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5 Ways to get into film Photography

Shoot Negative film

Many photographers who still extol the virtues of film, express their love of slide film, saying they wouldn’t bother shooting anything else. When I took to film photography with gusto, I initially went down the path of slide film, and found the early results disappointing, the murky dark underexposed photos that I remember from my youth. I wondered what the fuss was all about.

If you are interested in shooting film, I recommend you start out shooting iso 400 negative film like Kodak Portra 400 or Fuji Pro400H. The reason is that negative film has significantly higher exposure latitude than slide film, a higher dynamic range. This may give it less contrast; less punch than a slide film, but it will give you better results to begin with so you don’t throw in the towel before you’ve got yourself established.

Slide film proponents state that a slide is what you captured, whereas a negative requires another level of processing to arrive at the final result. In this regard it does help to have a good lab processing and scanning your film, but I would argue that if you want total control of your photographic process, then surely that is what digital photography is all about. If you want to spend hours in from of your computer retouching your images in Lightroom and photoshop, go for your life.
If you enjoy the look of slide film, try Kodak Ektar. It is a super saturated negative film, it doesn’t have quite the same exposure latitude than say portra (which is derived from Movie film technology), but it will give you a wicked look (see below).

Velvia 50 is a lovely saturated fine grained sharp landscape film, but I wouldn’t recommend shooting it until you can nail your exposures with negative film.
Buy yourself a roll of Fuji Velvia, get out and experiment to see how you get on, just be aware slide film is for experts, so don’t be disheartened when the results return. Depending on the camera you use, you may not have the fine adjustment of aperture and shutter speed to give yourself the correct exposure, it’s not your fault.

Have a look in the attic

You may think that you don’t have a film camera, so you wouldn’t know where to start with film photography. Luckily for you, most people still have boxes full of old camera equipment stashed away in the attic. Go and have a look and see what you can find. Cameras are valuable, so rarely get tossed in the bin.

When you buy and shoot film, your money is going into the film, not the camera. The quality of the film you buy and the processing and scanning you pay for is what gives you good results. Any half decent camera with a prime lens will do just fine. You may even happen upon a medium format camera, and that is a really fun way to get going in film.