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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Comments

Perhaps they might rent a Polaroid film camera with instant results.

Usually they digital only people I've known consider film too fiddly. Perhaps when I'm trying to get the movements on a 5x7 shot just right, I might be inclined to agree with them.

There is one big exception: my TLR. When I take out the Rolleicord it gets lots of attention from people who would love to try it. It is really unlike anything most of them have ever seen. A TLR can make most of the digital people I've know willing to put up with film just because they're so enthralled with the original live view :) I like to see how long it takes to notice the L/R mirroring.

Years ago, while studying organizational development in graduate school, I was taught that one of the greatest "satisfiers" for employees was the ability to see a job through, from start to finish, i.e., to completion. The same can be said, in my opinion, for using film to photograph. The ability to find a potential image, photograph it, develop the film, then bring your vision to reality by making a print, ultimately hanging it on a wall, brings the greatest satisfaction, again, in my opinion.

Merely renting a film camera and using it the same way as a digital camera misses the point. It is the journey as much as the destination. Developing your own film and watching your image come to life in the developer tray is pure magic!

Not exactly on topic, but until a few years ago, I considered getting a film medium format camera to do the kind of "slow" landscape photography that I never get the time to do. The Yashica and other TLRs were affordable, probably still are. I figured I wouldn't be shooting much film so cost was not an issue, but I'd still get the advantage of a large negative, and I owned a scanner then. This was in the days when the price of high(er) end D-SLR digital gear was out of reach, which is really no longer the case (you can get a Canon 5D for about $600 now, an amazing deal really). I never took the plunge though, doubt I ever will.

I think a lot of "film virgin" went that way, except there's no need to rent such a camera; just go through your local adds and you'll find tons of film equipment that sells for less than what it would cost to have rented equipment shipped.

I would think your friends at LensRentals could answer that question. HOwever, given the increasingly inconvenient film processing scene (if you don't do your own), I suspect that many who might do some film shooting can't be bothered for the sake of a little nostalgia, or for a 'look-see' at how film differs from digital.

I can only guess, having used film and having no desire to go back to it ... but my guess is that I would very likely want to give it a whirl, even if just once.

The used market is flooded with film cameras of all sorts especially 35mm. I purchased a user Nikkormat with lens for $25 a few weeks ago. With these prices there is no need to rent.

I used film cameras when I was around 10-12 years old, but only for travel memories and not for "art". Honestly, I've never considered renting or buying a film camera. If I was to ever do so it would be a medium or large format camera, but then I would have to find a place that would process the film - which is non trivial in my part of the world. I would probably have to ship the film to the US.

I had film cameras in the days of film, but only used them on auto. I learned what I know about photography with digital cameras. So about a year and a half ago, I bought a Pentax K1000 with the "kit" 50 on ebay for less than $50 shipped, to see what it was like to shoot b/w in a manual only camera. It still has the first roll of film in it with only about half of it exposed. I still have not finished the roll. I seem to have experienced some "trigger panic". Pushing that little button will actually cost dollars, so I freeze-up. It also made me a lot slower and deliberate, to the point of missing shots. I know this because may times, I didn't even trip the shutter. Without even having the photos developed, I think I have found my answer.

The first camera I ever owned was digital - and yes, I did buy a used film SLR, and put a couple rolls through to try it out, before putting it back on craigslist. (local rental shop had hilariously bad pricing on film equipment).

Later, I planned to do the same with a Bronica SQ, to try out medium format. Didn't work out so well, as I found it enough fun that I was reluctant to sell on the camera.

Rangefinders never interested me as much, for some reason.

When I had my darkroom, I went to a seminar on alternative printmaking, things like cyanotypes, gum bichromate, et al. I decided that, a) I didn't know the chemistry I had well enough, and b) therefore, why should I mess with even more chemicals, especially some of the noxious kinds?

