Advanced digital cameras with automatic features are great for action, low light, and video. They are not that good for shooting spring flowers and other things that bloom in the spring. For me spring has arrived. My first California poppy bloomed today and I have early roses coming out. Half of my yard is fields of blooming Alyssum and other wildflowers. I record spring happenings like this every year.
Shots like the above are just far easier with manual cameras. I had to fiddle with the Sony A7iii to get the focus on the orange poppy and not the background. My iPhone absolutely refused to get sharp focus. But my almost 40 year old Olympus with manual focus only was completely simple. I have negative film in it so I know that the highlights will not get blown easily. But from past experience I know flowers tend to be about 1 stop over a center weighted meter. So I just set the Oly -1 stop. Put it on a little light tripod, took maybe 30 seconds to focus precisely on the flow and took the shot. Of course the disadvantage of film is you have to wait for it to be developed to see the results. So I can remember how I shot the photo I keep a photo log in my iPhone notes app.
Then I loaded a roll of Ektachrome into one of my Minolta 600si’s. Getting that set up was about twice as hard as the Olympus because the Minolta has auto focus and no manual focus aids in the viewfinder. But no menus to putz with so maybe 10 times easier than my full auto Sony A7iii.
Film. I have a bunch of film (maybe 25 rolls) left over from last year. None of it has expired. I just have not shot much of it lately because I have been too busy playing with my full frame Sony and iPhone. But now that spring has arrived there are all kinds of beautiful subjects that will be available and I want to use some of my older cameras. I have heard some disquieting news that Kodak Alaris is selling the film business. As I mostly use Kodak film I hope there will not be any problems with supply. Overall I like the look of Kodak film better than any other. I would have to say Ilford makes excellent black and white. The last roll I shot was Ilford 50 speed and it was just a great result. And Fuji has announced they are raising their film price 30% soon. So I don’t know how to read that. 30% + of their consumer film is not that much, but 30% on Velvia or Provia is a bunch. That would make Velvia about 20 bucks a roll and that is too much. The current price of $15 bucks is already too high. BUT.
BUT continued – if I had just used my film cameras this past year and my old Nikon D5500 and Sony HX80 it would have been far far cheaper than what I spent to get two full frame cameras. New full frame cameras and especially full frame camera glass that is good is soooooooo expensive it just makes my head swim. New full frame lenses are being introduced left and right by Sony, Canon, Nikon, Sigma, and a bunch of others. The latest for my Sony camera is a 135mm f1.8 – I am sure it is a great lens, but it costs $1,900 US dollars!!!! And it weights over 2 lbs (almost a kilo). Good grief Charlie Brown that is a lots of dough and very big and heavy. I have an Olympus 135mm f3.5. These sell for about $40 on eBay and it weighs about 8 oz. If I wanted I could get an Oly 2.8 for about $75. Or I could get a Minolta AF 135 2.8 that would work on my A7iii for about $140.
I have bought two Minolta lenses from eBay that are supposed to arrive tomorrow. 1. 100mm f2.8 AF macro. This lens is rated as about 9.5 on a scale of 1-10. I paid $220 for it including shipping. Condition is rated as mint. 2. Minolta 100-400 f4.5-6.3. I am curious to see how good this lens is. The reviews I read on it said it was good to excellent. I paid about $250 including shipping. Rated Excellent + condition. I have been thinking about getting this 100-400 for a while now but was trying to decide if I wanted to pony up the $2,500+ for the Sony new one. Then I tested the Minolta 70-210 f4.5-5.6 that I have against my Sony 24-105 f4 I bought new a couple of months ago. I thought the Sony would blow it away. It did not. I shot some houses on a hill opposite out house that are about 2-3 miles away and the Sony and Minolta are about equivalent. I paid $32 for the Minolta lens about 2 years ago. Just before Christmas I paid $1,300 for the Sony. The Minolta lens is smaller and lighter than the shorter zoom Sony. The Minolta 100-400 I have coming is much smaller and far lighter than the new Sony 100-400mm.
I bought the 100mm 2.8 macro because spring is here. I have been using various 50-55mm lenses on my Sony and Minoltas and 50 & 135 on my Olympus bodies. The Minolta 100 has been rated as a great lens by a number of people including just last week the “Casual Photographer” blog. Ken Rockwell has raved about how good the lens is. So I am looking forward to it. 100mm in macro is just easier to use than 50mm macro. My Zeiss 55mm lens is excellent and I can get pretty close with it and then just crop the image. Hopefully the 100mm will be better. A Sony 90mm 2.8 macro is about $1,000.
Even though I keep thinking that I will get away from using any film I keep going back to using some. I like manual cameras. I like being able to set them quickly how I want them without having to delve into any deep menus. For landscape manual focus is fine. There is the problem of getting a good lab to develop, but that is solved easily by just paying more to a good one. Enough for now.