Everyday With Film

Okay my friends!  If you are reading this then you are ready to start shooting film! 

Shooting film has been a complete game changer for me.  It's freed me from my computer (no post processing or editing), allowed me to shoot more and work less, and has inspired me artistically!  What's there not to love!

If you are going to start incorporating film into your life and work, there are a few things you need to know.

In this post, I'll walk you through everything I use when shooting film for work and with my family.

Film Cameras

There are many kinds of film cameras available on the market, the most common being small format (35mm) and medium format.  There are also large format, rangefinders, polaroids, and toy cameras like Dianas and Holgas.  

To get into each and every type of camera would be a workshop in and of itself so, for the sake of this post, I'll share what I use in my daily life as a film photographer.

Sandra Coan | Film photography everyday | What you need to get started

Small Format Cameras

Small format, or 35mm, cameras a great choice especially if you are just getting into film photography.  They look and feel like the DSLRs we are used to working with, and they are extremely affordable!  I shoot with a Canon Elan 7e, and I believe it goes for about $50 on eBay!  


The other great thing about 35mm cameras is that many of them will be compatible with your current collection of lenses! Just look for a model that is in the same family as the DSLR you already have!  

And, shooting a 35mm camera means that your get to use 35mm film, which is less expensive than medium format film and has a staggering 36 exposures per roll!  (thats a big deal in the film world)

35mms are also fast and the newer models have autofocus capabilities!

The only downside to small format cameras is the grain size. These cameras are called 35mms because that is the size of their negatives.  The small negatives mean more grain in your images.  I personally like the grain, and shoot 35mm almost exclusively when photographing my own family.

Sandra Coan | Medium format cameras | Film Photography everday

Medium Format Cameras

35mm is what I use when shooting my family because it's fast and convenient, but when I'm in the studio working with clients, I always shoot medium format!

Medium format negatives are significantly bigger that 35mm negatives and a bigger negative means less grain.  The images I get from my medium format cameras are clear, sharp and smooth.  That said, I know a ton of professional film photographers who prefer to use 35mm even when working in studio.  It really is just a matter of preference.

Medium Format cameras are designed to take either 120 or 22o film however, as of last year, 220 is no longer in production. You can expect to get 10 to 16 frames per roll of 120 film (depending on the type of camera you are using)

Light Meters

If you are going to shoot film, you are going to need a light meter!

There are many brands of light meters on the market.  I use a Sekonic L-358.  It's old, but I love it.  To learn how to use your meter and how to meter for film, follow this link.


Once you've decided the type of film camera you are going to use, you'll need to get film!  When shopping for film, make sure that you are getting some that will fit your camera!  I can't tell you how many new photographers accidentally buy 120 film when starting out, only to find that it won't fit in their 35mm camera! So double check before you buy!

There are many film stocks on the market!  Two of the most popular stocks are Kodak Portra 400 and Fuji 400h.  Personally, I'm a Fuji girl.  But you really can't go wrong with either stock.  Both brands have a tremendous latitude range.  Just remember to err on the side of overexposure.  

You should also know, that Portra 400 is a warm tone film and Fuji 400h is a cool tone film.  I recommend trying them both to see which you like best!

Now, put some film in your camera and go take some pictures!