Latest sample galleries
Latest in-depth reviews
The Tamron 50-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD boasts an impressive zoom range in a relatively compact package. How does it perform? We took a look.
|Photos Dan Bracaglia|
Film photography is alive and well. Though digital photography is by far the dominant medium, film is still around, and has been growing in popularity over the last decade as photographers discover (or re-discover) the joys of chemical, analog photography. There's also a healthy supply of good used film cameras and many of varieties of film still on the market.
So how does one take the plunge into analog photography? This edition of the 'Absolute beginner’s guide to film photography,' (our first) will cover the bare necessities – what you need to get started.
No surprise there! But what kind of a film camera should you get? We recommend starting with a camera that uses 35mm film, as it's the most common format and offers the broadest variety of equipment.
If you're eager to get that 'film look' with the least amount of fuss, we recommend a compact point-and-shoot camera, which is easy to load and makes most of the exposure decisions for you (and usually makes them correctly).
We recommend starting with a camera that uses 35mm film, as it's the most common format and offers the broadest variety of equipment
If you're a more experienced photographer, you'll perhaps want an SLR or rangefinder that allows you to take more creative control. Auto-focus SLRs offer an experience similar to DSLRs, while manual-focus, manual-wind cameras require more involvement and present an enjoyable challenge. We'll talk more about types of cameras in future articles.
What about lenses? For cameras made after 1990, a couple of general-purpose zooms in the range of 28-85mm and 70-200mm should get you started. For older cameras, prime (fixed focal length) lenses offer better optical quality. Most SLR cameras came with a 50mm lens in the F1.7 - F2 range, which is a good place to start, and a 28mm wide-angle is a common second purchase.
|There's plenty of film camera options out there, from very affordable to very pricey.|
First, ask around! Chances are you have relatives or friends who have old film cameras sitting in a closet that they are happy to give away or sell cheap. If you're going to buy gear (in the US), dealers like KEH, Robert’s Camera, and B&H are the safest way to go. They grade their gear so you'll know what kind of condition it's in, and they usually offer a guarantee and carry a healthy inventory of compatible lenses. Prices will be a little higher than buying from an individual seller; you're paying for peace-of-mind. Your local camera store may have used gear as well.
Chances are you have relatives or friends who have old film cameras sitting in a closet that they are happy to give away or sell cheap
Estate and garage sales are great hunting grounds for cheap gear. Auction sites are a treasure trove, but the chances of getting a dud are much higher. Troll the sites to get an idea of prices, but buy with caution.
Remember, you don't need to spend a lot on a camera to get great pictures. You should be able to get a perfectly good camera for less than $100 (and sometimes less than $20). If you need help, ask in our Film Photography Talk forum.
|It's best to start out shooting with affordable films like Kodak Ultramax (bottom) and Ilford HP5 Plus (top), rather than pricer stocks like Kodak Portra or Fujifilm Natura.|
Film is the medium on which analog cameras record their images. Basic film types include print and slide film, both of which come in color and black-white varieties. We'll be adding a guide in the future, diving into their differences.
For most folks, we recommend starting with color print (a.k.a. color negative) film, as it's the least expensive and easiest to get processed. Kodak ColorPlus 200 is cheap and has a nice vintage look. And while shooting film isn't much more difficult than shooting digital, beginner mistakes are always a possibility, so it's best to start with something low-cost.
For most folks, we recommend starting with color print (a.k.a. color negative) film, as it's the least expensive and easiest to get processed
A lot of film photography classes use B&W film, primarily because it's much easier to process by hand than color film. (Also, it looks really cool.) B&W film is often a bit cheaper than color print film, but processing may be more expensive. We don't recommend starting with color slide film as it requires perfect exposure to get good results.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Some cameras set film speed automatically, but others require you to set it manually. Be sure to set the ISO/ASA dial/switch to match the film speed, and don't change it mid-roll!
Most local camera stores still stock film, and you can mail-order it from online retailers like Freestyle and B&H. Film does have an expiration date, and we advise beginners to avoid expired film as it produces unpredictable results.
Chances are your analog camera will need some type of battery. (Mechanical cameras can usually operate without batteries, but their built-in light meters can't – and you’ll want a working meter). Later model film cameras will likely take AAs or lithium batteries that are easy to find.
Older manual cameras often take button batteries (S76 or LR44) that will last years, if not decades. Very old cameras may take 1.35V mercury cells which are no longer available, but there are workarounds. WeinCell offers mercury-free batteries that put out the proper voltage, and voltage converters for modern 1.5V batteries are also available. In general, we'd advise first-timers to avoid older mercury cell cameras.
Film has to be developed, so you'll need a lab to process it for you. If you live near a moderately-sized city, you should have no problem finding a place to process your film, and there are also several mail-order labs. Search in Google and be sure to check prices. Expect to pay $10-$20 to develop a roll (more if you want scans and prints).
