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what was photography like in the days of film

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by brainhulk, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. brainhulk

    brainhulk Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 11, 2010
    I've only been casually playing around with my gf1 (and now new gx1) for the last 2 years. I am really lazy and just shoot RAW, bracket my shots, and use PP to fix when needed (almost every shot, lol)

    I imagine it was much more dificult back then?
  2. dgorman47

    dgorman47 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 13, 2012
    You did different things to PP your images. I was also thinking about how important high iso is to people and how I can take pictures with my OMD that I never would have gotten with film. I've kinda been craving a good digital camera that doesn't have an LCD screen so I could be forced to wait and view my shots just for fun:rofl: Just the other day I had a memory of using the Illford B&W chemicals that my college had. You put the paper in the developer which stunk and then into the stop bath, which for some reason Illford and added vanilla scent to:confused:  then into fixer which really stunk.
  3. landshark

    landshark Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 27, 2010
    SO CAL
    Depended on the kind of film, B&W was and is very forgiving, C-41/color neg had workable latitude, E-6/Ektachrome/Fujichrome gave you the ability to adjust exposure and color in processing, but Kodachrome was the film that taught you to be accurate or go home in exposure and dynamic range of the shot.
    Low light and a lack of any really good high ISO, made lighting, tripods are putting the camera away a requirement of the old film days
  4. Tincam

    Tincam Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 25, 2012
    There are definitely different levels of difficulty. Shooting film with a large format camera is a lot more involved than shooting film with an advanced SLR.

    With the LF camera, you have to use a tripod, you have to manual focus, you have to use a handheld light meter to take precise readings (and know what to do with them), you have to set your aperture and speed by hand, you have to insert and remove the film holder each time you take a shot. This is just the exposure. Developing and printing are on top of that. Sometimes you don't see your image for months after exposure. It's still a ton of fun and I miss it quite a bit.
  5. mister_roboto

    mister_roboto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Seattle, WA, USA
    jeez- way to make some of us feel old :wink:

    I learned photography in a totally film environment. There were digital cameras, but they were very expensive, and not that great in comparison to a Pentax K1000 + Kodak Tri-X 400. Although I have a total sweet spot in my heart for the Sony Mavica- come on it took floppy disks!

    You did do PP- a LOT of PP. It was just in the dark room. I taught an intro to photoshop class to art dept freshmen for a few years. I would ask at the start how many had worked in a darkroom before, when I first started the class I would get 3-5 out of 20 students, and the number kept going down until after about 5 years I finally had no students who had ever been in a dark room :frown:

    A student asked once: "why is the dodge icon a little black circle with a line coming out of it?" I said "well- most all of the tools have dark room counter parts. The real dodge tool is usually a wadded up ball of masking tape on the end of a coat hanger that you wave around for a few seconds during development." The student responded with "...what?"

    As a side note- I always get a good laugh out of people who think anything longer than 80mm is hard without image stabilization :wink:
  6. MikeR_GF1

    MikeR_GF1 Guest

    Then ... and still.

    I've recently resurrected some of my 25-year-old negs, want to see if I can do better with digital PP, versus what I could do in the darkroom long ago.

    In a spate of GAS, have gotten recently a Yashica D TLR (poor man's Rollei?), and just this week, a Crown Graphic 4x5. Should have done my homework - local processor charges $3.50 PER SHEET for developing. That's on top of a film cost of about $1.25 a sheet for BW, and about $2.50 a sheet for color transparency. (You have to buy a box of 10.)

    So, I'm going to have some fun with occasional film stuff, but I really love love love digital.
  7. pheaukus

    pheaukus Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 22, 2012
    I remember I considered battery life when choosing between Nikon FM and FE. FE has automatic shutter speed, FM only metering. Therefore Fe has battery life of only a few months or years of use, compared to forever for FM (Quote: "I bought my Fm2 over 20 years ago and I´m still on the first battery which is pretty awesome.") Both cameras can shoot without battery though...

    SLRs allow you to spend all day in live view. Optical VF and non-by-wire manual focus lenses have a visual and haptic directness which electronic devices have not yet achieved. The cameras are super tough. (But so is my Canon Ixus)

    Film, I do not miss it at all :biggrin:.
    It would be great to have digital backs for film cameras.
  8. Dave Jenkins

    Dave Jenkins Mu-43 Veteran

    Digital is better in almost every way, but film was more difficult...more fun...and much more rewarding.
  9. dagaleaa

    dagaleaa Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 4, 2011
    Naples, Fl
    I can still smell those chemicals! We bought all our film in bulk, and developed all the black & white film at home. I turned my parent's bathroom into a make-shift darkroom...mostly because of having running water in the bathroom....my mom would come knock on the door and tell me to clean it up--she wanted to go to bed! Those were the days, and I knew photography would always be a part of my life!!
  10. michaeln

    michaeln Guest

    Don't forget tilts & shifts, viewing the image on the groundglass upside down and backwards, Zone System, manipulating negatives with different developers and temps, dodging and burning with cardboard wands and cardboard with holes cut in it, etc..

