The advantages of Digital

I’ve recently purchased a few old 35mm cameras and because I’ve started to write a post about them I took one to work today with the intention of shooting some pictures for the post. I walked into work as well to maximize my photo opportunities.

Picture of a Pentax MZ-5 autofocus 35mm film camera

Pentax MZ-5

It was about 7:00 am when I set out on the 50 minute walk and I took a Pentax MZ-5 with me fitted with a Sigma 28-80mm f/3.5 – 5.6 Macro Zoom loaded with a new reel of 200ASA color negative film. About 20 yards down the road I realised the first huge advantage of digital – you can adjust the ISO. I was framing a shot looking down the road, and at f/3.5 the shutter speed was 1/8sec. If I was faced with that situation using my K5, I would have set the iso to 1600 and reset the shutter to 1/64 and bingo – shot taken. In fact, on the K5 you can easily set 3200 with very little noticeable noise so that gives you about 4 stops extra shooting range.

The next thing I noticed was about 30 minutes later, when it was light enough to try a shot. With the camera held tightly against a lamp post I took a shot of an interesting decorative effect in the brickwork of a large building in London Road in Stevenage. Without another thought I moved the camera in front of me and looked at the back of the film door – no preview !

No preview, of course, means no Live View. Now I’m not actually a big user of Live View, but I can see some times when it’s useful, like shooting from a crowd when something interesting is going on and you can’t get to the front.

These occurrences are obvious but I’d forgotten what it is like to use a camera with film (it’s been 20 years I guess). When I had the incident with the slow shutter speed this morning I was going to write a piece entitled – ‘The disadvantages of film photography’, but of course that’s not an accurate title. Film photography was the first technology to allow us to record images; digital is another technology. It’s more accurate to say the digital has advantages rather than film has disadvantages.

I did take some more shots at lunchtime and when I get them developed I will link them to this post, and the post I write about the cameras themselves.



Categories: Photography, Vintage

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4 replies

  1. Simon–THANKS for visiting my “pun-ny” photoblog and leaving a “like.” Your photos are stunning!. My first camera was a Kodak Brownie Bullet box camera given to me when was in elementary school by my godparents who lived in Rochester, NY (home of the Kodak company). When I was in the Navy I took hundreds of shots with a Yashica 35 mm SLR. Now the photos for my blog come from an Olympus point-and-shoot, but I have my eye on a REAL camera. –John R.: http://TheDailyGraff.com

  2. Made me laugh with the stupefying discovery of NO backside preview! How easily we old film users forget our inner preview and depend on the digital screen. So, thanks for dropping by my site and liking my work (some newer digital and some older 35mm slide), and equally valued, thanks for the chuckle!

    • Thanks for the comment – yes I’d completely forgotten the limitations of film, but I’ve also almost forgotten the magic of watching images appear on paper in a bath of developer so it’s not all good !

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