Switching back to manual SLR - am I crazy?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by rachael_fox|1, Apr 23, 2006.

  1. I've been thinking about this subject for a few days now. I used to
    own a Nikon FE2 with some nice prime lenses. However, the cost of b&w
    film and processing at the time was getting to be prohibitively
    expensive. Eventually I sold my Nikon and bought one of the new
    prosumer level D-SLR's. It's nice, but there are some definite drawbacks:

    1. Bulky - Yes, I realize SLR's are never small, but the DSLR is a

    2. Slow - It takes forever to write a RAW or TIFF image to my CF
    card. I've missed a ton of shots waiting for the blasted thing to
    write the previous image.

    3. Expensive - I like to travel, and I cringe every time I have to
    pull out my camera in the middle of some 3rd world city street. It
    reeks of high-priced, valuable electronics which I'm sure someone
    would love to relieve me of.

    4. Fragile - Rain = bad; cold weather = bad; jarring impact = bad;
    heat = bad. If I wanted to stay inside all day and baby my camera, I
    wouldn't be able to actually photograph much.

    So, is there something wrong with me for wanting to make the switch
    back to a manual film camera? Does anyone else feel the same way, or
    am in the definite minority? Thanks for your insight.

  2. I'm off to Peru Wednesday and am taking an EOS-1 series in addition to my 20D. This will be the first time I've shot film in about 9-10 years.

    Theft of a DSLR vs Film SLR has little to do with it...any camera in Peru could wander off if not well watched.

    I will say this, shooting digital has made me much improved and is a big part of the reason I feel comfortable shooting film again.
  3. For all the reasons you mentioned , I have never stopped shooting film on my travels. It rained (poured) almost the whole time I was in Venice last fall. One of my DSLR work cameras would never have made it without a housing. Why don't you try developing your own B&W film, I do it in my kitchen . You could bulk load your film which would be not nearly as expensive. Traveling with film is not as easy as carrying a digital card, but you do not have the file storage ,battery , problem that you do with digital . I try and keep it as simple as possable when I travel and film fits my lifestyle.
  4. Why can't you shoot BOTH film AND digital?

    I have a D200, which I enjoy immensely, but I have never stopped shooting my FE2 and F3HP.
  5. SCL


    I continue to use both as the situation demands, but like you, I do increasingly feel that affinity for the film cameras. Perhaps its just after relying for several years on digital, I appreciate what film delivers, and anyway I love some of those old film cameras which had incredible viewfinders.
  6. I't's not crazy. The days when people went 100% digital and vowed NEVER to shoot film again are long gone. Most sensible phtographers recognise that it is foolish to abandon a proven and workable technology.

    Use what works! National Geographic has come out with another in their excellent Field Guide series: "Digital Black and White". What do they say about the decision to use film or digital?:

    "..there is the difficult choice of whether to use a digital approach or traditional film, which furhter affects investments in a digital or wet darkroom. There are many positives reasosns for choosing one or the other. I know many successful photographers doing incredible work using both approaches."
  7. I'm curious as to what camera you are using. Neither my D200 or my D50 take forever to write a RAW image to the card. My D200 is better sealed against the elements than an FE2. Neither camera is that much larger than my old F3 and they are both much smaller than my F5. I have had DSLR's in temperatures > 100F and < 10F without problems.

    I still have several film SLR's but I find fewer and fewer reasons to use them. You might want to consider a different DSLR.
  8. les


    No, you are most definitely not crazy. You simply discovered that sometimes there may be some advantages to shooting film (concerns related to price/theft aside).

    Digital is oh-so-tempting-and-easy. I know, my 1V is (mostly) gathering dust, while 1D MkII is getting a full workout. But now and then the 1V emerges from the bag - and I like it.

    Like the others - I would advise to keep the digital outfit, shoot both film and digital as the mood dictates.
  9. (1) Bulky? Yes, about the same size as my Hasselblad. That hasn't kept me from shooting though.

