Some frequently asked questions

When finding out that I exclusively use 35mm film, everyone tends to have the same questions to ask.
Here's my answers to some of the more frequently asked questions... 

"Do you process your own film?" No, absolutely not. It's messy, time consuming and I'm not practiced at it. It's fun and a bit of a novelty and so it's something to try for the sake of respecting the process but I prefer to outsource that sort of thing. 
"What's the best film to use?"  Hard questions to answer as not only are there some fantastic film stocks out there but it very much boils down to taste. Each film emulsion is different, each one has a different way of reproducing colours, each one has a different grain structure, some are high in saturation, some are low, some are high in contrast and some are low. It really depends what you want your image to look like. This takes me to the next question that gets asked... 
"What film do you recommend?"  Easy, Kodak Portra all the way! At roughly £10 per roll, it sits right between the cheapest and the most expensive film stocks making it a great value film stock. Its a very modern film which is easy to scan and gives a quality which people expect from today's standards, it's very forgiving (I've managed to over expose shots by up to 5 stops and still retain detail in the highlights) and so many people rate it one or two stops slower. I for one generally like to use the 400 rated to 200. I love it's low saturated colour pallet, its warm balance and favor for skin tones and it's soft contrast. It's a C-41 colour negative which means you can get it processed just about anywhere, within an hour and it won't break the bank. Best place to buy film is on Amazon, here's a link. 
"Does taking photos with film mean you can't edit them?"  Quite the opposite. My workflow with film involves receiving the negatives from the lab and scanning them using a dedicated 35mm scanner in the office, the scanner produces what is essentially a digital negative and needs to be processed/converted just like a .DNG file from a digital camera. However, once scanned and processed, I prefer to "edit" as little as possible, making only exposure corrections (levels, contrast ect...) as I like to maintain the film stock's native colours and organic aesthetics. 
"What's the point in using film if you just convert them to digital anyway?"  There's a difference between a digital photo (from a digital camera) and a digitized analogue photo (a frame of developed film fed through an imaging scanner). Film has characteristics that a digital sensor lacks such as its dynamic range, its colour pallet, its grain structure and other aesthetics, the scanner records it all. 
"What scanner do you use?"  This is a question quite commonly get asked by other analogue photographers and is normally asked out of frustration because they're not getting good results when scanning their own film. I use a Plustek OpticFilm 7400i (though the 8200i SE is the current model). It's a dedicated 35mm scanner, not a flatbed document scanner. However, good results can be had from any good scanner, a decent scanner should be able to spit out a decent raw image. It's the process you employ and techniques you use in post production that render the results, so for example if you're always getting a colour cast, you need to change the way you're scanning.

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