Trying film again after years of shooting digital

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Daniel
Daniel Senior Member • Posts: 1,043
Trying film again after years of shooting digital
8

It's great that DPR added a film photography forum! I recently (well, two years ago) started shooting film again occasionally, and it's definitely fun. I have a web page that lists some of my observations about what it was like to take my 1974 Minolta ST-T-303 out of retirement and shoot a few rolls of Portra and Ektar with it. If you're interested, you can take a look here.

Happy shooting!

Daniel

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Neil-O Regular Member • Posts: 474
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Daniel wrote:

It's great that DPR added a film photography forum! I recently (well, two years ago) started shooting film again occasionally, and it's definitely fun. I have a web page that lists some of my observations about what it was like to take my 1974 Minolta ST-T-303 out of retirement and shoot a few rolls of Portra and Ektar with it. If you're interested, you can take a look here.

Happy shooting!

Daniel

Hello Daniel, nice pictures, I especially liked the "signs of spring", lovely colours.

It did occur to me though that you indicated a preference for a "fast" film but all those pictures could easily have been shot on Ektar and would look even more impressive.

I do understand though, one of the problems in switching from digital to film is we get used to shooting at high ISO values without giving it much thought, and it is a fact most of us from an analogue background habitually used films at ISO 25 and ISO 125 was probably the norm for most amateurs.

I made the point on another forum that maybe, through rosy tinted glasses, we tend to forget that a lot of film was wasted in the old days with shots out of focus, blurred and the like.  A friend of mine has just taken up photography and is doing a short internet course.  She asked me how many usable pictures I would get from a roll of 36 exposures and I had to admit it was probably less than a dozen - before even auto exposure of course.

Having said that, I though I was never a pro, but I do remember on the odd occasion I absolutely had to get it right, and I always did...  That's the discipline of film.

citizenlouie Senior Member • Posts: 1,159
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Nice photos. 

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Daniel
OP Daniel Senior Member • Posts: 1,043
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Thanks for your reply. You are correct: kist of these could easily have been shot with Ektar, but as I have also said, taking photos of my grandson, even ISO 400 was not enough. It's the conundrum of film: you're stuck with whatever speed you choose. In any event, I wasn't really focused on the photos; I was more interested in the experience: how would it feel? What would be different?

Yes, I used to shoot essentially two films: Kodachrome 25 for color and Kodak Tri-X for black and white (as well las color print film in the 90s). In 1974, while in the UK for the summer, I experimented with a color slide film from a company called GAF. As I recall, it was rated at ISO 400 (or 400 ASA as we said back then), and the results were, by today's standards, abysmal. To be able to gain four stops on Kodachrome 25 while obtaining decent results was probably why I chose to user Portra 400 for my first tests a couple of years ago.

I did shoot some Ektar, and there are a couple of sample pages in the Photography section of my web site. For what it's worth, was not overly impressed with Ektar. I want to play around with a few rolls of Tri-X when I get the chance, and I'll probably get a couple of neutral density filters for doing that. If I have the filters, I'll probably stick with Portra 400; I like the colors a little bitbetter.

Daniel

 Daniel's gear list:Daniel's gear list
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JohnnyLuddite Senior Member • Posts: 1,230
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Thanks for the observations, and enjoyed the somewhat hallucinogenic reflections image.

I'm also pleased with the addition of the film section of DPR - as someone who never stopped shooting film, it seemed tiresome and arbitrary to exclude film, especially since scanning to digital has been widespread for ages, and the more discerning find the latest and greatest gear distinctions somewhat tiresome and inconsistent.

One thing I've found is that I've gone down in ISO to Portra 160, because I've wanted to be able to keep wider aperture while using fill flash outdoors, and because  even the higher ISO film doesn't make it indoors, so I'm back to using flash there anyway.

Likewise in mourning from Kodachrome 25.

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Gene J. Paull Senior Member • Posts: 1,818
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Thank you Daniel for a very informative three - I have read it several times.  In absence of a dedicated film scanner (My Nikon Coolscan V disappeared somewhere along the way), I'll give The Darkroom a try - I take it you are satisfied with their high res. scans.  Your images show detail, depth, and clarity - very different from digital.

During this "lockdown," I spent a lot of time processing 10-15 year old scans - it prompted me to return to film shooting.

Just purchased a used Nikon FE2 - will be pairing it with Portra 160 and 400 plus Fuji Provia.

