If you shoot on film today (and especially if you're shooting black and white) what do you use?

I used to shoot mostly color reversal/slide film. I haven't done anything with film in something like 6 or 7 years.

I used to have a camera shop, I bought what the expert told me to buy.

I don't have a camera shop anymore, and now folks are going to expect me to be the expert.

Can you help me find some sane defaults?

Also looking for suggestions for vintage film cameras that use common batteries and have a decent aperture priority mode for the beginners.

Any tips there are also appreciated.

The k1000 was always my go to, but I think I have to use Zinc Air batteries to get one of those to work today? and even then, the light meter was never great, as I recall.

I usually carried an outboard light meter, and frankly I ended up winging it most of the time.

Maybe it was my minolta that needed a weird battery voltage?

I don't remember.

I just know I had a camera that needed fresh batteries every four days or it's light meter would just die. i use a k1000 and i've been able to pick up light meter batteries no problem, lemme check whats in there rn this reminded me that i need to put a lens cover on the k1000 or else the light meter battery will drain...

@cascode What kind of film are you shooting most often? Where do you get your film?

@ajroach42 My two favorites of my collection are a K-Focal SLR (iirc a rebranded Petri originally sold at K-Mart) and an Argus C3 rangefinder.

I don't remember what battery the K-Focal takes, but I do remember being able to get one several years ago without much trouble. The Argus doesn't have a light meter (so no battery) but I got a vintage photocell light meter to use with it.

These are two very different experiences, depending on how immersive you want the viewfinder to be.

@drewzero1 Neat! What kind of film do you shoot most often? Where do you get your film?

@ajroach42 Sooo this is one area I could definitely put in a bit more effort. Last time I bought film (a few years ago now I guess) I just picked up a couple multipacks of whatever was still available at Walgreens, probably Fujifilm ISO200. It was okay if somewhat grainy for low light conditions.

I'm very interested to hear what other people are doing and would love to get back into it sometime (when my child is old enough to not require being carried or pushed everywhere).

@ajroach42 I was just at my local camera store getting some digital prints and noticed they have some film options, including a small shelf of expired film. :thaenkin: I might have to try that some time and see what happens!

@ajroach42 Personally I have more fun with the Argus, mostly because I find myself composing the shot by eyeball before looking at the viewfinders at all. It's a very manual, very 1950s photography experience.

On the other hand, I like the K-Focal when I want to make every shot count, since the framing is more accurate and focus is less cumbersome. I always end up with a few failed shots on the Argus due to framing, focus, or carelessness with light.

@drewzero1 I had a similar camera to the argus for a while, and it was Fun to shoot with, but pretty disappointing sometimes

@ajroach42 Yeah, I've had some really great rolls with it, and some where maybe one picture kind of turned out and the others were all garbage.

@drewzero1 @ajroach42 the experience of the rolleiflex (without light meter) has been one of my alltime favorite cameras.. not only for the accuracy of the glass (alas it was stolen from me some years back) but for the abject simplicity of the thing…most people did mot even realise i had a camera in my hand while out and about with it, allowing some great candid street photography.

@ajroach42 I've got a Canon AE-1 that is a pretty good machine. They aren't too expensive either! The camera takes a little 6V battery you can find online pretty easily. IIRC Energizer markets them as "photo batteries".

If you're interested, here is a manual:

@ajroach42 It uses the Canon FD mount system for lenses, which was around for about 20 years and was fairly popular as I understand it. They have a lot of availability in the second hand market, which is nice.

@ajroach42 minolta xg-m uses a more normal battery iirc.. one can also just get some light meters, and teach a course on how to read light. at this point i can just tell you the correct settings by looking in the air and the color temperature as well, so it can be trained..

@ajroach42 also if you want to go super basic the holga and woca basically are modern kin of sorts to to the kodak brownie and marvelously fun.. they make really gorgeous photos both.

@ajroach42 I used a Canon Rebel 2000 for a long time with a 50mm prime lens. Good beginner setup, really easy to use camera.

@ajroach42 Not vintage, but old by now. Canon AE-1’s are great too, but mine died before I could really use it much.

