The Reason for Film and Vintage Cameras

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by keenmaster486, Feb 5, 2018.

  1. keenmaster486

    keenmaster486 Member

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    I had an epiphany the other day, and I think I may have finally stumbled upon the elusive Reason for why I do all this stuff with old cameras and film.

    I think maybe it all boils down to reductionism and minimalism. Here's how: in my mind, there's something very beautiful about reducing a camera to its essential components and then making each of those components only as complicated as necessary.

    I don't know exactly why, but there's just something beautiful about that concept.

    Perhaps uncoincidentally, this is also the internal impulse I put to use when designing things.

    This theory also, conveniently, serves to explain my obsession with vintage cars, vintage computers, vintage typewriters, vintage clocks - basically anything which is a comparative reduction and simplification of the equivalent modern-day device.

    Thoughts, anyone?
     
  2. johnnyh

    johnnyh Subscriber

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    Sir, you have expressed my feelings perfectly.
    Additional: For landscape/townscape I subscribe to the philosophy of Group.64
    https://www.britannica.com/art/Group-f64
    albeit 'transposed' down to Medium Format.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
  3. TheRook

    TheRook Member

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    Until you specify a year, the term, "vintage" doesn't really mean anything. As in, "vintage 1963" or "vintage 2004". Using "vintage" by itself could refer any year. Even last year.
     
  4. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    I have the opposite opinion. I enjoy the complexity of vintage film cameras. To me, a simple camera is a pinhole camera, or maybe one of those box cameras with a permanent aperture and shutter speed. Even most electronic cameras (not digital) I find to be much more simple in design than some of the older gear driven cameras with all of their features. An electronic shutter and mirror motor is much less complicated to me than all of gears, levers, and springs required to do the same work.
     
  5. Martin Rickards

    Martin Rickards Member

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  6. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I disagree. I like the lack of interlocks on LF cameras. I like the mechanical only, interchangeable mid roll ability, with the large viewfinder and Zeiss lenses of the Hasselblads.
     
  7. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I disagree. I like the lack of interlocks on LF cameras. I like the mechanical only, interchangeable mid roll ability, with the large viewfinder and Zeiss lenses of the Hasselblads. AF 35mm cameras are good for taking photographs on the fly when conditions do not allow one the time to spend.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
  8. Martin Rickards

    Martin Rickards Member

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    duplicate post
     
  9. Martin Rickards

    Martin Rickards Member

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    ....
    Duplicate post
     
  10. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Member

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    I like the look of the film. And I prefer not so modern cameras for it.
    Not so modern cameras simplicity somehow works better for me. Technically and on creativity level.

    First and only digital camera I'm in tune or close as with film cameras is Leica M-E. It is simpler comparing to M9 and in 2016, then I purchased it new, nobody else made digital cameras this simple.
    ISO is as pushable as on film, not less, not more.
    No freaking video and only few settings.

    [​IMG]

    I received M4-2 in March 2014 and it is most pleasing and easy to use camera I have so far.

    [​IMG]

    So, vintage and even film might be irrelevant terms if you are looking for something simple. :smile:
    Holga and iPhone are another known examples without vintage stamp from eBay...
     
  11. voceumana

    voceumana Member

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    I like film because I make the decisions, not the camera.
     
  12. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    "vintage cars, vintage computers, vintage typewriters, vintage clocks"
    Some complexity can be seen easily, some cannot. For instance, the most complex shutter I've yet seen is that in the prewar Contax. Some say it's "over engineered", I'd say it meets the design criteria without a single superfluous piece. Same with the IBM Selectric typewriter ca. early 1960s, insanely complicated but again, no superfluous stuff.
    Clocks? Research some of the various remontoir escapements, chasing the chimera of unvarying impulse led some designers down some very complex paths. Computers? Start with Atanasoff's computer, then the Univac and Eniac computers. Cars? take apart a T 35 Bugatti, first model Silver Ghost, 1920s Bentley valvetrain / camshaft drive, etc.. Sometimes complexity is necessary, and it's hard to get in the designer's head to understand what the original criteria were.
    If it had been possible to incorporate multimode automation in a 1950s camera, it would have been done, instead that sort of automation had to wait for electronic shutters, tiny servos and stepping motors, and lastly tiny electronic 'brains" to keep everything coordinated.
    To say "basically anything which is a comparative reduction and simplification of the equivalent modern-day device" is literally inverting the chronology as if time could go backwards. The modern day devices are the logical response to marketing constraints, and in the case of cars also regulatory constraints in the conflicting areas of safety, fuel economy, emissions, and ease of use.
    Try hopping into your 1922 Macfarlan Twin-Valve Six on a below zero morning and driving right away - you'll be very thankful for EFI and multi viscosity oil, and even more thankful at the gas pump.
    Not all old stuff was blissfully simple.
     
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    keenmaster486

    keenmaster486 Member

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    "Comparative" is the operative term here.

    Much of this comes down to "why should I use a computer, which is one of the most complicated devices ever created, far exceeding in complexity any previous mechanical devices, to take my pictures and write an essay when I have a film camera and a typewriter?" Using a computer for tasks that can be accomplished with more straightforward devices feels like using the Starship Enterprise to drive to the grocery store.

    Edit: On a slightly tangential note, the Bugatti has no computer in it telling you what you're doing wrong.
     
