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Am I crazy to think about film?


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#1 highsee3

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 05:19 PM

I tried uw photography about 6 months ago. I got a Nikon 8400, Ikelite housing and sea&sea strobe. I dove maybe 8 times with the setup and didn't like it at all (the uw process that is). I have since sold the housing and stobe.

no, for some reason I'm thinking about housing my F100. Crazy? maybe. I prefer film (slides) for my landbased work, but that's medium format with a tripod.

I was thinking about highspeed black and white film for over at Lanai.

How much would it cost to get a used F100 housing? Also, does anyone know how many frames you can really bulk load into a cassette? I know 40 should be pretty easy, but how about 50-60?.

Edited by highsee3, 29 September 2007 - 05:52 PM.


#2 fdog

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 04:37 PM

First of all, I don't think you're crazy. I routinely shoot B+W underwater; the craftsmanshiply aspects are a refreshing change from the amphetamine pace of deadlines in the digital imaging news world. It is a wonderful thing to step into the darkroom, leave the cell phone turned off and just immerse myself into the grey tones.

Not to mention that I've been occasionally been offered real US greenbacks for a big 20 x 24 print.

As for the practical aspects, I routinely wind in 40 frames. Any more than that and it binds in the can, and can strip out the sprocket holes; make sure you watch the rewind knob when you load the camera. I've never needed more than 40 frames, anyway, and usually about 30ish. I usually use Plus X for recreational depths, Tri-X for deep stuff. Also, your developing technique must be very pure with fresh chemistry, or else you'll end up with development trails in the water background.


All the best, James

#3 highsee3

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 01:45 AM

good info. If I can get a cheap enough housing (less than 300 or 500 w/port) I may give it a try. There are a couple of Oahu wrecks that would look great in BW.

I, like most I guess, started out in b&w and used to have my own darkroom, but I would most likely use my scanner. It's still fun to develop your own negs and the great part is you have a lot of control over contrast.

I've seen a lot of cathedrals at Lanai shots, but no one really does it justice. I think moody, grainy b&w prints could work really well. It can be set up to handle the extreme lighting of the lava tubes.

I also think sharks, mantas and whales look great in b&w. The big open ocean stuff doesn't have any color anyhow, just blue.

You don't see film, let alone b&w film at all anymore. I think it would be a fresh perspective.

#4 scorpio_fish

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 10:11 AM

My first reaction was yes, you are crazy, but then I read the post. No, you are not crazy.

If my only choice was a Nikon 8400 vs. F100, then I might choose the F100, too.

Finding a housing setup for $300-500 may be impossible. The problem is that ports remain current, while film housings may be obsolete and cheap. The type of photography that would interest you would be wide angle, which means a dome port, which is at least $400 new.

The other problem is that the F100 was not out that long before the advent of digital. Housings arrived even later, so there is probably a dearth of used F100 housings out there.

You would have better luck finding a used N90s housing. You can find a used N90s pretty easily I would assume. I've got one somewhere. It hasn't been used since it got its last servicing.

If the used housing market doesn't work, then you might also consider a Nikonos V with the 15mm wide angle lens and viewfinder. Prices for these rigs have been nose diving.
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#5 highsee3

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 01:56 PM

Yes, I have seen these more often. I like the sea&sea Nx-100, but you are right, the dome port kills the deal. Ikelite has cheaper ports, so maybe I'll look for an ikelite.

I was very close to picking up a Nik V, but got the Nikon 8400 instead.

overall, I think the f100's metering system would be very useful, but am open to any sub $500 solution. Not sure what the Nik Vs are going for.

Edited by highsee3, 01 October 2007 - 01:57 PM.


#6 james

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 07:51 AM

Here's an F100 housing on Ebay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/...1QQcmdZViewItem

Cheers
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#7 fdog

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 08:31 AM

I just read over my prior post, and realized that I didn't get part of my thoughts across:

Also, your developing technique must be very pure with fresh chemistry, or else you'll end up with development trails in the water background.


What I meant by "very pure" was actually "very scrupulous"; I was refering to agitation technique. Chemistry also has to be fresh or renewed.

