The Album Cover

Every year during the summer run some 35mm film through my Grandad’s old camera. Nearly 45 years ago he used it to take thousands of photos of me and my kid brother. When Grandad got ill it was passed to me to put on a shelf like an ornament. But I keep picking it off the shelf and taking it camping.

I am a fancy kind of guy so I go to Analogue Wonderland to buy fancy film. In part it is an extension of of my love of lo-fi film photography using cameras like Holgas, Vivetars, pinhole cameras I’ve made out of … a can of Stella one Friday night. So I bought some fancy film, specifically a roll of CINESTILL 50D.

Cinestill 50D 35mm film brings a unique slice of movie magic to your still photographs.

Shooting a roll of film comes with the restriction of 36 shots and the price tag of £1 a shot. Then you have to wait weeks to find out what happened… and you can’t tell if anything is going to come out at all until it comes back from being developed. On top of all of this, I don’t shoot film all of the time and this camera is fully manual…

The CINESTILL film produces colours that I absolutely love! The contrast between the greens

The CINESTILL film produces colours that I absolutely love! The contrast between the greens and the reds in this shot from the gardens at Mount Grace Priory are stunning.

One issue with film is aspect ratio. 35mm with a fixed focal length of 50mm gives a very retro look.

Where I most often see my images displayed is a 16×9 widescreen TV using a Chromecast. This gives a cinematic feel but loses the retro 3:2 look of film. Instagram ideally needs a 4×5 vertical crop for people to take notice. And I’m not sure how I feel about cropping film images. Which is weird because I’d have no qualms whatsoever if I took these on the EOS-R. So in this post I have different crops. And I don’t know how I feel about it.

If you scroll back a few posts, you’ll see I took lots of photos of Ruth’s bike. Look how retro it is on film!

This could be 1983!

The chromatic aberration of the mirror finished exhaust is completely out of control! I think I like it. Check it out if you zoom in to this swan.

In the chromatic aberration of her wings.

Of course, a fully manual film camera takes me so much longer for each shot. I missed the point where she was turning her eggs.

Film photography gives me joy in so many different ways. Many of them are hard to describe for quantifiable reasons. When you take a photo of people it seems like much more of a commitment to the moment. The sound of the shutter rolling. The twist of the handle to wind on to the next shot. The speed of the manual focus – or in my case, the lack of speed.

An Olympus OM-1n Shot With an Olympus OM-1n

Final Thoughts

With film, the imperfections are part of the experience. Notice that I’ve not shared perfect images. If I wanted perfect, I’d bring the EOS-R.

When the sun goes in, everything becomes dull and lifeless – partly because I keep under exposing shits like it’s a digital camera. This is a habit that’s hard to break.

The most amazing thing is that if you want the easy way to a retro look in your photos, get an old camera and run some film through it. The photo below is far from perfect. It is a cloudy day in Whitby. Good friends are out of focus and not looking at the camera. I love it. This is how to transform 2023 into 1983. It’s perfect.

199 Steps Later