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Film & Cameras

So I've Decided To Take Scanning Into My Own Hands

So I've Decided To Take Scanning Into My Own Hands

Luckily for me I routinely shop for things I can't afford in my fleeting spare time, as a way of keeping an ear to the ground for the general trend of fluctuating prices.  So like with the printer rebate, when I see a good deal, I know a good deal.  

A few weeks back I happened to come across a Plustek OpticFilm 7200i film scanner for $8. Yes, $8.  Eight dollars.  Gotta love Goodwill.  Now, this scanner is by no means the latest and greatest technology, in fact it's pretty outdated as far as film scanners go.  I think it may have actually been the first scanner in the Plustek OpticFilm line, and the first to be able to scan at 7200dpi, hence the name.  That would put it over ten years old.  But for that matter, that would make it about 30 years newer than the $65 worth of 1970s camera equipment I shoot 90% of my work on, so who gives a shit. Works don't it? 

When the 7200i was new, it only ran for about $250, which is still the very bottom of the food chain as far as film scanners go.  But when it comes to film scanning, considering how costly it gets to scan in print-worthy resolution, this was yet another no-brainer.  Photographers these days seem to have a habit of thinking more expensive = better.  The ability to self scan every 35mm negative I want to print cost me less than scanning one negative at a lab.  Yeah, I'll take it.  With this new (read: old) scanner at my side, I'll be able to offer a much wider range of prints in the store now, so look out for future updates there.

On a final note about the film scanners, I should point out that nothing in the roughly affordable price range for the average starving artist will be capable of scanning anything beyond 35mm.  A lot of people do have varying results with flatbed scanners however, and some even recommend them, but the size and workflow of those didn't exactly fit my (ridiculously busy and ridiculously cramped) lifestyle.  And even cheaper dedicated film scanners like the Plusteks are able to scan better quality high resolution negatives that the most expensive of flatbed scanners.  I knew a dedicated film scanner would be the right choice for me, and I'd just need to continue getting lab scans of my medium format work for the time being.  Any dedicated film scanners capable of medium format seem to run in the $1,200+ range.  And uh... That's rent.

I Guess It's Time To Switch To Instax

I Guess It's Time To Switch To Instax

You may or may not have noticed I happen to be particularly fond of film.  The whole civil rights thing aside, I think I would have really enjoyed growing up in the golden years of film photography rather than trying to play catch up to the past like I am today.  With the recent discontinuation of Fuji Pack Film, another piece of the art form seems to be meeting its extinction.  Unless Impossible Project picks it up, this will soon mean the end of the line for Polaroid Type 100 cameras altogether.  

It reminds me of when I was first getting into film photography myself, only to come to the realization that I had missed the opportunity to ever use Kodachrome by several years.  For me, the film vs. digital argument was never one about which was better or more cost effective.  It's always been a creative choice.  If film disappears, you're not just losing a less convenient way of doing the same thing a digital camera can do much quicker and easier, you're losing an entire medium of artistic expression.  "Why shoot film when you can just use VSCO?" is like saying, "Why bother with oil paints when you've got Adobe Illustrator and 3D printers?"  One medium of art doesn't simply replace the other just because the end product of each might be similar or one more cost effective in the long run.  They are two completely different types of artistic expression.

However, this doesn't mean that any new or similar innovations that take the place of dying technologies are any less of an art form, or should be viewed with any lesser regard than what came before them.  Which brings me to Fuji Instax.  Anytime you hear somebody say they're shooting "Polaroid cameras" today, what they're probably talking about is Fujifilm's line of Instax cameras.  While they're not actually Polaroid cameras (Polaroid was a brand, not a technology, think Kleenex), they are the most consistent, reliable, and cost-effective method of shooting instant film today.

Developed in the early 90s under an agreement with Polaroid, they took over the instant film market share when Kodak ceased production on instant film cameras and Polaroid went under.  Today, they're one of two companies (along with Impossible) still producing and innovating instant cameras and film.  When I started shooting instant film, I went with early Polaroid 100 series cameras (and FP-100C / 3000B film) and a Polaroid SX-70, mainly because I really wanted to experience the classic technology the way someone would have if they were growing up in the film era.  Now, with the rising costs and eventual extinction of the leftover pack film due to its discontinuation, it's finally time for me to switch to Instax.  

Truthfully, I'm kind of excited about it.  I've had my eye on some Instax cameras for quite some time, and have been eager for a more reliable and sustainable instant film solution when shooting in various lighting conditions.  So for me, it's time to embrace this evolved art form, and likely confuse the hell out of everyone when I insist on calling the cameras Instax and not Polaroid.  After all, if you wipe your nose on a paper towel, you may have accomplished the same goal, but you haven't used a Kleenex.  So I'll be happily joining the ranks of Instax users in the near future once I, you know, get a job... 

Speaking of, have you visited the Print Store lately?