In a world of iPad and iPhone photographers, maybe you’re feeling a need to get back to something more classic, more original, more involved? Film photography is becoming much more popular these days, but more than that, it will teach you a great deal about the skill of photography, possibly even the science of photography. It will slow you down and give you time to appreciate what you are photographing. Based on my personal experience, there are a few good options for a new film photographer, depending on the skill level that they may come from.
The Classic SLR
When I’m asked what to recommend for someone wanting to get into film, my first thought always bounces to a Canon AE-1. It is a classic film camera, and very popular, which means it is easy to get help on the internet for learning all about this camera. Manual focus on film SLR’s really will slow you down, and in a good way. I find myself paying more attention to the details of my photo, the framing, thinking about the lighting, and more.
Another Classic SLR Option
Of course, there are lots of options within the classic SLR category, but I’d also recommend the Olympus OM line. I use an OM-1N and love that the camera is a bit smaller and lighter than my AE-1. That makes it a bit better for travel or hiking, and it’s also a very fun camera to use. The ergonomics of the OM line are great! Other than the Canon and Olympus, there are great options from Nikon (FM’s) or Pentax (K1000) or Minolta – all great options to get into film, that will also be expandable and affordable!
An Easy-To-Use Rangefinder
The benefit of a rangefinder is that the camera is all one piece, and there isn’t any additional lens to purchase. There are some great options, some of which are very expensive, but also some that you can grab for not much money and toss in a pocket. The Olympus Trip 35 is a great option, as it almost works as a point and shoot. It’s a great looking camera, too! The focus is range based, so you only have a few options. It won’t let you take a shot if it’s too dark. This style of camera is great for travel, as they tend to be very small and easy to use when you don’t want to put a ton of attention to the camera.
An Automatic Option
For a real newbie, taking a jump right to fully manual photography may be a bit too much. If the groundwork of how to work a camera is there, but perhaps not the details of manual focus and aperture/shutter, then something more automatic may be the best place to start. There are fantastic Canon and Nikon models that can be coupled with an inexpensive 50mm lens, and all for not much money at all. The Nikon N80 is a great option. This camera can be used in a fully automatic way, so the camera does the math and the focusing for you. If can also be switched to manual, so as the skills progress, there are options for working manually. This camera was the first film camera I ever purchased for myself, and I still have it. It’s a good one!
A Non-Film Option
If you’re just starting to get into this photography fun, don’t feel bad walking around with your phone camera to get an eye for photography. Learning framing, lighting, and other techniques may be easier on a device that you are used to and have with you anyways! For film photography, there are some great apps to help, like light meters and note takers for keeping track of your settings.
There are so many options for what camera to jump on when you want to get into film – certainly, many more than are listed in this blog. Research various cameras that catch your eye, be aware of common problems, and keep an eye on the KEH inventory to see what you can grab for a great price!