☞ Get “Community Letters” via email: a monthly overview of the latest news, events, and stories from the film photography community.
Three new shooting guides.
This month I’ve added about an hour’s worth of reads to the website, mostly centred on what I felt was missing from the online discourse in terms of technical know-how:
“8 Technical Reasons to Shoot Black and White Film.” You may have already considered creative and aesthetic differences when picking your film type; however, those aren’t particularly unique compared to digital cameras. Changing colour scans into monochrome files isn’t difficult, which is essentially how all DSLR images go monochrome. However, when it comes to our favourite analogue medium, black and white film has some tangible advantages colour can not replicate.
“How to Make Candid Portraits On Film.” It’s no secret that candid portraits are sometimes preferred over posed ones, though getting them right may not be as easy as one may think. Doing so on film has special considerations — gear and technique-wise — that I’ve spent hours researching and gathering from personal experience for this enormous resource. And because it’s so involved, I’ve turned it into a mini downloadable e-book, available for free.
“How to Get “Correct” Exposure on Film.” I remember the feeling of terror shooting my first manual camera: what if I mess up the exposure? And my discomfort reading the judgemental forum comments, “it’s underexposed!” — even though I intended my images to be dark. This guide is a culmination of years of practice and research meant to put these kinds of fears at rest. In it, I share my understanding of the true meaning and purpose of exposure (hint: it’s not the same as brightness), dynamic range, 18% grey, and metering for shadows.
FilmBase is a tiny Etsy shop I’ve been slowly growing over the past two years, listing some of the best things I came across or made — all centred around film photography.
It’s a quality-over-quantity operation, where every camera is film-tested, with all its quirks described — so please read. Shipping is free on most items; it is also carbon-offset, and the items are packaged with great care no matter what you buy.
This summer, I hope to see more of us spending time outdoors, taking photos, and generally staying away from the screens. I’m dropping my prices by 15% until June 1st to facilitate these healthier activities. Not to sound alarmist, but things tend to sell quickly on FilmBase, so I’d suggest you make up your mind fast. And I will do my best to fill the shelves with more stuff once I get some free time to shop, test, and print.
Five strange finds on eBay.
Anyone can sell almost anything on eBay, which can make it a strange place to “surf.” This past weekend I spent a few hours sifting through nearly 100,000 listings for “film camera,” looking for something out of the ordinary. Here’s what I found:
1. Zenit MT-1 SURPRISE! ENDOSCOPY! camera. Capitalization and exclamation marks are mine, but the listing is real. A perfect descriptor of the year 2020, accompanied by well-written background information — a peculiar and an unfortunately-named Russian camera system. No tubes included. It could be yours for just over $200.
2. PIC England 3x4 127 Film Disc Camera. No, it’s not a “film disc,” it’s an actual disc that works with 127 film. I really can’t tell what this is, other than it looks like a discount landmine and costs a neat $500.
3. Sunny Juice Box 35mm Film Camera. I’ve seen a few people flaunt beer-can-shaped cameras, but this one seems to take it to the next level. It actually looks oddly attractive — maybe it’s just me.
4. Lucky Fish Camera. This thing is just cute — a little strange, being a fish-camera, but definitely cute.
5. Tele-Spot 110 Binocular Camera. This camera is kind of like an iPhone in that its primary function is not photography, though it does have a way to capture something when you need to. It comes with an 80mm telephoto lens, which on 110 film is a 160mm equivalent of a full-frame.
In other news.
Silberra, the brand that failed to fulfill its promise to a good number of its backers, seems to have trouble processing payments over PayPal for its new colour film batch. Ever since they collected the funds via their IndieGoGo campaign, they’ve left Twitter and ignored requests for information. Today, they claim their C-41 film is “like Kodachrome” as the largest online payment processor may be onto them (though that’s not confirmed).
A team of Hong Kong photographers is promoting a lightweight modular 4x5 “snapshot” camera called Cosmos Circle on Kickstarter. The apparatus can handle a large variety of focal lengths, promising to be a viable solution for those looking to shoot large negatives with various lenses on the go.