Since last month, I got interested to try out the black and white photography as most fellow professional photographer has a black and white photo gallery in portfolio. Then I am reprocessing back and changed into black and white photos. There are two electronic books about black and white photograph, “Black and White Photography Field Guide” by Michael Freeman and “Creative Black & White Photography” by Bernhard J Suess. I noted that the second book of Mr. Bernhard J Suess more elusive for many discuss the philosophy and background of black and white photography. While Mr. Michael Freeman, discusses how to shoot black and white photo in real world and the basic techniques of black and white. Took my old analog camera from my dry box and I began to try with 35mm film.
My first analog camera was a Nikon FM2, paired with manual lenses Nikkor 50mm f / 1.2 AI. A few times I used during the working trip to Australia and when doing the job in offshore drilling rigs. This camera had fallen from a tripod cause dof wind in Australia, through its filter thread ring bend. Thanks God, all still working well, although I had to replaced it with a lens that I bought a used one in Blok M.
Currently I have three (3) analog cameras, they are Nikon FM2 black, Nikon FM2 silver and Nikon FM10. Some of manual lens, as a Nikkor 50mm f/1.2AI, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AI, Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6, Nikkor 35-70mm f/3.5, Nikkor AFS 35-70mm f/3.5D and Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/25 ZF.
35mm Film and Digital Reproduction
Canon photographer from Yogyakarta, Misbahul Munir, gave me a roll film in black and white Kodak TMax 100 to let me starting again. Last week, I tried to buy two rolls of HP400 Ilford black and white film from one of the online sellers in Yogyakarta. Finished of Kodak’s film, Then I digitized by using my DIY Reproduction 35mm film Kit from 3” PVC pipe and set a TL table lamp. The result was quite good and good enough, all my old 35mm film been in digital reproduction and processing it through Adobe Photoshop. Some people who have money might to buy a film scanner,because the consistent results and faster.
The advantage Analog Photography compared with Digital Photography
I have used analog cameras since 1990’s and switched to digital cameras in 2002, hence based on my experience and some information from photographer friends, then I would to share there are some advantages of analog photography over digital photography, such as:
1. Dynamic Range, when the people involved in analog photography, they almost never talk about “dynamic range”, although Ansel Adams divided the dynamic range into what we called “Zone System” (see picture below). This means that the photos produced from analog cameras have 10 stops dynamic range. Meanwhile, if we look at some of today’s digital camera specification, the average has a 5 stops dynamic range. Some pro cameras could be up to 7 stops dynamic range. So analog camera has a wider dynamic range compared with the digital camera.
2. Powerful and Simple, today we still can find an analog camera made from 1950’s, even relatively easily find some of 1970’s or 1980’s such as the Nikon F series or Canon A series. And all the equipment is still working properly. Maybe later, we may difficulty looking for a digital camera aged 50 years which still functioning properly. On my first analog camera, I just need a few minutes to understand of the buttons function and I am still remember until now. Meanwhile, on my digital cameras that a lot of buttons, include of combination, the digital camera operation of its more complicated and sometime we have to open the manual book again, again and again.
3. Passion, in the analog era, if someone has a camera, just because they want to record a memorable moment and enjoy it. In addition, because the frame limitations in 35mm film that only averaged of 36 frames shot, most of the analog shooter will tend to well prepare, think and imagine how the results so that optimal and best. Let’s look at now, where almost everyone has a digital camera either from the level of professional, amateur, beginner or just the pleasure of using a cell phone. What is there in front of the eyes, pull the gear, press button and “sharing” in social media right away, then forget later and keep memorize digitally.
4. Sensation, after pressing the shutter button, an analog shooter could not immediately see the results and have to wait until the entire roll of film finished, then process in the dark room in local store and printed. Curiosity time to wait and surprising results when see the result is a “thrill” of the analog shooter. In fact, they often discuss the mistakes and the greatness of the results and they remember all in their lives. The sensation of the era of digital cameras is different, sensations arise after seeing the direct results on the camera’s LCD and the fun comes after comments flattery or criticism from friends in social media. Unfortunately, only view whose remember when, where and why it shot.
Digital or Analog?
I’m not a hater of digital photography and not flatterers analogue photography. Along with age, like it or not, willing or unwilling, photography enthusiasts are faced with more advanced digital technology. What needs to be understood is the photography itself. All free to choose, which clearly lovers of analog and digital shooter to co-exist alongside each other their respective disadvantages. What about me? I love photography, both analog and digital, I am still doing both to increase my photography sense and the most important thing is to enjoy the fun. I believe, that one day a digital camera can be more robust and simpler than the analog cameras, digital dynamic range will be able to approach the dynamic range of the human eye, the sensation of the photographer will be deeper in understanding the images and photography soul, not just talk about “gear” all the time.
Sad Agus (Still Geologist and Freelance Photographer)