17 August 2016

Reasons why you should invest in a film camera

A few years ago, I decided to buy myself a film camera. At the time, I had been using my digital camera (a Sony Cybershot) for several years, but I was curious to see what it was like to shoot on film. I have to admit, one of the reasons I desired one was based purely on aesthetic, a film camera just looks cool, chic and above all different. It isn't solely an incredible piece of machinery, but an accessory that can complement any look.

Additionally, manual cameras have a very historical and personal feel to them. In this age of mass consumption, few things are made to last, however there are film cameras several decades old that are still fully functional today. Ask your parents and grandparents, and they just might have one somewhere! It's quite strange to think I'm using an objet of incredible engineering that is probably a lot older than myself. They are very sturdily built so it does weigh heavily that your average little camera. That being said, it will no doubt last a long time if you take care of it.

  • The benefits of using a manual film camera
Summer in one of our 1st ever film pictures - 2013

Firstly, film cameras can be insanely cheap compared to digital DSLRs, I bought my Canon A1 off Ebay for £50  which is, let's face it, nothing compared to any other type of camera. The battery life can last up to several months too, unless you're shooting for several hours every single day. Buying the actual camera isn't a problem, howbeit film is another matter entirely.

Here in France, 3 rolls of Fujifilm (my preferred film) with 36 exp per roll costs around 17. I use my film camera on special occasions and on days out (I never use it for full outfit posts for instance). That means that on average one roll of film can last me up to a month or so, unless I'm travelling somewhere. So 17 for 3 months isn't too bad. But the development side of it costs money too, unless you're developing it yourself, in that case you'd still spend money buying the materials etc. I get mine developed at a nearby supermarket where it costs me around 8 euros per roll of film (36 exp). It may not sound like much, but it can add up eventually. I suggest budgeting, which I know isn't that easy when it comes to photography because who knows when a photo opportunity may present itself? However I've learnt to choose what to shoot on my film camera and what to shoot on my digital:  is this shot worth taking on a film camera ? 

One of our most recent film pictures - Summer in Lincoln, 2016

That brings me to another benefit of using a film camera: it costs money, so you have to choose wisely what you want to shoot, and of course really concentrate. If you mess up the shot, it will literally be a waste of your money. Unlike digital cameras, you can't just shoot a load of pictures then delete the ones you don't want later. This aspect of shooting on film will benefit you in the long run because it challenges you to think about every aspect of photography.

With my A-1, I always shoot in full manual mode. My first few batches of film came out HORRIBLY. Blurry or over exposed, it took me a while to learn all the basics of photography. Like most people, I found it incredibly difficult to sit down and read all the basics: shutter speed, aperture (or f/stops), focus etc. (With my digital cameras, until this year, I would always shoot in automatic, therefore completely ignoring all of these.)

 In hindsight, I would recommend doing some research beforehand so you have a basic understanding of photography. Try to understand what shutter speed, ASA, aperture etc stands for, but then just go take pictures. Practice practice practice. It's a long process of trial and error, but eventually you will understand how manual settings work and what to do to get the results you want, and in the long run you will be able to use your film camera to it's full potential.

Shooting on film also allows you to truly think about angles, lighting and framing. If you get the lighting wrong then the picture will most likely be ruined, so beware of shadows and of shooting in direct sunlight (& of course if you're shooting in full manual mode, adjust the settings accordingly!) Unless of course that is the result you're aiming for.

Here are a collection of film pictures we've taken over the years, and some comparisons between film & digital. Have you ever used film before? x

Holly in our old flat, 2014-15


Holly & the giant Bean, Chicago 2014

Tea time with Summer, 2015

Summer & Jake, busy streets of London, 2015

Our friend Jake in Brick Lane, London 2015
Holly, The High Line, NY 2015

Our friend Eloise, London 2015

Waterfront in Toronto, 2015

Summer in Central Park NY, 2015

Central Park, NYC, 2014

Central Park, NYC, 2015

Outside the train station in Toronto, 2015

  • Comparison between film & digital
Shot on DLSR Canon EOS 700D
Shot on Canon A1 35mm fujifilm


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