Learn More About Film
So you're going to get into Film? Congratulations on your move! You won't be sorry; an incredible analog adventure awaits (YAY!)
However, due to the large amount of film available and the wide range of prices available, determining which film will fit best for you and the type of shooting you will use can seem like a daunting task. Over the course of this post, I'll show you how to figure out which film stock is best for you as a beginner film photographer, as well as give you tips on how to get great results any time you shoot a film.
Since there are so many different styles and stocks of film available, we'll stick to the "basics": color and black-and-white negatives. They're simple to obtain, and designing them is even easier.
Slow down and give each picture significance and intent. Continuously pressing the shutter without entirely reeling in the composition or framing is much simpler. When it comes to film photography, each roll of film, on the other hand, forces you to reconsider the photograph you're trying to make.
Want to get started on film? Let's talk about Film and how to get started as a beginner photographer and each's functions or features.
Let's dive into everything you need to know to get started with film!
Why Shoot Film?
- It teaches you to “feel” your exposure. Modern cameras have a lot of advanced equipment that is designed to assist photographers in properly exposing their images, and this technology is extremely useful. In comparison to this high-tech equipment, film cameras are antiquated. They necessitate a much deeper understanding of how light works and how to set a camera to capture a scene in the way you want it to be portrayed. Shooting with a film camera forces you to develop this understanding and feeling of light, as well as develop your own technique and style for shooting a scene. This ability is directly transferable to digital photography.
- Less post-processing flexibility strengthens the ability to expose correctly during shooting and decreases dependency on software. When using a digital camera, it is very common to capture an image that is under or overexposed. It's all too quick to chuckle and say, "I'll take care of that in post." You not only can't review your video images until much later, but you also don't have nearly as much post-processing control as you do with the film. A RAW digital file's exposure can be adjusted by about 14 stops in either direction, while a film picture can only be adjusted by around 2 stops in either direction. When shooting a video, it's much more important to get the shot right the first time.
- It introduces intention into your shots. The cheaper price range on average for a roll of film costs about $12.99 on Moment. It takes more time and money to get that created, and then you have to digitize and organize it afterward, which takes more time and supplies. When most people think of photography, they think of clicking the shutter button, but that action is literally the tiniest part of the entire operation! It's difficult not to consider how much time and money went into it before and after you pressed the button. Instead of mashing the shutter button on a digital camera, you'll be more aware of this when shooting film and can frame your images more purposefully, taking fewer pictures but catching more context with each take. (Don't get me wrong: pressing the shutter button can always be entertaining!)
- Shooting with older tech helps you to learn about the history of photography. When you buy your first film camera, you'll undoubtedly want to learn about its origins, which will lead you to learn about the history of photography in general. When you incorporate film photography into your work, you'll find yourself studying popular photographers, old photography methods and equipment, and the history of photography in general. Understanding the similarities and discrepancies between analogue and digital photography, as well as the techniques of the legends, can help you become a better photographer.
- Professional quality at discount prices. Film images are remarkably high quality for old-school technology. A film camera's level of detail and picture sharpness is comparable to that of digital cameras today and is a significant improvement over most mobile phones and point-and-shoot cameras. Due to this supposed obsolescence, high-quality film cameras can be had for a pittance. When my F100 was released in 1999, it cost $1500; I was able to get one for about $150. Comparing the quality of digital and film photographs is a little like comparing apples and oranges, but in general, film photographs may compete with high-quality digital photographs.
Selecting a Film Roll
You've just bought a camera and can't wait to take the first pictures with it. The next move is to purchase a roll of film from Moment. There are a plethora of film options available, just as there are a plethora of camera options. With the increased demand for film, camera companies such as Kodak are ramping up production and also bringing back old films such as Kodachrome.
When buying a new roll of film, three primary considerations should be made: cost, ISO, and the film's color profile. As a beginner, we strongly advise you to begin with the cheapest film available. The first few rolls will be spent getting to know your camera, figuring out which color profiles you want, and figuring out how film varies from digital photography.
ISO (Film Speed)
If you already shoot with a digital camera, you might be familiar with ISO. ISO is basically the film’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the faster the image gets recorded to the film.
With a higher ISO, you also introduce grain (noise) to the photograph. When shooting film, this isn’t as much of a concern as when shooting digital. It’s still something to consider, but film grain has a much more pleasing look than digital noise. That’s why they built in a grain setting to photo editing software!
If you are shooting outdoors, you can go with a lower ISO like 100 or 200. ISO 400 is a nice middle-ground for indoor and outdoor shooting, as is 800. Anything above that would generally only be used indoors or in other poorly lit situations.
Another factor to consider is the color profile of the film you're shooting with. Some films, such as Fujifilm Superia, have a slight green tint and are faded; others, such as Kodak Ektachrome, produce clear, vibrant images. If you're curious about a profile, you can look up examples of photographs taken with that film on Google.
