Since the first time I started in photography, I’ve never use a single film camera before. The first camera I own is a Nikon D300s with a zoom lenses and it was in 2009 when I still in high school. I used that camera for more than 3-4 year until I sold it and change to Canon 5D Mark II. And I felt like, I never satisfy with everything I own. Although at first I was amazed with the Canon 50mm and 85mm f1.2, especially with the bokeh and the colour rendition. It blows me away. But still I had never find the satisfaction in my heart.
When I started my fine-art degree at RMIT University in 2011, I met a lot of great people. Especially a lot of great photographers who own and use film camera. They started to talk about why film is better than digital. One of them said to me that film camera is a perfect tool to connect more to your subject when you are shooting. He said that digital camera is great but you will get distracted by the LCD screen. Every time you take a photo, you will look at the screen. You will lose the connection of your subject and you as a photographer. Portrait photography is more about connection of the photographer and the subject, otherwise you will lose the actual moment or mood or feel. And also when you are shooting with film, you will think a lot more about your shot. You would not just press the shutter over and over. In film camera one photo cost you $2-$4. It makes you appreciate the photo more than digital. And you will get a much more quality shot than digital. Quality over quantity.
I agreed with what he was saying. Its open my mind completely. And he also said that film has a different look. Much much different than a digital camera has. The film has a hard-to-explain look. It has a life in it. It has a great colour that is not to much and not to dull. The grain is so beautiful. And it feels alive when you see it. Because film is not a megapixel, it is a piece of magic plastic paper or we call it negative. It has to develop correctly in a darkroom and all of the sudden the photo is appearing on the negative. Its magic!
He was using a Contax 645 and a Mamiya 7. I tried those camera and I felt in love with it. Especially Contax 645. That camera is big. Bigger than Mamiya 7. But the lens is magical. The reason why I love that camera because of the lens. The lens Carl Zeiss 80mm f2.0 attached with a Contax 645 are a portrait camera beast. He showed me the sample photos of the Contax 645 on Jose Villa’s blog. I was blown away by it. I immediately wanted that camera so much. On that day I decided to spend the rest of my life as a fine-art wedding photographer like Jose Villa or other fine-art photographer out there.
Yeah, I was still at uni and obviously have not much money at that time. I saved and try to save my money that I got from work. I used to work as a dishwasher at Japanese and Indonesian Restaurant in Melbourne. And finally on 2014 I bought the Contax 645.
I immediately used that beast and if I have to describe this in one word, I would say it “Magic”. It produced a great colour, sharp image, beautiful bokeh at f2.0 or f2.8 and it feel great in hand. Although its very bulky and big but it feels nice in hand. It easy to change the film roll.
I mostly used Fujifilm Pro 400H and sometime Kodak Portra 400 for my portrait work. And I would say it never failed me at all.
The only downside of camera is the autofocus is actually sucks. You have to use it manually. I recommend to change your focusing screen glass to a Maxwell Hi-Lux Enhanced Matte Focussing Screen. It help you to focus the subject easily, even though you use f2.0 or f2.8. As the original focussing screen is hard to focus.
And the other downside is, the camera sometime suddenly just died by itself. Its very annoying but I usually take off the battery and put it back. And it always works normally.
Here is the sample photos with my Contax 645. I shot with Riris Indah as a great model. And it is a styled photoshoot in Bali, Indonesia.