Back To The Future

Common wisdom is that film photography is dead. Don’t believe it. An increasing number of enthusiasts (also many pros) are using old film cameras to supplement their digital camera arsenals. Instead of getting that “film quality”through digital adjustments, they opt instead for the real thing.

Is this a trend? Well Fuji and other manufacturers are producing “instant”cameras that, like the old Polaroids, produce an instant film print. In addition, 35mm film is readily available through dozens of online sites and processing services are easily found that will develop and print your film and either make the images available to download or provide them on disk, so that if the siren call of PhotoShop is irresistible, you can edit to your heart’s content.

What about cameras? I got rid of my film cameras about 10 years ago, but some of the old classics are available online. I found this nifty little Olympus 35 RC on Ebay. A $60 bid brought it home. Produced through the 1970s,the camera has a classic double image rangefinder and focus ring, can be operated either manually or in shutter priority and is solidly built of all metal. The exposure needle is battery powered, but the camera is fully mechanical, so that if the battery dies, you can approximate the exposure (or use a light meter or other camera to provide the correct exposure) and shoot away. No menus, no 400 page instruction manual, and no bewildering array of settings and controls. This particular camera carries a f2.8, 42mm lens which is the “correct” focal length for 35 mm photography.

Having said all that, I have no intention of exclusively (or even mostly)shooting film. I’m now too accustomed to my digital cameras and workflow. But this quiet little beauty calls out for some street shooting on the Boulevard.




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