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Gene in Deep South Texas
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Autonerd Contributing Member • Posts: 749
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Great photos, Daniel. I enjoyed looking at them and reading the story. I went back to film after a 20-year hiatus. I think I made it to my 6th picture before I took a shot and looked at the back of the camera. :-/ Since then I've been given a bunch of cameras and bought a couple more and am having a grand old time.

My Flickr page is in bad need of updating, but here is some of what I have been up to.

Aaron

Daniel
OP Daniel Senior Member • Posts: 1,043
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Thanks!

 Daniel's gear list:Daniel's gear list
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Daniel
OP Daniel Senior Member • Posts: 1,043
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Thanks for the suggestion of giving Portra 160 a try! I may just do that, but I first want to shoot some b&w film. I'll probably go with Tri-X (it's what I used back in the day when I developed my own negatives and made my own prints), and this time I'll probably use my Nikkormat FT2. Changing ISO and shutter speeds on that beast is a pain, but oh does that build quality feel good! I only have two lenses for the Nikkormat: a 50mm and an 85mm (both 1.8); interestingly enough, my three Minolta lenses (28, 50, and 135mm) seem to be optically better. I've come to the conclusion that back in the 70s, Minolta did a better job than Nikon coating their lenses.

Cheers,

Daniel

 Daniel's gear list:Daniel's gear list
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Daniel
OP Daniel Senior Member • Posts: 1,043
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Thanks for your comments, Gene. I'd be very interested to see what you come up with with the Nikon FE2; I do hope you will post some samples when you're ready.

Best,

Daniel

Gene J. Paull wrote:

Thank you Daniel for a very informative three - I have read it several times. In absence of a dedicated film scanner (My Nikon Coolscan V disappeared somewhere along the way), I'll give The Darkroom a try - I take it you are satisfied with their high res. scans. Your images show detail, depth, and clarity - very different from digital.

During this "lockdown," I spent a lot of time processing 10-15 year old scans - it prompted me to return to film shooting.

Just purchased a used Nikon FE2 - will be pairing it with Portra 160 and 400 plus Fuji Provia.

 Daniel's gear list:Daniel's gear list
Fujifilm X100S Fujifilm X-T30 Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS
Daniel
OP Daniel Senior Member • Posts: 1,043
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for your comments. I really did like your Flickr page, and it made me wonder whether I should not try T Max 400 instead of my trusty old Tri-X. I understand that the grain is much finer than what you get with Tri-X, but on the other hand, I love Tri-X grain... decisions, decisions...

Keep up the good work,

Daniel

PS By the way, I love the photo of the two horses seemingly having a conversation. It reminded me of a picture I took in Camargue a couple of years ago

Autonerd wrote:

Great photos, Daniel. I enjoyed looking at them and reading the story. I went back to film after a 20-year hiatus. I think I made it to my 6th picture before I took a shot and looked at the back of the camera. :-/ Since then I've been given a bunch of cameras and bought a couple more and am having a grand old time.

My Flickr page is in bad need of updating, but here is some of what I have been up to.

Aaron

 Daniel's gear list:Daniel's gear list
Fujifilm X100S Fujifilm X-T30 Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS
Smaug01
Smaug01 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,370
Nice shots
1

You picked good prime lenses, good film, and the scans are great too. These look fantastic.

Another fun thing to do is get adapters for the normal and long lenses to use them on your digital camera. I got adapters for my 50/1.8 and 300/4.5 to use on my Olympus E-M10.3. The old lenses aren't generally optically as good as modern lenses, but they render in a way that makes them look nice, and they're also a quite affordable way to get fast-ish telephotos. This OM Zuiko 300/4.5 acts like a 600/4.5 on the E-M10, and they feel so good to operate. It brings some of the tactile pleasure to digital.

This is really fun!

How about posting a pic of your rig?

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-Jeremy
*********
"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."

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JohnnyLuddite Senior Member • Posts: 1,230
Re: Nice shots

+1 for using old lenses with adapters on mirrorless cameras, and also I can recommend the Adapted Lens forum here for a good and knowledgeable atmosphere, pretty free of the partisan stuff. Here's what I did as a poor imitation of a Leica IIIc that used to serve this Nippon Kogaku P.C. 8.5cm f2 from 1950.

Nippon Kogaku P.C. 8.5cm f2 lens on LTM adapted to X-E1

Image taken with above rig

I have been toying with getting a Bessa R rangefinder camera which has M39 to honour this lens properly, because the shutters on the Leica IIIc are hard to get serviceable these days and the prices are astronomical. That said, I understand that some of the Nikkor AI-S lenses have a resurgence in popularity and price because the focus peaking and improved EVF on some of the modern ML cameras makes them attractive adapted to those cameras.