I tell people that I "play with" photography. I always have had a fascination with large format, so I'm eagerly awaiting a new toy, that Kickstarter 4x5 "point & shoot" camera that the Wanderlust guys will (someday) deliver.

So, even though I am all in with digital, because FINALLY I can make the prints I always wanted to be able to make back then, film to me is still a neat* thing to play with.

*"Neat" dates me, doesn't it?

Yes! I started with digital and tried film out of curiosity. I ended up with a collection of film cameras and lenses in various formats.

One thing that stands up after learning in digital and trying film is how much easier is to learn photography in a digital camera. The test-review-modify loop is much longer when using a film process; it surprises me that anybody got any learning done before digital.

Apropos your advice for trying out a Mamiya: I bought a cheap RB67 and it turned out to be my favorite camera of all time. If I had to choose one camera and one lens to keep, it would be the RB67 with the 127mm. I encourage everybody to try one for a while.

My first camera purchase, ever, was a digital Canon s50 point and shoot back around 2003.
I'd used the odd disposable film camera before that, but that's about it.

In the last few years I've bought (and since sold) a few film cameras, just to try them, including a Mamiya TLR, an little Olympus fixed lens 35mm point and shoot and an inherited Leica M2.

I never really thought I'd switch to film though. But it's fun - slower paced, more deliberate. I've gotten a few photos I really like from my mostly B&W film outings.

Just fun to try something different. I do think spending some time with B&W film has influenced my hobby photography, making me more likely to see compositions that lend themselves to a black and white photo.

Before fooling around with film, I almost never thought, before taking a photo, "I think this is going to look best in black and white".

"silver is the new non-silver"

When I was 20 or so I went on a binge of trying every process I could find documentation for: Diazo, platinum, POP, bichromate, gum, etched zinc , etched glass, printed circuit boards, coal tar dye, wet plate, some goop for printing airplane patterns onto aluminum, 3M color in color*, VanDyke , plateburners, architect's diazo copiers, lawns, and lots of stuff I can't remember or doesn't have a name.
That's how I came to digital in the mid 80s as an alternate process using a B&W tube video camera, color filters, and a computer to digitize and combine them.

The neighborhood kids are all using film in the same spirit, and the Lomography people have built a business around it.

Daguerreotype is still on my bucket list.

I have not personally rented or borrowed film cameras but I have lent out more than my fair share of my various film cameras to my "digital only" friends to try out over the past few years. I've loaned out my Voigtlander R2M as well as a few of my Minoltas and right now my Bronica is out on loan as well. My Fujifilm GF670 has gone out a few times too as have my Polaroid land cameras. So at least it looks like things like this are happening around me at least.

Yes. Although I grew up during the film age, and although my first cameras were film models, I did not have the time to really delve deeply and sriously into photography until the digital age. Nonetheless I have quite a collection of wonderful film cameras (ex: Leicas, a Fujifilm folder, various Polaroids, a Hassy 501C, a Mamiya 645AFD, two Rolleiflexes, Contax T's and G's, et.al.) each purchased largely out of curiosity and a desire to experiment.

But, no, I neither have nor desire a Mamiya 7 rangefinder. It looks like a real beast. Ugh. I was recently tempted to try a Plaubel Makina but WOOF. I've also been tempted to try, not BUY, a large-format beast. But not-gonna-happen.

The facts are as follows.

(a) I've learned that the camera/medium has virtually NO material affect on the real quality of the images you make. Blind digitally = Blind chemically.

(b) The Tanaka Museum of Photography History is full! So go away with this stuff. Please oh please!


The result of my latest caprice: a restored/pack-converted Polaroid Pathfinder 110. It's gorgeous and fun to use but...

