Monday, January 30, 2006

A new love for an old format

Does anyone still remember film cameras? In today's digital age of megapixels and cameraphones, you'd easily be forgiven for having a reminiscent look on your face. But for some, film is thriving.

As most visitors to my blog will know (all too well in some cases!) I love my photography. I started with the Canon 300D and was amazed to find that even I could find a degree of creative expression that was tucked away inside. I started to look for forums with like minded people on the internet and that's when I stumbled across something very interesting indeed.

Its kind of a mix between the big SLR camera's that we see the pro's with and the 35mm compacts that we see the parents with and its called a Rangefinder. Yup you can change the lenses but it still has a separate viewfinder and, shock horror! There's no CMOS sensor in sight!

It doesn't take memory cards and you can't plug it into your computer, rather its back to the good old days of taking film to be processed and waiting with the due sense of hesitancy and dread as to what your going to get back. Will they turn out? Will I have 'quality control' stickers all over them or will I just pay my money for some black shiny pieces of paper? (Lens caps can be tricky!)

It was into this 'olde worlde' of photography that I found myself, yet I was amazed to find I wasn't alone. No; hiding in the undergrowth of silicon chips on this global 'island', I found a whole community of users like me and even in this digital world where film has been elbowed out, there are those who yet still thrive on the use of fully manual film cameras. I was so amazed that I bought one myself. I couldn't question their passion of phototography and was curious as to what film looked like.

The first thing that strikes me is how different it feels to use a traditional camera. Gone are the times of 'mere' point and click and a feeling that your using a fragile plastic box of tricks. Instead, I found myself holding what feels like a precise instrument of engineering, a tactile link with light itself. I also found myself forced into thinking about things like exposure times, focusing issues and depth of field possibilities. Things which would often only register loosely in the back of my mind on the digital shoot. With the rangefinder, I think about how I can make the most of my film and how I can use my skillful imagination to figure out what's going to work. I'm forced to see it in my minds eye rather than a 2 inch LCD screen.

Its the combination of these two formats, old and new, digital and darkroom which I think has helped me learn much quicker than by just using modern 'point, click, delete and try again' digitals. The amazing thing is that by going back to how things where, I've learned how to get the most out of how things are today. So to any photographers out there who know nothing but digital. Believe it or not, you really don't realise what you are missing!


for more information on rangefinders and for one of the best photo communities online, check out:

Rangefinder Forum

To see my Rangefinder, film based gallery, visit

Rangefinder Pictures

1 comment:

Wigwam Jones said...

Very nice - please tell us more!