35 mm Film Photography.


As some of you will know , I have a number of film SLR’s and lenses. For an upcoming trip to the Glen Afton Heritage Railway I have decided to do a photo shoot using my film cameras. My wife will have the Canon DSLR as a back up.

My weapon of choice will be my Pentax MZ-6 . Its an auto focus & auto winding camera, which allows for quick shooting without the need to manually wind on the film. In many ways the MZ-6 is similar to a modern DSLR, with full manual controls to fully automatic. I tend to use this camera in its version of P-mode which is shown as a smiley face of the mode select dial. The other mode I use primarily is aperture priority. Pentax mz6

One of the good things about this camera is the 1/4000 max shutter speed and the 3 fps shot rate. Its fairly simple to track action shots and if the camera is in continuous focus mode I actually am likely to get more actions in focus. This is something that my Canon doesn’t do too well at.

To undertake this we of course need to have some film. Unfortunately in the early part of 2017 Fujifilm for reasons best known to themselves, Fuji stopped making all but about 4 types of 35mm roll film. Most of this film is either black and white film or pro photography film which is considerably more expensive than their Fuji Superior Xtra line of film.

Fortunately others have quickly stepped in to film the gap and I’m happy to report there is a good variety of film types available. I have chosen Kodak Ultra Max Colour film to try out as my replacement day to day film negative. Two rolls will set you back $20.00 NZD which is pretty reasonable as that includes postage.

20180310My local lab charges $20.00 to develop and scan a 36 exposure roll of film and charges and extra nine dollars to print 6 x 4 prints as well. Now you might think thats fairly expensive and at first glance you may think so. You may also be thinking whats the point.

The point is many-fold. The first point is to slow down my click rate. Modern cameras let us take huge amounts of photos and may not be all that good. I have currently on my media hard drive 65,000 images. I have also deleted at least a similar if not greater number of images because they didnt make the “cut” to borrow a phrase from the movie industry. 0004310_kodak-ultra-max-400-film-gc-135-36-exp

For snapshot photography I have my Samsung S6 smartphone which is brilliant for those day to day snaps you might want to post to Facebook or Instagram, or the occasional photo you may want to print later.

Like everyone else I’m guilty of trying to capture the whole event and not concentrating on what might better tell the story. The modern camera era has turned us all in to unwitting photojournalists recording all sorts of things in our daily lives, but when was the last time you actually planned a photo expedition.

Thats the point for me of shooting film. I know what I’m going to do and I know where I need to be to do it. Now I have to spend more time on thinking about the shot I want to get, and how to go about getting it. I will only have one roll of film to use. Thats 36 images and I need to make them all as good as I am able.

Does this mean I will use my DSLR less? Maybe but as it costs to do a film shoot,  the DSLR is still going to get plenty of use as Film Photography will be most likely a once a month event as it will cost on average 30-50 dollars per roll.

One of the good things with film is prints.Develop and print at the time of order. Standard 6 x 4 prints are $10.00 NZD per roll of film. Thats 27 cents per print. Warehouse stationery charges 29 cents per print which is also pretty good. If you decide to forgo the scanning of the negatives and stay with prints you can always scan later to keep costs down. My preference however is to scan & print at the time you get your film developed, as it gives you a permanent record of what the image looks like as a print. This will help you decide which if any you will want to have as a larger sized print. I’m a fan of the 18×24 (45.7 by 61.0 cm) Creative Matte/Gloss Poster (A2) or the slightly more expensive but longer lasting 12×36 (30.5 by 81.2 cm) Creative Matte Print for those images that really need some size to be appreciated.

This is the first in a series of ongoing articles involving 35mm film as a digital alternative. More to come in the coming weeks. Autumn is approaching and I would like to capture Autumn colours with film as well.

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