Being somewhat ancient, I was exposed to film very early on. However, digital is where my efforts and interests are, and where far too many dollars are spent considering my limited abilities. That aside, I have had a total and unhealthy fascination with the Bronica sq.(Hasselblad far too expensive). I scour e-bay etc and follow auctions to fruition, with a most envious eye. Thankfully, reality kicks in on time, and prevents me entering a successful bid.
Howard

Most definitely. I started my photography out completely on digital from the Sony DSC-F707 and now through the Sony a7 and Panasonic GX7. And while I love digital photography, I was always intrigued by the unique look that certain formats and films could provide. I am also interested in the wide variety of camera types that has largely been lost in the age of digital.

My first foray into film was a Canon Canonet GL17 GIII because I really wanted to try shooting with a rangefinder but in no way could justify something like a Leica M8 or even an Epson RD-1. I was interested in the merits of shooting a rangefinder for street photography such as using frame lines, hyper focal distances, as well as the option of having the viewfinder at the corner of the camera instead of the middle.

If there were more variety among digital cameras, rather than the endless DSLR body types, perhaps I would never have ventured into the world of film.

My next interest was the look of medium format film and the experience of composing in a square right in the camera. That curiosity is what led me to the purchase of a Rolleicord III. Shooting waist-level through ground glass is something that's basically impossible to experience with digital cameras.

Now, of course, I've upgraded my rangefinder to a Leica M2, and my medium-format camera to a Hasselblad 500c/m, and I love shooting with them.

I almost feel like I have too many choice at this point, but sometimes I really feel like a subject will work well in a square composition shot on 120 Kodak Ektachrome, and I love having that flexibility to be able to get the look that I want using film.

Certainly Mike. I'd love to get my hands on one of them (as an owner it would be great)
When my student budget allows I've eyed the Fuji RF series for medium format film.

I don't know if it's rented in my area, but certainly there are users and perhaps by just joining a forum and attending to a meeting I'd be able to test them.
As an amateur, renting has been out of my radar...

I'm under the 20s threshold and like to shoot both film and digital in coexistence. Each have something good to offer.
I learnt on film and think it was better than starting out with a DSLR.

I am not a 'film virgin', but it is a while since I've used a film camera.
When in my late teens, I had a darkroom, developed film and made prints. But after courting my wife and marrying, indulged less and less. I came back when children came, but drifted away as they grew older, and home chores became more demanding.
I really came back to photography a few years before retiring, first with a vacation to Italy where I took my aging OM-1, which was my last exposure to film. (Forgive the pun!)
From 2007, I've been taking digital, and not really looking back. Of course there's a home computer now, and that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin as regards using film.
I think I would like to take out my old Olympus and shoot some film. What would hold me back is being unsure how to get processing even though I'm only thirty miles from midtowm Manhattan.
Now were I to win at Lotto, forgetaboutit, I'd have a fully equipped darkroom, get my OM-1 serviced and have fun!
Fred

I'm 64 years old. i managed to avoid getting involved with photography until the late 1990s i tried it and sold all on Ebay. bought an EOS 20D in 2005 and managed to support myself for a few years selling landscape prints. In May 2013 i bought a Travelwide 4x5 on Kickstarter that should be here soon. i think i'll shoot Velvia & Provia and sell the original transparencies in wire frames for folks to hang in a window. i figure that digital is infinitely reproducible without degradation, these will be unique objects.

i learned on film. but i do have a personal opinion related to your question. i am interested in architectural photography and i thought that i could have bought a large (or medium) format film camera to try the movements of the lens and the film planes. i have not. i am afraid of the complexity of large negative development and scanning, and i was never enthusiastic about 135 black and white negative film procedure. so i shoot ultra wide on a dslr instead and crop out the indiferent empty foreground when i try to keep the verticals, vertical. you helped me to this decision when you sold your whole plate large format camera, (the last wooden beautiful one).

Most people have a computer. So if you rent a digital camera and a lens, you can pretty much try it out and you're all set.

Renting film equipment is much more complicated. First, I would argue that you don't really rent film equipment. You buy it on eBay, try it out, then re-sell it if you don't like it. But consider what is involved in the following: "get my hands on a Mamiya rangefinder and run six or ten rolls of film through it, get the film developed and have a print or two made".

