Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Re-Thinking Film

The Marshlands Inn, Sackville NB
As life goes on, I find myself re-thinking almost everything, and at times can easily go full circle. Perhaps this is a sign of an open mind that is far too open? Or (hopefully) I'm gaining some wisdom with age. Anyway, many of my regular readers (at least both of them) will recall how that last summer, I was doing a lot of shooting with film cameras, and riding a wave of loving the film medium. But this was before I bought my EOS 5D Mk-1. You may have noticed that since then, I've been quite silent about using film - the last article I did about it was "Film Versus Digital - My Final Word", in which I compared the output of my newly purloined 5D Full Frame Digital to that of my excellent Canon Elan-7 Film SLR, both using the same lens. Somehow, this also turned out to be my final word about film photography, period. I had concluded that overall, the results from the 5D had a slight lead, but also how that the film results gave me certain qualities that cannot be measured, that are hard to get with a digital camera.

This is not a comparison, but just a little bonus shot to show how beautiful film can be. The Marshlands Inn Picture above was taken with the EOS 5D, while the shot below was taken with my Elan-7.

Rail-road Museum, Eastern Shore, NS
To my thinking, these both have their endearing qualities, and both reveal so very well the importance of having high quality equipment at hand (I believe that gear does matter).

Does this mean that I've turned 180 against film? No, not at all - but obviously something has happened, and I'll let you know what factors have, for the moment, turned me back to doing exclusively Digital shooting:

1) My purchase of the EOS 5D at a real bargain price of $500
2) My purchase of a true high-end lens - the Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG
3) My purchase of an amazing piece of Software - DxO Optics Pro-9
4) My learning how to use the 5D Mark-1 Camera in the proper way, for more consistent results

These four things have shifted the balance for me. Naturally, I could use the Sigma lens on my Elan-7 film camera, and I could also set it up to work exactly the same as the 5D, because Canon's lineage from film to digital has been remarkably consistent over the past 28 years when they first introduced the EOS System - very little has changed. However, I cannot make the most of using the DxO Software with my scanned film - it is intended to fully optimize Raw Data files, which I do not get from my film scanner. The main point is that my most up to the minute digital package gives me photography nirvana, and there's nothing about film that'll take me to the same place.

My expectation for this year, 2014, once things warm up and my blood thaws out, is that film might take me to a different place. My digital gear and software take me to perfection, yes, but I'm looking at film as a possibility of attaining a great "funk factor" for me, using my Russian Rangefinder, and the possibility of more shooting with the Yashica Lynx 14e as well. Both provide a much simpler shooting experience, and the Russian camera especially has such a bad lens on it, that, when combined with bad film, I get the most delightful form of "yuch" you've ever seen! In spite of how "bad" this lens is, the FED-5 Russian camera gives me some of the most charming pictures I've ever taken. Also, as it is an interchangeable lens camera, I can put far better lenses on it, including Nikon, Canon and even Leica! I should also mention how the fixed lens Yashica Rangefinder includes one of the most highly regarded lenses ever made.

So, there is still some film photography in my future, but I believe that now, most of what you'll see from me will be from the remarkable first generation EOS-5D.

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