Travelling Japan with 6 rolls of film
My wife and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Japan. It was my first time to go around Kyoto and Osaka so before our trip, I planned what camera to bring with me to take some nice photos.
- Pentax 645N medium format film camera with FA645 75mm F2.8 lens
- Extra 120 film back
- Some expired Fuji 400H 120 film
- Some expired Kodak Ektar 100 120 film
- Fresh box of Kodak Portra 400 film, which I bought at Yodobashi Camera in Japan
- Fujifilm X100T for random shots
So why did I decide to bring this heavy, bulky film camera when I have my X100T? To be honest, I just had a feeling that it would be nice to shoot travel pictures with a film camera. I have been shooting mostly with digital and this trip presented an opportunity for me to explore in many different ways.
I also love the look of medium format shots and it helps that we don’t have to rush from one place to another. I had time to slow down, observe and imagine the shot in my head before actually clicking.
Which is better: digital or film?
None.. They are both great and it will depend on your purpose. Based on my experience, digital is good for anything that you need in an instant. If you are shooting for products, food, advertisements and the like, then shooting digital is your best option. But if you have the time and a lot of patience, shooting with film might work for you. I recommend film for personal projects.
Now, film cameras (even medium format ones) are now priced competitively, like wayyy cheaper than digital. Some medium format film cameras cost less than a prosumer point and shoot camera. But of course, you need to consider about film, processing, printing and scanning. If you are a trigger happy kind of photographer, I suggest you stick with digital.
Digital cameras also had a lot of improvement in the past 10 years. Sensors have become better. Cameras are becoming smaller and faster. Image quality is stunning. And a good digital camera won’t zero out your savings account.
Tips on Shooting with Film
Know your ISO – Your film is your ISO. Whenever you use film, you cannot change your ISO on the fly. You have to finish the roll of film to change it.
Know your composition. – Learn to imagine your composition before shooting. Unlike digital cameras, you can’t take test shots and see it right away… unless you’re using polaroids of course.
Know your exposure. – One of my habits when shooting digital, especially with EVF, is to use EV dial to adjust the exposure. However, when using film, you don’t have a preview of your shot. You have to analyze the lighting and exposure with your eyes and decide on the adjustment. Again, no instant test shots.
PRACTICE. – Read the manual! Practice, practice and more practice should be done before travelling with any camera. Don’t be lazy. You should understand how the camera meters, focuses, dials, controls and if there is any shutter lag. To get the best travel photos, you should be in sync with your gear. Stories are better told with pictures especially with great pictures. So, better practice before traveling.
Do you know who should get better?
The one behind the camera. We should try to take better photos. It doesn’t matter if you are using film or digital. Practice, practice and more practice. At the end of the day, it’s all about the shot and not the medium format film camera or the Full frame DSLR or the APS-C mirrorless camera that you use.
Here are some more photos from the rolls of film I took in Japan.
Great article man. I used to shoot film too though i was mostly on either auto or apperture priority back then. I loved the anticipation of getting the roll back from the developers and seeing the final product. You are right that you really have to see your composition in your mind before you click that shutter whether shooting film or digital. Shooting film lets you train yourself to minimize chimping when going digital so you can have more time composing your shots.
Do you process your own film?
Thanks Ian for reading my post. I go to a lab to process and scan my films. I still need to learn to process my films. Most of the time I use aperture priority and the Exposure value dial. But I kinda have an idea on how the exposure might be for my shot so I can do the right adjustment before I take the shot. If I think the camera can’t get what I need, I go to manual mode.
I always travel with my Pentax 645NII and several lenses, it is an excellent camera for this. I just spent 5 weeks in Japan, mostly Tokyo, Chichibu and Hokkaido (in the snow) and shot 30 rolls. 🙂
Hi Hans! Thanks for reading my post. That’s a lot of rolls. You must have really enjoyed Japan. What lenses do you have? For now, I only have an FA 75mm f2.8
I have the following lenses by now, I like the A versions just as well as the FA versions:
Pentax 645 FA 45mm f/2.8
Pentax 645 FA 75mm f/2.8 (I use this one a lot)
Pentax 645 A 150mm f/3.5 (and this one)
Pentax 645 A 200mm f/4
I also have a Pentax 67II and the Fotodiox Pro PT67-PT645 adapter so I can use my Pentax 6×7 lenses on my P645NII; the 6×7 lens that I use most often is the S-M-C Takumar 6X7 105mm f/2.4 which is sort of famous for is great performance and bokeh.
As you can understand, the P67II is too heavy to travel with, so the P645NII is the go-to camera these days
Wow! You have an awesome lens set! So far I’m happy with my 75mm. Though I might need a 120 or 150mm sometime soon. Is it good for portraits?
Personally I like the 6X7 105mm f/2.4 lens best for portraits because of the great bokeh, but I hear great things about the 120mm lens too