Going back to SLRs and monochrome films

Before I got my Nikon D3000, even way before my Nikon Coolpix L20 and even way, way before I had the Pentax Zoom 70-R compact SLR camera… There was my dad’s Nikon FE SLR camera… the very first camera that caught my fancy even at a young age and it was this camera that inspired me to develop that love for photography through the years. It was his very first SLR camera he bought in 1980 when he got into Photography. This particular Nikon model was first introduced in 1978 and it was sold in the market up until Nikon decided to cease its production in 1983. It has been 30 years since Papa bought that camera and as we speak, the camera is still in tip-top shape (regardless of the dust, dirt and a few bearable mold build-up on the metal lens mount) since he was extra-caring for his things and it is a joy to know that the camera, which became my inspiration for Photography,  is still in very good condition. And it was only yesterday that I came up to my dad and told him if he would let me use his camera since it has been sitting inside his old-style camera bag for a long time as it gathered dust and all on the floor and he said yes and even gave me several tips on how to use it since the Nikon FE is all manual and I had to know its mechanism and stuff… and I simply loved it to bits! It is a heavy SLR camera, much more heavier than my Nikon D3000 since it’s body was made of metal and I guess by now you know why these SLRs from the past are more sturdy and tough from wear and tear unlike the cameras of today which are made part metal and part plastic (I guess except for the professional cameras like the Marks of Canon and Single-digit D’s of Nikon if I’m not mistaken.) It took me decades before I finally got to hold the Nikon FE in my hands, and it feels so wonderful to have it and become my newest baby.

My dad’s Nikon FE SLR film camera

In this day and age, everything is going digital, and so is Photography. I admit that I was amazed on how Photography advanced to greater heights when all cameras went high-tech and now they’re called ‘digicams‘ and everything you’ve wanted to do with your camera can now be done with just one push of the button and you’re all ready to go, unlike in the past it took skills and mastery to get that picture-perfect shot with the SLR film cameras, and everything depends on the photographer from the composition of the subject down to the lighting, the field of depth, the works! Unlike today, just push some buttons on the camera and you can do the retouching and editing of your photos in an instant! Some are saying that modern Photography has become a no-brainer and everyone can do it even with their eyes closed, so to speak. And even though my generation have seen Photography’s transition from manual to digital, these two technologies has their own distinct beauty to show, but for someone who is really into Photography, one would still prefer film over digital prints and even professional photographers out there would know that film cameras capture crisp, sharp photo details despite the DSLRs more advanced features. But nevertheless, manual or digital photography still relies on the skills and expertise from the person holding the camera.

Even though colored film rolls are still in the market I wanted to take photos using black and white film, I have fallen in love with black and white photography and the beauty of the photos it produces is simply astonishing… though pricey.  A roll of black and white film is quite expensive and honestly, this type of film is hard-to-find nowadays since cameras are now going digital and the ones that are being sold are mostly colored films. I’ve looked around through several camera shops and found a few brands being sold, one is the Kodak TMax 400 which sells at 330 Pesos (roughly around $7.00) and the Ilford XP2 Super 400 selling at 225 Pesos (around $4 to $5) so I finally made my decision and went with the Ilford XP2 Super 400 since the camera shop selling that particular film is just near my place and I immediately purchased one roll and went back home and popped it inside my dad’s Nikon FE camera and started taking some photos. I went out the next day to Intramuros and took some nice scenic shots within the historic walls of Fort Santiago using the remaining exposures left from my Ilford roll. I had the film roll processed before going home and as I went back the next day to get the photos, I was quite excited and satisfied with its results and here are some photo samples I took during my little excursion at Fort Santiago:

Inside Fort Santiago

Inside Fort Santiago 2

Though my dad never got to expand his lens gear on his Nikon FE, the 50mm f/1.4 kit lens was enough for me to get some decent scenic shots even though I had to make some adjustments like backing myself up before I press the shutter to get that wide angle shot I wanted. I am not shutting myself out in using colored films but having to feel the excitement and satisfaction by looking at your black and white prints is still overwhelming and I might stick around with my new buddy Ilford for a while, and since the 50mm lens is good for close-up and portrait shots, I’m planning to get another roll of Ilford one of these days and do some photo shoots with my girlfriend while experimenting on different depth of fields using the aperture ring. Even though photographic technology had made its big leap from analog to digital, it is sometimes nice to go back and take photos using SLRs and film rolls since manual photography has this certain charismatic feel of personal joy when you hold aloft that photo in your hands and cherish those precious moments captured in crisp, vivid detail that will definitely last a lifetime…


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