Expect to pay $10-$20 to develop a roll (more if you want scans and prints)
Most labs will scan your film, make paper prints, or do both. Some labs offer cut-rate processing by tossing the negatives and having you download scans. Don't do it! Get those negatives back – you'll want them in case you want to get better scans or have the photos reprinted at a later date.
What about developing your own film? B&W is a pretty easy and affordable to process, and while we wouldn't recommend it for absolute beginners, it's an easy skill to learn. If you are curious, we recommend reading our guide: Developing at home: everything you need to know.
Color processing requires more precision and higher temperatures, and is best suited to those who already have experience with B&W processing.
|Having a second body (preferably in the same mount) is a handy way to shoot two different film stocks at the same time.|
You don't need a lot of gear to get started in film, but there are a few accessories that can enhance the experience.
Film cameras are generally less complex than digitals, but the controls differ greatly. Paul Butkus' Orphan Camera site has manuals for over 5,000 different cameras, and we highly recommend getting yours. Paul doesn't charge anything, but please consider supporting him with a donation.
Film cameras have no image stabilization and most films are in the ISO 100-400 range, with ultra-high ISO films (1600-3200) producing a grainier image. That means you'll need to stabilize your camera sooner than you might in digital. If you're shooting in conditions darker than an overcast day, a tripod will help.
One body with 100-speed film and another with 400 protects you if the clouds roll in, and running color film in one camera and B&W in another gives you more creative possibilities
Film can benefit from a simple UV filter, which cuts down on haze and also protects one's lens. If shooting B&W, a yellow or red filter can give you better sky tones.
If you fill up your memory card, you can always delete a few photos – but you obviously can't do that with film, and it's inevitable you'll get to the end of a roll when there are still plenty of good photos to be taken. Always pack an extra roll of film or two. When you get back home, store unused rolls in the refrigerator or freezer.
This isn't a recommendation for absolute beginners, but at some point you may want to consider a second photo body (compatible with your first if you use an SLR). Why? With film, you can't change ISO on the fly, nor can you change from color to black-and-white – but you can have a second body loaded with a second type of film. One body with 100-speed film and another with 400 protects you if the clouds roll in, and running color film in one camera and B&W in another gives you more creative possibilities.
If the cameras use the same lens mount, you only need carry one set of lenses. And your second camera doesn't have to be the same model – a $50 Canon Rebel 2000 makes a great back-up body for your $200 Canon EOS 1N.
That's it for the first edition of our 'Absolute beginner’s guide to film photography'. Hopefully you've found the information here useful. And we look forward to adding more guides in the near future, diving deeper into specific film photography topics. Until then, happy shooting!
Our 'Absolute beginner’s guide to film photography' is an educational series of articles focused on demystifying the ins and outs of analog photography. Geared toward those discovering (or re-discovering) film, the series will cover everything from gear, to technique and more.
Sep 16, 2022
Sep 30, 2022
Sep 23, 2022
Film Friday: Car maker Pagani teams up with camera company Gibellini for a $75,000 large format camera
Sep 9, 2022
The Tamron 50-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD boasts an impressive zoom range in a relatively compact package. How does it perform? We took a look.
What’s the best camera for around $2000? These capable cameras should be solid and well-built, have both speed and focus for capturing fast action and offer professional-level image quality. In this buying guide we’ve rounded up all the current interchangeable lens cameras costing around $2000 and recommended the best.
What's the best camera for shooting landscapes? High resolution, weather-sealed bodies and wide dynamic range are all important. In this buying guide we've rounded-up several great cameras for shooting landscapes, and recommended the best.
If you're looking for the perfect drone for yourself, or to gift someone special, we've gone through all of the options and selected our favorites.
Most modern cameras will shoot video to one degree or another, but these are the ones we’d look at if you plan to shoot some video alongside your photos. We’ve chosen cameras that can take great photos and make it easy to get great looking video, rather than being the ones you’d choose as a committed videographer.
Although a lot of people only upload images to Instagram from their smartphones, the app is much more than just a mobile photography platform. In this guide we've chosen a selection of cameras that make it easy to shoot compelling lifestyle images, ideal for sharing on social media.
|_SDI2370bw by rick decker|
from Crashing Wave
|Winter Days by DaveN01|
|IMG_750-16662-2 Dusty drive by Jill Hancock|
from Daylight Pictures of Modern Trucks in Action
|2019_0720_163302AA by old shutter bugger|
from In The Style Of EDWARD WESTON's Sitll Lifes
|Annas Hummingbird over Mexican Sunflower by Fishchris|
from A Big Year - Birds 2022
Peep some pixels from the hefty 100 megapixel files created by the new Hasselblad X2D 100C, as we prepare our DPReview TV review of the camera.
