20 January 2015

Film vs. Digital: Taking out the mechanical Nikon

I got a film back from the chemists today, or rather, I got the pictures and a disc of digital conversions. Note that this is a local chemist, not a professional lab, so bear that in mind before lambasting my poor efforts. This post includes a few pictures from the film and some observations about using a film camera (an FM2) for the first time in some years.


1. It takes time to finish a roll. Because it costs money, I'm not blasting out shots left right and centre - there has to be a decent possibility that I'll want to keep the shot, although because it was an experiment and a learning experience I was interested to see what the limitations of the camera were. 

In Leighton redwoods (you could smell the cordite of the hunters from here).

2. The chemists are a bit mingy with their megapixels - a lot of the shots are less than 1mb in size despite being labelled "Hi Res", thus post-processing is limited in scope. I miss the RAW files. 

Keaton, Shrewsbury Coffeeshop, straight out of camera - and a bit of a red cast? (Compare with the B and W version from a few days ago, below - this one is less clinical, no?)

3. I must admit, I like the look of some of the photos in the sense that the grain is more humane, and they feel right in their softness (see above) - not out of focus exactly, more a sort of ethereal quality. Probably nonsense - I ought to see if there is a test on the web somewhere - which is film, which is digital sort of thing. But for now, anyway, yes, I like them, especially the areas of bokeh such as the lights top right in the photo above. Yep, exciting. Ridiculous but true. Maybe its the thrill of the unusual - I hope not, because that, of course, doesn't last. Fingers crossed. 


5. For some reason, when I picked the film up I thought it was black and white; the colour has been a nice surprise, although I wouldn't say that the colours are incredibly accurate - in a few of the pictures I've played about with colour balance a fair bit (the one above for example - it's less green than it was). I'm ashamed to say I can't remember the name of the film stock - it's Kodak print film and it's 400 asa but other than that I'm not sure - Colour Plus maybe? I know I should know - next time I'll be more observant. I thought it might have more latitude than it does - the cupboard doors in the photo above are mirrored and are reflecting a blue sky but you'd not know it from the photograph as they have burnt out almost completely. 

6. Even though I was more careful in choosing my subjects and getting the settings correct than I might usually be with digital, there are an awful lot of pictures that didn't make the cut - the above are the only ones I want to show out of the 35 I got back. Whilst some of the others don't make the cut in part because I was experimenting and therefore deliberately going further than I otherwise might with one parameter or another, nonetheless it remains something of a salutary lesson to shoot a roll of film and see how much waste there is. 

7. An FM2 shutter and winding on mechanism together make a fair old bit of noise. It also isn't a very comfortable camera to hold with anything other than a small 50mm mounted. Focusing, too, takes some getting used to, though I was prepared for that. 

8. Am I looking forward to finishing the current film and getting the results back? Absolutely. 

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