Monday, June 19, 2017

Why I Shoot Film: Hong Kong Edition

As someone who gets to review cameras for a living, as well as being a self-professed gear nerd for many years, I've had the opportunity to test drive a plethora of cameras. I started at the height of the film era (1990s), where amazing cameras were being built and innovative technological advancements were being made (OIS was invented during the film era). At the time everyone had access to a dozen film manufacturers and hundreds of film types. Used camera stores were stocked to the ceiling with old classics like the Nikon F3, Canon AE1, Minolta X700, etc. This was the final golden age of film photography.

My main camera kit consisted of my Minolta 9xi, a few prime lenses and my handy Ricoh GR-1. My favourite film was Kodachrome 64 and Tri-X. Life was good. When the digital era began in the late 1990s, I refused to give up film. Initially digital was far too expensive and the image quality was too low to make the switch. The only people using digital cameras extensively were sports and correspondence photographers.

Fast forward to 2017. The scene of this world has changed. Digital is king, analogue is not dead, but it's decimated. It will no longer be the primary means of creating an image, but it will survive. Why? Because there are too many cameras out there, and there is still a lot of interest amongst the new generation of photographers. Analogue cameras and film is the most basic way to learn about photography since it's the foundation of what digital photography is built upon. Schools still teach it, and fine arts programs will have it as a mandatory course in their curriculum. Although I no longer 'need' to shoot film, I still choose to. In Vancouver, the vast majority of my analogue photography peers are half my age, as per my previous statement. Most photographers my age couldn't be bothered. They often ask me why I still shoot film. Mainly because it's fun.

I never stopped shooting film, even when it wasn't cool to do so. I never did a fire sale of all my film gear either, even when most of my colleagues thought I was stupid to keep all my film cameras. Guys were dumping their beautiful Nikon F3s and Canon F1s for nothing. Many of them now regret selling off their film cameras. When I started reviewing gear on my blog, I didn't initially post my film pictures. I wasn't shooting for others, I was shooting for myself. Recently I've been including film as part of my camera review and video repertoire. It's fun challenging myself to shoot old school, taking risks, not knowing what I'm going to get.

I appreciate Jack and Brandon of CineStill for working with me on my latest film project in Hong Kong. I also would like to thank Carmen and Victor of Barton1972 for all their support. I had a great time meeting many analog photography enthusiasts and industry figures while traveling through Asia as well. A special shout out to Bellamy Hunt of The Japan Camera Hunter and Vishal of Camera Film Photo. Both great guys. Look out for interviews with both of them on my YouTube channel soon. I will have more content concerning these projects, but for now enjoy a few of images I took while in Hong Kong. Thanks for visiting and happy shooting


Leica MP w/35mm Summilux. CineStill 800T

Leica MP w/35mm Summilux. CineStill 800T (rated @ ISO 500)

Leica MP w/35mm Summilux. CineStill 50D


  1. Looking forward to the interviews, as always. Just curious... did you color correct that 800T daylight shot?

    1. As per CineStill, as long as you shoot at ISO 500 in daylight, it should be fine with minimal colour correction. All I did was a bit of white balance, that's it. What I noticed is the colour saturation is great when shooting during the day.

  2. Great photos, have they been through Photoshop on the way to this page?

    1. Yes, you should always process for the basics like white balance and exposure when uploading scanned negatives. Many don't understand that colour and black and white negatives are all processed before being printed. The printing lab or the darkroom technician uses many techniques to bring out the best out of a negative, no different than Photoshop. In fact, most of the terminology and tools in Photoshop came directly from the darkroom. It's a process most don't see (eg. dropping off film at a lab and then getting prints done) so they assume it's straight off the negative, which is incorrect.

  3. Hi Taco

    Whats the camera on the Tripod on the top left that has the cinefilm tab in the back?

  4. @bussta, looks like a Fuji GA645Zi