Beginner's Guide Posted On 27th April 2017 To Beginner Series
Whether you are new to film photography or picking it up again after a number of years, it is very easy to get started and a rewarding activity regardless of your level of expertise.
Introduction to film photography
To get you started we've created a series of animations that will introduce you to the world of film photography. These short 60 second animated videos cover a range of topics and terminologies to quickly get you up to speed. From f-stop to film types, these videos are the perfect entry point into your analogue journey. For more detailed introductions we have created videos showing you how to process your first film, how to make a basic contact sheet and how to make your first print. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more 'how to' videos.
Buying / borrowing your first film camera
A great way to get started is to take a look at the thriving second-hand market. It is very possible to pick up an excellent used film camera for a bargain price. As with any piece of second-hand equipment, we would advise you to check its condition before purchasing. If you are looking for something new and affordable to get you started try the HARMAN Reusable Camera which comes with two rolls of Kentmere film.
You should also check with family and friends to see if they have an old camera they can lend you. You would be surprised how many people still have one somewhere in their house! For those familiar with digital photography, unsurprisingly film cameras work in much the same way with the main difference being you can’t instantly view your images on the back of the camera. To see how a film Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera works watch this animation.
Choosing a film
Choosing a film might at first appear a daunting proposition. How do you know which one is right for you and what are the differences?
We love all our films equally (naturally) but many film photographers have a personal preference based on several attributes including grain structure, contrast, exposure latitude and speed. Our film format animation gives a quick overview of the different types of film and our ISO animation covers the applications of each film speed. Which to choose will be down to personal preference but we have given you some pointers here.
Where to buy
Many retailers around the world stock our products but they aren’t always on display (films, for example, are best kept refrigerated). If you can’t see what you are after in your local photographic store we recommend asking at the counter. If they don’t stock it then get in touch with us and we will speak to our regional distributors.
We have also created a handy tool which will let you find a local stockist as well as online retailers in your country. If you live in the UK or USA you can also buy directly from us via this website.
Finding a darkroom
Congratulations you have shot a roll of film and are half way through your analogue journey. Luckily processing film and printing in a darkroom is just as much fun as the shooting! There is something very special about seeing your print develop for the first time and with a little bit of practice, you will soon be able to master a variety of creative techniques to take your images to the next level.
Our creative customers convert everything from their bathrooms and bedrooms to their garden sheds and even the cupboard under the stairs! Many are willing to share their darkrooms and our darkroom finder tool enables you to find one in your area*. We also list commercial darkrooms here too.
Picking a paper
Like choosing a film, paper choice is based on personal preference and largely depends on the look you want to achieve. Our MULTIGRADE papers are the leading black & white analogue photographic papers and come in different tones (cool, neutral and warm) and a choice of surfaces (i.e. Pearl, Glossy, Matt etc) and substrates (i.e. Fibre or Resin Coated bases). Again, we appreciate this choice can be a little daunting for those unfamiliar with the different terminology and options so we have written a guide to picking your perfect paper.
What chemistry should I use
Don’t know the difference between your Bromophen and your Hypam? Confused with whether you need ID-11 or Ilfotec DD-X? Don’t worry we have simplified it here and you’ll pick this up in no time. Our guide to getting started with Chemistry, will have you chanting “dev, stop, fix and wash” before you know it!
Find a lab
If you don’t want to develop your own film or make your own prints just yet, then you will need to send them off to a commercial lab service. We run the excellent HARMANlab.com service in the UK and USA. We have also pulled together a list of labs that specialise in black & white prints. Please note that with the exception of XP2 SUPER, you cannot process our films with the colour C41 processing available in high street chemists and supermarkets.
*Please note that we cannot validate the facilities or the hosts of our darkroom finder service. Using this service is done so at your own discretion.