Surprising Words of Wisdom on Choosing the Right Film Camera

Surprising Words of Wisdom on Choosing the Right Film Camera

Hamish Gill, who runs a fantastic film-centric blog, 35mmc, has a great article up that addresses an often-asked question he receives: "Which film camera should I buy?" The spoiler is he doesn't have an answer.

It's a refreshing take on blog posts that are all over the Internet. Interest in analog photography has swelled in recent years. I've been caught up in the wave as well. I started with digital photography in school about a decade back, and for most of the following years, I stayed in the digital realm. It's what I knew, it was relatively easy, and my photos worked for what I needed.

A few years back, I started to research medium format photography, and when confronted with the astronomical prices in the digital space, I turned to film options. There was a wealth of info online, and eBay was a great resource for finding specific gear at fairly good used prices, especially if I was patient.

I settled on a Mamiya 645 Pro. It was kitted out with the auto winder, metering prism, and 80mm f/2.8 lens. I guess looking back, the leap was from full-frame digital to medium format film, and I completely skipped over 35mm film. I shot one roll through that camera, had the pictures developed, and was impressed with the look of medium format.

Then, the camera sat on a shelf for the next year. That happens a lot with me. In fact, the article image is just one tub I currently have of film gear. But that G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) has actually developed into a lucrative side business of finding and selling used gear. It's a boutique thing, but it helps pay the bills, so sometimes, G.A.S. isn't all too bad.

And that leads directly back to Hamish's advice in his post. He explains the problem G.A.S. can represent, especially as you start out in analog photography. He also includes some baseline information, like the difference between point and shoots and SLRs, how autofocus comes into play, what lens to get if you opt for an SLR, rangefinders and how they work. It's information I wish I had laid out but which I discovered after hours of research.

Overall, it's a solid primer for someone just stepping onto the scene and wanting to expand their photographic hobby skill-set.

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6 Comments

Rifki Syahputra's picture

it's like pokemon for photographers.. you gotta collect 'em all..

Tony Clark's picture

I’ve been thinking about doing the same with a medium format kit. I remember making the jump to a 645Pro then a Pentax 67II and then an RZProII. Now that it looks like Image One will be producing instant pack film, I’m closer to making it happen.

Michael Jin's picture

I think it's absolutely awesome that film has managed to survive this transition and that people are continuing to discover/re-discover it as its own photographic medium. Of course I turn to my digital camera for paid work since the nature of the work that I do requires quick turn-around times and delivery in a digital format anyway, but it's nice to be able to step back and shoot some film for personal projects.

There's something incredibly satisfying about agitating a development tank or grain focusing an enlarger that just doesn't translate to a digital workflow for me. I know there are those that feel differently, but options are a great thing. :)

Now if manufacturers would just release some new 35mm SLR's... I would personally love a Nikon F7 that can use the newest E-series lenses or maybe just a brand new camera with the FM3A's capabilities in a more rugged body life the F2AS. I know it'll be a cold day in hell, but I feel like it would have been a lot better for their 100th anniversary than the re-painted DSLR's and lenses that they released... even if it was a limited run of them.

Stefan Gonzalevski's picture

I think you have the good way of seeing things : "options are a great things". I act the same : I use digital for assignments and paid jobs, and analog for my own work.

I don't develop (I work with color films), then my pleasure is to check the 4x6,5 slides on light table.

Sean Gibson's picture

I've just started developing my own film in the past 2 months, and I find Color film to be easier than B&W.

Kyle Medina's picture

Sample film stocks you like for the condition of use. Then find the focal length you like, match lens to a camera body. Done.