This is based on a tweet I read from David at Flixelpix about a guest post by Christian Nilson on Eric Kim’s site regarding a project that is based on a film camera.  I wondered if I could do the same thing, but in digital.

The idea behind it is that you take one year with one camera, one lens, and one [black & white] film brand.  The camera should be set into manual mode so you select the aperture and shutter speed yourself.  You’re supposed to shoot a couple of rolls of film per week then pick your best single shot.  The problem for me is that I no longer own a film camera, I sold mine years ago when Nikon started to produce (cheaper) dSLRs and haven’t looked back since, and frankly I have no desire to go back to film!  I’ve been through that, I processed my own films, made my own prints.  It was fun, but I don’t need to do it again!

As you may or may not know I’ve just got the new X-E1, which is going to serve as a second body to the X-Pro1 – something I’ve been using the X100 as up until now.  That leaves me with the X100 free to use for a pure single project – I can set it up and leave it like that.  I think this is probably the perfect digital camera for the “B&W One” project as I’ve decided to call it.  It has all the manual controls like a traditional film camera, it has a fixed single lens that I cannot change even if I wanted to, it shoots great quality images, and it shoots in RAW – the digital equivalent of using a film.  There is one digital step that I’m going to introduce though and that’s the use of Lightroom presets.  However, I’m not going to fiddle for ages with sliders, I’m simply choosing a small selection of B&W presets I’ve developed myself for the X100.  I’ve yet to decide how many I will restrict myself to, that will depend on my first week of shooting, but I’m thinking of 2 or 3 maximum.  An advantage of the digital era is the ability to choose your ‘film’ after you’ve taken the shot, and I think that is as much an important skill as taking the photo these days, so I want to use this project to develop that too – to help me know when to choose which sort of preset, and to understand why to choose it for any given image.

Though some may consider it cheating, there are a few advantages of doing it in digital.  The first is obviously cost.  Forgetting the fact that I’d have to buy a film camera before I even started, to buy and get a film developed is near on £10 these days, two a week and it soon adds up.  I also don’t have the go to through the process of having to scan my films to get them only the computer (I don’t have a film scanner, so that’s another expense too!)  The other advantage is that even with the X100 set to RAW only, if you select the B&W film simulation you’ll get a B&W representation in the EVF so it gives you a better idea of how B&W works in a colour world without having to wait for the results later when you’ve probably forgotten exactly what was what when you took the shot.  Finally it’s a camera I already know, and one I love shooting with – that will give me the encouragement to keep going to the end.

I’m not trying to make the original idea better here, I’m just taking the concept and making it work for me.  I’ll post notes and photos onto this site week by week as I progress.  I’m not really a street shooter, so I’ll be taking a bit of a different view on it than the likes Kim and Nilson.

This is my starting point. Expect to see a few of this face!

FinePix X100 (23mm, f/2, 1/30 sec, ISO1600)

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About The Author

Matthew Maddock is a commercial photographer based in the Lake District, UK. Specialising in the hospitality and outdoor sports industry. He is a Fujifilm X-Photographer and Getty Images contributor. His portfolio can be viewed at memaddock.co.uk