About a year ago (well probably just over a year ago now tbh), I decided that I wanted to have a go at film photography again. I’d been seeing a lot about Lomography cameras, and in particular the Diana, a plastic, basic but really rather nifty camera capable of some great shots.
After having a look around the interwebs, I bought a Diana Mini, a smaller version of the camera which takes 35mm film. I also bought a multipack of Fujifilm 35mm rolls from Amazon, as I thought that if I didn’t go through the rolls quickly from taking snaps, I’d probably go through them from messing them up trying to load them and stuff. It must have been well over ten years since I last took a photo with a film camera and I’d long since forgotten how to put a roll of film into a camera – and how fiddly it was to do it. However once I had got it in, I was away, pretty much shooting anything I thought was photo worthy and anything that wasn’t. My first roll was basically just me trying out the camera, getting used to it and using film again. I wasn’t holding out for any spectacular shots to come from it, but I was hoping that at least a quarter of prints from a 36 roll came back ok after processing and that there weren’t too many limbs or heads cut off.
Getting used to the Diana Mini in the first instance was tough. Most of the film cameras that I used growing up wound on automatically after taking a photo and wouldn’t let you take a shot if the lens cover was still on. With the Diana you can take a photo or two only to realise minutes later that you forgot to take the lens cap off. I know that at least three of my photos on my first roll will have ended up completely blank because of my forgetfulness. It is also very easy to forget to wind on the film before taking a photo, or to wind the film only part of the way before shooting, thus resulting in a number of double exposures and photos infiltrating other photos. In many ways however, this is a good thing, as you can get a lot of interesting photo effects from it. In fact, the booklets that come with the camera encourage you to experiment with the cameras.
I finally got my photos from the first film developed last week. Out of a 36 exposure film, I got twenty prints back, which I was pretty happy about seeing as I’d spent all week before they came back worried that I might have ruined the film taking it out of the camera, or that I’d wasted money on developing a load of photos that hadn’t come out. Here’s a few of them (note: when I said I was only testing the camera I meant it):
So that was my first experience with shooting film in years and I have to say, it’s got me wanting to stick with it. I’m not ready to ditch my DSLR or the camera on my smartphone just yet, but it’s a fun alternative. Plus there is no need to stick a filter on any you scan and share on Instagram or whatever as film photography was pretty much IG before the creators of the aforementioned app were twinkles in their mothers’ eyes. However if you are thinking of having a go, here’s a few pointers.
- Get a flash – I realised very early on if you are going to be shooting a lot indoors, even if it’s in a room that is really well lit, you will need a flash. You can buy a Diana camera that has the flash with it, or you can get one separately for around £40-£50 depending on where you look. The Diana’s flash also includes a pack of small coloured filters that you can put in the flash to give your photos a colour effect.
- Buy a multipack of films – I got a three pack of Fujifilm films for a good price from amazon when I bought my camera. Failing that, good old Poundland had some individual 35mm Agfa Vista Plus films available when I last went in there for…you know the price.
- Just have fun with it – shoot whatever you like, wherever and whenever. Don’t worry about how they’ll turn out, be excited to get the prints back. Yes you can’t crop or delete your photos like you can with your digital one but you’ll soon find out that that is a good thing. A REALLY good thing. Have a play with it, enjoy it – just remember to take the lens cap off before you shoot, yeah?