6 Ways Avoiding Common Mistakes in Film Photography: A Beginner’s Guide

6 Ways Avoiding Common Mistakes in Film Photography: A Beginner's Guide

Guides and Tips

6 Ways Avoiding Common Mistakes in Film Photography: A Beginner’s Guide

Film loading on Nikon F2 camera
135mm (Film: Agfa Vista 200)

Hello, film photography explorers! As you embark on your exciting journey into the world of film, it’s essential to be aware of some common mistakes that can trip up even the most enthusiastic beginners. But fear not! We’re here to guide you through these potential pitfalls and provide some handy tips to prevent them. So, let’s get in and turn those potential “oops” moments into successful “ah-ha” ones!

You may want to check out this post about how to avoid shooting blank rolls too!

1. Incorrect Loading of Film

One of the most common mistakes beginners make is incorrectly loading the film into the camera. Result? You might shoot an entire roll, only to find it blank when developed.

How to Prevent: Familiarize yourself with your camera’s manual and follow the instructions carefully while loading the film. Ensure the film is correctly engaged with the camera’s winding mechanism. After closing the camera back, wind on a few frames and watch the rewind knob. If it turns, your film is correctly loaded.

Film loading on Nikon F2 camera

2. Shooting with the Wrong Film Speed (ISO)

Film comes in different speeds, denoted by their ISO value. Using the wrong film speed can result in overexposed (too bright) or underexposed (too dark) images.

How to Prevent: Choose the right film for your shooting conditions. Lower ISO films (100 or 200) are perfect for bright conditions, while higher ISO films (400, 800) are better for low light. Don’t forget to set your camera to the correct ISO setting of your film! Check out my other post about wrong ISO speed.

Makina 67, Kodak Ektar 100, Hooker Valley New Zealand
Kodak Ektachrome E100, Makina 67

3. Not Checking the Battery

Most film cameras require a battery to power the light meter or even the shutter. A dead battery can lead to incorrect exposures or a camera that doesn’t work at all.

How to Prevent: Always check your camera battery before heading out for a shoot. Consider carrying spare batteries, especially if you’re going somewhere where replacements aren’t readily available.

4. Opening the Camera with Film Inside

Opening the back of the camera before rewinding the film can result in an exposed (and ruined) roll of film. 

How to Prevent: Always rewind your film fully before opening the camera back. Most cameras have a film rewind lever and a small window to show whether film is loaded. If in doubt, assume there’s film inside and rewind! If it happens to be stucked, check out this post to get assistance!

5. Forgetting to Adjust Focus or Settings

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to adjust your focus or settings, resulting in blurry or poorly exposed photos.

How to Prevent: Take your time. Film photography is not meant to be rushed. Before pressing the shutter, double-check your focus, shutter speed, and aperture settings. 

6. Not Considering Composition

Without the instant feedback of digital, beginners often forget to consider their composition before shooting.

How to Prevent: Practice the rule of thirds, look for interesting angles, and consider your foreground and background. Remember, each shot costs money on film, so make each one count!

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Reflx Lab 800
Reflx Lab 400D
Reflx Lab 500T (35mm Film)
Reflx Lab 500T (120)

Wrapping Things Up

The world of film photography is filled with opportunities for learning and growth. Mistakes are part of the process, and they’re often the best way to learn. But by being aware of these common pitfalls, you can avoid some of the frustration and make your journey into film photography more enjoyable and rewarding.

Remember, the key to mastering film photography (like any skill) is practice, patience, and perseverance. Don’t be disheartened by mistakes. Instead, embrace them as stepping stones on your path to becoming a skilled film photographer. 

So, load up that film, get out there, and start snapping away. Happy shooting, and enjoy the beautiful journey that film photography is sure to be!

Hasselblad Xpan 2, 30mm f/5.6 asph, Reflx Lab 400D, Hong Kong

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