Moving back from digital to film cameras



When digital cameras finally dominated film cameras in the late 90’s I was just getting into photography. I started off by using a consumer Canon film camera my Dad gave to me, but at this point these cameras were highly automated and very plastic. I swiftly followed the digital revolution with an Olympus for a birthday present in 2001 and never looked back.

I now find myself in 2013, and my love for old vintage film photography is reignited. As digital SLRs continue to push out more and more megapixels, post-processing editing software is able to correct almost every aspect of user error and photographers strive for sharper, cleaner and bigger images. I feel my self going the other way, I try to recapture and emulate the vintage essence of film photography, the warm colours and fine grain found in the faster speed 35mm film. The look and feel of film photography really adds an extra dimension to the image not to mention the skill you know it has taken to correctly expose the image.

While the latest editing software does allow me to emulate the older style films I had the idea the other day, that instead of using digital photography to emulate the look and feel of film that I really love. Why not move back into film photography and see how well I fare using an old mechanical camera and few rolls of Kodak Portra 400, and see if these results are better than my edited digital images.

So inspired by a few photography blogs such as Jonathon Canales, Spadge and Japan Camera Hunter I purchased a 1975 Praktica LTL3 and a 1964 Kodak ColorSnap 35 to see how a get on with film before maybe taking the plunge with a Nikon FE2 or Canon AE2.


Why Film Cameras?


So why bother with the hassle of old clunky film cameras, well apart from trying to capture the old film style, I also want to make myself a better photographer. The digital age has made me slightly lazy, with a 64Gb memory card and the ability to fire at 5fps the ability to take the right shot at the right time is no longer important. Film photography makes you think, you have to learn the camera and understand the light while taking the time to compose the shot. You only have 36 shots on the roll of film, so every shot counts. Plus I like the challenge of learning an old camera with no help menu.


The Film Cameras and 35mm Film


  • Praktica LTL3 – Fully working shutter – no light meter
  • Kodak Colorsnap 35mm – no light meter
  • New Kodak Portra 400
  • Fuji Superia 400 Xtra
  • Fuji Superia 200


So this weekend, hopefully we’ll continue to have the same sunny blue skies, I’ll take these cameras out and see if I can get a couple of photographs out of them!