I’m shooting with film, who would have thought? by Thomas Whitaker
Here’s something I thought would never happen. I own and am actively shooting with a film camera. If you said to me two years ago that I would be shooting with a film camera, I’d probably of laughed and said ‘Yea Right.’ However things have slightly changed, as have my opinion on film. Ever since I bought my Fujifilm X-E1 I have really enjoyed street photography and the rangefinder style of the Fuji.
When I bought the X-E1 I also bought an adaptor to use my Grandfather’s Super-Takumar film lenses which were the 55mm f1.8 and the 135mm f3.5 as well as the Makinon 28mm f2.8. These lenses were fun when on the X-E1 and most recently my Grandfather gave me his Asahi Pentax SV, for which the lenses were originally for. I did get excited about the prospects of using a film camera rather than my usual all digital setup. Looking closer into the SV there were several things which were very different and put me on a very steep learning curve. With a maximum shutter speed of 1/1000th which wasn’t that big a deal, my biggest hurdle was using a camera with no light metre.
I was a little apprehensive about a change so drastic, considering I’d been brought up on digital with adjustable ISO, shutter speeds above 1/1000th and the reassurance of checking the photo straight after taking it. Having all of these things isn’t always a benefit. Shooting film even for the small amount I’ve now done so, has helped me become a much more confident photographer. When using film, you have to be certain about getting the shot and have confidence in yourself. Being confident in your technique and workflow is very important in growing and becoming a better photographer.
Recent I purchased another film camera; I didn’t want to constantly carry around the Pentax as it had sentimental attachment. So after a little bit of research I decided I wanted a rangefinder to match the profile and size of the X-E1 I have. To save a bit of money I opted on fixed lens, I go in contact with Chris from Smile Please Photography on King Street Newtown. I’ve known Chris for a little while now and if you’re ever looking for a film camera in Sydney he’s the man to see. He’s some weird and wonderful things at the shop. Chris really came through for me and found me a Canon Canonet QL17 GIII he had in beautiful condition. Everything worked perfectly (even the metre is in perfect working condition) and all for a very decent price to top it all off.
As for the films I carry, it’s very much a little bit of everything at the moment. I’m trying out a lot of different films based on what I can get my hands on for a decent price. So far finding decent priced anything is an achievement in itself! The film that I have mainly tried is the very generic Kodak 400, Kodak 200, Fujifilm X-TRA Superia 400, Fujifilm Superia 200 and some Ilford XP2 Super 400 to try some black and white film. I chose the Ilford XP2 Super over other black and white films because the XP2 Super can be processed the same way as any colour film. Proved handy, as I don’t intend to process the film myself and this is was convenient for me.
My everyday bag consists of:
- Fujifilm X-E1 with the Fujinon 35mm f1.4
- the Canon Canonet QL17 GIII which has a 40mm f1.7 lens
- Kodak 200, Fujifilm X-TRA Superia 400 and Ilford XP2 Super 400
- 3 x Sandisk 8GB Memory Cards
- Cleaning pen
- Micro fibre cloth
- Business Cards
I like carrying this kit as there is a massive difference in the camera’s and technology, however both are very effective tools for the street photography I love doing. I have a 70′s film camera and a brand new digital camera sitting less than an inch apart from each other in my bag, yet both do exactly what I want. Small, solidly built and reliable cameras are only limited by my creativity.
The film camera won’t replace my digital cameras for use of main photography of shooting sport and for paid work. I’ll use the film cameras for much more of my personal projects. I view working with film as essential for refining my skill and allowing me to get creative and allowing my thought process to be as sharp as it can be.