Learning Photography? Why You Need To Start With Film


Why Shoot Film?

Your probably thinking film is inconvenient to process, it is expensive and lately pretty hard to find. The answer is yes. These are all true, but film also has many benefits over digital as well.


The Cost Benefit


While film is expensive, film cameras are not. For as little as $100 you can purchase a used professional SLR (compare that with a new professional DSLR which runs about $3000). Film will cost you about $8 a roll for 36 exposures.


Another great benefit is that older cameras are built like tanks. They can take a lot of punishment especially manual ones. Is it raining outside? Who cares. Want a shot from the middle of the lake? Why not. An added bonus is that film produces images of a very high resolution.



Increase Your Skill Level


The greatest advantage of shooting film is that it requires technical ability to do so competently (late model automatic cameras excluded). The simple fact that you do not have image review makes you learn how to do things right in the first place. When you get back a roll of blank roll film you learn pretty quick not to do that again. Being forced to use manual settings helps you truly understand the effects of what different exposure times and lens apertures will have on your images. These cameras literally do not have an “idiot” button so you cease to be an “idiot” when you use one.



Getting To Know How Your Camera Works


Every time you change a roll of film you are learning more about how a camera works. You are opening the camera with every roll and viewing the internal mechanisms. You get to see how the shutter functions, and how the film advances from the back.


With the door open set your exposure time to bulb, depress the shutter and hold. You can now see through the back of the camera and through the lens. You can see the aperture blades in the lens, the focusing screen up top, and how the mirror works. Change the EV settings around and you will be able to see what effect these settings have. DO NOT do this with a digital camera! Digital cameras have an electronically charged static recording device (sensor) that will attract dust, when exposed to the natural environment. Dust will collect on the sensor and effect image quality.



The Overall Benefit


When you understand the intricacies of how an image is produced by a camera you become a better photographer. Remember you are producing a photograph, not taking a picture. It does not matter how expensive your camera is or what gear you have, it will never make up for a low level of training and a lack of competency. Most professional photographers started out with budget equipment, and it made them better because of it.



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