Why Film Photography is Not Dead
Why you should get a 35mm film camera in 2022.
So you’ve decided to get into 35mm film. And I can definitely see why, with the dreamy colours and nostalgia that it produces. I’m also not the only person saying this.
Go on Instagram, search up #filmisnotdead, and have a see for yourself the 20million+ others who also believe that film is very much alive, and I myself have picked up a film SLR camera earlier this year.
In addition to this, it could be argued that film cameras are better for the environment because you don’t need to buy a brand new camera, which requires energy and wastage to make, but rather just have a look on eBay to re-use a perfectly fine old camera that otherwise would be binned!
In the age of instant gratification, people and photographers alike have a habit of ‘chimping’, looking at the photograph instantly after taking it to see if it is good or bad, and if you can take another better one. This ultimately causes you to get lost in taking the photo, instead of enjoying the experience.
Film cameras force you to try and get the photo right first try, meaning you put more thought behind each photo, resulting in more meaningful images. You can’t just go around taking a hundred photos of one subject hoping that one is good with film. It would be far too expensive. Instead, with film, you have to take a step back and think about what you are composing. It also creates a sense of excitement for when you get your film back from the lab, to see if you got the exposure right on that photo of the sunset, or if you managed to capture a picture of that bird just before it flew away. This feeling draws thousand of people to film every year and is one reason why you should start film too.
For the vast majority, taking photos is just for documentation, for the memories, for looking back on. Taking loads of photos mean you don’t go through them, and they have less meaning. Combined with the beautiful nostalgia that film produces, and the gorgeous colours, it is extremely pleasant and rewarding to see the photos you have taken from when you were on that safari, or when you were scaling that mountain. There is nothing quite like pouring a nice cup of tea, sitting back on your bed, and looking through your old film photos.
The aesthetic There is no feeling quite like loading in a fresh role of 35mm film into your camera, shutting the back with a click, winding up the film, advancing the film with the film advance leader, and hearing that satisfying click as you take a photo. Traveling with a camera like this is nothing short of amazing either, and locals feel comfortable with you taking a portrait of them after having a friendly chat about your fantastic and nowadays rare camera. It is also immensely rewarding, after shooting your role of film, to wind it back into the canister, open the film door, and hand the film in for processing. When you get the film and scans back, you will see the colours are extremely aesthetic, and normally don’t need any colour grading as film already looks fabulous.
Film lasts forever Last and not least, film lasts literally forever. My Grandma still has her negatives that she took 50 years ago in pristine condition, and while a memory card can be wiped forever if it comes in accidental contact with a magnet, nothing can destroy film unless you physically try to. In addition, printed pictures fade with time, which can be quite frustrating when trying to find photos of your uncle for his 50th!
Now, finding a quality 35mm camera is sometimes difficult because there’s so much choice. Any of the older canon sure shot series are quality and can be found for quite cheap, but the autofocus can sometimes lack the speed of the Pentax Espio point and shoots, which are also another quality option, especially the Pentax Espio 140v and mini. 35mm point and shoots are great options because they are compact and actually produce very sharp photos for their price and are a lot more practical to take to social events, such as a party. Point and shoots require less thought to take photos than SLRs because they are automatic, so all you need to do is literally point, and shoot! Also, the reason I am not recommending famous cameras such as the Olympus Mju, Contax T5 and the likes is because of the recent hype train which has caused them to become extremely expensive.
If you want a quality SLR, again steer clear of the cameras such as canon AE-1, which although is a good camera, has also had a massive price increase due to the increase in youtubers and social media influencers recommending it. If you are to get an SLR, I would recommend getting a fully manual one, or at least part manual, so you can get that control over your photos that you just can’t get with a point and shoot.
For recommendations, I’d go with a more sidelined camera, such as most Konica, Praktica and Ricoh. I recently picked up a Ricoh KR10 Super with a very sharp lens for only £20 off eBay – an absolute bargain. Also, these cameras are built like a tank – they can withstand a lot more than a digital camera such as the Canon M50, which costs about £600!
As for the film itself, I would go for Kodak Gold if your starting off, as it is generally cheaper than Kodak Colorplus and other Fujifilm options. If you want some black and white film, I would definitely recommend Fomapan for those truly vintage monochrome photos.
Also, quick sidenote, the reason I suggest 35mm over medium format is because medium format can get really expensive, really quick, so if you’re a beginner I’d stick with 35mm film and cameras.
Overall, if you are after the dreamy aesthetic of 35mm film with gorgeous colours bursting to the brim, fantastic contrast without any editing, and more meaningful photos, it’s time you treated yourself to a film camera.
Here are a few of my favorite photos that I have taken (with the Ricoh KR10 Super, Kodak Gold):