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    Default Entry to film photography

    Greetings clubsnap members!

    Im keen on starting up as a hobbyist photographer. Can anybody advice me on things such as:
    -film cameras to look out for(prefably 35mm film rangefinder with a fast 50mm prime)
    -shops I can approach for one- stop advice on film photography(prefably in west region)
    -short & long term cost of film(film roll,developing & printing) as compared to paying a lump sum for digital
    -average starting budget suggestion

    Any help is appreciated!

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    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Entry to film photography

    Hello Leo...

    Bessa R model camera would be a good rangefinder to start with. The Zeiss Ikons are nice. Retro Nikon rangefinders also very nice. Then again nothing is quite like a good old M2 either though. A lot of this is subjective and something you'll probably have to learn and discover on your own. If you are into wide angles then rangefinders are really good at that...if you are into telephotos though a slr is better suited imo. BTW there is a plethora of old fixed lens rangefinders out there many of them very nice very good performing little units...Canonet is one that immediately comes to mind (take a look at a black body Canonet...talk about a handsome camera...I had one once I regret getting rid of it to this day.). Those are great fun and typically fairly cheap and easy to use.

    Can't advise you about the shops.

    If you love the hobby you must get past the cost factor.

    I think a lot of the cost benefits analysis mainly boils down to what skill level the photographer is at...eg highly skilled and proficient then film will be cheaper for this one as opposed to a beginner just learning the craft. For the beginner just learning his craft digital is going to be the more feasible choice...film is a painful ordeal for the beginner but also I think the endeavor imparts a special quality to one's photography that is hard to put into words.

    Starting budget enough to get you a body a lens or two and a few dozen rolls of film to start.

    Personally I find film to be more "fulfilling" to me on some level compared to digital. I started from film and the fundamentals and this has really helped me with the progression of my photography in digital (I'm a manual mode shooter imagine that I also meter by instinct and bracket every snap two thirds a stop up and down! haha). I've always thought it was a good approach to learning photography. One of my all time favorites is the Nikon F2 because of it's ubiquitous-ness and the crazy number of lenses available for it. All of that dovetailed very nicely into Nikon digital for me in my case so maybe this is another angle to consider. Which brings up another good point - you must think of it as a system and not just a camera...there are many crucially important aspects to it.
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 23rd January 2015 at 03:23 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikonzen View Post
    Hello Leo...

    Bessa R model camera would be a good rangefinder to start with. The Zeiss Ikons are nice. Retro Nikon rangefinders also very nice. Then again nothing is quite like a good old M2 either though. A lot of this is subjective and someting you'll probably have to learn and discover on your own.

    Can't advise you about the shops.

    If you love the hobby you must get past the cost factor.

    I think a lot of the cost benefits analysis mainly boils down to what skill level the photographer is at...eg highly skilled and proficient then film will be cheaper for this one as opposed to a beginner just learning the craft.

    Starting budget enough to get you a body a lens or two and a few dozen rolls of film to start.

    Personally I find film to be more "fulfilling" to me on some level compared to digital. I started from film and the fundamentals and this has really helped me with the progression of my photography in digital. I've always thought it was a good approach to learning photography. One of my all time favorites is the Nikon F2 because of it's ubiquitous-ness and the crazy number of lenses available for it. All of that dovetailed very nicely into Nikon digital for me in my case so maybe this is another angle to consider. Which brings up another good point - you must think of it as a system and not just a camera...there are many crucially important aspects to it.
    Thanks you Nikonzen! I didn't expect such a detailed reply to be honest. Thank you very much for your advice!

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    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Entry to film photography

    Quote Originally Posted by LeoTheSolar View Post
    Thanks you Nikonzen! I didn't expect such a detailed reply to be honest. Thank you very much for your advice!
    Not a problem bro you are most welcome! One of my great passions and joys in life started with an old rangefinder camera sir!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikonzen View Post

    Not a problem bro you are most welcome! One of my great passions and joys in life started with an old rangefinder camera sir!
    I hope I'll walk down that same path then!!

