Friday, 15 May 2009

35mm still useful?

Well, yes ... in some roles.

I've been going through some of my 35mm negatives from when I lived in Japan and scanning them with a Nikon LS-4000 scanner. The results are often slightly jaw dropping for me, especially after some years of using digital or 4x5.

Certainly the 4x5 film sheets have many characteristics which 35mm film can't come close to, but I'm learning afresh what 35mm can do well.

Wide angle

no matter how well my G1 performs (or my 10D before it) the compactness and price (especially now) of a 35mm camera with a wide 24mm or a super wide 21mm lens is really hard to beat.

For instance, this image was taken on garden variety Fuji superia 200ISO negative.

The dynamic range handling of shadow detail (I'm under a bridge) as well as the sunlight outside is well outside what a digital could have yielded without a HDRI. Given that bicycle on the move there HDRI would have been impossible with this image.

Did you notice that the freeway over my head is in the top of the picture? Man this is a wide shot. Then there is detail, have a look at these or click them for a pixel peek.

good dynamic range and look at the shop awning just over the rail at the base of that 'lamp' heck ... even the lamp is detailed.

and when there is a foreground item like this you can get great detail

Remember the original image is 3671 x 5639 Pixels (or 20.70 MPixels). So if the look is a little noisy, just sample it back to what a 10 megapixel or 6 Megapixel camera will give then look again. So good old negative film still has some advantages up its sleeve yet.

Now I'm not about to hang up my G1 in favor of an OM-1n using Negative but to get nice ultrawide images with my G1 will mean me needing something like the new (as yet unavailable) Panasonic 7-14mm lens. I can get an Olympus 21mm lens and an OM-1n for less than just that lens and I can't even mount a filter on the Panasonic lens.

Then there is black and white and even cooler infrared black and white

Where you can take quite cool and moody images.

Don't let all the nonsense written about IR black and white fool you its not hard. Especially if you aren't scared to develop your own black and white. Its not hard and its not expensive, more there's heaps of people out there who would love to help.

So you don't only have to have one tool in your kit you know. While I love my G1 for all the reasons you'll find here, I reckon that 35mm still has something which makes it attractive for a photographer, especially when you consider the value for money.

Now this isn't how its always been ... heck when I was in Japan in 2001 the costs of used or new 35mm gear was as high as the DSLR stuff is now. But since the herd has now headed off in the direction the marketing shepherds have taken them its rather different.

Heck you don't even need to invest in a scanner, cos as long as the place developing your film has a good Noristu minilab you can get great scans given to you on a CD.

So if you're thinking "hmmm ... I'd like a wider view" then consider a neat used compact 35mm camera (like the OM-1) and a sweet Olympus 21mm lens. Cos right now they're as cheap as chips.

You just have to thank the digital avalanche of the last 5 years for that!


Korpai said...

Good view,Great Idea.
I'm glad to know you .
KorPai from Thailand

Charles Maclauchlan said...

Being a big time wide angle fan I certainly agree with you about the utility of film cameras. They're kinda like an inexpensive secret.