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Film cameras are not dead

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Written by   29
7 months ago

Recently I wrote about some old tech that I own like floppies but I completely forgot film cameras. I use them all the time and so they're by far not obsolete. This summer I took more photos on film than with my DSLR. Here you can see my Asahi Spotmatic. This model was being produced in the 60s and 70s. It has its faults but when one keeps them in mind, the photos tend to work out rather well. Given that it's at least 50 years old and still in use is mind-blowing to me.

The lenses that I use are also considered vintage nowadays. They don't have autofocus. You can't just press a button and the photo is always sharp and well exposed. You need to think before shooting. You have to work for your photos, not just take them but make them as many often say.

My Asahi Spotmatic camera produced in the 60s and 70s. I use it regularly (own picture).

I just finished a roll of film and rolled it back to its canister, i.e., the box where the film is protected from light. You can see it on the next picture on the left side of the camera. Also, in the centre is the shutter curtain. The film frame lies behind it.

I took all the frames available on this film and rolled it back to the canister. This is a bit unusual film. I haven't ever used it before, so I'm excited about the results. (own picture)

I switched the camera to bulb mode, so that I can press the button and the shutter curtain remains open. Compare the pictures below and above. When the curtain moves away, you can see towards the lens. The hexagon is formed by the aperture blades, i.e., the analogue of the iris in the human eye. It looks small but it fully covers the film frame and there are no shadows. Its apparent size is just an illusion of perspective.

I am pressing the shutter button and the shutter curtain has moved. The aperture of the lens in the shape of a hexagon is visible. If there was film in the camera, it would have been exposed. (own picture)

So the Spotmatic is an example of a camera that quite likely your grandfather or father has used. The size and weight are quite okay. Your shoulders won't hurt from a heavy backpack if you go hiking all day. However that comes at a price. The obtained frame is rather small. There were cameras using film that was much taller and wider. For example, I have this Iskra camera shown below. You can see how small the canister is. The frames that the Spotmatic camera can produce are 24x36 mm. However, the Iskra exposes frames that are 6x6 cm. This is about twice the area. It is called a medium format camera. Other models were able to produce 6x7 cm, 6x4.5cm and even 6x9 cm.

A medium format camera. Look at how small the film canister looks. (own picture)

Below is a comparison of the spool holding a medium format film and the common 35mm canister. Medium format film comes in rolls. It is not hidden in a light-tight protective box.

The spool of a medium format film and a canister of the common 35mm film. (own picture)

I develop my films at home. It's a fun but time-consuming procedure. It requires careful measuring and mixing of the chemicals, as well as monitoring their temperature. The processed images may get ruined if one is not careful with the temperature, timings and the agitation, i.e., shaking, of the development tank. I can tell more about it in a separate article.

Have you used a film camera yourself?

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Written by   29
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Comments

I have few old cameras. I remember when we used them when I was a child. It was interesting for me waiting to see photos...Today everything is easier but there is no happiness like before.

$ 0.00
7 months ago

Yeah, my father had a film camera when I was small but I wasn't into photography yet. Later on I got into digital photography but over the years ended up reaching back to its roots. The excitement about whether the frame worked out still lives.

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7 months ago

Yes, they are not. They are antic as well as usable. Here we have a studio, they still offer manual camera shot. Cool, right?

$ 0.00
7 months ago

Great to hear! Absolutely, being able to take good film photos means that you truly understand photography.

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7 months ago

I like that camera, it looks very nice and is in good condition. You should take good care of it.

$ 0.01
7 months ago

Sure, I always carry it in my camera bag. I've only dropped it once and it was in the snow, so it didn't get a hit. It was a cold day, so the lens didn't suffer from moisture, either. It's that same one seen in the first picture.

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7 months ago