    (2) Slow? You bet! I struggle with getting only 8 frames/second

    (3) Expensive? Photography is an expensive hobby, but not particularly capital-intensive as an occupation. Payback is usually between 18 months and 2 years. With a DSLR, I can take twice as many jobs and deliver in 2 days, or overnight if necessary.

    (4) Fragile? Hardly! That's what build-quality is all about. I've uses my D2's in rain and shine, -20F to 120F.

    I miss running out of film just when things get going. I miss packing 15 pounds of film through central Europe. I miss having ISO 100 film when the sun hides behind a cloud, and ISO 400 film when I want to shoot a landscape or landmark.

    Manual camera? Been there, done that. I miss fumbling with a light meter, or focusing in the dark. I got pretty good anticipating action because there was no "rock and roll" option. As a rule, I don't need 8 fps, and have only used it twice in the last 5 years.

    Security is largely being aware of your surroundings, avoiding confrontations and acting confident. If that's not enough, there are other ways and means.
  10. I have the same questions as R Jackson. Which "pro" quality DSLR are you using?

    NONE of the real pro DSLR's are slow writing to cards, no matter the file quality/size. This arguement is a not an issue if you are using a real pro body like the Canon 1D series or a Nikon D1 series. This alone tells me you are not using one of those.

    True pro quality DSLR's are sealed just as their film counterparts and, indeed, actually have fewer moving parts, so if either one has a better chance of failing in weather related incidents, it is the film body. Buy another FE2, load it with film and shoot it in a rain fall & see how well it holds up. I'll bet a Canon 1Ds or Nikon D2x is still going strong long after the FE2 has given up the ghost.

    Yes, they are expensive. Pro models are REALLY expensive. So expensive that if you can afford and really did/do have one, film processing is nothing, so I'm not quite sure why you changed in the first place.

    There's nothing wrong with shooting whatever you want to shoot. Your reasoning doesn't hold water.
  11. ky2


    I supplement my DSLR with my Fm3a. Lovely combination.
  12. I never stopped shooting film: Canon F1, Canon T-90, EOS 3, EOS A2, EOS 1n, Pentax LX, Super Program, Pz1p, Pentax K-1000. I keep the T-90 (Tank) w/24mm S.S.C. lens within easy reach.
    I am familiar enough with the bodies and film I shoot to never-ever have doubts about any shot I make, unlike with my digital, wherein ``post processing`` is the norm-not the exception.
    I love the certainty of their low-light capabilities, the Canon F1 accurately exposing down to -5 EV.
    Their collective abilities to expose flash correctly, and utilize ultra wide angle lenses makes them indispensable to me.
    Whatever ``party favors`` aspect my 5MP digital has, it cannot go 16 x 20.
  13. Hi Rachel,

    Not crazy, sensible. Have fun and use well. Pentax LX goes down to -6ev and is quite small and light, cheap lenses.

  14. Let me take you in another direction. Stay with digital but with a
    smaller setup. How about a good digital point and shoot? The Fuji F10
    goes up to 1600 iso, the F30 will go to 3200 iso? How about the Canon
    A620 digital its top ISO is claimed to be 400 iso but is closer to 600. Lets address your concerns...Going back to a manual film SLR makes no sense you still have the bulk and weight and the costs of film to carry and process.

    1. Bulky - Yes, I realize SLR's are never small, but the DSLR is a monster.

    These cameras I mention will fit in a pocket, have excellent optics.

    2. Slow - It takes forever to write a RAW or TIFF image to my CF card. I've missed a ton of shots waiting for the blasted thing to write the previous image.

    While these will not write Raw files they write Jpegs very fast.
    Better to have a Jpeg you got rather than a Raw file you missed.
    I wonder if you need a faster card in your DSLR?

    3. Expensive - I like to travel, and I cringe every time I have to pull out my camera in the middle of some 3rd world city street. It reeks of high-priced, valuable electronics which I'm sure someone would love to relieve me of.

