The

Ink-stained Blog

What is Film? Let's take a look at the roll.

Whenever I tell people that I am a film photographer, I am often met with the question, ‘What is that?” or, “What’s the difference?”. I honestly didn’t realize until I got into film full time that so many people were at a loss at the difference between digital photography and analog (film).


Film photography has been around much, much longer than the digital photography that we know today. When I say that I am a film photographer, yes—I mean that I use a lot of the same cameras that people used 30, even close to 50, years ago. I have a collection of 20 film cameras, some of them dating back to the early 1900’s. Now, that doesn’t mean that every analog camera that I own actually works (thought that would be awesome). Out of the 20 cameras that I own, I have gotten 4 of them to be in working condition. On some of them, I even have to upkeep the maintenance to make sure that they continue to function properly.

I have 2 cameras in particular that I like to use most: my Kalimar SR 200 and my Canon EOS 650.


The Kalimar SR 200 is a USSR made camera from the late 1960’s. It’s the camera I use for more artistic, sometimes grainy shots since it has a tendency to let in soft light leaks from time to time. It was the first analog camera that I started learning film photography. The first time I took this sweetie on a photo shoot, I fell absolutely in love.


My favorite film camera is most definitely my Canon EOS 650. This one dates back to the 1980's, and it actually has a few “modern” conveniences. I can shoot in full manual mode with this one and fully control my settings to get the exact shot that I want.


Of course, the main difference between film and digital cameras is the fact that film ones use—you guessed it—film. There are several kinds of film to choose from, but I have found the brand that works best for me (Kodak) and that’s what I use for the most part. The process of inserting the film into the back of the camera can be somewhat tricky, and I have found that some cameras take a bit of finagling before you figure out the correct way to open them up and wind in the film.


In this video, I explain what a roll of film is and how it loads into my Kalimar SR 200.





As you can see, loading the roll of film is much more different than just turning on the camera and immediately snapping away. And the big kicker is that you can only take a certain amount of pictures (or exposures) on each roll. Rolls usually have anywhere from 12, 24, or 36 exposures on them. So once you reach that amount of pictures, it’s time to rewind the film and start a new roll!


Because of the purposeful nature of film, I feel like it is a great choice for the more artistic types. You have to plan out your shots, essentially, and know what you want to get before you press the shutter. That way, you’re not wasting any of your precious exposures!


If you have a curiosity or interest in film photography and all that goes into it, then make sure to follow along with me as I continues the “What is Film?” series. I will be putting out a video and corresponding blog post every month to touch on a different aspect of film, and I hope you’ll join me as I spread awareness of just how amazing this medium is.


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