Film cameras

I’ve returned to making film photographs after a long break, and a few years shooting digital. These are the film cameras I am using at the start of 2020.

35mm format

My first “proper” camera was a Nikon FM SLR, which I bought second hand around 1977 in Hitchin with a 50mm lens. I soon after bought a Tamron 80-210mm zoom lens that I used from the 1980s until around 2002 when I boxed it all up and hid it for a few years. I have no idea what happened to the 50mm lens but the body was checked out by Lehmanns in 2019 who condemned the shutter mechanism as BER1.

I then bought another Nikon FM from SE Cameras in April 2019 for £90, along with a Nikon AI-s 50mm f/1.8 lens from the same seller for £80. That lens is one of the cheaper E series lenses and I’m not totally happy with the quality of it, so I have bought a Nikon AI-s 28mm f/2.8 lens on eBay for £169. I’m also tempted by the 85mm f/1.4 but these are considerably pricier on eBay at the moment. Both lenses have a standard 52 mm filter ring.

Medium format

My wife and I were out taking photos on a frosty morning at the end of 2019 when we met a chap in the woods with a boxy-looking camera with a waist level viewfinder. This turned out to be a Hasselblad 500 of some kind and I asked him quite a lot of questions about medium format film photography. He had bought his camera at Ffordes in Inverness and I bought a dose of GAS2 from him. After a fair bit of reading and research, I decided I wanted to give medium format a try. I bought a Fuji GW690ii3 from ODA-Japan at the end of 2019 for under $500 US, not including P&P, the Amex foreign currency fees, VAT, import duty and local PO handling fees, which brought the actual cost to over £500 Sterling. The camera has a fixed 90mm lens with a 67 mm filter thread.

Because the Fuji doesn’t have a meter, I bought a Gossen Sixtino meter on eBay for £20. There’s also an app for my iPhone that’s very nice but it makes me feel dirty when I use it.

Notes

  1. Beyond economic repair 

  2. GAS = Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Photographers get it. Guitarists get it too. 

  3. This medium format rangefinder is enormous, of circus clown comedy proportions. It is sometimes referred to as the “Texas Leica” for this reason.