1. You have to rent (more likely buy, as indicated above) the Mamiya, plus lens. If you're buying, you might need to have a CLA performed on the Mamiya. Where are you going to have a CLA performed these days? At your local camera repair shop? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA. (Sorry, that was bitter laughter.)

2. You have to buy film. Medium format roll film. Sure, you can buy it online, but it's not like you just run out to your local film camera store (more bitter laughter) or even your local drug store and ask them for some 120 film. On top of that, you have to decide what kind of film to buy. When I started shooting film, I found the variety of film daunting, everyone had their own view on what was best, and it seemed as though the choice of film was one of the most important choices you could make. It took me a while to relax and realize that I was perfectly happy with some fairly common films.

3. You have to figure out how to operate the Mamiya. You have to know how to load the film. Not a big deal, but if you've never used roll film before, it helps to at least have basic instructions. Your Mamiya (whether purchased or rented) probably won't come with the instruction manual, and finding one online is probably harder than it was a few years ago. I used to buy lots of used medium format cameras, and I often found there were all sorts of minor gotchas that I only learned through trial and error. If you rent a digital camera, you can probably go to the manufacturer's website and just download the manual.

4. You have to have the film developed. No big deal, right? Just drop it off at your local camera shop or drug store, right? [Insert more bitter laughter.] OK, you probably have to send it off to be developed, unless you shot B&W film AND you decided that you not only wanted to rent a film camera, you ALSO wanted to rent or buy the equipment and chemicals necessary to develop the film yourself. [HINT: You don't. Not right away.] Where are you going to send the film, and how much will you pay per roll for developing, bearing in mind that there are only 12 shots per roll? (I think it might be even less with the Mamiya 7.)

5. OK, now you get the developed film back. What film did you shoot? If you shot color negative film, good luck. I could never evaluate color negative film just by looking at the negatives. Slide film was by far the best. Create an impromptu lightbox, and you're in good shape. B&W is a personal thing. Some people are capable of mentally reversing the tonality. I'm not. I could never judge B&W shots just off the negatives either. So how are you going to evaluate the pictures you took? You probably have to pay extra at the time of development for either low-resolution scans, or (if you shot B&W) then maybe you can pay for a contact sheet.

6. OK, you've somehow managed to select the shots you want to have printed. Just take the negatives down to your local camera or drug store for prints, right? [Yup. Still more bitter laughter.] Alright, as you've probably guessed, you will need to send them off somewhere to be printed. There are a couple of options here. If you shot B&W, you can have a traditional analog print made. Expensive. You can have a digital print made, but in my experience they often just made a crappy, low-resolution scan and then created a print from that. The quality was generally appalling. So even if you can get prints made, it is unlikely you will be happy with them.

So if you want high quality prints, you really only have three options:

(A) Have a high resolution scan made, edit and color-correct the scan, and then have a print made from the edited file. High resolution scans of medium format film are expensive if done by 3rd parties.

(B) Scan the film yourself with a desktop scanner that can handle film. This is (by far) the best solution I've found. But scanning film is time-consuming, frustrating and an art unto itself. Plus, you have to buy a scanner and probably software to go with it. And don't get me started on the learning curve for scanner software. Not exactly conducive to quickly trying out film.

(C) Make analog prints yourself. Now you're talking about renting lab time (at your local school/college, which is equipped with an analog darkroom, right? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) or setting up your own darkroom with equipment that can handle medium format film. Again, not conducive to quickly trying out film. Plus it's expensive, time-consuming, space consuming and requires a whole 'nother set of skills.

And that, dear Sir, is why it is tough to just "get my hands on a Mamiya rangefinder and run six or ten rolls of film through it, get the film developed and have a print or two made".

