Frac­tals, deja vu, ground­hog day, Fibonac­ci cir­cles, fash­ion styles, the wheel of Sam­sara, the cycle of his­to­ry, the the­o­ry of cycli­cal­i­ty, eco­nom­ic cycles… every­thing in this world goes and devel­ops in a cir­cle! Pho­tog­ra­phy includ­ed. You might not have noticed, although it is unlike­ly: film pho­tog­ra­phy is again pop­u­lar. On the oth­er hand, it did not go any­where: adher­ents filmed, con­nois­seurs bought, ana­log fans con­tin­ued to film. All this was, but not as mas­sive as recent­ly.

Film pho­tog­ra­phy. Def­i­nite­ly. Has returned. So this text is sim­ply nec­es­sary! Per­haps you have long want­ed to try, but did not know which side to approach. Then this text is for you! We under­stand what types of film cam­eras are in order to choose the one that suits your request.

Pho­to: dpreview.com

Briefly about the main

First of all, answers to the most embar­rass­ing ques­tions that are impor­tant to clar­i­fy. 35mm film holds 36 stan­dard 24×36mm frames (some­times less, for exam­ple 24 frames). After you have loaded it into the cam­era and shot it, the film needs to be devel­oped. For neg­a­tive film, this is the C‑41 process, which is done in all (!) Pho­to labs, even in small towns. If it is a pos­i­tive, slide film, then it is devel­oped accord­ing to E‑6. Less com­mon, but also made in good pho­to labs. Black and white requires D‑76.

In all the cam­eras men­tioned in the text, it is nec­es­sary to load exact­ly 35mm film. There are also wider film and pho­to paper, but in this text we are talk­ing about stan­dard 35mm film.

Film dif­fers not only in ISO (sen­si­tiv­i­ty to light), but also in col­ors, which affect the out­put image. It is dif­fi­cult to give a spe­cif­ic rec­om­men­da­tion: this top­ic deserves a sep­a­rate text. It is best to con­sult with the sell­er when buy­ing, who will help you choose the right one for your pur­pos­es.

Image: redbubble.com

Soap dishes

The sim­plest, most under­stand­able and portable film cam­era for­mat. They can be found every­where: from the mez­za­nines of your grand­fa­thers to stan­dard pho­to stores, ads on Avi­to, and so on. They are cheap, they work sim­ply.

Advan­tages: this is an extreme­ly under­stand­able tech­nique. A great choice if you don’t need much at all: to shoot friends, some dai­ly moments, trips, walks. For such pur­pos­es, this is ide­al. Man­age­ment is extreme­ly sim­ple and clear, the cam­era will do almost every­thing for you with built-in elec­tron­ics. There is noth­ing to go wrong here. In addi­tion, they are small in size and can eas­i­ly fit in your pock­et, bag and any­where.

If this is a more or less seri­ous soap box, then you already have a small screen with a frame counter, infor­ma­tion about set­tings, the select­ed mode, flash posi­tion, etc.

Dis­ad­van­tages: soap dish­es are easy to use, but just as sim­ple in func­tion­al­i­ty. If you want some­thing more than just auto­mat­ic pho­tos of friends, then you need more — a dif­fer­ent type of cam­era. You should not expect the great­est shots from the soap box, as well as the abil­i­ty to con­trol the process of set­ting the set­tings, because this is not in it. Shoot wide open, get beau­ti­ful bokeh, or set to a slow shut­ter speed in the dark? With this to more seri­ous equip­ment.

Pho­to: casualphotophile.com


- The sim­plest are auto­mat­ic soap dish­es from the depart­ment of pho­to­graph­ic goods of a hyper­mar­ket. They cost, as a rule, from 500 to 1000 rubles. Eas­i­er nowhere. They have a fixed aper­ture, built-in flash and do every­thing for you.

Cam­eras are more dif­fi­cult. They already have the abil­i­ty to at least take con­trol of some­thing and set it man­u­al­ly. Yes, and the optics in them is clear­ly a lev­el high­er. Canon, Olym­pus, Pen­tax, Minol­ta. Lots of options. The price range is from 1000 to sev­er­al thou­sand rubles.

