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Celebrating the art, process, and gear of the film photography community!

05 Nov '15

The Ultimate Gift Guide for Film Photographers

Posted by Mike Padua

SEE THE UPDATED 2018 VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE HERE!

Okay, so maybe "ultimate" might be a bit of hyperbole. The fact is, this list is still growing and constantly evolving, so bookmark it and keep checking back. And some of the fine companies listed have been nice enough to offer my readers coupon codes, so be sure to take advantage of those discounts!

Gift giving seems to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it feels good to give a loved one something they need, want, and appreciate. On the other hand, one can potentially give a gift that the recipient simply doesn't like. I'm here to try to help you, the gift giver, with a guide that looks into what photographers, and more specifically, photographers who shoot with film, might be hoping to get as a gift.

To begin my research, I did an informal poll of several active Facebook groups that deal with film photography. I started by asking the groups what they want in a gift. The items listed here are simply the most popular answers, along with a price range and a description of the gift. I've sorted the items from least to most expensive, in hopes to help those of us on a budget. All prices are USD. Let's get started!

FILM, FILM, AND MORE FILM

Film makes a great gift for photographers!

Price range: $4.00 to $9.00 (per roll)

Here's the biggest no-brainer on the list, and the least expensive, too: Film! While there are many, many different types of film, let's take a look at the most popular variations that you can't go wrong with.

For those who shoot high volume, general scenes, and don't mind the "cheap" stuff: Kodak Gold 200, Kodak Ultramax 400, or Fujifilm Superia 400.

For those who shoot a lot outdoor scenes in bright light: Kodak Ektar 100, Fujichrome Provia 100F

For those who shoot people/portraits: Kodak Portra, Fujifilm PRO400H,

For those who shoot Black & White: Kodak Tri-X or T-Max, Ilford HP5 or Delta.

For night and long exposure photography: Fujifilm Neopan Acros or Provia 100F

Hand-rolled, experimental, and other unique films: Film Photography Project Store

TIP: Film comes in different formats/sizes. The most common ones are 35mm and 120 (known as medium format); find out which size you need to get before buying!

JAPAN CAMERA HUNTER FILM CASES

Japan Camera Hunter Film Cases

Price: Starts at $9.00

Simple and handy, these film cases hold rolls of film in a compact space. Available in 10- and 5-space versions, these inexpensive cases will be useful to most any film photographer. He even has a version filled with a "Surprise"--a case filled with various types of surprise film.

Click here to buy Japan Camera Hunter Film Cases

PATCHES, STICKERS, AND LAPEL PINS FROM SHOOT FILM CO.

Price range: $2 to $10

Okay, full disclosure: I design, create, and market these patches from this website. The film photography community has really taken to the message and they have been super popular with film shooters that want to adorn their jackets, hats, and bags with the message that film is alive and well. The stickers are made from durable vinyl outdoor usage like cars, and the patches are custom embroidered and made in the USA.

Click here to shop patches and stickers from Shoot Film Co.

ILFORD SINGLE USE BLACK & WHITE CAMERAS

Price: $10

Fun to use, readily available and easily processed, Ilford offers single use cameras loaded with 27 exposures of their HP5 or XP2 film.

Click here to buy Ilford Single Use cameras

HOYA FILTERS

Price range: $10.00 to $30.00

Filters can range from protective (clear/UV) to having special purposes, such as neutral density or color balancing. They come in different sizes so make sure to get the right size for your photographer's lenses. Hoya is a great brand that is a great balance of price and performance.

Click here to buy Hoya Filters.

CAMERA STRAPS BY DOMKE

Domke Straps

Price range: $13 to $40

Domke camera straps and bags have long been the standard bearer for photojournalists. Unpretentious, well built and inexpensive. They just work.

Click here to buy Domke Straps.

 

SELF PUBLISHED BLURB BOOK

Price range: $14.99 and up--but the bigger the book, the more expensive it gets.

Using Blurb, you can create, publish, and sell your own collection of works in a book. Few things are as satisfying for a photographer as seeing their work printed. This is a fun way to be able to get pictures from a negative to a printed page. They offer options for direct sales, sales through Amazon, and even eBook sales.

Check out Blurb here.

HIGH QUALITY PRECISION SCREWDRIVER SET

Price: $18.50

If  you've noticed your film-shooting loved one is always buying, taking apart, and fixing old cameras, then this is the perfect inexpensive gift. Precision screwdrivers are a necessity for taking apart cameras and the many other things that need repairing and tinkering around the house. Many sets can be had for only a few dollars, but those are usually of low quality and break or wear down quickly. This set is of high quality and sure to last much longer than cheaper sets.

