My first year of shooting film Part 6
I have a confession to make. I am starting to feel a bit like I am cheating, and slowly it is making me feel more uncomfortable. A couple of months ago I replied to a request from Hamish for guest posts, but I only shot digital. Hamish suggested that I could write about my first film camera, and I said yes. At that time I should have come clean immediately, but somehow I told myself that it was ok, but there has been a little voice in my head this whole time. And now I have decided that it is time to come clean about my photography and the Minolta Riva Panorama.
This is not my first film camera experience. The Minolta I wrote about in my first guest post was not my first film camera. The truth is that I am old enough to remember a time when there were no digital cameras at all. Frankly, I remember a whole life of analogue just about anything. To give an example: my first reports in college were written with pen on paper. I got my first email account after I finished college. My first digital appointment book was a PALM m500, and I was already in my second job. And I was an early adopter (no kidding), I remember discussions with coworkers about the need or value of an electronic appointment book. When my boyfriend bought a digital camera it was a novelty and he was the first among my friends and family. At that time I was about 28 years old. I know there were photos in my life before the age of 28, so they must have been on film…
So why did I agree to write about my first film camera? Because I can hardly remember anything about shooting film. I do remember bringing rolls of film to a local lab when we got home from a vacation, I vaguely remember that my dad used to own a Pentax, and that he took ages to take a photograph of us. But I don’t remember the cameras I have shot with. I don’t remember anything of the process of taking photos. I don’t remember paying any attention to the process, I do not remember making a deliberate choice about film type, exposure, composition, etc. I guess I was taking photos like most young people nowadays take photos with their smartphone, I was just shooting away to have something to remember my life.
So why did I choose this moment for my confession? Because somehow, through the convincing world of twitter, I bought a Minolta Riva Panorama. And shooting with this camera resembles photography from my youth much more than shooting with the Minolta or M2 that I currently own. I realised that what I meant by ‘My First Film Camera’, is actually ‘My First Manual Film Camera’. Since I own a digital Leica M (the 240) I have entered the world of deliberate photography, making deliberate choices about lens-choice, aperture and composition. The step towards film photography was a step towards even less automated photography, with cameras that don’t have a light meter, and don’t give you a preview so you can take a next attempt if the result is not what you expected.
But now in comes the Riva Panorama, and this is a little automatic camera that even has automatic rewind of the film. So this is a sidestep from my venture in film photography where I try to learn about exposure, and where I am thinking (over-thinking?) about every step. With this camera it is just relaxed point and shoot. With the one extra feature that it only shoots in panorama. And that is so much fun that I wanted to share some results I got with this camera. You can click on a photo to view a screen-sized version, which might be particularly handy with the portrait photos…
I won’t try to write a camera-review, Hamish is much better at that and has already written about this camera here. In short: it crops the 35mm film into a panorama format, and the viewfinder is also in panorama form-factor. There are not much manual settings, you can choose to block the use of a flash, but everything else is automatic. The lens is pretty slow (f/4.5), but with 24mm wider than any lens I own, which makes it a nice feature for me. With the largest aperture of f/4.5, the Minolta Riva Panorama is not really suited for darker situations, but that didn’t stop me from trying. It is just for fun right. And I do like some of the results, although there is the expected extra grain.
Except from the limited use when it is rather dark outside, the Minolta Riva Panorama also appears to be extreme flare-prone. With some really interesting and unexpected results. The next photos were made early in the morning when the street lights were still on. These light sources appeared to be a more dominant feature than I had imagined 🙂 (at least that is what I think causes the smudges and spots):
As you might have guessed, so far I have shot two rolls with Minolta Riva Panorama, one Kodak Gold 200 and one Tri-X. I thought that shooting panorama would teach me something, but it was only half-way the second roll that I realised what it was: with panorama view you have to pay more attention to context, because it is rare that you can fill the frame with just the main subject. So for me, this is the little bit of extra that I get, apart from fun, from shooting with this camera.
Here are a few more colour photos:
And a couple of more results with Tri-X and the Minolta Riva Panorama. Most of the photos received a bit of post processing (contrast, clarity).
All photos taken in this review of the Minolta Riva Panorama were developed and scanned by AG-photolab.
Thanks for reading, and Hamish, thanks for having me!
If you’re interested, you can find my digital photos on www.whataukjesees.com