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    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Entry to film photography

    Quote Originally Posted by LeoTheSolar View Post
    I hope I'll walk down that same path then!!
    I will help you to the best of my ability if you wish. Feel free to ask via these boards or private message whatever suits you. I can probably aid you in circumventing some of the sillier paths that as beginners we tend to needlessly take. I am well qualified in this regard too believe me because I have been down many paths some of which left a lot to be desired...lol
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 23rd January 2015 at 06:01 PM.
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    Default Re: Entry to film photography

    Quote Originally Posted by LeoTheSolar View Post
    Greetings clubsnap members!

    Im keen on starting up as a hobbyist photographer. Can anybody advice me on things such as:
    -film cameras to look out for(prefably 35mm film rangefinder with a fast 50mm prime)
    -shops I can approach for one- stop advice on film photography(prefably in west region)
    -short & long term cost of film(film roll,developing & printing) as compared to paying a lump sum for digital
    -average starting budget suggestion

    Any help is appreciated!
    a) RF cameras for an absolute beginner on film... erm... it takes some getting used to. an alternative is to go with an auto SLR before you move onto a manual-everything RF. but yes, a bessa is a good model to start with. if you want some form of automation, a Bessa R2A or R3A with AE-mode would be useful. for an all manual RF, a Leica M2/3 that is reasonably maintained will last you virtually forever.

    b) shops... good luck. most pro-level labs are gone. in the west, even Grace Digilab at Sunset Way is not the way it was. the only 'reasonable' lab for relatively decent colour processing and scanning (YMMV) is Fotohub (one at JP, the other at Westgate). if you can, i think it is better to do B&W yourself at home.

    c) cost - it really depends on how many rolls you foresee yourself shooting per day/week. use the Fotohub price guide as a starting point to do some estimates (http://fotohub.com/Portals/0/DownloadFile/pricelist.pdf).

    d) average starting costs... depends on the camera you want to start with. for a decent auto SLR from canon or nikon, body starting price for used prosumer models could be around $250-300 (eg nikon F100). pro bodies like the nikon F5 or canon EOS-1series can go for about $500+ depending on the condition. if you already have existing canon or nikon 35mm lenses (aka full frame lenses), then you can save a bit of money. if you want to go the Leica way... let's just say your bank account will determine your limit. a decent M2/M3 body can go for about $800-900 on CS (more, if you try the 2nd-hand shops around Peninsula area). a M6 can go for $1200+ etc... and that is a body only. lenses .... at least another $700-1000 if you are going for good 3rd party options from Voigtlander or Zeiss. if you want really old Leica lenses like Summitars or Summars, that can be purchased for ard $500+ for a battered lens.

    good luck!
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default Re: Entry to film photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Nikonzen View Post
    I will help you to the best of my ability if you wish. Feel free to ask via these boards or private message whatever suits you. I can probably aid you in circumventing some of the sillier paths that as beginners we tend to needlessly take. I am well qualified in this regard too believe me because I have been down many paths some of which left a lot to be desired...lol
    Thanks alot, i think i'll do some market research and start preparing a budget for a simple setup. Will ask around for more help if i need them. =)

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    Default Re: Entry to film photography

    Hi nightwolf75, thanks for the very detailed input! I think im going for fully manual RF. Dont mind the rough learning curve, just worrying a lil about the expenses while still learning to get decent results(im just a poor student )

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    Default Re: Entry to film photography

    IMHO and it is only my opinion however you may find it to be a common one...the very best rangefinder = M2 (MP (mechanical perfection) baby!)...the very best slr = F or F2 with eye-level finder. Both of them fully manual masterpieces. The MP just sublime. I think you are going about this THE best way to do it. And your youth means you are getting a head start on the hobby. So if you can persevere you can really grow a good skill to know in life. Have you ever had the pleasure of holding a rangefinder to your eye and bringing those patches together in focus? It'll change your life maybe!

    One of the best buys for the buck for slr nowadays IMO is Nikon FM2T...

    http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography...fm2t/index.htm
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 24th January 2015 at 09:16 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikonzen View Post
    IMHO and it is only my opinion however you may find it to be a common one...the very best rangefinder = M2 (MP (mechanical perfection) baby!)...the very best slr = F or F2 with eye-level finder. Both of them fully manual masterpieces. The MP just sublime. I think you are going about this THE best way to do it. And your youth means you are getting a head start on the hobby. So if you can persevere you can really grow a good skill to know in life. Have you ever had the pleasure of holding a rangefinder to your eye and bringing those patches together in focus? It'll change your life maybe!

