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Thread: Film SLR

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    Registered User WetBottom's Avatar
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    Default Film SLR

    I have inherited an old film SLR. It's an Olympus OM-2. It has many lenses and filters and other things I don't know how to use that go with it.

    Since starting to play with it I've become a bit addicted (which with film is an unfortunately expensive addiction).

    I'm still very clueless about how to really use it though, and I was hoping some of you may have some pearls of wisdom regarding SLRs and the woods.

    I the main thing I'm pondering is what type of lens is best for hiking photos? Just for day trips, or maybe a night or two in the woods, nothing long distance.

    I obviously am not lugging every lens it has up a mountain. I am hiking the 4000 footers in NH, and enjoy making trip reports to show family and friends with the pictures after.

    Feel free to talk down to me, I am totally clueless about SLRs.

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    Default a few suggestions..............

    Here is a web site that may interest you. Kenrockwell.com

    It covers a wide range of camera issues. Ken is a Film and Nikon fanatic. He is very opinionated ( in a good way ) but backs it up with a lot of technical knowledge.

    The OM 1 in its day was a top of the line camera. I am sure wikipedia has something on it.

    What lens to carry? I would suggest a wide angle ( that would be something lower then 50 mm, hopefully you have a 28 mm ).

    Remember the sunny sixteen rule. On a sunny day, set your camera iso for the speed of the film you purchased ( suggest fuji print film iso 100 ), apeture for f 16 and the shutter speed close to the iso of the film ( 1 / 125 ). This, in most cases, will give you the correct exposure. Try it and check the light meter on the camera.

    Go to the library and get a good basic photography book published pre 1980. That should give you the basics of film photography which is a strong foundation for digital photography. Any book authored by ansel adams is also a good place to start.

    Leaning film photography is not that expensive when you consider that you can pick up a 1000 dollar film nikon for about 75 bucks ( Nikon N 90s ) that can give you a bit better picture then a digital D700 nikon that runs 3000 dollars.

    Have fun, the OM 1 is a very nice camera. Just remember that if it breaks or needs repair, its cheaper to pick another used one then to try and get it fixed. So my point being is not to get too attached to the camera itself. Its the person behind the camera that makes the difference.

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    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    For outdoor shots you will probably want a range of lenses. For example a wide angle (maybe something around 28mm), a "normal" lens (usually considered 50mm), and a short telephoto (say around 100mm to 200mm). This would give you a decent range, and with a 2X teleconverter you could have up to a 400mm equivalent (a teleconverter is MUCH lighter and more compact than another lens).

    For my Nikon, I found my favorite lens for taking out with me was a 35-105mm zoom. Did not give all the range that I would like, but was a compact, relatively light compromise.

    I would suggest buying an introductory book of film cameras. There is a fair amount to learn. If you become real serious about this, New York Institute of Photography offers an expensive, but very complete correspondence course. Also, for basic techniques, BetterPhoto.com offers good quality courses. Most of the BetterPhoto courses emphasize digital camera, but a lot of the info is applicable to film also.

    Do you use a digital SLR now? If not, the starting point for things to understand are:

    - DO NOT FORGET TO SET YOUR FILM SPEED WHEN YOU LOAD YOUR FILM!!!!
    - Film Speed and it's effects on Photo Quality and Lighting requirements
    - Relationship between Aperture and Shutter Speed
    - How to adjust exposure
    - Depth of Field and how to modify it
    - Finally, as in any type of photography, composition - what makes a good photo and what detracts from a photo.

    I'm sure others, who know more than me, will also jump in with advice.

    Good luck and enjoy. I just dusted off my old film camera too. It is expensive!

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    This is going to sound a little snide, but if you don't know much about SLRs, the OM-2 isn't a good place to start. Put it on your mantle and look kindly on it, but choose something different to shoot with. The OM-2 goes for about $70 now, so it isn't a high end camera by any means. You'll spend a lot of cash in film and developing and strain your eyes looking through a loupe at the slides. If you want to get into SLRs, try a digital camera instead. If you just want some nice snapshots of your hikes, try a digital point and shoot. You'll be able to focus on your hike and not on setting dials and exposure and worrying if the meter even works any more (the OM2 was a first generation auto exposure camera).

