You’ve been buying disposable cameras (in Singapore). The endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and whatever-nins that surface within the crevices of your brain every time you snapped a picture has slowly ebbed away. You start to think: what else can continue this photographer’s high? Cigarettes? Drugs? That new disposable camera smell? (kidding kids don’t even think about going there, maybe except for the last one)
Look at you. if you’re reading this you’re finally ready to put on your big boy pants. The next most feasible step would be to, you guessed it, invest in a film camera! (thunderous applause) Now there are the Point and Shoot cameras and proper film cameras, but I decided to go for the proper one first.
As I’m writing this I too am in the midst of getting my very own film camera (a Canon AE-1 Program to be exact). What made me (and hopefully some of you) want to get my own camera? Well a few factors:
1. You’re going to be saving money
I understand that by starting with this, I’m probably putting my whole disposable camera business in jeopardy. However, I have a perfectly logical explanation, hear me out.
For 99% of you, when you first learn to swim, do you immediately jump into the deep end of the pool? Or do you put on your floaties and dip your toes into the shallow end before gradually gaining the confidence to venture further in?
Hope you get that analogy. If you don’t please continue reading on. Think of a disposable camera as your first wondrous foray into film (dipping your toes into the water). You spend what, 18 or 19 bucks. After a period of time, you tend to get more confident through various trial and errors (and many blurry shots) and your curiosity about film cameras and all the little intricacies peak. Everything starts adding up and suddenly, it hits you: why not I get a proper film camera since I obviously love film (or at least it did for me) That’s when you make the big decision about making the dive in. Film rolls start at like 8 bucks for Kodak C200s and can go to like 15 bucks for Portra 400s. Still below the price you’ll pay for a disposable, which uses the Fujifilm Superia Xtra 400, which goes for like 10 bucks.
2. You’re going to have much more control
All disposable cameras are fixed in terms of aperture, ISO and shutter speed. This limits the situations where you’ll be able to get a nice photo. As a rule of thumb for disposable cameras, when you’re indoors I always suggest to on the flash. However, the constant OVER exposure will eat at you (and the fact that the flash is BLINDING in an enclosed space and it’ll make you the centre of attention).
With an actual film camera you’d be able to control all the nitty gritty details that adjust the amount of light that enters, hence reducing the need for flash in certain situations. Less awkward moments for you!
3. You’re preserving a dying industry
I never knew exactly why I felt so strongly about film. Many a time friends, family have asked me why I chose to use film and not get a normal DSLR. I couldn’t explain myself in words so I let them explain for me. My family tells me it’s because I want to be unique, want to be different. My friends say the same thing, but they said I was a hipster. I had a friend come to me; he had a DSLR and I was using one of my dinky disposable cameras. He came to me and said, “So you can only take 27 shots with that? What if you mess up?” To that I replied, “Then you just have to make those shots count.” He just looked at me funny.
While digital photography has made it’s mark and trampled on film photography, I believe that there’ll always be that one guy that’ll keep film alive. I’m not against digital photography, no. But I just find that mindlessly snapping thousands of photos of the same thing and throwing on edits just takes away the soul of your subject. What good is your subject if you’re just going to Photoshop away what you deem is ‘imperfect’ about it?
While I still cannot find the words to describe my feelings towards film, not everyone will understand this feeling I have, some might even say I’m deluded. But as long as we keep pushing on in what we believe in, I’m pretty sure it’ll all lead us somewhere.
If you guys are brave enough, feel free to take the jump with me! However, do keep in mind that many of these cameras are vintage and not mass produced, hence it’ll be almost impossible to find one in mint condition. Try Peninsula Plaza (where most camera shops are) or even online. Happy hunting!