    One of the best buys for the buck for slr nowadays IMO is Nikon FM2T...
    Will definitely keep a look out for those awesome ones that seem to get good reviews on every forum!

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    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Entry to film photography

    Leo I was thinking...you say you are a student...have you checked to see if your school might perchance have a darkroom? Our maybe a University near you does and you could finagle your way into their photo lab? If you could somehow come up with access to a darkroom I think you will get the full experience and also there you will find the folks you need to be hanging around to learn the craft. Film is WAY more than most folks realize. Ahhh but the magic! If you shoot enough film you will understand how it is different than digital and over time you will begin to appreciate both of them even more.

    Another alternative, and this is probably the one most used now in our modern "digital" world, is hybrid processing. Basically you need a reel, a tank, and a bag and digitally scan your developed film rolls. This is what a minilab does eg. down at your local drugstore or whatever. (You could also take said negatives to the darkroom for printing or down to the local minilab and have them print them up for you.) I always take my rolls down to the drugstore and tell them processing only and a CD. It's cheaper that way and if you can get in with the technicians sometimes you can get some better scans than the usual run of the mill small file scans.

    It is a challenging hobby if you embrace it fully but for sure it is worthwhile.
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 25th January 2015 at 11:21 AM.
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    Default Re: Entry to film photography

    We have an entire subforum here, only about shooting film in its various formats with all kinds of processing:
    http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=56
    Personally, I would recommend an older film SLR with some form of program mode to have some consistency in the camera exposure. Otherwise it will be a real challenge to determine what went wrong if you get the pictures (prints) back from the lab with all the adjustments they could do to salvage under/over-exposed frames.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikonzen View Post
    Leo I was thinking...you say you are a student...have you checked to see if your school might perchance have a darkroom? Our maybe a University near you does and you could finagle your way into their photo lab? If you could somehow come up with access to a darkroom I think you will get the full experience and also there you will find the folks you need to be hanging around to learn the craft. Film is WAY more than most folks realize. Ahhh but the magic! If you shoot enough film you will understand how it is different than digital and over time you will begin to appreciate both of them even more.

    Another alternative, and this is probably the one most used now in our modern "digital" world, is hybrid processing. Basically you need a reel, a tank, and a bag and digitally scan your developed film rolls. This is what a minilab does eg. down at your local drugstore or whatever. (You could also take said negatives to the darkroom for printing or down to the local minilab and have them print them up for you.) I always take my rolls down to the drugstore and tell them processing only and a CD. It's cheaper that way and if you can get in with the technicians sometimes you can get some better scans than the usual run of the mill small file scans.

    It is a challenging hobby if you embrace it fully but for sure it is worthwhile.
    That surely is possible, but I'm currently in my 2nd year, about to head for intern about just 2-3 months away. I don't think any photography related club will want to recruit me.

    Is hybrid processing the same as what others call "cross processing"? It seems like simply process is more economical, then get just the frames I really like printed

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    Quote Originally Posted by Octarine View Post
    We have an entire subforum here, only about shooting film in its various formats with all kinds of processing:

    Personally, I would recommend an older film SLR with some form of program mode to have some consistency in the camera exposure. Otherwise it will be a real challenge to determine what went wrong if you get the pictures (prints) back from the lab with all the adjustments they could do to salvage under/over-exposed frames.
    Ah... The name of the sub forum... Always thought it's only for medium and large format or something like that.
    I'll give that a thought. Thanks =)

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeoTheSolar View Post
    Is hybrid processing the same as what others call "cross processing"? It seems like simply process is more economical, then get just the frames I really like printed
    No, cross-processing is a different story applicable to color films. There, the chemical substances used ('developer') for slides (E-6) and colour negatives (C-41) are swapped. This gives very distinctive colour effects. The same effects are easily replicated in digital processing. Since this renders the developer solution unusable for their normal purposes not many labs will do this or they will charge extra.
    Hybrid processing here means: you shoot film and let the lab only do the chemical processing of the film, no prints. Then the frames are scanned (labs can do this, or you yourself a scanner) and the rest of the image processing and editing is digital on your computer. For all digital processing: get your screen calibrated before doing anything. And no: built-in calibration devices are not helpful. It needs something like Spyder calibration device or the other types in the market.
    One word of caution: don't get carried away by all the options. Keep the focus on the images and their message / content / your intention. Film and wet processing for the sake of it is pointless.
    EOS

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    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Entry to film photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Octarine View Post
    Personally, I would recommend an older film SLR with some form of program mode to have some consistency in the camera exposure. Otherwise it will be a real challenge to determine what went wrong if you get the pictures (prints) back from the lab with all the adjustments they could do to salvage under/over-exposed frames.
    First part of this is a very good recommendation for a beginner. I was a purist and a glutton for pain when I started and sort of still am.

