Shoot holidays on 35mm film? Pros and cons ... and honesty.
I have never told anyone about that but I have devoted 1 year of my life to 35mm and medium format film photography, be it home stuff (kids, family events, gatherings) or various trips and friends' photo shoots. I made this decision firstly to learn more about analogue photography and photography as such, secondly - to experiment how long will I survive without my professional digital gear. I used digital for weddings and fashion mostly but even there I mixed it with analog. However all my personal stuff was captured on a variety of film so I will be posting more articles about different experience and different film.
In 2019 me and my family decided to go to Bulgaria for family holiday and I was really battling myself: should I take my Sony a7iii or Canon 300v (film) camera? In the end I decided to stick to my experiment so I purchased around 10 Kodak Portra film reels (35mm), got myself a 50mm and 28mm F/1.8 lenses for Canon and felt like I am ready for this trip. Here are few thoughts on how it all went:
1. Feeling of shooting analogue: thinking about each shot, compositing better, thinking about light conditions better, etc.
2. Very light and cheap gear gives more possibilities: just drop the camera and 1 lens into any bag and go. No need to worry about bumps and scratches too much, no worries about sandy beaches or even water (I caught a splash and camera was wet but it survived with no problem).
3. I had enough film and I made a decision to use at least one roll per day. So sometimes I would be inspired to wake up earlier or stay longer and take some more interesting shots.
4. Shooting Kodak Portra was intentional: I could set my ISO to 100, 200, 400 - and all images would be OK, you basically cannot overexpose it.
5. If I wanted I could shoot it at ISO 800 or even 1600. I have no problem with pushing in post (my lab does it for extra 1-2 euros). I did not do that since there was nothing to take 36 shots of, so I would take 1-2 evening shots in the hotel area and that's it. Conclusion: I could use higher ISO but I did not because I did not need it.
6. Giving my camera to my 8-years-old daughter or my wife was no risk in case of damage - cheap 25 Euro camera, cheap 50 Euro lens... if it was my digital Sony - only me would operate it in dangerous locations.
7. Waiting for images, receiving them, unpacking zip, sorting and then fixing bits and pieces - sort of fun too. I enjoyed it.
1. Film is expensive, dev and scan is expensive. I spent around 160 Euros just on film+ lab.
2. No good autofocus (like Sony a7iii - I know!!!) and slower speed in the evenings would ruin quite good shots, shooting kids on film is very very hard job.
3. Inside, outside, inside, outside - ISO 400 is a big limit in such switch between locations. If I was rich, I would go for Portra 800, it is my beloved film and it would solve that problem, but I am not rich, so I had to constantly think if I do really want to take a shot inside or not.
4. One film - one colour pallet. When I received my shots I felt a bit bored: you cannot colorise and edit films shots like you would if it was raw digital file. Maximum achievement - nice B&W. The rest are pretty much in the same tonality shots. Which is good in general, but I felt bored by it on holidays. I was shooting in the rain, in sun, in fun times and some romantic times and all shots look very alike in colour. If I was editing that in digital raw I would use different moods in different locations but here I was stuck with Portra colours. They are lovely in sun, but not always in shadow.
5. Thinking about money. Yes, in some cases I was thinking if it is worth clicking shutter since I knew how much each shot will cost. My son was chasing around the fountain and I thought that would be a great shot if I caught him laughing. But I tried 4 times and none of the shots came back good. That would never happen in digital world. At least not in mine.
When I came back from holidays I felt really tired of film photography, Maybe because I spent more time thinking about all settings than enjoying my time on holidays, or maybe because it was my last project on 1 year with analog photography trip. I did not miss digital but I started getting tired even of the thought to shoot film again. I am very afraid of burning out and I was very close to it. It happened later and mainly to medium format but this is a different story which one day will come too.
So I would like to share with you the selected shots of my holidays to show you some of the pros and cons mentioned above. Here is technical information: Kodak Portra 400 (135), Canon 300v, Canon 50mm and 28mm, both F/1.8.
What I learned the most (I knew it before as well but sometimes you forget simple things) - 35mm day time film (ISO 100- 800) loves sun and light. In cloudy conditions shots turned out muddy and grainy, I did not like them even though some of you may say they are OK.
Dear visitor, in the end of February this web site will be closed. I spent many hours writing each article, lots of money buying different film and testing it for you to see some good images. This film blog brings me no income so I was supporting it from my own money and time for the last 3 years. I managed to get it to the top of Google Search and most likely this is why you are here. I also have more article to write for different film and way more to come in the future. But to maintain this blog alone is too expensive for me. In the end of February my agreement with WIX ends and I would need to pay another 80 Euro for 2020. I ask you to support me and my blog so it could stay online and grow. Please donate whatever you can to my PayPal account: firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you in advance!