This is one incident I’d like to share before I start. I was in Mumbai a few months back, in front of the Taj Hotel with my Minolta and Canon strapped on either side and looking stupid. A white gentlemen, a tourist perhaps, in his 60’s carrying a 5D approached a ridiculous looking me enquiring about my Minolta, and I explained this whole ‘film is charming’ story only to be greeted back with a WTF are you saying look on his face. Difference in opinion? I think so too.
Agree or not, there is something enticing about film cameras. A quick search on the internet and you have a few people cribbing about the size of a DSLR,
how the lenses are expensive and the likes. Also surprising is the fact that some people love the simplicity of film, call it irony, and how the lenses come cheap and just the very feel of film. Now my first camera was a Kodak EC300 and my experience with it wasn’t great, and at the time my knowledge of film cameras wasn’t all that that great either. I moved on to digital and I love it mind you, but the comments on community forums made me wonder, “What’s so special about film?”
A year back, I got myself a rangefinder in the form of a Yashica Electro 35 GTN to see what the fuss is all about. I found one for a bargain of just ₹ 1500 in perfect working condition and this was followed by a less than perfect ₹ 500 Minolta SRT 101 whose f/1.8 lens I ended up messing by trying to smoothen out the focus ring.
It is a bit hard to find fast films of ASA 800 and above here so I go about using regular Konica 100’s which I got for free (you read that right, for free). Not that it is mighty easy, but the charm of capturing moments in film is a treat in itself. It requires you to make full use of your skills and it helps you comprehend the results you achieve. The digital SLR of today is an accessory that everyone flaunts and anyone can master and can excel at , provided they have the moolah. But when it comes to the pleasure of shooting it doesn’t even come close to the experience that film provides.
The trickiness of metering, the focusing, no instant access et all is not for everyone, but maybe that is what a few people look for, in this day of quick photo sharing and Instagram. We lack the feel of sophistication and going digital, cellphones especially, has eroded the charm of photography. I for one love the steep learning curve associated with film photography, it keeps you busy with its camera fix DIYs, getting help from countless online communities striving to keep film alive and understanding how your camera works. It’s fun and involving, a phase which passes very quickly in digital medium.
I use my Canon and Olympus Pen 99% of the time, so in no way am I anti-digital but sometimes it’s good to harp back to the old days. “IF” you want to give it a go, head online. The cameras are dirt cheap, legacy lenses are in much demand and aren’t too expensive either. Roughly a grand (Indian ₹) spent and you have for yourself a camera which can rival the quality of a digital camera costing over 50-60 times the price. Or simply head over to your grannys and beg for that film camera lying in a corner somewhere, gathering dust. SAVE IT.
P.S: Interesting read Kenrockwells take on why we love films