roll film vs cut film..

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by mysteryscribe, Sep 6, 2006.

  1. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I just bought a couple of graflex roll film holders on ebay. I got a really good buy if they are what the seller claimed. If nothing else, I needed the frame of one, I seemed to have hit mine with a cutoff wheel, Don't ask.

    But I love the mystique of cut film. Yes roll film is more convenient which is why cut film pretty much lost out for outside the studio shooting. Doesn't matter when you shoot retro nothing draws a crowd like inserting and removing a film holder. Pulling a dark slide really puts you in touch with the early days of the craft. Still it is massively inconvenient.

    I have one roll film with a 127 raptor lens that is really a great little outfit. I shot that retro wedding with it. I want to put together a backup I guess. Also one that will shoot strobe, nothing I have now will do that. I have a very old polaroid roll film 160 made by yashica for polaroid. It is a dynamite lens but the shutter is pure polaroid not very versitile, but for stobe who cares.

    I have one other 2x3 camera but it has the cut film back, I think I want to keep it that way at least for a while. I have a couple of 3x4 and even a 4x5 cut film version so I guess that is enough to satisfy my need to play retroman.

    I guess the question is: Is it just me or do you feel different about the image after manipulating a lot of stuff... Not really a tech question just an attitude one I guess.
     
  2. ksmattfish

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

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    Can you clarify your question? What do you mean by "manipulating", and how does it apply to your subject header "roll film vs. cut film"?
     
  3. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Charlie, if, by "after manipulating a lot of stuff" you mean the decidedly more time-consuming method of shooting with cut film, using the film holders, the dark slide, and the enjoyment some of us get from a more tactile method of shooting, then I would say - nope, you're not alone. :mrgreen:

    Try doing bromoils, if you really wanna talk about feeling vested in an image and "manipulating a lot of stuff". :lol: But, sure. That's the love of the craft.

    Now, if I'm off target up there, then I'll join Matt in waiting for you to clarify what you meant. ;)
     
  4. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    actually terri hit it on the head. It's about investment. You do put more time and effort into every shot you make that way.

    For me, and the old retro cameras, it's a little image control to, but I think terri is closer to what I meant.

    Look you can toss up a digital or even a 35mm slr motor drive ( and I have one like that) and crank off ten shots, then move on down and crank off ten more.

    Or you can be really involved producing that shot. I know marc and a few of the others will say it doesn't matter what equipment you use, but I don't feel that way at all. It does matter. I have shot both ways from the beginning of my career, with a very difficult to load 120 twin lens reflex. It was difficult enough that I tried to plan when to reload it, as a matter of face. And later to a totaly motor advanced 35mm slr. I went from 75 shots a wedding to about 200... now my son in law is several hundred digital images.

    So if you are not shooting for production, do you enjoy the more "invested" feel of photography, or do you feel there is no difference. I think I'm just as curious as to know do you even recognize that there is a difference. Of course to know if there is a difference or not, you have to have loaded a mamiya 645 or pulled a dark slide. At least have done something more involved that dropping a roll of 35mm in the back of your slr. But if you have done that, which do you enjoy more running off a hundreds of shots or manipulating things.

    I'll give you a quick hint about my thinking, as if you needed it. I have a brother who was a big shot executive. On a saturday morning he and I were working with my dad on a cabin he was building. This was at least forty five years ago. So he is driving nails and cutting 2x4s something neither he nor I did regularly.

    "You know dad this is a lot of fun," he said to my father.

    My father, a poorly educated man, replied. "Son a man is never happier than when he works with his hands."
     
  5. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I win! I WIN! :cheer:

    er, wait. It wasn't that kind of question, was it? So there's no prize. :x dammit!
     
  6. ksmattfish

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

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    I guess it's just perspective then. For me the appeal of vintage cameras (sheet or roll) is their simplicity (well, and their cheaper cost). They just don't have all the features and choices I get with a modern camera system, and I kind of like that. Sometimes it seems to me that I spend too much time and energy worrying about or fiddling with setting all the fancy features, selecting the focal length, etc... with a modern camera. With my vintage cameras I have to go with what I got, and it ends up more relaxing to me.

    Now I think this statement is about attitude, and has absolutely nothing to do with the gear for me. There is nothing inherent in a camera with modern features that limits my ability to invest effort; those limitations are all in the photographer's mind. If you let the camera dictate how much effort you are putting into a photograph, well then, you are putting the cart before the mule, IMHO.

    These days when I go out photographing landscapes I carry my Speed Graphic for BW, and my DSLR for color. When I get back to my house how many photos I've taken with each is determined by the subject matter, and whether I wanted color or BW. I spend just as much time with either camera taking the shot. The majority of the time I spend creating my photographs (before processing and printing) doesn't even involve either camera; it's just my eyes and my mind.

    If you are unfamiliar with the gear, of course it takes more time, but after some practice, I'm just as fast (or slow) with my sheet film cameras on a tripod, as I am with any of my roll film cameras on a tripod. If any of the gear truely does slow me down, it's the tripod.

    I've shot my Speed Graphic hand held on a few occasions, and when I get the rangefinder calibrated correctly I plan to do more of it. With a Grafmatic holder I can crank off 7 frames of 4x5 as fast as I can cock the shutter, and cock the film holder (under a minute if I wanted). I very, very, very rarely use the motor drive on my cameras that have that feature. I just don't shoot subjects that require more than a frame or two per minute. Most of my personal work is done at a rate of a half dozen frames per day, or less, even with my DSLR.

