We were too young when we first met...
Why shoot 135 (35mm) film?
|Fuji Film Acros 100 Developed in Ilford Perceptol|
This hasn't been about dynamic range either. Frankly, I've seen good dynamic range and bad dynamic range. Both from combinations of good films and bad developers. Ultimately though, I've seen a realistic range of 10-14 stops which doesn't make it any better than digital, other than the fact it's 10-14 stops of grayscale, while digital is 10-14 stops of colour.
|Kodak T-Max 400 with Ilford Perceptol|
Modern optics are pretty amazing I should add. My Carl Zeiss Biogon 35mm on my Leica is one of the sharpest lenses I own. My 24-70 F/2.8 on my Elan is also even sharper. Here's where I will say why I'm shooting 35mm film. To bring the size of the equipment I'm using to a more manageable size, but give me quality that rivals larger formats.
This is all about matching what I can do on medium format. For over 25 years, I've not been a fan of the 135 format. Partially due to the fact that 20 years ago I was digitizing all sizes and formats but adored 4x5 and 120. Fast forward 14 years later. About the time I really returned to photography in a serious way, not just editing other photographer's work. For a short period of time I looked at 135 format, shot it, scanned it and reviewed it. No surprise, I was very disappointed by it. Ditched it, went fully digital and only cared about medium format film.
|ADOX CMS 20 in ADOTECH|
Throughout this time, I came to a conclusion that my dissatisfaction with 35mm format film might actually be a result of the limits of certain technologies. I've come to terms with the fact that past attempts were a result of using poor scanning techniques. My current workflow increased the quality of digitizing my 35mm film, to a level that I can satisfactorily say is what I was capturing and appreciating from digitizing 120 and large format.
For me, I believe in 35, not again, but maybe for the first time. It's not a replacement for digital, but will companion my efforts in my art. The fact that I have now reduced my film kit to a pocketable 120 and 135 format rangefinder is making it much more fun to shoot film.
|AGFA APX25 in Ilford Perceptol - Colourized in Post.|
This first image as an example, shot with fine grain, high resolution black and white film, and reproducible at 6 feet at 300 DPI, or for most normal viewable distances can be easily reproduced at 12 feet at 115 DPI. Definitely competes against medium format well.
I continue to explore and exploit the 135 format these days, but I haven't made any definitive conclusions from it, or maybe even willing to.
I like to challenge my tools, the medium and my techniques, but ultimately, what I am most certainly enjoying in this journey is being able to revisit something that I thought was so awful, actually turn out to be quite a nice format to work with.