    I spent many years humping a 4x5 around the southwest and the Sierra, and I do miss it, but I suspect if I had to go back to it today I'd hate it.

    This is me, Zion National Park, circa 1980:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  11. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    Besides being a bit more smelly it was definitely lonelier. And darker.

    I would go down into my darkroom around 6pm to start development of film and usually get to work on developing photos around 8pm until midnight (or often later). All by myself. Often listening to Prairie Home Companion and folk music.

    Nothing like being out all day shooting 4x5 film and getting back that night only to discover I messed up an exposure. Something we don't have to deal with using digital.
  12. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    I thought a lot more about what I was doing when shooting film. With the cost of processing and printing, you didn't want to waste frames. I was probably a better photographer then, in terms of having a much higher percentage of "keepers."

    OTOH, with digital I'm more willing to experiment, which may get me more interesting shots in the end.

    OH, and when I started in photography not only was digital not even on anyone's radar screen, it wasn't even in anyone's imagination. AF didn't exist, and neither did AE. The most sophisticated metering systems were center weighted, match-needle, TTL (through the lens) systems. No LEDs, no LCDs, no in-viewfinder displays of shutter speed and f-stop.
    • Like Like x 2
  13. thinkcooper

    thinkcooper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 29, 2011
    Back in the day there was only manualphotographyreview.com, and there'd be thread after thread arguing about this filter or that bellows. And of course, who can forget the uproar when those new fangled SLRs came out, every thread would go on and on about the "magic of looking through the lens". Some things never change.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    Jerry Jackson Jr
    I've done this a few times with my old E-P1 with 17mm pancake and VF1 optical viewfinder. You can turn off the LCD and just use the optical viewfinder to compose your shots.

    I usually have to do more cropping than normal to compensate for the parallax ... and sometimes the AF is off ... but the "blind" shooting experience is more like the days when I was shooting 35mm film compacts.

    With DSLRs the experience is very similar to film SLRs if you turn off the LCD and never review your images.

    For me, the biggest difference is in post. Back when I shot film my post-processing creativity was either limited by my lab or my personal darkroom abilities. With digital it's much easier to craft images that previously only existed in my mind's eye.
  15. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I was born in 1989. Film photography was just a blur to me.

    What a spoiled digital brat I am.
  16. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    1989? You're just a kid! In fact, my oldest child was born in 1989.

    Howdy, son. :wink:
  17. Stewmander

    Stewmander Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 16, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    Film is where its at! I love film and will be taking some film with me on my upcoming vacations. I do have and enjoy digital, mostly for the ease and ability to post images to the web much faster. That is why I will also be taking an E-PL1 as my travel/vacation digital camera to complement my one of my XA/FE/QL17 GIII. Its just too bad that my RB67 is not a travel camera at all!

    I also liked Ken Rockwell's view on digital cameras - a nice film SLR like my FE or a Canon Rebel and a good scanner can give you digial photos like a full frame digial SLR, for a WHOLE lot less
  18. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    Film had the major disadvantage of costing money. Each shot made my wallet smaller so I was much more careful. With 4x5 I would take an hour easily to frame and meter a shot. I used a modified version of the Zone system

    Many of us would buy 35mm film in 100' bulk spools and "roll our own".
  19. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    I started shooting with a Kodak Brownie in the early sixties, moved to 35mm film in 1969, made the transition to digital in 2006.

    I still shoot low numbers of frames (on a recent all day outing to a local historical site I made fewer than 24 exposures).

    What has become easier, for me at least, is ISO (used to be "ASA") control. To change from "ISO" 25 to "ISO" 64 slide film meant that one had to rewind the film in the camera being careful not to run the leader back into the cassette, then load the camera with the new film; once done one had to reinsert the partially exposed roll of ISO 25 and remember how far to advance the film so as to not double expose shots taken earlier.

    However I used to send my slide film out for processing to a local lab (Woodward Camera, Birmingham Michigan, still in business), so post processing for me is much more difficult for me these days.

    I admit to not chimping shots, I don't use the screen except to access the menus and, in short, I shoot pretty much like I did with my original Pen FT. Except that changing the ISO is a heckuva lot easier :thumbup:.


  20. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Ah, but there was no computer or monitor necessary, one didn't have to license software, no internet connection was required to update the hardware/software, and one didn't have to purchase ink for the home printer one had just spent money on.

    If one doesn't shoot and print large numbers of digital photos I'm not certain that the ultimate cost advantage might not rest with film after all.

    And if one purchased a camera body one probably expected a 10-20 year life expectancy (unless one was a professional); my Pen FT lasted a decade before I loaned it to a friend who promptly broke it. I seriously doubt that my OM-D will last as long.

    Of course the computer/monitor/printer/ink/internet costs are shared among other tasks, such as book keeping and email and games - but still, without those devices digital photography wouldn't be what it is, so those items have to be figured into the bottom line.

    I do remember 100' rolls of B&W film. Can't say I miss that much.


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