Yesterday Instagramer, Today Film Photographer
I wanted to write this article some time ago, right after publishing first Instagram article. But some stuff kept me from doing it, but big news about selling of Instagram to Facebook, made me to write this faster than I hoped 🙂
First of all let me tell you that I think this article would be much better with infogram, but as I am too lazy for that crap and I am bad with any kind of graphic software, real text and pretty camera pictures will have to suffice.
So that now your lovable Instagram is owned by Evil Facebook Empire, it’s time to call quit on it like many other smart people have done. If you are wondering what to do now, answer is start shooting real thing, which is called FILM – enter #believeinfilm.
As title suggests this article will about what camera to choose after you decide to embrace wonderful life of film photography. First question would be if know what exposure is and how to measure it. If you know, then consider yourself lucky. There are bunch of metering apps for your latest iPhone or other iGadget. This would be one branch of “tree”, while other one would for those whom are yet to learn metering or just want to take pictures without too much thought. Lomography cameras would be good fit for these people, but I won’t suggest them because they are overpriced and there are better ones out there, which I will try to suggest 🙂
So let’s start with easier ones. These would with simple Point n’ Shoot’s or Auto Focus/ Auto Exposure modern film SLR’s. But if you can survive, focusing manually, then there are several more camera types available to you.
As said before most basic and cheapest solution is 35mm Point and Shoot cameras. You just compose shot trough small viewfinder at top part of camera and push button, and Voila picture is “recorded” on film. I have FujiFilm DL-25 myself. Most of these cameras have inbuilt flash, which is used when camera thinks there is too little light, although I think it always try to use it. Some of better models have a button to turn flash OFF. Another fun camera is Vivitar EZ Point ‘n Shoot Big View with big finder, which is very helpful for beginners. Next level above this would be same P&S but with zoom lens. You can zoom in and out with these lenses WHOAA!!, like you can do it with your phone or digital camera. Keep in mind that most lenses extend far out of camera when zoomed in, so don’t go running around with lens extended and crash somewhere. Camera won’t say “Thank you” to you. Several cheap cameras would be Minolta Riwa Zoom 75W or one of Olympus Stylus Epic zoom range cameras. These cameras are nice and easy to use, but offer very little creative control over exposure once you have mastered it. Over time you will see that most photos taken with these cams look too plain, with everything in focus and over-the-top flash usage. As you have understood main subject can’t be separated from background using sharpness as artistic method with these cameras.
As today some very good automatic 35mm film cameras can be had for very low prices. They look like today’s DSLR (those big cameras, which makes loud noise when taking picture), but takes 35mm film. These cameras opposite from P&S allow making various artistic effects, like blurred out objects/background, stop motion or blur out motion. They also allow changing lenses, giving you ability to use normal, wide, telephoto and other weird kind of lenses. By using one of suggested cameras there is high like hood that at least one of your friends will have digital SLR made by same manufacturer. If above true, then you should be able to borrow some lenses from them and keep costs down. Some good and cheap models are Nikon F80, F75 maybe F65 (For American market it’s N80, N75 and N65), but please don’t go lower than this. There is no price difference, but for example F55 won’t auto focus with newest lenses and doesn’t support Nikon’s image stabilization technology (VR). For Canon I would say EOS 5 (EOS A2) or EOS 7/7s (EOS 30/30V). I listed these two companies because they have widest selection of used lens, which can be picked up for cheap. Of course there is also Pentax, Minolta and etc., but these are less common. So if you go with these cameras spend a few coins more and get a decent mid/high range camera instead of entry level, because price difference is negligible between them but former offers more controls, better auto focus, metering and much more durable body. Besides many of entry level cameras comes in ugly silver colored plastic. And lastly these cameras come with inbuilt diopter adjustment knob or switch, so you don’t have to take your glasses on and off.
If you feel like big boy then you can buy manual SLR camera, but this way you have to focus manually and for older models you also have to set exposure settings by hand. For this you must use handheld meter, or metering app from smart phone. Another option is to use Sunny 16 rule, but using it properly requires better understanding about light, exposure and some experience with it. On other hand there are aperture priority cameras, where you set aperture and camera meters for yourself and decides which shutter speed to use. Some of most popular manual focus cameras are Pentax K1000, Nikon F2/F3 and their “almost as good as” cheaper brother Nikon FM. From Canon camp check out AE-1 Program or F-1. You can’t go wrong with any of these beauties.
Last on my little list would be Polaroid Land cameras there is huge amount of different models. Here is biggest source of information about Land cameras – http://www.rwhirled.com/landlist/landdcam-pack.htm. These are different from standard Polaroid cameras you may know. Land cameras have peel-apart type of film instead of one that comes out from some mystical hole in camera. Also pictures are of much higher quality, if you can hold it steady as their lenses are “slow”. And lastly but not least, as these pack films are also made by FujiFilm their prices are pretty affordable apart from Integral film (one which comes out from camera after picture is taken) which is only made by Impossible Project.
Take note that article doesn’t include medium and large format cameras whom exposes considerably larger film size than 35mm cameras, thus have increased quality in details and yield better prints if other conditions are the same. Most of these cameras are much more expensive than ones I suggested and require considerable skill to use them properly plus price per each picture taken is higher. Also recommended cameras are only tiny part of film camera world and there is high likehood that other cameras may be better suited for your style. Cameras I have suggested are cheap ones as I tried to stay away from expensive and some hard to operate models. It’s one of joys of film photography that you can jump in with very little money and get results of modern high-end DSLR’s whose costs may reach thousands of dollars. Best place to shop for good and working cameras would be eBay, but stay away from much abused ones and those that are listed “AS-IS”. In this case chances are that repair costs may be higher than camera’s worth.
For my America friends there is great used camera site www.keh.com, after search you can choose from various visual conditions of cameras, from scratched one to ones with whom you can wipe baby’s ass. Great positive aspect of this site is that there are no problems returning camera back to them if it’s not working. Opposite from eBay where item returns can be a pain in arse. And lastly there are thrift stores where cameras can be picked up for dollar or little more, but be vary that these cameras may need some repairs. On other hand they can be you best buy, ever.
As always i am looking forward for suggestions, comments, replies and questions.