    Until you get skilled at using the camera, try leaving a 35mm or 50mm lens on. Don't bother with a zoom unless it is a modern design (i.e, late 90s or later).

    Many community colleges have photography courses that require a manual focus camera like the OM-2 and you might look there for a introduction to photography.

    I started with film, now shoot digital, and am planning on picking up a used medium format film camera in the next year or so for trips where all I do is work to get one or two nice pictures (that I could then blow up to a ridiculous size!).

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    I have a couple of old 35mm cameras that I bought cheap, and my favorite is the oldest that is pretty much all manual. I'm learning as I go and a photographer friend said the best way to learn is to take a lot of pictures. You'll get a lot of bad ones but some good ones too and you learn from both.
    Any library will have some film photography books from the 60's and 70's that will help you explore your camera.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yaduck9 View Post
    I get mine done at WalMart and get prints and a CD. (cue anti-walmart team)

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    I am looking into taking classes, but most of the art colleges are geared towards digital, and I didn't see any classes offered at the community colleges. (If any knows of any in Boston, let me know...)

    I do not have the money to buy a digital SLR, so it's not going to happen. What's the worse I could do here, take a bad photo?

    I currently use a cheap point and shoot, which is tiny and weighs almost nothing, so it will continue to come with me.

    I have a wide angle lens, it also has two zoom type lenses, and then the 50mm lens. There are also some macro attachments, which weigh nothing- does anyone ever find themselves using them on the trail? There also may be other lenses for the camera sitting in a closet somewhere, but I'm plenty overwhelmed with these for now.

    I'm happy to try at this and fail, I'm having a great time with the journey!

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    I'm really enjoying this Ken Rockwell website. Much more than I would be enjoying doing any work I'm supposed to be doing right now...

    Thanks for the link!

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    WetBottom, What lenses did you get with this?

    The most standard lens is 50mm. Olympus made very good lenses. Some of the off brand lenses (Tamron, Sigma, Tokina, etc.) that people also bought for these cameras are pretty good and some are mediocre.
    It should be easy to get pictures with this that are superior to all but the best digital cameras.
    The OM-2 is a good camera http://mir.com.my/rb/photography/har.../om2/index.htm

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    I found the OM1 to be an excellent backpack camera in its time. The OM2, I believe, adds automatic features. As suggested above, an older photography book will get you started nicely.

    Depending on the trip, I used to carry a 50mm, 70-150 zoom, and a 28mm lens. I also carried close up attachments for the 50mm.

    This is a top of the line film camera, and a bargain now. have fun.

    For the record, I now carry an Olympus ultra zoom which has advantages but does not take better pictures.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    I don't know what the lenses are off the top of my head, I can check exactly when I get home.

    After doing some reading, I feel like what I need to work on most is composing my photos. I want to be able to take pictures all up the trail and tell a little story with them, but often times I manage to take pictures of nothingness, or pictures which cut out pieces of people and things.

    I've already noticed a big advantage of this camera for me has been I have to stop and think to use it.

    I'd prefer to just carry one lens, maybe two.

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    Registered User The Will's Avatar
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    Wetbottom,

    What lenses came with the camera?
    Does the camera have an "Aperture Priority" setting? Aperture priority is a great setting for landscape/nature photography or anything that is not fast motion and requires a very fast shutter speed. It is also a setting that is very forgiving to the learner.

    The filters can come into the equation later, once you get more of the basics down. But just a note ahead of time...there are just a few filters that can be used and still give you a natural rendition of your outdoor subject...polarizers, warmers, neutral density filters and graduated neutral density filters.

    What I mean by "natural rendition" is that you could use the filters to improve the current lighting conditions without making the image appear altered or fake. In short, the results of these filters are not anything that could not be seen naturally given the right light conditions.

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    What would an aperture priority setting look like?

