By Theran Galisa | Staff Writer
In this day and age, nearly everyone has access to a camera, most of the time it being a phone. Back before there was an abundance of cameras that automatically configured shutter speed, aperture, and focus, there were cameras where you had to do all of that manually. More photographs are being taken and shared now more than any other time in our history due to this ease of access. Has this increase in accessibility and decrease in skill level required lessened the impact a photograph can have? Is Digital better than Film, is it the other way around, or is there a middle ground?
What is film photography?
Film cameras capture photographs by exposing light through the lens on a single frame at a time on a roll of film. Rolls of film can range from around 24-36 exposures per roll depending on the manufacturer of film. The film roll must be manually put in and taken out of the camera by the photographer. The film roll is made out of a highly light sensitive material that can be damaged if not taken cared of and stored properly. This roll of film is then taken to a darkroom and developed into photographs using different chemical processes.
When taking pictures with a film camera, be selective with what you’re photographing due to the fact that there are only a certain amount of exposures with no ability to preview the photograph that was just taken. The darkroom is an almost completely dark room that usually has an extremely dim red or dark orange light on. Film must be developed in these darkrooms due to the light sensitive materials that film is made out of. Nearly all film cameras are manually operated, with settings like shutter speed, aperture and focus being controlled by nothing else but you.
How do I get started with shooting film?
Film photography can be inexpensive for a beginner. A beginning film photographer can get started out with $200 or less. The first step is to search for a used film camera. A good beginner film camera I would recommend is a Canon AE-1. This film camera is completely manually controlled meaning you have to adjust the settings of the camera yourself. The Canon AE-1 also has a light sensor that helps determine the f-stop depending on what shutter speed the camera is set at to establish a composed photograph. The type of film this camera shoots is 35mm film.
Purchase the Canon AE-1 used on amazon here for $193. The camera also comes with a 50mm f/1.8 lens, an excellent all-around starting lens for any film photographer, from beginning to advanced.
What type of 35mm film should I use?
There are multiple types of 35mm film to choose from, so take time to discover which roll is best for you. The two most popular types of 35mm film is Kodak Portra 400 and Kodak UltraMax 400.
Kodak Portra 400 is considered to be a “professional” type of film because of its ability to to be versatile. It is forgiving to photographers who want to shoot indoors and outdoors. When developed properly, Kodak Portra 400 has very fine grain that is barely noticeable. Kodak Portra 400 creates warm tones that are ideal for portraiture and landscapes alike. This 35mm film is a favorite amongst film photographers. Kodak Portra 400 is on the more expensive side with a single roll of 36 exposures going for $16.
You can purchase Kodak Portra 400 here for $16.
Kodak Ultramax 400 is an inexpensive solution for film photographers who seek a cheap yet effective 35mm film. A single roll of 36 exposures goes for $12. This film is perfect for photographers who are seeking to create photos that have a noticeably grainy texture and warm saturation. Kodak Ultramax 400 is versatile in that in can shoot landscapes just as well as portraits. If you are looking for an inexpensive 35mm film that looks like a picture a cheap disposable camera took, Kodak Ultramax 400 is the perfect option.
You can purchase Kodak Ultramax 400 here for $12.
After obtaining both a film camera and 35mm film you are all set to start shooting. Just insert the roll of film into the back of the camera, rewind and press shoot until you get to 0, and thats it.
What is digital photography?
Digital photography is the process of taking photographs without the use of film and the hardships that it comes with. There are different types of digital cameras like a phone, a DSLR, or a mirrorless camera. When you photograph with a digital camera, the pictures are taken in a similar fashion to that of a film camera but instead the picture is saved directly to a memory card. The resolution of these saved pictures are measured in megapixels. Nearly all digital cameras have the ability to automatically set the proper settings in order to take a decent picture of the object you are photographing. Having photographs in a digital format means that you can quickly copy, edit, and share all of your photographs in a timely manner.
So, which one is better?
To put one above the other is up to the photographer. One photographer may appreciate the hardships, the calculated risks, and the manual fashion of a film camera while another may rather shoot digital simply because it is more efficient. The introduction and evolution of digital photography has progressed into an age where people are constantly documenting the events that occur in life and the happenings of our surrounding environment. Digital photography has made the ability to photograph accessible to everyone, expanding a passion that photography brings. Yet many photographers, young and old, still gravitate towards the elegance of a film camera.
The art of having to frame your shot perfectly, adjusting the settings manually, and developing these calculated risks into physical photographs are what many photographers enjoy doing. There are multiple photo editing apps that you can download to your phone where you can edit your digital photos to look like it was taken with a film camera. This shows just how relevant and loved the warm texture and soft graininess a film camera can create is. Choosing whether digital or film photography is superior is completely up to the photographer. Most photographers enjoy doing both whether it is shooting digital for a hired and professional gig or shooting film for more casual use. The best camera is the one you got so go out there and shoot.