If you haven’t used a certain film before or haven’t used a certain camera before, you might be interested in some easy tips that could make shooting film easier for you.
Sure, these are only a few tips, that cannot replace the experience, how to deal with your camera or film. Anyway they can be quite helpful to get along with a new old camera.
Black and White
Black and white films are not at all monotonous or old-school, even though they’ve been one of the first products available. Black and white film is a classic and especially handy for beginners. It’s much more than a regular film. This kind of film can be over- or underexposed about five stops without great loss of detail. Color negative film can only be over/underexposed three stops – color slide film only 1.5 stops. That’s why slide film is called “professional film” as an exact exposure is definitely needed. If you don’t know yet how your camera works or how generally an exposure is made, just opt for a black-and-white film – your exposure doesn’t need to be perfect.
Light for your film
The best light for taking pictures is daylight. Morning light works best, but also afternoon is a great time for shooting. Bad lightning conditions are often hard to handle, due to harsh shadows that might show up. Your film is very likely to be underexposed and that’s our worst case scenario. Except your looking for that effect. Anyway in sunlight you can see if and where light leaks are visible and where your camera needs some tape, to prevent these – except you like it.
“Sunny 16” rule
If you don’t know how a lightmeter works or if it’s broken, this tip can save your life: Set your aperture to f/16 and set the shutter speed to the reciprocal of your ISO rate.
Too difficult? Now, in detail. The aperture setting is f/16 on your lens, the shutter speed is set on your camera. The ISO rate is printed on both, your film and its package.
Now an example: Your film is 100 ISO, now set the aperture on f/16 and set the shutter speed on 1/100 or 1/125, according to your camera.
If your film is 400 ISO, set the aperture on f/16 and the shutter speed on 1/500. Sometimes there’s even a chart in the film box.
This technique is taught in photography classes and is quite useful, if you want to make sure, your image turns out. Basically you press the shutter, set a stop higher, press the shutter again. Now, set two stops lower (1 stop lower than the first exposure) and release the shutter for the last time. If you make also use of the “Sunny 16” rule and want a perfect exposure, your settings can look like this for example:
1. exposure at f/16, 1/500
2. exposure at f/22, 1/500
3. exposure at f/11, 1/500
5. Avoid portraits
I know it sounds horrible, but if you want to learn, how to handle your film or camera, you first need to make sure that you can take the perfect exposure. Be aware that portraits are quite difficult. You need a perfect exposure and a lot of light. You should know your camera first, before you start shooting portraits. But don’t be disappointed, if your images do not turn out the way you planned them.