The Difference Between 35mm and 120 Film Formats
There are two types of cameras that use different film stocks: medium format 35mm cameras and wide format 120mm cameras. 35mm films are much smaller and usually have lower prices than 120 films, making them more compact but with fewer details and resolution. Due to the wider format of 120 film, each roll only contains 16 shots or less, as opposed to the normal 36 shots on 35mm film canisters. Adding 120 films to your camera bag is certainly more cumbersome, but the results can be well worth it.
If you're just getting started with film, I'd suggest starting with a 35mm camera; they're less advanced but can produce beautiful images if you shoot the roll properly.
Go-to Film Rolls of our Photographers
Kodak Professional Portra 160
Kodak Professional Portra 160, you know that it’s a color negative film; meaning, it should have a decent amount of versatility within various lighting conditions. You’ll have lots of detail shine through highlights and even a fair amount from the shadows since it’s not quite in contrast to others on this list. It does spectacular with skin undertones. Those with green undertones are bound to look neutral, while folks with a more red undertone will look more natural.
Best For: Photographers needing a colorful alternative to brighter lighting conditions than the Portra 400 or 800.
Kodak Professional Portra 400
The Kodak Professional Portra 400 has extraordinarily warm tones, very good exposure balance, and while its grain is more noticeable it’s still very pleasant looking and adds an extra taste of texture. The high ISO makes photography ideal for lower light shooting, perfect for reception dinners, moody portraits, and blue hour landscapes.
Best For: This film stock is the best for those looking to create photos with Portra 400’s color profile, but with a higher ISO for low light compatibility.
Kodak Ektar 100
Kodak Professional Ektar 100 is a fantastically vibrant film stock that overdramatized colors and hues to seem larger than life, yet still keeps the integrity of the photo. With colorful blues in the skies and crisp detail due to the stocks’ low ISO — Ektar provides a colorway and contrast line that distinguishes itself from the other stocks.
Best For: Photographers looking for a way to set their images apart with a more unique, vibrant colorway.
Frequently Asked Questions about Film
Types of Camera for Film Photography
There are a variety of film formats to choose from, including 35mm (the most popular), medium format, and large format. Each format produces a negative of a different dimension, which corresponds to a different camera size. The amount of detail produced by each size varies, with 35mm producing the least and large format producing the most. Due to their small size and portability, as well as their fair sharpness and overall affordability, 35mm SLRs are the most common film cameras. In the 1970s, professional portrait photographers discovered the medium format camera as a way to achieve higher quality and a shallower depth of field while maintaining relative portability. It's also popular with high-end customers and for magazine editorial shoots. Because of its ability to capture an immense amount of detail, large format photography became common in portrait and landscape photography. It was famously used by Ansel Adams to capture some of the most iconic landscape portraits of all time. Wide-format photography is still used for portrait and landscape photography today.
35mm medium format film cameras can be used for a number of purposes for beginners. With 36 pictures per roll of film, they are, first and foremost, the most cost-effective. They're also the smallest, making them easy to carry or cram into backpacks. They're the perfect video camera to carry around with you everywhere you go. Most importantly, they are the easiest to learn and use because they have the most basic designs. They still have the most room for growth. While larger formats are only available to high-end buyers and professionals, 35mm cameras come in a variety of price points, from entry-level to advanced.
How much does medium format film cost?
The price starts at $7.89, but we are committed to going beyond a price tag and offering the best features to carry your photo gear in one place.
How to Scan your Film Negatives
We found the perfect tool for scanning strips or full rolls of 35mm film quickly, easily, and best of all, affordably. Utilizing a digital camera (DSLR, mirrorless, etc.) to capture your scans, most Basic Film Carrier 35 owners can utilize a digital camera they already own. Many modern digital cameras, from entry-level to professional, will allow you to make beautiful film scans with this device. With a solid hand-assembled build, the body of the device is produced in-house using a proprietary process pioneered by Negative Supply utilizing 3D Printed Carbon Fiber PETG and bonded Tolex (what’s on the outside of audio equipment and guitar amplifiers). Using fasteners, 3D Printing, and the very best 3M adhesive, we believe this device solidly lives up to the Negative Supply standards.
At a Photo Lab
For as low as $1 each, photo labs can professionally convert your slides to digital images and scan your film negatives, upload them for web download and send you a CD or thumb drive with your scanned images. If you have a lot of slides, professionally digitizing your slides is much quicker and generally better than you will be able to do on your own. Here are some key points to consider:
- Price – For about $1 scan, you can select the images you want or just send images in bulk. If you have time, you can consider scanning them yourself. There’s a $10 minimum order.
- Quality – Our slide-scanning services can deliver very high-quality scans of your slides that will look good even when printed in large formats. For old slides or negatives, the chosen Photo Lab can scan technology to reduce dust spots. A 35mm Kodachrome slide, if taken in focus and not damaged, should provide approximately a 20-megapixel image with a higher resolution scan.
- Prints – the chosen Photo Lab can also print your photos in a variety of sizes (4×6, 5×7, 8×10, and 11×14) and even apply your images to photo gifts, such as mugs, ornaments, and aluminum art.
Choosing the Best Film for your Creative Story
If you need help deciding which film camera would leverage your creative eye, contact one of our Gear Guides. We’ll match you to the right guide based on your experience and style, and help to find the right film camera for you.