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  • Writer's pictureIgal Schneider

I’m starting a series of articles about film cameras I use.

Shot with Minolta X-700 and Minolta MD 50/1.7 on Arista EDU 400

This one will be the first one of them. It will deal less with the equipment, and more with the reasoning behind me shooting film in the digital era.

I started taking photos when I was 8 or 9, when my father brought me a present - I believe it was Smena 8m. Pretty simple scale focusing camera, with aperture control and weather symbols to chose your shooting mode. I sometimes look at these cameras on eBay and think that I should buy it, for the sake of the memories, but I really don’t remember using it, and I don’t think I have any photos taken with it.

Shot with Minolta X-700 and Minolta MD 50/1.7 on Kodak Portra 400

Although I always had a camera, I never considered photography to be something more than just a tool for capturing memories. I really fell into it only when I was 30. I bought my Canon a-60, and started flooding the photo websites with my captures, shocked by the fellow users that didn’t see anything in them. I was sure that each of my snapshots was a piece of art (I could snap 200-300 shots on a half-an-hour walk and consider all of them amazing). It took me couple of years and one very mean girl who I considered a guru at that time to understand that what I was doing were merely snapshots.

I mean, she wasn’t mean to me in particular, but she could comment under some other photos with very high rating “what do people see here?”. Most of the users hated her. She herself would delete all her photos from the gallery once in a month, and then carefully choose one to show. And 3-4 days later she would post another one. I loved her works, and one day I just DM’ed her, asking for critics. She chosen one of my photos, asked me what did I want to show on it, and gave me the first ever constructive criticism.

Shot with Minolta X-700 and Minolta MD 50/1.7 on Kodak Portra 400

I asked her where could I learn more about the things she was saying - perspective, composition, light, etc. She gave me a nickname of someone who did the same to her - had given her constructive criticism and had helped her learn. I won’t mention here neither the photo website where we had these galleries - long time non-existent - nor the resource she gave me, since it was all in russian. I will only say that it was the beginning of my journey into mindful photography.

After a year I bought my first “serious” camera - Canon 300d, my first DSLR, used and pretty old, but it served for a while, when I decided I needed something more “serious”, and found a 20d, which was a step up from consumer to prosumer camera, and also newer by 3 or 4 years. I still have it, in a perfect working condition, although I didn’t use it for about ten years.

​Shot with Ricoh 500 RF on Fujifilm X-TRA 400

Ironically, the next day after I bought my second DSLR, a friend of friend of mine gave me his Zenit TTL camera along with 3 or 4 lenses, because I mentioned once that I would like to try film photography, and his wife was about to throw “this junk laying on a shelf”. I put my digital camera on a shelf and shoot my first roll of film, developed and scanned it at the lab, and I got into it. My Canon was collecting dust for about 6 or 7 months, while I was shooting with Zenit, and buying additional film cameras on eBay.

I tried several cameras, SLRs, rangefinders, folders, in 35mm and in medium format. I had Zeiss Ikon Ikontas, Canonnets, couple of Russians, Yashicas. Some of them I still possess, some of them long gone, and I regret selling them all. When I moved to Canada, I remember the eyes of the security scan man at the airport, when he asked me what was that metal brick in my suitcase. I told him it was one of my film cameras. “Film cameras?”- asked the guy. “People are still doing it?”.

Today I have several cameras in different form factors and with different controls, and I’ll talk about them in the following posts

​Shot with Ricoh 500 RF on Fujifilm X-TRA 400

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