Film Nostalgia on the Kisoji

A pine tree along the Nakasendō/Kiso-ji in Nakatsugawa, Gifu.

Below – photos taken with Ilford HP5+ on my Leica M6 and digitally on my Lumix S5. Taken on the final stretch of the Kiso-ji from Nagiso to Nakatsugawa late in November.

Every now and then I get pangs of nostalgia, pull out the Leica M6, and shoot a roll or two of film. Anyone that has shot film before knows that it slows you down, forces you to think before pressing the shutter button, and it keeps you firmly planted in the moment with only a basic viewfinder as a window to the world.

I like it. Until, that is, the film comes back from the lab. It’s then that I always wonder why I didn’t just shoot digital in the first place. There’s something about the sharpness and precision of a modern digital photo (both black and white and colour) that appeals to me more than the grain of a developed roll of film so I occasionally find myself shooting both. Strictly speaking taking both cameras along undermines the whole point of taking along a film camera in the first place, but I’m fine with that. Variety can be good.

Fuji Provia colour reversal slide film is my usual go-to stock but occasionally I get the desire to shoot black and white for simplicity and the constraints involved – there’s no switching between colour or black and white with monochrome film – it’s black and white or nothing. So a few weeks ago I bought 4 rolls of Ilford film from Yodobashi Camera: one roll of FP4+, HP5+, Delta 100, and Delta 400 each. This was partly to stop myself from splurging an unjustifiable amount of money on a Leica Q2 Monochrom or the colour version. I find this method works exceptionally well – whenever I get the desire for a Q2, instead of scouring the Internet for the best used deals I just buy some Ilford or FujiFilm for a few thousand yen. It keeps my bank balance in check, suppresses the desire for a new Leica, and gives the M6 a chance to flex its muscles again.

So which do I prefer? The answer, as always, is both – I enjoy the perfection of a crisp, clean, (usually) supremely sharp digital image with plenty of flexibility, as well as the slower, more intentional, more economical process of shooting film where results aren’t instantaneous.

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2 responses to “Film Nostalgia on the Kisoji”

  1. I like digital and use it most of the time, but I do think that the modern lens and camera can be too sharp and can give an unrealistic result, and don’t even talk about HDR which is a curse on photography. I like both your B&W and colour photos but for different reasons.


    1. Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the comment. Yep, I prefer digital nowadays but it’s still good to shoot film every now and then.


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