4 Ways To Use Film Cameras To Create Vintage Photos in 2021

9/04/2021 6:26 am

There are so many reasons why we’re fans of shooting with film. It helps us to slow down and be more intentional with our images, and we love the aesthetic of film photography. Shooting on film is more versatile than you may think. Along with producing grainy, vibrantly coloured images, it can also create photos with a moody, nostalgic feel — which is what we want to focus on today.


Here’s how to make photos look vintage with the help of film.

#1 Reach for a film camera

This might be somewhat obvious, but the first step is to invest in a film camera to take photos with. As for how to choose a film camera, there are a few options on offer, and they fall into three main categories:


Point-and-shoot cameras are the best film cameras for beginners who want to explore the moody side of film without making too much of a commitment. You can buy a reusable or disposable camera, and both are budget-friendly and easy to use. With most cameras, you simply load your film, find your scene and fire — hence the name “point and shoot.”  


Thanks to their direct flash and cheaper lenses, these cameras mimic the effect of older technologies, and you can expect your images to come out with lens flares, vignetting and shadows — all characteristics of vintage film photos! 


Film SLRs and medium-format film cameras come right from that era. These cameras are kitted out with manual controls, so you’ll be able to adjust settings to get the look you want. The best 35mm film cameras are also sturdier than point-and-shoot cameras, and compatible with a range of lenses and accessories. If you’re purchasing a second-hand film camera, make sure you’re going through a reputable buyer that offers some sort of warranty as these cameras are older and pre-owned.

4 Ways to use film cameras to create vintage photos in 2021

Instant cameras are back in full force, and can create vintage images in moments. Some of the newer models have modern functions to match. When you’re researching instant cameras, pay attention to the photo size, as different brands produce images of different sizes.

#2 Choose your film carefully

4 Ways to use film cameras to create vintage photos in 2021

Once you’ve picked out a good film camera, you’ll need to select a roll of film to load in it. The first question to ask yourself is whether you want to shoot in black and white or colour. Of course, black and white naturally has a moody, vintage feel, but you can still use colour film to recreate the charm of a bygone era. This is sometimes referred to as the “snapshot aesthetic,” and it’s one way to make a photo look old.


Next, consider film speed. For the moodiest effect, go for a ISO film of 800 or higher. This type of film produces a grittier film grain, so it’s perfect for vintage photos. Just know that higher speed films are only suitable in dark conditions. If you’re shooting outdoors or in bright conditions, you run the risk of overexposing your shots, especially if your camera has limited manual functions.

#3 Think about processing your film at home



This isn’t for everyone, but processing your film at home is a really fun way to experience the hands-on charm of film for yourself.

If you’re sold on the idea of DIY-ing your film, we sell film processing kits that come with the chemicals and materials you need, as well as step-by-step instructions. As you become more familiar with the process, you can start to experiment with new techniques to see their effect. For example, you can play around with adding different levels of contrast or grain to your image, or varying the agitation time during development to get that result.

4 Ways to use film cameras to create vintage photos in 2021

#4 Scan your film for digital editing

4 Ways to use film cameras to create vintage photos in 2021

You may have seen movies where the characters set up a darkroom in their bathroom with all their negatives. You can definitely consider doing the same and getting an enlarger to transform your negatives into beautiful photographic prints. An easier and more versatile way to go about it is to turn into a digital file using a scanner.


By digitising your photos, you’ll be able to edit them and boost their vintage appeal even more.


Here are some ideas of edits you can make to end up with vintage, moody images:


  • Decrease the saturation. As much as we love bright and vibrant colours, they skew a bit modern. Turning down the saturation is a simple way to “age” your photo.
  • Add vignetting. Try darkening the edges of your image to copy the vignetting that older film lenses were famous for producing.
  • Dial up the noise. Most photographers using digital cameras work hard to produce noise-free images. But for retro-inspired images, adding noise can replicate the look of film grain. Photo editing programs like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom have sliders that allow you to tweak the amount of noise in an image.
  • Consider light leaks and flares. Ironically, these effects are the result of the flaws of film photography and optically inferior products. Since they’re such a well-known marker of film images, you can experiment with light leaks and flares to add intrigue to your photos. Our advice is to do this sparingly, as being too heavy-handed can make your image look tacky.

Take a trip back in time with a film camera

We may have moved on to digital cameras, but the vintage, nostalgic appeal of film hasn’t gone anywhere! To try your hand at this old-school style of photography, head to your local Ted’s Cameras store or browse the best film cameras online. We offer free shipping on all Australian orders over $100, or you can click-and-collect if that’s easier for you.


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