THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO BUY YOUR NEXT «ANALOG» CAMERA

They say of the fashions that ‘everything returns’. The flared pants come back, the polka dots return or the stripes or the bright green ones return. They go and come back. Analog photography left for some. Many of us rush to get the best digital camera we could afford and forget our analog cameras in a corner. Many probably did not get to know them. But the truth is that the analog system never left ;-). Proof of this is that the reels did not disappear (although it was taken for granted at first) and that there is a great exchange and purchase of analog material both in stores and on the network. Do you wonder why? The analog cameras are small timeless jewels, some of them with great craftsmanship, of a precision and resistance that has led many of them to continue working perfectly 50 years after its manufacture. So we didn’t talk about programmed obsolescence or change cameras every year. Each analog camera contains millions of stories, millions of photographs and anecdotes behind it. Each one is unique and different; they have their own personality

Analog camera

ADVANTAGES OF THE ANALOG CAMERA

PRICE:

Contrary to what you might think, you can find good analog material at low prices on the internet (unthinkable a few years ago) or in specialized photography stores. To get an analog camera and lens, you will need to spend less than for any digital model (of similar characteristics, of course).

LEARN TO VISUALIZE BEFORE SHOOTING:

Yes, here there is no LCD screen to help you, to guide you or anything to tell you if you took the picture well or did not. Also, every time you press the shutter, you’re spending money (bearable, yes, but it’s not a matter of throwing it away without thinking about it before), so what do you have left? Think. Preview the scene, find the best frame, wait for the right moment, make sure you have measured the light correctly … and press the shutter. Analog photography ‘gives you’ the best lesson you can have as a photographer: Think before you press the shutter.

LEARN THE SECRETS OF MANUAL MODE:

Many analogs, including the most classic and timeless, only have manual mode . In this case, you are face to face with photography. If you do not understand the basics, the images will not work out for you. So it is here that you must really strive to understand the reason for the diaphragm, the reason for speed or ISO, and how they interact with each other. It will not cost you much, besides you have no other choice , so take advantage of this ‘limitation’ and make it your best ally to learn.

PARTICIPATE IN THE WHOLE PROCESS:

If you really love the analog world, participating in the entire process from start to finish is not too complicated or, in the long run, excessively expensive. Especially in black and white, revealing the negatives yourself will not take you more than half an hour for each one of them, and the investment is relatively low, provided you amortize it with use. And if you culminate it with the magic of positiveizing your images yourself … If you have ever done it you will know that if there is magic it is something similar to that; to wait and see how that image appears that so much work has given you, little by little and finally before you, in a dark room where everything is red. If you really want to try it, you will surely find somewhere where you can rent the laboratory space with its corresponding enlargers, chemicals and initial workshop.

REELS OR MOVIES:

This section goes in advantages and disadvantages for different reasons. The main advantage is that, fortunately, they still exist and that each of them is unique and different from another. Some contain saturated colors, others are cooler, others have more or less grain, more or less contrast … Each of them will offer you unique and different images. They also allow you to make good extensions without losing quality, one of the things that seems that today the digital system has failed to overcome. Later I will tell you some of them with their main characteristics.

BEAUTIFUL NOISE:

The romantics and romantics of the analog system always talk about film noise (grain) and digital noise. Where the one who loses for a win is always the digital To this day, it has not been possible to overcome the “beauty” of film noise, of silver halides. The noise or the absence of it in analog photography is another element, just as each camera or each reel is unique and different.

FREEDOM:

Freedom? You will think, “But if I am attached to a reel, to filters and to the laboratory … I am more bound than ever” True, but at the same time analog photography gives you absolute freedom. Because once you master it, there will be no photography that resists you. They say that the practice is done to the teacher, so everything is a matter of trying it once after another until you learn to know and master the light.

EMOTION:

This for me is the biggest and most rewarding advantage of analog photography. From the moment you hit your perfect analog camera, until you use it, and finally you see the result … It’s like waiting for the day of kings. You have already put together a couple or three of reels (or one if you are very impatient) and have led them to reveal (if you have not decided to start doing it yourself). Cross out the days on the calendar to pick them up, you show up 10 minutes before they open the store, you pay with a shaky hand, you open the wrapping, praying that they have worked out well. If you have not requested copies you see nothing. But you look at the negatives with fervor, imagining the images they contain. If the reel is in color you only see a brown plastic, if the reel is black and white, a gray plastic … You run home with your CD, you put it in the computer and YES, finally, there they are. So magical … so many days ago that you almost didn’t remember, but finally, there they are. Some are so magnificent that it seems incredible that you could do them others are a disaster. Next time more and better.

