8 REASONS FOR SHOOTING FILM
Have you been wondering what all the fuss is about with film photography? Have you got one already but never tried to shoot film? A photography friend already shoots with film and it fascinates you?
This article will talk you through the reasons all photographers should shoot film. Like everything in life there are good and bad elements, so we will also cover these points one by one too.
REASON 1 – COMPOSITION
All photographers should benefit by shooting film due to the composition. Film causes you to naturally slow down, conserve your shots, as each shot costs you money.
You will learn to use shutter speed, aperture and light, to get the best out your shot. With digital, you keep trying and reviewing the results. But with film, you have to rely on your skill and patience.
Learning to work the shot, taking a meter reading ensures you have prepared for the shot. The skill of patience will serve you well in both film and digital and stop you wasting countless shots.
With experience, you will learn to choose a suitable film that matches what you aim to shoot. For example, if you shoot in low light, you can use a sensitive film like Ilford Delta and adjust your aperture too.
REASON 2 – COST
Film cameras start at a very reasonable cost, for £50 you will get a camera and at least a 50mm lens. The camera shown in the image above is an Olympus OM10 which cost approx £50 with 4 lenses and flashes.
Another point worth mentioning is the number of places to buy vintage cameras! It’s amazing that in 2017 you can still buy old technology. You will find online stores like eBay useful and high street charity shops. Chain camera stores like LCE hold film and digital cameras too. Otherwise, look for specialist stores like Ffordes or Aperture. Rocky cameras are useful for price comparison, due to the range of cameras available. Their range covers £5 budget cameras to vintage and rare lenses.
The camera is not important, especially at first as you learn the skill and get used to film. When you are ready to upgrade you can buy fast lenses that cost much less than modern “digital” lenses. If you would like quality products, there are more expensive options such as Leica’s and Hasselblad’s.
There are different camera body sizes too, from the 35mm (full frame), to medium and large format. Medium format sits in the middle for size and 6 x 4.5 cm is common. Large format is normally referred to 4 x 5 inches.
REASON 3 – DIY
Film technology had no software to transform your image, there were the darkroom and skill. With the digital era, it is easy to learn to use image manipulating software to improve your image.
If you have the time, patience and some funds, you can buy the chemicals and a developing tank so you can do it yourself. Once you have negatives there are ways to use your digital camera to digitise your negatives. At least you still have the choice of using professional labs to develop and print your photos.
Another option is to use your smartphone to “scan” the prints. M.K. uses this technique on her Instagram feed to great success – look at this beautiful gallery. This is a quick, easy and sensible approach to getting a web quality image. If your needs are high quality or large scale prints to put on your wall, this method is of no use.
If you have the room you can take the D.I.Y. to the next level and make your own darkroom to start printing your own photos.
REASON 4 – FUN
Buy a variety of cameras and use them for different occasions, due to the cost it’s very achievable. You could look at rangefinder cameras or medium format at a reasonable cost. Try different lenses, Russian examples such as MIR and Jupiter provide unique bokeh.
You may want to own a film camera for testing a project you have, or for personal shots of your family. Once you have developed and printed, it is so nice to look at your results.
REASON 5 – LIGHT
From your experience with digital you might be a master of light, but with film, you must become a purveyor of light. You can’t cheat and raise your ISO to get the photo with film. You learn to use what ambient light is around to help you. By taking meter readings, using the same equipment and practise you will improve. Shoot with the same film and time of day you will gain experience.
Ensure your camera is working too, if you have broken seals this could affect the exposure of the picture. One method is to shoot a few rolls with the same film, then get the negatives developed to test your camera is not faulty.
REASON 6 – RETRO
It may surprise you how many people smile at you as they realise you are using old technology. Remember the older generation grew up with this technology so it may bring back fond memories for them.
It is quite refreshing to get away from the beeps and digital screens of modern cameras. Focusing on something mechanical that has survived decades has an ethereal feel.
Be warned once you start down this path, you will be buying a 60’s Volkswagen camper. You are one stop from listening to vinyl records and craving everything analogue!
REASON 7 – SIMPLICITY
Film technology takes you back to an era of engineering, where simplicity was the key. Many cameras have no light meters, no digital displays, no fancy buttons or command wheels. This is not always bad as it means less technology to go wrong.
There are many guides on the web and videos on youtube of ways to fix your camera too. If you are buying a budget camera, it would be viable to buy a broken version too and use parts to fix any problems.
Film cameras are simplistic, choose a film, then focus on the speed and aperture.
REASON 8 – SURPRISE
There will be many surprises, from buying the camera to loading film and developing/print. Buying a camera and lens made decades earlier is always risky as it could be faulty.
Do research what is available from sites and check out reviews, then watch a few videos on how they work.
Once you start looking at film, you will realise there is a large range to choose from. You have colour, black and white and even specialist infra red too, as well as expired film (out of date). Shooting expired means you will have no idea of the results, until after the development of the film.
If you learn the art of the darkroom for development, you can mix chemicals and even try coffee products.
SHOOT FILM SUMMARY
In summary, that was 8 reasons to shoot film, so get out there! Film photography is something even the budget conscious can try. Even if you do not enjoy, you have not wasted much money and can re-sell your equipment.
If you ready for the film challenge, you are one step away from improving your photography skills. If you find this article useful, please pass on to your friends. Do not be afraid to get in touch, to comment on this article or for anything.
Thank you to K.P for allowing inclusion of her lovely image gallery, to see more of her work check out this link.
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