Two months ago, I got married and left for the Dominican Republic, and I didn’t bring my Nikon DSLR. Here’s why:
My wife and I chose to fly without checking bags, and with and 8-day trip, it was a bit of a stretch for packing. (Especially considering that we were planning on coming back with some extra stuff.) So, instead of choosing to drag along my DSLR with at least one heavy 2.8 lens, (or only bringing a phone,) I brought my Nikon film camera with a 50mm prime.
1. A Better Choice
I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to photography, and the idea of only bringing a phone for photographs makes me a little nauseous. Having no control of aperture and being stuck with such a wide angle field is enormously limiting; even with an app like Camera+ you can only manipulate shutter speed and ISO.
My film camera, a Nikon FG, was light and easy to transport, effortlessly fitting into my “personal item,” a camera backpack from Vanguard. No camera chargers, no extra batteries, no heavy lenses – just my camera, my 50mm, and five rolls of film, which allowed me to pack the rest of my bag with essentials.
3. Transportation During Vacation
While I was on my honeymoon, my wife and I went to dinners, shows, gift shops, the beach – and our room wasn’t always around the corner. However, my film camera made for a light, high quality alternative to both a DSLR and my iPhone. (Sorry Android users.)
4. Limited Photos
Because I only left with 5 rolls of film (plus the one in my camera,) I was only able to take about 200 photos. This idea of limited photo taking certainly limited the number of exposures I took, but also significantly reduced my number of “throwaway” shots. In the end, I only shot about 100 photos on my honeymoon, and I’m not complaining. It’s been almost two months and I still have over 1000 pictures from our wedding to go through.
Being on an island, at the beach, on a plane, and in the sun are never great things for a DSLR. Their fragile electronics can seem like they’re asking to be broken, especially when you’re out of the country. A tiny bit of dust on your sensor can lead to hours in Lightroom, and a little too much sun can cause your battery to explode. (Or at best, permanently lose battery life.) None of these issues are a worry with my metal body, almost battery-free film camera.
6. Not Knowing Exactly What You’re Going to Get
Since I wasn’t shooting digital, I wasn’t spending time at the end of the day going through pictures – I was just enjoying my honeymoon. I wasn’t worried about which pictures were best or what needed editing because I couldn’t see any of my photos. In fact, I didn’t see any of my honeymoon photos until two weeks after we returned. (Life can get crazy, but at least I had one day turnaround when I finally brought my negatives into work.)
7. Less Editing
I’ll be honest: I don’t know what it is about film, but I almost never spend any time editing my film exposures. Something about them always feels so real; so tangible when I leave them untouched, especially when using color-specific films like Kodak Ektar (above) and Kodak Portra (below.) If I need to make a change, it’s generally a quick exposure dial and I’m on my way, making for a faster, more streamlined experience in post.
I will say that having a digital copy of my exposures is something that I couldn’t live without – that’s how you’re seeing all of my shots in the first place! Thankfully, Spartan Photo Center can scan your negative rolls to disc or Dropbox for as low as $5.99! I’d personally recommend a disc, but that’s just because I’m still not entirely sure about the cloud. Be sure to check back next week to see my digital camera take on the new iPhone 8!