I’ve never been strictly a film or digital guy. I’ve always loved the look and old school feel of film but it’s hard to deny the benefits of digital like instant results and free unlimited bracketing. As digital evolves it’s becoming obvious that others feel the same and are finding ways to get some of those old school looks with digital.
My current favorite technique for merging these worlds is Through the Viewfinder or ttv. Ttv is basically using your digital camera to shoot through the viewfinder of an old twin lens box camera. These old twin lens box cameras would normally be held at waist level and have large viewfinders that you would look down through to compose the image. The viewfinders’ mirrors and composing lenses are made of plastic or glass that is pretty low quality so you get focus and light fall off at the edges similar to old or toy cameras. Often, since they’re over 30 or 40 years old, they’ll also have a lot of dirt on the lenses or mirrors that give an old vibe to the results too. The old twin lens box cameras can usually be found cheap (less than 20 bucks) on ebay, garage sales, swap meets and in your grandmother’s closet. There are a lot of them to choose from and they’ll all work fine. My personal fav is the argus 75.
Get one of the twin lens box cameras, point it at something cool, point your digital at it’s viewfinder and take the pic. It’s that easy… on the simple end of the range. Of course, like most things, you can get as complicated as you want. The next logical step is a shade between the 2 cameras. The viewfinders on the twin lens box cameras are usually convex so they tend to reflect everything. So many ttv-ers build shaders to eliminate reflection. I usually just use black construction paper rolled into a tube and taped then cut to length (or something like that). I’m also a huge tripod guy so I also take another step away from simple side and mount the whole thing to a rigid frame so I can connect it to my tripod.
More info available on request or visit the ttv group on flickr for tutes and samples.