Click here to buy the precision screwdriver set

FINDING VIVIAN MAIER (DOCUMENTARY FILM)

Finding Vivian Maier

Price: $18
Vivan Maier worked as a nanny and was known to be socially reclusive. After she died, it was also discovered that she was a inexplicably talented street photographer that had thousands upon thousands of negatives discovered by people in her storage locker. Curated exhibits, books, and even a documentary have been created about her discovery and her beautiful work.

Click here to buy Finding Vivian Maier.

BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS!

To a photographer, (especially a film photographer), there is nothing quite like a printed photo. Seeing photos by the masters in books is one of the most satisfying and engrossing ways a photographer can spend their time. They can enjoy, learn, and get lost in the images. Here are some suggestions that come the most highly recommended by film photographers:

Magnum Contact Sheets - $50

Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961 - 1967 - $150

Vivian Maier: Street Photographer - $24

Barstow - by Dave Hill - $30

500 Cameras - $20

Instant: The Story of Polaroid - $20

The Polaroid Book - $13

DOMKE PROTECTIVE WRAPS

Price: $20

These versatile and protective wraps can be used for lenses, cameras, tools, or anything else that needs protection. Come in a variety of sizes different colors for quick visual identification and organization. They are made from a padded velcro-compatible knit with a non-scratch nylon backing.

Click here to buy Domke Protective Wraps.

NEOPRENE LENS POUCHES

Price: $20

These lens pouches are inexpensive and help protect the multiple lenses one might have. The belt loops and clips will help you to attach the pouches anywhere you want. They can be purchased individually in different sizes, or an an economical 4-pack for only $20.

Click here to buy Neoprene Lens Pouches


FILM PROCESSING

Gift certificates starting at $25

Any film photographer will naturally need their film processed. The easiest way for you to give this is a gift is to find a lab that processes film AND sells gift certificates! One such lab is Old School Photo Lab. They accept film by mail, process it, and mail back the processed film. They can even scan for you; they upload the scanned images onto a secure website where you can download them. Especially convenient since you don't have to wait to get the negatives or CDs back to view the photographs.

Click here to buy gift certificates from Old School Photo Lab

CUB AND COMPANY ACCESSORIES

Price Range: $45 to $120; use code "shootfilm" at checkout to get 15% off your order. Expires December 31, 2015.

Beautiful, high quality artisanal straps, made from scratch, by hand, using full grain leather. They have other accessories and apparel like pins, patches, and hats too. An especially useful product are their film holsters, made by hand by founder Joel Chavez and designed to attach to a backpack strap. There is also a smaller belt version designed to hold 2 rolls, made to attach to a belt, but can also be attached to a backpack strap. The bonus here is that you're buying from and supporting the craftsman and photographer that makes these pieces!

Click here to shop Cub and Company.

FPP INFRARED ULTRA WIDE AND SLIM CAMERA GIFT BOX

FPP Ultra Wide and Slim Infrared Camera Gift Box

This is going to the quirkiest gift for the photographer that has everything. This cult-status camera has been modified to shoot infrared film, and packaged in the box are two rolls of color infrared and one roll of black & white infrared film. Check out the samples in the FPP shop for the unique results this combo can get.

Shop FPP Infrared Ultra Wide and Slim Camera

CAMERA BAG/CASE

Price range: $50 to $500

Here's where you're going to start getting into some deep thought/research. A camera bag can be a very personal thing for a photographer. They come in many styles, shapes, and sizes. Does the photographer like sleek and modern? Or maybe vintage and military-inspired? Messenger-bag style or backpack? There are enough options to make your head spin, but a little bit of observation on your part will go a long way into the type of camera bag they might like. Here are a few suggestions:

Domke - The longtime workhorse for journalists, Domke bags and accessories (like the straps I mentioned earlier) are of excellent quality, simply designed, and unpretentious. Function definitely precedes form in their design, though that's not to say the design is at all lacking. The Domke design aesthetic sits somewhere in between vintage and modern, and they definitely don't cry "I'm a camera bag, steal me!"

Billingham - Gorgeous, vintage styled bags designed and made in Britain. Famous for being sturdy and long lasting, these bags have a legacy dating back to the 70's and retain their quality and heritage to this day. They offer a number of different sizes but each version retains the look of a Billingham.

Filson - U.S.A.-made bags that are classic in style and have a long heritage of fine craftsmanship and quality. They have lines that are "designed" in part by famed photographers Steve McCurry and David Allan Harvey (they have pictures on the website with these photographers pointing at fabric samples!), so expect to pay a bit more to have those names attached. The bags certainly are beautiful.