Color negatives and their positives

DISADVANTAGES OF THE ANALOG CAMERA:

Of course, everything that glitters is not gold, the analog mode also has some disadvantages, if not nobody would have left their analog cameras in some corner to remember to replace them with a digital one …

ISO:

Unlike in digital photography, in this case, the ISO (or ASA) is defined by the one that dictates the reel you have chosen. That means you will have the same invariable ISO for all situations that arise. You have one less variable to play with, so you should try to compensate with diaphragms and speeds.

  • If before starting to photograph you expect that you will need more ISO (and you have not ‘premiered’ the reel) you can force it up to 3 steps, but at the time of revealing it, it is likely that the laboratory will charge it, and sometimes quite expensive.

BLACK AND WHITE OR COLOR ?:

You want what you want at that particular moment, that’s the reel you have, no matter if that image looked better in color or black and white. What you have chosen cannot be changed. Unless you use some risky trick such as taking out the reel, remembering what frame it was in, changing it to the new one, saving the other one, putting it back in … Unless your life goes in that image, it’s a risky option at least .

FILTERS:

What in digital we have incorporated with the name of white balance , in analog you get it through physical filters of different colors, depending on the color temperature you want to compensate.

SPACE:

Compared to digital photography, it is true that analogue makes you load and store much more material (reels, negatives, copies, contacts or CD)

REELS:

The price of the reels can range from just over € 3 to € 30 for the most specialized (and even much more), although quality standards are over € 6 – € 10. You can easily find them in stores specializing in photography or online.

REVEALED:

The disparity of prices between one place and another is quite high. Even many laboratories differentiate the price to charge depending on whether the reel is colored or black and white.

  • In general, a color reel development can be over € 4 (only the negative). If you want a copy of the images on CD for example (for me the most recommended), depending on the quality you want, prices can rise up to € 12.
  • In black and white, a development of only negative, can be about € 10 to € 27 with a quality CD.

SLOWNESS:

Since you finish your reel, until you find the best time to approach the laboratory, you wait for the days they have told you and find the time to go to pick it up … Yes, let’s say that As fast as the digital system is not!

GREATER DEPENDENCE:

In analog, not only do you depend on your camera but you depend on the reels, buying them, carrying enough ones, not running out of them in the middle of anyone knows where, to take the right filter. You depend on your laboratory, finding it, its prices and its good work (as long as you don’t decide to do it yourself).

Kodak reels

WHERE DO I FIND AN ANALOG CAMERA?

Maybe by now you have some curiosity if you didn’t have it before. To find an analog camera at a good price start with the most obvious; Among your acquaintances.

  • In the loft : in the room of your grandparents, parents, uncles, friends … Surely someone has a camera, or even yourself, dust it off, look at it with a little love and fascination, buy yourself a reel and re – fall in love with the analog world.
  • Antique stores: It will depend on whether they know the photographic material well or not, whether they are well taken care of or not … and whether or not they recognize a bargain and whether they offer guarantee after purchase.
  • Markets: They are very fashionable and you can get real wonders, although if you are not very keen on the subject, better avoid them, it is difficult to know when a camera is in good condition if you do not know or where is the shutter of how rare it is
  • Specialty photography stores: They tend to be much more expensive than those you can find on the net, but they offer you (should) a revised and in good condition, with a 6 month to 1 year warranty.
  • On the web: ebay, amazon, second hand, KEH, B&H, etc. As with all products that you may have purchased through this system, review user opinions about the seller and review the images and explanation well. Online is where, in general, you can investigate more and get the best deals.

CRITERIA TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING AN ANALOG CAMERA:

RESEARCH A LOT, A LOT AND DON’T HURRY:

Compare, search for information in different forums, on different internet sales pages, compare, search for reference prices … and so on.

DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT AND HOW MUCH YOU ARE WILLING TO SPEND:

There are millions of analog cameras roaming the ethereal internet system. Do not hurry, focus on one of them and set a reasonable maximum price for which you are willing to get it. If you do not find it, be patient, with patience you will surely be able to find it at a much better price. And once you have it in your hands …

 ANALYZE IT:

  • Check the outside : if it shows scratches, rust or large bumps that may suggest that something inside might be affected. One thing is the use grated and other more serious strokes.
  • Check the lens: It should be intact, do not forget that it is the most important part of any camera. No scratches, no aberrations, no fungus and preferably no dust (although if you are extremely interested in optics, a good technical service can clean it).
  • The diaphragm: Check that it moves smoothly and opens and closes one by one corresponding to the f numbers of the diaphragm.
  • The shutter and shutter: Check that the shutter operates at the correct speed, as well as that the shutter opens and closes correctly.
  • Mirrors: If it is a mirror camera, check that it is in good condition: clean, without scratches, etc. and that it returns to the initial position after the shot.

If all the above works correctly, you just have to try it with reel. If you focus correctly, the reel advances smoothly and the images have no defects (associated with the camera, of course not the fact that you are learning to handle it) … You may have achieved your perfect analog camera

Review and analyze the material before buying it

THE INDISPENSABLE COMPLEMENT: IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT REEL.

There are real monographs on reels, real fans of some brands or others. The reason is simple. Each brand, each model, each sensitivity provides a unique and different image from the rest of brands, models and sensitivities. Here are some of the most popular brands that are still manufactured and are relatively easy to find:

 COLOR:

  • Kodak Portra 400: very fine grain, famous for how it reproduces color and saturation.
  • Kodak Ektar 100: Very used in landscapes because of the way it has to reproduce the blues and greens.
  • Fujifilm Velvia 50 (ASA) (Slide): You can find it in all formats (35mm, medium format and large format). Grain almost non-existent and intense and saturated colors.
  • Fujifilm Provia 100F (Slide): High contrast and bright colors while crisp and with little grain.
  • Fujifilm Pro 400H: A balanced intermediate option between saturation and grain.
  • Fujifilm Superia 1600: It is the reel with more ISO sensitivity (ASA) in color that exists today.

 BLACK AND WHITE

  • Kodak T-Max 400 (ASA): Soft tones and very fine grain, supposedly the best (least noise) in 400 ASA.
  • Ilford HP5 400 (ASA) Very versatile, since by its characteristics it is an “intermediate” reel, neither too much noise nor too much contrast, but with some of both.
  • Ilford Delta 3200 (ASA) It is the black and white reel with more sensitivity of the market today.
  • Kodak Tri-X: It is one of the most sold and popular black and white movies. More contrasted and of greater grain than his partner of ASA in Kodak; the T-Max
  • Ilford PanF50: It is famous for its almost non-existent noise that allows large extensions without losing quality. Of course the ISO (ASA) is very low, so it is only advised in environments with sufficient light.
  • Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 Very fine grain and great detail and with one of the best gray ranges in the market
Fujifilm Velvia 50
Fujifilm Pro 400H
Kodak Portra 400
Ilford HP5 400
Kodak Tri-X

TYPES OF ANALOG CAMERAS:

Broadly speaking, when we talk about analog cameras, we can divide them into 35mm cameras, medium format and large format, it depends on the film for which they are designed. The large format is, and was, very specialized and oriented to make large extensions or architecture. Unless you want to create a home museum (the cameras are huge, have bellows, need a tripod …) I recommend you start with 35mm and later maybe with medium format.

TELEMETRIC CAMERAS:

I could tell you about rangefinders, triangulations, distance, or the different viewfinder windows. But I prefer to try to explain it in a simpler way. Telemeters do not have a mirror such as SLRs, so the image is printed directly on the reel. This increases the sharpness and decreases the trepidations associated with this movement. But it also makes what you see through your viewfinder, not exactly (although very close) what the target is seeing (called parallax error). Its focus system is based on its own system to measure the distance through what is called ‘rangefinder’ and which, in a practical way, consists of combining the real image and that provided by the rangefinder and other mechanisms, in one. This is done through the focus of the objective (turning the focus wheel). Once the images match, it will mean that the subject is focused. To help you, it has windows in the viewfinder, which define the area that will be included in the image depending on the focus used.

