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5 Reasons to Pick Up a Film Camera

11 March 2022

Everything is already digital these days so some people might not find the need to try picking up a film camera. What’s the point anyway when you are just going to transfer the photo file to your computer afterward? Some people even go to the extent of declaring that the film is already dead. No one looks at physical photo albums anymore and almost everyone just uploads their photos online or relies on their smartphones to keep their memories for them.

Add to this the problem of accumulating waste and increasing the world’s growing waste through film rolls and paper. You could still keep your memories without the extra paper and film roll by making use of your electronic device.

Well, you can never please anyone. The scenarios above may be true to some extent and for some people but it doesn’t change the fact that film is back. Young individuals are enamored with the aesthetic and the final look only authentic film could give and no amount of Photoshop editing will be able to achieve. There’s a big market for it, although niche and targeted to specific groups. So if a film was ever dead at some point, we are seeing it come back from the tombstone and even become trendy in our modern age of technology. And yes, it may add up to global waste, but there are ways to minimize it. For example, you can use film rolls more than once to get that cool double or multi-exposure effect. You could also recycle them and decorate your room with film rolls. In terms of paper, most film enthusiasts don’t even print their developed film rolls. They just have the photos scanned and saved in their hard drives and USBs.

So after all that, why should you even go film if you’re going to keep a digital copy of it anyway? Other than the final look being different, we listed down the reasons below to convince you why it’s still worthy to keep a film camera.

1. Film cameras provide a perspective on how photos are taken.

Maybe you’re a photography enthusiast wanting to elevate your skills. You want to start with the very basics and film cameras can show you that in the most illustrative way possible. You may understand the basics of photography, such as shutter speed and aperture, by disassembling your film camera and taking note of its mechanical parts. You could see how each part and function works manually. It uses the same concept as with a digital camera.

The aperture is located at the center of the film compartment. The shutter speed you choose in a digital camera is the exact time the actual shutter window opens and closes. When you turn on the aperture ring, you will see how much light it absorbs and allows to enter into the camera. Seeing how these elements work behind every click of your camera will make you appreciate the picture-taking process even more. You will also gain a more visual understanding of how everything works.

2. You will sharpen your meticulous attitude when it comes to taking photos.

Unlike digital cameras, you only have a few shots to work with using a film camera. The number of shots depends on the roll you bought. Of course, when the resources are limited, we maximize what we have and make sure every click of the camera is angled perfectly. Every shot matters. You will make more active decisions including getting the right composition and angle before you click the shutter button. There’s no going back so you are forced to understand all the parts of your film camera.

Unfortunately, digital cameras have made many into lazy photographers. Beginners and experts alike don’t even have to think about settings before clicking because there are automatic features that they could rely on. If you want to think more mindfully about your shots, then purchase a film camera.

3. You will learn more about lights and colors through film photography.

If you want to nail lighting and color as a photographer, you may want to invest in a film camera. It’s a good tool to understand the concepts better and at a manual level. Knowing that chemicals in the film affect light and color rendering, you would need to experiment with different film stocks and know by heart their variations. If you want to become a professional photographer someday, this can give you a competitive advantage.

Know that different film types vary in sensitivity levels. There are some that will produce sharp photos, almost close to the resolution of digital images while there are some that are more subdued. Other than that, the developing process impacts color and exposure intensity. You may experiment to get your desired color or photo treatment. The more film rolls you buy, the more familiar you become with their differences and what meets your aesthetic vision. You will know what to use in very specific situations including low-light settings or sunny days.

4. There’s an element of surprise every time your film roll is developed.

Even though you understand the basics and think of it mindfully, you will still be surprised by how the shots will come out after the developing process. You’ll get excited each time your fill roll has been developed. Experiment with vintage cameras or used film rolls to produce cool images with bad exposure, light leaks, soft focus, vignettes, and multiple exposures. Expired film rolls degrade differently and will produce the most beautiful images. You’ll be blissfully surprised by the masterpieces you create. These are “happy accidents” that a digital camera won’t be able to capture.

Developing film rolls is another craft. You could choose to have your own darkroom at home or have your film roll developed. If the former, you would need a black and white developer, fixer and (optional) stop bath, a changing bag, a developing tank and reels, a digital thermometer, a timer, a bottle opener, scissors, beakers/containers, bottles, film clips, a bathroom for drying your film, a sink, bath, or access to a water supply, and a standing desk which may come in handy to layout everything.

5. Film photography can be a paid profession.

We understand if you want this to be your hobby but if you need the extra dough, you can always make money out of taking photos from film cameras. Take as many photos as you can and build your professional portfolio through the years.