back to article Roll up, roll up, for the Meta35: The hybrid snapper's data dumpster

For many people, digital photography is a no-brainer. You can shoot as much as you like, there's no need to worry about running out of film, and you don't need to carry a notebook with you to record all the details of every shot. At the very least, your digital camera will record exposure details such as shutter speed and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ten years too late.

    Could still find a niche purpose in maximising pub time for art students I suppose.

  2. tfb Silver badge

    A very strange product

    I think to call this 'niche' would be understating how small its market must be. It's of interest to people who shoot film (a not-tiny market), using a small and rather uninteresting subset of film cameras (90s Nikons and perhaps Minoltas: both ugly jellymold 90s SLR families with really nothing interesting about them at all), and finally people who want to know details of every shot for reasons which escape me. That must be at least several people (of which how many read The Register? probably all of them).

    I use film pretty much exclusively, and I'm mildly obsessive about recording things: I do record shot detail for my LF camera like many LF users (at several pounds a frame you kind of want to know that so you can save money next time), and I record film / lens information for smaller formats, but it's never even occurred to me to want to know the exposure/aperture for each frame on a roll of 35mm. And surely at least part of the point of using film is exactly not having to use horrid plastic 90s cameras.

    1. RDW

      Re: A very strange product

      "And surely at least part of the point of using film is exactly not having to use horrid plastic 90s cameras."

      Agree about the size of the niche, but not about the quality of the cameras. The F90 and the Dynax 7 are a bit plasticky, but the the EOS-1v, F100, F5, F6 and Dynax 9 are very solid and beautifully constructed cameras, made mostly from lightweight alloys for professional or semi-professional use. If you want an autofocus film SLR at all, you probably want one of these.

      1. tfb Silver badge

        Re: A very strange product

        Good point: I hadn't thought about things like the F6. Would not appeal to me but no doubt was (is I think?) built like a tank.

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: A very strange product

      It's not necessarily that you do want the details for every shot, but you very likely do want it for the ones that are great. Of course, you could carry a notebook with you, like I used to. But if the camera can do it for you, why not?

      LF is certainly more expensive, but if you're shooting on something like Velvia, and paying for someone to process it for you as well, a frame of 35mm can soon mount up. If having the data helps you take better photos in future, or recreate the look you want, I can't see that as a bad thing.

    3. Trevor Gale

      Re: A very strange product

      With the market aim I'd be tempted to ask why this product isn't also designed for Win98SE and WinXP... ;-)

      However more seriously if they've gone to the bother of designing interfaces for various 35mm cameras, then (with all respect for LF users) why on earth not for the Medium Format users of 120-rollfilm cameras such as the Mamiya RZ-67 or the Mamiya 645 Pro?

      I would think that with people concerned with the quality of film that there are many users of Medium Format (percentage-wise of say 10 years ago) compared to the same reckoning for 35mm users.

      1. RDW

        Re: A very strange product

        "However more seriously if they've gone to the bother of designing interfaces for various 35mm cameras, then (with all respect for LF users) why on earth not for the Medium Format users of 120-rollfilm cameras such as the Mamiya RZ-67 or the Mamiya 645 Pro?"

        I don't know about those specific Mamiyas, but this will only work with cameras that already have the ability to store shooting data electronically. Back in the day, the camera manufacturers (and some third party companies) sold their own interfaces and software to retrieve it. This is just a modern alternative to the original cables and software, which today may be hard to find/expensive/tricky to get running on current OSs.

  3. LDS Silver badge

    It it supported my Canon T-90 Data Back...

    ... I'd get one...

  4. Oldfogey

    I wonder

    just how many years before it is impossible to buy camera film?

    1. Gavin King

      Re: I wonder

      I'd be inclined to say "never", or at least a good approximation of. I predict it'll just get harder to find, and to get developed.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      Don't forget more expensive. Photographic film production enjoyed huge economies of scale and that benefit simply doesn't exist any more. "Peak film" occurred just over 15 years ago(!) and quickly fell off a cliff. Production today is down about 99% since then.

      It'll also depend on which particular film you're after. You'll probably find that options are severely limited these days.

      It's possible that there will come a time beyond which there will be insufficient demand for colour 35mm film to keep even a single factory running at a profit, but I'm not that pessimistic. Even if it does disappear, black and white will probably last a lot longer because it's far easier to process without expensive automation.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: I wonder

        Well, some types of colour film are certainly harder to come by - Kodak don't do any slide film any more, for example - but there's still a good selection of colour print film.

