film photography - questions about basics.

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by pawel_baranski, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. I have several questions.
    1. Does body affects IQ? I would say no, but i know that old cameras needed very long exposure times and older pictures ussually have worse IQ; also there must be a reason why some cameras are much more expensive.
    2. Are there any cheap ways to get film? Also, what kind of film i would have to use to get good image quality?
    3. What about processing? Are chemicals & all stuff that is needed is expensive?
    4. also I'm not sure how reasonable it would be to get into film. I need small camera and i don't really care that much for fast frame rate of super fast auto focus - and right now I'm considering film camera as a cheaper option compared to upcoming fuji x-pro 1 or olympus e-m5.
  2. Does body affect IQ? Unlikely, in the way you probably mean, assuming the body is from a reputable manufacturer in the last 50 years, and is in good repair. However, the body can affect things like how easy it is to get the desired focus.
    Cheap way to get film? If you want colour film, then the cheapest way may be to buy "processing included" film. In Canada, you can get ISO 400 colour film with processing included for about $8 a roll (of 24 exposures), from Black's photo (the film is likely made by Fuji). This price includes 4x6 prints, though from scans that are fairly low resolution and usually too contrasty. You can of course then scan the negatives yourself to get higher quality. For black-and-white, you can buy the film pretty cheaply, and then process it yourself cheaply. Any film made by Fuji, Kodak, or Ilford will be high-quality (for what it is - a high speed ISO 3200 film will of course have higher grain than an ISO 100 film).
    You can get a film camera pretty cheaply. You mention auto focus, so presumably you'd want to buy a failry recent film camera. Something like a Nikon F75 (also called N75) or a Pentax ZX-7 (also called MZ-7) would be small, cheap, and capable. You'd need a lens too, of course. Some of these are also pretty cheap used. Lenses for the Nikon and Pentax bodies I mentioned are compatible with DSLRs, except that lenses designed only for cropped sensors may not fill the whole frame of film.
    This all assumes you want a 35mm camera. If you want high IQ, a medium format camera might be better. You could get a cheap TLR (twin-lens reflex) camera, for instance, though if you want auto focus, a medium format camera would be much more expensive than 35mm.
  3. Where did you get the idea that "old cameras needed very long exposure times?" The basics of exposure don't change depending on the age of the camera. It is still film speed, aperture and shutter speed. If you load a 1960's (or older) camera with 400 speed film, the exposure will be the same as for the latest digital camera set to ISO 400.
  4. There are lots of good reasons to get into film photography, but "cheaper" isn't one of them.
    Based on your last point, I would suggest you shop around for an inexpensive (perhaps used) digital compact camera.
  5. i need fast primes and reasonable high iso performance. And good IQ.
    So compact wouldn't suit my needs.
  6. To respond to your other questions.
    1. Body does affect image quality insofar as it prevents light leaks and keeps the film flat. If the film isn't flat, then the focus will waiver. Most cameras will keep the film acceptably flat. And if the camera is in good shape, it shouldn't have any light leaks.
    Most of the variation in price of film SLRs was attributed to the film advance mechanism (manual vs power) and the light meter. Also, higher end cameras had more reliable shutters, shutters with faster synch speed, etc. But at the end of the day, the camera kept the film flat and allowed light to pass through the lens to the film. The quality of the film and the quality of the lens were much more important than the camera body.
    2. With film, you get what you pay for. And there aren't a lot of companies making film anymore. It's becoming kind of a niche market, which doesn't bode well for "affordable". As for what kind of film you would have to use to get "good" image quality, that depends on what you mean by "good" and what you want your final product to be. If you want to show your pictures through a projector onto a screen, use slide film. If you want prints, use print film. If you want pictures on a web page, go digital.
    3. If you are dealing with black & white you could probably develop the negatives in your bathroom with a couple hundred dollars worth of equipment. The chemicals should be available online or at a higher end camera store. To make prints you will need a good enlarger, which will cost more than the digital cameras you've decided you can't yet afford. Color is even more expensive and harder to deal with.
    Of course, you can send it out to a lab. But if it's a budget lab they are likely to just scan your negatives and give you digital prints. You might as well have started with a digital camera.
    If you want to get into film photography and have it be better than digital, you need to set up a dark room or deal with a professional lab that will make optical enlargements. You will probably also want a medium or large format camera.
    You can make great images and have a lot of fun doing it. But it won't be inexpensive.
  7. As Matthew says, film is really NOT cheaper.
    It may be fun to shoot it in cameras that are classics and now available for pennies on the dollar; but film costs, processing, etc., are much more expensive in general use than digital images-- given that memory and storage are so inexpensive.
  8. SCL


