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I know nothing about photography but I've bought an LX. Help!

ChrisA
Posted 22/11/2013 - 14:21 Link
co049 wrote:
BUT one of the biggest faults I see from people who have only used digital is the amount of shots/images that take without thinking about the image.

Perfectly true.

But you don't have to do this, and if you're motivated to learn, you probably won't.
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Pentax K-3, DA18-135, DA35 F2.4, DA17-70, DA55-300, FA28-200, A50 F1.7, A100 F4 Macro, A400 F5.6, Sigma 10-20 EXDC, 50-500 F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS Samsung flash SEF-54PZF(x2)
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co049
Posted 22/11/2013 - 14:56 Link
Mannesty wrote:
co049 wrote:
Its a difficult one,

I don't think it's difficult at all. Technology and techniques move on. When (not if) film makers stop producing their film, there will once again be no choice for new photographers to learn their craft using the only available medium.As far as I know, the development of film technology has stopped. It is what it has been for years, and the choice is diminishing. Digital sensor technology is in its infancy relatively speaking. There will come a time when all that can and could be done with film, will be done digitally with the sensors of the future.

When that time comes there will be no need to produce film. Imagine a camera where you can preset your favourite film type EG: Kodachrome 25 or 64. It will come, one day.

At the moment we can hark back to times gone by and still use the old technology because we can still get all the parts (film, chemicals, paper, etc.) There will come a time when that will either not be possible, or prohibitively expensive for the general populous.

I know that I'd rather cut my fruit, meat, and vegetables using a modern steel or ceramic knife rather than a rough blade fashioned from flint.

The original exam question was:

Quote:
So...can anyone recommend any beginners' books or web sites to learn from? I've got the Spotmatic manual, which looks surprisingly helpful. I would like to understand some of the physics of film cameras, but I'm afraid I failed my physics O level.

The OP is how can the originator learn about film photography, it is still available and an individuals choice if they whish to use that format.
Chris,

Pentax K1ii, K3, K-m & MX-1.
Pentax LX, MX, ME Super & MV.
"Old Skool" with the new!
Mannesty
Posted 22/11/2013 - 15:18 Link
As far as I know, a film camera is more of a mechanical device and a pass in O level physics would have made him none the wiser.

You are quite right quoting the question, but sometimes people ask the wrong question, and some of us can see that.

The OP also wrote "you've got to start somewhere and I thought that a manual film camera would be the thing to learn on."

There is no need to start to learn photography with old technology, using newer technology will facilitate learning much faster.

I don't believe slates and chalk is used much in schools nowadays either. Many of them are equipped with computers, tablets, and all manner of things technological, even digital cameras.

Hopefully the OP will read my posts and take from them my intention to help him learn photography fast, not criticize his choice of medium to learn with.

I think I've made my opinion clear, if not, to reiterate, film is for enthusiastic amateurs and professional photographers who know how and when to choose film over digital and vice versa. Anybody learning photography today should start with a digital camera, end of. Besides, where on our planet is he likely to be able to enroll on a beginners course based around film photography?
Peter E Smith - flickr Photostream
Edited by Mannesty: 22/11/2013 - 15:25
petrochemist
Posted 22/11/2013 - 15:49 Link
johnha wrote:
It's not difficult to get average results, beyond that takes a lot of effort/experience/gift etc...

I can't point you in the direction of a website, I learned from several books on 35mm photography (probably by Michael Langford), but the basics are fairly easy (it gets more complicated but this is enough to get started):

Your film speed (ISO) is fixed by the film you load and determines the amount of light you need for a 'correct' exposure. The ambient light level determines your shutter speed/aperture combination required to achieve this. Longer shutter speeds (lower numbers) let in more light and vice versa. Wider apertures (lower numbers) also let in more light and vice versa. For a given light level and ISO, a wider aperture means a shorter shutter speed and vice versa. For each 'step' in shutter speed (called a stop) there is a corresponding step in aperture (in the other direction). There is usually some overlap in the shutter speed/aperture combination to allow flexible choice in the following:

Shorter shutter speeds freeze movement, longer ones blur it. Wider apertures produce less (shallower) depth of field, smaller apertures produce more (deeper) depth of field. Shorter focal lengths create more DoF for a given aperture, longer ones create shallower DoF for the same aperture.

When you get the LX put it into manual mode (shutter speed dial not in 'automatic'). As you change shutter speed or aperture, you should see the red LED in the finder move up or down corresponding to the recommended speed for the given ISO, ambient light level and aperture. When the indicator of your set speed lines up with the LED, that means you're set at the recommended exposure. Take note how this works (easier to see for yourself than trying to explain it) pointing at different light levels.

Slide (transparency/E6) film shows up errors immediately (print film is 'corrected' in the printing process) and noting your settings when shooting will help you work out what (if anything) is going wrong.

