My journey back to film


My dad had been a fairly accomplished amateur photographer before he passed away. Our countless photo albums are filled with images captured on 35mm and 120mm frames, along with the oh-so-popular Polaroid. He accumulated a ton of gear over the years, and there it sat, in cases and boxes in a crawl space for 10 years, before I rediscovered it. And that is when my photographic journey began.


The first camera I picked up was his Pentax Spotmatic with your basic nifty fifty lens, and I had no idea what I was doing. Half my photos were completely over or underexposed, if I managed to load the film correctly. But learning on film pushed me to learn light and form, along with patience.


I followed the digital crowd a few years later, and the old film cameras found their way to a dark case once again. And after more than 10 years of shooting digital, I found myself wanting more. More artistry. More craft. More depth to the images I created. And so I committed myself to diving back to the world of film.

As anyone does when they find a new passion (or reignite one), you dive in head first. So in I jumped with a Lubitel 166 Universal and a few rolls of 120mm film (HP5 400 and some Delta 400). The Lubitel is a "toy" camera from the 1970's, with a body made of plastic. This makes it light and very easy to carry around. The lens isn't too bad, and I love the swirly bokeh. The images are softer, which I think give it a very vintage feel. The square size of the frame takes some getting used to for composition, but it is a welcome change. This set was taken at Interstate Park in Minnesota (and the Frost Top- best root beer I have ever had!).

These next images were taken on my dad's modified Argus C4 on Delta 100. This is a 35mm rangefinder camera from the 1950s-60s. I struggled a bit with handling the focusing on this style of camera, but eventually got the hang of it. Since shooting with this model, I have picked up a few other Argus models, and am looking forward to taking them out for a spin.

Back to the 120mm square format, here are a few from the Ciroflex. This was my first roll of Portra 400. I love the colors it gives and the low grain. The camera itself has a very dark viewing screen which did not improve after a good cleaning. It made it hard to see for composing the scene. I anticipate some possible camera work in the future to replace the glass.

Next up is the Bronica S2. My initial roll of film with this camera revealed the dreaded focus issues I read about, due to the wearing away of the foam under the viewing screen. I was so sad when I got it back. The image of our pup was about the only salvageable picture, as every other image was back-focused. I did a little camera surgery and replaced the foam (thanks Hobby Lobby for having what I needed in stock!), then took her out for a spin. The last two images were after the fix, and appear to have focused where I intended. Whew! The film used was Portra 400 again, and I love the color rendering. And the creamy bokeh from this lens, just wow. It is a beast though, and the shutter is the loudest I have ever heard!

More to come...

Once I get my next film lab dump, I will have more images to share with you all. I picked up a Pentax K1000 and a Canon EOS3 (which I can use all my current Canon lenses on, which is awesome). And with a trip to Wyoming coming up, I will have some great opportunities to put them to use!