If you’re a beginner that never touched a camera before or a digital shooter that wants to dip his toe in the vast pond of film photography you may feel overwhelmed with the amount of choices you face.
After all film cameras have been around quite a bit, so you may find them in all shapes, formats and prices. Where to start? This guide is for you!
I will treat each film format separately, and recommend when possible at least three alternatives: under 50€, under 100/200€ and under 500€. Like I said the choices are many, so I will exclusively talk about cameras and lenses I personally used, or of which I’ve seen examples first hand.
By the way, while 500€ is not by any mean cheap, you have to put things in context: it is still the average price of a good quality compact camera, and less than the price of a decent smartphone.
Especially if you are a complete beginner, you may have trouble just choosing with which format to shoot. There are no rules set in stone, meaning that you can use a large format camera for street photography or shoot landscapes with a 35mm. But below are the most common choices:
Street photography & Reportage
This is the realm of 35mm film. You may also consider “fast” medium format rangefinders like the Fuji GS645.
In this case medium format is your best bet.
From 35mm to large format, mostly depending on the style you want to pursue and if you prefer dynamic or more static, posed shots.
At least medium format, if not large format. That said, a master like Galen Rowell used 35mm cameras for portability.
You will need probably lots of movements, so shooting large format is recommended.
When it comes to choosing what kind of lenses you want to buy you should look at a critical selection of your pictures – the ones you like the most – and compile a small “statistic” of the focal lenght you used the most.
If you are a total beginner you better do the same, but using pictures shot from photography masters or, at the very least, you’ve selected from sites like Flickr, 500px etc. and dividing the results for wide-angles, normal lenses and tele – just check the EXIF datas.
And now a preview of how this series will develop – the links will become active once the corresponding post is online:
Part I: 35mm
Part II: Medium format
Part III: Large format
Part IV: Films and developers
Part V: Digitizing the pictures
Next time we’ll start with the 35mm.