Overcoming 4 Key Film Camera Drawbacks in Photography
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 5 min read


  1. Overcome the Lack of Instant Preview
  2. How to Handle the Cost of Film Processing
  3. Tips for Dealing with Limited Number of Frames
  4. Handling the Weight and Bulk of Film Cameras

Despite the digital revolution, film cameras have held their ground, offering photographers an authentic and tactile experience. However, they also come with their own set of challenges. This blog post will help you navigate four of the key drawbacks of film cameras in photography. Whether you're considering picking up a film camera for the first time or trying to get the most out of your current equipment, the following tips and techniques will help you overcome these hurdles and enhance your film photography experience.

Overcome the Lack of Instant Preview

One of the most common drawbacks of film cameras in photography is the lack of an instant preview feature. Unlike digital cameras, film cameras do not allow you to view your shots immediately after taking them. Here are some strategies to tackle this setback:

Master Your Camera Settings

Understanding and mastering your camera settings is key to overcoming the lack of instant preview. Here's what you can do:

  • Study your camera's manual: This will help you understand the ins and outs of your camera and optimize your settings for different shooting conditions.
  • Practice in varied lighting conditions: This will give you a feel for how different settings affect your shots and help you predict the outcome of your photos.

Use a Light Meter

A light meter is a great tool for ensuring proper exposure in your shots, even without an instant preview. Here are two ways you can use a light meter:

  1. Reflective metering: This method measures the light reflected off the subject you're photographing. It's great for shooting subjects with a medium reflectance.
  2. Incident metering: This method measures the light falling on the subject. It's more accurate than reflective metering and works especially well in high-contrast situations.

Take Notes

Keeping a photography journal can be a game-changer when working with film cameras. Every time you take a shot, make a note of the settings you used, the lighting conditions, and any other relevant details. Over time, you'll be able to predict the outcome of your photos more accurately, even without an instant preview.

In conclusion, while the lack of instant preview is one of the major drawbacks of film cameras in photography, it's not an insurmountable obstacle. With practice and the right tools, you can overcome this challenge and create stunning film photos.

How to Handle the Cost of Film Processing

Another notable drawback of film cameras in photography is the cost associated with film processing. It's not just about buying the film; developing and printing it can also put a dent in your wallet. Here's how you can handle these costs effectively:

Choose the Right Film

The type of film you choose can significantly impact the overall cost. Here's what you need to know:

  • Black and white film: This type of film tends to be cheaper and easier to process than color film. Plus, it can add a timeless touch to your photos.
  • Bulk film: Buying film in bulk can save you a lot of money in the long run. Just make sure to store it properly to maintain its quality.

Develop Your Own Film

Developing your own film can be a cost-effective and rewarding experience. You'll need some basic equipment and chemicals, but once you've got the hang of it, you'll be able to process your photos at a fraction of the cost. Plus, it gives you more control over the final result. So why not give it a try?

Choose Economical Printing Options

Printing your photos can also add to the cost. Here are a couple of tips to save money:

  1. Print only the best shots: With film photography, not every shot is going to be a winner. Be selective and only print the photos you're really proud of.
  2. Consider online printing services: Online services can often offer competitive prices, especially for larger print runs.

Remember, the cost of film processing shouldn't deter you from enjoying the unique charm of film photography. By making smart choices and learning new skills—like developing your own film—you can continue to embrace this classic art form without breaking the bank.

Tips for Dealing with Limited Number of Frames

One of the prominent drawbacks of film cameras in photography is the limited number of frames. Unlike digital cameras, film cameras can restrict you to as few as 12 and up to 36 exposures per roll of film. But don't worry, here are some ways to deal with this limitation:

Plan Your Shots Carefully

With film photography, every shot counts. So, it's important to plan your shots carefully. Instead of clicking away, take your time to compose each shot. Think about the lighting, the framing, and what you want to capture. You'll find that this deliberate approach not only helps you get the most out of each frame but also improves your photography skills.

Carry Extra Film

If you're heading out for a day of shooting, it's a good idea to carry extra film. This way, when one roll ends, you can quickly load another and continue shooting. Just remember to store your film properly to avoid damage from heat or moisture.

Invest in a Film Camera with More Frames

Some film cameras offer more frames per roll than others. For instance, medium format cameras can offer up to 16 frames per roll, while large format cameras can give you up to 12. If the limited number of frames is a significant concern for you, it might be worth investing in one of these cameras.

Yes, dealing with a limited number of frames can be challenging. But it can also push you to be more thoughtful and creative with your shots. So, don't let this drawback of film cameras in photography deter you. Embrace it, and use it to hone your skills.

Handling the Weight and Bulk of Film Cameras

Another common drawback of film cameras in photography is their weight and bulkiness. They are typically heavier and larger than their digital counterparts, which can make them a bit cumbersome to handle. But there are ways to manage this too:

Use a Camera Strap or Harness

A quality camera strap or harness can be a game-changer when it comes to handling the weight of a film camera. It distributes the weight across your body, making the camera feel lighter and easier to carry. Plus, it frees up your hands when you're not shooting, which is always a bonus.

Choose a Lighter Camera Model

Not all film cameras are created equal. Some models are lighter and more compact than others. For instance, rangefinder cameras are generally smaller and lighter than SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras. So, if weight is a concern for you, consider opting for a lighter model.

Carry Less Equipment

It's easy to get carried away and pack every piece of equipment you own when heading out for a shoot. But remember, every item adds to the weight you'll have to carry. So, be selective about what you bring. Often, a couple of lenses and a spare roll of film are all you need.

Yes, the weight and bulk of film cameras can seem daunting at first. But with a few adjustments, you can make your film photography experience much more comfortable. So don't let this drawback deter you from exploring the fascinating world of film photography.

If you're looking to overcome the drawbacks of using a film camera in photography, consider checking out the workshop 'Choosing the Perfect Camera for You' by louisbever. This workshop will not only help you navigate the challenges of film cameras but also guide you in selecting the best camera for your photography needs and preferences.