I have a couple of film cameras as well as my DSLR. One is an Olympus OM10 but this still has a roll of film in it (albeit a very old one that is probably worthless by now!). The other, to which I have therefore resorted for this exercise, is my first ever SLR, a Zenit EM, Moscow Olympics special that I have now had for donkey’s years. By today’s standards this is a somewhat primitive camera but it is built like a tank, has a brilliant lens (Helios 44m) and takes good, characterful pictures, though at the highest shutter speed (1/500s) the shutter curtain sometimes ‘bounces’ back a bit, creating a dark line down one side of the image. I have not used this camera for a few years now but coming back to it even just for this limited exercise is interesting as it is a salutary reminder of what photography was like before cameras started to do so much for you automatically (even when set to Manual mode!). The one nod in the direction of modernity with this piece of kit is the built in light meter, which I am pleased to say still works! I fully intend to get some fresh film for it and have a go with it again.
I tried the exercise of looking through the open back of the camera while activating the shutter. Even at its slowest speed, 1/30s, I could not say that I could see a “recognisable image”. Yes, I can see there is something at which the camera is pointed but my eyes can barely discern what it is. By the time I work up to the maximum speed of 1/500s really all I can see is that the shutter has opened, but I certainly could not see any image. It is little more than a brief flash of light. The varifocal lenses of my glasses are presumably not helping.