A Digital SLR is a modern piece of equipment. It has nothing of the old-world charm associated with photography. No “wait till the film is processed“, no “did I get the exposure right“, no “oh, this is not good enough to be photographed“, no “Is the light right?”, no “I’ve got only 2 frames left. They’ve got to count“. Instead, you’ve got instant gratification, with nothing left to your imagination. You see the exact photograph that will be printed (or viewed on your screen) instantly, and if you want to change it, you can experiment till you get it right.

But why not try to experience the magic of not knowing exactly how your photographs are going to turn out? Want to try it? Simple.

  1. Set your ISO to 100, 200 or 400, and set your white balance to Daylight because these are the most easily available film rolls available.
  2. Set your camera mode to M so that all the aperture and shutter speed decisions are made by your brain, and not the camera’s.
  3. Set up your camera to disable image reviews after you’ve taken a photograph. If you don’t have this option, stick a Post-it Note on the rear LCD screen so that you can’t see the image. Post-it Notes leave no sticky residue on the camera once you peel them off, so they’re perfectly safe for your camera.
  4. Stick a cut Post-it Note on the top LCD so that you resist the urge to look at the number of frames remaining, shooting / AF mode and other details.
  5. Rely on your intuition, and try not to use the light meter readout in the viewfinder.

Any other suggestions? Leave ‘em in the comments.

Watch out for a Photo Project based on your newly set up Retro DSLR in the days to come.

Photo: Alex Dram

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About The Author

Susheel Chandradhas

Susheel Chandradhas is a Photographer and Web Designer. His passions include photography and parkour. He is also the webmaster of Beyond Phototips.

7 Responses to Tiny Tips 17: Retro DSLR

  1. Ravages says:

    Good tip. I’ve done a few of those, if not simultaneously.

  2. UM, interesting.

    I see where you are going with this idea and I think it would be a valuable fun exercise.

    However, I am convinced people are too keen to make all the decisions with their cameras. The technology in the little black boxes is superb and sometimes I feel we spend too much time fighting what the camera can do better than us.

    I shoot a lot in P mode, just making white balance and exposure compensation settings, allowing the camera to do what it does best.

  3. Yes, in many situations, the camera makes better, and quicker decisions. However, at some point in time the photographer needs to know how his tools work. This exercise was intended to help you understand your tool better, and gain a better appreciation for your art through it. ;)

  4. George Kremer says:

    It’s always good advice to know your camera and how to manually set all the functions. Here in the snowy Rockies, one has to know how to properly set the exposure as the camera’s light meter is fooled by all that white snow. Similarly, in the spring and early summer when every thing is so green, the meter gets fooled again. Being able to set your camera to capture the mood and lighting is the first step to creating great images. A good reminder!

  5. Nice thing about Canon 60D and others with articulating LCD, the LCD can be turned to face inward. I’ve actually spoofed people into thinking I was shooting film by flipping my camera around and saying, “Sorry, you can’t see the shot for a couple days.” Stops annoying “Oh, let me see!” gawkers at weddings that eat up time.

  6. Brent, I know what you mean… :)

  7. Dnguyen says:

    Brent, My LCD is always OFF.

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