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08-25-2012, 03:28 PM   #1
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Contemplating Film

I'm shooting with a K-5. I use the 3 FA Ltd. primes mostly. I love the way film renders and frankly, the myriad digital adjustments that can be made with a my DSLR just seem to complicate the artistic process for me. I'd prefer to have my white balance and contrast and color temps, sensitivity "built into" the film and just choose my film. I shoot JPEG because I don't enjoy the PP experience, I prefer shooting and getting things as close to how I want them with the camera. For me, RAW just emphasis everything I don't like about digital. If I'm off base here....please correct me. I'm "generation X" so I did use film in my youth and I have used enlargers, etc, but by the time I got serious about photography everything was going digital.

I think the K-5 produces some great JPEGs, but nothing matches the DR of film and constantly worrying about losing highlights, losing shadows etc., WB adjustment is really too much and with all the fuss over histograms. I mean, prior to DSLR did anyone use a histogram in photography? I think the "old masters" who shot film.....chose their film, chose their lens, aperture, shutter speed, waited for the moment, composed....pressed the shutter and went on with their shooting.

Anyhow, I really want to try working with film. I can't process myself, so I need to find a good lab. Can anyone give me some advice on Pentax SLR bodies that will work with my FA Ltd. lenses.

Thanks!

08-25-2012, 03:51 PM   #2
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Every K mount will work to some extent or another, as you probably know, but to use all the features the Limiteds offer, you'll need an AF Pentax camera body, all of which are in here Autofocus Film SLRs - Pentax Film Cameras - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications as far as I can tell.

I'm in the process of returning to film, too, but after a long history with non-AF Pentax 35mm and a few others. I don't view the difference between film and digital as a better-worse matter, but just as a difference, so I'm comfortable with both. In fact, I just bought an LX and accessory VFs, so I can use my AF and MF lenses on (another) fully MF body. You have to be comfortable using MF, of course. I do note, though, that you speak of preferences, rather than judgments, but only working extensively with different systems - regardless of what they are - gives a sound basis for adopting a preference.
08-25-2012, 04:01 PM   #3
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There are a number of good AF bodies I would recommend checking out the Auto Focus slr body reviews here on the Forums under the camera reviews. I personally have a ZX-7 that I thoroughly enjoy, but there are others ,and I would expect You will get a number of them recommended here. The ZX-7 is the only AF SLR I have ever owned so I can't in all honesty recommend any of the others . I can how ever recommend it especially with a grip so as to use AA batteries.
I shoot both film and digital. I sort of depends on what I am shooting and how I feel as to which camera I pick up and use . I hope you get as much enjoyment from film That I do.
Pat
08-25-2012, 04:04 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
Every K mount will work to some extent or another, as you probably know, but to use all the features the Limiteds offer, you'll need an AF Pentax camera body, all of which are in here Autofocus Film SLRs - Pentax Film Cameras - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications as far as I can tell.

I'm in the process of returning to film, too, but after a long history with non-AF Pentax 35mm and a few others. I don't view the difference between film and digital as a better-worse matter, but just as a difference, so I'm comfortable with both. In fact, I just bought an LX and accessory VFs, so I can use my AF and MF lenses on (another) fully MF body. You have to be comfortable using MF, of course. I do note, though, that you speak of preferences, rather than judgments, but only working extensively with different systems - regardless of what they are - gives a sound basis for adopting a preference.
Yes, it's a preference. I'm really working on becoming a better photographer and sometimes I find that my K-5 doesn't really help me because it's so loaded with bells and whistles and adjustments that you have to focus so much on the camera rather than making an great exposure. I generally shoot in Manual mode on my K-5, but something about digital is not feeling right to me right now. It's like I feel that going back to basics and shooting for a while with, for example, a K1000 might really help me to hone my skills and become a better photographer. I'm not saying that the camera makes the photographer, I'm saying that I'm still learning and I'm not sure that a DSLR is the best tool. I'm reading (Understanding Exposure by Peterson; The Art of Photography by Barnbaum) and applying what I am learning but everything seems as if it would make the most sense applied to a "old school" film camera. What do you think?