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    A link to operating the Olympus OM-2 (n) camera.
    http://mir.com.my/rb/photography/har...nual/index.htm

    Aperture is how wide the diaphragm of the lens is open. In the eye, the iris is the diaphragm. The smaller the F number the wider the diaphragm and the more light gets to the film. Aperture priority sets the aperture and lets the cameras automation pick the shutter speed. To see the effect of aperture go to:
    http://www.photonhead.com/exposure/simcam.php

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    Registered User WetBottom's Avatar
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    That Simcam link is great.

    So, what's the difference between aperture priority, and just setting the camera to auto?

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    Oh, and up until this point I have just been fiddling the aperture and shutter speed until the light meter is in the center. I realized I didn't have a clue, so I better do as the camera tells me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WetBottom View Post
    Oh, and up until this point I have just been fiddling the aperture and shutter speed until the light meter is in the center. I realized I didn't have a clue, so I better do as the camera tells me.
    Not necessarily!! Make the darn thing OBEY you.

    Setting aperture and shutter speed yourself is often best once you learn what it all means because you can make the picture turn out the way you want. Example: fast moving stream:
    Fast shutter speed, e.g. 1/1000 sec, you'll get sharp pics of the water splashing.
    Slow shutter speed, e.g. 1/2 sec., you'll get a ghostly picture with a funny smoothed out image wherever the water is moving.

    At first, set the exposure according to what the camera tells you, then move on from there. Remember that for any given light level, you can use a larger aperture and smaller shutter speed and get the same exposure.

    --Walter

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowleopard View Post
    Not necessarily!! Make the darn thing OBEY you.

    Setting aperture and shutter speed yourself is often best once you learn what it all means because you can make the picture turn out the way you want. Example: fast moving stream:
    Fast shutter speed, e.g. 1/1000 sec, you'll get sharp pics of the water splashing.
    Slow shutter speed, e.g. 1/2 sec., you'll get a ghostly picture with a funny smoothed out image wherever the water is moving.

    At first, set the exposure according to what the camera tells you, then move on from there. Remember that for any given light level, you can use a larger aperture and smaller shutter speed and get the same exposure.

    --Walter

    Just as important in nature photography is the depth of field, or what parts of the photo will be in focus.

    Look again at the SimCam site, compare the photo as the camera wishes to shoot it, then adjust it as suggested in the caption. See what it does to the background?

    This is very useful to know if you want everything in focus, like a landscape, or only the subject in focus (like a flower) and the background blurred. This latter will make the flower "Pop" in the picture.

    This change in the depth of field is dependent on the aperture setting. Larger aperture (smaller number) the less depth of field, smaller the aperture (larger number) the greater the depth of field. Like squinting your eyes to help focus on something. The shutter speed is only changed to make the exposure correct. Any number of combinations will work for exposure, only certain ones will give the effect you want on depth of field.

    This is why you need to get a book or attend a class if you want to make use of the control that a SLR will give you. If you just let the camera make the decisions, you might as well stick with a point and shoot and save some money and weight.

    Have fun - it can get pretty intriguing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WetBottom View Post
    That Simcam link is great.

    So, what's the difference between aperture priority, and just setting the camera to auto?

    My mistake for not looking specifically at that camera before suggesting the Aperture Priority setting--it doesn't have that setting. The above posts have given excellent, concise explanations of aperture. I understand if these terms and effects are all foreign. I haven't looked but I'm sure there are several websites that provide great information for the new photographer. One source that I have appreciated myself is, "Photography Outdoors: A field guide for travel and adventure photographers", Art Wolfe (renowned in wildlife photography circles) and Mark Gardner.

    http://www.amazon.com/Art-Outdoor-Ph...1561631&sr=1-2

    In contrast to what an earlier poster said (whose work I've seen and whose travel resume I respect very much)...they suggested setting aside your Olympus film camera and picking up a digital camera. There would be an advantage here in being able to see your work immediately, but with a camera like yours everything is up to you and I believe that will steepen your learning curve. The downside is the delay in seeing your work and film costs.

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