New light through old windows

Well, an old lens actually.

Whilst clearing out a bedroom, my wife came across an old Olympus XA2 camera of mine in the back of a drawer. I bought it while a student in Bristol and, while not having forgotten it, I hadn’t used it for a good 20 years. Fortunately, it had been left without any batteries in, so was in good condition.

I took it for a walk around Media City yesterday lunchtime and last night revealed 38 beautifully exposed shots on a roll of Ilford Delta 100. The results are remarkably good.

This got me thinking about old cameras (of which I have a few) in the digital age.

I don’t know where my first digital camera is. I think that it actually broke and was thrown away, but I can’t be sure of that. I do know where my first more serious digital camera is – it’s on the shelf in front of me. It doesn’t have a battery in it either, and I don’t know where the battery is (not just a case of going to Sainsbury’s and buying some SR44s…). So, it is unusable, even though it was only bought 10 years ago. In 20 years time it will definitely be unusable. Even if it were useable, it’s pathetic file size, restricted ISO range and noise characteristics mean that it would take far worse photographs than my iPhone today.

This is progress.

Yet, I can go into any second hand camera shop anywhere in the country and buy an old Nikon F, or Olympus OM1, put a roll of Delta into it and take photographs BETTER than when they were new, and FP3 or HP4 were the best film around.

Now, this really is progress.

Long live film. Long live Ilford. And long live Leica film cameras.

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