How shooting film changed my photography game

Film saved my love for photography and I’m sure I’m not alone. Before I entered into the world of film cameras, I hadn’t taken photos for a very long time (years). My partner recently took an interest in photography, doing research, finding photography inspiration, buying his beloved Fiju X-T20 and taking his photography to the streets. Despite having all this around me, my love never rekindled – until we delved into the world of film.

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During our 2017 trip to Japan, we came across a small vintage camera shop in the quiet streets of Omori. As we approached the shop, I felt my partner skip a few steps in excitement careful not to seem too eager. We were greeted by the friendly face of the shop owner and a treasure trove of preloved photography gear. Being new to film, we were not sure what we were looking for but we both knew we could not leave the shop without taking anything home. My partner approach the shop owner and kindly asked him with the little Japanese he knew,

“Do you understand English?”
“Sukoshi,” he replied.

Brilliant he understood a little English. After a bit of going back and forth, we found a perfect film camera for a beginner. The NIKON FG 35mm camera with a Zoom-Nikkor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 lens macro lens. He kindly gave us a camera bag and a strap with the camera + lens for ¥10,000 (approx AUS$110). We thought it was a pretty good deal!

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This camera changed the game for me and my interest for photography came back. We put the camera on the auto program mode and started shooting. But why does film appeal to me more? Here are a few reasons; 

  • Each shot is precious – Because you don’t want to waste your film, you make sure every picture you take is saying something worth snapping.
  • Looking through a view finder – Without the luxury of a larger screen, you must look through the view finder. This actually helps you a lot with the composition and framing of the picture.
  • Back to basics: Though there were more fancy options on my camera, I kept it simple with a programmed mode and manual focus. This helped me focus on what I enjoy most, story telling and composition.
  • THE BEST BIT – Getting your photos developed is like Christmas day ! I love having to wait to see how my pictures turned out and how I can make them better next time.

If you’re looking for a new hobby or a new way of taking photos, I highly recommend taking up film photography. Snapping pictures with film is fun and hunting for the cameras is JUST as enjoyable. My partner and I got addicted (more of him) to searching for vintage cameras in Japan. We’ll let you know how those cameras turn out!

Here are some pictures I took in Roppongi, Tokyo with the Nikon FG. Enjoy!

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