Why I’m shooting with film

When I decided I wanted to get into photography I bought a Zenit E (SLR): fully manual, made in the USSR in 1976.

So, why didn’t I go pick up a Canon or Nikon DSLR?

Fistly, you can pick up an old soviet camera’s dirt cheap on eBay rather than shelling out on a decent DSLR. Then pick up some film and your off; and only 40 quid out of pocket.

Secondly, I wanted a manual camera because I wanted to learn photography. I didn’t want to lazily put my Canon D600 in auto and fire away. I wanted to learn what the hell aperture really is, what ISO actually means and to understand shutter speed. Not being able to simply switch my camera to aperture priority mode meant that I have to understand the relationship between aperture, ISO and shutter speed.

I didn’t find it easy. It was surprisingly difficult to get my brain to understand that if the aperture F-stop number is getting smaller then the iris is opening bigger.

With a DSLR you can just blast away in auto like it were an AK-47. On the other hand, with a fully manual camera you’ve got to actually think about what depth of field you want, what your focusing on and whether what your about to photograph is even interesting. When I do go digital I can take these hard earned lessons with me and hopefully I will be a better photographer for it.

Thirdly, because I think photographs are getting hidden away in badly labelled files on your laptop or lost to the ever increasing depths of Facebook. I want to physically hold a tangible copy of my photography.

Lastly, I wanted just one of my technological tools not to be instant. Everything we have gets us the result instantaneously. But with a film camera you can look at the rear LCD screen to check if you got the shot you wanted you’ve got to wait until all 36 shots have been taken, the (precariously) unload the film and wait 5 days for the film to be developed. It’s nice to be in a rush or get the result straight away.

These are my reasons for choosing film photography.

Here is a good video explaining some more reasons for choosing a manual camera to learn with:

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