    $250-$300 for my solution. You also get a video camera built in.
    They sure wont draw attention like a big DSLR. Good shots can be
    had from 6-7 MPixels.

    4. Fragile - Rain = bad; cold weather = bad; jarring impact = bad; heat = bad. If I wanted to stay inside all day and baby my camera, I wouldn't be able to actually photograph much.

    Underwater housings are available for the Canons I mentioned, shoot
    anywhere with that or just slip them into a ziplock bag until ready to shoot.
  15. Crazy? No, it's a matter of what you're comfortable with and want to use. Remember they're tools of the trade, not a statement of your view on photography. Last weekend I photographed the Daffidol Parade here and worked in the preparation and staging area. I noticed several photojournalists and a few serious part-time photographers like me. There was a good mix of equipment. I've use film-based manual focus (Minolta) cameras since 1969 and intend to stay there until I see a digital camera which takes those lenses, and then I'll add those camera(s) to my equipment. I shoot slides because I don't need a computer to see the immediate results. It's just what works for the photographer that matters.
  16. Not crazy.

    I would use more film if there was a reliable lab for prints near me. I love shooting slide film too.

    At the moment, I use only digital because the infrastructure for 35mm is not there without undue effort.

  17. "... Does anyone else feel the same way, or am in the definite minority...?
    I'd guess that you (we) are in the definite minority. Like some here, I never abandoned film&#151;for "serious stuff" I still use all-manual SLRs and a view camera that runs on 4x5 sheet film.
    But I haven't avoided digital, either. I scan my negs with a film scanner, print from Photoshop, and I use a cheapie P/S digital for snapshots.
  18. I can't see how there could possibly be anything wrong with doing what makes the most
    sense to you. For me, that was going all digital. For you, it is film. If it lets you take your best
    pictures for whatever reason, what the heck, right?
  19. If you are more comfortable with film than go for it! I've got 19 different 35mm bodies. Manual focus SLRs, autofocus SLRs, rangefinders, Medium Format, DLSR, and digital P&S. They all get used according to what I'm shooting, how a feel, time required for finished product, final image size, etc. The camera is just a tool to get the job done with and you should feel free to use what suits your purpose and that which satisfies you. A lot of times I take out my old manual focus Minolta XD-7 because I just love how it feels in my hands and the wonderful sound the shutter makes.
  20. Rachael, When the cost of Film and Processing triples you will think you are crazy.

    Ask King Canute about stopping the tide!

    Digital has taken over, film photography is cheap now. But it will soon be a very expensive hobby.

  21. Rachael,

    I think -- and what has been stated in several reply posts -- is that doing what you think is best for you is something that you should do. I recently purchased a Nikon F3 non-HP for the fact that I felt as if I needed to become a better photographer by understanding aspects of metering and film emulsions. To me, those who are superb digital shooters are those who have shot and perfected film years ago.

    What really irks me is that everyone esentially jumped on the digital bandwagon which seemed to start in 1997, and it appears that only in recent years has digital really been where it should be, yet people wanted the technology for it's promise and because it was "nifty" and "new". The chief R&D "scientist" of Carl Zeiss has stated essentially the same thing this year in response to why Zeiss made the decision to make Nikon F-mount manual focus lenses.

    Moreover, I am a former film student who does production work in the industry and few in the "professional" film industry use digital for anything other than test shooting. They are still burning thousands of feet of 35mm motion picture film and spending hundreds of thousands for development. Major studios do not find it a viable option at the time, regardless of the low cost factor. Moreover, they view it as an extreme loss of quality.

    I realise that I am ranting here, and perhaps it is in response to the frustrations I have and the ridicule I receive when I pull out a 23 year old 35mm SLR and begin to shoot. With all that said, I would shoot digital if I could afford the quality camera that I desire. I will never stop shooting film, however, until it becomes too cost-prohibitive.

