Over the past six months I’ve taken a renewed interest in photography. I’ve spent most of my time with my new Canon 7D, traveling around the world trying to capture those moments one at a time.
In addition to the Canon, I’ve been itching to play with my (new to me, but) old Widelux F7 film camera, built in 1978.
I first became interested in shooting on a Widelux after seeing some of actor Jeff Bridges’ fantastic Widelux set photos. They create a unique panorama on film with effects you just don’t get with your iPhone’s pano feature. A full Widelux shot shows a fantastic 126 degrees of scenery.
It’s an incredibly simple film camera. You have very limited control over exposure or focus. Load it with the right ISO film and you’re ready to shoot. A roll of 36 exposure film yields 20 Widelux shots.
My very first roll I shot in May was a total loss. The camera and lens was very dirty after having sat on the shelf for years and every shot had some sort of nastiness in it.
After a thorough cleaning, I finally had a chance to shoot with the Widelux this past weekend, so I headed up to the legendary Neptunes Net Seafood Restaurant in Malbu, CA.
While that first roll may have been trash, it also taught me some things about the camera that helped me in composing these shots. I’m not 100% happy with any of them, but considering this is effectively my first time using the camera, and the first time I’ve shot on film in 25 years, I’m quite pleased.
The widelux can introduce some odd banding in photos. With some better Photoshop skills than I have, these issues can be normalized quite easily — so I guess I’ll be taking some Photoshop classes soon.
When you’re shooting with the camera, the view finder is almost useless. I used it while taking these shots, but in the future I doubt I’ll use it, instead focusing more on the bubble level on the camera as well as two arrows printed above the lens which shows you the full field of view. The view finder shows maybe 2/3 of what you’re actually shooting.
This apparently varies from Widelux-to-Widelux, but my camera has a very, very soft focus on the extreme right hand side. Also, you have to be very careful about how you hold the camera — since the lens literally moves from left to right as it takes a photo, many of my photos included the tips of my fingers on both sides of the photo.
It was a fun first experiment with my Widelux. Next time, I need a model in a great setting. I get the feeling this camera captures intimate moments better than nature shots. Let’s find out!