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I've recently switched from a digital to 35mm camera so that I can concentrate solely on the physical skills of photography without being sidetracked by digital trickery: add to that the magic of not knowing what the results look like until the last moment and it's a whole new world for me.
I may go back to a digital SLR in future, but I'd rather learn those core skills that digital technology bypasses; even moreso if those skills are in danger of being lost in future.
Has anyone else tried a dSLR and found it less than satisfying?
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I've never been entirely happy with AF cameras, and have recently been using a Contax 159 and an Olympus 35DC for a lot of my photography (possibly just over 50%) but I don't think I could give up on my DSLR.
Not digital to 35mm but to Medium Format. Not a complete move though both have their place, film is more satisfying however.
I moved to Digital SLR 6 years ago after many years of using a manual SLR camera. I have to say I wouldn't want to go back.
I find that I still use the skills I learnt with film, using the DSLR on manual is really the same, apart from the fact you can change ISO with each frame and it is so much cheaper to experiment with different settings, something I couldn't afford to do when I had a film camera.
I don't think you necessarily need to switch to film to learn the core skills, I think they can just as easily be learnt on a DSLR.
The only reason I can think is if you wanted to develop and print you own shots as well.
I supply pictures to Alamy using my digital SLR, something that would not be as easy now using silver halide.
Quote: I'd rather learn those core skills that digital technology bypasses
What core skills are those? The skills are no different - only the medium changes.
I used to shoot film and was delighted when my uncle bequeathed me his Leica R5 and a bag of Leica lenses. Using film has left me with a desire to 'get it right' in the camera and this is for personal 'pride' rather than the end result.
When I started digital I quickly I realised that even with the best Photoshop skills, you still get a far better result if it is right 'in camera'. But I also found that digital offers a quicker learning curve than film because with digital I can in a very short time try a whole range of exposure variables, experiment taking loads of alternative shots at no cost (unlike the cost of buying and developing film) and get almost instant feedback.
With film a major incentive for me to improve was to use less film - so analyse each shot, see what can be improved and do it right next time. I admit this incentive with digital does not exist, but if you want to learn the discipline is the same. It all comes down to what motivates you.
As a more extreme example, some users of medium format cameras talk about how it forces you to slow down and take time and because of that how they enjoy it more. But why not make yourself take only one shot of a scene instead of 30 and see if you can nail it?
Every now and again I tell myself I should take the Leica out again - it is a beautiful piece of kit and part of me says it would be a joy to use it again. But digital is just so damned concevenient...
I used a 35 mm SLR from 1978 until around 2003, when I finally switched to digital. I wouldn't go back. Digital opens up whole new worlds of creative opportunity that simply aren't there with film unless you have access to huge equipment resources and time.
I still get annoyed by the use of terms like "digital trickery". Digital processing is a tool like the camera, film, lenses and filters, all of which are there to help you interpret, record and present your vision (whoever heard of "aperture trickery", used to change the focal point of a scene). Sure, you still need the camera skills, but as Whipspeed says, you can learn these just as well on a dSLR as a 35mm SLR.
A slightly different road. I started with film, became fed up stopped, re-started with digital and them dabbled with 35mm including darkroom work. So some similarities but some differences also. I have a word of caution, beware you are still not a victim of trickery, as my time in the dark room taught me that much that people complain about digital is there in film, just someone else does it for you. It is amazing what is done in processing and creating prints from the negative. So if you think film negative photography is more true etc, then you are wrong in my experience.
Shoot slide and I will say yes you are indulging in some mystery and require absolute exposure accuracy, shoot negative film and the film/processing can cope with a lot of exposure error. I use a 35mm rangefinder with no metering no AF though it does offer a rangefinder to focus should I decide to not hyperfocus. But I have to say metering by using sunny F16, gets me by as a couple of stops within correct and modern negative film does a fantastic job.
for me there is a pleasure in using fully manual cameras, that is exposure and focus, and there is a pleasure in delivering the image you desired. And that can be achieved in either digital or film cameras. Many digital cameras annoy me because they have added so many auto features it is hard to get to the real controls, which is why I was happy when the digital SLR came along. So set the camera up, and at the picture taking moment you can has as much or as little control as you want.
