Everything You Need to Get Started with Film Photography

There are still great — and even practical — reasons to shoot film in the modern age. Here's how to get started.

best film lead full 1440 v3
J. Seemer, H. Phillips

Smartphones have put a spectacular digital point and shoot in virtually every pocket, but film photography still has its charm -- and distinct advantages. Whether you're getting into it for the retro equipment or the uniquely good cost-proposition of shooting medium format photography on film, we've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know, from what camera to buy, to what film to shoot with it, to how to develop it at home.

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5 Great Reasons You Should Be Shooting Film
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Gear Patrol

Film photography tends to get romanticized these days. Aspiring Jurgen Tellers and Lomographers will wax poetic about the “transcendent experience of shooting film” and the “joy of just shooting.” I’ll save you the metaphysics and poetry and get right into why I’m in love.

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24 Great Vintage Cameras You Can Still Buy
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Courtesy

Film is about recording moments. Moments that have passed, even as the shutter clicks. It’s no wonder photography is bound so deeply to nostalgia, sending us down memory lane to simpler times. But the hobby — the art — is deeper still; the equipment you use says just as much about your craft as your subjects or the developed, framed end product. For many, that sense of history is best captured and enjoyed through a vintage camera context, and believe us, there’s no shortage of those on the market. So here’s our help: a list of 24 cult vintage shooters that’ll help you find your creative eye, set you apart from the shutterbug crowd and still produce photos that’ll make your (less talented) friends and family envious.

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8 Great Analog Camera Films to Start Shooting
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Richard BakerGetty Images

Film isn’t dead. It’s definitely suffering, though. The last 15 years have seen film sales fall off a cliff, producers like Kodak and Fujifilm have been thrown into a sink-or-swim situation, and other once-great film manufacturers like Agfa have faded into obscurity. But even as Kodak cut its iconic Kodachrome and Fuji concentrated its efforts into a few select films, there’s been a niche resurgence of film use. Adopters and re-adopters alike have cited renewed joy for photography, minimized post-processing, pleasantly surprising results and cheap cost of entry (compared to similar-quality digital cameras) as reasons they’ve picked up celluloid again.

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Everything You Need to Develop Film At Home — And Why You Should Try It
high angle view of film reels in solution
Philippa Michael / EyeEmGetty Images

When I bought my first film camera last year, I knew in my heart this is where I'd wind up — hanging wet negatives in the bathroom with paperclips. Before I'd processed my very first roll, or knew what the hell it'd entail, the prospect loomed in the distance like a chemical Everest.And now, from a peak that has turned out to be not quite that high, I'm happy to report that developing film at home is not only satisfying, but simpler than you might think. It even pays for itself, if you're going to be shooting some film either way (which you should be).

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Related: The Best Compact Cameras to Buy in 2020
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henry Phillips

A new wave of compact digital cameras has been hitting the market steadily over the past few years, with each new release getting closer to pro-level DSLR’s in terms of optics quality and resolution. Pocket-sized and powerful, these compact cameras are changing the way that consumer and prosumer photographers capture moments while on the road. Before you head out on your next adventure, consider leaving the DSLR behind and opting for one of these more sensible options.

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