Digital

Trying again but with digital

I took the same walk, but this time I brought a digital camera (Fujifilm X-T5). It’s just not the same. Maybe it’s the 23mm Fuji lens that I don’t love. Or maybe it’s just that I know they’re digital. Whatever it is, I prefer the film shots from the last two outings.

I don’t know what I want

This has been a tumultuous week for me, photography-wise. Early in the week, I made this silver gelatin darkroom print of a 35mm frame of HP5 film.

On my walk. Ada, MI Silver Gelatin print (Leica MP, HP5)
On my walk. Ada, MI Silver Gelatin print (Leica MP, HP5)

It’s a photo of some weeds I took while out walking. That’s it. But I made it using my favorite camera and it’s a “real” chemical photograph on actual paper. I like it very much.

Then yesterday, I took the following self-portrait using my new Fujifilm X-T5 digital camera in my home studio.

Studio Self-portrait (digital)
Studio Self-portrait (digital)

Here’s my dilemma: I like them both, but never equally or at the same time. One moment I love everything about shooting film with my Leica and printing using only light and chemistry in the darkroom. It feels like making art, even when the objective technical quality is lacking. In fact, the lack of technical quality is what I look for when shooting and printing film.

Then, a moment later, I can’t understand why I’d bother with all that when I could simply shoot digitally and easily produce a clean, sharp, colorful self-portrait using strobes and backgrounds without all the finger-crossed guessing and expensive failures.

What all this means is that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to commit to a single form of photography. There are too many fun and exciting options to limit myself to just one. It also means I’m unlikely to ever develop the “Baty Aestheticâ„¢” that I always think I should have. It means I’ve no “vision”. Oh well, it’ll have to be OK that I’m all over the place, creatively.

My camera situation at the end of 2022

Everything changes all the time.

2022 has been another year of wildly rearranging my approach to photography. I’ve gone all-in Leica and back. I’ve been all-in with film, and back. And so on. I do this because I’m more of a camera nerd than an artist.

Let’s start with the film cameras. First, I sold the big Linhof Master Technika. It was a beautiful kit, but I almost never used it. I still have an old Crown Graphic for when I get the urge to shoot 4×5.

I still have three Leica M film cameras: M3, M6, and MP. I tried and failed at selling the M6. Here they are on my workbench:

Leicas: M3, MP, and M6

The M6 is for sale again. I will hate myself for selling it, but it’s dumb to have something so nice (and valuable) just sitting on a shelf most of the time.

I was also able to revive the Ricoh GR1, which I’m very happy about.

Ricoh GR1, back from the dead.

So, what about digital, then? That’s still being tweaked, but right now I’m going with the new X-T5 and a few favorite lenses.

Testing the X-T5

I ordered the X-T5 with the 16-80 “kit” lens. I don’t like zooms, and I don’t love f4 lenses, but it’s a nice all-arounder in a pinch and a cheap way to get it. I have the 23 f2, 35 f1.4, and 56 1.2 on the way.

I’ve stopped scanning film with a digital camera, so I shouldn’t miss the Lumix S5 and Macro, which I’ve traded for the Fuji lenses. I can change my mind pretty inexpensively with the Fuji 60mm macro any time.

I have come very close to buying another Leica M10-R, but I’m going to see how it feels to use the Fuji for digital.

Where does that leave us? To sum up:

Every Day(ish) Carry:

  • Leica MP
  • Ricoh GR1
  • Fujifilm X-T5

Change-of-Pace Carry:

  • Leica M3
  • Hasselblad 500C/M
  • Crown Graphic 4×5
  • Assorted 35mm (OM-1n, Leica IIIf, etc)