The end of last week, I finally got my first 35mm film camera. I have always been interested, but never really committed. But over this summer there were so many nudges and triggers: exhibitions (one by Sally Mann, especially), this specific archive of Nick Dewolf‘s photos, and more.
After much ‘research’, the choices were down to Olympus OM-1 and Nikon FM2. I really want an apparatus that is fully manual so that I could learn the basics of photography and perhaps build from there (medium-format?). I decided on the OM-1, based on some random sentiments despite the fact that the Nikon lens have much more to offer, and the OM-1 has battery conversion issues (it uses 1.35v mercury battery, and nowadays that voltage is hard to come by).
Nonetheless, after searches on eBay, facebook, and leboncoin, I ended up on google translate – diving into the Japanese secondhand market. I assumed where these cameras were produced back in the 70s must be the best place to find reasonably-priced and well-maintained bodies. Found some, informed a Japanese friend that was coming back to Paris to order it for me, and waited.
That was only the body. Now I need the glass. I have always been interested in landscape photography, but I also like ‘street’ photography at wide angles. My ambivalence between 28mm and 50mm quickly abated, and found an excellent Olympus M.Zuiko 28mm f2.8 for a good price on ebay. Now the ensemble is finished, and I am practically ready to shoot.
The friend arrived at PSE with the camera, and the lens as well a few days after. The OM-1 was in pristine condition, with shutter speed well tuned. I already got two rolls of Ilford HP5+ ready then – a choice made based on the fact that: (i) I want a forgiving film; (ii) I want to soon develop and scan films myself. Black and white Ilford film seems to be logical. The pieces were put together on my office desk, and this is the first shot.
I sent my first two rolls to a lab called Negatif+ next to home. Those 4 days of waiting were definitely long. And I figured after 18 rolls, the cost of developing and scanning at home would breakeven. This does not including my hourly labour cost, but anyway, I like the idea of controlling the process from beginning to end.
The Zuiko 28mm f2.8 is oh-so crisp, and it is easy to zone-focus after some getting used to. A lot of lessons are still to come, and I really need a strap.