Film Cameras: Is It for Everyone? A Singaporean’s Perspective

As with the title, I’m here to give my two cents on whether it’s worth it to get a proper film camera, one that has most of the functions that DSLRs have. 

I’ve been fiddling around with the Canon AE-1 Program for the past two months and I must say, it’s a really far stretch from my disposables. The settings, the lack of flash, adjusting every single detail to change how you take photos, everything is so different, but I do enjoy the challenge of getting a nice photo while under different light settings and only getting 36 chances to take a nice photo. **hint hint digital cameras SUX** Okay kidding but really, it’s been an awesome two months. Allow me to further elaborate.

About the camera

canon ae-1

Right here, this is my new baby right here ladies and gents.

Here’s what I noticed, and hopefully for those starting out with cameras (be it film or digital) maybe you’ve encountered these and maybe it’ll help you as well. 

For starters, there are a few modes, four to be exact. Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Full Manual. I’m just gonna touch a bit on each, but I’ll try to go more in depth with the Program mode and Aperture Priority, since I’ve touched on these two a bit more than the other two.

Program Mode

The program mode helps you automatically select the best aperture and shutter speed based on the lighting conditions you’re currently in. Now it MAY sound like a good thing, and yeah it partly is because you don’t have to worry about your photos turning out under- or overexposed. However, shutter speed will be a bit of a problem here. The slower the shutter speed, the more prone it’ll be to blurry photos. And blurry in this case doesn’t mean grainy, like you get with underexposed photos. It’s caused by us moving while taking the photos.

000443110010

Yeah I’m talking about this right there. That’s me trying out program mode for the first time. This was about 7pm in the evening and there was no natural light. So yeah program mode solved the underexposed problem but it resulted in the blurred photo. Now at this juncture I know what you must be thinking: But I’m holding the camera perfectly still? Trust me you’re not. Even if you think you think you’re Chris Kyle from American Sniper with crazy amounts of control you’ll still be moving. SO yeah I’d recommend if you think your shutter speed is gonna be slow get a tripod it’ll be good stuff. I don’t have one, not sure if I’ll ever get one but who knows man.

Aperture Priority Mode

So when I first heard the words Aperture Priority Mode, I figured that I didn’t have to change the aperture myself, they’d do it for me. However, turns out it was the EXACT opposite: in this mode Aperture was a PRIORITY and that meant that I could choose my aperture and the camera would adjust the shutter speed for me.

Yeah so from the picture above you can see in the part I circled, that’s where you change the aperture. So I’ve been using this mode a lot and I think I’m liking this a lot, because of the field of depth thing, seen below.

Shutter Priority Mode

So for THIS mode I haven’t actually played around with it all too much, but there are basically 2 situations where you’ll want to use Shutter Priority Mode. You’ll be changing this knob right here, where n represents the numbers on the knob and 1/n is the shutter speed.

guy holding a canon ae-1 program camera top view
Knob to change shutter speed

1. When you want to freeze something mid-shot

I’d recommend a shutter speed of anything faster than 1/500th of a second if you wanna capture say, a flying bird or a car. Any moving object really.

2. When you want to get a blurry effect

And we’re talking about moving water, people moving in a crowd or your favourite long exposure shots and what not. NOTE please do bring along a tripod or something to rest your camera on because I would highly NOT recommend holding onto it.

Manual Mode

And finally, the crème de la crème, the cherry on top, the thickest slab of beef. Yeah okay honestly I’m not confident with this yet because I think I haven’t truly mastered the exposure triangle as of yet, but honestly for manual mode all I gotta suggest is to try it out, play with the exposure triangle (ISO, aperture, shutter speed) and find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Maybe when I feel up to it I’ll come back to this post and update.

Conclusion

Just to wrap everything up and answer the question: would getting a film camera be worth it? For beginners, especially people who have just started photography in general, I’d say no. Just like with a normal camera and as explained above, there are so many other things to take note of when taking a photo, and we’ve just covered the modes for shooting.

As such, unless you’re really serious on making photography your hobby, I’d suggest that you get a normal Point and Shoot camera.

That’s all for now. Below is my first roll I shot using the Fuji Superia Xtra 400 film. Some shots I like, some not so much but overall pretty satisfying. Hope y’all like it peace out ✌

Chris

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