My Film Gear

by Todd on April 16, 2011

I’m not exactly a hardcore gearhead, but I know some readers will be curious about the cameras I use to make the images that appear on this site. I’ll also have a “Gear” category and tab, because over time I’ll acquire more stuff, or perhaps make posts regarding the use of certain pieces of equipment. I know for myself, I was completely unfamiliar with film cameras until I started shooting with them, and I hope there are some readers who might be in the same position I was not all that long ago; maybe you’ve toyed with the idea of trying film, but don’t know the first thing about it. Then you might benefit from seeing what some of this gear looks like, where to buy it, etc. One of the really cool things about shooting with film is that it doesn’t require a huge investment to get started. I have a very modest collection of four film cameras right now, all obtained very inexpensively from either eBay or KEH.com.

Just below is the Nikon F100, and the most advanced film camera I currently own. All electric, auto-advance and rewind, fast shutter speeds and lots of info in the viewfinder. Better yet, it mounts all of my Nikkor lenses, and it feels pretty much like any current Nikon pro-level dSLR. Thus there was no real learning curve with regard to ergonomics and mechanics of operation. This camera is the no-brainer body choice for any digital-only Nikon shooters seeking to explore film.

Next up, my two old Pentax 35mm bodies. Why Pentax? Well, I bought a K-5 (the latest and greatest dSLR from Pentax) last year as a backup to my D3, because I hate the D300. That’s another lengthy explanation, but I won’t discuss it here. Anyway, I have a K-5, so I acquired several excellent Pentax lenses, and I was eager to see how they performed on full frame. I bought the black Pentax MX on eBay. More recently, Shawn Thompson, internet friend and landscape photographer extraordinaire, informed me he had no use for his ME Super, and offered it to me at a good price. These cameras are both largely mechanical. I think the meter is the only thing that uses batteries on the MX. The ME Super might depend on batteries for the full range of shutter speeds, but I’m not sure. I have not shot with the ME Super yet, but I love the MX. The center-weighted meter has great accuracy for most of the scenes I’ve exposed. These cameras are also both pocket sized and very discreet. And if you didn’t know, some of the incredible lenses manufactured by Pentax are also very small; so one of these bodies with one of the FA Limited lenses makes an excellent walk-around kit. Mechanical winders are available for either one of these, but I’m not interested. I actually like winding the film after each shot. The ME Super has an aperture priority setting, although that’s something else I don’t really care about. I can’t remember the last time any of my cameras had their dials set anything other than ‘M.’

And finally, my Bronica SQ-Ai, which I got as “bargain” rated gear from KEH. I have only one back, a 6×6, and one lens, the Zenzanon 150/3.5. I’m sure there will be others later this year. I’d like a macro, as well as a longer portrait lens. I bought the kit with a waist-level finder, but it’s shown here with the ME metered prism, which I received a couple of days ago. Now that I can meter more easily, and acquire good focus more dependably, I hope to be doing more with the Bronica setup.

 

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