Many photographers who've grown up with digital may not know how to start with film, which is finding a resurgence. Film photography is also a wonderful hobby, but researching which camera to start with can be intimidating. After all, there's more than a century's worth of film history to consider and figuring out which model is right for you might seem like a sisyphean task.
Heh - I learned on a Kodak Brownie box camera. My folks gifted me with a home darkroom kit (contact prints only) when for my 11th birthday. I've had many a film camera over the years - even an old Beseler Topcon, the first TTL metering camera on the market - mid-60's if I recall - I was senior in high school and worked at the local camera shop. I still have an old Nikon around here somewhere - that hasn't seen use in a decade or more. Also had Honeywell Pentax gear and even a Mamiya TLR (120 film) with interchangeable lenses. I sold a Canon to buy my first digital - an Olympus with .8 MP - yes, point-8, with internal memory only. I could shoot a couple dozen px then had to download and reset the memory. I never looked back.
I guess I'm different. I grew up with film as well but if I were to get a camera for a beginner, I would recommend a digital camera since the price of film and development wouldn't be wasted. The basic fundamentals would still apply to film or digital plus you have a whole new technical processing era that allows so much more versatility and without a darkroom. I have ON1 plugins that simulate just about any type of film look and even era that you could ever want but I can't see myself ever having much of a need for them beyond an attempt to recapture some type of nostalgic ambience.
Hey, I have no problem for those wishing to dabble with film if that's what they want to do. Vinyl records has made a resurgence too but I have no plans to to increase the noise element that science worked so hard to eliminate for my listening pleasure.
I think I agree with Brian about WHY get a film camera, unless you're taking some classes and need film to develop or make prints from. I learned on a gifted Konica T3 and had 2 lenses, I've had that and just about everything in-between that camera and an a wooden 8x10. Miss my Toyo 4x5 and probably my Mamiya RZ67ll, Mamiya 7 and that's probably it. Mostly miss my huge darkroom and 2 4x5 Enlargers.
Would NEVER go back to film, no reason to, everything gets scanned now anyways,
I still have my AE-1 and my Holga. :) I have another Canon film body in the case, too. It might be another AE-1, but I don't remember offhand what it is.
Rich, you asked why and what would you learn... lots! When you don't have the benefit of unlimited SD cards of space, you learn to really consider what you're shooting, both composition-wise and exposure-wise, as you only have 24ish frames to do what you'd like. You take your time and make selective choices. Also, hand processing in a darkroom is one of my favorite experiences. Seeing a blank page materialize into a photograph that I created, right before my eyes, never gets old. Plus, knowing what I know about editing on film informs many of my edits in the digital darkroom. And it's fun. LOL
The same could be said for digital Christi. I took a basic camera course and also a film developing course. At the time I really wanted to do darkroom work but I didn't have much choice in those days as it was well before digital cameras. I lived in an apartment and didn't want to set up in my bathroom and take everything down each time I wanted to develop film. I finally bought a house but by then I was back doing painting. (Now there's where I developed my eye for composition).
This may be the unconventional way but, I believe in most cases speed is more important than making sure my camera settings are perfect. I personally prefer to get the shot(s) and take my time later re-composing the image and improving it without other distractions or pressure. These days I even take multiple shots, later stitching them together for anywhere from a slightly wider angle to panoramic views. Something I "shutter" (pun intended) to think about with film.
I mostly shoot digital today because of the expense of film, and when I shoot film the prints are digital. However, because I started in photography with film, and understood the process, I believe it makes me a better digital photographer. In fact, with my digital camera I have the shutter set at single exposures (not continuous shooting), and I have the screen on the back of the camera turned off. I don't look at the images until back at the computer. So I use a digital camera like a film camera, and thus what works for me is to consecrate more on my craft and the subject I'm making pictures of.
I agree on a couple of your statements. Having a SINGLE roll of film will indeed slow down that process, but I don't know any photographer that EVER went out with a single roll of film! LOL! I never did!
If you REALLY want to SLOW DOWN THE PROCESS, shoot with a 4x5 film camera! EACH SHEET COSTS almost $5 to buy and then get processed!!! And that was YEARS AGO!!!
I do miss my great darkroom I had, but wouldn't go back, since with just basic digital software, I can improve on ANY print that came out of my darkroom, easily with digital files now.
And any good photographer will self-regulate the number of images captured, regardless if film or pixels.....
If you shoot film just because, then fine, more of a hobby than a serious pursuit. I don't know WHERE I would even take the film, if I still had a film camera!
So true when it comes to film cameras but a camera is only a box that keeps the light out. What made the image was the lens (and I guess film quality and processing also played a roll). With medium format cameras I almost always shot Kodak but when shooting 35mm I normally stuck with Fuji.
Regarding the article I've always believed I am a better photographer that I would have been because I started with film. It forces you to get away from the "auto everything" way of shooting. Good thread Frank, thanks for starting it. Brings back memories.
Not sure it has anything to do with the "substrate", whether film or digital. When a person KNOWS composition, then just a few clicks on any camera is all that's needed. Looking at some of the images every night, uploaded to Instagram, discounts that theory. Most if not all, phone-based and beautiful! Many, simply impossible to do on film.
Nothing o better than looking through the back of a 4x5 or 8x10 camera, image upside down and like looking through a window! Shot ALL my Architectural stuff on those cameras, mostly the 4x5. From the contact sheets of 4x5 images to the 4x5 enlargers used to make giant prints, just amazing, but still wouldn't GO BACK!
The two main reasons to shoot film these days would be to shoot black and white of either very high contrast scenes using compensating development or very long exposures in the 20 minute or more range.
A third reason would be certain depth of field effects from larger formats and a fourth would be greater resolution from 8x10 or larger film.