Shooting film failures
I love shooting black and white film, it just looks so much more organic and natural compared to digital so I take ever single opportunity to shoot film when I am not working. But shooting film does have its down side. First downside for me is that I don’t develop and scan my own film. I have to send it off to get developed and that takes time and money. This is not too bad for me as film is not work-time critical, it is just a hobby for me when I am not shooting for money.
But the real major problem that film can give you is that old film cameras can break or fail at any time, leaving you with very few usable shots from a role of film. Recently I have had three film cameras fail on me, two cameras have had their light seals fail on me and one camera shutter mechanism failed me. When this happens, it is so frustrating. So lets look at some of the failures I have gotten recently.
I was shooting film mostly with my Nikon FM and a Nikon n90s. I have been using these cameras for a while now but I have know that their light seals were failing, but I could not find any place in China that would repair it. Most replaces simply told me to clean it out and don’t worry, light will not leak in. I did not believe them and I left the cameras as they were but after a while both failed me in the same month. So frustrating.
The Nikon FM failed on the 15 frame on the role of 36, I am not exactly how the seals failed during half the role but I am happy I still got some usable shots of the role of film. I posted most of the shots here.
This was so frustrating, but like I said before, I only shoot film to have some fun. Unfortunately I am stuck in China with no means to get the cameras repaired, I cannot ship the cameras to be repaired as the shipping costs for these old heavy cameras would far exceeds their value. So my only film cameras I have right now are my Holga and my Fujifilm instamatics. Not exactly the gear to make you want to go out and shoot. So I have spent the last few days visiting cameras stores in Shanghai and Beijing as I travel for work and have been trying to by an old camera in China but is so frustrating dealing with camera shop salesmen. For some crazy reason, all the second hand camera shops have taken their old cameras and completely scrubbed their light seals away, so the cameras look nice and new on the inside but they are completely useless to shoot with as they have no light seal. I was pulling my hair out in Beijing today as I looked at maybe 100 cameras today, and every single sales man told me the same story, :Don’t worry about the light seals, you dont need them. Look at how clean this camera is. Its like a new camera.If it has a problem, we will fix it.” Anyone who has ever bought anything in China, knows that nothing comes with a warranty. Once you buy something, if it breaks, then it is your problem.
So I am not sure what I will do now. Maybe I will buy a new film camera like a Nikon F100 or maybe I will try to find some time to fly to Hong Kong and buy a film camera there. But it seems like a long way to fly to buy an old film camera. Even though I have had a few cameras fail on me, I have no regrets shooting film, walking around the streets and shooting film is relaxing. It is almost like photography meditation for me. If I ever had to retire from shooting for money and just do photography as a hobby, I would sell all my digital stuff and just shoot black and white film.
Lets hope I can find a clean camera in the future, but until then, sorry for my frustrated rambling. Happy shooting.