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03-03-2008, 08:40 PM   #1
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Considering film for the first time...

Hey everyone!

Now, I'm an SLR Newbie, and I have a K100D and an 18-55 kit lens and 55-200 mm telephoto on the way. I can appreciate the flexibility and economy of digital. Heck, I'm excited about this camera as my first "real" one, after about two years with a Panasonic point and shoot, which now has a half broken zoom motor and a sometimes wonky LCD screen. I think I've learned a decent amount with that little camera and I'm keeping it until it's toast.

But for some reason I'm suddenly finding myself drawn to film, too...

What has stopped me is that I'm kind of sensitive to some chemicals, and being in a darkroom full of them for hours on end isn't something which is really compatible with me.

But - I still think film is probably the best damn way to really "learn" - yes, I can, and will, be putting my K100D in Manual mode, and there's a heck of a lot to learn, but with film, you can't hit preview and then delete the shots you don't like - it costs a lot more to waste film than erase files.

So, I guess what I'm asking is, if I ever go for film...it seems like the ME Super is a very popular choice. Would you think this a good one for someone's first film SLR who's never done it before? What about any of Pentax's Medium Format offerings? (Probably quite costly).

AND - since I couldn't see myself developing the film, uhh, there are still reputable photolabs out there that can do it up nicely, yes?

Many thanks! Truth is, for all the sleekness and ergonomics of new DSLRs, I think that film models have a fantastically rugged, sexy look to them that I love!

Best,

R.

03-03-2008, 08:48 PM   #2
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The ME Super, Super Program or Super A would be solid choices if you want exposure automation as well as manual exposure and manual focus. The ZX-5N/MX-5N with its very logic and simple controls would be a good choice if you want to add autofocus. For a manual everything camera look at the MX, KM or KX (the K1000 is almost too barren).
03-04-2008, 04:00 AM   #3
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No need to bother with chemicals. I send all my film out to be developed (no prints) and then scan them myself at home. My current somewhat long-in-the-tooth Epson GT8300UF has an optical capability only up to 1600dpi so I'm about to order a Canon CS8800F (4800dpi) to take its place.
03-04-2008, 06:25 AM   #4
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I develop at home, but I never have to touch the chemicals... they all stay in containers. I then scan them at home using an Epson Perfection 500 scanner, and never need to make prints with an enlarger, etc. In fact, you only need a "dark room" to just put the film in the canister, all of the mixing of chemicals etc is done in the kitchen for me.

The ME is great, I've got one, and look for a P30t, a highly looked over Pentax, sadly. It works fully as an automatic camera with my FA lenses, has full program mode, aperature priority, etc... but because of it's hard polycarbonate casing, everyone seemed to think it was a cheap plastic, and didn't want the camera. I'm telling you, it's an awesome camera, with TTL metering and communication with the flash. It was the last of the great Pentax cameras that were manual focus, and not some extreme price.


Just don't get a Pentax 67, no matter what. I'm saving you the trouble now.

If you get one, and shoot medium format, you will have a hard time picking up a digital camera. Just FYI.

03-04-2008, 06:42 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by R.ticle One Quote
Hey everyone!

Now, I'm an SLR Newbie, and I have a K100D and an 18-55 kit lens and 55-200 mm telephoto on the way. I can appreciate the flexibility and economy of digital. Heck, I'm excited about this camera as my first "real" one, after about two years with a Panasonic point and shoot, which now has a half broken zoom motor and a sometimes wonky LCD screen. I think I've learned a decent amount with that little camera and I'm keeping it until it's toast.

But for some reason I'm suddenly finding myself drawn to film, too...

What has stopped me is that I'm kind of sensitive to some chemicals, and being in a darkroom full of them for hours on end isn't something which is really compatible with me.

But - I still think film is probably the best damn way to really "learn" - yes, I can, and will, be putting my K100D in Manual mode, and there's a heck of a lot to learn, but with film, you can't hit preview and then delete the shots you don't like - it costs a lot more to waste film than erase files.

