Fun with 35mm film

I’ve had a lot of fun over the last week playing with some old-school 35mm film cameras, which remind me of the very first proper camera I used, my Dad’s old Nikon F-301. Using a film camera again reminds me of the patience you had to have when using film, the way you could set the camera up before each shot but have no idea until later on whether the settings had done the trick. No instant preview. No delete button. Not a histogram in sight.

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[Image: Wikipedia/Red Boes

The different characteristics of film: “sunny” Kodachrome 200, “serious” Ilford Delta Black & White 400. At university, I spent a while in my first term in the darkroom on campus, trying to develop some black and white negatives. I can still remember the thrill of seeing the image appear onto the paper as if by magic.

I experimented with slide film, doing a photo shoot in Exeter Cathedral on a bright winter’s day. The challenge of getting it all right, because slide film is brutally honest about where you’ve not exposed properly. Getting the slides back in the post and marvelling at how real the images looked.

You can find all sorts of old 35mm SLR cameras on eBay these days. The flagship Nikon F100 is being sold for a tenth of its original price. I love digital, the convenience of “developing”, editing and printing digital photos, and the ability to share and discuss your hobby with others around the world. With 35mm film, though, there’s a chance to step back a bit and appreciate the history of how we got here in the first place. Next time you’re second-hand shopping, why not grab a bargain film camera and enjoy a bit of old-school photo shoots yourself?