I’ve recently bought myself a giant of a camera. An absolutely beautiful Mamiya RB67. It’s old. It’s nearly as old as I am, dating back to about 1983 as far as I can tell from the Serial Number.
You may be wondering why, in this age of digital, someone would want to buy an old film camera and to be honest, it’s not an easy question to answer. To start with, I trained with film and I used an awful lot of it throughout my first 10-15 years as a photographer. Any of the people reading this who also worked on the cruise ships will remember the early morning starts to go and stand in a pitch black room and load 200+ canisters with Konica film (possibly the worst film ever made). So, I have a history with film, and to be honest, I missed it.
I missed the whole process of loading a film and winding it on. I missed the sounds of the gearing when you cock the shutter, most of all, I missed the state of almost meditative concentration at that point where you’ve taken your light readings, you’ve set the aperture and shutter speed and framed your shot and you hold your breath before firing the shutter. Digital cameras just don’t have the same satisfying noise as an old film camera, especially a medium format monster like the RB67. The sound of the shutter releasing and the mirror moving echoed around the woods I was shooting in, startling wildlife for hundreds of metres all around.
For some reason, shooting on film just feels more creative. I don’t know if it’s because you can’t tell what you’ve shot for a couple of weeks afterwards (120 film takes a long time these days – not everything gets faster with progress). It’s also a lot more satisfying to know that when you leave the place you were shooting in, you only have your confidence in your ability to reassure you that you’ve actually shot anything at all.
Over the coming months I’ll be starting to incorporate Ayumu (Come on, you knew I named all my cameras!!) into some Engagement Shoots and Weddings. I’ll still be shooting mainly digital, but the film shots are for my own satisfaction, purely because I love to do it.
I’d be interested to know anyone else’s thoughts on why it’s so satisfying to shoot on film because the more I think about it, the harder it is for me to put my finger on why we’d deliberately make a process harder for ourselves…
For the Photographers, the shots below were a couple of rolls that I put through the camera just to check the backs for light leaks etc. I shot a roll of Kodak Portra 160, Portra 400 and a roll of Ilford HP5. There’s also a few Polaroids shot on pretty much the only film you can use in the Mamiya Polaroid back now, Fuji FP100. As a side note, I’ll be trying a process to reclaim the negatives from the FP100 backing papers in the next couple of weeks. Should be interesting for the camera nerds at least 🙂
All processing was done by UKFilm Lab – Thanks to them, mainly for not putting quality control stickers on my shots 🙂