Top Tips for 35mm Film Photographers

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Top Tips for 35mm Film Photographers

Originating in 1909, 35mm photography requires the use of actual film, and is a bit of an anomaly today. In a world that has switched almost entirely to digital imagery, photography with film might seem like something from the Dark Ages, but 35mm photography is still vital in many ways. Without the use of special features, 35mm film photography requires the photographer to take natural photos with care and precision to produce images that surpass the quality of digitally-enhanced photos.


Get a 35mm Camera with Manual Functions

Many 35mm cameras come with an automatic focus feature that is certainly easier to use, but the photographer has less control over the outcome of the picture. A 35mm camera with manual adjustments allows you to control the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Almost all Vintage cameras made before the 1980's are manual cameras, but more recent models are often automatic. Using manual adjustments allows photographers to fine tune their skills and really learn photography, rather than relying on technology to do the work for them. When photographers truly understand the art, they can expand their capabilities using technology to help them.


Understanding Aperture

Aperture is the most important aspect of 35mm film photography. It is the setting that controls how much light the lens allows through to the camera's sensor. Lower settings have wider lens openings to let in greater amounts of light. The opening uses f-stop settings, and an f/2 setting lets in more light than an f/5 setting. Because photography is all about lighting, the ability to accurately control the amount of light reaching the film is the difference between a washed out picture and one with high contrast and bright colours.


Becoming Familiar with Focal Length

The brilliant thing about 35mm photography is that the lens is very similar to the composition of the human eye. This means it is very easy to visualise how a picture will turn out. It also requires you to use body and position to control the vantage point. Because the result is similar to what the photographer sees, you can simply look at an item, get into position, and then raise the camera for the picture rather than peering through the lens the entire time.


Trying Different Film Stocks

The quality of the 35mm film makes a difference. When starting out, photographers often use low-cost film for practice. Good beginner colour film includes Portra 160, Portra 400, and Fuji 400. For black and white 35mm film, Ilford 400 and Kodak Tri-X are good choices.

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