So, I guess what I'm asking is, if I ever go for film...it seems like the ME Super is a very popular choice. Would you think this a good one for someone's first film SLR who's never done it before? What about any of Pentax's Medium Format offerings? (Probably quite costly).

AND - since I couldn't see myself developing the film, uhh, there are still reputable photolabs out there that can do it up nicely, yes?

Many thanks! Truth is, for all the sleekness and ergonomics of new DSLRs, I think that film models have a fantastically rugged, sexy look to them that I love!

Best,

R.
Someone stop me before I say it again!

Too late, go for a PZ-1

The reason being is that it is essentually a film version of the *istD and K10D, down to hyper program mode, and dual thumb wheels.

On the plus side, it has one of the fastest shutters pentax ever made, 1/8000 second, which allows for 1/250 flash sync, a 2.5 FPS motor winder, TTL flash and a whole host of other features as well as a respectible AF capability.

Aside from the bells and wistles, it has one invaluable feature, specifically an apature coupling for full compatibility with older lenses, and but new enough that it can use FA-J lenses also.

Now that you have digital, the only thing you need to be careful of, when thinking film also, is to putrchase where ever possible full frame lenses.

I purchase Sigma DG lenses, and Tamron Di lenses. Both of which are full frame. I do this deliberately so that I can still put them on my PZ-1 and shoot film. The only DC lens I have is my sigma 10-20, and it works on the PZ-1 but I get a circular image below about 13mm

Note that SIgma DC and Tamron Dii are ASP-C senssor format lenses.
03-04-2008, 08:00 AM   #6
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Wow, guys, a number of reccommended choices!

As for scanning at home, to avoid incurring the cost of more equipment, are some reputable photolabs able to do the process for you?

And wait --- I guess some of these cameras are external-flash-only? The ME Super looks like it...maybe I missed something. Lowell, the PZ-1 DOES look like a K10D, I'm surprised!

FireMate, could you elaborate a bit more on how you develop at home? As in, are the chemicals ever out in the open when you're around (volatile, in the air)? I've got a hard time with when I'm breathing them sometimes, at some jobs it was always a bit of a debacle when people busted out strong cleaning products or someone had bathed in perfume...

Oh - are you saying that if I start shooting Medium Format, I'll basically be ruined from using anything else by the quality? Heh...

Everyone, thanks for your suggestions. There's a lot to consider, and of course I'm going to do a lot of manual playing with the K100D...but if I like what I get, and film retains that allure, I'll be back...

Any more thoughts are definitely welcome!

Best,

R.
03-04-2008, 08:42 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by R.ticle One Quote
Wow, guys, a number of reccommended choices!

As for scanning at home, to avoid incurring the cost of more equipment, are some reputable photolabs able to do the process for you?
I don't know where you are located, but in mississauga there is a store that processes and scannes for $6.00 per disk (last time I discussed it) and $1 per strip
QuoteQuote:
And wait --- I guess some of these cameras are external-flash-only? The ME Super looks like it...maybe I missed something. Lowell, the PZ-1 DOES look like a K10D, I'm surprised!
not exactly but close. it is a little wider because it needs place for the film canister on the left. and no LCD display on the back. It has pop up flash and off center shoe.

edit note regarding the look and feel of the PZ-1

It is so close to the *istD and K10D that I also own, that when I use it, I instinctively look at the back of the film door exxpecting the image to be previewed on the screen. I seriously forget when I use this camera that it is not a DSLR. I dont have that problem with my KX

Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 03-04-2008 at 03:00 PM.
03-04-2008, 10:05 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by R.ticle One Quote
Hey everyone!
But - I still think film is probably the best damn way to really "learn" - yes, I can, and will, be putting my K100D in Manual mode, and there's a heck of a lot to learn, but with film, you can't hit preview and then delete the shots you don't like - it costs a lot more to waste film than erase files.
Which is exactly why I say you shouldn't start on film. Same reason they train pilots in simulators instead of a $300 million 747 (Note to self: that's a pretty good analogy.)

