Can't Afford digital, film?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Scorp, Feb 28, 2005.

  1. Scorp

    Scorp TPF Noob!

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    I can imagine that I'm not the first wise ass to come and ask questions like these so I'll try to be as exact and specific with my questions as possible.

    I've been dreaming about getting a digital rebel but I can't afford one. So this let my mind down the road of film SLR cameras. These cameras can be had (from what I can tell for under $300; sometimes even around $70 on ebay) and they will let me actually get into photography now as apposed to waiting for the $800 to by a DR. (I'm a High School senior, so money is tight, unfortunately.)

    Does this plan make sense? I know the advice people give about taking pictures is: "Take many pictures, always bring a camera" but with film I can't chose which pictures I want? When I go to a photolab to have them developed they just develop everything right, and I pay for everything? So this way I can't take as many pictures as I want because I'm limited by film and the cost of film. Would it be an expensive process to develop the film myself?

    Finally if you do suggest film photography for now, what should I go with? What sort of film camera did you find good when you were a newbie? What would you buy now? I understand this question probably gets asked at a rate of 6 per hour on these forums. Feel free to post links or advice or what not, keep the abuse of the newbie to a minimum :)

    thank you all.
     
  2. Dweller

    Dweller Inconspicuous Supporter

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    I was faced with this question about a year ago.

    I went with film but wish many times over that I had gone digital. Film averages about $10 per roll for the film and developing of 24 photos. That adds up pretty quick. I enjoy my camera very much but if I had to do over again I would have tried (as hard as it can be) to hold out for digital.

    As a newbie I would suggest a camera that can be run totally manually. I picked up a used Canon AE-1 Program that I use manually almost all the time but I can switch to program mode to either set aperature, shutter or both for me. The one feature I would like and dont have is auto focus for those times when I am capturing a moving target. I put an auto winder on it so I can do something like 3 frames a second (need to double check that number) but with auto focus it could handle the focusing for me as the target moved toward or away from me.

    When you consider the pros and cons... especially that $10 a roll number.. digital starts to look pretty appealing. You pay now with Digital or you pay later with film.

    Either way its a very enjoyable hobby.
     
  3. sillyphaunt

    sillyphaunt TPF Noob!

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    Tough question. I went digital, and now I wish I had gotten film. Simply because it is easier (IMO) to cheat on digital. I wish I had learned first on film and gotten the basics down pat before I got digital. Now I feel like I'm playing catch up and learning things that people who shot film first learned much sooner.

    You might consider getting one of the lower end SLRs.. I have a Fuji Finepix S7000. It's a 6MP, with full Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and most of the features that many of the high end (D-Rebel, Nikon D70) have. I have seen them going on Ebay for about $400-$500. You don't have to buy any lenses, so that's the real price.

    I do want a higher end camera, but this one has been great to learn on. I've been able to really focus on learning Apertures/Shutter Speeds. i figure in a year or two I will upgrade, but right now all the extra features would be wasted on me because I don't have a full grasp of the basics yet.

    But Dweller has a good point. Learning IS cheaper on a digital, simply because you aren't burning through film with all your mistakes. You have instant feedback on your techniques, and can shoot the same thing 30 times if you need, to get it right.

    I am shooting Black and White right now on an old Canon AE-1, and developing it myself in the college darkroom. The only money I'm out is for film ($5 a roll) and paper (about $15 a package).

    If you CAN, I would highly recommend doing the darkroom. I have really enjoyed the nitty gritty of making my own prints, and it helps you further appreciate photography.

    Anyway, long winded, but really I think it depends on what you want to do with it. Do you really want to just take some cool looking photos? Or are you wanting to learn the "art" of taking pictures and how to manipulate your results?

    If you're mostly interested in getting results, I'd wait for the digital, but if you really want to learn the most, I'd go film. That's just my personal opinon. YOu can certainly learn it all on digital, i just think it takes a bit longer. At least it has for me.
     
  4. Kodan_Txips

    Kodan_Txips TPF Noob!

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    If you are at college, investigate if there is a way to get your films and prints produced more cheaply. Maybe the college or Uni has a camera club, so you could get your film developed, but not printed, and then you can get fellow students to recommend which shots are worth printing, and then print them for you.

    Shoot slides, these can be bought with process paid, so you buy the film and pay for the processing when you feel rich, and then don't have to worry so much later.

    Investigate buying films in long rolls, and making it into 36 shot lengths yourself. (I used to do this 35 years ago, don't know if it is possible now.)

