There are things that I can laugh at Mark about, too. Don’t think that this is all one sided!
First thing, for years, the only cameras that we owned were a series of semi-disposable point-and-shoot models from Target. Nothing fancy, you know those $30 cameras? Considering that we never took pictures at all (I think we went through one roll of film in five years!) it was perfectly adequate.
Then came PuppyZilla. We wanted to take good pictures of the puppy to scan into the computer and put on our web site . He moved too fast for those cheapie fixed-focus cameras.
We were originally going to get a digital camera. The argument was that we were only going take pictures for the computer, so why go to the hassle and expense of getting printed pictures. Considering that our major problem was actually getting the film to the developers instead of leaving it in the car for six months, this was a good idea.
Well, that idea flew right out the window when we decided to go to Scotland. The problems of memory, downloading pictures, etc. were eclipsed by the problem of not being able to show everyone the pictures.
So, we ended up with a 35mm Minolta and a 28-80 lens. Things were happy in the Fingerson house for about a month. Then Mark announced that we needed a better lens for zoom pictures. I thought we’d just get an 80-200 lens and be done with it. Nope. What I didn’t realize was that there were a few rules about this, too, from the Adorable Husband (all prompted by the planned trip to Scotland. And so he declared:
- I will not be changing lenses every twenty minutes, meaning, of course, that we were only going to take one lens that would cover all possiblities.
- I will not tote 40 pounds of camera gear all over the Highlands. Neither of us wanted to spend our vacation looking out through a camera viewfinder and spending more time looking for the great shots than looking at them.
- I will not be changing film. No worrying about what kind of film is in the camera, what speed, or whether it is the right one.
What did this mean (especially to a person to whom a polaroid camera was state of the art)? We bought a fabulous 28-200 telephoto lens from Tamron so we had one lens and one camera.
If you’re still with me, you’re thinking that we’re complete weirdos, aren’t you? Wait, it gets better!
Not knowing what kind of film to buy, we went out and bought a roll of each speed (100,200,400,800) and plotted out a route where we could take the same pictures on each roll. So, the first picture of each roll is Mark, holding up his fingers for the speed of the film, and then the same pictures, from the same angle, with the same settings. The idea was that we’d be able to determine which speed took the best pictures for the most variable conditions.
Did it work? I couldn’t tell the difference between the film speeds. We settled on 400 speed film, and bought a new camera bag that looks like a little butt pack. In Purple.
Yeah, I know. Strange.
The rule of thumb that I’ve been given about film is this : figure out how many rolls you think you need, and double it. Some people will take ten or more 36 exposure rolls in a day, others may only take five or six pictures. Pad the estimate.
The way I look at it, in the grand scheme of things, film and developing are cheap. Take lots of pictures and you’ll be guaranteed to get at least one good one.
For most travel, they recommend that you bring all the film you think you will need with you — knowing that film may be more expensive or of questionable quality wherever you are traveling. In the UK, this is probably not true and both film and developing can be had reasonably. Bring enough rolls to get you through the first couple of days and then plan on buying stuff there. It saves having to haul tons of film through the airport.
Speaking of the airport, the gurus of rec.photography say that the xrays for carry-on baggage will not fog normal film (up to 400), but may damage anything faster. Plus, exposure is cumulative. One pass through the machine may not harm them, but two or three doses might.
You can certainly ask for hand-inspection (I certainly will!) of your film. Take them out of the boxes and put them in clear plastic ziplock baggies to make this easier on everyone. DO NOT put film in your checked luggage — the xrays used to scan this stuff can really mess up your film. I figure that a polite request to hand inspect (with the commentary that “I’ve waiting ten years for this trip and I really don’t want anything to go wrong, please humor me.”) will do the trick if the airport personnel insist that the xrays won’t harm the film.
One thing that was mentioned several times as well was to register your camera (if new) with customs so you don’t get hit for tariffs when you try to bring it back into the U.S. Mark thinks this is silly, but it only requires a form from Customs or a receipt. No biggie.