    I made the decision years ago that I enjoyed using film, developing it myself, scanning it and when appropriate either printing it myself or having it printed, in addition to my digital work. But costs began to escalate because I was using several different and incompatable camera systems. Over time I moved most film work to the Nikon line, because I could use the same lenses on my DSLR. If you are just starting out, I would encourage you to factor long term costs into your purchase decisions as well as interchangeability. The principal body differences in older cameras rest with their construction and increasingly complex features as one moves from the 1950 era models to models of today. As others mentioned, manufacturing tolerances increased over time, as did functionality. Unless you are already a master of lighting and exposure...some of those newer features may help you produce better works with a shorter learning curve. For instance I can coax equivalent quality pictures out of my late model Nikon professional bodies, my cheap EM body (which I picked up for $8 USD in a charity shop) and my DSLR...principally because I use top quality lenses which fit interchangeably on the bodies. Film, as others said, isn't cheap compared to digital, it is a different tool with different considerations in use. The idea that film requires long exposure is utter nonsense in the context of choosing the proper ISO film for the subject matter and lighting requirements. You would be particularly well served by learning about the factors which contribute to making good pictures, especially exposure and lighting before plowing money into any system. Ansel Adams' "The Negative" is a good start, as are books by Peterson, et al. You don't just buy IQ, you learn it like any craft. The time you spend researching and learning the basics will be rewarded with better results.
  9. Buy B&W film in bulk, even recently outdated film is fine, process and scan it yourself and you will save a bundle on film photography.
    On color film, buy slightly short-dated rolls of neg film. Send to drug or big box stores for process only. Scan it yourself and save a bundle on color photography,too.
  10. 3. If you are dealing with black & white you could probably develop the negatives in your bathroom with a couple hundred dollars worth of equipment. The chemicals should be available online or at a higher end camera store. To make prints you will need a good enlarger, which will cost more than the digital cameras you've decided you can't yet afford.​
    Huh? Unless you insist on buying everything brand new, the cost for basic equipment for developing film shouldn't be more than $40 or so. The only specialized equipment need is a tank, a reel and a good thermometer. All of this can be found on e-Bay and Craigslist very cheaply.
    Graduates can be substituted for with measuring cups from a local store at a minimal cost; a cheap electronic kitchen timer can be used to time the development steps, a good electronic kitchen thermometer can be used to start out in B&W film developing.
    Decent enlargers, with lens, are practically being given away. Even if you have one shipped, they're no where close to the cost of a good digital camera.
  11. I read the questions and the answers. By the way, the answers were excellent.
    I think the reason for :" getting into film photography" Is something else rather than all the questions and answers. generall if you are careful the quality, even with only average equipment, can be better then most, if not all digital photography.
    If you only make 4" x 6" 100mm x 150mm prints you may never see the difference.
    almost any 35mm camera and almost any film will give better than acceptible prints and probably 8 x 10 enlargements.
    this excludes some cameras that are worn out or simply " dogs"
    the simple auto exposuer auto focus film cameras that you can buy on ebay for about $5.00
    will make decent if not outstanding prints.,
    the lenses are sometimes quite slow, and may have optical flaws.
    One I have a Nikon has a 3 element 28mm focal length lens. A least it is a fixed focal lenght lens.
    so there si hope of a sharp looking 'average" print.
    this is not what you want to hear. but such a camera need not be handled like a precious jewel.
    yes you want something better. there are small higher quality little cameras.
    and when you move up to a real matal and glass like the 40 year old rangfinder cameras or a basic SLR. the quality goes way up. Possibly beyond you expectations.
    two things to watch for. macine processing of color print film can vary a lot and even sometimews the printing is sloppy and not quite in foicus ( better than in years past)
    B&W is another thing and the cost of developing and printing is higher, and I do not trust anybody to do a decent job. DO IT YOURSELF. If you cannot afford an enlarger scan and print at a big box store.
    the machins may not like to print B&W and may require that you learn to tweak the settinsg.
    But you still have the negatives and can do a wet print later.
  12. i need fast primes and reasonable high iso performance. And good IQ.​
    One area where digital simply blows film away is high ISO performance. 3200 speed film simply cannot match 3200 speed on a recent DSLR.
    Good IQ is the result of a) a good lens, b) careful metering, and c) excellent technique, such as using a tripod and mirror lockup. Good film, lens hood, things like that are always important. Cheap filters should be avoided. The film body, if in good repair, will make no difference.
    right now I'm considering film camera as a cheaper option compared to upcoming fuji x-pro 1 or olympus e-m5.​
    Well... The cost of a film body and single lens, even a fast prime, will be cheaper than those, but the learning curve is steeper, and you either have to cope with a lab processing your images (and you pray they don't screw them up) or you have to invest in a darkroom to process and print your own. Or process them in your bathroom and scan the negatives.
    Frankly, (and God forgive me for saying this) I think you'll be happier with one of the two digitals you mentioned above; the learning curve is much easier, and if you screw up an image you can start over.
    (Now if you'll excuse me, I have some heavy penance to perform. Three Hail Marys and a dozen rolls of Pan F to develop.)
  13. You can get an excellent dslr for less than the price of a fuji x-pro 1 or olympus e-m5. With a fast prime lens.
    As I said, you can have a lot of fun and produce exceptional images with film. But it will not be less expensive than digital.
    And (this may seem like herresy on the "modern film cameras" forum) if you want digital images, you should start with a digital camera. Shooting film and then scanning it is (IMHO) kinda crazy.
  14. Just some quick answers!

