10 tips for film photography

Did you recently buy a film camera? Are you thinking of buying one? Have you been using film cameras before, but still think that film photography is dead and everyone on Instagram filters their film photos these days?

Then this article is for you! I will list 10 things I think every first-time film photographer should know.

1. There are film cameras that cost as little as $10 bucks

There are film cameras that don’t even cost a dollar, some are being sold for hundreds of even thousands of dollars. A film photographer will be able to take good photos with any film camera - the quality of the photo is determined by the person behind the film camera, not by the film camera itself.

2. The cheapest film is often the crudest film

If you are on a tight budget, stick to cheap film cameras; they are often equipped with a cheaper film that needs more light or higher ISO to become visible in your developed film roll. If you can afford better film cameras, they will often come with better film, film that does not need as much light or low ISO film.

3. There are two kinds of film: color film and black & white film

There’s a negative film (color film) and there’s a positive film, each type has its own characteristics. Negative film is more sensitive to light and that’s why you can take a photo at night, but because of that negative film also shows more grain in the film. Positive film is not as sensitive to light as negative film, so it doesn’t work very well when taking photos at night or indoors under artificial lights.

4. You can develop film yourself - but make sure you know what you’re doing.

You can develop a film yourself at home, but make sure you do your research before starting. Keep in mind that film needs to be exposed properly for correct development which means film should not be exposed too long or too little (in other words: the shutter speed you use affects how much light film is exposed to).

5. There are film cameras that have a battery - and film cameras without a battery

Film cameras with built-in light meters, autofocus, or exposure control can be quite expensive film cameras. If you’re on a budget, film cameras without lights, autofocus, or exposure control will limit your creativity when it comes to how you photograph things, but you can compensate for that by using film camera light meter apps on your phone.

6. Film is sensitive to temperature - film in the fridge, film outside

Film needs to be kept in a certain temperature range to produce good photos. During cold weather, film should be placed inside your clothing where it will get warmer, while film during summertime should be kept cool… film taken to a warm place (like on the beach during summertime) should be carried in your bag with cold drinks and film taken to a cold place (for example: outside on a cold winter day) should be placed inside your clothing where it will keep warm.

7. Film can expire quickly without proper storage conditions

If it is stored for too long without being used, film can expire. Keep film in a cool, dark place, and make sure you don’t leave it out in the sun before opening film rolls.

8. There are film cameras that have advanced features - film cameras that do not need batteries to work

Some film cameras have an exposure counter on film rolls that tell film photographers how many photos they can take before has to be rewound, film cameras with multiple exposure capability that film photographers can use to double or multiple expose film without having to open camera backs first, film cameras with an LCD on the back of the camera’s body so you know what your photo looks like without having to open film cameras back first, film camera’s with film advance motors (instead of hand-cranked film advancement) film camera’s with motorized film rewind mechanisms… The more advanced film camera you buy, the more expensive it will be.

9. Film should be wound in the dark

When is winding between shots, make sure the film is wound in the dark, otherwise, will start to expose parts that haven’t been exposed yet. It’s not dangerous to shoot if film was kept in light while it was winding, but will have an uneven color temperature which can affect how your photos turn out.

10. Film has different ISO speeds, film rolls with different ISO speeds offer photographers the ability to capture certain scenes in camera where they wouldn’t be able to without different ISO speed. If film has a high ISO speed, film will be more sensitive to light and that’s great for when you don’t have time to use a tripod or you want to take photos during nighttime or indoors. If film has a low ISO speed, you will need more light to capture the same amount of light, which is great when photographing during daytime.

That’s it… 10 film photography tips! Film has captured the imagination for years due to its unique properties and the fact film can create beautiful photos even if film is developed in a dark room as long as the photographer knows what film camera settings to use and how film chemistry works. Being film photography’s biggest fan, I can’t wait for film to be used more than digital!

Until next time, enjoy some photographs and keep shooting film!

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