Whether you’re a digital, film or hybrid shooter there is no denying that film is here to stay and though we’ve come close, its lust worthy characteristic look cannot be duplicated. If you’re currently a member of The Bloom Forum then you already know that one of the hot spots amongst our many forum sections is All About Film. For this reason, we thought it was only appropriate to hold our first ever Film Week right here on the blog to get you caught up all the goods of film! Get ready for a week brimming with tips, equipment suggestions and as always, plenty of eye candy!
We have had so many questions and information being exchanged throughout our forum about different camera equipment that our film gurus, Rebecca Conway + Kristin Young decided to begin a series over on the different kinds of cameras that are available. Their hope was to refrain from the typical technical review, but to be able to share with us their experiences using the different film cameras available. A perfect way to find out why they pick each one and for what and what are some pros and cons of each.
Here is an excerpt from the 35mm run down as told by our favorite film friends:
The manual focus Pentax K1000, manufactured in Japan between 1976-1997, was well-known for its simplicity and long used by photography students to better understand exposure and composition. It only has three dials (simple!) and is all manual, except for the galvanometer type internal meter (needle pointer). It takes one A76, S76, LR44 or SR 44 battery that powers the light meter, but don’t forget to keep the lens cap on when not in use or you will run your battery down. There are no frills or thrills with this workhorse SLR–no self timer, depth of field preview, mirror lock-up, interchangeable focus screen, motor drive or auto-exposure. Pentax did, however, make a plethora of K-mount lenses to use with this camera. It’s shutter speed goes from 1 second to 1/1000 second. The body and lens can be purchased for under $100 now. As it was during its production prime, it is a great compact 35mm workhorse to have in your arsenal. Full Ken Rockwell technical review here. Manual download here.
My experience with the Pentax K1000 – I inherited this camera from my dad about a year after I started exploring film. It was the camera that I remember my dad carrying all over Europe during my childhood so it has sentimental value to me. He also gave me three different lenses…the 135, 50 and 28. I’ve used it mainly with the 50mm. It is a great little camera to throw into your purse for outings when you do not want to lug around a large camera. I have found the light meter to be accurate–I use it without an external meter. I took this camera to Sri Lanka with me a couple of years ago. It worked great but halfway through the trip I noticed that I had not loaded the film correctly. The image quality is typical 35mm–more grain than medium format. I prefer to use b+w film with my 35mm cameras. While it does have sentimental value and I will probably never sell my Pentax K1000, I do not use it as much as the Canon ae-1 simply because the Canon lenses produce a better quality image (see review below).
I would lump the manual focus Canon’s ae-1, a-1 and ae-1 program all into one category, but each one has different features and were all flagships for amateur photographers in their heyday. The ae-1 is shutter priority or manual mode only. The a-1 has more modes: shutter priority, aperture priority, program mode and full manual. The ae-1 program is the same camera as the ae-1 with program mode. Generally, the a-1 is considered the best made camera of the three. There is also a difference in the shutter speed with the ae-1 going from 2 seconds to 1/1000 and the a-1 going from 30 seconds to 1/1000. They all take the FD mount lens and, unfortunately, current digital lenses will not work with the Canon a-series cameras. The good news is that you can pick up a fabulous Canon 50mm 1.2 FD mount lens relatively inexpensively today (around $250-300). They both take LR44 batteries. The camera bodies normally run around $100 depending on the condition. Ken Rockwell review here. Manual link here for Canon ae-1.
My experience with the Canon a-series camera – I originally purchased the Canon ae-1 just to see if there was a significant difference between the image quality of the Pentax K1000. I found there wasn’t that much difference UNTIL I purchased the a-1 with the 50mm 1.2 lens. The a-1 in aperture priority mode and the 50mm 1.2 FD mount lens is my everyday film camera now. The internal meter is so accurate that I do not need to use my external light meter. However, you have to be careful to place the center-weight metering circle over the area you want to metered–otherwise, your meter reading might be off.
The F100 is a popular 35mm body choice if you are already shooting a Nikon DSLR. It is compatible with current Nikon AF lenses and as well as manual focus models including the infamous Zeiss. It has 5 (illuminated) focal points for toggling, auto focus and 3 different metering functions including spot, matrix and center wt. The autofocus is definitely one of the best features for those looking to shoot film with moving subjects (ie kids). The F100 uses 4 AA batteries, but also uses a MB-15 battery grip which will fit 6 AAs. It feels similar to D700 in terms of size and weight. Custom menu functions instructions can be found in your manual to set features like back button focusing, exposure step increments, self timer, etc. F100 bodies can be found for around $175-$250.
This is the 35mm body I use. I do have the battery grip for it, but found I was happier without the extra bulkiness. I keep the 35mm lens on it most of the time and shoot primarily b&w. I actually had 2 of these bodies at one time so I could switch back and forth between color and black & white without having to finish the roll. Honestly, I feel this camera is as solid as the F5 and I personally don’t feel it is worth it to upgrade especially since I like a smaller body.
