What would you use first to learn about your camera and lenes, B&W Film or Color.

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by papisa, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. papisa

    papisa Member

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    I just bought the other day an older Canon AE-1 SLR manual camera, it came with 3 lens and a couple of flash attachments. Would you start off with color film or B&W film to learn how the camera and lenes work well together and film you would start with=Newbe.

    Mike.
     
  2. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    I would start with kodak tri-x in d76
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you like B&W or color prints, and you're not processing your own film, I'd recommend getting your film developed at a lab that can give you real contact sheets (not digital contact sheets), so you can see if your exposures are accurate. Then select the images you like from the contact sheet to have printed. It's more involved than just dropping the film off at a drug store and picking up a stack of prints, but you'll learn more that way.

    Alternately, shoot color slide film. It won't give you much leeway for missed exposures, and it forces you to compose for the frame, both of which are great ways to learn. When I haven't had access to a darkroom, I've generally shot color slides exclusively.
     
  4. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Mike,

    Ditto to David's comment about slide film. Since there's little leeway with slide film, it's ideal for checking the accuracy of meters, shutter speeds, etc. Just jot down a record of exposure data as you go.

    Konical
     
  5. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I would start with the instruction manual. Then I would get a roll and shoot of b&w c41 film to have run by a local minilab.
     
  6. dphill

    dphill Member

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    Hello Mike,
    I too will agree with David and Konical. Slide film is an excellent way to learn how your camera's meter sees the exposure.
    It is a very practical exercise. Pay attention and you will have your meter figured out in 3 or 4 rolls of slides.

    Have fun,

    Dan
     
  7. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    Slide film will give you the most accurate story on how your equipment is working. Negative film and thus prints= 2 steps where changes can be made.
     
  8. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Mike,

    It depends on what you want to use it for. If you're going to shoot B+W, shoot B+W; if you're going to shoot slide, shoot slide; etc.

    Personally I'd stick a roll of colour print through it to be sure it works at all (quick, cheap and easy), and examine the negs as well as the prints (I wouldn't go to the expense of contact sheets); then, if I were planning on shooting slide, a roll of slide to see how the exposures went.

    Shoot fine, high-contrast detail, such as twigs against the sky, to see how much if flares; shoot a newspaper or rest target to see what the resolution is like; shoot a brick wall to test distortion (pincushion or barrel).

    Few shutters get faster as they age, so it may overexpose, but if you're shooting negative (colour or mono), how much do you care? I have an old Pentax SV where the speeds beyond 1/15 are all about half what is marked. The overexposure gives lovely tonality with many mono films...

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)
     
  9. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I think that was supposed to read twice, not half (i.e. 1/15 becomes 1/8, which of course are 15 and 8 on the shutter dial).
     
  10. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

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    Roger hits the nail on the head!

    I think that Roger has hit the nail on the head. A nice medium speed (200) color print film can be processed with fairly accurate results by most quicky labs. Shoot the film at box speed and it will give you an indication of how well the metering and automation of the camera behave. Transparency films are good stuff, but remember that unlike BW negative there are differences whether you expose for shadows or highlights. Getting into a little more advanced stuff here.

    The AE-1 was my stock 35mm for many years and they are great cameras. Seems like if they work, they work. The major thing to watch for is the light seals getting gummy and failing. Kits are available to cure this. The A series is also notorious for the mirror bearings drying out and making a squeak or squeal. Listen to your camera for this, as it can cause issues. This can be remedied without a full CLA; kits again are available to extend the life of the bearing without replacing it.

    Once you have determined the camera is functional, pick ONE BW film and learn with it. Tri-X and TMax in the 320/400 range are OK, but IMHO are not the best learner films due to the speed and other concerns. A good slower speed film such as Plus-X or Ilford FP4 will give you a fuller range of shooting options, latitude for longer and flash exposures, and are very easy films to establish a solid understanding of a particular film/developer routine.

    Color is pretty wide open, again I recommend medium speed films, and have become partial to the Fuji for transparency. Have fun, and welcome!
     
  11. Shane Knight

    Shane Knight Member

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    Hello and Welcome Mike,

    The first thing I would do is put a roll of color c-41 and drop it off at a one hour photo lab or better a pro-lab if you have one close by. Have fun for the day shooting all different kinds a subjects (close up, far away). To keep the variables down to the minimum, I would choose one lens (normal) and put the others away for awhile. Inspect the pictures for anything that my not look right, ex. light leaks, underexposed/overexposed at great measures, very out of focus (or shallow DOF through out), half black images...

    Remember, some variables my be from your lab or your lack of experience (I say that kindly because I do not know where you are in your photography.)

    Depending where you are in your photography below may or may not help at this time:

    To fully examine and understand how your camera/meter and lenses are performing with minimum variables, I suggest using E-6 slide film. If you do not have much experience with shooting E-6, at first the results may be discouraging because of the small latitude/forgiveness. If you are not familiar with E-6 films, it may not be the best medium to test run a camera for mechanical errors. If you need help learning E-6, please check the APUG Archives or just ask any of us on APUG.

    If you are at the point that you can process your own black and white film; then I would suggest testing with black and white film you have experience with.

    Welcome and I hope the camera works out for you.

    Shane Knight
    www.shaneknight.com
     
  12. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    IMO, it depends on whether you're also learning to process your own film. If yes, then by all means use B&W -- you'll learn more, faster, about sharpness, DOF, etc. (IMO) with B&W rather than with color confusing the issue, but if you don't process your own film, then buy a bunch of Costco "Kirkland" film (rebranded Fuji, last I checked) and get it processed at Costco as well. Results in an hour (I can't get my B&W done that fast, the film won't be dry enough to scan, much less prints washed and dried), and your cost for film, processing, prints, and a CD will be under $10 for a 24 exposure roll.

    And if you feel you'd like to try B&W before getting you feet wet processing your own, then get a couple rolls of either Kodak's current C-41 B&W (BW400CN, is the last name I recall for it) or Ilford XP-2 Super -- Costco can handle either one as well as color, and they make nice images (though, like any color film, they don't have the lasting potential of a silver-image emulsion).