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Going back to film for fun and for the hobby.

Discussion in 'photo' started by Rockmeister, Jun 22, 2020.

  1. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    Well I'm considering it.
    And looking at prices for old 35mm film cameras, now I'm wondering.
    So, if anyone else is doing this how sensible is it?
    Is decent film available.
    If I'm not home processing are the labs to do a good job at sensible cost around?
    (I may set up a B&W darkroom)

    Now I think that pic quality is about a decent, accurate meter, a reliable shutter and a good quality of glass, so I'm thinking Nikon, or Olympus. Specifically an FM2 or FM2n, and an OM1 or OM2.
    I know how good the glass is, and I've owned and used both before.

    All thoughts most welcome.
  2. CraSh

    CraSh Active Member

    Prices for 35mm cameras are ridiculously low - some quality pieces of kit out there, with lenses - all for very little £.
  3. tuga

    tuga Legal Alien

    I'd add the Contax S2 to that list (or the S2b if you'd rather have center-weighted metering).
  4. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    I had an RTS 11 in the 80’s, but I bet good T* lenses aren’t cheap!
  5. eternumviti

    eternumviti Wittering on the Vine

    No difficulty finding film, but prices keep edging up. I recently bought a batch from a young company, Analogue Wonderland, service was excellent, and regular discounts and incentives. AG Photographic is an established set up which offers film, darkroom kit and chemicals and film processing/scanning. The latter can get dear - £15.99 for a high res scan of a 35mm or 120 film. Dedicated film scanners can be found on ebay, but are expensive, especially for 120 film. The Epson V range of flatbed scanners give good results. If you have a darkroom of course the scanning element isn't an issue.
    albireo and tuga like this.
  6. eternumviti

    eternumviti Wittering on the Vine

    Loads of Nikon F2s come up at auction. Do a search on There are a number of auction houses that run specialist camera auctions, such as Flints. I recently bought a mint F3 and an F4S for around £230 the pair. I also picked up a mint, boxed OM2 body on ebay just before Christmas for under £140. I missed another mint F3HP with a 50mm f1. 8 only last week which went for £160 plus 20% buyers premium.

    Japanese sellers on ebay are excellent, with the condition of the items often exceeding the description. You will have to pay import taxes and VAT. A Pentax 645n bought recently for £330 attracted a £93 import tax bill, but the condition was virtually mint, and I had it in around 1 week.
    andrewd and Rockmeister like this.
  7. Mr Perceptive

    Mr Perceptive Perceptive Member

    Filmdev are a popular choice for back and white processing, prices not too bad and decent scans as well.
    eternumviti likes this.
  8. eternumviti

    eternumviti Wittering on the Vine

    Kirk Lees is another film processing set up, scanning is much cheaper than AG.
  9. SteveG

    SteveG pfm Member

    Prices for the lower & mid-range SLR film cameras are very cheap although the really nice ones seem to be retaining a fair amount of value. I already have a lot of film kit (and being a Pentax user means my lenses are still compatible with either film or digital kit) but a few months back I did purchase one of the film cameras I'd always wanted - a Pentax LX. Not that I've actually put a film through it yet, despite having a fair amount of 35mm (and 120) film in the fridge that needs used.

    James, andrewd, Gromit and 2 others like this.
  10. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    They are lovely to use too. I'm dithering over autofocus, but decided that, even with my eyesight, if I can get a split screen finder maybe I can do ok. Or its glasses and good eye relief.
    My 'old' cameras (post 1980) were an OLY OM1, a Pentax ME super, a Nikon FM2n, a Bronica ETRS and a Contax RTS11. After that I went digi.

    Looking at ebay there are a few from Japan that are 'open but never used' of all sorts at about half the asking price of the UK...may go down this route.
    Meanwhile I'm just going on digitising old negatives.HP5...home dev made it a bit 'thin' but saved in Affinity photo I think.
    This is from the Contax/ Zeiss T* 50mm 1.8.
    [​IMG]the torn curtain by John Dutfield, on Flickr
  11. Cesare

    Cesare pfm Member

    I've got quite a collection of film cameras that I still actively use. I wouldn't worry too much about the quality of lenses on 35mm assuming you go with a sensible brand (Pentax, Olympus, Nikon, Canon etc) since they are all good enough for just about every situation. If you happen to have modern lenses that will work with an older film body, then do consider getting, say, an old Canon/Nikon film body. The downside of this approach is that those more modern AF bodies are still quite bulky compared to the nicer film bodies as i'm sure you are aware!

    For manual film cameras, I think the Pentax MX/ME Super and the Olympus OM cameras are excellent value and there's not much between them. The other stuff to consider would be a rangefinder, say a Voigtlander rangefinder (or a leica if you have deep pockets).