But...boy are film cameras fun. ;-) I love mine. All of them. But I find everything after the actual taking of the picture enormously frustrating and frankly not worthwhile. I sometimes think I should just walk around with my MF cameras unloaded without any film. I enjoy the process of USING them, and I so infrequently wind up printing any pictures from them, that I'm not really sure it matters if there is any film in them in the first place!

Best,
Adam

My nephew is starting to develop his photographic skills and has a Nikon DSLR. He is interested in film, so I gave him a Nikkormat with an inoperative meter. He was astounded by the quality and weight of the Nikkormat and "how mechanical it is". Busted meter, no problem with an iphone app. He is having a ball. I think I'm going to give him my Yashica TLR. I haven't used it in years!

Mike, I found a Mini-speed Graphic with roll film back_in the Thrift Store. Film photography will soon be a museum only experience for most.

I shot some film when I was a kid (I'm 35 now) but didn't take photography seriously until digital was well under way so I'm basically a "film virgin". I cut my teeth on digital. About a year ago I purchased my first 35mm film camera and shortly thereafter I purchased a medium format TLR. Why? To be honest, I've still been sowing my photographic oats trying to figure out what my images are all about, and this was just another step in the process. In the past year I have definitely shot more digital than film, however I have not given up on film and continue to use the two side by side.

The more I shoot the more I've discovered that a huge variety of lenses isn't what I need. What I really like is having a variety of cameras that force me to work in very different ways. I approach photography differently with a DSLR than with a rangefinder, and differently with a rangefinder than a TLR, and so on. I'm less concerned with the image quality of film vs digital than I am with how shooting film forces me to behave differently before I press the shutter.

Film costs me something, and it's not just money. It's time. And I don't have a lot of extra time, so I feel like if I'm going to go through the trouble of buying film, shooting, developing and scanning just to get an image into Lightroom, then I'd better slow down a little and try to make it count.

There's a time for film and a time for digital. I wouldn't want to shoot a wedding on film, that's for sure. The ability to crank off endless images in difficult, high pressure circumstances is invaluable. I also can't imagine having to learn on film. Once again the ability to shoot and review huge quantities of my own work makes me feel like I must have accelerated my own learning tremendously over how quickly I would have progressed had I started with film. (That's a gut feeling - I'm sure others would disagree.) But now that I've learned quite a bit, I feel like film is better at helping me refine. It says, "OK, you can use a camera, you can take a competent picture. Now slow down and take all that raw knowledge and try to focus it."

This is where I am as of March 19, 2014. Who knows how I'll feel about it all in five years, but for now this feels like the right path for me.

The Mamiya 7 was to be my upgrade path from 35mm. I had it all planned out. Portable medium format for the backcountry. But all of a sudden (it seemed) digital got really good, while a film scanner for 120/220 was still very expensive. But I still wonder. If I could find one to rent it would be a great experiment.

I started with a Nikon D5000 and since have (permanently?) borrowed my father's Nikon F and his manual focus lens collection. Since then, I've bought plenty of other film-oriented gear and have not cultivated much in the way of digital photography skill. I've been wondering about going the opposite direction of your hypothetical: Should I rent one of the nice digital cameras and see what that whole thing is all about?

A previous commenter mentioned that some otherwise bright young folks had difficulty 'wrapping their heads around' the way film cameras worked. It reminded me of an interesting story.
I've never sold a camera, so I have a lot of them, one of which is an 11x14 Commercial Deardorff on an 11 Foot bi-post studio stand, and 24" Goerz Red Dot Artar, Packard shutter (with x-synch)
It resides in my bedroom (one of the few rooms that can accomodate it's height. It faces out a window, shutter open so the world unfolds upside down on the ground glass.
A budding young photographer was looking at it for a while, fascinated by the trees blowing in the wind.
He turned to me and asked ' Is this LIVE'??
His only reference was video.
Michael

I just received this gift:
- 2 Mamiya RB67 Pro-S bodies
- 3 120 backs
- 50/4.5 C lens
- 127/3.8 lens
- #1 and #2 extension tubes
- 3 boxes Fuji Velvia 100
- 1 box Fuji 160C
- Gossen Luna Pro light meter (plus extra batteries)
- Pentax Spotmatic 500 body
- Pentax 55/2, 135/3.5 and Vivitar 80-205 lenses

I've got 20 rolls of Tri-X already, plus 10 rolls of Plus-X in the freezer with the Velvia. I feel like the luckiest man on Earth right now. The film shall roll, sir.

