Weeknotes 2022.41: Sometimes the old ways aren’t the best

Weeknotes 2022.41: Sometimes the old ways aren’t the best

Film photography is a fun novelty, but there are many reasons it is now exactly that—a novelty. Price is one thing—you can easily sink the best part of £100 buying film in bulk, and good quality development is pricey. The inconvenience of not being able to see your images instantly. The scarcity of the film and the need to plan your shots carefully. Basic things like the lack of timestamps. Digital imaging has, for all its supposed ‘coldness,’ produced some amazing advances and made photography and particularly videography much more accessible.

And then there’s the mechanical failures. I’ve had a few in the about two months I’ve had this camera (a Minolta X-300.) Two reels that tore in the camera. A frame that tore and meant it couldn’t be scanned by the lab. That time I was merrily shooting away for a day and a half in Venice on what I thought was Ektar, only to find that the spool hadn’t taken up and I’d been exposing onto thin air. (There are some amazing frames, I now realise, that never existed.)

There’s been a repeating problem over the last few weeks, where a black bar has appeared on the frame—suggesting something wrong with the shutter curtain’s movement. True, the results have been cool, but it’s also not been what I expected from the shots.

The condition has now deteriorated to the point the camera is unusable. The leading shutter curtain needs to be pinched and dragged across the frame, suggesting some kind of obstruction or drive problem. It is an old camera—definitely older than me, since they were apparently only manufactured between 1985 and 1990—but it’d be a shame to lose it now. I don’t trust myself to fix it, though. I tried taking the bottom plate off to see if it was an easy fix, only to find that the two middle screws wouldn’t go all the way back in. I’m going to take it into a shop this week to see what a professional thinks.

Even if it’s not economical to fix it, the lenses still produce nice results with an adapter on my modern camera. An interesting realisation this week was that Konica Minolta’s SLR division was sold to Sony in 2006 which created the Alpha line of digital cameras: in short, my conventional digital camera is a direct descendant of the old one… just with less to go wrong, mechanically speaking.