All the best, James

#8 scubarobot

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 06:08 PM

I think the f100 is a great camera, however; I do think you would be happier shooting digital with a dslr setup. You were talking about shooting chrome film. On land I assume you do at least one of the following: snip tests, polaroid, meter and bracket right? All of us have experienced the aw of a well exposed chrome. Shooting a polaroid is a little hard underwater: ) But we have all experienced the aw s&%$ of an slightly missed exposure. You also mention black and white. Many dslr's have a black and white mode. They also have raw format that can possibly salvage that once in a lifetime shot. With film you might miss that opportunity. I shoot with a 5d and love the image quality and flexibility it affords me. I have a medium format rz67 and a eos3 and they are collecting dust. :D

ps. I think you can bulk load a 4 gig cf card with 200+ frames ; )

Edited by scubarobot, 03 October 2007 - 06:17 PM.


#9 scubamarli

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 05:54 AM

If you are interested in an Aquatica A100 w/o port (like everyone, I'm using my ports on my new housing), I have one in excellent condition. Due to the rapidly declining US $, it would slightly more than your price range stated above, and you'd need a port. (I also have a mint F100 and 20mm lens)
As a relatively late convert to digital, I still like certain things that film does over digital. Namely wide angle with open water sunballs, and sharp edge to edge images.
Send me a PM if you're interested.
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#10 derway

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 12:14 PM

By limiting your digital experience to the nikon 8400, you are not even giving the P&S digicams a fair chance. Alas, nikon P&S are extremely slow to focus, and have larger than usual shutter lags. They are not competitive with good digicams from canon or sony, for AF speed and low lag. This is really the killer feature that makes or breaks a camera for uw use. If you press the shutter, and nothing happens for a couple seconds, you will not be happy.

So it might pay to go to a photo store, and find a few cams and see how they handle.

The canon G9 sure looks tempting. Raw mode. Adequate focus speed - thought you'd likely often need a focus light down at 100 feet.
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#11 rickcavanaugh

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 05:24 AM

I have a Subal housing for a F100 with 1 port available and a F100 body as well

I never tried anything other than commercial 36 rolls so I can not answer your question on that.
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#12 tdpriest

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 12:18 PM

Underwater photography is soul-destroying in the early days if you are an experienced photographer. I was disappointed for ten years, before I bought a Nikonos, but when I look back I find that I never produced a really satisfactory image until I took to digital (and with a Nikon Coolpix 5000, at that).

The vagaries of light, exposure and turbidity underwater make digital preferable to a new photographer: review images underwater, shoot many more images and control the contribution that each colour channel makes to the final image. The learning curve is steep, and it's NOT the same as studio or terrestrial photography.

My advice? Find a cheap D-SLR system (Nikon D70?) being sold on, with a port that can be retained (ie something like a Subal or a Nexus), then experiment.

These are from colour exposure, processed in CS2. The contrast is enhanced in printing, so the final product is "punchier" than the digital reproductions:

2007_Sudan_029a_Sha_ab_Mobiyet_and_Sha_ab_Anbar_0504__028.jpg D70

2004_34_Truk_Nippo_Maru.jpg Coolpix 5000

2007_Sudan_093_Sha_ab_Rumi_0704_051b.jpg D70

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#13 John Bantin

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 11:23 PM

I advertised a Fuji S2 Pro in a Subal housing with large dome port for 1500 and got not one offer. I still use the S2 Pro because I have found it offers less digital noise than later cameras in situations where I need ISO800. I am using some pictures from it to illustrate my talk at the Dive Show (NEC) on Saturday. Also, its 6mp seem to be better than the 10mp of the CoolpixP5000 I used this month! No-one wants obsolete cameras because we live in an age when people only buy the latest model. If you want something to use however, it's a different story.

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#14 loftus

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 03:58 AM

I started with a Sea&Sea 8000 a couple of years ago and was also very frustrated, very quickly. Now with a DSLR I only have myself to blame for my lousy pics, and occasionally I get a winner. Personally, if I go away diving for a week, and I come back with 6 shots I can print and display, I am a happy man. I have no need for a hundred run of the mill snapshots.
I agree with Tim, digital makes the steep learning curve underwater much more tolerable. And for those of us who are not pros and who do not get it right straight out of the camera most of the time, Photoshop saves us, so that we at least have some decent stuff to show for our efforts.
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#15 scubamarli

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 06:41 PM

All valid comments, but here is the issue: his budget.

less than 300 or 500 w/port


Doubtful a housed DSLR will be found for even close to that.

