About five years ago I started shooting film again after going with digital only for about 7-8 years. Now in May 2017 it seems like film is back in a big way. I have been writing this blog and one other with most of the posts being about photography. My most popular posts are when I write about film and film cameras. Recently I saw a post that was in Photoblographer on 5 great but unknown film cameras. The Minolta 600si was in the five. Within a few days I had a bunch of hits on most two 600si posts. Same with my post on Kodak Gold 200. Few have written about these items and all of a sudden my posts on them have been looked up and read.
For me personally I have settled into using both digital and film. I have a number of both types of cameras and just pick what I think will give the best images. The exception to this rule is that I carry an iPhone 7+ with me constantly and take a lot of images with it. My most recent camera purchase is a Sony pocket camera. It is a DSC HX80. This is a very new model of super zoom. I have had several Sony pocket cameras over the last 15 years and this one takes the best pictures of any I have had. This is not the highly rated $1,000 one, but looks very similar. I got it as I was trying to find something a bit better than the iPhone 7+ that had a long lens on it. I like shooting wildlife and volunteer at the San Diego Zoo so there are times when a long optical lens is helpful. I have to say the little Sony is a very good camera when you consider what it cost. It even has an electronic viewfinder (the same one as the $1,000 Sony) that is absolutely essential in bright sun. I recently took it with me to Arizona and the camera is a very good bridge between a large SLR or DSLR and a cell phone camera.
On this trip I took my iPhone, the DSC HX80, and my Nikon D5500. So no film cameras. Why, I knew I would be bouncing around between outdoor and indoor, plus back and forth between landscape and people. We did not plan to go to any epic landscape places like the Grand Canyon or Bryce. So I spent several days trying to decide on what gear to take and just left the film at home. I really wanted to take my old Voightlander, but it is just more limited than some of the newer cameras. I got some very good shots with the gear I took.
The cactus is with the Sony, Casa Grande Nikon, and Route 66 with the iPhone. All three were easy to edit and organize with Lightroom and Apple Photos. I pretty much edited the pictures when sitting in the hotel and they organized easily as dates and times were already embedded in them.
Would the images have been better with film? Maybe. I would have needed two bodies for both 100 speed and 400 speed. The 100 would have been Ektar or Velvia, and the 400 Kodak Ultramax or Fuji Superia. I picked these films as I just have not been happy with my landscape shots using Portra 160 or 400. I just don’t like the desert look I get from this film. My two Minolta 600si bodies are just as easy to use as the digitals so I would have taken them. I would have used my two primes a 50mm and 24mm both with macro. The long shots could have been with the 70-205 Minolta zoom I have. Absolutely the 50mm macro is better at close ups than any of the digital cameras I have. The new Sony super zoom really has a long reach. So a couple of the animal shots might not have been as close up.
The added reason I picked the digitals is that I am trying to get certain looks with them in camera and post with Lightroom. I wanted to experiment some more to get the results I was looking for.
These shots of Casa Grande in Arizona I was trying to get the “Kodachrome” look. To me this photo (from the iPhone no less) pretty much nails that. And I could have made the same result with Velvia or Ektar in one of my film cameras. In this case though it is a bit of a pano that is easy with the iPhone 7.
The above is with my D5500 and I get the same “Kodachrome” look. I just used the P setting and landscape mode. I had saturation turned up +2 on the landscape mode. Then in Lightroom I just added a small amount of additional color in the sky with the dehaze slider. And I turned up the shadows a bit.
In summation I would have to say that I have settled into working with both film and digital for stills. There are some things I like about each process. As far as gear goes, I like some of my vintage film gear. Looking at and holding cameras mostly made out of metal and not plastic is a pleasure. And having full frame film cameras that are not heavy and relatively small is also a pleasure. I would like to move up to a digital full frame sometime in the near future, but nobody has made the camera I want yet. The closest is the Nikon 750, but I don’t like the fact that the camera and lens is so large. And the Sony stuff is just too pricy for what you get. Plus the lens cost and short battery life are additional problems. I would really like to get up to the 30 meg area of file size too. At this point the 750 is the same detail as my existing D5500.
Film Video vs Digital Video
While it seems I can get very good results with digital cameras I have to say I am glad that using film in movies is popular again. I hate digital video on TV that has not been processed to look like film. Netflix does that on their in house movies and they look terrible. I can usually spot movies made with film or TV shows. For instance HBO’s Westworld. The cinematography was so gorgeous I figured it was film. And it is.
Thats it for now. I am going to try to get out this weekend and shoot some film. I have some partially used rolls and I want to finish them and send them off to get them developed.