We Shoot Film
We shoot film, and we love it. I (Andrea) learned photography on film, from childhood to college, and then "upgraded" to digital as that market opened up. With all of the excitement of what those fancy new digital cameras could do, film kind of fell off my radar. DSLR's can pull off a lot of tricks, and they are certainly good tools - we shoot a lot with our digital kits. But film found its way back to my kit a several years ago, and it has taught me a few things.
Learn the Basics
- Shooting film will help you learn the basics of photography much quicker than a book, and maybe even a digital camera. Most older film cameras operate in manual modes only, and this forces you to learn to relationship of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and even manual focusing. If you're new to photography and want a crash course, find a cheap, manual film camera and have fun learning!
- Shooting film requires that you slow down and pay attention. You begin to see the world around you just a bit differently when you understand how your film and camera will find the scene. You naturally find yourself slowing down when you know you have 24 or 36 exposures, and you want to get them right.
Save Time Afterwards
- Post-processing with digital files tends to take more time than processing film scans. Film tends to have "a look" that you don't really need to edit to get to a final product. Basic exposure, contrast, and sometimes dust removal is almost all it takes. This saves times.
- Maybe magic is a better word. When you shoot film, and get some scans back from the lab… you feel a sense of tangible magic. You pushed a button, set some settings, waited a few days, and your photo is finally there for you. It feels magical.
- If you get into film and find yourself curious, try your hand at developing. The chemicals are inexpensive and the process is truly a simple one. There is something extra magical about mixing some chemicals, setting some timers, and then seeing your images pop off of the negatives. Science. Magic.
- You could spend thousands of dollars on a digital kit, but you could get a really nice film camera and lens for $50. If you want to spend more, we both started on Canon AE-1's and would recommend that camera to anyone. You can find a good one, with a 50mm 1.8 lens, for around $150 usually. To go even cheaper, hit up a thrift store, garage sale, or a relative’s closet.
- A great site for finding a good old camera is KEH Camera. They have a huge assortment of great cameras, and a very honest grading system for what condition the gear is in. Film cameras are easy to come by, often for a low cost.
Film and Developing
- The number one question we get asked on the street and trail... where do you get film for that? Where can you even develop that anymore? Easy answers…
- Film is available online from Freestyle Photo, B&H Photo, etc. We HIGHLY recommend the Film Photography Project for film - we get most of ours from them, and their prices are almost always the best, plus they are cool people.
- We use The Darkroom Lab for developing - it's a lab located in Southern California, which we have actually gotten to tour. They handle the film professionally and quickly. To make things even better, if you send in a blank roll because of some mistake (which does happen!), they send you a coupon for a free roll on your next order.
So, those are a few of the reasons we shoot film… there is something about that little camera on a backpacking trip, the mental pause that allows you to slow down and see color and light a bit differently, and the simple magic of making a photo on film with a negative and chemicals. It’s an art form that deserves to stick around for quite a long time. Give it a try!
Here are a few examples of films and cameras that we love (click on the photos to see more info):