    Second part of this is a very good point. I always give instructions for no adjustments when I take my film in for processing.

    Leo pay attention to Octarine's advice because it is legitimate. Think about this and take your time because there is a lot of initial information/fundamentals/etc you need to digest before you can really even begin to find your vision. And that is what it is about...your vision...your snaps. It is a growing process. It takes time and a lot of effort and has the potential of bringing much happiness, joy, and fulfillment to a person and others.
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 25th January 2015 at 01:59 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Octarine View Post
    No, cross-processing is a different story applicable to color films. There, the chemical substances used ('developer') for slides (E-6) and colour negatives (C-41) are swapped. This gives very distinctive colour effects. The same effects are easily replicated in digital processing. Since this renders the developer solution unusable for their normal purposes not many labs will do this or they will charge extra.
    Hybrid processing here means: you shoot film and let the lab only do the chemical processing of the film, no prints. Then the frames are scanned (labs can do this, or you yourself a scanner) and the rest of the image processing and editing is digital on your computer. For all digital processing: get your screen calibrated before doing anything. And no: built-in calibration devices are not helpful. It needs something like Spyder calibration device or the other types in the market.
    One word of caution: don't get carried away by all the options. Keep the focus on the images and their message / content / your intention. Film and wet processing for the sake of it is pointless.
    Wow thats alot of information to digest xD I think I would want to focus on improving my raw photography skills, not relying too much on post processing. I have a general purpose scanner/printer, but will it work the same as a dedicated film scanner?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikonzen View Post

    First part of this is a very good recommendation for a beginner. I was a purist and a glutton for pain when I started and sort of still am.

    Second part of this is a very good point. I always give instructions for no adjustments when I take my film in for processing.

    Leo pay attention to Octarine's advice because it is legitimate. Think about this and take your time because there is a lot of initial information/fundamentals/etc you need to digest before you can really even begin to find your vision. And that is what it is about...your vision...your snaps. It is a growing process. It takes time and a lot of effort and has the potential of bringing much happiness, joy, and fulfillment to a person and others.
    Wouldnt it already be easier than digital since the iso is fixed for a roll of film( that's one variable taken out ain't it =0 ).
    Is there focus peaking in film cameras? Since it seems to make focusing real easy.
    Perhaps it's a good idea to note down exposure settings for each frame taken? So after developing i'll know roughly what's wrong =0

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    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Entry to film photography

    Quote Originally Posted by LeoTheSolar View Post
    Wouldnt it already be easier than digital since the iso is fixed for a roll of film( that's one variable taken out ain't it =0 ).
    Is there focus peaking in film cameras? Since it seems to make focusing real easy.
    Perhaps it's a good idea to note down exposure settings for each frame taken? So after developing i'll know roughly what's wrong =0
    Sort of in a way and you can also include white balance for elimination as well...different films have different kelvin temperatures (at least this is the case for color films) There is no focus peaking in any of the films cameras I have ever used. I believe modern AF film units from the majors (they still make them too!) are very capable of nailing focus consistently. Yes a small notebook is one way of doing it and a good method as well.

    Not to try to persuade you in any fashion but I will contrast my previous paragraph concerning film with what I think digital in the same sort of terms is like. One of the great advantages of digital is that you can snap away snap away at a much lower cost per image than with film. I refer you to a saying by the great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. HCB said "Your first ten thousand photographs are your worst." Modern AF capability and low light performance in digital cameras is sort of in a golden age nowadays IMO. The newer cameras are simply outstanding. A good analogy might be flight envelopes. A P51 Mustang has a great flight envelope...a F4 Phantom has a superior one. Still they will all get one where one needs to go. With a modern digital wifi capable camera and a digital notepad or laptop or whatever one can drop snaps on these devices and have the data recorded faster than snapping your fingers almost.
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 25th January 2015 at 05:47 PM.
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