It's easier to get disgruntled once you realise you could be wasting up to sixty cents a shot (on the outside, if you're shooting Provia 400X you bought in Aus.)

I don't see the logic in going from Program on a DSLR to full manual on a 35mm SLR. And you don't learn as fast when you have to shoot a whole roll, dev, scan/print, then evaluate.

You will stuff up. Digital will give you a chance to save money when you do.

Now, for all those who're gonna say "I learnt on film, before I got a digital" I'd be willing to bet my left...kidney that most of you started shooting before the age of digital.

Stick you K100D on manual. Learn what happens when you set the aperture wide, aperture narrow, shutter speed high, or whatever.

Having said that, there's no reason why you shouldn't get a film camera now and play with it.

I do develop my own silver-halide BW film. It's not hard, hell, I only started about six months ago, having no one to help me except a few pages from the Intartubes. (I didn't actually fix my first roll...but that's another story.)

Get a Patterson dev tank and reels. Get some Kodak D-76 developer, Ilford Rapid Fixer, and a roll of supermarket-brand colour negative film with which to practice loading film onto the reels in light. It's nowhere near as hard as it seems.

Oh, and don't let your flatmates drink from anything you mixed chemicals in. Just, y'know, FYI.

03-05-2008, 06:36 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithos Quote
Which is exactly why I say you shouldn't start on film. Same reason they train pilots in simulators instead of a $300 million 747 (Note to self: that's a pretty good analogy.)

It's easier to get disgruntled once you realise you could be wasting up to sixty cents a shot (on the outside, if you're shooting Provia 400X you bought in Aus.)

I don't see the logic in going from Program on a DSLR to full manual on a 35mm SLR. And you don't learn as fast when you have to shoot a whole roll, dev, scan/print, then evaluate.

You will stuff up. Digital will give you a chance to save money when you do.

Now, for all those who're gonna say "I learnt on film, before I got a digital" I'd be willing to bet my left...kidney that most of you started shooting before the age of digital.

Stick you K100D on manual. Learn what happens when you set the aperture wide, aperture narrow, shutter speed high, or whatever.

Having said that, there's no reason why you shouldn't get a film camera now and play with it.

I do develop my own silver-halide BW film. It's not hard, hell, I only started about six months ago, having no one to help me except a few pages from the Intartubes. (I didn't actually fix my first roll...but that's another story.)

Get a Patterson dev tank and reels. Get some Kodak D-76 developer, Ilford Rapid Fixer, and a roll of supermarket-brand colour negative film with which to practice loading film onto the reels in light. It's nowhere near as hard as it seems.

Oh, and don't let your flatmates drink from anything you mixed chemicals in. Just, y'know, FYI.
I think the point of going to film is for the shock value. While yes, it is possible to put the camera on manual, and make all the really dumb mistakes for free, my understanding of human nature is that you never really learn the lesson until you do it yourself. Since you like analogies, just think of the kid that sticks his tongue on a steel pole at -30. he knows it will hurt, but he still does it ONCE. SHooting film, and realizing the cost will shock the shooter to go back and read about shutter speed, apature, light in general, and a lot of things we take for granted in our fancy digital cameras. You only need to spend about $10 to realize you have a lot to learn.

Once learned, the lessons are invaluable, and corss over both film and digital. Additionaly shooting film will force him to think, and slow down. Each shot NEEDS due to cost, to be a keeper.
03-05-2008, 06:47 AM   #10
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Oh, that's why I said play with it.

I'm a big fan of the "you're-not-gonna-do-that-again-are-you" learning model.

