The Ultimate Guide To Film Photography in 2021

19/02/2021 6:12 am

Film photography may not be the norm anymore, but it never died. Far from it! With its vibrant colours, beautiful black and white photos that look like they’re from a bygone area, film has a nostalgic charm that won’t get old.


Whether you're team film photography, digital photography or somewhere in between, we wholeheartedly recommend experimenting with this medium. To nudge you, we’ve put together our top film photography tips and the best film cameras for beginners and beyond.

3 reasons to shoot film in 2021

With modern digital cameras and smartphones producing stunning images and videos with the click of a button, you might be wondering: why should I bother shooting with a film camera?

It produces images with undeniable charm


The short answer: the charm! The long answer: as countless Instagram users and photography enthusiasts will tell you, film is all about the unique aesthetic. Thanks to the vivid colours and grain, film photography is hard to emulate (though filters try). Plus, if you’ve ever added a lens flare to your smartphone photos, a cheap point-and-shoot film camera can do that organically. No editing required!


It forces you to slow down


Another reason to pick up a film camera is because it will help you to slow down. Modern cameras focus on speed, with lightning-fast AF systems, burst shooting rates and memory cards with lots of storage space. 


But when you’re shooting with film, you only have a set number of frames to capture your images. This means you have to be more selective, and put more thought into your image before pressing the shutter.


It makes you a more intentional photographer


While film cameras are easy to use and get the hang of, they also boost your photography skills like exposure and composition. That’s because you can’t rely on post-production and editing to “clean” up your photos, so you have to try to nail your image the first time.


The Ultimate Guide to film photography in 2021

You’ll also have to wait a while to get your results. Digital photography gives us instant gratification, and we can upload an image to social media minutes after snapping it. Film takes us back to a time when those processes weren’t so simple, and that’s a huge part of the nostalgia. When you get your film back, you may not love the results, and that’s part of the learning curve! 

For these reasons, we believe film makes you a more efficient — and maybe even better — photographer. As time goes on, you’ll learn from your mistakes and cut down on unwanted surprises.

How to choose a film camera

The best film camera for you comes down to your skill level, as well as how much you want to invest in this type of photography.

The Ultimate Guide to film photography in 2021

If you’re new to film:


A point-and-shoot film camera is a fun way to experiment with film photography for beginners. You can buy a disposable or reusable camera, and the latter is becoming more and more popular. There are limited controls and settings on these cameras, so all you have to do is load the film, find your subject or scene, and literally point and shoot. 


If you go down this route, you’ll really get a feel for film photography. A standard roll of film will give you 24 or 36 shots to work with, and you’ll need to wait for your film to be processed to find out if your photos turned out as you envisioned. 


You can also make creative choices, such as deciding whether you want your photos to be black and white or colour. But instead of pushing a button, you’ll seal the deal when you choose a film stock to load in your camera. In that way, film can make you a more decisive photographer, too.


Ted’s top picks: If you want to relive your childhood with a disposable camera, go for the Agfa Le Box Flash Single Use Camera - 27 Exposure. And if you’re in the market for a reusable camera, the Ilford Sprite 35 II Flash Reusable Camera w/ Bonus Ilford XP2 Film will become an everyday and holiday staple.



If you already have experience with film photography:


Consider a 35mm SLR camera. This is also a good choice for those who are using film as an opportunity to learn the manual side of photography.


SLRs are easy to find on the second-hand market. They have different levels of automation depending on the model and its era, so you want to do your research before buying one. With an SLR camera, you’ll have more options when it comes to key camera settings, as well as access to different lenses and accessories. They’re also studier than the budget-friendly point-and-shoot versions.

The Ultimate Guide to film photography in 2021

Ted’s top pick: It’s hard to go past the Agfa Retro 35mm Camera w/Flash - Black/Silver, which works with B&W and colour film. As for how to use a 35mm film camera, it has a built-in flash and a fixed focal length of 31mm so you can fit plenty of scenery in your frame.

Processing and printing your negatives

When you’re done shooting and your film has been exposed, it’s time to process it. This turns your roll of film into sheets with visible negatives of your images, which you can inspect and make prints of any you like. 


The next question: How to develop film?

If you shot black and white film and like the idea of a DIY approach, you might enjoy using one of our film processing kits. They come with the chemicals and materials you need to process your film old-school style — aka in the comfort of your own bathroom.


If you’d rather leave this task to the professionals, you can simply drop off your rolls of film at a lab and wait the required turnaround time. Most labs — including Ted’s Cameras — can handle standard 35mm colour film, but you may need to do some digging to find a lab that can process black and white film. To make this whole process easier, Ted’s Cameras can develop, print and scan your film photos via their printing service. Simply drop your 35mm films at a Ted’s Cameras store and their trained staff will take care of it!


As for digitising your photos, while you can buy an enlarger and set up a darkroom at home (like you would have seen students do in countless movies), most photographers rely on scanning to turn their film to images. The lab can do this while they process your film, or you can purchase a scanner and do it yourself. Then, you can open up your files online and perform some edits before sharing them with the world.

The Ultimate Guide to film photography in 2021

Shop the best film cameras

Thanks to its visual charm and hands-on process, film has a certain nostalgia that photographers appreciate. To play around with this medium for yourself, drop into your local Ted’s Cameras store or shop film cameras online.


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