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Introductory camera guide and beginners guide on film camera and digital camera for still photography

STsite's Guide to Still Photography Camera


Yen Camera 1930 This camera guide is about camera, and film is not part of a camera, but without film the film camera is incomplete. In the early 2000s no one would have foreseen how rapidly the digital camera developed and evolved. Film is still preferred by just a handful of published who insist on photo submission based on medium format film or larger film format, no digital images or even 35mm format are accepted by them but we don't know how long this will continue.

Eastmen Kodak has no comment on how long they will continue to produce film based products. FujiFilm said they would continue to manfacture film for as long as there is demand for it in the market. Olympus Optical claimed they wanted to be the last man standing in film camera market. Laica Camera believe there is still future in film products while Konica Minolta and Canon have said they would stop making film camera in 2006.

Film still produces finer quality images and photographers who prefer film can always count on bigger size medium format film for even better image quality. However, with resolution of image sensor reaching and going beyond 16 megapixel and physical size of image sensor reaching 35mm film format the advantages of 35mm film over digital is nearly over. Film camera now is in the niche market that digital camera once was a decade ago. The position is now reversed. Nevertheless the process of capturing and processing images on film camera has a romantic and magical feel as compared to the experimental and pragmatic approach of doing it on digital.

Fuji Velvia range
Fuji professsional Velvia film in all available formats
Most consumers only use print film or negative film. Professional photographers normally use slide film or positive film; black and white films are still available on special order and usually used for record keeping and by photo artists. There are other types of films such as infra-red film, instant film, X-ray film, etc. We will only discuss negative or print film and positive or slide film. The others are in the speciality film group in limited supplis and will not be discussed here.

The advantage of negative film is it has a wider exposure latitude, usually 4-stop over exposure to 3-stop under exposure. Exposure latitude is the amount of over or under exposure that a film can allow and still produces acceptably good quality photographs. The wider latitude makes negative film more forgiving for exposure mistakes so getting a "good" picture is easier. It is also cheaper to produce photo prints with negative films as compared to slide films.

Positive films or slide films have a very narrow exposure latitude, around 1-stop over and under exposure, therefore require more precise exposure settings. Cameras with a better and more accurate exposure system help. Low-end cameras are not designed for slide films - you get better luck with high-end to mid range cameras. However, pictures from slides or positive films when correctly exposed, produce brighter and more contrasting images than negative films and look sharper as well. To view slides or positive films and in order to see all that sparkle, colour saturation and sharpness, you need to invest in a slide projector and a projection screen.

Film speed is another area we should consider when choosing films. Film speed is measured in ISO rating. The higher the ISO rating the faster the film and more sensitive to light.

Slow speed films are films with ISO rating below 80. This type of film produces super fine grain, high contrast images, strong colour saturation, ultra sharp and high image quality - a good choice if you need large enlargement from your photo but it demands good lighting condition. Suitable for outdoor photography but a tripod is a must with slow film.

Medium speed films are films around 100 to 200 ISO suitable for general use under normal lighting, produce fine grain and good results. Medium speed films of ISO 200 are the most versatile film with a balance between speed and image quality.

Fast films with ISO 400 are good for low light, spot photography, action shots and indoor pictures. 400 ISO speed film of today
Large Format film camera
A Large format film camera uses sheet film as large as 8 x 10 inches
can produce good pictures with fairly good colour and contrast. For better results with indoor photography using compact cameras try 400 ISO films. They produce better pictures with the tiny built-in flash on the compact camera than ISO 200 films. There are also ultra fast films above ISO1600. They produce grainy images, low colour saturation and poor sharpness, but may get the picture in dim light when others have to pack their cameras and go home.

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