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15 Film Photography Facts: The Analogue Art Form Uncovered

If you grew up with film photography it might not necessarily feel 'new' to you. But with the advancement in digital cameras and smartphones, it also might be something that you left in the past.

Despite this advancement in technology, the recent resurgence in film photography shows no sign of slowing down. This analogue art form is not just about capturing images; it’s about embracing a process that demands patience, skill, and an appreciation for the mechanical.

Here are 15 interesting facts about film photography that you might not know...

1. The Origins of Film

Film photography began in the late 19th century. The first commercial photographic film was introduced by George Eastman in 1888, which was originally a paper film before transitioning to a celluloid base.

2. Film Speed (ISO)

Film speed, or ISO, measures the sensitivity of the film to light. Lower ISO films require more light and generally provide finer detail, while higher ISO films are better for low light situations but produce more grain.

Find this and so much more jargon in our film photography jargon buster glossary!

3. Negative vs. Slide Film

There are two main types of photographic film: negative and slide.

Negative film produces an inverted colour image, which then is used to make positive prints. Slide film (or reversal film) produces a positive image directly, ideal for projectors.

4. The Chemistry of Film

Film photography relies on a chemical reaction in the film's emulsion layers, which are activated by exposure to light. This process is what captures the image.

5. The Darkroom Process

Developing film photography involves a darkroom and several chemicals to process the film and print images.

During the development stage, film is bleached then into the fix, followed by a wash. It then goes into the drier and exits the machine before the scanning process.

Interested to know more about the process? Take a look at our full film processing process.

6. The Range of Film Formats

Film comes in various formats, the most common being 35mm film.

However, other formats like medium format and large format offer higher resolution and detail at larger sizes.

7. Colour Film’s Evolution

Although black and white film was first developed, colour film has been around since the early 20th century.

The first practical colour film, Kodachrome, was introduced in the 1930s.

8. Analogue Cameras’ Mechanical Precision

Unlike digital cameras, most film cameras operate mechanically, with the shutter and aperture controlled directly through manual adjustments.

9. Film Grain

Grain in film photography refers to the visible specks of metallic silver evident in film and prints, which can add texture and depth to an image.

If you are just transitioning from digital to film photography shots, it's likely that you will have already noticed this subtle difference between the two formats.

10. Dynamic Range

Film is known for its impressive dynamic range, allowing it to capture more details in highlights and shadows compared to digital sensors.

11. The Holga

The Holga is a low-fidelity, inexpensive film camera that became famous for its unpredictability and the unique, vignette-styled images it produces.

This medium format camera can still be picked up today from places such as eBay, second hand stores and Facebook Marketplace.

Image credit: Wikipedia

12. The Resurgence of Film

Despite the rise of digital photography, film has seen a resurgence as photographers seek the tangible and hands-on experience it offers.

Despite the costs associated with it, it's a form of photography that has been welcomed by the Gen Z community who never grew up with film photography.

13. Film’s Role in Art

Many artists prefer film due to its high aesthetic quality and its ability to manipulate the film and development process for creative effects.

There's also some less conventional ways to show your creative flair with methods such as film souping.

14. Archival Qualities

When properly stored, film can last over a century without significant degradation, much longer than digital files which can suffer from data rot or become unreadable due to changing technologies.

If you need any proof in the pudding, we have developed many films at Film Processing that are 10, 20 and 30 + years old!

15. Community and Culture

Film photography has a vibrant community of enthusiasts who share a passion for the older technology, enjoying the slower pace and the deliberation it requires.

TikTok and Instagram have thriving communities, sharing tips and tricks on shooting analogue and beyond. Come and join our community over on Instagram!

Whether you are a seasoned photographer or a curious newcomer to film photography, understanding these facts can deepen your appreciation for film photography. If you're giving this medium a go for the first time, don't forget to get your film developed with us afterwards!

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