Since the advent of digital photography most of us have consigned our old film cameras to the cupboard and now shoot entirely using a digital format. One consequence of this is that high quality film cameras can now be bought for a fraction of the cost than when they were new.
Well I recently resurrected my old film camera (a Contax G2), put in new batteries and some Ilford XP2, and was amazed at the difference it made to the photographic experience. Everything was suddenly simpler. There was no worrying about settings (other than aperture and shutter speed), no anxious looks at the back of the camera after every shot, and there was the glorious anticipation that comes with sending a film away and waiting to see the results.
In short I had forgotten how much fun can be had using film. In addition the results were very good and the photos had a different quality to those taken using digital.
When I did a portrait session with the photographer Wolf Suschitzky earlier this month I felt I had to capture the scene on film bearing in mind he was a master of black and white photography during the golden age of film. The following image is one of the photos from that session taken with the Contax G2 camera with 45mm Planar lens shot wide open at f.2 on Ilford XP2 film using ambient light.
I then went walkabout to see what the camera was like outside and took this shot in poor light at Wrest Park. The sky was a uniform white in the same photo taken on the digital camera but the film managed to get some structure into the sky.
What I also rediscovered is that using film is great for street photography – here is one shot I took in Soho using the Contax and an old expired roll of Fuji Reala.
All shots were developed and scanned to disk by AG Photo Lab who have been excellent value for money and very quick.
So if you have an old film camera lying around why not dust it off and see what it can do for you? I know that my Contax G2 is now firmly back in the bag.
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