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Thread: Film Photography

  1. #1
    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    Film Photography

    i'm learning traditional photo techniques through a class i'm taking at the local community college. i'm using 35mm b&w film and the class requires that all steps of the process are done yourself, so absolutely no use of professional services. this is kinda difficult due to limited access to darkroom facilities, limited time during the week and the overall costs of film and paper which adds up. i'm interested in buying my own camera so i don't have to keep renting from the school, but i'm not sure what's most suitable for my purposes and don't know where to start, so i'll have a talk with the instructor and maybe the local camera repair guy to check out used cameras.

    this is all before my time and is a good subject to talk about with older people. apparently film photography is really out of vogue now except among hobbyists (and this is not cheap), students, pro photographers and some "serious" artists. i have no idea but i know there's like one self-service photo lab in all of LA that everybody and their mom goes to if they don't have access to college photo labs, which is kinda surprising to me considering that these techniques i'm learning seem so fundamental to image-making and editing. i feel like i'll even understand adobe photoshop better, the more opportunity (time + money) i have to experiment and play in the darkroom. it's pretty fascinating to me the extent to which a photograph can be "handmade."

    what's your experience with film photography (shooting/processing/printing/retouching)?

    if you know anything about this, what cameras should i look into buying (used)? my only requirement is that it has all the standard features, and the more control, the better. i'd prefer something that's better than "student" quality 'cause ideally this would last a long time, but idk exactly what that means yet.

  2. #2
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    I wouldn't get one with a crank, you know, where you have to wind the film after every shot you take. They're obviously a pain in the neck. – If you like the camera you've borrowed from your school, maybe get the same model?

  3. #3
    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sappho View Post
    I wouldn't get one with a crank, you know, where you have to wind the film after every shot you take. They're obviously a pain in the neck. – If you like the camera you've borrowed from your school, maybe get the same model?
    i can't tell with the school cameras (vivitar V3800N) 'cause with some i've used i've had problems with the crank & the film not advancing (heh). maybe they've been abused by some students, but they seem like decent machines and i'm not having significant problems learning with them.

    without the crank, how do you know the film is advancing? this might be a stupid beginner's question, but what film cameras are out there that don't have the crank?

    it's likely i'll just talk with the repair guy and take a look at the models he might have available, but recommendations or opinions on specific models can't hurt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tele View Post
    i can't tell with the school cameras (vivitar V3800N) 'cause with some i've used i've had problems with the crank & the film not advancing (heh). maybe they've been abused by some students, but they seem like decent machines and i'm not having significant problems learning with them.

    without the crank, how do you know the film is advancing? this might be a stupid beginner's question, but what film cameras are out there that don't have the crank?
    After the crank, analog cameras used to have tiny motors to make the film advance automatically. They were a lot easier to handle, particularly when taking a lot of successive shots (naturally). They also rolled up the film automatically once it was full, thereby reducing any chance of accidentally overexposing the film when opening the camera. – I'm afraid I can't recommend any particular model, though, since it's been quite long that I've used one of those.

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    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sappho View Post
    After the crank, analog cameras used to have tiny motors to make the film advance automatically. They were a lot easier to handle, particularly when taking a lot of successive shots (naturally). They also rolled up the film automatically once it was full, thereby reducing any chance of accidentally overexposing the film when opening the camera.
    that sounds extremely convenient, and i'll keep that in mind during my search. thanks.

  6. #6
    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    without the crank, how do you know the film is advancing? this might be a stupid beginner's question, but what film cameras are out there that don't have the crank?
    I haven't shot film in nigh on 10+ years since doing it back in high school, but I'm guessing that without the crank he means one that automatically rolls the film on one frame after each shot. If you can tell that the manual crank isn't rolling the film, you can tell that the automatic little motor thing isn't rolling the film as well. Both of them make this horrible noise/feeling if the little teeth haven't properly grabbed the film to turn it, the automatic one just turns the teeth one rotation automatically after each exposure. Then, IIRC, there's a little button to rewind the film back into the cannister for processing. It was always cool, because the thing just sits there for a few seconds whirring at you...

    I've also got absolutely no idea what film cameras are available these days. I'm not one of these people who says that "the flaws of old = good" like a lot of hipsters (by which I mean the glass on the front, not the film per se, films can have better qualities than digital) so i'd just say make sure that you can make it compatible with modern lenses...

