Contrary to what many believe, the digital age hasn't made the film camera obsolete. Many professional and amateur photographers are still using film cameras for all or some of their picture-taking needs. Additionally, when no download is available, or the batteries on the digital camera have once again died and will need recharging, these cameras offer a steady, reliable backup source, so no one will ever have to miss that once in a lifetime photo opp!
One of the most important criteria in choosing a good film camera is knowing the purpose for which it will be used. For instance, point-and-shoot cameras are often good enough for occasional picture taking, such as at parties or special events. Point and shoot 35mm cameras are perfect for taking quick snapshots of friends and getting a decent image without worrying about advanced camera settings. They are small and portable, and easy to take along for nearly every occasion.
For any serious amateur or aspiring professional photographer, though, a single-lens reflex, or SLR camera, is a must. Control lighting, shutter speed, or change the aperture opening to enhance visibility in minimal light conditions, or reduce the glare on water or snow. A 35mm SLR camera also offers the option of changing lenses. Some lenses are ideal for taking very close shots, while others are perfect for zooming in on an object from a distance.
A well-equipped SLR camera owner will want several different lenses, including a good telephoto lens for distance and a macro lens for close up shots. A wide-angle lens is also helpful; this allows a wider shot and incorporates more background into a photo.
In addition to changing lenses for better focus, SLR camera owners can also experiment with a variety of different filters. Some filters filter out excessive blue or red from lighting, while others are designed to create special effects, such as starbursts of light, or remove excessive haziness. Consider purchasing accessories such as lens caps, hoods, or lens cases to protect these investments.
Nature buffs usually find a rangefinder camera to be a good alternative. These cameras allow photographers to judge the required distance to focus the lens and take a picture. The camera will display two copies of the image that become a single image when the camera is properly focused. These cameras aren't as large as SLR s, but they do offer more features than point-and shoot-cameras. Consider purchasing an extra lens to keep on hand just in case.
Some landscape and nature photographers prefer a higher-end medium-format camera. These cameras use film that is larger than 35m (usually 120 or 220). As a result, photos are more easily enlarged. Colors are brighter and the image is less grainy. Pictures can be printed as six-cm squares, or as 4.5x6cm rectangular photos. Some medium-format film cameras also offer panoramic shots. Others allow users to change film backs, which permits quick reloading for faster shooting. Some feature detachable lenses or viewfinders as well. Be aware that this type of film usually has to be developed at a store that offers specialty camera services, instead of the local Wal-Mart or Rite-Aid.
Large-format film cameras use large film, usually at least 4x5 films. Some even use 8x10 film. These cameras are used most often by commercial photographers. Large-format film cameras that require 8x10 film yield developed prints that are 8x10 inches in size. While these result in the highest quality images, the cameras themselves are also large and not very portable. They are usually used in photography studios.
An instant camera is often a good option for those needing a film camera that offers instant results. Polaroid cameras are a high-quality brand of instant camera; these cameras print pictures within seconds of taking them.
Choosing a camera also depends on budget. Most point-and-shoot cameras have a lower price range than the majority of rangefinder, SLR or medium-format film cameras. Deciding on an acceptable price range will largely determine the type of camera available. For example, only point-and-shoot cameras will cost less than $100 new. Sometimes, finding a good used film camera might also be a good option.
Don't forget to purchase all the necessary accessories for that new camera. Choose camera bags and cases specially designed for that camera brand, or opt for a more generic camera bag that will allow room for easy storage of a variety of camera accessories. Other important extras include film, camera batteries, and flashes. For still life or nature photography, get a good monopod or tripod for added stability. Large-format film cameras may require special camera stands.
One of the secrets to taking good pictures is taking lots of pictures. Being in the right place at the right time with a camera also helps. Digital cameras may offer many different features and conveniences, but for larger pictures or special exposures, digital cameras still can't beat film cameras. For those special occasions, even if you do prefer digital, keep an extra film camera on standby - you never know when it will come in handy!