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  15. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    A late model automobile contains vastly more computing power than all of the Apollo missions combined, plus the mission control computers.
    But I like the accessibility of film technology, I can repair and maintain the cameras, process and print the film, even make my own plates, all with rather simple equipment.
    A dedicated hobbyist could grind his own lenses.
     
  16. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    You are using a computer to participate on an Internet forum. How does that square with your vintage screed?
     
  17. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    "Less is more" - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

    Sure, let's consider an M3 and modern cameras.

    With modern cameras you have autofocus, various tracking modes, matrix metering, all sorts of exposure modes, motorized advance and rewind (if it's film), plus other customizations (yes, I know some of this can be turned off). But, with the M3 you focus it yourself, choose the aperture, the shutter speed, and you're done. You are more involved with the process. The success or failure of the photo is yours alone.

    Zen, minimalism, whatever you want to call it, is appealing to many.

    Look at the instruction manual for an M3 versus a D850 - you can comprehend the M3 in its entirety.
     
  18. wyofilm

    wyofilm Subscriber

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    I am certainly not a computer-phobe, but I have no desire to spend hours tweaking a digital image with LR/PS/or anything else. I tried it and didn't like it. Second, I hate being at the mercy of tech companies - more than I have to. For example, I did Apple's Aperture for awhile and like it well enough for my modest requirements. Then they abandoned it with no forward support. Apple did the same thing to iPhoto when they went to photos. Both transitions to recover usable files has been dismal, but with some hard fought success. Adobe's subscription based model for LR/PS sounds like shit to me. So while I was drifting to analogue anyway, the Apple/Adobe did their level best to shove me the rest of the way.

    Finally, I am shooting with decades old film cameras that continue to work reliably (or do so after a modest CLA), but a Nikon D90 and Fuji x something or other (my wife's) both sit unused because neither functions properly after less than a decades use (much less in the case of the Fuji).

    Don't get me started between the rat hole of home image printing vs. enlarging/contact printing of negatives.
     
  19. moose10101

    moose10101 Member

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    Are you comparing vintage cameras to advanced film cameras, or to the digital process?
     
  20. moose10101

    moose10101 Member

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    Are you comparing vintage cameras to advanced film cameras, or to the digital process?
     
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    keenmaster486

    keenmaster486 Member

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    Hence my love for vintage automobiles.
    I'd like to see me try to use my typewriter to participate on this forum.
    This is part of it, too! You know exactly what's going on inside of there. You have a certain measure of direct control over the image process with what film you use, too. With a digital camera, there is a great deal of mystery involved.
    To the digital process... it's a fundamental thing.
     
  22. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    I use a variety of vintage cameras of various formats because I've been shooting film for a long time, and over the years I've learned something about how film works. I like the simplicity of mechanical cameras compared to digital equipment with so many programs to choose from, and find it a pleasure to use fine mechanical instruments.
    Most important of course, I like the look of film. Using film now is a lot more complicated than it used to be, but for me it's worth the trouble.
     
  23. Michael Firstlight

    Michael Firstlight Subscriber

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    My restored/goosed up IBM PC/XT does just fine getting on the internet nowadays. I even run Windows 3.1 on it with the first version of Photoshop for Windows (not kidding - https://pcpartpicker.com/b/krYrxr). I also enjoy using my mint IBM Selectric III, and other 'old' stuff (AFX Super II and track), transistor radios, rotary phones, and more. I also have a lot of the very latest tech, including a D8xx DSLR and a killer custom PC I built.I enjoy living in the past and also on the bleeding edge, so I enjoy the extremes of both.

    As far as film goes, I love the manual craft and more deliberate approach it forces. It is a set of skills that few who grew up on digital would ever attempt or know, let alone master of the medium - my hats-off to the elite few of you that have. Sharing a print you made, from film, without the aid of modern digital, brings a kind of satisfaction that is difficult to put into words, not to mention the awe you see in the response of those with whom you share them.

    Regards,
    Mike
     
  24. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    I enjoy shooting film and making wet prints in my darkroom too. I just try not to make a religion out of it.
     
  25. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    In the time since I started photography back 1962ish I think I can say my most enjoyable time with photography was with all mechanical cameras, some with a built in meter but not automated. These include Rollieflex, Nikon F/F2 in their various guises, Pentax SP models, Mamiya 645, etc etc, I am sure you get my line.

    I also prefer film. Prime lenses. A good tripod with a ball and socket head. Oh so simple and this gives you a chance to think, consider, make a decision and hopefully trip the shutter.

    Let us face it. We are all to some degree, lazy. Preferring to allow the decision taking with regards to exposure and focusing to the electronic innards of the camera. The zoom lenses, allow us to remain rooted to the spot to capture images (rather than walking around) from wide angle to a moderate telephoto. (although possibly of less technical quality, optically, than prime lenses.) My preferred lenses for 35mm are, a 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm 135 and 200mm

    Using some variety of image stabilisation rather than using a tripod and the ultimate sin - the D word. Whilst not directly connected with photography, manufacturers bringing out new models on an increasing regular basis as what I see as cash cows for the manufacturers and their shareholders

    Yes I have digital (not the latest I may add) and yes they are a wonderful tool, but not necessarily the best one for engaging in real photography.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
  26. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Duplicate post - deleted.
     
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