What I’ve been up to lately: Film photography

A while back I picked up film photography again! I now am the proud owner of two film cameras, a Diana F+ and a Minolta Hi-Matic 7.

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Minolta Hi-Matic 7 on the left, Diana F+ on the right

I actually was fascinated by film a few years back, and after much pestering my mum bought for me my first film camera – a Diana F+. I was so excited back then and shot the three rolls that were included as a present, but was discouraged by how badly my first roll of film photographs turned out.

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Back then I had no idea why these dots and numbers appeared on the photographs, and thought they were part of how film photographs were supposed to be (On hindsight what was I thinking)! Also the cost of developing 120mm film was incredibly expensive and so I gave up after developing only one roll.

Recently I came across a number of film photographs on Instagram (thank you social media)¬†and it reignited my love for film photographs! There is just something magical about film and I can’t quite put a finger on what it is exactly, but I think the closest I’ve come to would be a description of how film not only captures the picture but also the soul of whoever/whatever is in the picture!

After some research I realised that those numbers appeared on the photographs because the film rolls by Lomography were actually of cheap quality. Encouraged to try again, I bought 2 rolls of Kodak Portra 400 for $14 each from the Black Market Camera store in Peninsula Shopping Centre.

Luckily, the shots came out a lot better than my first developed roll!

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At this point, I was really beginning to fall in love with film once again but the cost was a big obstacle. To buy and develop one film roll of 12 (or 16) photos would cost me approximately $27, which is expensive considering I was a complete beginner and would need a lot more practice!

After more research, I found out that 35mm (or sometimes known as 135mm films) have up to 36 exposure shots for one roll. This made more sense for me economically and I decided to invest in a 35mm film camera. I knew I wanted a sleek black one and fell in love with a few Leica models that were waaay beyond my budget.

I headed back to Peninsula Shopping Centre to try my luck after realising that there were a few camera shops in the building, and lo and behold – I found The Camera Workshop.

I walked in not knowing what I wanted, and asked the auntie at the counter for some advice on which camera a beginner to film photography should get. She introduced me to various cameras that were on sale and recommended me the Minolta Hi-Matic 7! It was love at first sight – even though it wasn’t all black, I loved how the camera looked and it was also within my budget of $200, costing $185.

The auntie then patiently taught me how to use the camera and the various settings that I needed to know. I also bought two rolls of film and my leather wrist strap, and the total came to $216. (still within my budget range YAY)

That night I found out more about the camera and discovered that it was produced between 1963 to 1965, as Minolta released the Minolta Hi-Matic 7S with two improved components in 1966. I also came across some people selling it for as cheap as US 70 on certain sites but personally I wouldn’t take the chance because of missing components/hidden faults etc. At least with a shop I knew I could head back to it if I had any problems.

While my camera isn’t brand new, it is almost in mint condition! Also, having a second hand camera makes me wonder about the stories of the person/people that have owned this camera before me.

With this camera, my love for film photography deepened! My photographs from this Minolta camera produces better quality photographs than my Diana F+, on top of being economically cheaper. A roll of 36 photos cost me a total of $16.50, which is nearly half of what my 120mm film cost me for 12 photos.

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For each roll that comes back I still have many photographs that didn’t make the cut – slightly too dark, or out of focus etc – but I’m excited to learn more and to discover the beauty of film photography!

I’ve also made an Instagram account dedicated to all my film photos, so if you’re interested in joining me on my film journey please follow @crownsxfilms !

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