08-25-2012, 04:04 PM   #5
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RobA
Thanks for including the link. You posted while I was typing
08-25-2012, 04:05 PM   #6
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If you want to use film and have an experience close to what the K-5 provides, the Z/PZ-1 or Z/PZ-1p are great bargains (~$100) for older top-of-the-line AF camera bodies with all the headline features; 1/8000 shutter speeds, excellent ergonomics, great metering, and "tractor beam" center point AF. The PZ-1's also have the front/rear control dials that I've grown used to with all of my digital Pentaxes, which is why I picked a PZ-1p up and have enjoyed it thoroughly!

EDIT: ...and reading your response, you find the K-5 is too much. So, yeah, a K1000 would do the trick!
08-25-2012, 04:44 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
If you want to use film and have an experience close to what the K-5 provides, the Z/PZ-1 or Z/PZ-1p are great bargains (~$100) for older top-of-the-line AF camera bodies with all the headline features; 1/8000 shutter speeds, excellent ergonomics, great metering, and "tractor beam" center point AF. The PZ-1's also have the front/rear control dials that I've grown used to with all of my digital Pentaxes, which is why I picked a PZ-1p up and have enjoyed it thoroughly!

EDIT: ...and reading your response, you find the K-5 is too much. So, yeah, a K1000 would do the trick!
I'd like a Pentax SLR that has just what is necessary to make a great exposure. I've been reading about the K1000 and while most say it is a sort of cult classic and awesome, many say that the KX or perhaps an MX is the way to go. Advice?
08-25-2012, 05:04 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by CMG Quote
I'd like a Pentax SLR that has just what is necessary to make a great exposure. I've been reading about the K1000 and while most say it is a sort of cult classic and awesome, many say that the KX or perhaps an MX is the way to go. Advice?
All three of those you mention are fine, and I'd add the Spotmatic if you would consider the more classic M42 mount. The build quality of the Spotmatic and Takumar lenses is inspiring.
The K1000 and Spotmatic have simpler meters that just show whether the exposure is correct. The KX and MX also show what shutter speed and aperture are set. As you use manual cameras you get so you know what is set anyway (by glance before bringing the camera up to your eye), so I see these features as "fluff" for the insecure.
I like the smaller size of the MX, but they will all do an equivalent job. Shop for condition and budget rather than the model.

08-25-2012, 08:06 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by CMG Quote
I think the "old masters" who shot film.....chose their film, chose their lens, aperture, shutter speed, waited for the moment, composed....pressed the shutter and went on with their shooting.
I think I would disagree with this. Ansel Adams in particular and many other 'masters' spent countless hours in the dark room fine tuning their prints. And the same negative resulted in quite different prints over time as their technique got better or what they wanted to show changed.

Sorry, but thinking that post processing is a digital phenomenon is inaccurate. Certainly on film you try to get the exposure and everything else as correct as possible but the final print was 'cooked' in the dark room. And on digital it is the same, take the best image you can with the camera and tweak it in post to get the most you can from the raw image (negative). And if you are not doing your own developing, the lab (if you use a good one) should still be tweaking your negatives to get the best print. If you are shooting jpeg then all the tweaks should be done by the camera according to how you have the jpeg settings. And remember with film you need to use color filters in order to adjust your WB, I think it is easier to have the camera do that or adjust in post.

I am not trying to dissuade you from using film, I started with film and got good results with it. I'm just saying that somehow all the same adjustments need to be made, either in camera, by the lab or on the computer.
08-25-2012, 08:16 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
I think I would disagree with this. Ansel Adams in particular and many other 'masters' spent countless hours in the dark room fine tuning their prints. And the same negative resulted in quite different prints over time as their technique got better or what they wanted to show changed.

