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My first film roll

Back in 2016 when I started photography (digital photography), I began with a small compact micro four-thirds camera, then some bench of lenses and adapters, then other cameras... which led me to develop GAS or Gear Acquisition syndrome, this condition didn't stop for my camera, I had a tendency to buy everything related to photography, even old none working cameras.

Whenever I go to a flea market, I look for vintage lenses and cameras without knowing if they are working or not, assuming that film is not used anymore, so I put them on my table as a collection.

Until recently in 2020, I was influenced by photographers using new Kodak film stock, at that moment I realized that I got finally a chance to live in that era where photos were made on film.

I rushed and searched for a film camera, some days later and I aquired my first fully mechanical camera and it was a range finder Canon P (Populaire), you can say that I was captivated by its look, I mean look at it, it's just gorgeous.

canon P | wide image
Canon P: source
I went to a Kodak Express laboratory and surprisingly, I found they have some film Kodak rolls, I purchased some Kodak Ultra max 400 and then it comes to my first interaction with a film camera, I had to google how to load a film.
The feeling of holding this camera was totally different, a heavy piece of metal and mechanical gears, built like a fine mechanical pocket watch, the sharp edges remind me the design of some cars like the BMW E30 or Volvo 740... describing this engineering masterpiece deserves its own article.

Coming from a reflex and mirrorless cameras world, being used to a digital camera where I can be discreet with a tilting screen and able to shoot without missing the focus using an autofocus lens, I lost all this luxury with this mechanical camera.

Despite the different focusing system in a rangefinder and the lack of a light meter, I managed to set up a focusing zone and was able to take some shots.

Once my finished my roll, it was expensive for me to develop, scan and print, so I just developed it in the lab and bring my roll back home.

I tried to convert my negatives to positives using Darktable software, however, the result was a disaster since I don't have a macro lens for that.

digitalized film | wide image
film frame 2 scanned on a digital camera

film frame 3 scanned on a digital camera | wide image
film frame 3 scanned on a digital camera |

For color, the conversion was even worse, moreover, the noise added by the camera sensor disturbs the natural grain on the film, therefore I decided to purchase a scanner to scan my negatives.

Days later and I received my Epson v600 and I scanned the negatives myself.

Frame 1 | full image
35 mm frame 1 | Niort 2020

frame 2 | wide image
35 mm frame 2 | Niort 2020

35 mm frame 3 | wide image
35 mm frame 3 | Niort 2020

Usually, I don't take such random photos, still, this experience was delicate to be invisible compared to a digital camera, it was difficult to point to some scenes with people and take time to focus, and knock the shutter without being noticed.

Some light managed to leak inside the camera which gave this red-purple effect on the exposed frame.

frame 4 | wide image
35 mm frame 4 | Niort 2020

It's true that mechanical cameras are built to last, besides they are beautiful pieces of art to collect, nevertheless for a beginner, it would be better to start with a reflex camera, with a light meter built in, or even a recent point-and-shoot camera. Otherwise, if you enjoy the slow process and controlling every setting manually and you are fond of craftsmanship art, go ahead with a fully manual camera.

Taking photos on film is time-consuming and it can get costly quickly, especially nowadays with film stock which gets more expensive every year, without talking about camera prices.

Finally, the phone or the daily camera with us is enough to take unlimited photos, however having that limited number of frames in your roll and the patience to finish it, maybe even developing in your own darkroom. The colours, the contrast, and the grains that you will never reproduce on your digital sensor, that's why shooting film is such an enjoyable challenge.