Think Tank - Lots of gear to cart around from job to job, location to location? Think Tank is the preference of many professionals that have an abundance of equipment that has to be carried and moved safely. The Airport series is classically and simply styled as rolling luggage, with lots of room, compartments, and padded dividers.

HOME DEVELOPMENT SUPPLIES

If you've got a darkroom nut on your hands that likes to develop at home, home development supplies are always handy, and always needed. Freestyle Photographic has the entire range of supplies needed to stock a darkroom, or to get a novice started on developing their own film. There are lots of pieces involved, but Freestyle Photographic Supplies has created a guide to all the essential equipment needed for a darkroom in the handy list below. All the tools and chemicals can get confusing, so a gift certificate might be in order. Freestyle Photographic offers certificates that you can order by phone.

Shop home development supplies from Freestyle Photographic

FILM FRIDGE/FREEZER

Price range: $130 and up

You've probably noticed that your film-shooting loved one has claimed a good portion of real estate in the refrigerator for something other than food--precious, precious film. That's right, film expires--it must be refrigerated, or even better, frozen to keep the emulsion from losing sensitivity and causing colors shifts. If you find yourself running out of space for food because of a freezer or refrigerator full of film, this is the gift you're looking for. These are not specialized refrigerators--they're the same kind you put your sodas and beer in when you were in college, but one you can dedicate solely for the storage of film!

Click here to shop for personal refrigerators

LUMU LIGHT METER

Price: $149

Many old film cameras don't have a light meter. Remedy that for your film shooter using a small, relatively inexpensive light meter that attaches to a smartphone. Companies like Sekonic have made standalone handheld light meters for years, but for those who like to travel light, the Lumu is a great solution since the smartphone will be pulling double duty as a light meter and most everybody will be carrying a phone anyway. TIP: make sure the smartphone being used is compatible with the Lumu!

Click here to buy a Lumu Light Meter

MiNT Instant Flex L70 Twin Lens Instant Camera

Price: $319

A twin-lens camera that uses Fujifilm Instax instant film. Stylish, and attention-getting, it looks like a classic camera. It's a new concept and it looks like a lot of fun to shoot!

Click here to buy the MiNT InstantFlex TL70

LEICA M6 + 50MM SUMMICRON

Price range: $1,600 to $2,800

We're getting up there in price range, and this item is definitely a luxury, though likely to last a lifetime. Considered one of the finest rangefinders ever, and what many believe is Leica's finest iteration of their M line of film rangefinders. Operates mechanically and still fires without batteries. While you can find bargains on auction sites such as Ebay for a price at the lower end of the spectrum, I suggest sourcing yours from Bellamy at JapanCameraHunter.com because he can find you a clean, working model that he can guarantee amongst a vast used market. You don't always know what you're getting into with an Ebay auction unless the seller is very knowledgeable and reputable, so working with a reputable dealer like Japan Camera Hunter is highly recommended for extra piece of mind. It might take him some time to source the perfect combo, so contact him early!

Click here to get in touch with Japan Camera Hunter

The following ideas can vary in price widely, and will require a bit more involved and extensive research.

PRINT FROM A FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHER

Very few things are as important to a film photographer as the print. Many photographers don't consider a photo finished until it's printed. Thus, a print from a favorite photographer is sure to warm the heart and bring years of joy. If you already know who some favorite photographers are, then finding out if prints are available are an internet search away. You might also ask in casual conversation who some favorites are if you don't already know.

PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS/WORKSHOP

Learning from those with more experience, and learning alongside other like-minded people can be a very motivating and fulfilling experience for any artist. Photography classes and workshops are a great way to quickly advance one's knowledge and ability in a fun and challenging way. There are literally hundreds of workshops held all over the world, so you'll have to do the legwork on finding something suitable.

TRIP/ VACATION

This could be as good for you as it is for the recipient of the gift! Taking a trip to a new destination with the focus being on photography can help to rejuvenate a photographer with a change of scenery. Is there a place you've both dreamed of going? Then this can be a gift for both you! Just be prepared to stop more often when the photographer sees a beautiful scene and needs to get the tripod set up.

12 Oct '15

In The Frame: Photographer Dave Hill on His Book "Barstow" and Shooting Film on Commercial Jobs

From Dave Hill's book,

For many photographers with commercial aspirations, one of the names that will invariably come up as a source of inspiration is Dave Hill.

Earlier on in his career, he was known for creating complex, high-concept composite images with digital photography and Photoshop, with which he became synonymous.

His personal work harkens back to something much simpler--most of the personal images he shares on his site and social channels seem to be shot with his Leica M6.