Sorry, but thinking that post processing is a digital phenomenon is inaccurate. Certainly on film you try to get the exposure and everything else as correct as possible but the final print was 'cooked' in the dark room. And on digital it is the same, take the best image you can with the camera and tweak it in post to get the most you can from the raw image (negative). And if you are not doing your own developing, the lab (if you use a good one) should still be tweaking your negatives to get the best print. If you are shooting jpeg then all the tweaks should be done by the camera according to how you have the jpeg settings. And remember with film you need to use color filters in order to adjust your WB, I think it is easier to have the camera do that or adjust in post.

I am not trying to dissuade you from using film, I started with film and got good results with it. I'm just saying that somehow all the same adjustments need to be made, either in camera, by the lab or on the computer.
I think what I said about choosing film, settings was correct but not complete. Of course PP has always been part of photography. Without PP you can't make a rendering. And yes, Ansel Adams and others did spend countless hours shooting a scene under different lighting conditions, at different exposures from different angles, with different filters, etc. and then proceeded to enter the dark room for countless hours burning and dodging and using whatever techniques they employed with the enlarger, different papers, chemicals, etc. Very true. Is this identical to PP on a computer....no, I think it's not. Are they both categorically PP, yes. No doubt adjustments are made in the lab as well. Is this identical to PP on a computer...no. Are they both categorically PP, yes. I'm certainly not saying that shooting with film is somehow easier, indeed, I think it's just the opposite. I think my K-5 is a great camera. Do I think it the sensor is great, yes....do I think it has the same DR as film...no. Whether RAW is the same as a negative is a subject of debate and I'm not knowledgeable enough to engage in it. However, for me, RAW combined with PP in is something I've tried and don't like. I like getting the best JPEG I can out of the camera with my settings (I shoot mostly in M mode) tweaking in DCU4 or Picasa/Creative Kit.
08-25-2012, 09:28 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by CMG Quote
I think the K-5 produces some great JPEGs, but nothing matches the DR of film and constantly worrying about losing highlights, losing shadows etc.,
Unless you're prepared to learn the necessary scanning and image editing skills, you're likely to be disappointed with film. To get the full benefits of film, you need skills comparable to those required to achieve satisfactory results from RAW files. If you find working with RAW files more trouble than it's worth, film may not be the place for you.

Either that or you should be prepared to spend a great deal of money on custom scans. Most commercial scanning is sheer butchery The results tend to be greatly inferior to JPEGs from a good digital SLR. While theoretically film may have greater exposure latitude than digital sensors, that advantage disappears in the hands of unskilled scanner operators mndlessly pushing buttons.

I'm not saying you shouldn't try film, but I suggest you do some work with a cheap film camera and have some scans made before you spend a lot of money on film gear.

I still enjoy working with film. On the other hand, I've been doing high quality scanning and image editing for 20 years. I've also worked with digital cameras for a long time, and am very happy with the quality of digital images vs. film.

If I were you I wouldn't expect a miraculous improvement in your photography if you go to film. At best you will see different but pleasing results.
08-25-2012, 09:55 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
Unless you're prepared to learn the necessary scanning and image editing skills, you're likely to be disappointed with film. To get the full benefits of film, you need skills comparable to those required to achieve satisfactory results from RAW files. If you find working with RAW files more trouble than it's worth, film may not be the place for you.

Either that or you should be prepared to spend a great deal of money on custom scans. Most commercial scanning is sheer butchery The results tend to be greatly inferior to JPEGs from a good digital SLR. While theoretically film may have greater exposure latitude than digital sensors, that advantage disappears in the hands of unskilled scanner operators mndlessly pushing buttons.

I'm not saying you shouldn't try film, but I suggest you do some work with a cheap film camera and have some scans made before you spend a lot of money on film gear.

I still enjoy working with film. On the other hand, I've been doing high quality scanning and image editing for 20 years. I've also worked with digital cameras for a long time, and am very happy with the quality of digital images vs. film.

