What Beginner Photographers Need to Know About Film Photography

Digital photography is pretty much the dominant medium of today. This is emphasized by the number of DSLR cameras in the market — from the Nikon D3500 to the Sony Alpha, and the growing popularity of related accessories, programs, and much more.

But while digital photography remains the market leader, we’re seeing familiar throwbacks as well. Film photography is becoming more widespread as many re-discover the authenticity and appeal of analog photography. If you’re looking to get into film photography as a beginner, look no further. Here’s a simple guide below.

Types of Film

Types of Film

Analog cameras record their images on the medium of film, and different types can produce varying creative effects from vintage looks to recent analog trends. Color print film is also known as color negative and is one of the most popular types. That is because it’s the least expensive, easiest to get processed, and most accessible as it’s available in specialist camera shops and online stores.

Through a developing process called C-41, the color print film can easily handle the orange mask and negative tones of a color negative. Otherwise, black and white negative film can be used for arty black and white shots.

Special Film Cameras

Old View camera on Tripod
Old View camera on Tripod

Many beginners start out with a camera that uses 35mm film. This is the most common format and thereby offers the broadest variety of equipment. Otherwise, many also opt for a compact point-and-shoot camera for that classic ‘film look’ with the least amount of prep.

For particularly distinct looks, specialty film cameras include the classic field cameras which may require tripod support due to their bulk. This would allow for independent movements between the lens and sensor plane to capture landscapes and still-life shots. Otherwise, the spontaneity of a disposable camera shot is independently unique from any other medium. Take note however that shooting in low light can be a hit or miss, prone to faded blacks and heightened grain.

This means that specialty film cameras may require more of a steeper learning curve to get used to, which can lead to mistakes and a costly waste of film. Fortunately, the challenge presented is a fulfilling art once mastered.

Film Camera Lenses

Film camera lenses collection
Film camera lenses collection

A healthy inventory of compatible photography camera lenses can introduce variety and depth to your photos. For cameras made after 1990, general-purpose zooms in the 28-95 mm and 70-200mm range can best accommodate varying degrees of focal length, and there are also wide-angle, macro, and normal lenses for additional features. This is great for amateurs who seek portability and ease of use. Older cameras, on the other hand, can benefit the most from a prime or fixed focal length for better optical quality.

Film Photography Community

Asian Film Academy

The community of photographers tends to be tight and intimate, and the film photography industry is no exception. Many collect old models of cameras for the sake of aesthetics, whereas several are attracted to the idea of an “indestructible” instrument as they travel in extreme conditions and wish to document their adventures.

This has given a boost to the niche economy and many releases, such as Kosmo Foto’s Agent Shadow, complete with Soviet film cameras, or Kodak Gold 200’s professional Portra film, are making a mark in the market. Despite the art form and hobby being decades old, film photography enthusiasts can happily look forward to more developments and stay updated on the latest trends as hybridized photographic practices open up a host of possibilities.

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