I’ve wanted to get into film photography for ages, but it’s an expensive hobby to add to my already expensive hobby of digital photography. On top of that, there are lots of questions to answer: what camera to buy? A rangefinder? An SLR? What film to use? How to use it? And what if I capture the best moment of all time but the roll comes back blank?
There’s a lot to learn and honestly I didn’t know where to start, so I shelved the idea for a bit. Eventually the call to try film became so strong I decided to dip my toe into the analogue world by buying a point and shoot. An old-school Olympus AM-100 from the 80s to be exact, not much of a step up from the disposable cameras that, back in my youth, used to be a prerequisite for school trips and summer family barbecues. In this case you still pick it up, point it and shoot, you just don’t throw it away after each use.
After a bit of research I chose Kodak Ektar 100 for the first roll of film to try. From sample images by other photographers I’ve seen using the film stock I loved the colours, saturation and contrast. By and large the images I shot on Ektar 100 with the AM-100 have lovely contrast and vibrant colours as expected, but in harsh sunlight I was expecting (and hoping) for less detail in the shadows and more detail in the highlights. But that’s down to the camera and not the film, or maybe it was the way the negatives were scanned in by the camera shop… or both? I suppose I can’t fault the camera or the scanner from giving a pretty decent and even exposure.
In any case that’s all part of the constriction and charm of the point and shoot, pretty much no technical control like not being able to push or pull the film or change the exposure; the camera does all that for you whether you like it or not. When I first got the scans back I was a little disappointed finding the images softer in sharpness than I expected too but then I had another look. The whole point of trying film photography with a cheap old point and shoot was to throw perfection out the window and just to enjoy process.
Hitting the streets with no set aim, just occasionally raising the camera to my eye, framing up in a split second and clicking the shutter with no thought to iso settings, or f stop, or shutter speed, or anything technical; just the sheer joy of pointing and shooting and hoping for the best is unparalleled and a breath of fresh air in the high resolution pixel-peeping age of digital photography today.
I can see myself having a lot of fun with this little camera and maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll get a shot that I print for my wall, grain, motion blur, awkward composition and all. Oh, and as for dipping my toe into the world of film photography? Now I’m hooked.