In the midst of the current plethora of new camera announcements I have found myself contemplating simplicity. Even as the siren call of a new camera – whether dslr or mirrorless alternative – rings out, I know that I am happiest with a simple tool. A 35mm film rangefinder with a 35 or 50 mm lens. Even though film is inconvenient and time consuming to deal with, and so I make more photos with a digital camera*, the film rangefinder remains more perfect for me at least. A few possible reasons spring to mind, and put briefly

– No chimping, so no worry if the picture worked out and no distraction from a life that needs lived

– A pre-determined aesthetic. Black and white or colour, high or low saturation and contrast. The choice is made before the first frame on the roll is exposed. By narrowing the degees of freedom, the seeing is more focused.

– A single focal length – ditto

– A non-extreme focal length – no need to work too hard for the image and no relying on visual gimmickry. This really is what I saw.

– A direct physical connection back to the subject of the photograph. The photons that bounced off the scene and were focused by the lens left physical changes in the emulsion, now made permanent.

The picture above was taken on the way back from Cumbria after a quick lunch in Bernie’s Cafe.


*Actually lots more photos and I still wonder how much the new Nikon could resolve… but this about what works, for me, in practice


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