@ajroach42 My mom says:

Pentax MX is fully manual, battery needed only for built-in light meter. Pentax ME has only aperture priority.

B/w film I like Ilford HP5

Unquote. :)

@naugeleh Thanks!

I've got a ZX-M right now, which does require a battery but has an aperture priority mode. I also found the ME that I was using 10 years ago.

Now I just have to find some CR2 batteries, and get to shooting.

@ajroach42 nice!

The rest of what she sent:

The ME takes two LR-44 batteries

Also, regarding film, I wasn't a fan of Kodak T-Max.

-fin- for black and white, ilford hp5 400 is nice, imo. if you need higher iso then it gets easy because theres only like 2 options i've seen, ilford delta 3200 or kodak tmax p3200

@cascode That's what I was expecting the answer to be. I just ordered a few sample rolls from B&H. i just ordered some film online from b&h, but usually i use a place that has a location near me, where i get my film developed

@ajroach42 Do you plan on doing your own development / darkroom, or sending out for processing?

If the latter, the photo lab will likely have guidelines on what films / prints are supported.

It's possible to develop negatives pretty easily using a can-and-bag system. Prints are harder, though you can also scan-to-digital (film->print), which may be what many labs are doing these days anywho.

I've been out of film for decades myself, though I'm generally familiar with the process. I've done some very basic darkroom, only a few times.

@dredmorbius I get in to it in this thread:

we just got a developing kit, I have a dark room tech who learned in school, and who I teasingly call a professional, because that is totally the job they would have if it was still a job that people in our area could get (and, when we get the space's dark room going, I guess it is a job they will actually have.)

@ajroach42 Got it.

I'd look at:

Equipment, materials, and supplies which are available. Including repairs and replacements.
Reasonable prices. Film adds up fast, as do chemicals, printing paper, etc.
Reasonably bombproof. I'd focus on reliable process over quality, at least initially.

You'd probably be best off asking in photo-specific forums. I just checked, there's an /r/darkroom on Reddit. Sites like Flikr or Cake (a photo-heavy topical-blogging site) might also be good.

Your DR tech should also have valuable input, I'd listen to them.

@dredmorbius I'm sure they will, and I'm looking forward to giving them the opportunity.

@dredmorbius There are people dodging and burning in Photoshop with no more knowledge about what it is or why it’s called that than they do when they ‘cc:’ someone in email. @ajroach42

@ajroach42 the nikon fm10 has a solid battery life as long as you remember to turn off the meter. it uses lr44s which are thick on the ground in my experience.

(i run a university darkroom and equipment fleet, i have seen almost everything, the fm10 is a great beater camera for students. if you want something slightly cooler, check out the voigtlander bessa)

@rabbithearth Neat! I'll definitely check them out.

I have more pentax glass than anything else, and I know the k1000 and the ME super can take a beating, so I'm pretty tempted to just index in on that and focus on the gear I know, but the FM10 looks like a solid option.

@ajroach42 I love my manual focus Minoltas from the 80s. Cheap, durable, and the lenses are inexpensive, easy to find, and really, really freaking good. My fave right now is my X-570. Takes batteries you can still find at drug stores.

@Zuph I had a couple of minoltas over the years, and they were absurdly good for the price.

Glad to hear they're treating you well.

What kind of film do you shoot most often?

@ajroach42 Lately I'm shooting mostly weird hand rolled stocks from the Film Photography Project, but I love Ilford HP5 and Kodak Gold.

@ajroach42 a Nikomat: can be found really cheap on ebay —I got mine for $20ish— and although mercury batteries aren't manufactured anymore, you can use hearing aid batteries with a small compensation in the meter. You can also find cheap lenses and some modern Nikkors work on it with a minor modification.

And a Canon A-1: it's a fully automatic camera (except AF) with a digital viewfinder meter. You can find excellent lenses at low prices (as they don't fit newer cameras easily) and it's really beginner friendly because of program mode.

@ajroach42 it's been a few years since I've shot much and I had a bad habit of collecting more cheap vintage cameras than I could ever use. If I were to get back into it today (and didn't still have a brick of Tri-x in the back of the freezer), I'd play with some of the weird films they have over at
They have a fun podcast and donate cameras to schools & art programs too.

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