Friday, March 16, 2007
Back in September, I wrote about how the explosion in digital photography had created some bargains for film SLRs. I benefited from this myself, when my mother in law upgraded to a new Canon digital SLR, and gave me her old film camera.
This, together with the natural desire to take lots of pictures of my young daughter, rekindled my interest in real photography – after I’d been distracted for years by the ease of digital point-and-shoots. And I got some shots I was really happy with.
I was right – getting hold of cheap (or in my case, free) film SLR is a good way to start taking more pictures, and now is a great time to get hold of one. But I was also completely wrong, in ways I’ll now describe.
Cheap Camera, expensive running costs
The problem is that if you’re interested in photography, you want to take a lot of pictures, and film doesn’t really make that very easy.
Sure, you can send your films to Shutterfly or the like, and only pay to print the ones you like, but that takes a while, and there’s a hidden catch I wasn’t aware of immediately. I thought that if Shutterfly developed the film and put the digital versions online for you to see (which they do), then you could download the hi-res versions for no cost – since you’d paid for the developing.
In fact they show you a lo-res version that you can use to decide if you want prints or not, but the hi-res versions will cost you the price of an archive CD – in my case nearly $20 for 150 images or so.
Grass is always greener
The other thing working against film is that the lenses on most SLRs are ‘cross-platform’ – working on that brand’s digital SLR bodies too. So the nice Canon 28-105mm USM I inherited would fit on the Canon digital bodies I soon started ogling. That meant it wasn’t going to cost as much as I thought if I wanted to go digital.
After a lot of research, and much pained inspection of my bank balance, I was the proud owner of a Canon 350D (or Digital Rebel XT, as they insist on calling it here in the US), bought without incident from Beach Camera.
So now I can shoot like a crazy person, and sort out the keepers later, without fussing with film and delays and all that. And I’ve greatly enjoyed the who experience – supporting it with a useful 4-class course at the local community college to fill in the gaps in my basic knowledge.
As the camera was technically a birthday present, I took some time on Tuesday to walk around town a bit (and take some shots of my subject, Finn). The results are here.
I’ll write more later about the learning curve, and about the search for software to help on the computer side of things.