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Autonerd Contributing Member • Posts: 749
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

I really did like your Flickr page, and it made me wonder whether I should not try T Max 400 instead of my trusty old Tri-X.

Thank you for the kind words, Daniel. I shot one roll of T-Max and wasn't super-pleased with the results... a little flat and grain so fine I may as well be shooting digital (and then I'd get better contrast). Back in The Day I was always chasing the finest grain, but now of course it doesn't bother me. So I say, of the two, Tri-X all the way.

I have shot a couple of rolls of Tri-X (in fact it was the first film I shot in my new-to-me Nikomat FT2) but I find that the negatives curl a lot, so they don't sit nicely in the carrier for my flatbed scanner. I've been shooting Ilford HP5+ and it works well for me (as it did Back In The Day). I feel bad because I'm a Rochester boy but I guess with Kodak Alaris, Tri-X is now British as well...

I like your horse pic. The one I have is of my wife's two horses. A rare moment of tranquility... usually the white (gray) one tries to make friends with the brown one, and the brown one pins his ears and snaps at him. I captured one second of detente (the closed eyes were a lucky break) before the one chased off the other.

Usually I have to photo the horses with a 28mm lens because the white one wants to walk over and make friends. That day I knelt down in the arena to get a low shot and he started licking my forehead. Never seen a horse do that. It's not entirely unpleasant.

Aaron

DigitalJay Senior Member • Posts: 1,503
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Daniel, I shot a GAF film that was rated at 1000 ASA. It had grain (dye clumps?) the size of rocks! but it was cool to shoot like that in color back in the 70's.

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Daniel
OP Daniel Senior Member • Posts: 1,043
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Autonerd wrote:

I really did like your Flickr page, and it made me wonder whether I should not try T Max 400 instead of my trusty old Tri-X.

Thank you for the kind words, Daniel. I shot one roll of T-Max and wasn't super-pleased with the results... a little flat and grain so fine I may as well be shooting digital (and then I'd get better contrast). Back in The Day I was always chasing the finest grain, but now of course it doesn't bother me. So I say, of the two, Tri-X all the way.

I have shot a couple of rolls of Tri-X (in fact it was the first film I shot in my new-to-me Nikomat FT2) but I find that the negatives curl a lot, so they don't sit nicely in the carrier for my flatbed scanner. I've been shooting Ilford HP5+ and it works well for me (as it did Back In The Day). I feel bad because I'm a Rochester boy but I guess with Kodak Alaris, Tri-X is now British as well...

I like your horse pic. The one I have is of my wife's two horses. A rare moment of tranquility... usually the white (gray) one tries to make friends with the brown one, and the brown one pins his ears and snaps at him. I captured one second of detente (the closed eyes were a lucky break) before the one chased off the other.

Usually I have to photo the horses with a 28mm lens because the white one wants to walk over and make friends. That day I knelt down in the arena to get a low shot and he started licking my forehead. Never seen a horse do that. It's not entirely unpleasant.

Aaron

I'm so glad you said that, Aaron! Try-X has always been my go-to b&w film. Of course, these days I don't even develop it myself any more; the lab takes care of that and scans the negative far better than I ever could, so I don't have to worry about the negs curling.

I did shoot a roll of two of Ilford in the days when there was no digital, but I never really cared for the result. For me, it was always Kodak film and Ilford paper. I suppose it's what you're used to. Interestingly enough, I never cared for Fuji colors, either. I shot Kodachrome 25 most of the time; I spent the summer of 1974 in Cambridge (UK, not Mass.), basically alternating between Sri-X and Kodachrome. Once I had to buy a roll of Fujichrome (don't even know what type); when I look at the slides today, Kodak's look as if I had shote the pictures yesterday and the Fujichromes have all developed a hideous green cast. I'm sure they've improved things in the following years, but I tend to stick with what I know works.

These days, my main camera is a Fujifilm X-T30, and strangely enough it does some beautiful film simulations of various Fuji films.

I was interested to know that you have a Nikkormat FT2 as well. When I started shooting with my Minolta SR-T-303 again, my sister-in-law gave me her Nikkormat which still works perfectly well. It weighs a ton and you don't want to drop it for fear of denting the sidewalk, but it's a pleasure to pick up, but changing shutter speed and ISO is a pain!

