Starting with disposable cameras while on family trips, Zachary Sabac always had an affinity for photography. From disposable negatives while on family vacations memories, a point and shoot, to a collection of digital and analogue cameras, Zachary's hobby quickly became a part of his life. Now based in the city of Elk Grove I.T. and working as a Contract Analyst to help pay the bills, Zachary never let his day job keep him from taking pictures. After a photo walk with a friend who was shooting with a film camera, Zachary couldn't get that mechanical sound of his head and purchased his first 35 mm camera. Although he mostly shoots color films at a higher ISO, Zachary went outside his comfort zone and tried the new Fantôme Kino B&W 35 mm ISO 8 and reviewed the film on his Youtube Channel. We asked Zachary what he thought of the film, his experience shooting at such a low ISO, and how we would use the film moving forward!
Hey Zachary, it's great to have you here at Lomography! First off, can you tell us how you got into photography?
Growing up, I was always interested in messing with cameras and capturing photos with them. I remember specifically, as a kid, whenever my family would go out on a trip somewhere my parents would always bring a disposable film camera. My dad specifically would always tell me not to mess with it because I’m “wasting film” but I never listened. Anyway, I would take the camera and start walking around to take pictures of anything I found interesting, and since then I’ve became hooked immediately. From disposable film cameras, a Canon digital point and shoot my parents had, my phone, and finally to a camera collection of my own. Digital or film, photography is an “escape” for me and I absolutely love it.
In such a digital age, why do you still shoot film?
It’s a funny story, actually. About two years ago, I made a friend that was into photography which got me excited, so I invited him out to go shoot with me and a few buddies. When I picked him up, I asked him what kind of camera did he shoot with, and he responded to me, “a film camera.” At first, my ignorance flooded my thoughts and I thought he meant that he was shooting with a disposable film camera (keep in mind that I literally had no clue that film cameras and/or even film was still around) and I was thinking to myself that he was crazy. Once we got to our destination and we were taking out our equipment, he took out this beautiful looking vintage camera (he had the Nikon F3 35mm film camera) and I was literally left in awe. While we were shooting, I was mesmerized by the sounds that the camera was making and even the way it looked. He let me try it out to take a few shots and I already wanted to get one of my own. As soon as I got home, I was doing a bunch of research on film cameras and I was shocked to see that film was a huge thing still and I felt disappointed in myself that I wasn’t even aware! After doing all that research, I ended up purchasing my first film camera, the Minolta X700 35mm film camera, and I absolutely loved it since. So, why do I still shoot film? There is literally nothing better than being so immersed and involved in your art, and film photography brings you just that. Starting from installing a film canister into the camera, winding up for each shot, manually adjusting the camera for each exposure, to finally self-developing the film at home. That process makes me feel so involved and proud and I love it!
Where do you draw inspiration?
Most of the time, my inspiration comes from the environment and my surroundings. Whenever I’m out and about, my eyes are constantly looking for scenes or “moments” to capture. What truly inspires me to continue to do photography is to capture memories. I love looking back at the photos that I took and remembering what I was doing or what was going on at that exact moment.
Do you prefer shooting in Black and White or color?
I love shooting both Color and Black and White; however, my preference on which to choose from one or the other would usually depend on the “environmental mood” that I’m capturing, if that makes sense.
What did you think of the Fantome ISO 8?
At first, I was extremely nervous because I’ve never shot a film stock with such a low ISO before. The lowest ISO I’ve ever shot was at ISO 50. I was literally going through all the information I can find on this film to make sure I don’t mess this up. Anyway, after a day’s worth of shooting, I went home immediately to develop the film using Cinestill’s Df96 chemicals. I was super nervous about how they were going to turn out. Once I scanned the negatives, I was literally blown away by the results. I WAS EXTREMELY IMPRESSED WITH HOW THE SHOTS TURNED OUT. The photos literally came out as described in the Datasheet provided by Lomography. The film was really contrast-y, which is what I enjoyed the most. There was hardly any film grain and the images came out sharp. The character that this film stock gave out really pulled me into a cinematic world, which was really dope.
Do you usually shoot with such low ISO?
Just the opposite actually. My favorite film stock to shoot with is Lomography Color 800, so I generally stay up in the 400+ range whenever I am shooting film. I don’t purposely avoid shooting low ISO film, however! My curiosity is always leading me to try new things, so if I come across low ISO films (like Lomo’s Fantome 8) I’ll most definitely want to try shooting with them!
Did you face any challenges with it?
I did not, actually! With such a low ISO film, I knew exactly what to expect (even though I said I was nervous): high contrast. I was very observant of the environment around me when it came to what was properly lit and what areas are dark. Knowing that made shooting the film very straight forward.
What did you like most about it?
The high contrast is my favorite thing about this film stock. It made the images look extremely moody and cinematic, which I love.
Would you shoot it again?
YES, I would most definitely shoot this film again. The next time I shoot this film, I wanna try doing more portrait and cityscape photography as I feel it would definitely catch the “mood” of the moment in the most cinematic way.
Do you have any tips to give to anyone who wants to shoot it?
Don’t be afraid of the low ISO! Just know that the dark areas are going to be extremely dark and the lit-up areas are going to pop out very nicely. Just knowing that will help you compose your images a little more easily. Also, don’t be afraid to overexpose this film by a stop or two to save a little more details in the shadows! Regardless, you’re going to love the results of this film stock!
To follow more of Zachary's work head out to his Instagram .