More recently, we have gone behind the scenes with Dave on big commercial jobs he shot on film, such as for Honda and Jeep (watch those Behind the scenes videos--seriously, we'll wait), and quiet lifestyle images using only natural light.

He's obviously been very busy shooting commercial jobs--and that he has been able to convince art buyers at such high levels to approve campaigns to be shot with film is nothing short of amazing today.

But late last year, he quietly launched a book of his personal medium format film work chronicling his travels through the city of Barstow, CA. It is a quiet book full of revealing images and moments of peoples' lives in a small town. Dave took a few minutes to tell us about the book.

Tell us about yourself and your commercial work

My name’s Dave Hill. I’m from Carlsbad, CA and now live in Los Angeles with my wife and 15month old daughter.  I got my start in photography in high school in the 90’s, shooting my friends skating and snowboarding.  I went to UCLA for History and they had an amazing daily newspaper.  I joined freshman year as an intern.  We had to roll, process, and scan all of our own film, mostly TRI-X 400.  The UCLA newspaper is were I really learned how to approach people without fear.  It was a wild time. I became the Photo Editor my senior year in 2000.  I got to spend our entire photo equipment budget that year on the new Nikon D1, so I had a very early start in digital.

That led me to spend the next 4 years after college really getting into Photoshop and compositing and creating worlds.  I was also in a punk band at the time and started shooting a ton of music groups.  No one was really compositing in the music scene yet, so I started to get meetings and attention from bigger artists and labels.  From there, it led to a bunch of rappers and lots of CD packages, and then eventually, into the advertising world.

The entire time, though, I was regretting my obsession with Photoshop and really yearning to get back out and just shoot film with natural light.  My longest break in shooting film was from 2003-2005.  After those couple years of gaining weight and living in Photoshop, I bought my first Leica M6 and 35mm f2 lens on Craigslist.  That was my first film cam purchase since my Nikon N70 is 1998!

So it’s taken me about 10 years from when I got that Leica, to now being finally hired for some natural light commercial jobs.  It was really, REALLY tough to break out of the compositing world.  At some point, I just had to accept loosing the bigger budgets and retouching fees and just go for it.  The past few years I’ve really been trying to push film and at least non-composite lifestyle images to all my clients.  It’s been a tough trying to impress anyone these days.

The bonus from my lack of Photoshop time has been more exploration back into street photography. I used to love shooting street and journalism stuff in college and the past 1-2 years, I’ve been taking random weekends off, documenting areas that fascinate me.

From Dave Hill's book,


Your book "Barstow" is quite a departure from you commercial work. What is the motivation for it?

I love the desert.  I always have.  My dad used to take us camping to Anza-Borrego in East San Diego camping.  We’d go dirt biking, shoot guns, bond with my brothers.  It was awesome.  We’d pass lots of random towns, including Barstow, from time to time.  

As an adult, I’ve passed through Barstow on the way to Vegas like everyone else, but always had a fascination with it.  My wife is awesome and a few times, we were bored in LA and decided to drive to Barstow, watch a movie at the little ghetto theater in town, and stay at the Ramada. It’s an experience.  After doing that a couple times, I really wanted to explore the down more.

My wife had a baby shower weekend and I knew that was my chance.  I packed up my iPhone and just my Mamiya 7 and 80mm lens and headed to Barstow.  I spent the next two days walking around the city, getting yelled at and getting called a pervert.  I found Barstow to be a really rough town.  People didn’t respond well to me walking through their neighborhoods.  I’m still fascinated why people would live in a desert town like Barstow.

Shed some light on the creation of the book

My edit was really focused on people.  Sure, there were some cool/depressing old buildings out there, but I wanted to include as much of the people as possible.  It was hard to toss out some of the landscapes, but I felt like my strength was how I approached the people.

I had it printed at A&I here in North Hollywood.  I did a test of the bigger on-demand printers and A&I’s paper really kicked everyone else’s butt.  They are a little pricey, but I felt it was worth it. I only did an initial run of 50 copies and still have a few left for sale.  I feel like I’d have to sell 200-500 copies to actually make any money.  With a run of 50, I actually lost money when selling the book for $30, but I did it more for art’s sake, and really wanted people to have the book in their hands, whatever it took.  In the future, it might be nice to go big, print more, and make a profit!

Why did you choose to shoot this project using film?

Film was a no-brainer for me. Film looks better than digital, hands-down.  The colors are unbeatable, no matter your Photoshop skill level.  I shoot all my street and personal stuff on film.  With projects like this Barstow book, I shoot so slow anyway, it’s not like I’m blowing through a ton of rolls. Call me silly, but I feel like when I shoot a photo on a negative, I’ve really created something. With digital, it feels like a robot just collecting data.