Just think, my first Nikonos IV and strobe (used) cost me $800, and I flooded it on the first dive. Go figure.

Cheers, and good luck with whatever you decide.

Cheers,
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#16 Dan Schwartz

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Posted 15 October 2007 - 11:05 AM

Worth noting is that a used N90s (F90x) sells for less than $100 on eBay; while a used F100 sells for under $200.

BUT!! Avoid the N90 & F90, since the CAM autofocus module is terrible -- Almost as bad as the N8008s it replaced.

Also, film will be around for a long time: In fact, Fuji's new Provia 400x is quite good.

Lastly, I would not recommend bulk loading past 40 exposures, as you'll scratch the base with micro scratches, which maks scanning difficult. Given the overall cost of underwater photography, spend the few extra pennies for commercially loaded 35mm cassettes... You'll also not have to worry as much about dust on the felt trap.

Been there, done that, have the tee shirt...

I tried uw photography about 6 months ago. I got a Nikon 8400, Ikelite housing and sea&sea strobe. I dove maybe 8 times with the setup and didn't like it at all (the uw process that is). I have since sold the housing and stobe.

no, for some reason I'm thinking about housing my F100. Crazy? maybe. I prefer film (slides) for my landbased work, but that's medium format with a tripod.

I was thinking about highspeed black and white film for over at Lanai.

How much would it cost to get a used F100 housing? Also, does anyone know how many frames you can really bulk load into a cassette? I know 40 should be pretty easy, but how about 50-60?.


Hmmm... My equipment list isn't showing up yet down here... :)

Edited by Dan Schwartz, 15 October 2007 - 11:06 AM.

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#17 ChasO2

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 11:59 AM

I started with a Nikonos but moving to an F100 in Subal housing really improved things, then to digital and it went backwards at first. The F100 gives a good sized, bright, image in the viewfinder. For the same in digital need full frame. The ttl with the F100 still works better (or at least as good) as the best digital. With manual exposure the digital offers great advantages.

Downside of film for me, limited exposures (only occasionally a big problem). Need to scan the film (if looking for prints or doing slide shows, not a problem). Need to carry film through airports. No backup of photos.

Running costs almost seem higher for digital as its so easy to get pushed into wanting a better computer, more back ups, software and updates to it. It really comes down to what you want to do with the resulting images I think. Publishing - digital is quicker, easier. For prints maybe film.

I'm all digital now. F100s sit on the shelf, Subal sits on the shelf.

Charles

#18 RWBrooks

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 07:47 PM

Personally I love film, it raises the bar so much in terms of the photographers skill to get the shot as good as possible first time or within a much reduced opportunity range(how many cameras can you dive with?!) The feeling when you pull the roll from the (as was in my case) E6 processor and seeing the bright colours emerging before the light is like seeing fabulous jewels for the first time.
I always used the great Nik V and found the transition to DSLRs initially dissapointing and presented a different ethic in UW photography but would love to house a F100 and go back to the old school.
Some guys were here recently filming for an artistic UW documentary using just film cameras shooting at double frame rate, giving them only 30 seconds of shooting before having to reprep and reload the camera.

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#19 kmahler

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 02:54 PM

Even though I have a DSLR and housing, I still take my F100 down at times. I love that camera. I shoot Fuji Velvia slide film and get great colors! I find that print film just doesn't capture the colors under the surface. It's easy to get prints from slides if you want to hang them. When I lived in Atlanta I discovered H&S Photo and used the exclusively for developing and printing. They use dip tanks and I never had an issue with them. The prints they have made for me over the years are brilliant and very well done. They always followed my cropping instructions.

The F100 is a great camera for dive photography. You'll want to get a strobe or two. I have the SB-105's and love them. If you are going to do wide angle stuff, get some long arms for the strobes.

Now that I'm back living in Va, I use them via the mail.

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#20 Durmphoto

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 10:51 AM

There is something magical about velvia. i have captured color on this film that I have never been able to duplicate in the digital realm