Old Picture MachinesJanuary 24, 2017
As a little self-imposed project, I decided to shoot some old camera equipment. One of my favorites of all time is the original Nikon F, basically the camera that recorded the Sixties. It is all metal, small by today’s standards, and could bang out exposures forever. I was too young to join in chronicling that turbulent decade, but I still managed to obtain a used ‘F’ later in life.
Of course, time passes and digital capture takes over and one can easily forget the old (film) ways. But in a fit of Spring Cleaning effort the other day (in mid Winter), I found the old ‘F’ in storage.
There’s something very cool about a camera that requires no battery and has no meter (some ‘F’s did have meters of course, but not this one).
Once on a cross-country trip, a park ranger at the Grand Canyon advised a group of visitors that, should your camera’s battery die, you can be very successful simply using the exposure guide that came with the film (in that case Kodachrome 25). This was true at the time as most cameras had mechanical shutters which would fire sans battery.
“A sunny day” he said, “is remarkably consistent anywhere in the world: with Kodachrome 25, 1/125th at F8 is just about all you need to know, and then increase three stops for the shadows if necessary”.
‘So Elegant!’ I thought and proceeded to shoot most of the Grand Canyon following the chart that came in the box with my Olympus OM-1.
Here’s the actual sheet from Kodachrome 25:
Presently, I coach/teach some budding photographers and I think it is so easy to over complicate things and get confused with exposure compensation buttons to offset the exposure that the camera is getting wrong in the first place, and auto-iso, auto-shutterspeed and auto-aperture. It can be intimidating to turn that stuff off. So I often remember what the park ranger told me on that hot day at the South Rim, and on a sunny day in Maine, we go out and shoot all manual. It’s so simple.