From Dave Hill's book,

Do you plan to use film for any commercial work in the future, if you haven't already done so? (Editor's Note: I asked this question before his amazing Honda and Jeep behind-the-scenes videos came out!)

Yes!  I’ve been spending extra money to have a camera-man come along on recent commercial car jobs, capturing the experience of shooting film.  These videos have been getting a little attention in the photo world online, but my primary goal was to be able to show art buyers, who are always a little skeptical, that film on a commercial job isn’t stressful, but can be just a simple part of the workflow. Film doesn’t need to mean HOLGA/blurry/artsy/grainy/window-light nudes. Film can mean commercial shots in high-res,  with beautiful colors and skin tones.

A huge thanks to Dave Hill for talking to us and helping to keep film alive and a viable option in the commercial world! Please check out Dave's website and Social profiles below, and make sure to pick up a copy of "Barstow" while you still can.

www.davehillphoto.com
instagram.com/davehillphoto
davehillphoto.tumblr.com

Link to Barstow Book - now only $15! :-)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0990786706

01 Sep '15

All Hallows' Eve Special Edition Patches

Posted by Mike Padua in halloween, Patches, special edition, Videos

film is not dead film is alive photography embroidered patches

Special Preorder Pricing NOW. Ships September 8th 2015.

I'm proud to present the newest patches: The All Hallows Eve Special Edition. Two new patches, illustrated by Andrew Denholm. https://youtu.be/B2m0ovlFDJc I've been waiting a long time to announce these, and now that it's September, and the Halloween season is upon us, they must be revealed to the world. I started working on the ideas of these months ago, and when I saw Andrew Denholm's inspiring work, I knew he was the one I wanted to illustrate them. We worked together and the final result are the two newest patches in the lineup, which I am proud to announce to the world today.

The vital stats:

  • 3-inch circle
  • Custom embroidered
  • Heat seal backing
  • Made in U.S.A.
  • Glows in the dark

Order yours today! Special preorder pricing until September 8th, 2015.

To help celebrate today's announcement, we've asked Andrew himself to talk about his work:

 

1) Please tell us about yourself and how you came to be an illustrator. As a child i was encouraged to draw at home by my parents and would spend hours either copying cartoons or making my own characters. This developed into making sketch books full of drawings as a teenager with my style constantly shifting and changing depending on what i was interested in at the time. I began to paint a lot in high school and was accepted into Edinburgh College of Art to study for four years. I initially wanted to do fine art painting but i discovered that illustration was my true passion as i loved to tell stories through images. I had not even considered illustration to be a possible career growing up by looking back i realise i had been training all my life for it.
Film is Not Dead Patch ShootFilmCo.com
  2) Who are some artists, in any medium and artform, that you take inspiration from in your work? I have had many influences throughout my life that have helped shape the way i create my work. I particularly enjoy the work of Keith Haring as his graphic style is really exciting and full of energy. I really enjoy images with lots of movement and emotion like Guernica by Picasso and his work is so varied it is a constant source of inspiration. Artists like Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat are great artists to study for character design. I also like many Scottish artist such as Peter Howson and John Bellany.
3) Was it fun to work on the Halloween-themed film patches? The patches were great fun to develop. Both of the characters had lots of mood and darkness to them but i was also able to be playful, adding a sense of fun to them. Trying to incorporate cameras into the patches were a challenge as the composition was a little tricky but i feel they work really well.  Halloween is such a great area for character design so it was enjoyable to research the subject before designing the patches.
Film is Alive Patch ShootFilmCo.com
4) What new projects are you working on now? I am currently developing a storytelling kit for children that will encourage them to write and illustrate their own stories. It has a basic structure that will guide children through the different elements of a story while allowing them to tell it in their own way. I hope to help children enjoy drawing as much as i did when i was their age. I have studied the theory of Vladimir Propp and how fairy stories are structured to help develop the project which has been very interesting. Check out Andrew's work and follow him:
 
11 Aug '15

VIDEO Gear Review: Yashica T4 Super vs. Rollei AFM 35

Posted by Mike Padua in Cameras, Gear Reviews, rollei, Videos, yashica

Two high end 35mm point and shoot film cameras go head to head in this video review! The rundown: The legendary and highly sought-after Yashica T4 Super, an all-plastic wonder with a razor sharp lens vs the less-popular but comparably-priced Rollei AFM35, an all-metal rebrand of the original Fujifilm Klasse. Which one do I choose to keep? Check out the video below.