But how much of photography is exposure in the art etc of the great photo. yes you need to control exposure but is there difference between deciding I want this level of light in the shadows to deciding I will over expose by 1 stop to its about f8 @ 1/125 and I want to brighten it by setting 1/60. there are different technical skills, but the artistic choice is the same so no difference to me. To be honest exposure you can learn by rote and if you can program a camera to do that, well it confirms it, but composition..... that is where the skill lies.
so I shoot both film an digital, and to be honest 99.9% or so is digital because I have set the camera up to work my way and the output file can be processed to give the look I wanted with ease. The dark room frustrated me as after 6 weeks I was dual shooting and bringing in the prints to show people what I wanted to achieve but was turning out so hard to do.
Its a long way of saying the physical skills are the same, you just need to select the correct camera and set it up correctly.
Instead of an answer to your actual question you'll get lots of responses from peeps saying that they wouldn't go back to film .... don'tcha just hate it when that happens . Afraid I'm going to add to that annoyance. Unless you wanted to move to film for some specialist or bespoke film/processing/printing combo -or- perhaps want to explore medium/large format etc then I don't see any advantage in going back to an SLR.
If you want to hone or challenge your basic photographic skills the shoot JPEG, set your DSLR up the way you want it, forget the digital darkroom side of things and challenge yourself with things like:
> shooting a whole weekend with just one prime lens
> experiment for a while with contre-jour
> restrict yourself to only taking one shot of any subject & make that shot 'count'
> think up novel shooting locations/subjects/methods and explore them
>what are you afraid of shooting (e.g. street)? then go out & get stuck into that for a few days togging
> and lots more beside
I don't see anything in using an SLR that you can't do with a DSLR. I have several old film bodies and occasionally get them out for a nostalgic play but have no desire to stick a film in them.
Just my $0.02 .... good luck with however you play it
Quote: I've recently switched from a digital to 35mm camera so that I can concentrate solely on the physical skills of photography without being sidetracked by digital trickery
You can use digital trickery quite easily even if using film.
Have never stoped shooting 35mm film and now have a few medium format cameras as well and love using them and the medium of film.
Yes I do use digital and looking to get a M 4/3rd's machine as well.
Quote: I don't see any advantage in going back to an SLR.
Depends on what you're about. For enjoyment there's a great deal to be said for the simplicity, refinement and directness of many manual focus, manual wind SLRs. These cameras had been refined in a very competeitive marketplace with far more manufacurers than there are now, to the point where the ergonomics and engineering were very sorted. The functionality is less but there is less to get in the way and more clarity of function and control. The traditional Aperture and Shutter speed dials not only allow the operator to change the setting directly but also show what those settings are, at a glance. Ditto the combines ISO and Exposure compensation dial. They also tenf to have lenses with focusing scales and DOF markings.
Why is all that important? It all improves usability because I can see the settings on my camera at a glance, even before it is switched on, something can possibly only be said of a Leica M9, X1 or Fuji X100 of current digicams.
Quote: The dark room frustrated me as after 6 weeks I was dual shooting and bringing in the prints to show people what I wanted to achieve but was turning out so hard to do
My thoughts and practice also.
I am chieflly interested in monochrome that became increasingly difficult getting hold of the film, paper and chemicals I wanted. It took time and patience often producing results not qite as expected.
With digital SLR once the file has been processed the image can be printed as many times as needed , all exactly the same.
Getting to grips with exposure is important unless you are happy with automatic. A very useful techniqe in the darkroom is producing photograms that gives you an understanding of exposure.
I resist automatic unless snapping with a compact. . My DSLR is set to manual and there it stays such is the way I was tought. It becomes instinctive and I have sympathy to those in digital with so many modes of exposure that can be so very confusing.
Quote: Digital opens up whole new worlds of creative opportunity that simply aren't there with film unless you have access to huge equipment resources and time.
Very true with possibilities in printing that I could only dream of in the darkroom.
Learning the core skills is so rewarding thats puts you on firm ground for all photography. With digital you can now shoot exposures right through the range of f stops and speeds setting the camera up on a tripod or support, ll to photoraph anything in the garden, even a brick wall without the cost of film and processing.
I see these 'back to 35mm' posts a lot but cant say I have ever seen any images from someone who has gone back and found it better and their images have improved. Now's the time for someone to shoot me down I guess :o)
As for learning ... I really would advise anyone to learn on a digital as the fundamentals are the same but the learning curve is much steeper imo because you can practice, experiment and get immediate feedback. For those who like the anticipation and unknown of film then put some tape over your screen and when full simply post your memory card to yourself second class ... :o)
Quote: I have ever seen any images from someone who has gone back and found it better and their images have improved.
It would be genuinely interesting to hear from people who have gone back to (like-for-like) film, having used digital, e.g. from a full frame or crop DSLR to 35mm film - or from a digi compact to a film compact - an found their photos were better.
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