Archive for the ‘film’ Tag

Real budget photography – why ‘under $500’ isn’t the same as ‘budget’.

In the leadup to Christmas and over the course of the New Year sales there have been a lot of articles about buying ‘budget’ photography equipment. I consider myself to be a budget photographer but most of this ‘budget’ equipment is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of my price range. Under $500 is not ‘budget’, under $50 maybe but not under $500. So, I think it is time to promote and talk about REAL budget photography. I am going to try, there will be more posts about this but here’s the start.

First of all this is going to mostly mean used equipment and not very new used equipment at that. It is also going to mean any good, new equipment is probably a gift. At the moment I am a student (ok, as I am nearing forty I should probably say ‘mature student’) so I have got no money but even before that I did not have huge sums of money to spend on my hobby. And, yes, it is a hobby. I have no desire to be a professional wedding photographer – based on the sheer volume of articles about how to become a professional wedding photographer this must put me in a very tiny minority!

So, what equipment do I have? Less than I used to for a start. Being unemployed for almost a year and then becoming a student means you have to get money where you can. Anyway, here is some idea of what I have at the moment.

Zenit 122 – A film SLR from the old Soviet union, with an M42 lens mount, made while I was still at school. Bought from eBay for under £20 including delivery. I’ve got a 28mm Hanimex lens, a 58mm Helios and a 135mm Jupiter 37A to go with it, none of which cost over £20.

Nikon D70 – A digital SLR (about 6MP) bought from eBay for about £30 including postage. These were introduced in 2004 and were replaced by the D70S in 2006 so it isn’t exactly cutting edge. I have a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 (cheap due to a broken filter ring), a Nikkor 35-70mm that came with it and a Sigma 70-300mm that is my most expensive piece of camera equipment as I bought it new for about $150 while on holiday in Florida. I’ve also got a cheap Holga lens that fits it that I haven’t really managed to get to grips with.

Lomo LCA – A film point and shoot that I love, probably my favourite camera. Another eBay purchase for around £20 becuase it was listed as the shutter being stuck. Once I replaced the batteries and freed the shutter by poking it with a biro while travelling on the bus (true) it worked and has been reliable ever since.

Samsung NX100 – Around £30 on eBay because it had no lens with it. A digital mirrorless camera (about 14MP) and my newest. With the addition if a £4 adapter it now works with my M42 lenses!

Polaroid Land Camera – Takes Fuji peel-apart film. Free! Found in my mum’s attic having been unused since the mid-70s, worked fine straight away – even the battery still had power.

Fujifilm Instax 200 – £10 in a charity shop in full working order, what a bargain! Yes, it is one of the ugliest cameras ever made but it is fun.

Lomo Konstruktor – This year’s Christmas present, a film SLR you put together from a kit. Built only last week so untested yet.

Coronet box camera – Takes 120 film, fun to play with and less than £10 on eBay (and most of that was postage).

Digital is nice and cheap as you just download the images but film can be cheap in black and white too, if you develop it yourself in caffenol. So, all of this equipment has been bought over the course of a couple of years keeping the budget fairly low. If you want to get an idea of the results check out http://www.flickr.com/archerctb

Photography Decision: Digital or Film?

Photography, not something I have blogged about for a while but something I have been doing even if I haven’t got around to updating my flickr account (http:\\www.flickr.com/archerctb/) for a while. I have plenty to put up there but I just haven’t had the time recently.
At the moment I am questioning where to go next with my photography in the whole ‘digital vs film’ debate. I have just started a new job having been unemployed for eight months before doing so and the truth is that film photography just ended up becoming too expensive for me. The cost of film, developing (or chemicals if home developing) and so on just became prohibitive so I ended up doing much more digital photography.
I still shoot digital in much the same way as I shoot film really, I’m not someone who just snaps away and taking twenty versions of each shot. Each shot is thought about and done carefully, sure I may sometimes take it twice just to be on the safe side but that is about it. Apart from some exposure comensation on shots I don’t tend to do a lot of post production either. I also love to use my M42 lenses on my Nikon DSLR.
The truth is that I cannot afford Nikon lenses that will give good Bokeh so I use the old lenses for their Bokeh and the look they give the images in general. True, I lose infinity focus because I don’t use an adapter with glass in it (I find it loses some of the look of the old lenses) but I can still get good images. The images my old 50mm Tessar and 135mm Jupiter 37A give are completely different to my Nikon 35-70mm and my Sigma 70-300mm, not that I am knocking the modern lenses as I love them too but I use them all for different things.
I am always going to shoot some film as I love it too much, the look of the images is totally different to digital, but I have learned a new appreciation for digital photography over the last several months. So here is what I am considering doing:
1) Shooting film as my ‘experimental’ and ‘fun’ shots. To be honest, I have had to sell all my medium format cameras to get some money while unemployed so I am down to 35mm now and I think I will stick with that. Expired, redscale, cross processed and other film experiments can be fun sometimes and are best for some projects – sure you can recreate similar (but not identical) effects in post production of digital images but I quite like the unpredictability of using film for this. I will also shoot some black and white to develop myself, more for the sheer fun of doing it than anything else.
2) Use digital for my more ‘serious’ work. Ok, I am not planning to try and become a professional or anything like that but I do like to try and take good pictures sometimes (if you have seen my flickr feed please stop laughing). The only issue with this is my digital camera. Bought second hand as a camera to take on holiday my Nikon D70 is not exactly up to date and real high quality. It doesn’t have a video mode or a black and white mode, the metering is usually slightly off, the auto focus is hit and miss and it occassionally just decides it won’t recognise memory cards unless you take them out and reinsert them half a dozen times, even if it has been recognising it fine for the last few hours. Both my own Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom phone and the iPhone they have given me at work produce images with a higher MP count and they both use technology 10 years ahead of the D70 so they can (if used carefully) surpass it in quality. What I really need is to upgrade if I am going to try and use the DSLR as my main camera, that is a big layout of cash though. Although I should point out I am talking about getting something like a D3200 or a second hand D5200 so we are talking about £350ish rather than the £1,500+ you can pay for a new DSLR.
So, what do I do? Stick with the ongoing costs of film or try and make the one big layout to improve my DSLR?