Farewell to Film

Bessa R3A (by StarbuckGuy)

Last Friday I sold my Bessa R3a and Nokton 40mm f/1.4 s.c. lens. I felt as if part of me, a photographic part of me, had died. Selling that body and lens was hard. I’m seriously glad it went to someone I know will love it like I did.

The Bessa was the biggest hurdle on the way to dispensing with all my film gear. I’ve been thinning my collection for some time, but even though I kept thinking I’d shoot some film, I never did. When the choice came down to shooting with film or digital, I went with digital every time.

After months and months of this, it became apparent that my film gear, lovely as it is, was sitting on the shelf. I don’t like to see good cameras sit on the shelf, so I decided, once and for all, to go 100% digital.

Certainly convenience and speed of turnaround were the biggest factors in my decision. Life is short, something you really feel when you reach your 60’s. I no longer wanted to spend time developing film and scanning it. Even though I love film, I love digital even more, so it’s not as if I’m surrendering to some Dark Side.

My main interest in film is B&W and I still maintain, as I always have, that film B&W and digital B&W are different — that film has more subtlety. However, I have also discovered Nik’s excellent Photoshop (and Lightroom) plug-in, Silver Efex Pro. The digital B&W’s I’m pulling from that are so satisfying that I’ve not felt the need for film to express myself in B&W. Once I fully realized that, the writing was on the wall.

Another critical factor was purchasing a Panasonic G1. Because the sensor on the G1 is located so far forward, it can be adapted to a huge range of lens mounts, including rangefinder lenses. I sent to Shanghai for Leica-M, Nikon F, and Pentax M42 adapters. With them I can use any of my existing manual focus lenses. I no longer needed the film bodies.

I’ll either sell, or give away, my remaining three film bodies. Then I’ll thin my lens collection to just those manual-focus lenses I intend to use regularly. It’s time to move on.

One of the things I’ve moved on to is writing. I’ve always written, but it’s become a major focus for me now. Fiction as well as nonfiction. Personal writing, plus writing on assignment.

Another thing I’m doing is catching up on about three to four decades of pop culture — movies and TV shows, especially. I missed a lot of great stuff and I’m now in viewing overdrive, and loving it.

So, goodbye film. It was a long love affair, about 50 years. I hate to see you go, and I’ll never forget you. Sadly, though, you won’t be missed.

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About Gene Wilburn

Gene Wilburn is a writer ~ photographer ~ humanist
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10 Responses to Farewell to Film

  1. Gordon Coale says:

    I’m still using film but my Panasonic G1 certainly has me rethinking the role of film for me. When I pull beautiful 10×13 prints off my HP B9180 using the G1 kit lens I have to take a close look at what I want to use film for. With my M39 and M42 lenses added to the mix the little G1 will do quite a bit. I love my M42 Pentax macro Takumar 50/4 but it will only be used on the G1 from now on. If I had to reduce to one camera it would be the G1. Of course I would always keep my grandfather’s Leica IIIc with the Summitar.

  2. Gene says:

    Gordy, I love using the M42 Pentax macro Takumar 50/4 on my G1 too. Plus, as I get on in age, I’m not as taken with processing film as I was when I was younger. And the G1 produces such amazing shots! But, absolutely, you want to keep your grandfather’s IIIc. That’s a family heirloom.

  3. Kathy says:

    I thought (just from viewing your images lately) that you had gotten rid of your film gear. Everything you mentioned is what I dislike about 35mm and have only gotten around to shooting with toy cams. With color stupid lab people damage your negatives, or you have to take time to develop, scan and sleeve regular negatives. I’m actually looking forward to the new d300 to be released in the fall so I can get a cheap d300. I also recently got a 12 megapixel lumix and am happy carrying that around instead of xa. But, a few months ago when I changed systems I sold that 135mm pentax you gave me, and I have a feeling I need to pick it up again. It was one of the nicest lenses I have ever used. I also finally tried out the 135mm you gave me a few months ago at the racetrack. check my blog for the images, its a sharp #. I have to thank you again!

  4. Gene says:

    The D300 is an amazing camera. Heavy, though. Those 135mm lenses are often amazingly sharp. Which Lumix are you using?

  5. joe says:

    i am in the same boat going through the same process. i never reach for a film camera any more.
    i love my little g1 but buying and using the rd1 is what pushed me over. the rf experience, my zeiss m lenses and digital make too attractive a package to ignore.

    joe

  6. Gene says:

    Joe, it seems we’re all converging to the same spot. Using our classic lenses on a digital body. And it’s so much fun!

  7. Gordon Coale says:

    I must add one more thing. As much fun and as capable as the G1 is sometimes it is nice to shoot with a camera that you only have to worry about aperture and shutter speed. You don’t have to worry that you have the right ISO set or the right white balance or any other of the myriad choices set appropriately. It is great that those choices are there but sometimes I need a cleansing of the palate, so to speak. That Canon P with the J12 and the black Spotmatic SP with the 24mm lens are calling: “Shoot me! Shoot me!” I hear. I obey.

  8. adam says:

    Sorting out life’s priorities, eh? Well done.

  9. Gene says:

    Adam, thanks. I know you’ve been facing the same.

    Gordy, there’s a lot to be said for the classic approach with classic cameras.

  10. Kathy says:

    Gene, I’m using the Panasonic DMC-FX100. Seems kind of grainy when I under expose, but I got it for $200 and it even has image stabilization. I wanted a canon, and might go that route again just so i can use the CHDK scrips. I do like the g9 and g10 but they are hard to find used.

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