Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What do you need to start film photography?

1 - Camera

Look for an SLR - Pentax, Olympus, Canon or Nikon - with a prime lens - no zoom - on ebay.
A full manual camera might be a bit of challenge, so one with auto exposure and auto focus to start.
The Nikon F100 is a great camera but it has increased in price, you will probably be able to find a decent SLR with a prime lens, very likely a 50mm 1.8 - for around 40£.

2 - Film

you have 3 choices for film
  • B&W : only really if you want to develop your on film which is easier that you think and pretty cheap
  • Negative/Print : Great tolerance to exposure, Portra 400 is a great choice. Easy to get develop at boots or tesco.
  • Positive/Slide : very fine details, great for landscape but dearer than negative and exposure need to be spot on.
For a start go for negative film, try with cheap roll of kodak you can sometimes found at Poundland, or check discountfilmdirect. You can try slide for fun, but it really take is potential if you focus on landscape.
Eventually to go further you will have to try and develop your on B&W, it's fun and once you are setup can be pretty cheap.

3 - Process/Scanning

You will need to find a lab that those process and scan - prices vary a lot -, eventually you might want to invest in a scanner. The one that everybody uses is the Epson V700, 350£. It scans 35mm, medium format and 4x5.
If you start to fill serious about film photography just save the money and buy the V700, you won't regret it.

a few quite cheap online one :
Fuji Digital Imaging Service
Photo express
It use to be much more expensive the last time I checked so it is very good news.

The cost

to start :
5 24 film10£
5 process + scan27.5.£
120 Photos77.5£
a bit less 65p per photo going down progressively to 31p. Is that dear? Maybe but how much does a digital SLR cost? how many photo that you take with your DSLR do you actually print or look at it again? How much time to you spend post processing in Photoshop? How much time do you spend looking at the back of your camera as oppose to through the lens? If you don't have a DSLR and want to start photography with film you don't need a massive initial investment.

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