After using my Olympus C-2100 UZ digital camera for several years exclusively I slowly revive my old film equipment. Despite the great practical advantages of digital cameras such as immediate feedback, in-camera processing, no dust (with a proper camera), no scratches, data safety, low snapshot costs, low weight, etc., there are still some problems. I was very happy with the Olympus camera initially and I learned a lot using it. But with the learning process the camera’s drawbacks became apparent: grain replaced by noise and aggressive image processing, too low depth of field replaced by too high depth of field, too low contrast replaced by too high contrast, high sensitivity replaced by inability to take long exposures. I consider the 10x zoom C-2100 lens being quite good, but it has its limits too: it doesn’t provide wide angle focal range and it suffers from occasional chromatic aberration.
Ironically, the camera buries itself by teaching me. The clever guys at Olympus have probably even implemented it as a feature – while the camera costed more than all my previous photographic equipment together, it lasted less than any of the other components. It took only a bit more than 3 years before it started to suffer from serious mechanical problems. So I started to look for a replacement not only because of my new requirements, but also because of possible future complete failure of the made-in-Japan camera.
Compact digital cameras haven’t made much progress since Olympus C-2100. The number of pixels increased significantly, but without big impact on the resulting picture quality. The processing algorithms were improved, but that’s basically all. It makes no point for me to buy another camera with a small sensor. And good digital cameras are still too expensive (Sony DSC R1 being the cheapest one, but still exceeding what I could reasonably pay).
In this situation I’ve started to make experiments with my old Praktica-based equipment about a year ago. I hope it can complement the Olympus camera or even to replace it completely for some time in case of its complete failure. One can’t resist nostalgia when holding the old equipment in his hands: Solid construction, no batteries needed, the feel of complete control over the camera, listening to the shutter and mirror noise again after the years of silence… But the primary result of this change (not counting changes to one’s physical condition caused by carrying the heavy equipment) is that I have to be very careful with taking pictures again. It starts by changing lenses, mounting the camera to a tripod, manual focusing, guessing proper depth of field, considering metering corrections, etc. It takes a lot of time to take a picture, but it’s the more amusing part. The tedious part is processing the developed film. I’m not going to make prints at minilab, I want to process the images myself electronically and store them in my computer. And this is no easy thing with film. I’ll write more about my experience with this later.