This body is very similar to the F100 body. Autofocus, compatible with Nikon and Zeiss lenses, 3 different metering modes. The only major differences would be the built-in battery grip, which makes it a bit heavier and the 3D ‘color’ matrix metering, if you are using the in camera meter. The F5 also has the mirror up function if you are a landscape shooter and has the ability to switch the prism to a waist level viewfinder. All in all same camera just more battery power. F5 bodies are going for $275-$400.
Canon 1v/eos 3
So here is my disclaimer…I have not owned the eos 3, but I do have two Canon 1v (one gripped, the other not) and an élan 7. But the cameras are considered very similar with the 1v being top of the line and the eos 3 the best bang for your buck. The elan 7 would be considered the fair-haired stepsister. Here is a link that will explain the differences between the two cameras. I can give you specs for the 1v since that is what I am most familiar with. The autofocus 1v has 45 focus points (similar to digital cameras, less focus points can be selected within menu) with 7 crosshair. It is compatible with current ef lenses as well as the much acclaimed Zeiss lenses for Canon. I have heard that the Zeiss + 1v combo is the closest you will get to the medium format look in a 35mm camera. The 1v comes gripped or ungripped, but it is built like a tank and considerably heavy and bulky with grip. (I originally bought the gripped version but did not like the bulk or weight and purchased the ungripped one.) It takes the same 2CR5 batteries as the Contax. It is equivalent to Nikon’s F6 (with the eos 3 similar to f100). The autofocus is excellent for working with moving subjects (such as children). A used 1v generally is priced around $500-600.
My experience with Canon 1v – I love this camera–it is sturdy and reliable. Ergonomically, it is most like my Canon 5dm3 and easy to shoot with. As I wrote earlier, gripped it is very heavy. I usually keep the gripped one at home with b+w film for indoor shooting. Because you can use your current arsenal of lenses, the Canon 1v becomes a very versatile and economical alternatives to digital. I like using the autofocus for working with children. Personally, as with other 35mm cameras, I hate being tied to 36 exposures before I can change the film. I know that 36 clicks seems like nothing with digital. However, with film, it can take me several months to go through a roll of 35mm film since I tend to shoot less. The Canon 1v, along with its Nikon equivalent, make excellent versatile wedding, portraiture or sports photography cameras.
The G2 is a lightweight 35mm rangefinder camera. The draw to this little gem is that performs well on automatic. The autofocus and auto exposure are good which make it easy to use – similar to a point and shoot. The viewfinder is small, dim and if you don’t have your eye lined up perfectly the image will disappear. Once you get the hang of the autofocus you can just set your ISO, aperture on the lens and then set it AP mode and shoot away. You can shoot this camera in full manual as well. The adjustments and dials are very straight forward and loading is fast and simple. Another selling point is that all the lenses for it are Zeiss. The interchangeable lens list includes a 21mm, 28mm, 35mm, 35-70mm, 45mm and 90mm. The 28, 45 and 90mm are the most popular. The camera uses 2 CR2 batteries and has a the Contax TLA200 flash unit. You can pick up a body and the 45mm lens for around $750-$850.
I borrowed this camera system from a friend to try out for a bit. It was super easy to use and after writing this review I’ve almost talked myself into looking at buying one. It would be perfect to carry in my purse for everyday lifestyle stuff of my kids or to have on hand if you just happen upon something great while out and about.
The Leica is a 35mm rangefinder that is manual focus only. If you aren’t familiar with focusing on a rangefinder it is where you adjust your focal ring to have the 2 copies of your image line up in the viewfinder (think overlapping one on top of the other). This top quality camera has some of the best lenses available. The Leica name is associated with many well-known photographers past and current and has been a staple in PJ/documentary work for many years. Like all fancy things in life, Leicas are expensive. A Leica body alone is around $1,400.
Interested in diving a little deeper into 35mm, medium formats and beyond? Log on, read up and as always, ask your questions and get in on the ever booming discussions because The Bloom Forum is always OPEN! And remember to join us back here every day this week for Film Week so we can introduce you to our friends, uncover some tips and get you on your way to mastering film!
photo courtesy of Corrie of Little Bud Photography
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Senior season is upon us! Those of us who photograph high school seniors have been busy documenting these amazing young people who are getting ready to leave their childhoods behind and enter into adulthood and all of the independence and opportunities in front of them. For many of these young people, their senior session will be the last time they get professional photos taken before they get married. This is a time of so many emotions; excitement and trepidation and joy and melancholy. What a rewarding job we have to be able to document this monumental milestone.
Jules Trandem did just that for a senior this month. I’m always in awe of the beautiful way Jules finds and uses light in her sessions. She has a way of evoking warmth and peace and beauty in her art.
Here’s what Jules had to say about this session:
As much as I love sessions with families, my heart always skips a beat for the opportunity to work with a high school senior. Ms. M was no exception. She was a little nervous before the session and mentioned she didn’t like taking pictures. Um … right! Throughout the session I would show her the back of my camera to prove what a natural she was in front of my lens. Also, we had postponed this session twice due to a cloudy overcast sky. I’m a light junky and didn’t want to do her session without beautiful light. We were all so glad we waited. The gorgeous light was so important to the feel of these. Totally worth the wait! I shot this session with my Canon 5D Mk III and my 85L 1.2 with my aperture set between 1.2-2.0.