Film Fiasco

Several times I have posted on this blog that I love using film instead of digital some of the time.  But the two rolls of film I used over the holidays that just ended turned out terrible.  I was only able to save a few pictures using heavy edits in Lightroom.  Why, well I let myself get lazy because my digital cameras are very new and they work quite well with no effort other than point and shoot.  So even though the last 10-15 rolls of film I have shot have had almost all of the shots turn out great, I took them all in daylight and outdoors.  The two rolls I shot in the last few weeks were indoors and I mostly used a flash.  And the film I used was balanced for outdoor light and not for flash or indoor lighting.

So the color balance was terrible.  But there were also other problems.  On one of the rolls I shot about half the pictures using a 135mm lens which is a medium telephoto.  Well, 35 year old lenses don’t come with vibration reduction.  So I took quite a few pictures at too slow a shutter speed.

My first reaction was to make a New Years resolution to give up taking film pictures.  I actually put my least favorite 35mm SLR on ebay.  But then I cooled down.  The bad pictures were my own fault.

poor white balance shot
poor white balance shot

Modern cameras have become so good that most people today don’t really know how to take pictures, they just point to camera/ computer at what they want an image of and usually the result is acceptable.  Even my six month old Nikon can be used without adjusting it at all.  You just put it on automatic and it does almost everything.  However, if you want better than acceptable it takes a lot of learning and some skill.

Both taking great digital pictures or great film pictures takes lots of effort.  It is the same with cars.  Automatic transmissions are nearly universal today.  I learned to drive with a manual trans and still in many ways prefer it.  On a sports car I much prefer a manual.  Even on my Jeep Wrangler.  The one thing I would like to change on it is to have a manual gear box.  Automatics work fine, but if you want to learn to drive well or really feel what your car’s wheels are doing nothing can beat a stick.  And if you want great photos you can’t just set your camera on auto.  What you will get is moments but not art.

I will restate my feelings about digital vs film.  One is not better than the other they are different.  Just as watercolor painting does not replace oil paints, digital does not replace film.  But there is also the factor of old lenses.  All lenses have a different look.  Many modern lenses are quite sharp but they don’t look the same as a vintage lens. My son is a TV and movie professional cameraman.  He has a large collection of vintage Leica lenses he puts on modern digital bodies.  Why, because of the look you get.  Are the old lenses better than the modern lenses?  That is not the right question.  The old lenses give him the look he wants for his art.

So my new years resolution is that I am going to keep a log of how I shot pictures in the notes app on my iPhone.  That way when I get the film developed I can refer back to the log and see what I did right or wrong.  I am also going to try some regular consumer grade film from Kodak.  I have been using the expensive pro grade stuff only and I am going to try out the regular grade because it is set up to be used indoors and out.  With or without flash.  Plus I will save a significant amount of money.  Pro film now seems to run at least 10 bucks a roll.  Ouch.  Regular consumer grade $2-4.50.

August 7 2016 update.  It was my fault that the film photos came out badly.  The film was expired.  The film I used was not supposed to be used for indoor shots.  The next two rolls of film I used after this had unexpired film and was shot outdoors.  The results were great.

Here is one of the shots.  And this is low cost Fuji Superia 400

4th of July rose

83790001