Film has been around for almost 200 years, but have you ever shot a roll? Depending on your age and experience, there is a good chance you have only ever known digital capture. But for this assignment, we encourage you to return to the classic medium of 35mm film. There is something magical about exposing film, and getting back to basics is not only a good discipline, but a fun and rewarding experience. Because you have to treat film with more respect than digital, you tend to slow down, think more, and shoot less. This will help you to refine and perfect your technique.
If you don’t already have a film camera gathering dust in a cupboard somewhere, visit a thrift store or look on an auction site like eBay. Top-quality 35mm SLRs can be purchased for very little, and within days you can be exposing silver halide. Like vinyl in the music world, film is having a renaissance and there is a wide variety of color and black-and-white negative films readily available online. If you like mono, llford H P5 and Kodak T-Max 1 00 are popular choices, or perhaps try Kodak Portra if you favor color. Load your film into the camera and you are ready to have some fun …
View the images
- If you buy film in any quantity, prolong its lifespan by keeping it refrigerated.
- Digital sensors are better at recovering shadow detail than highlights. Negative film is the opposite-retaining highlight detail but recording less shadow information. Therefore, err on the side of overexposure.
- You shouldn’t have any issues finding a good professional lab where you can get film developed. Search online or enquire at a local photography store. Most labs will develop your film and scan the negatives so you have a digital copy.
- Loading a roll of 35mm film is quite straightforward. Open the film back, place the roll on the left, and pull the leader across to a white or red dot (for auto-loading cameras) or thread it on the spool at the right before closing the back. Motorized cameras will wind to the first frame automatically, but you will need to use the thumb lever to wind and shoot one or two blank frames on older cameras.
- Film camera
- Rolls of color and/or black-and-white film