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Part One: So You Want to Start Film Photography

Hey there friend! So you want to get started in film photography? I'm ready to help! Let's start by diving straight into the essentials, starting with the most important part, the camera.


Have you heard of 35mm film cameras? It's ok if you haven't, but it's what you're going to want to start off with if you're just beginning on your film journey. They are the OG's that modern digital and mirrorless cameras take cues from. People rave about medium format cameras, but honestly my 35mm has captured some of my most treasured images. What's also cool is that they produce images in the same aspect ratio as your current digital camera body, making the transition relatively seamless. Plus, with 36 images per roll, shooting on 35mm film is not only economical but also a breeze to start your film journey.

The best place to find your first 35mm film camera is going to be Ebay. Just keep an eye out for bad reviews or lack there of. Also, if a deal is probably too good to be true... it's probably a scam.

My Favorite 35mm Cameras:

Canon EOS 3 - you can use your EF mount lenses!

Canon IV - you can use your EF mount lenses!

Nikon F100 pair it with the 50mm 1.8


Now, onto a little something called the external meter. You see, older film cameras don't come equipped with internal meters, so having an external one can be really helpful when your starting out. It's like having a reliable assistant that tells you the perfect shutter speed and aperture once you've dialed in your ISO. It's part of what makes film photography such a joy—no guesswork, just consistency.

While some people will say an external meter is a necessity. I've used a couple apps on my phone and they work perfectly fine, and are much more cost effective. I also have to confess, that once photographers get the hang of shooting film, most don't even meter anymore. With that being said, I would probably suggest using the app below, and save yourself $200-$250.

My Favorite Metering App:


Now, let's talk ISO. With digital, you set ISO in your camera. But with film, it's the film stock that determines your ISO. For example, if you purchase Portra 400 your ISO is 400. If you're using Portra 800 your ISO is 800.


Now, with film you want to overexpose your images, which in most cases, means cutting your ISO in half to calculate your shutter speed and desired aperture. Take Portra 400, for instance. If you rate it at 200, you're essentially giving it a bit more light to play with. With 35mm especially, it's really important to overexpose or your scans can come back looking muddy.

Examples of Underexposes Film Scans:

Examples of Overexposed Film Scans:

All in all, overexposing your film by 1-2 stops will give you those dreamy shots your craving, and the quickest way to do that is to adjust your meter. Let's say you're using Portra 400. Adjust your ISO on your meter or app to 200, take a meter of the shadows of your subject, then it will project your shutter speed and aperture accordingly.

Want to learn more about film photography and other education resources? Well, great news! I'll be launching a bunch of great resources very soon! Sign up here to get notified when they are released.


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