Epson V500 and coming back to film

by therider

First scan from my RB67

I used 35mm film extensively since 2003 till about 2005 when I bought my first digital SLR, a Nikon D70. In those days I was pretty much brainwashed with all the digital hype like everybody else. The film workflow was lengthy. Mail order slides and B/W took about 2 weeks to arrive. Good film scanners were expensive and did not seem worth more than a DSLR. I had to retire film for a while. Back in those days I was doing event and sports photography for the graduate school newspaper and digital was just the right tool for the task.

Fast forward 3 years. I live in the bay area, close to San Francisco and many scenic places. I occasionally photograph events and portraits but other than that I am mostly drawn to making fine art images. Not that digital can’t do it, but film imparts a special character to the process. Anyone who has seen glowing color slides on a light table or made black and white silver gelatin prints in the chemical darkroom, can immediately understand my point. Film is tangible, unlike digital files. You don’t need a computer to have fun with film. To enjoy the photography even more, I picked up a battered Mamiya RB67 medium format film SLR. I like it so much I am going to shoot medium format film for as long as it is available and affordable.

I have right now about 30 boxes of 35mm color slides, countless 35mm color and b/w negatives, and more than a dozen medium format slides and b/w negatives. And this collection is going to grow.

Glad I waited all these years for a good affordable scanner, and the Epson V500 can be considered the home run. Short of 4×5 scanning (I don’t think I have enough patience to go up to 4×5) this one has everything I need. I just did my first few scans and for the first time I was able to appreciate 16 bit black and white images. The tonal gradations are very tolerant of drastic adjustments unlike 8 bit where it would lose detail pretty quickly.

I guess it will be interesting to dig through my old films. Lots of memories from Long Island, and maybe a few surprise images. I will see.

P.S. I can’t deny the evil influence of my coworker Ken (@wirehead) in making me a medium format fanatic, not to mention his showing off velvia 6×7 slides of women in fishnets doing light painting in the middle of nowhere :P

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