My name is Allan Burgess. I have been taking photographs for as long as I can remember; both as a keen amateur, and as a semi professional. During the first half of my career I used film cameras, only switching to digital in 2004 when I bought a Nikon D200. Even though the majority of the photographs I take nowadays are shot with various digital cameras I still continue to use film for no better reason than I enjoy doing so.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of digital over film is the speed at which we get to see the results. No rewinding of 35mm film, removing the spool from the camera, storing it in the plastic canister, driving to the camera shop to have it developed, and then coming back later to pick it up, and then finally excitedly opening the envelope to get that first glimpse of our prints, negatives, or slides (transparencies). With digital you can take photographs then instantly upload them to the internet within seconds without the delaying step of getting the film developed.
I still shoot film particularly with old rangefinder cameras. Perhaps for me, at least, film has a welcome familiarity, similar to reading a paper book or newspaper instead of viewing a computer monitor or television screen.
Shooting film gives a tactile satisfaction that digital somehow doesn’t quite match. I shot huge amounts of film during the late 80s and throughout the 90s. During this time I took photographs most with 35mm film, and sometimes the larger and more detailed 6×6 medium format using a Yashica-Mat. Using film always involved a step by step process; a type of ritual which by its nature tended to slow down the speed at which photographs could be taken. Nevertheless when armed with two cameras, and a bit of experience at quick loading and unloading film canisters, shots could still be squeezed off at a fair clip when necessary!
Allied with the process of using 35mm film other considerations had to be taken into account: making sure you had plenty of spare film available before heading out on an assignment, blowing out the inside of your camera before loading a film to get rid of dust or bits of broken film stock, sliding the end of the strip into the take-up spool, winding on a little before closing the camera back. Hearing the reassuring slap as the back closed telling you it was securely shut. Winding on a couple of frames while watching the take-up spool to be sure it was turning. Perhaps best of all was the drive home afterwards in the knowledge the film was in the can!
One of the cameras I used in those days was a Nikon 801. Mine was so battered and bruised that all of the white writing indicating its functions was totally worn away. I picked it up again recently and strangely could still remember the exactly operation of each button by feel alone. I used that old Nikon 801 together with a Nikon SB28 Speedlight and various Nikkors to take pictures of everything from car yard advertising shots, to fishing trips in Fiordland, prize-givings, product shots and even the odd wedding. It was and still is a very tough old camera.