So hard to start up with film!

Discussion in 'Industry News' started by RattyMouse, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    I have been agonizing over getting back into film. Back and forth and back and forth....over and over and over. I want so much to buy a GF670 medium format film camera. I know I can buy in cheaper but I dont want to do that. I certainly dont want to buy a 35mm camera. I want to get a new medium format camera and the GF670 is it.

    Yet all I read about is how the processing part of the film industry is collapsing. My research on where to get film developed in Shanghai China (where I live) is nothing but an exercise in futility. A city of 27 million people has virtually no film developers except super cheapo mom & pops that dont give a damn if your negatives survive the process. Maybe 1 or 2 pro labs, maybe.

    I have very little interest in scanning. I want glorious, beautiful, medium format prints. Color prints. Like I used to get 15 years ago shooting 6 X 9. I have shot hundreds of rolls of film in that format and just love the prints you get from that.

    My deadline to get this camera is only a few weeks away and I just cant pull the trigger. I wasted so much time on digital and now am facing a dead end.

    I post this as a cry for help!
     
  2. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    Finding a place that develops and prints can be hard today as you have noticed.
    On the other hand, darkroom equipment is cheap and plentiful so why not have a go at it yourself?

    Good luck.
     
  3. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    If I were living at home in the US, I would do that no question. However, I'm an expat living in China and do not know how long I will be here. Could be 1 more year, could be 5 more years, could be 6 months. I can't start buying dark room equipment in such an environment.
     
  4. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I would suggest that you look around for mail order labs, I don't know what the postal service is like in Shanghai, but in London, that's what I do. I've got pro labs I can walk to easy, but I prefer to send off, it's easier than walking down one day and walking back the next, got better things to do...

    If film processing collapses in your part of the would, I'd deal with it when it happens. For B&W, processing yourself can be easy, but the enlarging requires a lot more space and kit. I'd reconsider scanning, I know it's taboo to speak of it on this forum, but scanning medium format can give superb results on reasonably inexpensive scanners.

    I will say though, that I don't think you can do any better than a GF670. It's just beautiful to behold, and a statement that in this age of plastic computers for cameras, there are companies making medium format folding cameras. It's very portable and easy to use to, amazing camera really.
     
  5. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    I'm also an expat living abroad and I haven't had a darkroom for the past two years (although I recently got some equipment). I've mostly been developing my own film (not colour though) and using a darkroom whenever I head up to Tokyo (once or twice a year). Like you, I have no idea how long I'll be staying here, but photography is important to me, and to that end, I finally have everything I need to set up a darkroom in my house (I just need the time to do it!).

    How's your Chinese? Maybe there are photo clubs where probably former film photographers hang out. They might know where to go to get developing done. Have you tried asking at the mom and pop shops? They might know too. Or perhaps cameras stores that sell used gear? It's in one of those mom-and-pop used gear shops that I found 2-hour turnaround developing for all colour film - negative or slides! And this in a city of about 800,000 people. I'm sure Shanghai must have something somewhere.

    If not, then how important is it for you to shoot film? Why are you opposed to scanning? I think most photo-finishing places around the world no longer do optical prints -- the negs are scanned and they are printed from that. Perhaps you could develop and scan until you're more sure about what you want. And if not, it either means doing everything yourself, or sticking with digital.
     
  6. Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson Subscriber

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  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    not sure if this is any help, but there are a few labs mentioned in this old thread:
    http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=000Lip

    maybe some are still around that you can use ...

    or ...
    maybe you should become good friends with one of the mom and pop stores you mention
    feed them film and money and they will become your friend too.
    if you don't want to do that, shoot e6 and process your own chromes in a unicolor or jobo drum.
    you don't need an enlarger or darkroom equipment to speak of, just the drum and a roller,
    and you can sell it before you leave china.

    and black/white well, that is as easy as just buying some cheap instant coffee and fixer.
    go to dpug.com and learn how cheap, easy and good using a scanner is and how
    a hybrid workflow might be the way to go, it certainly is for 90% of the color labs out there ...

    goodluck !
    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2012
  8. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Thanks everyone! I appreciate all the replies. Isn't anyone going to play devil's advocate though?
     
  9. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Sure. Buy a Sony NEX 7 and forget film!

    Seriously, though, I'd try to connect with the local film subculture somehow. You might post on this site's forums, sound suitably pathetic/desperate, and see if anyone can help out:

    http://invisiblephotographer.asia/
     
  10. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Yeah, i've made 2 attempts to connect to some local film shooters with only marginal success. None seem to print their images which really boggles my mind. I cannot imagine shooting medium format and not printing. I used to love looking at the images I made from my medium format camera and now feel utterly stupid for surrendering that experience the past 8 years or so. You cannot even get optical prints anymore!! My goodness!
     
  11. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Got lemons? Make lemonade. If you can still get reasonable quality processing or are willing to do B&W, suck it up, get a scanner and sort keepers from crap with digital contacts/proofs. Negs will keep. Do magnificent prints latter.

    I'm in much the same boat after my otherwise superb pro lab stopped ALL film services. Another lab still does great processing--lucky me--but not proofs. Jeesh.

