I developed three rolls of B&W film today, from three different cameras. I’ve not been keeping track, but I think it was only the second time I’ve developed film since my operation last spring.
I totally embrace digital photography and love it, but there’s still a part of me that is drawn to B&W film. Partly it’s the process of using chemicals to bring forth images on a strip of plastic, partly the aesthetics of B&W film itself, and partly because I like using film cameras.
By that, I don’t mean classic cameras only, though I’ve owned my share of them. I tend to like modern-era film cameras with built-in metering and other conveniences. As I age, I appreciate the autofocus capabilities of my DSLRs, and doubly appreciate AF in a film camera.
When I heard that my friend Peter Cameron was thinking of selling his Nikon F80, I let him know I was interested. The F80 has a lightweight body — an increasingly important feature for me — plus bunches of goodies built in. Excellent built-in metering (AF lenses only, alas), and mount compatibility with any AI or AIS lens. For an automated camera, including auto wind to the next frame, it’s very quiet.
As it worked out, I’m starting to thin my collection of AIS manual-focus lenses and had Peter try out the Voigtlander F-mount Ultron 40mm f/2 I’d picked up a couple of years ago. He enjoyed using it and when I proposed a swap, F80 for Ultron, he agreed, but fearing he was getting too good a bargain, is throwing in a pre-AI Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 with hood into the swap. That’s lovely, because I can use that classic glass on my Nikon D40 DSLR.
I don’t know how much longer I’ll stay interested in film — it’s not a philosophical obsession for me — but while I still like it and can manage to develop it, I’ll continue to use it. I enjoy the way it connects me to photography’s past, especially its remarkable history of 35mm cameras, lenses, films, and photographers.