    I understand the sense of pride you are talking about though. I get it from doing as much of the process as I can; from finding the scene, making the exposure, through printing the finished photograph. For many years I shot almost all BW film because I have my own BW darkroom, and I could do 100% of the process (short of making the camera, film, paper, etc..., although I'm also interested in those things too) myself. I didn't like shooting color film because I had to give up control to the lab with only 50% done. Now with digital I'm excited about color again. I can go through the process to 80% or 90% completion before giving it up to the lab. When I get a nice ink jet printer I'll be able to control all of the process.
     
  7. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Well this one will do down as difference of opinion. When I see the number of shots at the typical wedding rise with the ease of shooting them, I find it hard to believe as much thought goes into eveyone as it did when the same people were shooting a third the number of shots in the same time period.

    I personally enjoy the fiddling more then the music sometimes.
     
  8. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Well, now you're comparing wedding photography to landscape photography. ;) And the two are completely different animals as far as the approach is concerned. There are a few shots during the wedding event where some luxury of setup time is allowed, but most of the time you are better off being fast on your feet as well with your camera. Landscape photography calls for a completely different approach - slow and methodical. But that approach can be had with either film or digital.

    And I'm with Matt - I spend more time setting up the tripod and getting it level than anything else, I think. I sometimes wonder if I'll ever get fast with that thing. :lol:
     
  9. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Im sorry, if I go out to shoot a shot of the lake with a slr, I can walk up and stand where I get the best shot, read out the meters and shoot it.

    If I am going out again just to make the shot of the lake period with a retro, I have to go through all the things we know is involved. It is a differnt feel to me. But like I said that is just my approach. But alas it is really all up to the individual anyway.

    Long as I'm doing this I'll give you a fairly famous story from photography. You might or might not know who it was but that doesn't matter.

    A student was standing in a shack inside a mining ghost town. She was trying her best to find a great photograph, but just couldn't seem to get a handle on it. After about twenty minutes her mentor walked into the shack.

    "I can't seem to find the right shot. I know there is one here, I just can't find it. The mentor picked up a discarded boot and hung it from a nail by the window. It was a great shot.

    I wasn't talking about composing the shot, I was talking about it being more satisfying for me to shoot cut film as retro, rather than roll film.

    Composition is another story... and I'm sorry i brought wedding into it or landscape because neither have anything to do with what i'm talking about. But thats okay I guess I got my answer lol thanks guys.
     
  10. ksmattfish

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

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    But did she take the great shot with roll film, sheet film, or digital? Or does it even matter? :)

    Roll film and sheet film were introduced pretty much at the same time. Sheet film for people who already owned cameras, and roll film pre-loaded in Kodak box cameras. "You press the button, we do the rest" is Kodak's advertising slogan from before 1900. That sounds almost as easy as digital. ;)

    If you really want to be really retro, you'll dump film altogether, and coat your own glass plates. Most of the negative comments that you hear directed towards the supposed ease of shooting digital these days are very similar to what was being said about film when it was first introduced. Namely that it makes photography too easy, and now any goofball can be a photog. I found this quote over at www.photoquotes.com. It's always been a favorite of mine.

    "Somebody let the rabble in." -Lewis Carroll, upon the introduction of negative film, and subsequent demise of colliodian plates.

    I like sheet film, because it allows for individualized processing for each shot, but mainly when I decide to use a 4x5 camera it's because I want lots of negative area for each shot. I have a half dozen pre-1900 cameras that would shoot negs larger than 4x5 on roll film, if it were still available (one of them says to only use Kodak A-122 film). I'd love to load them up with a giant roll of film.

    As far as weddings go (or even most commercial jobs I take), someday I'd love to command the respect to make people schedule the day around me, and my photography. So far though, it seems that I'm expected to work my magic in the very little amount of available time that's made available to me, and without much cooperation from my subjects. Roll film is a blessing in that situation; digital is even nicer. I do shoot more during a wedding with digital, than I did with film. But that's because I can without increasing my costs. If I shot twice as much with film, then my profits dropped. Also I had to be aware when I was nearing the end of the roll to make sure I wasn't reloading when something good happened. Film required me to budget my shots, digital doesn't. When I shot weddings with all film, 33% to 50% of my shots were keepers. I get the same percentage of keepers with digital, there's just more of them.

    I actually have some 4x5 that needs to be finished for clients by this weekend, so I better get in the darkroom and get it souped.
     
  11. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Well hell, my 4x5 camera has a kodak 3a lens the same one you are talking about. Image well over 4x5 in size also best known for its work at the san francisco earthquake. That camera is why it was the most photographed news event for years and years. Every newspaper with any money at all sent a photographer with a 3a and a few rolls of film out there.

    But back to the original idea long lost in the wandering discussion. I enjoy the ritual. It's kind of like when I smoked. It was all of it that was hard to break not just the nicotine dependancy.

    The whole retro thing is almost spiritual with me. I wondered if anyone else felt that way and I found out how far out of touch I am. It's okay though most people are really doing something with their photography I'm not. I'm just enjoying the experience of doing it.

    I honestly don't feel that for most of the things I shoot 4x5 is any better than 120 6x7 roll film. I just enjoy the shooting of the camera. I guess that was the original point for me. I drifted away from what terri said. It's the investment in the image experience for me.
     
  12. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    and of course you are right I may well have to make my own glass negs one day. It just hasn't gotten that far. When i do, i can save a ton on sutters.
     

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