Holiday 2012: Recommended Items for the Discerning Film Photographer

I have been a dedicated film shooter for the last year after selling off all my digital equipment in a frenzy and learning to develop my own B&W at home. I have had some tough and frustrating times with film, but there is really nothing quite like watching the image come to life after waiting a spell since you actually took the image to see it. The payoff when I see client’s faces light up after seeing the images for the first time since the shoot is just too big to put a price tag on.

However, all this glory only comes from some serious learning and some special equipment. If you have been shooting a toy camera for any period of time you know how drop dead simple exposure science can be, but as you progress there are things you desire to do with you images that take more than just a chance exposure and leaving it up to Walgreens’ abysmal lab. To take your film photography to the next level with just a few wishlist items, take a short perusal of this suggested equipment list and prepare for even more film photography fun!

A Decent Lightmeter

My trusty lightmeter usually comes out before the camera ever does, just so I at least have a good idea of what to expect from different lighting scenarios once I am in shooting mode. I never leave home without one, even though my Canon F1’s light meter is usually spot on. If my battery ever dies or I want some more specific exposure readings, I whip this awesome piece of tech out.

Sekonic just released some beautiful new L-478 touch-screen meters that are really getting some rave reviews. However, if your pockets don’t feel that deep you can always just go with the trusty old Sekonic L-358 for dependable readings at a great price:


Duh. What’s the point without this stuff? While it may seem asinine to include this on a recommended film photography items list, I’m going to go ahead and point out a few of my favorite current emulsions and urge you to check them out yourself.

Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Great tonal range and a wonderfully usable ISO 400 for most daytime and flash images while also playing well with D76 developer for at-home development. Ilford HP5 Plus 400 also scans easily, making this black and white film a must for any film photographer’s bag.

Lomography Sunset Strip 100

This is a beautifully subdued and warm slide film when developed normally. It has great color range when cross-processed and is the simplest slide film I’ve ever encountered when it comes to scanning, this is an excellent emulsion for almost any application. Check out Chris Gampat’s review of the Lomography Sunset Strip 100 slide film for more information on this unique and beautiful film. Only available in 35mm at this time.

Kodak New Portra 400

Kodak New Portra 400 is simply amazing film and the most recent new emulsion (and probably last) released by Kodak. While I have a hard time buying and supporting Kodak right now while they are in their death throes, this film makes it impossible not to at least throw a little money their way. With a near digital flexibility with pushing and pulling the ISO (just check out Mat Murrash’s article on Pushing Kodak Portra 400 at, not to mention the unbelievably simple scanning qualities, make this film a priority.

Fuji Reala

As the name alludes, Fujifilm Reala 100 has amazingly real color rendering with just a touch of saturation for hyper-realistic images. On its way out as Fuji has discontinued it, try to pick this amazing color-negative film up this season before it is all gone. Only available in 120 format.

Japan Camera Hunter’s Film Cases

Unfortunately these wonderful little JCH Film Cases are only currently made for 35mm rolls, but buy enough and he might consider minting some new 120 cases as well. Our very own Gevon Servo has just purchased one for himself and will be reviewing it very soon. Protect your rolls and buy film, not megapixels! (sticker not included)

Cable Release

For those times that you really don’t need to touch the camera, but you just cannot help yourself from taking a photo, make sure to grab a threaded cable release for your classic camera. Or when you are using a tripod. Just don’t forget to make sure your shutter release button on your camera is threaded for one of these bad boys.


Going hand-in-hand with the above cable release, this is not just a film thing, all photographers need one of these. Check out our post on recommended tripods to help you pick your favorite new three-legged friend this year.

A Really Good Bag to Hold it All

Also goes without saying, but camera’s are not always needing to be around your neck, sometimes you need a place to keep it safe in between shutter snaps and travel destinations. I am in the midst of reviewing the new Think Tank Retrospective 40 which is an amazing bag for just about any occasion and capable of holding any and all of these recommended wishlist items. You can also check out Bobby Zhang’s review of the slightly larger Think Tank Retrospective 50 for you 15” laptop-toting folks out there.

Rest & Relaxation

Be sure to get some R&R this holiday season, as a groggy photographer is a hard picture to get over. Cheers and happy shooting.

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