Pho­to on Olym­pus mju-II: lomography.com, user @djmusician

- Ref­er­ence soap dish­es. Most often, their func­tion­al­i­ty is not much bet­ter than the sec­ond group, or even at the same lev­el. Some of them are sim­ply rare, some have become cult (like Olym­pus mju II), and some are con­sid­ered the high­est qual­i­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tives of this class due to the strongest optics. Such, for exam­ple, Con­tax T3. Lux­u­ry film com­pact. The cam­era is made of tita­ni­um, has a strong lens and high-qual­i­ty out­put images. The cost of such a cam­era in the sec­ondary mar­ket today some­times reach­es hun­dreds of thou­sands of rubles.

Pho­to: 35mmc.com

*Not list­ed. LCA or Lomo Com­pact-Auto­mat­ic, which can­not be attrib­uted to either soap dish­es or mechan­i­cal cam­eras. He does not have an inter­change­able lens, but there is a native one with fair­ly good glass­es. It is pos­si­ble to con­trol some set­tings, but from the usu­al, only the aper­ture. Cam­era drop­ping out of the list, but def­i­nite­ly deserv­ing of a sep­a­rate line. A plas­tic soap dish with a fast lens and a seri­ous approach is quite a com­peti­tor to many cam­eras in this cat­e­go­ry.

Pho­to: nahshaus.ru

Mechanical cameras

This is already a more advanced lev­el com­pared to auto­mat­ic soap dish­es. But it’s also not dif­fi­cult to find them: open Avi­to, climb to the top shelves of the mez­za­nines, ask your par­ents or go to spe­cial­ized com­mis­sion offices — there will def­i­nite­ly be such cam­eras!

Advan­tages: a spring­board for more con­scious pho­tog­ra­phy. There is already inter­change­able optics, and the abil­i­ty to ful­ly con­trol the process of set­ting shut­ter speed with aper­ture. In addi­tion, elec­tron­ics break eas­i­er, and mechan­ics are reli­a­bil­i­ty. Even in cas­es where some kind of repair may be required, it is much eas­i­er to find the nec­es­sary part than to bring the chip back to life. Sur­viv­ing cam­eras are a liv­ing exam­ple of this: you can still find Leica IIIs from the 30s of the last cen­tu­ry that work great in 2021. It’s like a new Renault just from the fac­to­ry and an old Mer­cedes from the last cen­tu­ry that is still a Mer­cedes. This is the rep­re­sen­ta­tive class.

Mechan­ics = reli­a­bil­i­ty. Recent­ly I had a shoot for a brand, inten­tion­al­ly on a soap dish, albeit a high-qual­i­ty one. These were the kind of pic­tures that were need­ed. Every­thing would be fine, but some of the focus shots gen­er­al­ly ran away in the wrong direc­tion at all and the shots end­ed up in the trash. With good light­ing and the sub­ject in the fore­ground. With mechan­ics, this would not hap­pen, because the focus is set man­u­al­ly and the whole process is con­trolled.

Dis­ad­van­tages: yes, mechan­ics allows you to take con­trol of all set­tings, but for this you need to be high­er lev­el. If you plan to shoot with a mechan­i­cal cam­era, you need to under­stand the whole process. You need to know the the­o­ry of shut­ter speed and aper­ture, under­stand how they are inter­con­nect­ed. Unlike elec­tron­ics, the slight­est crap here is every­thing! The frame is cor­rupt­ed. The film does not for­give inept set­tings.

Pho­to: lensbeam.com

The sec­ond, less impor­tant point is optics. Most like­ly, you will buy a cam­era with a stan­dard (kit) lens. If you want a larg­er aper­ture or a sec­ond one in the kit, this is already an addi­tion­al invest­ment. It is bet­ter to think in advance if you can afford it.

Pho­to by Zenith ET with Helios 44–2 lens. Lomography.com by @woodymusic


— Change 8m. The cam­era of a whole gen­er­a­tion, icon­ic, but with many pit­falls. You will have to look for a ful­ly func­tion­al one. At the same time, Change is quite bud­getary and can give a good pic­ture!

— Zenith ET. Per­haps the most pop­u­lar of the Zeniths, which can real­ly be found both in the far cor­ner of your grand­fa­ther’s clos­et and at the near­est flea mar­ket. Although it is a reflex cam­era, accord­ing to a num­ber of cri­te­ria, the cam­era belongs to the group of mechan­i­cal ones. It is also quite bud­getary, with already quite good optics avail­able (one Helios is wor­thy of men­tion) and even a built-in expo­sure meter.

If this is sim­ple enough for you, finances allow more, and your heart asks for it — you need a very seri­ous device! About them, in ascend­ing order, will be in the sec­ond part of the text!


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