But now my 747 analogy doesn't hold up .
03-05-2008, 07:06 AM   #11
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I get far more "keepers" when shooting 35mm film than when shooting digital. And I get still more when shooting medium format. Why? Because of the cost, pure and simple. The difference between essentially "free" (digital) and roughly a dollar a shot (medium format) makes me slow down and double-check everything about a shot....including whether I really want to take it in the first place. There are loooooots of times I work out the exposure, make the settings, frame up a shot.....and then decide against taking the shot at all. And while it is the cost that puts me in the necessary frame of mind, the decision to not take the shot is due not to parsimony but rather to an on-the-spot frank self-assessment of the shot and its merit. I'll gladly burn the film for a good shot. But damned if I want to just throw it away.
03-05-2008, 08:36 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
I get far more "keepers" when shooting 35mm film than when shooting digital... There are loooooots of times I work out the exposure, make the settings, frame up a shot.....and then decide against taking the shot at all.
This is my experience exactly. An extreme example is that I took the K10D out to the slopes to shoot my kid's first time on skis. Eventually I found myself hammering away on continuous mode to get a few nice shots. And I did get a few. But it wasn't because I set it up, evaluated it, planned it and executed it. The camera was pointed and my finger was depressed when the moment came.

In the end I also spent a lot of time wading through what I got, and of course saved too many, which has a cost too. Had I brought a film camera I'd have shot 36 photos max and I'd have probably gotten as many, maybe more REAL keepers.

I do look to the digital often in new or new-again situations to teach me what I've forgotten. I then transpose that to film and make fewer mistakes. (Of course this assumes I am using the digital LIKE a film camera and not hammering blindly away.) Digital definitely has value there for me. Despite the barrage I unleashed in the skiing example above, I did learn some things I'd forgotten and I will be more confident and prepared in the future where film is concerned in similar situations.

To take this point a bit further I dialed myself in recently on studio lighting and setup and used my digital with a remote and me <gad> as a subject to get the instant feedback I needed to progress quickly. Now that I've got myself checked out and dialed in most of the way, I'll start shooting film in that setting. Point is, the digital allowed me to progress further, faster, with less overall cost. I threw all of the pictures away. That was not the point. I suspect now that I'll still need to get to some fine points with the film, but I will have wasted less film and time getting there...

As to medium format... that's next. Heh.

woof
03-05-2008, 09:16 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by FireMate Quote
Just don't get a Pentax 67, no matter what. I'm saving you the trouble now.

If you get one, and shoot medium format, you will have a hard time picking up a digital camera. Just FYI.

Amen. I haven't been able to plunge into a 645 or 67 yet, but even with the limitations of my Yashica TLR, I have come to know the great pleasure of medium format.

Every time I reach for my *ist DL, I do a double-take... maybe I will find a REALLY GOOD photo on this excursion, and wouldn't I rather have that picture on medium format

It sounds silly, but MF really spoils you on anything smaller. I love shooting digital and 35mm, but for pure results, you can't beat the MF. (unless you start in with 4x5 --- oh, to find a clean and cheap Speed Graphic!)

One of the advantages of medium format is that you can easily get the film at any pro-ish camera store and it can be processed in Frontier or Noritsu minilabs (if the lab bothers to offer the service.)
03-05-2008, 05:27 PM   #14
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67 w/ MLU and a 45mm - in my future.
03-06-2008, 08:50 AM   #15
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Yes guys,

the 67 looks lovely. I can absolutely understand why the sheer cost of shooting medium format (or even 35 mm film) would force you to really decide if you want to take the shot. I'm not saying you can't take flippin' fantastic pictures with a DSLR. But man, when my friends were married a couple or few years ago, the photographer shot medium format - at that time, and I'm sure it still applies, he told us that he'd have to have spent 10s of thousands of dollars to come close in digital. You should have seen some of the enlargements!

I agree it'll be a good choice to start with digital and see how into it I get. It will allow me to assess what everything in Manual mode actually does.
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