Too Cool For School

Back in the day if you wanted to take photographs film photography was the only way you could do it. But since the age of digital, starting back in the late 80's and early 1990's photography has become so much more accessible to so many more people. A little like vinyl, the cassette and the video you would think that film photography would die out with all of the benefits digital photography offers you just don't get with film and yet one that seems to be missing.

And that is soul. There are different digital cameras that have a certain feel and look to their images that mark them out as special, the 5D Mark 1 Canon is one and the Fuji X-Pro1 another, both of which I've been fortunate enough to own. But in today's fast paced world of photography, film does still exist and a great number of people are looking at options as to how to us film more.

Having chased that 'film look' from my digital images for awhile now through numerous presets and tinkering in software applications such as Photoshop and Lightroom. I've decided to once again turn my hand to film. Only for fun you understand, my Fuji digital kit remains as the main source for any work that comes my way, but just for fun, I want to experience that tactile feel and look only film offers.

Black and white through an old film camera looks proper black and white. Kodak Porta, a film I love the look of just doesn't look quite right in digital, no matter how hard I try to replicate it. Grain through film is natural, pixel distortion isn't no matter how hard you try.

Finding an 'old' film camera isn't difficult. There are loads available in a wide range of condition ranging from like new which for any popular make fetch really good money, through to well used which although still usable, the price is reflected in its condition.

I have no brand loyalty to photography products. I like the Fuji kit I have and it works for me. Just as before that I really liked my Canon kit. For film I simply wanted something usable, good looking and in relatively good condition. Having asked about a little, the OM10 looked a good option with the exception of it not having shutter speed control, other than through an adaptor. A little more research and the OM20 appeared to offer that option and everything else, and in actual fact are cheaper to source.

The Olympus OM20, or OM-G as it was known in the USA was a mid 1980's product which overlapped other Olympus models. Featuring a dedicated shutter speed dial, mode display in the viewfinder and other minor updates over the OM10 was a fully manual film camera, and is still a popular option for those wanting to dip their toes in film waters today.

Olympus OM20 Film Camera
Olympus OM20 Film Camera

My OM20 arrived today, bought on eBay for a very reasonable amount. I've yet to put a film through it but I'm assured by the seller all works as it should. The metering works, the condition of the light seals looks OK, the body looks used but not battered and with the exception of the mirror in need of a good clean all looks good to go.

I've tried before with film photography, but in truth never got far - attempting to buy a camera that needed work and light seals changing isn't the best way to dive in to film photography, far better to get a working model before moving on to something more exotic that takes your fancy.

Hopefully, film photography will improve my all round photography skills and understanding. Learning to focus manually and use manual controls can help to increase my abilities with my digital equipment, and lead me to a fun option when I just want to shoot for myself.

I'll keep you updated when I've run a film or two through the camera as to how she handles.