About 95% of Earth's oceans haven't been observed. Researchers at MIT have built a battery-free, wireless underwater camera that may help scientists explore more of the oceans.
Drone manufacturer DJI has moved its staff into an innovative and masterfully-designed new building in Shenzhen, China. Here is a first look.
We (metaphorically) sat down with Brandon Faith of Baggen Photos to ask him a few questions about what it's like to photograph motorsports events with his Crown Graphic large format camera.
Sony's new 320GB and 640GB 'Tough' CFexpress Type A cards are due out next month and while the 640GB card will offer the most storage of any Type A card to date, it doesn't come cheap.
Adobe's Photoshop and Premiere Elements apps make editing photos and videos easy for users of all skill levels. The latest versions add more editing tools, more AI features and improved performance.
The Sony FX30 is an explicitly video-focused camera, but could its technology herald a refresh of the company's APS-C stills line-up? We have a look at what that might mean.
The lens offers a constant F2.8 aperture through a rather unique focal length range for full-frame camera systems. It’s expected to be available starting October 27, 2022 for $699.
Can AI overcome the physical limitations of smartphone sensors and lenses? A Qualcomm executive thinks so, thanks in large part to improvements in processing power, hardware and artificial intelligence.
We're starting to see cameras offering 'open gate' video recording, so what is this tool and when is it useful?
The Sony FX30 is a 4K/120p-capable Super35 / APS-C cinema camera that wants to take the battle to the likes of Panasonic's GH series.
Sony's FX30 Super35/APS-C Cinema Line camera is effectively a crop-sensor version of the company's full-frame FX3 camera with sensor-based image stabilization, oversampled 4K/60p capture and '16-bit' Raw output and more.
If you've ever wanted to become an action figure, Hasbro is providing you the opportunity with its new 3D-printed Selfie Series action figures.
When you store photos on the cloud, you expect them to remain safe for a long time. However, some Google Photos users were scared over the weekend when they realized that their photo libraries had become corrupted.
DALL-E's Outpainting feature uses AI to expand existing images and artwork. Ad agency Ogilvy Paris has used Outpainting to expand Johannes Vermeer's famous painting, 'The Milkmaid.'
iOS 16.0.2 addresses, amongst other bug fixes, a problem wherein the second-generation sensor-shift image stabilization tech was causing camera shake issues in some third-party apps.
For the past eight years, the Library of Congress has been working on figuring out the subjects in a large collection of film, TV and music photos. Many of the mysteries have been solved. However, 17 photos have eluded the LC's best efforts, and the public's help is needed to help put names to the final unknown faces.
After having to pull the initial firmware update last month due to an issue that caused some units to stop working, Sony has re-released firmware version 1.1 for its a7 IV full-frame mirrorless camera.
Sigma's latest wide Art-badged prime for full frame is capable of some stunning landscapes. Check out a new batch of sample photos in the gallery.
Winners for this year's annual Comedy Pet Photo Awards have been announced.
While visiting the team in Seattle, Chris and Jordan attempt to eat some chowder. It's difficult. Also, this week they are puppets.
Meike has released its first adapter for Nikon Z cameras. The new MK-EFTZ-B adapter allows Nikon Z users to attach Canon EF and EF-S lenses to their cameras, complete with autofocus and automatic exposure functionality.
The Canon 5D Mark II was released in November 2008. Since then, a photographer used theirs to capture nearly 2.3 million images, which is an average of about 450 photos per day if they shot every single day. The camera is still going strong for its new owner.
Capture One for iPad users cvan now connect their camera, wired or wirelessly, to their iPad for quick image transfers without the need for memory cards and readers.
Digital film scanners can be pricey, so Lomo's latest scanners let shooters do it themselves. Whether you have a digital camera, or simply a smartphone, there's a DigitaLIZA that'll work with your kit. But are the results any good? Let's find out.
The Leica Q2 'Dawn' is the same camera on the inside, but features an all-black paint job and a special Japanese-woven fabric wrap produced by Japanese brand, Hosoo.
It's been a while since we've encountered a lens with a normal to super-telephoto range, how do the photos from the Tamron 50-400mm F4.5-6.3 look? Take a gander.
Also new is a built-in screen for checking the battery and shooting mode, as well as a Quick Launch feature for iPhone devices.
Venus Optics' Laowa 58mm F2.8 2x Ultra-Macro APO is available for Canon R, Leica L, Nikon Z and Sony E mount camera systems.
Kubrick had three of the ten Zeiss Planar 50mm F0.7 lenses Zeiss produced re-engineered to work as cinema lenses. Kubrick is most known for using these lenses in a candlelit scene in his Oscar-winning film, Barry Lyndon.