Film photography in a few graphs

I collect film photography equipment and I also use it to take photographs and make prints. I’m also a massive nerd so there’s a database to help me record every aspect of the kit I own and the pictures made with it. I thought I’d try and produce a blog post with some facts, figures and graphs about my hobby – hopefully this will be interesting to other camera collectors!

At the time of writing, my database contains 63 cameras and 114 lenses (cameras with fixed lenses count as one camera and one lens). This equipment has been used to shoot 5357 negatives.

The total weight of the collection of cameras and lenses is 58.5kg although it fits in one IKEA cabinet. If laid out end to end, I would get in trouble with my wife 😉

Age of the cameras

Let’s get started by checking the age of these cameras and specifically, how many from each decade. This is the date that each model of camera was introduced, not the exact date each of my samples was manufactured.

Decades
Decades

This graph shows I have more cameras from the 1970s than any other decade. This is probably not a surprise – they are very affordable (looking at you, Canon FD) and I prefer using them. I have some newer cameras mostly for ease of use (e.g. Canon EOS when I need autofocus) and some older ones because they are the truly interesting ones. Clearly I need to invest in more cameras from the end of the Victorian era, though!

Quickfire camera facts

Heaviest camera

The heaviest camera and lens combination in my collection is the Mamiya RB67 Professional with the Mamiya Sekor 250mm f/4.5, weighing in at 3.42 kg according to the database. In reality, it’s even heavier because the database weight of the RB67 body excludes the prism and film back. When fully kitted out and ready to shoot, it’s a hefty 4.21 kg.

Mamiya RB67 with Sekor 250mm f/4.5
Mamiya RB67 with Sekor 250mm f/4.5

Negatives per camera

An obvious and easy graph to draw is how many pictures have been taken with each camera in the collection.

Negatives per camera
Negatives per camera

This makes it pretty clear that the runaway favourite is the Canon AE-1 Program. But wait – that was my first film camera so it has an unfair advantage. What if we draw the number of pictures each camera has taken per day that I have owned it?

Canon AE-1 Program
Canon AE-1 Program
Negatives per camera per day
Negatives per camera per day

Well, the AE-1 Program is still the most popular but the margin is slimmer. A new entrant into the top 15 by this metric is the Mamiya M645J which I’ve not owned for many months, but have used a lot.

Mamiya M645 J
Mamiya M645 J

Film area

The total amount of film exposed in all my cameras is 7.94 m² which is more than enough to cover the floor of an average UK bathroom. This graph shows which cameras have chewed their way through the most film.

Area of film exposed
Area of film exposed

The Mamiya RB67 was at #3 in the graph of total negatives shot but here it comes soaring into the lead for total film used, because a 6×7 negative is 5x larger in area than a 35mm negative. Several other medium format cameras are creeping up the ranks for this graph too, such as the very pretty Mamiya C220.

Mamiya C220
Mamiya C220

Formats

In the total area graph above, we touched on the RB67 having an advantage through shooting larger negatives. So which is the most popular negative size (in terms of number of negatives shot) in my database?

Frame sizes
Frame sizes

Predictably, 35mm is the most common frame size. I have more 35mm cameras than any other type, it is relatively inexpensive to use them and of course you get 36 pictures on a roll compared with 8-16 on a medium format roll so you naturally take more pictures. Medium and large format cameras are also heavier and more expensive to shoot with so you tend to shoot less and take better pictures.

We’ve already discussed 35mm cameras and a lot about the RB67 which accounts for the second-most-shot format, 6×7, so here’s a picture of the Horseman 980 which takes lovely 6×9 negatives.

Horseman 980
Horseman 980

If you’re not sure what the film sizes in the pie chart look like, here’s a handy comparison.

Negative areas
Negative areas

Focal lengths

Going back to our most popular format, 35mm, it’s possible to query the database and see which focal lengths were used. This includes all photos taken with prime lenses and most photos taken with zoom lenses, where I remembered to note down the focal length it was set to.

Focal lengths
Focal lengths

There is an obvious spike at 50mm, which is available for most every 35mm camera. There are also spikes at 28mm, 35mm and 135mm, all of which are common prime focal lengths and also covered by the common 28-80mm zoom lens.

Canon FD equipment
Canon FD equipment

The upward slope of the graph between 300-400mm is misleading. It just means I have taken some photos at 300mm (prime) and some more at 400mm (also prime).

Quickfire lens facts

  • Longest lens: Tokina RMC 400mm f/5.6
  • Widest lens: Samyang 8mm f/3.5 fisheye
  • Heaviest lens: Mamiya Sekor 250mm f/4.5 (1.51kg)
  • Lightest lens: Jupiter-12 35mm f/2.8 (130g)
  • Fastest lens: Canon New FD 50mm f/1.4
  • Slowest lens: Schneider-Kreuznach Super Angulon 90mm f/8
  • Most aperture blades: Pentacon 135mm f/2.8 (15 blades)

Film

Last but not least, a quick look at the films I’ve been shooting.

Films
Films

I shoot primarily in black & white, and my go-to film is Ilford FP4+. When I need more speed, I reach first for Ilford HP5+ and then Ilford Delta 3200. Most of the other black & white films here were small-quantity experiments.

When I do shoot colour, I tend to shoot very cheap colour film. Until recently, Poundland stocked either Agfa Vista Plus or Kodak Kodacolour, which explains why they feature so strongly. The only colour film I enjoy shooting is Kodak Ektar.

The others category is mostly one-off experiments with various other films that I was given with cameras or otherwise obtained – often expired. There are a few rolls of slide film in there too.

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