Photography Cheat Sheet: Shooting Manual Photography in Film


If you’ve decided to go the more challenging route of shooting manual when using film, you’ll definitely need today’s photography cheat sheet.

As if manual photography isn’t already challenging as is with digital cameras, believe it or not, some prefer doing it on film. If that sounds like a challenge you want to try, we have something to help make that a bit easier for you. Today’s manual photography cheat sheet, by The Studio at Zippi, is especially put together with tips to help film photographers get great results.

Whether you want to step away from all those film photography filters presets and shoot with the real thing, or simply want to try something new, going the film route will require a different workflow. As the cheat sheet below notes, it will involve some planning in terms of what, where, and how you’ll shoot. If you haven’t tried shooting manually with film before, or never shot with film at all, the tips below will definitely help.

For starters, choose your film format. It could be something based on what camera you have or can get your hands on. If you just got your hands on a camera and are not sure what film it uses, look up the format. Some of the most common types of film today are 35mm, 120 (medium format), and instant film.

Next, decide what ISO to get for your film. As the cheat sheet indicated, you can choose from ISO 50 to ISO 3200 based on how bright your shooting conditions will be. If you’re shooting on a sunny day, use ISO 100 film. If you’re shooting on an overcast day or bright indoors, use ISO 400 film. If it’s complete overcast, dusk, or indoors, go for at least ISO 800. To be safe, bring one roll for each kind of shooting condition, especially if you plan to shoot all day. One thing to take note of is that the higher the ISO, the more grainy your photos will look.

Next, learn how the Exposure Triangle and Sunny 16 Rule work so you can take charge of setting your aperture and shutter speed based on the ISO you’re using. It will greatly help if your camera has a built-in light meter. If it doesn’t, you can make your own paper light meter or Sunny 16 guide wheel.

Finally, apply some composition techniques to your photos. You have a limited number of snaps per roll, so better make them count! Rule of Thirds, leading lines, cropping for portraits, clever use of negative space, and repetition will help you compose your shots and get great photos.

Need more photography tips and tricks like these? We have lots more photography cheat sheets that will apply to both digital and film photography. Step right up and check them out!