The benefits of shooting film sometimes, unfortunately, get lost amid the playground fight between film and digital devotees. The plus points – and believe me there are plenty – get drowned out.
That’s a shame for two reasons. Photography is a personal passion, and each person gets into their particular style of photography due to deeply individual reasons; it’s not that different to the way we fall in love with the music we do (and I was a music journalist for 20 years, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to mull this one over). There are photographers for whom the digital revolution has been their route to creative self-expression and making something they can call their own. It’s wrong for film photographers to belittle that.
Secondly – the massed ranks of digital photographers contain many who are too young to have shot film in the first place. Film is not something that have set aside for the convenience of digital; it’s been their only game in town. Some of these might have been interested in dipping their toes in the analogue pool, but have been scared off because they think it’s too difficult, too costly, or too inconvenient.
The following are an attempt to dispel some of those myths – and encourage anyone who hasn’t shot film before to give it a go.
Lomo cameras and Istanbul are a match made in heaven.
The scruffy, bustling, majestic, gritty, city suits the wide-screen perspective and dramatic vignetting. The saturated, surreal colours from cross-processed add an extra dimension.
In most of my previous visits to this city I took a Lomo LC-A or LC-Wide along with me. But last month’s trip was the first time I’d brought the medium format version, the Lomo LC-A 120, along for the ride.
Istanbul in October. The days are drawing shorter. The tourist hordes – trains of slow-moving sightseers snaking their way from Byzantine church to towering mosque – have begun to dissipate. The hotels start reducing their rates. The calls from the quayside to join a Bosphorus cruise become a little less frenetic.
But you couldn’t exactly call the city is quiet. There might be fewer selfie sticks and maps being unfurled on street corners, but it is still home to as many as 18 million people commuting, shopping, eating, smoking. Stand on the quayside at Eminonu during rush-hour, and you might think that half of them were trying to push past you.
The light’s not as strong and long-lasting as you find in the summer, but the overcast conditions are perfect for black and white film.
This is the 20th article in a series in collaboration with Film’s Not Dead.
Film costs too much. Film itself is expensive. You can spend a fortune as a beginner with no guarantee that your talents will reward all that expense. And then it costs to get it developed, and it costs to get it scanned. If you’ve come from digital, the expense can be eye-watering.
The thing is, if you’re going to get the most out of shooting film, you’re going to have to shoot a lot. Shoot consistently, but above all shoot continually. Like practising a musical instrument, great results rarely come from dipping in once or twice every six months.
So how can you ensure that you’re shooting enough to get encouraging results without breaking the bank?
The FED 50, the Soviet answer to the snap-happy Olympus Trip (Pic: Roman Yesipov/Wikimedia)
The Olympus Trip 35 is one of the most famous film cameras of all time. It came out in 1967 and production didn’t end until 1984; not bad for a camera that still metered via a selenium cell.
The Trip was designed very much with holidays in mind, hence its name. It had only two shutter speeds – 1/40th and 1/200th – and its automatic exposure system would choose one and match it with the right aperture. It was a pretty simple, no-frills camera, but it had a secret weapon; a truly exceptional lens.
More than 10 million Trips were sold over the 17 years it was produced. Millions upon millions of pictures were taken on them. And like many other Western cameras big and small, the Japan-made Trip inspired another camera from behind the Iron Curtain – the FED 50.