In the midst of the initial corona virus lockdown, I came across a used Nikon F80 film camera (not the camera this article is about). I had scant knowledge about film photography, but was itching for something to spark some creative mojo. The learning curve for this camera looked friendly, so I ordered it. If anything, at it would least temporarily take my mind off the current situation.
I had a blast shooting with it. Having to wait to see the results was oddly gratifying, and I found a new appreciation for “straight out of the camera” images. Naturally, GAS started building up quickly. To my surprise (and annoyance), I found that many of the film cameras I wanted seemed ridiculously priced. Meanwhile, a DP Review article popped up on my news feed: “The $20 film camera challenge“.
Bargain hunting + photography? I’m in.
This wasn’t my first rodeo with sites like eBay, and I eventually came across my preferred kind of ad: No description, blurry photos, and a cheap price tag. “Canon Prima 85 for 10€”. That’s all I had to go on, so I researched the specs and reviews and arranged a meeting with the owner.
I took the S-Bahn (subway) to a nearby suburb and walked to the prescribed address. After ringing the doorbell, someone cracked the door open and a withered hand extended out of the darkness holding the camera. I took the camera, it seemed practically new, and deposited 10€ into the disembodied hand. It retracted back and closed the door. Not a word was spoken.
Slightly creeped out, I shuffled over to a nearby bench, inserted a new battery, and loaded in a roll of trusty Fujifilm Superia 400.
“KRrNklick”! It was ready. I had no idea if it was focusing or metering correctly, but it seemed to be taking pictures when I wanted it to. I was especially entertained by how loud and lethargic the zoom mechanism was. It had four focal lengths: roughly 38, 55, 70, and 85mm. Especially the 55 and 70mm shots turned out sharp.
Over the next few days I powered through the roll of film then dropped it off at the local film developer. The results came back, and although the images won’t win any awards, I think the photos turned out marvelously. For 10€, I had got a surprisingly practical, sharp, pocketable, fun little camera.
The photo challenge proved that money doesn’t buy love, or necessarily, a better photography experience.
Thanks for reading my first ever blog post!
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