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[pct-l] Film and Cameras
There's been quite a few Film / Camera questions lately, and here's my
opinion (I'm just an amateur, but know a bit about technical things).
You should look at the camera / film as two sides of the same "problem".
Slide film demand more "precision" of your camera. If you carry a good
camera you might want to use slide film - if not, forget it. Or you
could use mostly print and take a slide film now and then. That way
you'll be sure to have a lot of OK pictures (the prints) and you'll
probably have some good slides too. Most people are fed up after seeing
100 slides no matter how good anyway.
And now, the details:
Slide film demand more of your camera for several reasons, but mainly
because it's much more sensitive to wrong exposures (too much/not enough
light). I asked a guy in a photo store about a good point and shoot
camera for slides. He said that they don't exist. They doesn't have good
enough light meters, not good enough optics etc. He even said a Leica
M6's lightmeter wasn't good enough, and that's a $2000+ camera.
I find that a little extreme. I've used slide film in a Olympus
(mid-range with two fixed lenses) a Pentax zoom and several SLRs. The
Olympus over/underexposed around a third of the pictures so badly I
couldn't use them. It also missed focus on some and probably 50-60%
ended up (technically) good enough to use in a presentation.
If you take 30 rolls of slides on a PCT trip, 75% end up technically OK
(assuming a newer Point & shoot do better than my 10 year old one) then
you've got maybe 25 pictures from each roll that's OK. Also assume that
one of five is something you want to show in a presentation then you end
up with 5 pictures from each roll, and around 150 from your 30 films.
Should be enough for a decent presentation.
An SLR would do much better, probably 90-95 % of the pictures would be
OK exposed. I carried a SLR on the AT, took around 35 films and almost
all turned out OK, but still not always good enough. The problem is
contrast. Even when the camera did everything it could, you did
everything you could there is the problem with contrast. Slide film
simply cant handle a large difference between highlight and shadow. That
was a problem on the AT because of all the trees making a lot of shadows
while letting through some of the sunshine. On the PCT that might be
easier - I don't know.
Print film is better almost every way - of course except for slide
shows. It handles contrast better, it "compensates" to a certain degree
for light meter errors and it's easier to find (I had to buy a couple of
print films on the AT simply because the stores didn't sell slide film).
The last point isn't important if someone mail the films to you anyway.
Almost all non-SLR cameras are "designed for" print film. They have a
fairly small aperture and need fast films. Again print film is better
than slide film. You can very easily see the difference between a 400
and a 100 slide film, while a 400 print film is much harder to
distinguish from a 100 - at least for me. I used some 400 slide films on
the AT, and they just doesn't look as good as they should.
Another "warning", there been some Kodachrome (slide) postings lately,
and most non-SLR cameras wont set the light meter correctly for
Kodachrome 64 film because the ISO settings handle 25-50-100-200 and so
on (not the in between settings).
Conclusion? I don't have one. Don't even know what I'm going to do
myself. There's something special with a good slide that I've never seen
in a print, maybe just because it looks better on the wall? Right now
I'm trying a slide (100) film in a Pentax 38-160 Zoom. If that turns out
OK, I'll probably use that. I'm also thinking about using my SLR
(something I promised myself I wouldn't ever do after the AT) with a
If I could choose anything I wanted I might go for a Richo GR-1 (in
Europe) with a 28 mm lens and 7-8 oz weight. It's got a really good
lens, wide angle which is good for inside the tent, groups of people
etc, but would make a bear look tiny even from a very short distance.
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