Beginner with a Nikon FM, need filter and film advice
Hi, just got a Nikon FM recently with a nikkor 50mm lens, no accessories. What would be a good film stock to start off with? Is slide film better for learning? Are these filter kits for beginners any good or should I buy filters individually?
I plan on shooting urban landscapes and street photography in color, mostly during the day but I'd like to experiment with night shots too.
I'd suggest negative film is better for learning as it's more forgiving. However, you certainly ought to try some slide film before too long.
Black and white is awfully fun too - and in my opinion, black-and-white film photography is the best way to shoot black and white.
Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.
Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?
I concur with Jim
Start off with negative film. Negative film is more forgiving of exposure errors than slide film. With negative film, you (the lab) have a 2nd chance to correct the exposure when making the print. With slide film, you only have one chance and it better be good.
I recommend that you choose and use ONE film. Bouncing between several different types and speeds of film as you are learning is a mistake waiting to happen. Change film, but forget to change the ISO setting on the camera, and you will expose the entire roll at the wrong ISO setting. Worse yet, load another roll of film and shoot it at the same incorrect ISO setting. Been there, done that.
I would select a medium speed film, ISO-100. I shoot ISO 100 B&W film, and the local college recommends ISO 100 B&W film for their photo 101 student. But going up to ISO 200 is a decent compromise for a bit faster film. IMHO don't bother with the high speed film (ISO 400 and higher) until you are comfortable with the camera and what it can and cannot do. Then the high speed stuff is like a tool in your tool box. You use the right film for the job, just like you would use the right tool for the job.
If you have access to do your own printing in a darkroom, I would start of with Black and White film negative film instead of color. Again choose a medium speed film.
Night shots are fun, but you need to work with your lab when they print it. They may try to "correct the exposure" and try to make the print look like a daylight image, when you WANT the black of the night and deep shadows.
If you shoot at night, you NEED a good tripod and a cable release, for the LONG exposures you will be doing.
And a small flashlight to find your stuff and set the camera in the dark, and a notebook and pen to write down exposure and subject info.
IMHO, don't bother with the kit. I am unimpressed by most kits, and this one is not an exception. They sell you stuff that you do not need, like the ND filter, ba hum-bug.
All you need are 2 filters, and only one immediately
#1 - a UV or Skylight filter, to protect the front of your lens. Yes there is a HUGE debate over using or not using filters. But in my experience, I found that a "protection" filter does indeed protect the front of the lens from various "stuff." And this stuff includes young kids with ketchup on their fingers. YUK. Been there, done that. Throwing away and replacing a filter is cheaper than throwing away and replacing a lens.
#2 - a polarizing filter. Just like a polarizing sunglass, it removes glare from the image making colors pop. BUT, it is not a magic filter, there are time when it makes little to no difference.
I use it, but probably less than 1% of the time when shooting color.
And since I don't and probably you won't use this filter a lot, you don't need to buy it right now, you can wait and buy it when you feel like it.
Do get a lens hood for the lens. Nikon makes specific lens hoods for the various lenses.
Go to this web page, scroll to the bottom and find your lens in the table that goes from "part I" to "part X"
Somewhere on the linked page they specify the hood that is specific to that lens. Now you can search eBay for the correct lens hood.
Get a lens cleaning kit and learn how to use it. Because your lens and the filter in front WILL get dirty.
You've heard the term RTFM. Read The F------ Manual.
If you don't have the camera manual, find it online and download it, or get one of the 3rd party books on your camera.
Many basic questions are in the manual, if you read it...like how to use the light meter.
Even how to load the film. Side comment, I used to work in a camera shop, and some tourist would come in and buy a roll of film and have us unload and reload their camera for them. They did not know how to load their own camera. RTFM.
Tip: I recommend that you develop the film from a shoot ASAP, even if you only shot half the roll. The reason is you want to see what you shot and if you need to do anything to improve the shot. Or if there is a major problem, might be able to go back and re-shoot it. If you wait till you finish the roll, it could be months after you shot the pix, and you won't have the details fresh in your head. For that reason, think about getting some short rolls. 12, 20, 24 exposure, besides the full length 36 exposure rolls. Then before the shoot, think about how much you might shoot, and load the appropriate length film into the camera.
enuf for now
gud luk and gud shooting
I'd argue that slide film can be a viable option for a beginner wanting to learn exposure and color. My reasoning is that you can instantly tell by looking at the film if you've nailed the exposure or not. Color negative film is hard to read, and if a lab does the printing for you, your mistakes might be "smoothed over", meaning you won't learn from them.
