As we discussed not too long ago, film photography is enjoying a renaissance, and it isn’t just older photographers who started out in film coming back to the medium. It’s also photographers who had their first experience with film recently.
If you’re new to film photography and still trying to settle into the analogue landscape, allow me to be of assistance and suggest 5 affordable accessories that every film photographer should own.
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A Light Meter
If you have a camera that doesn’t have a light meter (or a working light meter), you’re obviously going to need a way to determine exposure.
One way to do that is to use the Sunny 16 rule as a guideline. Or use a handheld light meter.
Light meters can be pretty costly, but there’s really no need for anything fancy. The Sekonic L-308S-U is an extremely popular choice among photographers of all levels because it’s accurate, easy to operate and affordable (it can easily be found for less than $200).
If you want an even cheaper option, use your mobile device as a light meter. There’s no shortage of light meter apps available for iOS and Android devices. Many of these apps are free and offer basic features. More robust versions should cost more than $10.
Deteriorating light seals afflict all film cameras at some point. A camera’s light seals are essential for preventing light from getting into the rear of the camera and ruining the film.
Replacing a camera’s light seals isn’t a particularly difficult task, but it can be time-consuming, especially if you need to fix multiple cameras.
A quicker and simpler solution is to tape over the edges of the camera back after you’ve loaded your film. Works like a charm in my experience.
If you get your film processed by a lab, they probably return your negatives in a set of opaque plastic sleeves — they provide protection, but that’s about it. And if you plan to process your own film, how do you intend to keep your negatives safe?
You need storage pages.
These archival preservers are made for 35mm, medium format, 4×5 and 8×10 films, you can get them in packs of 25 or 100, they are inexpensive and you can use them to make contact sheets.
Soft Shutter Button
Most film cameras, especially those manufactured before 1990, have a threaded shutter button. The threaded shutter button was designed to accommodate a screw-in remote release cable.
A threaded shutter release can also accept a soft-release button.
This button isn’t just to make a camera look cool — though it does accomplish that. More importantly, a soft-release button helps distribute pressure over a greater area, giving you more control and stability when you press the shutter button.
You can get a set of two or three soft shutter buttons for under $10, which is good because you will likely lose a few of them. Look for buttons that come with a rubber gasket — this ensures a tighter attachment.
Remote Cable Release
Since there’s no USB or infrared technology in your film camera, the only way to do long exposure photography is with a remote shutter release cable.
This simple accessory that screws into your camera’s shutter button shouldn’t set you back more than $10.
So there you have it — five accessories that will help make any film photographer’s life a bit simpler. While all these items are utilitarian, they’re also budget-friendly. That means you will have more money to spend on film.