3 Things to Consider Before Buying Your First Film Camera

If digital images feel a bit too clean and clinical, consider giving your photography some soul by shooting on film. Before buying your first analog camera, here are three things that you should keep in mind.

Experienced film photographer Kyle McDougall has put together a couple of thoughts for those getting into film photography with the intention of helping them avoid any disappointment or frustration that can be part of a process that has more variables and potential pitfalls compared to digital.

Regarding his first point, you could balance McDougall’s suggestion by embracing the attitude that film photography can be about making the most of imperfections. Obviously, it’s not ideal if your camera’s light leaks are ruining every photograph that you take, but sometimes, those unexpected elements can bring some character to your images.

If the idea of imperfect, low-quality images sounds appealing, consider having a look at the 110 format cameras made by Lomography. Strangely, the naming system is all over the place and 110 is nowhere near as big as 120. Instead, it's quite the opposite — around half the width of 35mm (a.k.a. 135). You can grab a camera and a couple of cartridges of film for as little as $45. (And if you’ve any idea why Kodak decided in 1972 to call this format 110, I’d be grateful if you could leave a comment below!)

What else should you consider before buying your first film camera?

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8 Comments

Tim Foster's picture

For me, anything smaller than 6x7 isn't worth it.

kandiklover's picture

Yes. Asahi Pentax ftw.

George Calhoun's picture

Or just duplicate the film look in post...

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

Analog is electrical, Film is Chemical!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Matthias Rabiller's picture

Go for 110 film? You might want to look at film price and availablity, and development prices too before you go down that road!

Scott Kiekbusch's picture

Film cameras are like tattoos. They're not for everyone, but once you get one, you can't wait to get another

Charles Mercier's picture

With nice Minolta, Pentax, etc. 35mm cameras and a decent lens in thrift shops for $5-20, buy a few and just go for it. Buying a single roll of film and having it developed is going to cost that much anyway.

dean wilson's picture

A little late...I purchased my first film camera already. About 50 years too late.