Friday, August 14, 2015

Brave New World

The MPP Micro Technical Camera
Well I finally did it, I sold the Nikon DSLR and have bought a 4x5 camera. It's really a case of back to the future for me as I've gone back to the camera's I used 20+ years ago, and now all I have is digital wise access to the camera's owned by family members (for this blog)

Film! Are you mad?
Yes, folks to some I am. That sentence was an actual question asked of me whilst in a café with my children. A man about 10 years older than me saw my Rolleiflex sitting on the table-obviously he couldn't understand why in this day and age someone would use a camera from 1961.

I tried to explain why, but got the 'I have a Panansonic and a Macbook' statement as if I should have been even remotely impressed.
So why go film only? Well the easiest answer is that it does all I could possibly want it to do, I don't need instant review as I know pretty well how the image will look; I don't care for speed of operation––the type of photography I do just doesn't need those things.

Film is Expensive
To a degree it is, obviously you need to choose what film to take on a trip and the cost is ongoing which means when I press the shutter it has a pretty obvious cost.
What I can say though is for the type of images I take you don't need to fire off many images, most shoots are planned so a mornings work might involve 4-6 sheets of 4x5 or a couple of rolls of 120 and those outings amount to fewer than one per month so that would be 40-50 sheets per year and 20 rolls of 120 from which in that year I'd expect 15-20 prints. The total cost all in would be about £250 for the film and as I process my work the chemicals probably about £30.
So less than £300 normally without prints obviously.
That sounds pretty expensive, after all with only 20 good finished images that works out to £15 per image!

Why sell my  Digital Nikons?
In all honesty I wasn't using them; the batteries would go flat between times meaning spontaneous shots were sometimes done with cameraphones.
I liked digital but it just doesn't suit my use patterns and when shooting 50 very high quality shots a year doesn't make a £2000 DSLR a good purchase over its lifetime (over ten years of film for existing cameras).
So I managed to sell them while they still had some value.

Moving Forward
At the moment the films I want to use are still available, I don't feel the need to change my shooting style or workflow or adapt them to fit the direction everyone else is heading in. In fact there might even be a perverse pleasure in swimming against the tide of people adopting fast and ever changing technologies.
Just give me a supply of Ilford B&W and Kodak Ektar and I can be happy and creative.


Bruce Robbins said...

Good stuff, Mark. I haven't used my D700 for anything "serious" for a few years either and have been thinking about getting rid of it as well before it's only worth scrap value. You've maybe just inspired me to take the plunge.

Magnus Nystedt said...

"Be happy and Creative," that's the key :) good luck

Photo Utopia said...

Hello Bruce, good to hear from you!
I kept looking at the D700 and D2x and though I loved them I just felt guilty not using them for anything more than blog posts and kids parties!

I'm guessing its because I'm just enjoying the world of 4x5 and Rolleiflex that I can't find projects that need to use digital-don't get me wrong I like digital for spontaneous shots; trouble being those are done with phones..

Photo Utopia said...

Thanks Magnus, I think being comfortable when you shoot is removing barriers to getting in down on paper, I mean that if you shoot an large format or an iPhone-the former suits my style.