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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

••◊ Shooting on actual FILM! - Highway 20


Believe it or not, I actually shot on film this last weekend - Kodak Ektar 100 to be exact.  The idea was that this would be a warm up for a future outdoor adventure with my grandpa's Pentax Spotmatic IIa SLR camera, circa 1968.  I inherited two "useful" lenses; a 28mm f/3.5 and 55mm f1.4 Takumar lenses.  Oh, how I really wanted a 35mm lens!

My results were mixed.  This experience taught me how much I should appreciate the advantages of modern digital cameras.  When I got the negative scans back they all had extreme contrast, which I had to fix in Photoshop.  The shadows were just...gone and the highlights were blown out.  Saturation could be problematic, depending on the hue.  Half the pictures were garbage because of the limited dynamic range of this film stock.  Since the outing I've learned that Ektar isn't the most forgiving for dynamic range.  I would have been better using Kodak Portra 400 or Fuji Pro 400H.

I also learned that film is sensitive to UV, sort of like digital sensors are sensitive to infrared.  So at any reasonable altitude you're supposed to use a UV filter, like the Tiffen Haze-1.  This can be had on Ebay for about $10.  I didn't have one with me.  The really cheap UV filters do little to nothing, despite their product naming.  Cheap UV filters also blur the image.

My biggest concern in shooting film was exposure.  I'll likely never come back to these places and not knowing if I got the exposure right in tricky situations, like mixed shadows and dappled sunlight, was a bit concerning.  I was also limited to ASA 100, which meant I couldn't get certain shots in the canopy of the woods without loading a different roll of film - after I used up the current roll!  This seems to unnatural to me since I'm used to ISO sensitivity just being a knob roll on a DSLR.




So, the camera does work.  But do I pine for film, like the hipster squad?  Not really.  When I have to get the negatives scanned in a lower resolution than most modern digital cameras, manipulate the contrast and saturation in post, and publish digitally, I have yet to see an advantage for image quality.  What I will say is that it was refreshing not having to worry about the camera's battery wearing down.  But you have to be aware of the 36 exposure limit at all times, which limits creativity and experimentation.  Every "oops" costs money. 

The original idea here was that since this was my grandpa's camera, it would be like taking him along on the trip if we shot on his trusty SLR.  In that regard, I see merit and will try to keep going with film.  But eventually I'll probably settle down into my digital comfort zone again.  Besides, modern (good) lenses are much better. 

   

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