    Contact the site I posted. There are film shooters there who might be able to help.
     
  12. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I agree with jnanian, good thing to do is make friends with someone who processes film, encourage and advise them on process control or the art...

    Then since you may not get the superb quality, also look to a camera with quirks. Super Ikonta or Bessa II.
     
  13. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I had similar suggestion. I don't know if I'd choose that particular camera, but I'd be focussing on imagemaking and not the medium used to do so.
     
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  15. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    My two cents.
    Buy your medium format camera. Develop your films yourself. Not very difficult. Not very expensive. Can be done cheaply without a rotary processor applying extra care.
    Buy a medium format film scanner, a serious one.
    Use an internet printer. You will find all sorts of technologies, optic printing (laser beams), ink-jet, sublimation, who knows what else. Prints get delivered to your address. Easy and risk-free.
    Processing your film allows savings and peace of mind, besides the fun.
    Scanning eliminates all risks in sending your negatives to a laboratory.

    When you are again at home you can undertake optical printing with an enlarger.
     
  16. amsp

    amsp Member

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    Life is too short to not do what you love, buy the camera, start shooting, figure out the rest as you go along. That's my advice. Even if all you end up with right now is negs, imagine the glorious prints you will be making from them once you get your own darkroom or find a good lab. Don't worry so much, just shoot.
     
  17. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Why not get the camera, shoot the film and store it up for the next 1 to 5 years. Then sometime in the future you can process and print as required.
     
  18. CGW

    CGW Member

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    I'm now beaming the Jedi mind trick to Shanghai--"RattyMouse. Buy the GF670. Don't listen to those other voices. Just buy the GF670. Do it soon,,,"
     
  19. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Yes, I often arrive at this thought too. My alternative camera is either a Nikon D700 or D800. I'd love to go full frame digital and now might be the time to do so. It's not medium format, but it is way beyond what i have been doing since I left medium format long ago. This seems the most logical way to go forward but my emotions fight against it.
     
  20. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    Reality check. Take a look at Tim Parkins' Big Camera Comparison. Take a look at the video of a comparison of a Nikon D800 vs Hasselblad H4D-40. They didn't test against film for color acuracy, did they? You know from the comparison that the D800 isn't color accurate, and color is important to you. I'd be asking, "Is this better than Portra?" Personally, I can't see spending $3300 on something that doesn't give me accurate results. Why bother? Look at how the MF camera holds up against an 80Mp back. And you want something less than that? Hello?

    Grab your yardstick, and see what measures up for yourself.
     
  21. Mark Minard

    Mark Minard Member

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    Talk more about your beef with digital. I'm genuinely curious, as I went through my own struggle with this a while back. Once I decided that nothing but a negative and a silver print would do, the rest was easy :wink:
     
  22. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    There is a LOT that I love about digital. I wont go over that. What I hate is the massing of digital files on a hard drive rather than negatives and prints in an album. Now that I live overseas, I print almost nothing. Back in the US I spent hundreds of dollars every few months on ink cartridges. Maybe if I printed more of my digital files, I would not want to shoot film again.

    On the other hand, I LOVE a well made piece of equipment and can see that shooting the Fuji GF670 would be a wonderful experience. It would be slower than digital, which also I would like. The smooth focusing glass, the small, compact folder. Just perfect for the travel photography that I shoot most of the time.

    I have never owned a full frame digital camera before, only shooting with APS-C. So there is some frustrations with the lenses acting so different from my previous film shooting. Part of me thinks that shooting with the D700/800 would be a nice experience. Maybe add a nice Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 to complete the well engineered feeling.

    That's off the top of my head.....
     
  23. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    For me it is my wallet and bank account that fights against getting a top-level digital camera as much as the emotions. :laugh:

    But as processing gets more and more difficult to procure I feel the fight getting less and less. :wink:
     
  24. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Can you share your processing experiences?
     
  25. tim elder

    tim elder Member

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    Buy the medium format camera you want! I mean, this is a site for film users, and I can't promote digital. Sure, digital is easy, but if photography was supposed to be easy, Gene Smith wouldn't have called his class "The Art of Photography Made Difficult."

    Seriously, you do say that there are a few pro labs left where you live - why not use them? The ones that are left are probably very good, or they wouldn't have survived. And how many labs do you really need? I only use one lab for my work.

    Processing film is not difficult. I process my own black & white all the time. If you can get your hands on some chemicals, you'll be souping in no time.

    Good luck.

    -Tim
     
  26. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    However professional the laboratory is, after one learns how to do it processing at home becomes easier, less risky and yields better quality*. Besides, if you want to go on with film sooner or later you have to learn developing by yourself, so why not doing it now.
    It's much easier than commonly thought. You begin with B&W, then you try some C-41.
    E-6 is a bit more critical because you have to keep a stable temperature for around 7 minutes. C-41 has a shorter treatment time and it is easy to produce consistent results without any special device.

    Fabrizio

    * You can use fresh chemicals with one-shot dilutions, while at the lab the chemicals will last a long time, being "regenerated" and corrected in various ways, but nothing beats one-shot chemicals (which you can actually use twice).