Film Photography 101

Whether you use your smartphone’s built-in camera or a fancy new mirrorless camera, we are in the age of digital photography! Even so, film photography remains a favorite amongst many photographers and has seen a wave of new interest in recent years. Here at Pixel Connection we love all kinds of photography and we’ve got the gear and tips you need to get back to the basics! 

What is Film Photography? 

Might seem like a silly question but when you’re used to the ease and speed of digital photography film can seem a little daunting! Basically, film photography entails using light sensitive material (film) to record images physically instead of digitally. These physical recording are then developed to produce images with look and feel distinctive to film photography! 


Why Film Photography? 

There are many reasons to love film photography; the aesthetic appeal and process of film photography make it a worthwhile and rewarding pastime for photographers looking to dive deeper into the world (and history) of photography! 

One of the biggest motivations you may have towards trying out film photography is the unique aesthetic you can achieve with film. Film photos have a unique rich, authentic look with vibrant colors and a grainy appearance that digital cameras still struggle to replicate accurately. A large part of the look and feel your film photos will have comes down to the film you select. Each type of film has its own creative feature, some may have vibrant colors across the board or filter your images to make certain colors pop while others are black and white or known for capturing details really well. The look of your images is highly impacted by your film choice which makes this the perfect time to experiment and find what you like! 

Digital photography is great but sometimes it’s nice to step away from the instant-gratification of digital photography and enjoy the analog process behind film photography. Because of the finite nature of film rolls, it may encourage more thoughtful composition and more artistic approach to capturing images. Plus, the anticipation of waiting to see how your images turned out after development instead of being able to see them instantaneously can add a fun, exciting layer to your photography adventures. Many film photographers get a ton of satisfaction from having a tangible result from their artistic endeavors as opposed to a digital file stored on your computer or memory card.

Shooting with film can also be a fun learning experience for those looking to deepen their understanding and appreciation for the art of photography! Using film requires a pretty solid understanding of photography fundamentals like exposure, composition, and light, as you don’t have the instant feedback of a digital screen. This can be a challenge for new film photographers but rewarding to figure out! 

Getting Started with Film

To get started with film photography, you’ll need a film camera and we have tons of great options for beginners and pros! 

There are 3 basic types of film cameras. 

  • 35mm SLR Cameras: Versatile, widely available, excellent for beginners. Include models like the Canon AE-1, Nikon FM2, or Pentax K1000
  • Rangefinder Cameras:Compact and quiet. Include models like the Leica M series
  • Medium Format Cameras: Higher image quality with larger negatives and greater detail. Include models like the Mamiya 645 or Hasselblad 500C/M. 

Once you’ve found a camera that works for you, the next step is picking up some film! As mentioned earlier, there are several types of film available, each with their own look and feel! It may take some experimenting to find the look you love! Our staff at Pixel can help you find the best film for you and your camera. 

  • Color Negative Film: Ideal for beginners, forgiving with exposure, vibrant colors. 
  • Black and White Film: Classic monochrome look and feel. 
  • Slide Film (Color Reversal Film): Known for its rich colors and fine grain

Another important detail to note when selecting the right film is the film speed or ISO. ISO determines how sensitive your film is to light much like ISO determines how sensitive your sensor is too light in digital photography. Lower ISO films, like ISO 100, are less sensitive and great for bright conditions. Higher ISO films, like ISO 800, are better for low light but can be more grainy.


When it comes to film photography, mastering exposure is important. This is where you really go back to the basics of photography with the exposure triangle. When taking film photography you’ll want to keep in mind aperture, shutter speed, and ISO and how they all work together. To help you out, many film cameras have built-in light meters to help you gauge the correct exposure.

When taking your images, keep these tips in mind! 

  1. Take your time! Slow down and enjoy the process, your images will benefit from it! 
  2. Take notes! Write down your settings for each shot, this will help you learn what works and what doesn’t later. 
  3. Experiment! You may have to test out several different types of films or cameras before you find the one you love. 

So you’ve reached the end of your film roll. What now? To see how your images turned out you’ll need to develop your film. You can develop your film yourself or bring it into our Cleveland store and we can do it for you!

Film photography is an incredibly rewarding art form and can be a really fun and refreshing break from digital photography. Want to try it out for yourself? Stop by your local Pixel Connection store or shop online for the best film photography. 

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