FILM PHOTOGRAPHY FAQs
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Is Film Photography Making A Comeback?
Yes, it is making a comeback - big time! Several new films have been introduced in 2022. Old film cameras have increased in pricing, and while good repair technicians are hard to find, more repair shops are opening up across the country. For more information, read this article on film photography revival.
What Are The Common Film Formats?
Films are available in color and black & white (BW). 35mm is the most common film format. It is available in a tin canister and typically has 36 exposures. If you buy a disposable film camera, it typically has 27 exposures. Individual rolls are also available in 24 exposures. Two decades ago, 12 exposure rolls were available in 35mm format.
The second most common film format is 120 format. It is not 120mm, as many mistakenly refer to it. 120 is the name Kodak gave to the film that is bigger than a 35mm film. 120 is also known as medium format or referred to as 120 rolls.
Lastly, there is the 4x5” or large format film. The 8x10” format is also available, though not as widely used due to its high cost.
It is to be noted that color film comes in two varieties; C41 processing (most common) and E6 or slide format, which is also known as positive film as it renders the actual image on the film base, unlike the C41 negative films, which goes through a reversal process when scanned or printed.
BW films mostly come in a negative format with a handful of reversal or positive films, such as the Adox Scala 35 film.
Technically speaking, instant films such as Instax or Polaroid are also part of the film family.
What Is The Difference Between A Disposable Camera And A Reusable Camera?
Both use the 35mm film format in color (C41) and BW. With a disposable camera ($14 - $29), when you are finished taking the pictures (typically 27 frames or exposures), you send the camera to a photo developing service where they break open the camera to get the film canister out of it and then develop it. It is a single-use camera. It also has a AAA battery to power the flash in it.
The reusable camera is similar with one important difference - when you are done taking the pictures, you can remove the film roll and insert a new one. The reusable cameras cost $30-50 and also have a flash.
Lens-wise, both cameras are built using plastic lenses, which are cheaply made and add a unique look to the images. A bit dreamy, perhaps, a vintage look. Reusable cameras in the $30-50 range typically last for about 20 rolls. The advantage of the reusable cameras is that you can try out a wide variety of films on them. With disposable cameras, they are only available in a 400 ISO or 800 ISO sensitivity - typically, a Kodak or a Fuji film.
Technically, all SLR, point and shoot, rangefinder film cameras would be considered reusable cameras.
Note that there are no (at least not yet) disposable 120 format film cameras.
For those sensitive to reducing their carbon footprint, note that disposable cameras end up in landfill though some percentage of them are recycled.
What Is Film Developing? What Is The Difference Between Developing And Processing?
When exposed to light, the film starts an immediate chemical reaction that records what is known as a latent (hidden, concealed, or non-developed) image. The film has to undergo a multi-step chemical process to reveal that latent image. That is known as developing or development. Color films go through a different set of chemicals compared to BW.
Some folks use development interchangeably with processing. Today, we (I) use the term processing to include additional steps of scanning the negative and/or printing the images. That is not an industry standard definition. We use it to differentiate a Customer wanting just developing versus the complete service.
We process color (C41 & E6) and BW films in 35mm, 120 medium format, and 4x5” large format.
What Is An SLR Camera? A TLR Camera? A Rangefinder (RF) Camera?
Single Lens Reflex (SLR) as opposed to Twin Lens Reflex (TLR). In an SLR, the light travels through the lens and reflects off a mirror (that flips up when you press the shutter so that the light reaches the film behind the curtain) onto a pentaprism that is housed in the pyramid-shaped top of the camera to be seen through the viewfinder. This shows you the image as it will be recorded on the film.
In a TLR, there are two lenses; a viewing lens on the top and the taking lens on the bottom. What you see through the viewing lens is not necessarily what is recorded on the film inside the camera. The 120 medium format cameras are popular in the TLR format though many have adapters to use 35mm film.
A Rangefinder (RF) camera has a viewing window that allows light into the housing to brighten the view and a viewfinder. A mirror sits at an angle inside the housing, reflecting the image from the viewing window into the viewfinder, thus showing you the frame you will be shooting. As the lens plays no role in the composition of the picture, if you accidentally leave the lens cap on, you would take blank pictures without realizing it. RF cameras come in coupled mode and uncoupled mode. In the coupled mode, adjusting the focusing of the RF focuses the lens. In the uncoupled mode, you have to set the focus on the lens by moving the lens based on the distance scale on the lens. In such a camera, the viewfinder simply acts as an aid to compose the frame or your shot.
What Is A Good Beginner Film Camera?
This is a commonly asked question that generates quite a debate. Globally, in photography classes, the most commonly used cameras are three 35mm cameras; the Pentax K1000, the Canon AE-1, and the Olympus OM series cameras. The K1000 is a minimalistic camera, just like the Olympus OM cameras can be operated in full manual mode. A battery is needed only if you plan on using the built-in light meter. The Canon AE-1 and AE-1 Program are intensely popular, but if the battery dies, the shutter stops working. So, the battery is needed for the camera operation and the light meter.
All three models have a great selection of lenses. The K1000 is the least expensive in terms of cost, followed by the Canon and the Olympus.
We sell film cameras with a 30-day warranty and include a 1-hour Coaching session in-person or through a video call.