Now, almost a year ago, in my third Blog entry, I said this - "Move ahead 4 years, and I've made tremendous changes. I now hate film, in spite of the tremendous successes I had with it. I'm on my sixth Digital Camera now, actually my third DSLR - a Canon EOS 40D which I just bought used at an amazingly low price. I truly believe that digital is the way to go - there are so many advantages, I cannot fathom that I would ever shoot a roll of film again."
Hard to believe I said that isn't it? Film photography is like a genie out of the bottle, and I've certainly turned the proverbial 180 over the past few months, from having said "I hate film"!
But I still struggle with digital convenience versus film's magic spell, and I've got to somehow get beyond it. I rediscovered film by way of shooting Medium Format with a very special camera, but nonetheless, I re-discovered the fact that the magic is still there even with 35mm film being used in absolutely forgettable Thrift Store cameras. Do I mind having to wait a week or more to shoot through a roll of film? Well, to be honest, yes, although that is somewhat offset by the joy of getting that negative back with 12 or more goodies, like Christmas gifts, and spending that couple of hours on my scanner, watching the real magic appear.
So, I wonder, "What If??" What if the market now finally has a film - like digital camera, that does film emulation right in the camera? Well, of course it's rather old news that I knew about already, but Fujifilm Makes a few very good digital cameras that, fittingly have colour and B&W film emulation built in. Naturally, it is exclusively Fuji's own film they;re trying to emulate, but that's OK with me. The "film's warm embrace" sample above was shot on Fuji Pro 400. So I went back and read the review of their top of the line camera of this genre. It is the X-Pro1, a mirrorless, APS-C interchangeable lens model that looks beautifully like a classic rangefinder, reportedly with a good "optical-hybrid" viewfinder (which kind of amounts to a similar arrangement I enjoy on my EOS 7D), and it does emulate the look of four of Fuji's well known colour films, as well as the usual B&W with filter type things that most cameras do now. From what I could see in this review, the film emulations are quite subtle - and that's a good thing - because if it wasn't subtle, it would be downright phoney. So far so good. Also, this camera seems to have received a price drop of several hundred dollars since it was first introduced in late 2011. WOW!
Now, let's stop and talk about "film emulation" for a minute. To me, it's a similar idea to the wonderful way in which Yamaha Electronic pianos are able to digitally emulate the sound of various true acoustic pianos of various sorts, be it grand, or baby grand, or parlour, etc. Another example is "modelling guitar amplifiers" which again use digital sampling algorithms to 'model' the sound of various famous vintage amplifiers, like Fender Tweeds, Marshall Stacks, Vox (for an authentic "Beatles" sound), etc. This does work, but of course there are purists who still would prefer the real thing. But I notice that no less than Burton Cummings, the truly great Canadian genius rock and roll pianist and singer song-writer, (if you don't know the name, maybe you've heard of "The Guess Who") usually shows up on stage these days with a Yamaha digital, instead of a real baby-grand.
So what am I - a purist who insists on the real thing, or would a Fujifilm X-Pro1 make me happy? I'd have to sell my EOS 7D of course, but the valuations are pretty close to par. But then when I read how the X-Pro1 is just plain "goofy" when it comes to manual focusing, for example - it uses an electric motor controlled by a fake focussing ring on all of the lenses in it's system.. I thought "good grief, why do they do things like this?" So, nope - my ideal digital camera still does not exist. I'm not sure that it ever will, apart from the $10k Leica M9 (I guess it's just called the "M" now).
Let me summarize what I think it is I want in a camera -
- High end, but no more than $3k with one good lens included
- Interchangeable lens system
- Full frame sensor, to truly make the most out of legacy lenses
- Maximum legacy lens optical compatibility
- Non-SLR "mirrorless"
- Totally optical rangefinder focusing
- Absolutely no-nonsense features, truly back to basics, quality over quality
- Well designed film emulation for a wide range of films, vintage and new
- Here's a real novel feature - no LCD picture display on the back (just a simple function display), but instead, use built-in WiFi or the new "Near Field Communication" to allow you to field-view your pictures on your Smartphone or Tablet
I've got to move on one way or the other, forgetting about cameras for awhile to improve my photography. Am I really composing right? Am I exposing right? Am I scanning my negatives right? Am I working from ideas and inspiration, or simply dressing things up after the fact? (That's always a good question isn't it?)
Looking forward to another great year of Blogging!