An Introduction To Film Cameras


Photo by Yoann Siloine on Unsplash


This article is the second part of our two-part series in which we explore film photography. You can read the first part of this series here!


Now that you know the art behind film photography, this part of our series on film photography will be a complete guide to help you choose your very first film camera and understand the process of developing good photos. Let’s start off with the most common type of camera. If you have not noticed, there is a trend of using a particular type of film camera: The 35mm camera. 35mm comes from the length of film used in these cameras. It is known that most of these cameras are single-lens reflex (SLR) which means that it has only one lens and a mirror that forms a reflex image from the reflection of the mirror. This is to help photographers view the captured image from the lens.



Photo by Paul Gaudriault on Unsplash


The first recommended 35mm camera would be the Canon EOS. It is a great beginner’s camera that was made in the 90s. It is a digital single-lens reflex camera. Most of us from this generation are more familiar with using digital cameras compared to older film cameras. This is why the Canon EOS is a great camera for anyone who is taking the step in switching to a film camera as you are able to get the vintage experience of a film camera as well as incorporating the digital aspect into the experience. Literally, having the best of both worlds. Next, we have the Olympus OM-1. It was the first product that was released from Olympus’ OM series. This camera is great for street photography as one of the many functions that people admire about this camera is the quality of the shutter speed. Overall, it is an excellent camera to start with. Many TikTok users would know about the hype surrounding disposable cameras. Yes, disposable cameras are a way for you to have fun with film photography. There is no right or wrong as all you have to do is snap a picture. The outcome is uncertain but eventually as you progress you will definitely get the hang of it.


Now that we have discussed the best film cameras for you, let’s talk about the basic functions you can expect to use with your camera. The golden trio as some would call it. The first would be the ISO. It is the overall sensitivity of your camera. To put it plainly, when you are in a darker environment, your ISO should be higher and vice versa. It may take a while to play around with the ISO settings, but that is what makes photography fun! Just be patient and experiment with everything. Here are some cheat notes for your chosen ISO setting in different lightings, according to MacPaw.

  • In sunny weather, 100 - 200 ISO

  • On cloudy days or when taking indoor shots with light from a bright window, 300 - 500 ISO

  • When taking indoor shots with natural light or evening shots with low light, 600-1,000 ISO

  • When taking handheld indoor shots in low light and shots taken at dusk without a tripod, 1,000 + ISO


Moving on to shutter speed, it is the duration of time when your shutter is open after you click the shutter button. One thing to remember is that the more time you set for your shutter speed, the shakier your camera gets. This is why if you are to set it that way, do use a tripod to avoid any shaky or blurry pictures. To shoot normal portraits, the standard setting would be 1/60. You can gradually increase it if you are shooting more fast-paced scenes.


Finally, we have the aperture. It is the size of the opening of a camera’s lenses. It is slightly similar to the shutter speed as both focus on the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor. The size of the aperture on your camera will determine the amount of light that comes in. The smaller the aperture, the less light comes in, while the bigger the aperture, the more light comes in. After understanding these three key functions of a film camera, you can start experimenting with them by combining all three together and seeing which works best.


This brings us to the end of this two-part series! Let’s see what are some handy tricks that other film photographers use for taking great photographs according to Shoot It With Film. First of all, take things slowly. It cannot be emphasised enough but great things come with a lot of patience and failure. The next thing would be to start shooting manually. It can be stressful at first as you are not familiar with the settings but over time, you will get the hang of it and you will be able to take amazing photographs. Finally, ask questions! Do not be afraid to ask if you are not sure about something. Asking questions and doing your own research will benefit you greatly in the long run.


At the end of the day, photography is an art in and of itself. There is no right or wrong. Everyone has a different approach to it. Anytime you feel like the photos you take do not live up to images captured by other photographers, just remember that photography is subjective and different people perceive it differently. This should not hinder you from exploring and learning new things.


By Pavitrashini Ganesan

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