I cut my teeth on slide film, and I don't regret it even though it was a steep learning curve (years later I still haven't mastered it, but I'm getting there).
On the other hand, if the OP is interested in optical printing at home, color negatives are definitely the way to go.
Act12 gives great information. A lens hood provides good protection for the lens, in addition to sometimes improving photographs, Get to know when to use or not use a polarizer. It is the most useful of all filters. As for UV filters as lens protectors, I don't use them and have retired two lenses because of crude cleaning in the field. The cost of replacing those lenses was a tiny fraction of the cost of film they exposed over many years. Any adverse effect from using a UV filter is rarely noticeable, and they are a lot cheaper than lenses.
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Yellow filter is a another good choice.
I would recommend picking a BW film and developing it. There's nothing like the magic of seeing images when you open the tank. Avoid the following mistakes (all of which I've made already.)
1. make sure your chemicals are good.
2. make sure you put enough chemistry in
3. keep it in for the proper time
4. Make sure the reel is nice and dry when you load film otherwise it's a pain.
While I think slide film is better for learning in that you see the direct results of your exposure decisions, I would agree with the suggestion for negative film. It's a whole lot cheaper to buy and to process, which means you can shoot more frequently, which in turn means you have more opportunity to get better at it. Unless cost is not an issue.
The only thing I would disagree with in terms of what AC12 said, and it's a nit, is the suggestion to use short rolls. My experience is that there is so little difference in cost (both film and processing) that you might as well use 36 exp rolls (you can validate this with your own source for film and processing). BUT don't wait to have it processed; if you have to occasionally waste 8-12 frames, it's a small price to pay. If you were bulk loading film and processing it yourself, I'd agree with the short roll suggestion.
If you're doing a lot of low light photography, you might want to consider ISO 400 film.
Since I assume you don't plan to process your own film, at least for now, you have to consider where you get the film processed. I don't know where you're located, but serious labs are getting few and far between. Mail order processing takes too long to evaluate and learn. So that leaves a minilab. Find one that is close and does reasonable volume. I like Costco (they treat their employees better so they stick around longer) but it's really dependent on how much volume they do and how much the "tech" running the minilab cares. If you find someone good, bring it to the minilab when he/she is there. If you have an independent camera shop with minilab, all the better.
"Far more critical than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know." - Eric Hoffer
I wouldn't worry about filters (not even for protective purposes). A lens hood will give you more protection and have a more noticeable effect on the quality of your shots. There are quite a few Nikkor 50mm's out there, but I believe most of them take 52mm attachments (as you seem to have already deduced).
I would recommend Fuji Superia at ISO 200 as a good starting film. 36 exposures can be had for $2.50 at B&H. It's not the greatest color film ever made, but still very good-- and it's dirt cheap, so you don't have to fret too much if you make a mistake. Kodak Gold is even cheaper (although I've heard some bad things about it's color reproduction). If you want to try lowlight photography, the Superia should hold up better and will be worth the extra .50 cents.
Don't pass up on shooting (and developing) B&W film as well. I dislike B&W C-41 film immensely, and I would say the relatively low cost of buying the basics for home development is more than worth it in quality and control. Honestly, most films are great, although the classic starter film is Kodak Tri-X. My favorite B&W film for landscapes and architecture is Ilford PanF+, although I've never shot it in 35mm.
You did not specify if you wanted to shoot color or B&W. Your mention of slide makes me think you want to shoot in color, not B&W.
In favor of color negative film. You can still find places that will do 1 hour processing of color negative film, but NOT color slide film nor B&W.
A yellow filter is only good if he is shooting B&W.
I shoot slide film, and the thing with slide is that it does not forgive your exposure mistakes, you don't have a 2nd chance to salvage it. What it does do is force you to learn to expose correctly.
I agree with you about 36x rolls. If you don't know how much you will shoot, which most of the time you won't, so you would probably load a 36x roll.
If film price is like jspillane quoted for Fuji Superia at $2.50 a roll, I agree, just buy 36x rolls and buy it in bulk.