recently I came across an add on our country’s digital garage sale website.
Some fellow photographer was selling his Fuji GW690III medium format analog camera. Truth be told before this add I never knew this camera even existed. 35mm film cameras – sure, Hasselblad – yes…and large format Sinars, which I learned to operate during my years at the Photoacademy, were all pretty known to me. But not this medium format range finder style!
Being some kind of a Fuji fanboy, considering I have three digital Fuji’s + some lenses to boot, I was quite intrigued and got up to speed by reading some reviews and checking some example images from this bad boy.
I mean just look at it, it is quite the beast with its dimensions of: H 119 x W 201 x D 132 mm and weighing in at 1510g it is not quite the pocketable kind.
With its massive 60 x 90mm negatives you get a whopping 8 – yes eight! – images on a roll of “120” film.
Luck would have it that the family and I were going on a short holiday to the south of Germany and then to Prague. I bought some Kodak films and jumped in the pool of uncertainty by deciding I would only shoot film in Prague.
YouTube is quite the encyclopedia these days so learning to load a 120 film took a mere 5 minutes. I brought my incident light meter but quickly switched to an app called Lux for reflective metering. Not much room for errors I thought – and feared. I would hate returning with a bunch of over exposed images. Recovering from underexposure is doable but once you lose information in the highlights (whites) all is lost.
The whole process of metering, setting the aperture and shutter-speed, framing and manual focussing is certainly way more time consuming compared to a digital camera. I would say about the same as loading a black powder musket compared to using a M2 machine gun. Single shot vs spraying of 30 or more frames. Calming for the photographer, not so for the family who can get a little impatient if you take too long.
I thoroughly enjoyed slowing down and paying more attention to each frame. I am not saying that I take better photos while using film but the whole involvement is more rewarding when the image turns out the way you envisioned. A nice side bonus is the odd look you get from other tourists when they see you struggling. Even more so with the Mamiya C330 TLR (twin lens reflex) I just acquired and which I used to photograph Laura and Layal with. More about the Mamiya in a later blog.
A few more photos from our trip below…