I decided early in 2015 to go back to film. The reason was I had my 30th birthday and decided that I wanted something special to mark this occasion. But what to get? My dream camera of course. A Leica. I know, I know they cost a lot. I know, a lot of people buy them just for that little red dot. I know you can get a camera that will give great results for a fraction of the price but… It has been my dream to own a Leica since I’ve owned a camera.
I started pricing things up, a used m6 and a couple of lenses and… Woah, that’s a lot of money… Now I knew it’d be dear it’s a Leica after all and Leica glass is second to none but I’ve been all digital for years. I’d never even used a rangefinder before. I’d been bitten by the Leica bug and had a huge case of Leica lust. Factor in the cost of film, developing, printing, scanning I started to wonder if it made sense.
I took to the forums and got some fantastic advice on the Fuji X Forum especially from Robert Jagitsch an infinite source of knowledge when it comes to rangefinders.
The next step was to take to eBay and find myself a used, non Leica rangefinder. And here it is in all its glory. My Olympus 35sp. It’s a beauty of a camera, some say better than a Leica. It has a fixed 42mm f1.7 lens which is fast, sharp and contrasty. It has a built in meter and can be used full auto as a point and shoot or fully manual. The meter needs a battery but the camera can operate without it, the battery it takes are no longer available so I had to jury rig a replacement from a hearing aid battery and a rubber washer which works perfectly.
Well, did I enjoy shooting film? Oh yes. There’s something about shooting a roll of tri-x which takes you back. I shot a lot of film in the past but to my shame I must admit it was in my Nikon SLR set to P full auto. If I ever nudged the command dial to a different mode I’d panic! What does S stand for?! Did I have it on P or A, why isn’t automatic A?! I suppose these years taught me the basics of framing and composition. The rule of thirds etc. But going back to film after so many years is great, not being able to chimp each shot. Making every shot count. Having to think about exposure. So I’d answered half my question, did I like film, yes. Would I like shooting with a rangefinder? A big fat yes again. Was I any good? Definitely not! I left the lens cap on more than once! (After the second time I left it at home) I forgot to focus, I forgot that the minimum focus distance is about 0.90m, I forgot that I’d set the exposure and didn’t change it for the next shot, so basically my test roll was as much a test of me as the camera!
My next challenge was developing but I will save that for another post I think!