Old School

Nikon FEIn this modern age where we take photos by the thousands, share them instantly, tweak any imperfections in post by adjusting some sliders and have access to all necessary aids like auto focus and exposure I thought it might cool to go back in time to the core of photography. Yes, I bought myself an analog camera. Want to know what and why, read on.

So, I bought myself an analog camera – or actually I got it from Santa, thanks so much. Of course you want to know which camera I got, well I’ll tell you. It’s a Nikon FE (dating back to approx. end ’70s, begin ’80s). According to Wikipedia, the camera was at semi-professional level (like the D700/D800 now I suppose). It feels cold and heavy when you hold in your hands, it feels really good holding it. For all specs and whatnot, I would like to point you to that Wikipedia page.

The FE along with two lenses and a flash

The FE along with two lenses and a flash

The cool thing is that I bought (got) this camera off a website like eBay (a Dutch equivalent) and it was a bargain. The Nikon FE itself, the Nikon 50mm f/2.0, the Tokina 28-70 f/3.5 – 4.5, the Sun 70mm f/3.8, the Metz 32CT2 flash, a remote shutter release and some more goodies. It even came in a nice bag. Especially the 50mm f/2.0 from Nikon is a topnotch lens, check the sharpness right here (used on a D7000).

So why did I actually want this camera? Well actually there’s a couple of reasons. First of all, I just thought it would be cool to have an analog camera. Second of all, and this is where it gets interesting, I think I can learn hella lot from such a camera. As I said, there’s no aids, everything is done by hand (although it does have an aperture priority mode, but I ain’t touching that). Sensitivity is set only by the film that you have sitting in the camera, so the only way to change that is to load up other film – in other words, there’s no changing the sensitivity. You only have around 24 shots that all cost approx. $0.07 – might not sound like much but compared to your digital images it’s a lot – so you don’t want to waste any shots. And maybe even the most important: whatever you shoot, that’s what the photo is going to be. Sure, it’s possible to do some minor tweaking in the dark room (not that I have one), but that’s not going to change much to the photo. So it’s gotta be 100% right out of the camera.

By all these limitations, I think you’re forced to take more time to actually think about your shot and than take only the perfect shot. Instead of taking twenty and choosing the best one behind your computer. I think this will improve your photographic eye as they call it and will also affect how you take your digital shots.

So just to be clear, I haven’t switched to analog, I’ll continue to use my digital gear but I’ll also take some photos with my analog camera now and then.

And of course the most beautiful part about analog is that you have to wait a long ass time before you actually get to see the images that you shot. Super cool.
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