Blame it on the hipsters or on the availability of great cameras and lenses for very little money, but film photography is making a comeback. I’ve been shooting film on and off for a few years now, but lately I’ve been only bringing film cameras on my vacations for photos. The cheaper cameras and lack of immediate photo review on an LCD screen make for a much more enjoyable trip with less worry about equipment and results. In the end, you still get great photos! I’d like to share a few tips if you’re considering using only film for your next vacation.
- Get a camera that doesn’t need batteries
The beauty of all mechanical cameras is that you don’t need to worry about charging batteries the night before, or missing a shot. Just throw the camera and film in a bag and go. I also don’t use the meter on the rangefinder I have (it needs some work), so I just use the Sunny 16 rule to estimate exposure. Film doesn’t have immediate feedback, so this forces you to think more carefully about your shots, and be more conservative, allowing you to take in the moment better, rather than firing off 25 shots of a cool building and hoping one turns out.
- Shoot Color and Black and White
Black and white is much easier to develop at home, so you can send the color stuff to a lab and immediately develop and scan your own black and white. Black and white also provides a unique look that in my opinion, can put some modern scenes in an interesting context.
- Plan your film usage
Think in advance about when/what you will be doing and choose appropriate color/ISO options. I typically bring one roll of B/W ISO 400 (like a Kodak Tri-x) and one color ISO 100 (like Kodak Ektar) for a weekend trip and double that for a longer trip. Always toss in an extra just to be safe. You can always use your phone camera as a backup too. Since shooting film, my goal has changed from capturing everything cool that is happening (digital makes it oh so tempting), to capturing a few unique frames of what made the trip special to me.
- Consider taking two cameras
I like to pair a super small rangefinder (Ricoh 500g) with a larger DSLR (Pentax K1000). This way, one camera can have color film, and the other can have black and white. My wife and I both like to take photos, so this gives us each a camera to use, or we can leave the larger camera in the hotel room for quicker day trips and still get great photos from the rangefinder.
- Just Do It
If you’re like most photographers these days, you will feel like you’re missing out by not bringing your expensive and bulky dslr, along with 10 different lenses. However, just try travelling with a film camera, one prime lens and guarantee you will have a lot of fun.