    Don't forget that you still have to pay to have digital prints made from your digicam.

    Ebay also sells digital cameras, maybe even for only 70 dollars. Investigate that option.

    A problem. If you get a digicam, how are you going to look at your shots? On the LCD panel? This wears out the batteries, and doesn't look much good. You will need a PC, or maybe a camera that connects to a TV. All of which = extra costs.

    It is possible to improve your photography a lot faster with a film SLR, in my opinion, because it is GOOD to be mean about what you photograph. Make composition a pre production process, rather than an afterthought. I find the slack attitude that digicams bring about in me a bit alarming - I often go out with my digicam and take 50 shots, come home, delete all but one of them. I am a lot more careful with my film SLR.

    And anyway, when I am at my PC I want to play Ultima Online nonstop, I don't want to mess around trying to rescue a faulty snap.
     
  5. sillyphaunt

    sillyphaunt TPF Noob!

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    Also, if you go film, I would really recommend an older camera. I love my Canon AE-1, its basic, not too much to mess with, and gets great results. :)
     
  6. walter23

    walter23 TPF Noob!

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    Forgive me if I say anything redundant (didn't feel like reading the replies you've already got) but I would suggest getting the most inexpensive film SLR (or even rangefinder) you can find, preferably used, and saving your money for a dSLR. I bought an Elan 7n (CAN$500 film SLR) which I really enjoy, but I'm getting very sick of paying for developing and I'm planning to buy a dSLR soon - although that comes with costs you wouldn't think of too, like archiving your photos (I'd want a DVD burner), printing at a lab or the cost of an inkjet or dye-sub printer, memory cards, etc...

    Right now I usually go to the lab about once a month and spend $150 to $200 for film processing. I could do it at the big chain store (the bad "w" word) for 1/3rd that but it's not worth the hassle, since no matter what I say to the big chain store they always discard my night shots as blank frames (when they aren't) and often screw up other things.
     
  7. sillyphaunt

    sillyphaunt TPF Noob!

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    Kodan: I agree with you, that's what I mean. I usually end up with 100+ shots too, and only 12 that I really like. You can't do that with film unless you're rich. :lol:
     
  8. walter23

    walter23 TPF Noob!

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    I should clarify my response by saying that I think having a film camera is a really good idea anyway, because there are things (such as long night photos, astrophotography, and huge exposure lattitude) that film is far far better at than digital right now.

    You might consider older nikon (although that can get expensive) because their lenses are compatible with new nikon autofocus bodies (including dSLRs) though without autofocus capabilities. With canon on the other hand you'd be wise to stick with an autofocus EOS body, even a rebel or something, because the older canon manual focus lenses can't be mounted on digital SLRs. (I also think minolta and pentax maintain compatibility but I'm not sure)

    If you're not planning for expandability (like interchanging your lenses between a film body and a dSLR) just forget about it and buy a really cheap rangefinder or any other manual-controlled camera with a standard (50mm or so) lens. You can learn a lot.
     
  9. fadingaway1986

    fadingaway1986 I Burn Easily :(

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    I have a Canon EOS 3000N.. It's perfect for what I need... It's basically the low-end SLR... It's lenses will fit on a 300d when I can afford to make the change... But until then I have the best of both worlds... Manual settings for when I feel creative... or Auto for when i feel lazy. Cost me $300AU (would be about $200US) - that came with a 28-90mm lens...
     
  10. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    Last camera I bought was a Pentax Spotmatic with a standard Asahi f1.8 lens. It cost £7.80 - and that's a lot of film to develop before you catch up with a digital rebel. It's also going to produce better images at 50mm and will teach you more. It also won't be stolen from the bar, and if it is, you can afford another one. Same goes if you drop it (it may survive - the digital won't).
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    It doesn't matter which one you choose, it's gonna cost you ;) Make your choice on on other factors than price. Shooting a couple of rolls of film a week for a year would probably cost $1000+ just in film and processing.

    If you can't afford a DSLR , and you want to start now I'd say it sounds like you are stuck with film. There is no doubt you can get a really nice, used 35mm SLR for under $50. I love film, but you said you're dreaming about digital, so you need a plan to get that camera.

    Some of the point-n-shoot style digital cameras offer some manual exposure contols for a lot cheaper than a DSLR. Maybe start with one of those, and save for the DSLR?
     
  12. catweh00

    catweh00 TPF Noob!

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    I sent you a pm.
    Craig
     

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