Shooting film

Remember when my camera had the worst swim ever?

Well, I figured I could use the old film camera my grandfather bought on one of his trips. It is a Pentax camera from the 60s, very advanced for it’s age and relatively new as they mostly used it for family pictures. It has only manual controls, it looks cool and I could learn a thing or two from the absence of any automation.

So I picked up a film cartridge from Kodak and threw the camera in my backpack before a daytrip to Patras where I had some chores to run for my thesis.

The results were gratifying! Much better than what I was expecting. Shooting the camera is extremely fun. Advancing the film manually and hitting the shutter button is kind of therapeutic. I know it reads silly but its a form of fidgeting. Index up, thumb to the right, release and click. Doing that, results to an image being exposed on a thin film of chemicals that rests on top of a plastic strip. You can’t argue that this isn’t at least interesting.

I shot film for the rest of the summer. I can say that I had a lot of shots I liked and I discarded a lot less than I discard with my camera or my phone. I believe that this comes with the patience and thought that goes in each shot when you only have 36 of those.

However as I was using film more, it became apparent that this is not something I would like to default to. For starters, it’s hard to find. If you are out of film you are out of film. Your only reliable way is to order online. I could buy from kiosks or other stores but film is not so common anymore. In August I spent two weeks in Porto Heli and near the end of week #1 I was out. Even photography studios do not carry film anymore so I resorted to my phone.

Another problem is the price. Film costs about € 3 per cartridge. Developing costs € 3 more. After that you can either print or scan your photos in 2 MP images. Printing all of your pictures costs around € 7 and scanning them around € 3. Even If that price is not an issue for you, the quality of what you are getting is subpar. You can see in many of the pictures, black spots or frames from not properly aligned scanners. Also a resolution of 2 MP is not enough these days to fill the standard 1980x1080 screen resolution of today’s devices.

Overall I enjoyed using film a lot and I want to experiment more with it. I will definitely get my hands on some black & white film and maybe try some weird ones from Lomography.

Film is history and many swear by it. When you shoot film you feel more proud about your pictures because you took them with no help at all. No image processing, no Instagram filters. You opened a little curtain for a fraction of a second and whatever light was sucked in stayed in that way.

If your parents have a film camera somewhere find it, buy some film and shoot. Even if you don’t want to buy film just shoot. The sound is very rewarding.