I know many of you are happy with your digital cameras, but is there any reason at all to embrace film photography? Back in the days I owned a few film cameras but not the full manual ones with interchangeable lenses. I didn’t know many things about film. I often visit my local photography store to develop the negatives. It was a process and I remember having that anticipation of what my photos will look like when I would get them in a few days. Looking back, we come to realise all the reasons to embrace film photography.
Since I was a kid, I held many different cameras. I always wanted to be the one who will capture my friend’s and family’s moments. No one in my family was a photographer but I remember watching documentaries on TV like the National Geographic, which made me want to go out and start taking photographs.
Coming back in today’s world, we have no anticipation at all. We take a photo and instantly see it in our viewfinder or in our smartphone’s screen. We can take hundreds of images in a period of a month and never ever see most of them. They will just take space in a hard disk drive backup or the iCloud storage and we will have to delete them eventually to create more space.
So what’s the point of taking thousands of images we barely touch or even see over the years?
A few months ago, I visited an older friend of mine and I was telling him how photography has changed my life. Then, he reached in his library and took out from a drawer two film cameras fully manual with a 35mm and 50mm lens. He gave me one to hold and I admit, it’s nothing like holding a DSLR or Mirrorless camera. It was like I was given a piece of history to hold in my hands!
What are the reasons ‘to go back’ and embrace film photography?
The question that got in my mind was, how can a film camera make me a better photographer? There are many reasons why you should try film photography.
1. Slow Things Down
With film cameras you slow things down and revalue the rules of photography. You get to understand better the basics such as composition, light metering, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and the rest of the photography techniques.
2. Find Real Meaning
Since film is expensive and unlike digital has a certain number of shots allowed, you get to treasure them and really think it through. We live in a world of the now and digital has no real meaning. You keep shooting thousands of bad shots without bad consequences to your money or even improving your skills.
3. Life Span (Does not fail a lot like Digital Cameras)
Film cameras, as opposed to newest digital DSLR or mirrorless cameras, can last longer as they’re mainly mechanical. They don’t need updates nor electricity. You just have to know how to use them right and how to install film. When you manage to learn the basics, you’re ready to start taking photos!
4. No Retouching
When you know how to use a film camera, there’s little to no retouching to do. You create the perfect image by using your skills and the right film negatives. It comes down to your understanding of the rules of photography.
5. Most film cameras are cheap
Photography becomes simpler with a film camera. You don’t have to spend too much money to get a film camera. You can find a Pentax, Nikon, Canon or Mamiya for around 200-300 dollars and lenses from 30 to 70 dollars.
6. Quality vs Quantity
In a digital camera world you can get up to 20.000 photos with a 64GB memory card. For example, you may only need to shoot a couple of images, but because you have that extra space, you will end up taking 3 or 4 times more than the usual.
In a film camera you have 24 or 36 exposures per film. So basically you have up to 36 chances to get great images. It gives you more responsibility and time to think about each shot. That makes you a better photographer and forces you to create less photos with more quality.
7. It’s Rewarding
Digital cameras have thousands of new functions and new technologies that basically can help you take the perfect shot.
However, when you get a photo developed from a film camera, it is really rewarding because the camera has little impact on the results. The AI in them is basic, so when a photo comes out right, you feel you did most of the work than the camera itself.
Film photography is still alive. It teaches us better the rules of photography and makes us think and become more creative. If you really want to understand photography, I would definitely recommend you to find or even buy a film camera and start using film to take photos. You will find real meaning and you won’t regret it at all! I hope you will start to embrace film photography just like I do.
Extras : Loading a Roll of Film in a Film Camera
Loading a roll of film in a film camera is a simple process. When you first purchase a roll of film, you will notice a leader or tail of film hanging out from the canister. Turning your attention to the rear of the camera, there’s usually an open symbol on the top of your camera that opens up the back or film door of your camera. Once the door is open, place your canister in the spool holder with the leader lying flat on top and then grab the leader of the film and pull it across to the other side.
You then need to insert the tip of the leader into the slot of a vertical rotating column if the film camera is manual loading. If you have a newer film camera, you only need to pull the leader until you reach the autoload symbol. Once this is done close the door, and the film will automatically wind on if it’s automatic. Otherwise, you will have to pull up the manual lever and rotate in a clockwise direction for several rotations until you see the first number on the counter appear.
Regardless of the film camera you use, film is relatively available. If you are new to a city, then you may have to search for a store which stocks or processes film, but when you find it not only do you get amazing prints, but you find a fantastic community.