I love digital photography, but I love film photography also. I feel I have become a better digital photographer because of shooting film occasionally.

Yeah, I'm not seeing these amazing bargains on film cameras. Except for off-brand 35mm gear. Some savings over new, sure; $1500 for two RZ67s with a couple of backs and lenses is a LOT less than new -- but it's also the cost of a major piece of digital gear for most people. (Not pros who by top-series bodies or super-telephotos, admittedly, but for the rest of us, $1500 is a big chunk of the yearly photo budget.)

I bought a used film camera for really cheap, and ran a 36 exposure roll of Provia 400 pushed to 1600. It was fun, but it took me over a year to shoot them all (as I felt they needed to be special) and living in Iceland, the cost of film and development was around 80 dollars, more than the cost of the camera.

It was fun, and I love the photos, but I think I'll stick with my x100 for ease of use.

Not sure if I qualify for your informal survey, as I borrowed and used my dad's OM1 when I was at university, and even developed a roll of film and printed a half dozen images in the darkroom on campus. After that I'd only used digital (including working with digital imaging and video) until five or six years ago, when I became curious about film and bought a new Leica M7.

I shot maybe four rolls of film with it, but aside from a few images that I liked I considered the experiment a failure and sold it ( the only big loss I've taken on a film camera). But (to my partner's exasperation) I kept on coming back to those images that were special, and no matter what I did, I simply couldn't get the natural character that was in the film shots into my digital images. So I bought a used M6 and started using it more than just occasionally. Since then I've sold all my digital cameras except for a little olympus m43, accumulated a wide range of film equipment (that I already talked about earlier in the week) and my photographic horizons have extended in every direction.

My film photography is more concentrated, enjoyable and the results are vastly superior to my digital output. I also get more pleasure from my life with my family - especially on holidays - as I'm more ’present’ in the moment using a film camera, than when I was constantly snapping away and chimping at the rear screen, hoping to get that elusive ’perfect’ digital capture.

To tie-in a bit more closely with your question, one of the cameras I could afford now film is less popular was a Mamiya 6 - the equivalent in digital would never have been within reach as a personal camera - and using it is about as close to photographic Zen as I can possibly imagine: walking around intently looking for the 12 images on that roll of film is so removed from how I use digital - where I use the camera as a replacement for my imagination, instead of my totally concentrated eye and brain with the Mamiya - it is an utterly different and transcendent experience.

I lent my M6 to my friend to try out film -- does that count? It makes more sense than renting because I have all the processing and scanning equipment...

He used it for about 2 months and in the end it was getting a bit tedious taking photos and waiting for them.

Pak

I went from digital to experimenting with film recently, but was no virgin. I had a small darkroom in grad school and for a few years after, sold pictures to a textbook publisher and did one portfolio, even made some 3'x5' poster-sized prints for a stage set. But my day job got interesting. All that stuff was packed away and finally donated to a city darkroom in San Francisco. Nothing but drugstore snapshots on a point 'n shoot until I got into digital in the late 1990s with Ricoh and Hitachi cameras that I bought to see how this might change the course of computing. This was reinforced by the arrival of kids. Got serious with an Olympus C2020, some Coolpixes, an E-1 and finally the Leica M8.

