Old’s cool? Retro Film Cameras

By Jack Berglund

I leave my apartment and find myself reaching for a small black plastic film camera, the Black Slim Devil.  The Nikon D3 I reach past probably has more processing power than the original Apollo missions to the moon.  My Casio point and shoot is a technical marvel with its 240 frames per second video shooting.  And yet its the one button (the shutter) and one dial (wind on the film) simplicity that draws me to the Devil.

As a technophile, proud to own the latest electronic gadgets, I find this situation puzzling.  Could less really be more after all? The simplicity puts you in a different mindset.  All the variables of taking a photo are reduced down to: what are you looking at and how is it lit, arguably the most important elements of any picture.  Freed of some of the more left brain concepts like balancing aperture and shutter speed, selecting the right focal distance etc, good old creative right brain gets to run the show.

The Black Slim Devil, a gift from a friend, is a remake of the Vivitar Ultra Wide and slim camera that reached cult status for its wide angle lens and saturated, contrasty images.  After winding and clicking through 36 exposures without being able to see a single digital preview, I find myself genuinely excited to go after work and pick up the prints from the Lomography store on 8th St.

So will I be selling all my digital marvels and join the film re-revolution?

My experience with this simple film camera has helped me to really ‘look’ at a scene before taking a picture and will make me take better photos in the future. The  appeal of photography for me has always been blending of artistic concepts with a technical discipline and all the infinite possibilities this brings.  I recommend trying the freedom of a basic camera but for me I ultimately crave all the control my DSLR gives me.  If I’m wed to digital then film will always be a great mistress.

  1. I would recommend that you leave the 35 MM film camera, and all other film cameras for that matter, to the experienced professional photographer that knows how to take great photos and then develop their own film. A film camera can help the serious professional achieve a level of aesthetic quality that is more pleasing to the eye, but it takes a keen eye and years of experience to accomplish this. The digital camera inherently provides a high level of quality along with an ease of use and is the camera of choice in this modern age.

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