Just over a week ago my Olympus SP 35 arrived and I set about shooting film for the first time in over 15 or so years. There were a lot of reasons I wanted to try shooting film (mostly because Jairo persuaded me to!) but I was also a bit hesitant and unsure. Part of me suspected that I’d either completely fall in love with it, or quickly return to digital. Well neither has happened (yet) but here are the highlights and lowlights from my week of shooting film (which included getting a roll of film developed).
That real shutter feel and sound
The first impression I had was the shutter. It’s an incredibly satisfying feeling and sound when you hear that CLICK and then pull the film round. There’s something wonderful about that mechanical action. I think I understand the idea of the decisive moment a bit better thanks to it. You can’t quickly hit snap again (well with some fancier film cameras you can) instead, I have to take it down, reload and then get position.
The noise did put me off getting as close as I normally would as it is much more noticeable. I’m sure I’ll get over it soon.
A roll can be motivation to stay out
I wanted to get through a roll quickly so I could get it developed. As such I stayed out shooting longer than I might have had I been shooting digitally. The idea of “I need 36” images was very powerful.
Getting film developed is exciting
Dropping film off to get developed is really exciting. You might have an idea that there is one or two photos that were good but there is a bit of fear that you might have messed it up. Then there’s the possibility that something went really right with another image.
I didn’t find the shift to not having an LCD screen to be that strange. I usually try and set my digital cameras to not show a preview but either be off or show the settings (to save battery power). In fact it seemed pretty natural to me. Still it did feed the excitement about getting a roll of film developed.
The weight is similar to my Fuji
The Olympus SP35 felt pretty similar to my Fuji x100t (it’s probably different but I didn’t really noticed it at all. I can feel the difference with my Olympus OM-D EM–1 and pro 12–40mm lens, but not really with these cameras). That makes it nice for walking around with.
The focusing ring
I didn’t think the Fuji’s focusing ring was that bad, but now I’ve tried the olympus’s focusing ring, I know I was wrong. The reference points on the Olympus really help with focusing. Getting hyper focal quickly or shifting to focusing to a couple of meter’s isn’t to difficult. I also love using reference points on the ground to focus on.
Metering by eye/app
I don’t (yet) have a battery for the built in light meter. That means I had to download an app (lux) to meter. I started to try and guess the settings before checking. It’s all a bit of guess work and unlike a mirrorless camera, you can’t see how a scene will actual turn out as you shoot.
My first roll of film was empty!
So this is the big surprise of my story. After getting the film developed, it turned out that the whole roll was clean…nothing on it. My suspicion is that I accidentally didn’t load it correctly so it didn’t thread the film through. I believe I’ve done it correctly with my second roll but I was a bit stung by that experience. I thought I had taken some good shots and now to have lost them is annoying. Still it’s a learning process. [This was the point I hoped to share some images from that roll.]
I’m looking to get a battery for my olympus (they aren’t that easy to find) which should help a but and I hope this current roll turns out okay. I’d hate to be stung by buying a broken
Camera. But even if it does work fine, is it really worth it? The experience is different for sure and there is something really pleasant about it but the costs do add up.
As I mentioned yesterday, buying and developing a roll of film is roughly the same as a decent 16GB SD cards here in Krakow. I know you can reduce costs by developing yourself but it’s still a cost. Plus you have to take the rolls with you.
In contrast, I’ve even been wondering about trying iPhone (or smartphone) street photography more (even thought there are aspects I find very difficult with it). So in summary I’m not really that sure. I guess the best course of action is just to continue and see what the future holds.