During a slow spell I started wondering if MF film held subtle advantages over what I was doing, and they were almost giving away Hasselblads on E-Bay... (Well, not SWC/Ms -- the prices on those seem to be rising steadily.)
Developing Tri-X merely required buying some tanks and a thermometer. I found a photo store that catered to local art students, so they had film and chemicals. Different chemicals every time I came in, in fact. And a lab that still did E-6 processing for the local wedding trade. I bought an Epson V500 scanner for 35mm and 120, got some lessons from Oren Grad. I ended up learning Carl Weese's lesson -- this is just not a very good way to do color when digital, even at the 5 MPx level, is available. But Tri-X or HP5, scanned and printed in ink-jet looks great, without being too difficult. Somehow much more satisfying than taking a color digital image and flattening it into black and white. My digital gear is up to 16 or more MPx now, and those chemicals have turned funny colors, but I have some film left, and those steampunk Hassies are a lot of fun to shoot with, so I think I will keep at it.

scott

I was a purely digital photographer for a period of around 4 or 5 years. This is interesting as it was looking at my dad's slides which got me passionate about photography in the first place.

Moving to university, having the opportunity to rent a vast array of equipment and having as much C41 and B&W processing as I could has changed all of this of course.

As I mentioned on an article earlier last week, I adore my GX680 and always make an excuse to use it when I can't use my ARCA!

My rational is two fold; first off, the image quality afforded by either of those camera's is leaps and bounds ahead of anything I could ever hope to afford in the digital realm. And secondly, the usual 'it slows you down, more considered process... etc' argument always holds water.

I also feel shooting on these cameras is, in the eyes of the public, something very odd and often breaks down their personal barriers a little if it's them you're photographing.

Bryan Schutmaat quite succinctly talks about this in his interview with SeeSaw magazine. (http://seesawmagazine.com/schutmaatinterview/bryanschutmaatinterview.html)

A large-format camera is important foremost because of the formal qualities it affords – its clarity, descriptive ability, the way it renders space, depth of field, and so on. So using it was an aesthetic decision more than anything.

But the physicality of the camera definitely had an impact on the work too, particularly the portraits. It's an impressive tool: big, wooden, robust, with bellows, sitting atop a tripod, and requiring a dark cloth. Even though it's a newer camera, it has an old timey feel, which I think disarms people to some extent.

Just slightly off the main topic here but I can't really say that I have ever achieved very good B&W output from any digital camera and trust me I have owned more than a handful. I can however say that I did have some excellent results from medium format film and your mention of plus x with a yellow filter prompted this reply. This again is off topic but my best results were achieved using Ilford FP4 with my own made from scratch Pyro film developer, the edge effect where light areas met darker areas was exceptional. I am more curious about film and developer combinations than what film camera may be your favorite. I would love to see a B&W digital camera that at least come close to the good old B&W film days, yes I know this post is all over the place, sorry.

I hadn't realised that things were so bad in USA for film users regarding film development. Here in Netherlands (North Americans might call it Holland) the in-store, one-hour, machines have mostly gone, but any chainstore, and many pharmacies and other shops, still do a package service in three to five days. They are simply sending off the films etc. to various centralised labs dotted here and there.

In the first few months of this year I have had dev-and-print packages on half-frame 135 and on 6x7 120 C41. E6 and black-and-white are available from the same centralised labs though personally I do my own b+w and also RA4 optical enlargements (from the clean negs I get back with the package deals). The RA4 enlargements-from-negs services also seem to involve a decent scan before they are laser-light printed, with 30x45cm at 3,95 - the same price as that size of print from a digital file.

The last two places in town with 135 and 120 film do charge what I think of as silly prices, so I order film online from over the border in Germany. However, one of them was stocking new Lomo-Lubitels at 290 euros, so somebody must be buying them?!?!

Inevitably, this service level is now jinxed and in six months it will be a digital country, like USA....

Last December I bought a refurbished 1955 Leica M3 in Brussels — just couldn't help myself after looking through the viewfinder (thick framelines with corners), pressing the silky shutter release and advancing the buttery rewind lever.

I attached my collapsible 50mm f/2 to it and it now feels perfect in my hands.