    1. No, unless it has more than one hole in it.

    2. I find film generally more expensive to use. I've just posted a thread about how terrific superia 200 is. It is also relative cheap. Most modern films give excellent image quality, but have different characteristics. If I were you, I would start with slide film - that way you can see direct results from your camera. The result from colour negative depends more on the scanning technique than the film.

    Also, look into getting a cheap film camera. Look up the Nikon F80/N80, Pentax MZ-5n, Canon 300x - these are all capable of the best results (as are many, many others...)

    3. Generally B&W processing is relatively easy to do and inexpensive. Colour processing is more fiddly, and more expensive. To start with, send you film to NCPS - I recommend them as they do an excellent scanning, and you can see the true results of your film. When you get more confident with film, you can try processing it yourself. However, if you shoot badly, process badly, print badly, and end up with a crap print, you'll have no idea where to start to improve it!

    4. As I said above, film is more expensive than digital. However, if you want results that can compete with a Nikon D3x, in a smaller package, you could shoot an F80 with the same lenses, with some Fuji Provia 100, send it to NCPS for a high-res scan, and yes, it would probably be cheaper!

  15. Film, as others said, isn't cheap compared to digital​

    The cost difference between film and digital probably isn't that great. The difference is that for digital, most of the cost is up front whereas for film, equipment can be bought cheaply and the film and processing costs are ongoing.
  16. Film has a different price structure. It is not a super priced as many would make you believe! Film is readily available and buying in a "3 in a box" usually less expensive than individual rolls. I use "amateur" film for generations now! Why? The color is more saturated than pro films of Kodak and Fuji. I never wanted my clients, esp. Bridal to query why some "Uncle" photos were nicer than mine!There is additional processing of developing and scanning. Mine are done at a local store for $3.00. These are hi-res. scans. Yes, the Noritsu and Fuji Frontier machines can easily do higher resolution, equal to 6MP. One i have digital files can do my Photoshop. If there is an urgent time limit, can have prints done at same time., for under 0.20c each. You cannot print your own for less.
    Digital needs drives. A spare drive to secure your images. A reasonably modern PC. It has to be updated, otherwise certain programs or even Internet linkage no longer apply. So its more and more storage drives, better and better(more cost) PC. The digital cameras seem to age worse. My digital seem less sharp and poorer color as they age. Check your first results..
    I love my digital, the ability to shoot endlessly. More, not better! I covered 2 demonstrations, Anti-Assad-Syria and a DRC Congo, plus shots at a Rail Junction all on a 24 exposure roll, that yielded 28 images..When did a 1GB memory have 1GB? Not once in numerous cards..
    I shoot about 2 to 3 rolls a month. My cost for the year, plus prints well under $300. That's about $30 a month. The cost of my Internet is more. In same period I spent about same on extra drives, PC upgrade, Memory cards. You could say I am spending twice as much as i need,but I have access to my old Film/Analogue camera systems that are long written off, or were gifts.
    I have Nikon with all Nikkor lenses, 28,35,45,50,55Micro,105,135,200 plus zooms.Similar in Pentax. My Leica M, very old has the 50mm,35mm and 2 x135. All battered but functional.
    Darkroom was a gift/loan and a developing tank, thermometer and jars cost a few dollars..I found a Canon Scanner. It works fine but not with Windows7 or Apple. It was complete with all the instructions, CD, film/negative holders. It may not be an Epson, but it is free.
    so you should shoot both.Film is fun. The results for me way more exciting, not better. Quality about equal. In the dark the digital shines, in contrast film takes the lead.
  17. Camera body is important in regard to maintaining film flatness, but most of them are similar in that sense (except for the former (Japanese) Contax SLR series that had one model with a vacuum back plate). A fast lens for a film rangefinder camera can be obtained with a new or used Voigtlander-Cosina optic. The 28mm 1.9 and 50mm f1.5 or 40mm f1.4 are three such possibilities. If manual focussing is acceptable to you, one of the V-C Bessa camera bodies might suit you. They have reasonably bright viewfinders and fairly accurate autoexposure.