    How about a Nikon FM3A? Fully manual camera, proven meter, and if you opt for batteries, automatic shutter speed. The shutter speed range and flash sync are superb. You can also pick up Nikon AIS lenses in prime condition for next-to-nothing. The only thing I dislike is the lack of 100% viewfinder coverage.
  22. John, If people really ridicule you? Believe me it has nothing to do with your type camera.
  23. Anthony Bez:
    When the cost of Film and Processing triples you will think you are crazy.
    (SNIP) and:
    Digital has taken over,
    Not so but you obviously believe it has. But as long as 5 million or so film cameras are sold every week, nearly all of which can kick the asses of all but the +$5000 DSLRs, film will live.
    ナfilm photography is cheap now.
    One more time: film photography has never been ``cheap``.
    But it will soon be a very expensive hobby.
    Film has never been cheap and photography has always been costly.
    But then shooting film is also deliberate, ``cerebral``; slow.
    No unnecessary 'bursts'. no unneeded bracketing. No shooting four to five hundred frames in a day just to get a dozen or so ``good`` images.
    Hell no: film is the hobby of learned people, of craftsmen, of skilled photographers who knew what the value of an f/stop is, as opposed to legions of digital snap shooters who donメt know diddly about f/stops, reciprocity, what filters to use when, or most of the now lost secrets (actually not ``lost`` but certainly unknown to hundreds of millions of people) who totally rely and depend on Photoshop et. al. to pull their truly screwed up images out of the fire.
    Iメd wager more screwed up digital images are erased in one day than we film folks lost in one year for all reasons.
    Of course, what we film shooters know and appreciate and what you who never shot a manual operation camera is:
    film is Zen while digital, like Kix, is for kids.
    Ed: 98% film, 2% digital.
  24. I STARTED GETTING INTO PHOTO BACK IN 1972 MY 1ST CAMERA WAS a SEARS TLS MADE BY RICOH STILL HAVE IT PLUS A FEW OTHERS THE DIGI i use is for work which is restoration carpentry I take before and after pics other than that my film cameras are with me all the time I've done weddings plus I like street shooting film is going to get expensive but like Rachael said how many shots are wasted with the digies all this new gaer is point and shoot no learing exp at all I've just bought a used CANNON AE1 It's my newist 35 mm but still go back to my oldie
  25. I only shoot film... so I have a bias. But here's something I truly believe and even my friends who shoot entirely digitally agree: People tend to shoot differently when they shoot film than they do when they shoot digital. That alone is a pretty compelling reason to have a film system around. You will tend to be more contemplative. You will tend to take more time to shoot. You will tend to shoot different subjects, even. This can be taken to extreme. I shoot differently with my Ukrainian and Russian rangefinder 35s than I do with my Nikon manual gear, and differently with the manual Nikons than with the autofocus Nikons. I shoot differently still when I use my Stylus Epic and when I use my Minolta Autocord 6x6 TLR. These differences are good... very good. You may even discover a side to your photography that you didn't know you had. Go get some film gear. It's cheap. Don't worry about the processing cost. (The reality is that digital shooters tend to spend a lot more on camera upgrades and computers and accessories and spend a lot more of their time in post-processing than film photographers do, so the cost savings of digital often tend to never appear. Digital's advantages are not in the cost department, they are in the speed and flexibility department. Generally. :) ) You will probably shoot fewer frames as a film photographer, but your overall expenditures will probably be quite reasonable when you take all your photography-related expenses in context. I shoot a lot; I spend probably a thousand dollars a year on film and processing and darkroom materials, but getting the DSLR I want would eat up three or four years of that expenditure and add other costs, so I really don't feel that I'm losing out. (Except that I don't know yet what my style would be with a digital camera... but I have enough to keep me busy for now.) One final point: if you feel more secure with an old Nikkormat than with a shiny new Canon or Nikon DSLR, then you will shoot more freely. How you feel is at least as important as the realities of your situation. Your DSLR may be safe in the ghettoes of Caracas, but if you don't feel safe, you won't shoot the way you want to shoot.

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