Hope this helps, there must be useful stuff on the web too.

John.

John summary here is very good, but there's a couple of points that could be added:
The Field of View , is bigger with shorter focal lengths.
For 35mm film a 50mm lenses sees about the same as your eyes, a 24mm wide angle will give about twice the angle of view and a 200mm telephoto will look like its 4 times larger.

In shutter speeds each 'stop' is a two fold difference in time, while with apertures it's a two fold differnce in the area of the opening. With a constant light source half the time through twice the area is the same number of photons to expose the film.

ISO is ameasure of how sensitive the film/sensor is to photons double the ISO & you only need half as many photons.

(Photons are effectivly individual bits of light, there's absolutely no need to understand them which is just as well!)
Mike
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Far to many tele-converters, adapters, project parts & extension tubes etc.

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johnriley
Posted 22/11/2013 - 16:29 Link
Quote:
I don't believe slates and chalk is used much in schools nowadays either.

There's a certain irony here, as in one sense they do. They call them iPads.

Comment Image
Best regards, John
McGregNi
Posted 22/11/2013 - 16:59 Link
Sticking to photography and learning about it, I think its important to keep a distinction between recording medium (ie film or digital) and the essential tools that are needed to best learn about the fundamentals of photography.

Lets not equate 'film' or 35mm with 'basic', or 'manual' - the latest pro-spec film era SLRs (from the early 2000s) are loaded with high - tech sophistications to aid the capture of images and manage the film transport, a great deal of which would be bewildering to any beginner.

But restrict their operations to Av or M exposure modes, centre-weighted metering and use a manual focus lens, and you've got the essential tools to learn photography, without unnecessary complications. Apply the same approach on our latest K3 DSLR and you've achieved exactly the same.

The obvious benefit with the digital option is the instant review of images for learning feedback.

I would encourage our OP to learn all about his film cameras, and he'll find plenty of help here from both current and ex users of the great Pentax models from the past. But it is surely good advice and common sense to also recommend a DSLR - (an older, relatively cheap one will do) and use the two side by side, as the visual information from the digital camera will be so more effective and practical in aiding efficient learning.

The special qualities of film and its processing can still be valued, and the old camera's no doubt can be a joy to own and use, but it would be short-sighted these days to suggest that someone should use a 35mm film camera to learn about general photography.
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Edited by McGregNi: 22/11/2013 - 17:02
Mannesty
Posted 22/11/2013 - 17:25 Link
johnriley wrote:
There's a certain irony here, as in one sense they do. They call them iPads.

There's yet another example of old technology in your pic, that the electronic calculator has replaced.
Peter E Smith - flickr Photostream
Posted 23/11/2013 - 00:47 Link
Lots of good points in favour of learning digitally. Probably the main reason I chose analogue is that I live 100 yards from an amazing photographic centre where I can join a thriving community of film users (some of whom are very comely females) and have lessons subsidised by the Arts Council, i.e. all you taxpayers! Plus I'm fascinated by the machinery of my LX and Spotmatic for some reason. And I have lots of time for a new hobby. My digital compact has lots of manual settings so I can incorporate that into the learning process. I had ruled out buying a DSLR on the grounds of cost but McGregNi's suggestion to get an old cheap one has got me thinking....I bet there are some bargains out there...
Edited by BrixtonNick: 23/11/2013 - 00:49
andrewk
Posted 23/11/2013 - 09:05 Link
co049 wrote:
BUT one of the biggest faults I see from people who have only used digital is the amount of shots/images that take without thinking about the image

At times, I worry that I'm just getting a bit better at sifting a few decent photos from a much larger heap of detritus that digital lets you take - but without actually getting any better at making images in the first place.

Even before this thread, my New Year's resolution was going to be to take a lot longer over each shot than I have done - a resolution that I soundly broke on a trip with a local camera club on Monday last week to the Trafford Centre. We were there for about 5 hours (including a break for a mixed grill and liquid refeshment at the Wetherspoons) and I came back with over a hundred shots more than one every 3 minutes!! We could have stopped for a week and taken thousands. There's just so much to point a camera at .......

One way towards a more considered approach is to discipline myself to use a tripod. I do take one pretty much everywhere I take a camera - but it rarely finds its way out of the car. I can feel another New Year's resolution coming on .....

Andrew
Edited by andrewk: 23/11/2013 - 09:18
andrewk
Posted 23/11/2013 - 09:17 Link
McGregNi wrote:
But restrict their operations to Av or M exposure modes, centre-weighted metering and use a manual focus lens, and you've got the essential tools to learn photography, without unnecessary complications.

Well, yes, but that is all about learning the mechanics of taking sharp, correctly exposed photos which is, perhaps, the less important part of photography. The part that I really struggle with is seeing the (good, great) photo in the first place. The problem there is the squidgy organic bit behind the viewfinder - not the camera technology.

