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My friends and I are really fond of using both disposables, and extremely cheap vintage 35mms for our trips we take when skating, biking and going to punk shows, however we aren't fond of the whole film developing process.

I would say that neither of us are photographers by trade or talent, we just like to use disposables because of the effect it gives/ease of use (not having to lug around a $600+ camera/DSLR set up).

I am currently using an Olympus Superzoom 800 and a Kodak Star 735R with fuji 400 film, which generally works for most places, venues and times of day. However it can be really disappointing to sit on a roll for a few weeks, just to get it developed and find out I have no usable pictures from it. Which is why the instant camera would be nice, but I'm wondering if I will see either a difference in quality if I were to use something like a Lecia Sofort, or one of the (newish?) Fujifilm instax?

I figure the instant camera would be a good choice for us because when shooting for a zine brand we work on, we'd be able to get that instant feedback in the style and film we want. But I wonder if they will directly affect the quality, or if the instant film can even be scanned/blown up on a computer.

  • Great photographs can be taken with any camera if the person behind the camera has enough knowledge to know what makes a great photograph, how light behaves and how a camera records it, and how to use the Controls of the camera to best capture the light. Invest some time and energy in learning these things and you will be far better served than trying to find a cheap camera that will magically make you a better photographer. – Alaska Man Sep 4 '18 at 15:30
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    @Alaskaman totally understandable, not saying I want a camera to make me instantly a better photographer, I just feel like I would benefit more from being able to have instant feedback of a photo. So if we're filming a trick while skating, I can snap a photo and know for sure whether I got it or not, and not rely on a luck. A lot of riding/skating is very in-the-moment, and it can suck to see your friend huck off an obstacle, then find out you didn't get the shot. – knocked loose Sep 4 '18 at 15:43
  • Digital will give you instant feedback - it can also shoot fast enough for you to have half a dozen goes at that skater without lifting your finger, before it even starts over-buffering to the card. The 'film' is also 'free'. personal anecdote - I'd got so fed up of the 'wait & see' approach with film I put my camera in the cupboard for 15 years... 2 years ago I bought a relatively cheap DSLR & now take about 10,000 shots a year. Some of them are even quite good ;) – Tetsujin Sep 4 '18 at 15:45
  • @Tetsujin I have a t3i and another buddy has an 80d, but we just kind of prefer the organic look of film, and how it still feels DIY, kind of hard to explain. But I'm more or less trying to figure out if I'd get roughly the same looking shot using an instant camera for instant feedback. – knocked loose Sep 4 '18 at 15:50
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    A 35mm camera is called a 35mm camera because it uses 35mm film. A Leica Sofort or Fujifilm Instax camera doesn't use 35mm film, so it is not a 35mm camera. – osullic Sep 4 '18 at 17:01
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but I'm wondering if I will see either a difference in quality if I were to use something like a Lecia Sofort, or one of the (newish?) Fujifilm instax?

There's actually quite a bit of difference between instant cameras and those that shoot film.

Film, the negative, is designed to be an intermediary process. It's designed knowing full well that someone will be using that negative to create a print that is much, much larger than the negative. As such, lenses are designed to resolve detail at an incredible level and negative emulsions can capture a range of brightness values. The negative itself is also, generally speaking, a thing that we try to archive and to keep it around for a good long time.

The Instax print, on the other hand, is not designed to be enlarged later. It's designed for instant feedback. It has less range than a negative, which will show as higher contrast with less detail in the shadows and highlights. Because of their small size and non-need to blow them up, lens resolutions are not prioritized. Many Instax cameras use plastic lenses - which provide a soft looking image. I'm using Instax for a project of mine, but it's not something I'd recommend you use to scan, as the quality just isn't that good to begin with. Instax are for quick checking of light/style and for remembering a time - not for scanning and blowing up on a computer.

I just feel like I would benefit more from being able to have instant feedback of a photo. So if we're filming a trick while skating, I can snap a photo and know for sure whether I got it or not, and not rely on a luck.

Instax are great for instant feedback, but so too is digital. I get it, you've found a look that you really like and you want to stick with it. (I'm using Instax for a baby book and I convert digital images into transparencies for making cyanotypes with them. Trust me, I get it!) But, I want to strongly encourage you to get a used DSLR. Here's why:

You're photographing skaters. I did just this thing back in High school. One skater to another, SLR's FTMFW!. You need the ability to use decently high shutter speeds to get stop motion on a fast moving board. Or, you need the control to drop the shutter speed to induce motion blur. With an SLR, you'll have this control.

Part of me really wants to point you towards a Canon 1V, as they're the flagship 35mm SLR of the day and cheap to get now. But alas, I think you'll be just better off with a used Rebel or 40/50/60/70D.

As for your comment on getting no useable shots...if you want to be a good photographer, you need to learn a thing or two about shooting. How to meter a scene, what ISO is, what the Exposure Triangle is, and what the limits of your gear are. Frankly, you should know whether or not you've got quality in the camera, even with a disposable. If you don't, it's because you haven't actually learned how to use the camera...yet!

As far as no usable shots, some might have to do with ISO or aperture, some might do with light hitting the film by accident, while others are due to trying to time someone doing a trick

No disrespect intended by my comment above. It sounds like you're really taking this seriously. As such, I cannot more heavily recommend the SLR for what you're doing (over an Instax). And if you insist on sticking with film, Do lookup the different offerings from Kodak and Fuji and look up how those films react with Pushing and Pulling and even Cross-Processing. I think you'll find these processes fun and experimental.

  • Thanks for the explanation between the two. I don't mind using the film cameras for the brand, since it's just a DIY thing my buddies and I use. When we shoot video we still use a fisheye + VX1000. So the film/grain look works well for us. As far as no usable shots, some might have to do with ISO or aperture, some might do with light hitting the film by accident, while others are due to trying to time someone doing a trick. – knocked loose Sep 4 '18 at 15:48
  • Also, I cannot in good conscience condone further propagation of "exposure triangle" :) – mattdm Sep 4 '18 at 16:41
  • @mattdm Yea, I know. The triangle is a bit simplistic, especially when developing a neg is thrown into the mix. We need a good 3-dimensional, I think. Something that can also show how developing factors in. – Hueco Sep 4 '18 at 17:22
  • @knockedloose updated my answer a bit. Cheers! – Hueco Sep 4 '18 at 17:22
  • @Hueco Mentioned it above in my comment on the question, we do have access to DSLRs. I have a t3i and another guy has an 80D, we solely just prefer the DIY aspect and gritty look of the 35mm. But I'd say your answer definitely fills some of the gaps in my current knowledge. – knocked loose Sep 4 '18 at 18:24

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