    A fim Leica with autoexposure is very expensive, as are Leica optics. I think your best deal under $1000 would be a V-C RF camera and one of the lenses mentioned above.
    Freestyle or others can provide film at good prices. Once you do black and white in a darkroom, film development and enlargement you probably won't want second best via scanniing.
  18. As Matthew says, film is really NOT cheaper.​
    Depends on how much you shoot and if you are smart about buying and developing film. If all you shoot is 24 exp 35mm slide film and mail it out across the country one roll at a time to a pro lab for processing and scanning then yes it will get expensive if you shoot even a moderate amount.
    also there must be a reason why some cameras are much more expensive.​
    Why does an old car from the 50s cost more on the used market than a new technologically advanced car from 2008? You are going to have to do A LOT of research my friend, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not trying to be an ass here but some cameras cost way more because they are actually more reliable or have a unique feature. Some cameras are collectors items. Some cameras are actually very good but they were also mass produced, supply and demand. My Bronica ETRS is chunky and all metal. Yet it costs a fraction of the price of a plastic consumer DSLR. When there were fewer of them on the market they cost thousands of dollars. Now I wouldn't pay $200 for a body only. I have MF lenses I bought NEW on ebay that have price stickers on them that say $1500! Demand drops off and high quality gear gets real cheap. I would first decide on the format. If you are going into film you may want to get a MF camera. An excellent quality used Bronica ETRSi with speed grip, prism finder, multiple backs, and a PE prime lens goes for less than $400 on Ebay. That's about the price of a good quality prime for a Canon DSLR! I know. I own both. If you like the size and compactness of 35mm then get a body that you can eventually upgrade (or downgrade) to a digital system. Again I have a Canon 35mm film body and a digital body. Once I had a Canon DSLR it was a no brainer to pick up the film body. I got an Elan 7NE that was barely used for less than $100 shipped of of Ebay. One word of advice. Do NOT attempt to buy a 35mm film camera when a school semester is about to begin. All the new photo students bid up the prices to ridiculous levels. Wait until a quiet period.
    Film. B&H and Adorama have some decent deals on film. Find a cheap emulsion that gets the results you like. Adorama has the 5 pack of Fuji Acros 120 film for $13.45 from time to time. The problem is it goes out of stock for months at a time. I don't know why. I order three of those and keep them in the freezer. It lasts me quite a while. I develop my film myself for pennies. The problem is you have to get the equipment first, dark bag, developing tank, reel, developer, fixer, photoflo, measuring cup. If you buy things like the developing tank and reel used you can save a bundle. Just make sure the reel isn't dented if it is metal or one of the cheap models made of thin wire. Those are difficult/impossible to load.
    Check this out. B&H sells rolls of Kodak Gold 100 ISO 24 Exp for less than $2. Sam's Club develops these rolls with no prints for a little over $1.50, and you can get a gallon of mayonnaise while you're there. I bought an Epson V500 for about $130 and scan at home. This is a great way to get started if you are just learning about photography. Also remember if you take good care of your equipment you can always resell it on Ebay.
    I honestly view my foray into film as a life long hobby. Even if I sold ALL my analog gear (medium format and 35mm) I could probably only scrape together enough to buy one prime lens for my DSLR. Plus once you buy the dark bag, developing tank, reel, and scanner they are a sunk cost. Unlike a DSLR they won't go obsolete. I use my scanner for proofing and images for computer screens. If I want a real nice scan for a big enlargement I shoot MF and send the slide/negative out for professional scanning and printing... that is expensive. B&W enlargement can be done in a dark room. My photography student friends like printing my negs. Free pics for me :)
  19. 1. Does body affects IQ?
    Yes, but not as much as the lens. Any well made camera probably holds the film flat enough so that you'd need a lab to detect the difference. A Contax RTS III had a system to vacuum the film against the pressure plate to make absolutely flat, but the truth is, most of the RTS quality was the lenses.

