At a time when the digital photography world was buzzing with new gear announcements, I managed to fall in love with some of Nikon’s very old and cheap lenses, the E Series lenses. My experience with these lenses taught me a great lesson: it is really not about the gear. It is rather about being creative with what gear we already have, despite how limited and incapable we might think of it. This was a great inspiration to me, especially with my nagging habit of lusting after the latest and greatest gear announcements. The fact that I’m writing this article goes to show that I still struggle with GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), but for a change, this is a case about some of the cheapest lenses available.
This is a review of the Leica M7 TTL .72 rangefinder film camera that I used with the Leica 35mm f/2.0 Summicron M Aspherical Manual Focus Lens. I had the two for about a month and had a chance to shoot with the Leica gear in different conditions and shoots. Prior to the M7, I never had a chance to shoot with any Leica gear, but heard so much about them from other photographers and industry peers. So I decided to give Leica a try and see how it would fit my film photography needs. Below is a summary of my findings with the camera.
In the beginning of 2012, I knew I wanted to buy a Polaroid camera. There is something so irresistibly fun about taking a photograph and having the print in front of you instantaneously. I considered several options, but ultimately decided on the Polaroid 180 Land Camera with a 114mm Tominon Lens.
As my first post here on Photography Life, I thought I would write a bit about why I shoot film as a wedding photographer. I started my career in photography in 2008 as a digital shooter. Since it was the digital age, it didn’t even cross my mind to shoot film. I had some preconceived notions about it — at the time I thought film was old, outdated, and produced inferior images compared with digital. But the more I learned about film, the more I realized I needed to take a second look.
In one of my recent articles I talked about the beginning of the digital age and the consequences it brought to our understanding of photography. With all its greatness, with all the speed and quality and versatility, it became irreplaceable in our everyday lives and businesses. Along with that, however, digital photography also brought up a few problems, likely the biggest of which was the growing interest in new technologies rather than photography itself. This problem seemed to push the very goal of having a camera and a lens completely out of our minds. New gear was the thrilling, fun part. Comparing one to another has become our everyday activity. And yet, if we manage to get past that, if we manage to actually get out there and shoot rather than just read and read and read about new lenses and cameras day after day, we get the point of digital. We get to enjoy it as we should. We get to see digital, in a way, how we see the 18-200 or 28-300 class lenses – the do-everything, good enough for anything, the daily choice. But here lies another potential problem – with all the great all-round lenses, why do we love those boring 50mm f1.4 primes so much? I find myself shooting, and shooting, and shooting again. I find myself having hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs, and I like them. But a super-zoom is no prime lens. There’s always something vital missing. I may have just found out what it was for me. Before we dive into my very personal and subjective Mamiya RZ67 Pro review, lets talk film for a minute.
Last week, The Impossible Project launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of a printer that prints images directly from your iPhone’s screen to Impossible Project film, resulting in true analog instant prints of your digital images. Instead of simply viewing images on your phone’s screen or even sending them to a lab to be printed, the Impossible Instant Lab will use the light from your phone’s screen to expose a piece of film, which then becomes a Polaroid-style photo.
Let me start by saying that I’m a digital camera junkie. I love technology. I love everything about working with digital images… the number of images that can fit on a tiny memory card, the sharpness and amount of detail that can be captured with good bodies and lenses, the instant gratification that comes from looking at an LCD screen and the amount of flexibility available while editing. Why, then, would I ever want to shoot film instead of digital?
One thing black & white pictures are good at without any doubt is representing the past. It seems as if it is programmed in our heads that if a movie or a picture is in black and white, that it is old. It simply fits, and not just because photography and movies were in black and white back in the day. It is as if we remember in black & white. And dream in black & white. And past is often quite close to a film noir-like dream. But what happens when you take a look at a picture that is a hundred years old…and in color? Well, here is something special for you.
A lot has changed since digital came around in 1999. Film has always been about quality – all kinds of it, too. It was about resolving power – we have Fujichrome Velvia for that now; it was about color accuracy, which also suits the former as well as, say, Fujicolor Superia Reala; or, for those who want sharp and vivid, there‘s always the beautiful Kodak Ektar. Now, however, there’s one kind of film for all those purposes. Just as film was finally providing the quality, the age of digital sensors came. And, some think, wiped film‘s quality ambitions off the table as if it were dust. We now have one film that can do everything – low light, color accuracy or vividness, sharpness and endless manipulation possibilities. One film that fits all.
Once, I came upon a thought provoking comment on some local online photography community in Lithuania. It was posted under an apparently heavily, yet skillfully manipulated image, and in fact it was done so well that, at first glance, it was rather hard to believe it was a manipulation. The text was posted by an elderly photographer who is known to write very argument-rich comments under many works on that particular website. From what I’ve noticed before, he was usually intrigued by a lot of different images in different styles made by different photographers and he seemed to be very objective with his evaluation, if slightly conservative with his approach to photography as a form of art and expression. Still, given his age, experience and especially taking into account post-soviet influence in understanding of what art is, it was only natural. However, this time the respected online critic (as strange as it may sound to some) was strongly bewildered by the author’s approach to photography and how much digital manipulation (Photoshop in particular) was part of the work. “Where does photography end and digital art begin?”, he wondered. I wondered too.