    Now if you really want to take film seriously, do consider a medium format camera. The image quality is excellent and you'll regret not going there if you have any option in that direction. If you do get a darkroom sorted out, do get an enlarger which can take medium format negatives *just in case* you decide to go that way. A Durst 670 or something like that is surprisingly capable...
    Rockmeister likes this.
  12. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    I agree about the glass...If you stick to primes, there’s v little between Oly and Nikon. Zeiss were clearly better and Pentax just a smidge behind. Im not going MF, its too bulky, and for that kind of work a modern FF does enough for me.
  13. Jag Audio

    Jag Audio Jag

    Lovely camera the Contax S2b, I still have one with a few prime Zeiss lenses that are very sharp.
    tuga likes this.
  14. kicker

    kicker pfm Member

    I prefer developing B&W film at home, it's quite rewarding, the hardest part was learning how to get the film onto the reel without seeing your hands (darkbag).
    B&W dev kits are simple and produce good results, I use an old Plustek Opticfilm scanner to digitise them, it has also been handy for the thousands of slides my Father took when he was younger.
  15. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    I'm longing for auction houses to re open...those in 'the sticks' are not very up to date on the latest photo trends...last year I could have had
    An OM2 and two lenses
    A Pentax ME super and a prime
    A Yashica 35 mm and two Vivitar zooms and
    an aged, but working Leica.
    The first 3 fetched less than £10, the Leica went for £95.
  16. padam

    padam Member

    I am probably selling my SLR film cameras (Konica, Praktica, Olympus) and keep the rangefinders.
    Because they are a lot of fun to use, and there are no cheap digital rangefinders.
    I think the Canon 7 (mainly for 35/50mm) and Canon P (mainly 50mm) are very underrated cameras usually bundled with excellent lenses (Russian lenses might also work well and they are the cheapest)
    I have also bought a QL17 GIII, will be interesting to try it out and compare.
    A lot of Leica film cameras became more expensive these days, but the other makers are still quite cheap and worth looking for.
  17. andrewd

    andrewd pfm Member

    Last year I sold a bunch of film SLRs, but since moving close to a good service shop my interest has been ignited and I am buying film cameras again! My preference is for the pro-grade bodies and interestingly these seem to be better priced than the mainstream consumer cameras.

    As a glasses wearer the lower end bodies are unusable for me because they have all got too high viewfinder magnification, which trades off eye relief (you can’t have both high magnification and a decent eye relief). As a result you are lucky to see half of the frame. The worst offenders are the small cameras like Nikon FE series, Olympus OM and Pentax M series. The sweet spot magnification is around 0.8 which most of the pro cameras have.

    The best bargains in my opinion are:
    Nikon F3. Made for 20 years so loads of minty ones available for bargain prices. Amazing reliability.
    Leicaflex SL - I got a fully working mint example for £100 delivered from Germany. These things are like Rolexes, its incredible that they sell for 1/3 the price of a plastic Canon A1.
    Canon EOS1n - if you want a more modern AF camera. I got a mint example from the end of the production sequence for £100 from japan. Don’t be put off by the plastic, they have a rock solid build quality and beautiful handling (but super loud motor).

    The following are all overpriced now in my opinion:
    Nikon FM/E, Olympus OM series, Canon A series, Pentax K1000
    Rockmeister likes this.
  18. Durmbo

    Durmbo not French

    Canon FD lenses are very good and relatively cheap and the cameras have good metering. I used an A-1 and FTb. The FTb's meter used mercury batteries and I don't how you'd power it now. The 50mm 1.4 and 35mm f/2 were excellent lenses. I also had a rarely used 24mm 2.8 that I was happy with but the f/2 version of that and of the 28mm are said to be better. A friend had a 20-35mm L that had incredible colour and contrast.

    I loved the A-1 and would recommend it. Aperture and shutter priorities, program, manual, exposure hold, exposure compensation. Ergonomics are great: it feels good in the hand and the control dial is convenient and very easy to use. The LED display is superb for low light situations. It also has a very wide metering range, working down to EV -2 IIRC. The shutter goes down to 30 seconds; a shame the top speed is only 1/1000s though.
    andrewd and Rockmeister like this.
  19. eternumviti

    eternumviti Wittering on the Vine

  20. andrewd

    andrewd pfm Member

    It doesn’t get much better than an F2. Since these cameras are >40 years old it is a good idea to factor in the cost of a service, which is not cheap. I recently picked up an F2AS and I am in the waiting list for a service by Sover Wong (one year wait). After that I will essentially have a camera that operates like a brand new one. I could buy two mint F3s for the same price, but there is something special about the F2 (plus I already have two F3s!).

    The F2 viewfinder in particular is better than anything else I have experienced, including the legendary Leicaflex SL.
    It is big and bright and the ground glass snaps into focus much better than other cameras I have tried.

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