% of the look.
     
  21. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #21
    If you want to get film, by all means do it. Just realize that it is getting harder to get stuff developed. I used to shoot tons of Velvia, Reala, Neopan, Sensia, etc as recently as 5 or so years ago. I had an EOS-3, Elan 7NE and an EOS 650, all with different lenses as well as different film.

    But do realize that it is time consuming. It is like 5 days from the time you shoot until you get the film back (slides i am talking about), plus the time to go through all the shots and then to scan them. I still love film, and get excited to shoot it. (which i may take my last roll of velvia RVP-50 from the fridge and shoot Crystal Cove next week). The 1Ds i bought does have a filmish look to the TIFF (RAW) files. I cannot describe it properly, but it reminds me of scanned film to a degree.
     
  22. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    I'm spoiled. I have two local E6 labs. One does one batch a day and delivers same day; the other does two batches a day and delivers twice a day. And they're both really, really close.

    If you're shooting velvia and haven't tried medium or large format, I highly recommend trying it. I haven't touched 35mm since I switched to 6x7, which is an amazingly affordable format to shoot right now, both in terms of gear and film prices. But no good tilt/shift 6x7 system is very affordable, which is a huge bummer. Although this is one of the coolest things going (or long gone, by now, sadly):

    http://www.dannyburk.com/fuji_gx680iii.htm
     
  23. DavidChavez thread starter macrumors member

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    #23
    Before film dies.

    I will obiously not gonna use film rolls as my main camera, digital popularization has made them more expensive. Photography is not exactly the cheapest hobby/art out there.

    I just wanted to experiment with film, before this dies. Nowadays is mostly used by people who works on fine arts and related artistic acts. The control on film and the way you can retouch photos and how you put them hand-crafted effects just excite me (and maybe one day, i'll be an artist :rolleyes:). I want to say in the future "hey, I used an analogous camera".
    Altough I still thinking the Lomo and Polaroid are must-need (but just for fun, and in very special ocasions).

    So if I go straight to digital, I'd get a Petax K-r (because the colors :)) or a Lumix GF1 (but I do not consider this one as a real "entry level DSLR" because its more like a hobby for pros, altough its quite amazing and nice, or it would be fine for me?)

    This debate reminds me the disscusion "printed books vs eReaders". We all think that magazines and newspaper are close to dissapear as we know them now, but there will be always space for paper. Because if we suddenly switch to digital there will be no way to save our history, because everything will be submitted to permanent delete.

    PD: OK, I didn't born with film cameras, I'm 14. Just a way to get back in time.
     
  24. LeviG macrumors 65816

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    #24
    Personally I'm still old school, I've got 35mm slr's and as likely as I am to upgrade to digital bodies (no point wasting the lenses) I still think 35mm has some benefits over digital.

    Film grain can be much finer than the resolution of a camera (if you think in terms of pixels) and if you develop your own film you can give it in my view a personal touch from start to finish than you can with digital.

    Another thing with film is that while yes you can go snapping 100's of pictures in a session you very rarely did as you think about your images more, digital has that disposable aspect to the images you take meaning it doesn't matter if you need 100 pictures for that perfect smile.

    Now I'm not saying digital doesn't have it's place as it's a lot better in terms of getting things finished quickly but film will always have that special feeling that digital can't reproduce.
     
  25. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #25
    I also live very near a major pro lab, and that helps a lot. Well, not my wallet, but it certainly gives me a lot of options.
     

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