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Back to Basics

Referring to the title of this blog entry, Back to Basics, I'm going to talk (type) about.....


Yes, my first SLR.

First, before we go on, for those who do not know what in the world is an Ass Elle Are (SLR), it stands for a Single Lens Reflex camera. The SLR in the collage above is the legendary Nikon FM2, a 35mm film manual body, and the lens, a Nikkor 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5. In case you're wondering how much is the optical zoom, it's 2x. Yeah, the former robbed RM500, and the latter, RM280. Count in 6 rolls of Fujifilm Superia ASA 200 and one roll of China Lucky Black and White ASA 100, the amount of cash spent totaled to RM816.

And why in the world did I purchase a film body when I could do loads with a digital one? Simple. I have three reasons to justify my purchase, and they are as followed:

1. Jen Ric extorted me to buy one.
2. I want to show off with an old-school camera.
3. For self-defence since the camera is solidly built.

*laughs* Joking! The real reasons are:

1. The learning curve with film is steeper compared to digital's (argue if you want for I do not have the time for it). Instead of relying on auto-focus, and priority modes, I'll be able to learn things the hard way out through manually selecting the 'right' aperture and shutter speed to obtain the 'right' exposure, and then of course, manual focusing. Sure, you can do the same with digital, but wouldn't one slack off at some point in time?

2. To instill some sense of discipline (a continuation from the first point). With film, the chances of me being 'trigger-happy' and shooting poorly composed shots would be relatively low, as every frame is 'costly'. I can put a cost to each frame, and this will make me think twice before simply shooting some crappy pictures which I'll never share with anyone.

3. To take better photographs, composition-wise, and technical-wise. I believe I can achieve this goal without Photoshop, without manipulation, without cropping and without relying on my gear all-the-time, if effort and initiative are invested along with the money, haha.

And why the FM2?

1. Doesn't need batteries to work, except for the built-in lightmeter, as the shutter and everything else is mechanically-controlled.

2. Uses the Nikon F bayonet mount. Plenty of affordable manual lenses in the second-hand market.

3. The body is strong and solid. Excellent for clumsy people like me (Jangan jatuh kat kaki i sudah).

4. Comparatively good resale value.

Yeah, that's about it. I can't say much as I'm inadequately versed in geek-speak. Pardon me.


Yeah, my grandmother story about how I got this camera is going to start, so it's your choice to wear some earmuffs and save your sanity or not, hehe.

Ten days ago, on a sunny afternoon, I got to YL Camera in Pudu Plaza with Jen Ric (after a slight detour in the city) with the aim of purchasing an SLR. After two hours of contemplating which lens to buy, and checking the camera from top to bottom, side-to-side, I made my decision. A Nikon FM2! With a 35mm f/2.8 prime lens! Oh yes, finally! An SLR!

After months of saving and 'starving' and speaking passionately about cameras, I have one! I was ecstatic- my heart pounded rapidly as one of the staff keyed in the figures and handed the over-sized receipt to me. Covered in bubble wrap was my first ever SLR, beautifully built, exuding old-school glamour from (almost) every angle. Although there was some brassing at the back of the body, and the camera was probably older than me, I was glad beyond words.

That, of course, was shattered when the unthinkable happened. In slow motion, I saw the prime lens I was supposed to have on my camera fell from 4 feet to the ground. The plastic that was intended to hold it tore, setting the lens to plummet, head first to the UNCARPETED floor. No, I did not scream. I wished I was Supergirl with quick reflexes. I wished I was Mr. Fantastic with flexible arms. Then, I could have saved the lens. No, I wished the staff used a different plastic bag!

The lens was not damaged given the conditions and its weight. However, the front was dented, and a filter or lens hood would not fit on it anymore. Jen Ric and I just looked at each other. Here we go again! Another lens has to be picked! And that was how I ended up with the zoom lens. *sighs* The free roll of film given before the incident could not cheer me up.... but hey, at least HE dropped it, and not ME...

Next, we went to Digicolor in Jalan Ipoh to purchase rolls of film at the lowest prices in KL. If I'm not mistaken, it was RM 5.40 for a roll of Fujifilm Superia ASA 200, and RM 4.00- 4.50 for a roll of Lucky B&W ASA 100. I don't know how many rolls would I need since the last time I shoot with film was 5 years ago on a trip to Thailand (with a point-and-shoot film compact- an Olympus mju). Trial and error, is all I can say for the time-being.

If you're looking forward to film photos, I'm afraid to say that I haven't shot anything with the FM2 yet. This is because I swapped cameras with Jen Ric (since he borrowed the FM2 to Phuket) for his Nikon D50, with kit lens and SB600. I've been shooting with the DSLR since the 12th, and though the playback and delete features are extremely handy, I tried not to shoot poorly-composed shots just because I 'can edit and delete'. I also must not get used to all the convenience, haha. Yeah, thanks Jen Ric for the gears, film bag and transport. =)

In a walnut-shell, photography IS expensive, but it is rewarding in many terms. At least I don't waste my money on fads...

Cheers, Hui Wen

P.S. Prepare yourself for a nightmare-ish lot of shots! *evil laughter*

3 mad rant(s):

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  1. Arbitary Juggernaut said...

    So can we expect an improvement in the already high quality of your pics?


    "If you cant move forward you're already going the other way"

  2. Shine said...

    Passion > Cash

    Now I have MORE reasons to get myself a PS3.

    Cameras are sexy...  

  3. thwen said...

    I still have lots to learn- skills to pick up, and (non-existant) talent to polish. And my pictures are not of high quality, thank you. =)

    I'll be posting some shots taken by a DSLR soon...

    I agree! Cameras ARE sexy- slim cameras are sexy but they're not practical, SLRs are heavy but they're offer more control. =)

    PS3 eh? All the best!  


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