Posted by: kjcotner | March 19, 2010

Upgrading to film

I placed a few bids for 35mm
and 4×5 cameras on ebay that will hopefully win. I went with a 35mm for metering because I couldnt find a
cheap enough point and shoot that was
capable of metering beyond a few seconds worth exposure. Making them useless for lowlight and long water exposures. With all these new dslrs coming out I felt like anything I spent on digital would be a complete waste of money. And a used handheld meter is as much as a cheap dslr! With a 35mm camera I can spot meter for my view camera, shoot ultra high resolution pictures, and use a variety of old and modern lenses.

Both auctions end on Monday. If I win they should be here before the cherry blossoms peak! Currently Reading Ansel Adams “the camera” “the negative” to get up to speed on film before april (like thats gonna happen). Is all this worth it? My plan is to make ultra large prints, at least 40 x 50 to hang on my wall. We’ll see if I can develop a vision and get a few keepers this year.

My D40 was a great learning tool because I could shoot thousands of photos a session, get instant feedback
on composition and lighting etc., and
take it anywhere. I think I’m
gonna like film better once I get used to taking notes since theres no exif data on the camera I want to get. The cost of film too is going to irritate me. But slide shows of family vacations and ultra large prints filled with minute textures in nature will make it worth it in the end.


  1. Well… better you than me! I cannot imagine doing this. Like going from a nice gourmet kitchen back to a cooking fire. (for me) it might have an initial appeal, but the limitations would get annoying in a hurry.

    Is something like the newly announced Pentax digital MF system not in the cards? It is a real price breakthrough.

    If you do end up with a 4×5, I have a friend who is pretty much the best in the business for scanning the large negatives. He has the highest end Heil drum scanner. Did all of Galen Rowell’s work for example.

    Good luck to you. Ironically, you are a pioneer!

  2. I looked at the Pentax MF system but was convinced after researching that nothing beats film. Either way in a couple years it’ll cost half as much :P. I’ve never shot either so I don’t know yet, but from what I understand digital guesses at the colors whereas film captures the actual light waves. I see it more like going from a microwave to a gourmet kitchen but to each his own :). I’d love to give your buddy the business, especially if Galen Rowell thought enough to use him. Send me the link to his site!

  3. Kalani, I think most people that have done both would respectfully disagree. But it is your journey, time and money so enjoy. To the extent that you create something you enjoy, it will be an accomplishment much harder won that using all digital.

    Understand that film is also a technology. Chemicals applied to the plastic react to light and store information. Also understand that in order to print, you’ll have to have your negatives scanned by a digital device, so you still end up with a digital interpretation of the image.

    I highly recommend Bob Cornelis for your scanning and printing needs:

    I wish you a fun and enjoyable journey!

  4. it’ll be fun. taking pictures with anything is fun. from what i understand quality scanners make several passes and get each color and mimute detail in the negative. digital backs used for cameras guess at the color and use interpolation and denoising algorithms that lose information kept in the negative, which is substantial in the case of 4×5. but you’re right i’ll end up with a digital file i can edit with modern techniques. so no real loss, only advantages 🙂

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