Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Are film cameras dead - or just in a coma?

Kiwi girl in Cappadoccia, Turkey. Nikon D90
Did you think film cameras were dead?
Admit it. The last time you checked Aunty Nance's Kodak Retinette 1A, it wasn't breathing, was it. There's a rumour circulating that film cameras aren't dead at all, not quite; they've been on life support for a few years. But they are just coming out of their decade-long camera coma.


That secretive  scrambling noise coming from the shed or the spare room mightn't be a burglar. It could be your grandson or granddaughter looking for your old Box Brownie or Pentax K1000. Gen Ys are getting interested in old things - not you, but old cameras and film  It makes a change - let's put down the X Box and pick up the K Box. (The Kodak Box Brownie)

Pentax 67 is a little like a 35mm SLR on steroids

The owner of my local camera shop, Camera House in Fremantle, reports a surprising surge in high school students bringing in rolls of exposed film; returning filled with anticipation and excitement to pore over those strange orange negatives. The delayed reward makes an interesting shift away Gen Ys demand for 24/7 instant satisfaction  Maybe film isn't dead after all. Maybe its just been on life support or in a deep trance awaiting the kiss of a beautiful princess. Perhaps you could turn your sleeping film camera into a handsome, virile carrier of mass inspiration.

Farmer's wife, Toodyay. Pentax 67.

Is film forever? Possibly not. But I suspect that film might be more 'forever' than digital.  I haven't lost too many negs in 50 plus years but I've certainly lost a  few digital images. There's something reassuring about looking at and touching an image as a negative. Its even better to turn over an old black and white print and read the inscription on the back in faded handwriting.

If you don't own a film camera, here's a good place to start. Here's a list of tested, tried and true cameras. The ones marked + are medium format and are capable of producing scanned digital images 200MB-500MB. Now, you don't get that in a digital camera.

My thirteen top film cameras (not in any particular order) 

  • Nikon F3
  • Nikon F100*
  • Canon FTb*
  • Canon AE-1
  • Pentax 67* +
  • Pentax K1000
  • Rollei 35S
  • Leica M6
  • Hasselblad SWC +
  • Rolleiflex TLR +
  • Olympus A11
  • Ricoh GR1
  • Yashica Mat 124G* +

+ medium format 120 roll film
* cameras I own and use

Are you an explorer and adventurer?
Exploring Film Cameras is the next best thing to being a  focus puller on the set of  The African Queen alongside Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.

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