Andrew
ChrisA
Posted 23/11/2013 - 09:27 Link
BrixtonNick wrote:
Lots of good points in favour of learning digitally. Probably the main reason I chose analogue is that I live 100 yards from an amazing photographic centre where I can join a thriving community of film users (some of whom are very comely females) and have lessons subsidised by the Arts Council, i.e. all you taxpayers! Plus I'm fascinated by the machinery of my LX and Spotmatic for some reason. And I have lots of time for a new hobby.

Plenty of excellent reasons for sticking to Plan A then, if it floats your boat. As I said earlier, if you have the time, it should all be very enjoyable.

And you could keep an eye out for a cheap second hand dSLR body such as this - which will be perfectly usable with your current lenses. It would even let you experiment a bit digitally and then expose one film frame instead of many, although you'd need to be a bit careful with exposure - although the principles are the same, there are differences to consider between getting exposure right on film and on digital.

Please do report back and let us know how you're getting on - best of luck!
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Pentax K-3, DA18-135, DA35 F2.4, DA17-70, DA55-300, FA28-200, A50 F1.7, A100 F4 Macro, A400 F5.6, Sigma 10-20 EXDC, 50-500 F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS Samsung flash SEF-54PZF(x2)
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McGregNi
Posted 23/11/2013 - 09:40 Link
BrixtonNick wrote:
.... Plus I'm fascinated by the machinery of my LX and Spotmatic for some reason. And I have lots of time for a new hobby. My digital compact has lots of manual settings so I can incorporate that into the learning process. I had ruled out buying a DSLR on the grounds of cost but McGregNi's suggestion to get an old cheap one has got me thinking....I bet there are some bargains out there...

The core 'machinery' of your LX and my own K7 are very similar. That's one of the pleasures of using a high spec DSLR - it feels and sounds just like the high spec film SLRs of earlier times. As I pointed out earlier, high-tech enhancements and extra features are not the preserve of digital bodies only - the best film era slrs were brimming with controls and configuration options to give the greatest possible shooting flexibility. Our top range modern DSLRs have a lot of this too, plus by design, extra items relating to the digital capture and image control aspects.

But all of this is 'extra'. Both examples can be paired down to the basics and operated in 'learning mode' equally effectively.
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tyronet2000
Posted 24/11/2013 - 10:14 Link
andrewk wrote:
The part that I really struggle with is seeing the (good, great) photo in the first place. The problem there is the squidgy organic bit behind the viewfinder - not the camera technology.
Andrew

Have you been reading my mind I call it image blindness. It never ceases to amaze me how some on here can look at, to me, the ordinary and 'see a picture'
Regards
Stan

PPG
Edited by tyronet2000: 24/11/2013 - 10:15
johnriley
Posted 24/11/2013 - 10:32 Link
With most things in life, exercise and/or practice will develop skills and abilities. You can learn to see images Andrew and Stan, but it takes some work.

I would suggest you try an exercise that will help to focus your mind. Select a place, be it a museum, art gallery, stately home, deer park or whatever. Then select a theme, say "red", something simple for starters. Then give your self say an hour or two hours to go there and produce say 15 images covering the theme. Then take them home and make them into a set, perhaps to post here in the forum.

This should give your shoot a sense of purpose and start you really looking. I do this every now and then and sometimes for small groups of photographers. It does help.
Best regards, John
giofi
Posted 24/11/2013 - 13:20 Link
McGregNi wrote:
The core 'machinery' of your LX and my own K7 are very similar. That's one of the pleasures of using a high spec DSLR - it feels and sounds just like the high spec film SLRs of earlier times. As I pointed out earlier, high-tech enhancements and extra features are not the preserve of digital bodies only - the best film era slrs were brimming with controls and configuration options to give the greatest possible shooting flexibility. Our top range modern DSLRs have a lot of this too, plus by design, extra items relating to the digital capture and image control aspects.

But all of this is 'extra'. Both examples can be paired down to the basics and operated in 'learning mode' equally effectively.

I agree with your last sentence, but not as much on the fact that the machinery of the LX and K7 (or any other DSLR for that matter) are very similar. To make a DSRL to operate as an LX, or an MX, you need to do quite a bit of set up.

I notice that when I use older cameras (such as the LX) after I have not used them for a while. I make many more errors as I get used to a DSRL taking so many decisions for me, or at least allowing for a great degree of error correction in PP.

So I would agree that having a cheap digital camera would allow to experiment and learn faster in certain areas. But I think that if one has the interest and time to go through the whole process with film cameras (including development and printing), the experience cannot replicated with a DSRL.

BTW Nick: should you get hooked and decide you like developing and printing your own photos, you might be better off buying some used equipment and set up your own dark room if you have the possibility. It would turn out much cheaper if you do not just do it once in a while.

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