Cheers,

Daniel

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Autonerd Contributing Member • Posts: 749
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital

Daniel wrote:

I did shoot a roll of two of Ilford in the days when there was no digital, but I never really cared for the result. For me, it was always Kodak film and Ilford paper.

Yeah, I liked Ilford paper as well, though I never printed outside of my B&W classes. Took color as well and can't recall the paper I used... I think I bought into a big box of Kodak paper, but it's been a while.

As a student I usually shot T-Max, because we were chasing that smaller grain (not knowing what we really wanted was 20 years in the future with digital). When I was going away to the UK for a semester abroad, I wanted to take a 100' roll of film and was fretting about what to buy. A friend of mine who was an experienced photographer turned me on to Ilford HP5+. "Treat it just like Tri-X," he said. Well, that's what I did, and I was happy enough with the results. And now I'm back to it, that and FP4+ (because I live in California now and the sun comes out).

As it happens, the company where I interned gave me all the free film I could want, but it was Fujichrome 100 and Velvia only, and I only had time to shoot at night. Needless to say I got w-a-a-a-y into long exposures like this:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/aarongold/49176242662/in/album-72157712079770811/

Used to set up my automatic Pentax MG (with no film) on the tripod, hit the shutter, time the exposure, then swap in the loaded manual KX, same lens, and bracket 5 or 6 shots in 5-second intervals.

my sister-in-law gave me her Nikkormat which still works perfectly well. It weighs a ton and you don't want to drop it for fear of denting the sidewalk, but it's a pleasure to pick up, but changing shutter speed and ISO is a pain!

Dunno if you saw, but I wrote a review of this camera on 35mmc which was linked here for Film Friday. Got lambasted in the comments from people who apparently either a) didn't read the article or b) don't have much of a sense of humor, but that was my finding: Heavy and ridiculously over-complicated to use, but also an absolutely wonderful camera. I enjoy it very much, and it keeps my biceps toned.

https://www.35mmc.com/13/03/2020/nikomat-ft2-review/

Aaron

Daniel
OP Daniel Senior Member • Posts: 1,043
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital
2

Autonerd wrote:

Dunno if you saw, but I wrote a review of this camera on 35mmc which was linked here for Film Friday. Got lambasted in the comments from people who apparently either a) didn't read the article or b) don't have much of a sense of humor, but that was my finding: Heavy and ridiculously over-complicated to use, but also an absolutely wonderful camera. I enjoy it very much, and it keeps my biceps toned.

https://www.35mmc.com/13/03/2020/nikomat-ft2-review/

Aaron

Nope, hadn't seem that (I have now), and those readers didn't lambast you; your article also appeared on DPReview (where I saw it first), and there they were more difficult. In general, I find people on DPReview a great deal less forgiving. Plus, you have all the brand loyalists who love to diss anything other than their own choices. To be fair, the vast majority of people here are not like that, and it depends on the forum.

Daniel

 Daniel's gear list:Daniel's gear list
Fujifilm X100S Fujifilm X-T30 Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS
JohnnyLuddite Senior Member • Posts: 1,230
Re: Trying film again after years of shooting digital
1

Daniel wrote:

Autonerd wrote:

Dunno if you saw, but I wrote a review of this camera on 35mmc which was linked here for Film Friday. Got lambasted in the comments from people who apparently either a) didn't read the article or b) don't have much of a sense of humor, but that was my finding: Heavy and ridiculously over-complicated to use, but also an absolutely wonderful camera. I enjoy it very much, and it keeps my biceps toned.

https://www.35mmc.com/13/03/2020/nikomat-ft2-review/

Aaron

Nope, hadn't seem that (I have now), and those readers didn't lambast you; your article also appeared on DPReview (where I saw it first), and there they were more difficult. In general, I find people on DPReview a great deal less forgiving. Plus, you have all the brand loyalists who love to diss anything other than their own choices. To be fair, the vast majority of people here are not like that, and it depends on the forum.

Daniel

I think you're right about it depending on the forum. Sadly, it isn't even brand loyalists, there's the tedious dslr-mirrorless roundabout, and I've just suffered from reading on the Nikon Fx forum various D700 zealots who essentially attempt to spam how wonderful that camera body is and how other systems are "just toys!!!" - complete with three exclamation marks!!! Anyone who doesn't agree with their opinion must be burned at the stake!!!

The good news is that this forum, the adapted lens forum and the Fuji one, for example, are much more self-aware with less of the opinionated stuff, coupled with more experience I suspect.

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