There are about ten major companies that still continue to produce photographic film. Twelve other companies have already been discontinued, while another two went bankrupt.
Modern analog product lines are mostly recreations of older models that can date back to several decades ago; there are some new, never-before-seen cameras being produced that use film.
Any decent SLR camera can definitely be used to take very sharp and clear imagery, but compared to the versatility and convenience digital cameras offer, they seem gimmicky, especially when you take into consideration also having to haul around extra lenses, film, tripods, flash, and batteries too.
Take lomography, for instance, a movement founded in 1992, and which manifested into a company three years later. The light leakages, consistent over-saturation, and accidental vignetting (darkened corners at the edges of their pictures) of the Diana cameras, which would cost less than a dollar back when they first were made in the 1960s, are now being reproduced as lomography cameras, which come complete with all their original, likeable flaws, but also with vast improvements as well.
I can definitely say that their Diana F+ camera is, at a retail price of around $70, along with its hundreds of dollars of worthy accessories, is worth dropping the money on. But don’t count on any of the Diana products or other lomographic cameras for matching technical superiority, clarity, or freedom of control of film SLR cameras.
The Diana F+ can take some memorable and unique looking pictures, but, with three other cameras that easily beat the Diana in terms of sharpness and versatility, along with no desire to make professional photography any more of a burden than it already is, the Diana’s the last camera I make room for in my bag.
I also own an Olympus XA1, a 35mm rangefinder camera (Rangefinder cameras, most of which use film, have a focusing mechanism that allows you to measure the distance from your subject by showing two pictures at once, which come together as you adjust its wheel to the marked distances), a Canon Rebel T3, one of the cheapest, and, for the money, best DSLRs available on the market, and a Yashica FX-3 Super, a 35mm SLR camera you could probably find in any nearby camera shop.
The Diana uses 120mm film, but using its Instant Back accessory, which costs and sizes just as much as the camera itself, you can shoot mini Instax polaroid film.
Polaroid is what the majority of the new film cameras being released use. Polaroid film grants instant satisfaction better than any other type of camera. Being able to hold and touch a picture with your fingers adds that much more emotion and realism. Polaroid shots make great spur-of-the-moment gifts, and with the association of a fond memory or feeling, will become instant mementoes.
Though Polaroid’s much quicker and easier than the process of scanning, uploading, and then printing digital photos, you’re forced to be much more considerate when taking pictures, because for most moving shots, you only get one chance to take it. Polaroid cameras are great for parties, street photography, or any situations that involve spontaneity and moving, active subjects.
The instax polaroid shot taken below from the Diana F+ has a unique look and quality that’s completely different from a clearer and sharper digital reproduction of a similar subject. The classic, trademark vignetting adds a nice sense of framing for photographed objects.
And in terms of style and looks, the Diana’s retro blue-and-black body, shown below, gets lots of positive reactions, making it way very people-friendly. It’s not just the Diana; all the other analog cameras, with their old-fashioned, compact bodies elicit ‘oohs’ and affable warm vibes while my bulky and clunky DSLR can receive some awkward, sometimes paranoid-looking stares.
For candid photography, and especially in spontaneous portraits, I’d rather use an old polaroid over even the most high-end, fanciest digital cameras.
Any other film that’s not polaroid will have more complicated developing processes.
For 35mm film, which for many hobbyists will be the only film you’d ever need to use, many scanners are compatible with and will be able to scan the negatives. You’d need to make the negatives light-safe first though, which you can do yourself for black-and-white film strips in a twelve-step, thirty-minute process, but most cities will have a shop or business that’ll do all the processing and printing for you. And, to develop film yourself, you need access to a place where you can work in total darkness. There’s probably a few darkrooms lurking around somewhere in your city, especially if you’re near a college campus, but it’s fairly easy to make a room lightsafe, if you’re really keen on developing the photos yourself.
Editing in the darkroom is an even more arduous process than general post-production Photoshop. It’s much more expensive too after a while; a page of the photographic paper costs roughly a dollar, and even just making test strips can quickly drain your supply. Really, analog post-production is only viable in black-and-white film.The process of color film development is over thirty-two steps, and even analog purists / prudes will tell you to just send color rolls over to a camera shop or lab, who’ll usually have an automatic film processor and will charge you fairly nominal fees.