        And there's even - if all goes according to plan - a new slide film launching soon. The Ferrania kickstarter raised enough cash last year to get up and running, and though there have been some delays in setting up the factory, most people still seem fairly hopeful they'll be producing new stock later this year.

        For black and white, again a few companies have fallen by the wayside, but there's nevertheless a good range of films to try out, with differing characteristics and price ranges. For example, the ones in the gallery linked to this article were shot on Adox CHS25, which has a similar effect to a more modern film with a filter, if you look at the picture of the flowers outside the Royal Exchange; €5 a roll for that. A ten pack of the Agfa APX100 works out at just under £3 a roll.

        You'll still find black and white film from Adox, Agfa, Foma, Fuji, Ilford, Kentmere, Kodak and Rollei (though Kentmere is made by Harman/Ilford, and most Rollei branded film made for them by someone else)..

        You can almost always find C41 film - at the moment, it's often 24 exposure Agfa Vista 200 - in Poundland, or if you want something better, Kodak Portra is a little under £6 a reel, while their budget Colour Plus is about £2.50.

        Slides are still pricey, but Agfa's CT Precisa - which I have had pretty good results with - can be bought in the UK from about £6.70, or in Europe for €7. For Fujichrome Velvia (which I personally love), you're looking at £10 a roll, if you shop around.

        Colour film manufacture is now more or less just Agfa, Fuji and Kodak (with a suspicion that some of the Agfa film is actually made by Fuji). Ferrania will hopefully be online later this year.

        There was a period a couple of years back where it seemed like almost every month the BJP would have a story about another film line being cancelled, but things do seem a bit calmer these days, and I'd say there's a good enough range that you'll find something to suit your taste and pocket.

        I listed a few suppliers in the article linked from this review. Also worth a look at as they can often be cheaper, even allowing for shipping.

    3. Paul Kinsler

      Re: impossible to buy camera film?

      Ah, never mind. Someone will write an emulator for all that quaint old chemistry, the camera design, and all that. You'll probably be able to run it on your smartphone just fine. And for the true believer, there'll also be a cardboard model you can make yourself, in which you mount your phone sideways. :-)

      /runs away....

      1. steamrunner

        Re: impossible to buy camera film?

        You mean like this kind of thing then?

    4. tfb Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      My guess is: colour slide (E6) almost now, colour negative probably 10 years, B/W never.

  5. curiouslight

    Innovation for the Classics. Precisely what I wanted.

    I use both film and digital camera and was surprised by the comment about plastic film cameras. The Nikon F5, F6 and Canon EOS-1v are the finest SLRs ever created. They were used by National Geographic and NASA. These cameras are compatible with modern lenses and are available at a fraction of their original price.

    Film is not for everyone but inarguably renders images differently than does digital. For those eager to expand their photography, Meta35 seems yet another reason to give film a try.

  6. Ru'

    Film? Is this some sort of LP-playing hipster thing? I'm prepared for the down-votes, but can't see why you would use it I'm afraid. At all.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Some people like playing with chemicals and processing their own film.

      Some people don't want to replace a perfectly working old camera with a digital one.

      Some people like the different look of different films, and prefer that to digital tweaking.

      Some people enjoy deferred gratification, instead of instant.

      Some people feel they take better photos when they're restricted to taking fewer.

      Some people, eh?

    2. tfb Silver badge

      Well, why do people still paint or draw or, in fact, do almost anything? They do it because they enjoy it. And some of us actually don't enjoy sitting in front of a computer any more than we need to.

      1. as2003

        > And some of us actually don't enjoy sitting in front of a computer any more than we need to.

        ...says the guy who has been commenting on the Register since 2010 ;P

  7. jason 7 Silver badge

    I really miss....

    ...using film.

    I really enjoy my old holiday snaps taken with my little Olympus Mju (mk1) and Kodak Ektar film (early 90's). Man that little camera took a beating but I loved it. Had a Mju II later on but it wasn't the same.

    The blue skies I captured with that little combo on my USA west coast road trip in 93 were amazing.

    All the digital stuff I take just gets dumped onto a NAS box. Big whoop.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I really miss....

      Pick up a Nikon F100, a roll of Ektar and get reacquainted!

  8. Wisteela


    I think it's superb that people are still supporting film photography like this.

    1. curiouslight

      Re: Superb

      I agree. The supported cameras are from the high watermark of film SLR camera development. They filled the pages of National Geographic and other premium print media for years. They can be picked up for a song and now thanks to Meta35 the images the produce integrate smoothly into modern hybrid workflows. Well done I say.

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