If I were you I wouldn't expect a miraculous improvement in your photography if you go to film. At best you will see different but pleasing results.
I think you make some good points about film processing film that I wasn't aware of. I'm no expert on film or digital. I'm still honing my exposure skills. Again, I'm not an expert, but sitting in front of a computer doing PP is isn't the identical activity as processing in a dark room. I think the skill sets are different thought there surely is material overlap. So I think one can learn to be a great dark room developer and never get anywhere with processing RAW on a computer. Alot of it is about the user interface. Some people like to wind their wristwatches and manually shift their cars, other don't like those things and see them as a waste of time and energy.

I don't think my photography will undergo any miraculous changes one way or the other whether I'm shooting with my K-5 or my Canon P&S which I gotten some super shots from. My point was not about improving my photography through changing the medium. It's the photographer not the medium that makes a great shot. I agree, the point is that the results are different. What you get from film is not what you get from a sensor...I'm no physicist, but it seems to me that the physics are simply different. What's pleasing is subjective. I'm sure given your experience you do some great work. I've got about 5% of your experience at the moment. So, I'm just looking for guidance. I have to say that there is alot of dogma around and I think dogma has no place in the creative realm.
08-25-2012, 10:16 PM   #13
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For the reasons you stated I don't believe you will be quite as happy as you think with one of the plastic fantastic auto focus film bodies, they were already leaning towards the camera doing most of the work and a lot of them started getting the kindergarten dial with the happy pictures instead of useful things like shutter speed.

On the other hand using my K1000 is almost Zen photography. When the K20D pisses me off I put it back in the bag and switch to film (mostly all home B&W) I picked the SE one because I like to also have the split prism, but you pay more for that. Most K1000's are overpriced because of their cult status, and anything on ebay not being sold by a reputable camera shop as just CLA'd will need to go to Eric, so add a month or two and $75 or so to the total purchase price.

Stick with the K1000 and M series lenses, all the good A series lenses are absurdly overpriced because they works so well on the DSLR's. You can get M series (or true K series) for usually half the price for the same if not better quality.

The MX is a nice camera but I don't need the DOF preview or self timer and I personally prefer the simplicity of the K1000 match stick meter and controls.
KX is another good possibility due to its slightly improved low light metering, but I have zero experience with them other than they tend to cost more lately.
KM is pretty much the K1000 with DOF preview and self timer.

The LX is not for you unless you are hardcore into film or stupid rich. This one was a steal at this price if that's any indication:
Pentax LX Black Body w/ FA-1 & Grip B, Just Serviced CLAd: Unused, Exc+ Cond! | eBay

If you want to do color film you will be buying a good film scanner, search the film forum for posts on that, or if you want to do darkroom B&W you will have several hundred dollars in used equipment and new chemicals and paper to buy just to get started.

Last edited by PPPPPP42; 08-25-2012 at 10:36 PM.
08-26-2012, 03:19 AM   #14
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An ordinary LX in good condition will command a fair premium over an MX, let alone a K1000. The K2 probably lies between the MX and LX. However, only the rarest editions of the LX command prices that could be described as baffling, ridiculous or any other epithet you'd care to name. Black editions of the MX and others tend to be priced above the satin chrome versions, too.

However, if you want a cheap starter camera for film, it's hard to go beyond a K1000 or a KM. I started with an S3 (an M42 camera) in an era when any SLR was a bit special, and haven't really stopped since. Improvements to SLRs were made because they made things easier, quicker or more precise. It's easy to go back to technology basics, however, when you need to, but only if that's where you started from. Using basic technology, though, is not for everyone all the time, because the common heart of what we do is using whatever technology is to hand, to make a picture.
08-26-2012, 07:20 AM   #15
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If you go with a manual focus body ( I had assumed you wanted an AF body) there is also the P30 series I have the P30t I also have a 30+ year old K1000. The p30t sees more action than the K1000 because of the split focus screen. The only draw backs are you can not push or pull you film , if you were a mind to..I don't so it doesn't matter to me.I also cant use the DA lenses but That is no issue for me either. They can be had very cheap right now.
A good scanner will enable you to upload your shots to your computer. Then tweak and print.
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