Film OR Digital, Not Both!
Matthew Osborne Photography
I am a big fan of film photography, 35mm Leicas and various medium format film cameras. I much prefer the results of film over digital, whether colour film or black and white. What annoys me the most is I shoot very little film as a percentage of the total number of photos I shoot. I often try to have a film camera with me when using my digital Leica M9. The problem I find is two or three hours may pass, the model shoot has finished and I get so caught up in the moment with digital I forget to shoot any film.
On a recent trip abroad I was doing some street photography.
On the first day I took three cameras, the usual! Two film cameras (Leica M2 and Fuji GF670 Pro) and the digital Leica M9. I also had four Leica M lenses with me to chose from. As a result I wasted far to much time trying to decide what equipment to use and camera back with mostly digital photos.
I only packed two film cameras plus the Sekonic light meter, leaving the Leica M9 at home.
(1) The 35mm Leica M2 film camera with 50mm Leica Summicron f2 lens attached (+ 1.4x viewfinder magnifier from my Leica M9)(to give me a similar view to the Leica M3) loaded with black and white Kodak T-Max 100 film.
(2) The medium format film Fuji GF670 folding camera loaded with colour 120 Kodak Portra film with the 6×6 format selected. (the camera gives the option of 6×6 or 6×7 but I prefer square format).
I metered the light on arrival in the shadows and then put the light meter away for the rest of the day. I knew I would be shooting mostly in the shadow of the buildings plus film tends to retain highlight detail more than digital. I started with the Leica M2 shooting B&W, looking for rectangular composition and where the light played a big part of the image. I then switched to my Fuji GF670 and instead started to look for strong colours in the frame and a square composition. The Fuji GF 670 is much more modern vs. the M2 so has a light meter to help you get the correct exposure. That said, film is so forgiving I do not worry too much if I am +1 /+2 or -1 / -2 over or under exposed by guessing the exposure using the Leica M2.
By only having one lens on each camera and only film cameras I was 100% focused on each photo I was taking. I didn’t have two cameras around my neck. One in use in my hand and the other packed safely away in my Billingham bag so not to be a distraction. I had an enjoyable walk with the cameras and came away much more satisfied that when I shot potentially similar images with the digital Leica M9 the day before.
I think the key to ‘success’ is if I want to shoot film then I must put the digital camera away and use one film camera at a time, not try to juggle one in each hand and have the Leica M9 around my neck.
After having recently bought the medium format film Fuji GF670 and now also the 35mm film Leica M3 I am more determined than ever to start shooting more film. I find it just as easy as shooting digital and film is more forgiving in terms of latitude (if I can only list one advantage of film over digital!)
Five rolls of C41 film are due back from the lab imminently so I will get some new examples posted soon once scanned, including the first images from the Fuji GF670 that I am very excited to see!