    If your class has some, it might be good to base things off of that company/model, or as you said, ask your teacher, since if they're still teaching it all they probably have a better idea than me...

    Canon/Nikon have been the general leaders in camera bodies for the last few years, but whether they carry film models of the same quality I wouldn't have a clue. However, since they're also the main builders of lenses these days, you'll probably want to make sure that your camera is compatible with one of their systems...

  7. #7
    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    This was one of my youthful passions. Sappho is correct about the ease of operation as it relates to a powered Point-and-Shoot camera.

    Before these automated systems were built into the camera, professionals often used a powered motor box that would attach to the bottom of the SLR.

    Internal or external, it is that distinct gear noise that follows the click (and last about a second) in those old sports or fashion photo-shoot scenes from TV & movies.

    It was intended to offer the photographer the best chance to capture an ephemeral scene. ...and use-up a lot of film for that, One.

    However, I think if you ask old-school shutterbugs, (considering your artistic expression angle, and darkroom interest) they will agree mostly with what I offer below.

    SLR: Single Lens Reflex (when the shutter is not engaged, a mirror drops down and the view from the viewfinder come through the main lens ~ WYSIWYG)


    Mechanical Shutter (not powered by a battery). Using the "B" or manual shutter setting, you keep the shutter open for as long as the button is pressed. See Below.

    A Mechanical Cable-Release. & Tripod.


    The Cable-Release screws into the center of the shutter button and functions like a syringe. But it can be set to lock down after being pressed (until released) or respond to the will of the thumb.

    Millions of interesting effects can be had with long-exposure. Even for hours on end...and this is why you don't want to have a powered shutter draining batteries.

    Long exposures require a stable mount (tripod) and using the cable prevents you from shaking the camera while the shutter is open.

    Spoiler: Stuff like this.










  8. #8
    non-canonical Light Leak's Avatar
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    I used a Nikon that looked very similar to the one that OrionzRevenge posted a photo of when I was in college. It was all manual, which sort of forced me to learn how to use it. My camera now has both auto and manual settings and it's easy to rely on the auto settings. I've sort of fallen out of practice with doing things the manual way over the years. When I do use the manual settings now I feel like I'm fumbling through it. I used to have a better idea what I was doing.

    I had the cable release too. I did some long exposure stuff as well, but I never did any long exposures of star trails. In my later college years I was more into medium and large format photography so I borrowed cameras from school rather than using my own camera. This was all 10+ yrs ago so I have no clue what types of film cameras are good now. Now I have a digital SLR that I don't use all that often.

    Quote Originally Posted by tele View Post
    i feel like i'll even understand adobe photoshop better, the more opportunity (time + money) i have to experiment and play in the darkroom. it's pretty fascinating to me the extent to which a photograph can be "handmade."
    Yes. You will understand Photoshop better.

  9. #9
    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Light Leak View Post
    I used a Nikon that looked very similar to the one that OrionzRevenge posted a photo of when I was in college. It was all manual, which sort of forced me to learn how to use it. My camera now has both auto and manual settings and it's easy to rely on the auto settings. I've sort of fallen out of practice with doing things the manual way over the years. When I do use the manual settings now I feel like I'm fumbling through it. I used to have a better idea what I was doing.

    ...
    Yeah, I wouldn't have a clue about a modern auto/manual film SLR recommendation.

    One of the nice things about going retro is that you probably can find a good used camera for under $100 US. (you'd also need a flash-unit that mounts in the hot-shoe on top of the SLR).

    At the time, the learning curve and various controls appealed to me on an INTPish level, and I'm sure Torrent-Land is full of old guide books to spur the imagination. The manual control allows you to let your creativity capture unconventional images.

    Various old Mechanical Shutter SLRs

    Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR Film Camera with 50mm Lens Kit on Ebay @ $90 US


  10. #10
    I did b&w and color photography in college many years ago. all manual. even developed some of the film myself.
    I love everything about the process except the nasty chemicals that get on your hands. I have an old all manual 35mm nikon slr around here somewhere.
    I just remembered, in my color class of about 15 people there were two other people with my first name. I was friends with both of them.

    I also have one of these here somewhere.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lomo_LC-A

    now I want to find it. fuck digital and photoshop.

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