Scanned my first developed roll of film a few days ago — http://simongriffee.com/notebook/GRS-20140317-194344 — and thinking of publishing one film photo a week now.

I bought two Mamiya RB67 Pro S bodies, several backs, including a 4.5x6, and a nice quiver of lenses last year; I spent some time with Alan Ross in November learning how to use a spot meter and how to develop the film. Sadly, money has been too tight and chemicals too dear to develop the rolls of Ilford Pan F Plus (50 iso) film I exposed in the Blackstone River valley in January, but once I'm back to work in Yosemite I'll be ramping up to develop and scan my images. I'm looking forward to trying caffenol developing, and have plans to "print" my best shots by converting to over-one (thread) stitches on Belfast Linen 30 thread count fabric. Wish me luck.

Film is NOT dead.

I concur with all the posters (and the OP) that bemoan the passing of film. But it's still here! Yes, you have actively to plan in order to use it. Buy it (online, most likely) ahead of time. In fact, factor buying it into your travel plans (just like you might factor buying a local wine and schlepping it home). Whenever I go to NYC or Tokyo, I stock up on emulsions that are rumored to be on the edge of extinction. The result is a freezer full of treasures like NPL 120. You have to plan ahead to use it. If you ask your average airport security person to hand-inspect that glorious Fuji 800Z 120, they'll not know that this is "also" film. I had the hilarious experience of a young security inspector asking me to operate the shutter of my Rolleiflex 3.5F and to show him the resulting photo in order to "prove" that the hunk of metal and glass and leather I was trying to smuggle onto a flight was really a camera. We ended up locked in a surreal argument until an older inspector walked over to figure out what the fuss was about. This was in Munich airport, and the older guy was a photographer, so after some compliments on my flawless German machine, he let me through. Developing 120/220 (I have dozens of the latter in the freezer - it's nice to get 20 shots on the Mamiya 7II or 32 shots on the Fuji GA645w without changing film) b/w at home is not hard. But people will do it for you if you don't want to learn. It's not cheap (about $4 a roll these days, plus shipping), but not much more money than you probably already spend on your smartphone calling plan in a week. Printing is more involved, but scanning on a flatbed is nearly free, and even Noritsu scans are only a few cents each, so you can easily use your inkjet. And there are specialized outfits that will make great b/w silver prints (analog or digital) for a reasonable price (i.e. much less than the cost of even do-it-yourself framing). If you happen to shoot 8x10, contact printing is easy and the results are a revelation to most people. The OP did not say that this experience would be "free" (no worthwhile experience is). However, it probably will be valuable to a lot of people. The *year with a Leica* would not be the same without film - and it will not be exactly free either. So, I urge all who have not tried to give it a go. You only live once, and the opportunity to try film with a realistic amount of effort may not be here in just a few short years.

Yes indeed. The Mamiya 6 is the best film camera I ever used, and I can't part with it even though it hardly gets an outing any more. If there were to be a digital version, keeping the body, dials and finder, I'd have to go for it. But it won't happen. I'd recommend a week with a Mamiya 6/7 to anyone who's never tried film in general or 120 film in particular.
But... the DP2 Merrill comes very close indeed to the quality I used to get from the Mamiya 6. Really.

Can't be done. Why? Film and film printing are as much about the darkroom as they are about the pressing of a shutter.

By no means am I a film virgin, but it has been some 30 years since I have shot and self-processed B&W film, 135 format, taken on my beloved all-mechanical Mamiya-Sekor DTL 1000 (Yes, Mamiya did make 135 cameras for a brief period).
Recently I have noticed that my digital work has a lot of "useless" shots and that I am slipping into the spray-and-pray mode of shooting. I decided to try one of my bucket list projects, shooting large format B&W. I am likely to use a hybrid approach and scan the negatives, in part because my darkroom options don't have 4 x 5 enlargers. I have just acquired the camera, lens, film, books/instructions/recipes and am fiddling with (learning) movements.

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