Swap Meets Are Awesome For Finding Old Film Gear

I went to a local swap meet today, it’s one I’ve been to in the past and seen old cameras at so I thought I’d go see what I can find to play with. Swap meets are also a great place to take pictures of interesting things, I took the Pentax Spotmatic with the 50 mm 1.4 and snapped about half a roll. Using the Spotmatic was certainly a learning experience, it requires a much longer process to get everything setup than I am used to with my DSLRs or with the Elan 7ne. To take a photo I would open the aperture all the way which makes it easier to focus, once focused then I would turn on the meter and adjust my shutter and aperture, then make sure the composition looks good and release the shutter. I definitely spent more time thinking about composition knowing each frame was time and money and I only took one shot of every subject. Once I get the film processed I’ll be making a post to talk more about the results of my first few rolls of film.

I picked up five new cameras today and one lens, the first five cameras were only $1 each! I have no idea if they work but it is an interesting selection. I will be making a separate post for each one once I have used them and have photos to go along with my impressions. The one I am most excited about is this Canon Canonet QL17 rangefinder.

Canon Canonet QL17

I’ve been interested in getting a rangefinder to try the focusing system and I have read good things about this camera, I was actually looking to buy one on ebay but did not want to shell out what they go for on there so it was quite a lucky find. It features a 40mm f1.7 fixed lens that is supposed to be very high quality, the light seals have completely disintegrated so I am going to have to fix that before I can use it.

The next camera is Canon Rebel K2, I don’t really need it but I grabbed it for the purpose of this blog to show what can be done with a cheap SLR you can get for just about nothing. If you are already a Cannon DSLR shooter you can pick up a camera like this and use all your existing high quality lenses, this route is probably going to produce the best quality and the lowest cost for someone wanting to shoot on film. It has auto focus, exposure, shutter, aperture, etc. plus the modes we are used to on our DSLRs like Av, Tv, etc. which makes shooting much easier. Now on the other hand part of shooting film to me is the manual aspect, this camera absolutely can be shot manual but you have the option.

Canon EOS Rebel K2 I also picked up a point and shoot camera, this is one like my parents used in my childhood, I can’t remember exactly what cameras they had but I do remember they used point and shoots like this Ricoh F-33 AF Super.

Ricoh FF-3 AF Super

It has a fixed 35mm f3.2 lens, nothing super exciting but it is a nice compact package and the point and shoot aspect of it is something I wanted to have, I can just toss it in a backpack or leave it in my glove compartment, it will make a fun camera for shooting friends when a full SLR is just too much to carry around. I also like that it takes standard AA batteries unlike so many other cameras.

The oldest camera I got today is a Kodak Instamatic x-35, it was produced from 1970-1976. I picked it up thinking it was 35mm, it is not it uses 126 film which I had never heard of, it is sort of a reel to reel cartage and is not readily available anymore. But the camera was $1 and I like how it looks so I’ll find something to do with it if only for decoration.

Kodak Instamatic X-35

I got a Kodak Tele Ektralite 40 that takes 110 film which is smaller than 35mm and costs more but is still available and since the camera was $1 I figured why not, I’ll give it a shot, even if I only ever run a few rolls though it I’ll be happy. One interesting thing is it has a zoom by way of a switch that moves a magnifying lens in front of the regular lens.

Kodak Tele Ektralite 40

The last camera but certainly not least is this Nishika N8000 that takes 4 photos at once and can be used to create a 3D effect.

Nishika N8000

I’m not sure why it takes 4 photos, I would think two is all that’s needed but In a brief internet search I found that people take the four photos and create a GIF that has an interesting 3D effect so I plan to give that a shot. This camera was $10, I had hoped to get it for less but the lady would not go any lower and I am super curious to try it out so I went for it.

The one lens I got today is a Asanuma 90mm-230mm f4.5 M48 screw mount, cost me $10. I’m not really sure what I’ll shoot with it, it might make a good portrait lens but other normal things to shoot with a long lens like wildlife and sports would be very difficult with manual focus.

Asanuma 90-230mm f4.5

I’m going to work on a post talking about using old lenses on current DSLRs, I want to collect a few more first but this one will be part of the lineup.

To conclude: Go checkout your local swap meet, do some haggling and you will have what you need to start shooting on film for as little as $1 (film not included).

 

The Cameras I Am Starting With

I am starting with two very different cameras, a Canon Elan 7ne and  a Pentax Spotmatic. The 7ne is a big reason I am trying film, I picked it up years ago and it has been sitting on my shelf ever since, every time I see it I am reminded that I should get some film and give it a try. The 7ne is a modern camera by film standards, released in 2004 it takes current canon EF mount lenses, has auto focus with multiple focus points, different metering modes the same as a current DSLR, custom functions to control how the camera behaves, automatic film advance, bust shooting, etc. Really the 7ne is like your current DSLR but with film.

Canon EOS Elan 7ne SLR with Canon 50 mm f1.8
Canon EOS Elan 7ne SLR with Canon 50 mm f1.8

The Spotmatic on the other hand was introduced 40 years earlier than the 7ne in 1964. At some point my dad picked one up and when I mentioned to him i was going to try shooting some film he pulled it out of the drawer it’s been in possibly for my entire life and gave it to me. The Spotmatic is much more a “classic” SLR than the 7ne, it does have a light meter but everything is manual, focus, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, film advance, everything.

Pentax Spotmatic SLR with Super-Takumar 50mm f1.4
Pentax Spotmatic SLR with Super-Takumar 50mm f1.4

The Spotmatic uses screw mount M42 lenses that can be picked up for next to nothing. My dad gave me 2 lenses with the camera, a 5o mm f1.4 and a 135 mm f3.5 which even by today’s standards are impressive. As part of this process I will be trying these lenses on modern crop and full frame cameras using this adapter from amazon. I think using old manual lenses on current digital cameras will be a good way to experience a little bit of the old school photography feel, it will also help me get accustomed to the quirks of the older lenses and manual focusing with instant feedback and without burning through a lot of film. I’ll be working on a post showing my results in the weeks to come but i want to acquire a few more old lenses before I post it.

Super-Takumar M48 135mm f3.5
Super-Takumar M48 135mm f3.5

 

First Post – The Why

To start off this site I feel I should explain why I decided to try shooting on film. I have a few reasons for wanting to give film a try, the top two being I like the look and I feel it will make me a better photographer. As a photographer of the digital age I am not familiar with what shooting on film really means, I feel I have defaulted to digital and missed part of the art that used to be involved in photography. I am not suggesting that digital photography is inherently any less artistic, just that with digital some artistic areas of photography were lost (while others were gained) and I want to experience the areas film has to offer. The “look” film provides seems to be the biggest reason people give to still be shooting on it, I want to see what that “look” looks like in my hands, see if it is something tangible and learn from it to enhance all my work. I tend to be fast and loose with the shutter, I need to spend more time thinking before I snap a photo and I believe film will help me do that. With a financial cost to each click plus being limited to the number of frames I am carrying with me the “take a picture and see how it looks” method won’t work, I will have to form the image in my head, consider the composition and lighting, then judge if I have it right, judge if it is the best picture I can make with my subject before committing that light to a frame of film forever.

I am starting this website to document what I learn and  my experiences using film to help others who also wish to try shooting on film. We have a generation of photographers now who have never shot on film and I think I am not alone in wanting to experience the process of shooting on film. I am going to start with a focus on doing film easily and cheaply while still getting great results.