Do not panic, the theory is terrible, but in practice it is very easy to use and also has one of the most precise and easy to use (manual) approaches, its visors are clear and large, it is small and robust, quiet, discreet … A wonder Not to mention the designs. Some of them are authentic timeless works of art.

Telemetric Camera

SLR CAMERAS (SLR):

You already know them to spare, since broadly speaking, the idea is the same in both digital and analog. Unlike telemetrics, SLRs have a system of prisms and mirrors that allow us to visualize exactly through the viewfinder, which our objective sees. Most have interchangeable objectives and different focal points. On the contrary, they weigh more and are louder (due to the noise caused by the mirror).

SLR analog SLR camera

SLR CAMERAS (TLR):

It is a reflex camera with two “twin” lenses (Twin Lens Reflex). The objective located at the top, offers the image to the viewfinder, while the one at the bottom is the one that captures the image and lets it pass to the reel. The image is formed on a glass at the top of the camera, so it is usually shot from the waist and looking down. Its advantages over SLRs (Single Lens Reflex) is that the shutter does not affect the viewfinder, that is, it is always freely displayed by the upper lens. This makes it useful for long exposures or moving objects. They are very precise in focus, very sharp and very quiet. They are also bulky and heavy, and having two optics the price is multiplied in focal points. They usually work with medium format reels,

TLR SLR Camera

POLAROID:

They were the first to provide us with instant photographs on paper and had great reception until the appearance of digital photography. The same camera, together with the paper that acts as a reel, used to be a portable and automatic laboratory, providing us with an instantly revealed image. Polaroid stopped manufacturing its reels until “The Impossible Project” decided to take over one of its factories and start distributing them again.

Different Polaroid models
Mural of photographs made with Polaroid

PINHOLE:

If you have a tin box and a needle to make a hole, you already have a camera ;-), because the pinhole are basically that. A sealed box, a hole as an objective through which the light will pass, and photosensitive material inside where the negative of the image will be engraved. Of course, to reveal it you will need a laboratory or get the necessary chemicals to do it. If you are interested in how to do it, you will find a lot of information on the web. It’s at least curious, don’t you think?

A pinhole and the resulting image

OTHER CURIOSITIES ABOUT ANALOG CAMERAS:

Do you want a spy camera? Try a Minox  The Minox were reused in World War II, for being a perfect camera and easy to handle but in miniature size. Many models were made, surely you have seen some of them in spy movies

One of the Minox models

KODAK STEREO:

It is a type of camera called stereoscopic. This uses 35mm slide reel to provide 3D images. The viewfinder is right in the middle of the two lenses and, through them, the camera creates two slightly different images, which, when brought together, provides the illusion of a three-dimensional image.

Kodak Stereo

TO FINISH … A FEW LEGENDARY CAMERAS:

Although there are many more, I leave a selection of 10 to take a look, if you want, with their approximate prices on ebay.

  • Kodak Brownie: from € 10 to € 300.
  • Hasselblad 500cm: from € 300 to € 1,200
  • Contax RTS-3: € 100 to € 600
  • Minox: € 10 to € 100
  • Mamiya 7 II: € 900
  • Leica M4: € 500 to € 1,300
  • Nikon F3: € 150 to € 500
  • Polaroid SX-70: € 90 to € 250
  • Rollei 35: € 60 to € 150
  • Rolleiflex TLR: € 600 to € 1,150

There are many small magical details that you will only understand when you have an analog camera in your hands. When you wonder where that camera was before, what places it visited, what it photographed, what hands held it, what winds, sands or seas it has crossed. The seconds before pressing the shutter, the noise of its mechanics, the effort that you dedicate to create each image, the noise and the sensation produced by advancing a reel. All this is above any fashion, it is passion in its purest form, it is to overcome the limitations to give 100% of yourself. So if you have an analog camera nearby, take it out of its corner, put a reel, and go to re-release it. Maybe the first few times you look desperate for the LCD screen but soon you will get used to thinking without more technology than your eyes.

I hope you liked it and it was useful, but above all I hope you are already looking at the nearest store on the internet where you can stock up on reels to unleash your photographic passion. If so, please share it with those you think may be interested or interested. Greetings and thank you!


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