    2. Are there any cheap ways to get film? Also, what kind of film i would have to use to get good image quality?
    If it's still possible buy a Watson bulk loader and buy 50' rolls of black and white negative film. I used to buy Tri-X but now with Kodak in trouble, maybe Ilford? Then develop it yourself. Not super cheap but a lot cheaper than any alternative. And here is another alternative. Prowl ebay buying old expired film people are selling out of their freezers. God knows I have a ton in there. You can probably get all kinds of film. Of course processing the color might be a challenge, so try to get old black and white.

    3. What about processing? Are chemicals & all stuff that is needed is expensive?
    Not black and white. You need a developer, a stop bath (somewhat optional, you can use water at the expense of more time), and a fixer. There are a couple of other optional chemical but those are the basics. You mix them up in a 1 gallon jug and use a little at a time.

    4. also I'm not sure how reasonable it would be to get into film. I need small camera and i don't really care that much for fast frame rate of super fast auto focus - and right now I'm considering film camera as a cheaper option compared to upcoming fuji x-pro 1 or olympus e-m5.
    It's potentially problematic, but it's probably still safe to get into film for a while, just don't spend 50,000 dollars doing it. Start small and see how it goes. I'd use a film scanner (if you can find one) rather than an enlarger but you can go that way too if you want.

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