Film Camera Guide

 A hopefully helpful guide for those film lovers out there :)

I'm going to kick it off with my most reliable and most used film camera, my two canons!

EOS 3 (Canon Film Camera)
This is easily the best film camera I own and is my go to camera when I want good results :)

For a fun story you can read how I picked this up for $3 at my local thrift shop here

The resultswhen using the following Colour films
Ektar 100  /  Lomo 100 / Portra 160 / Fuji Superia 200 / Portra 400 / Lomo 800 / Fuji Superia 800

Black and White Film:
T-max 400 / Lomo 400

Summary: I love this camera because it fits all my prime lenses that I use with my digital camera (Canon 5d mark II).  Loading film is also a breeze, it automatically sets the ISO and you can do double exposure which is fun.  The main issues I find are failed shots due to it's autofocus, so I always set focus to manual.  

The other annoying thing is viewing the exposure level when in manual mode as you have to press a button before the exposure level is displayed on the top lcd screen which can often lead to missing a magic moment!  I have learned to use AV mode and because I like my film shots overexposed I set the exposure compensation to +1.5 (there is a button on top +/_ that allows you to set this). In AV mode I can then still set the aperture and the exposure indicator is able to be viewed on the top screen - yay!  Also if the back dial is set to 1 and not 0 you can still control the shutter speed with the big round dial on the back. (I realise that will only make sense to people with this camera :P)


1000 F (Canon Film Camera)

I love this camera because it's so easy to use! It's lightweight, you simply turn the dial onto what mode you want, I use Manual and then the top LCD screen displays your battery, exposure, frame count, shutter speed (which you control with the dial on top) and the aperture (controlled with the same dial but you have to press down the left button on the back).   It also fits all my canon lenses too and you can do double exposures :)  I love it because it lacks buttons, I feel everything is where it should be and I can focus on taking photos :)

(you can see the dial you turn to get your mode - it's on red (off) in this picture and the LCD screen on the other side with a dial in front for setting your aperture and shutter) 

(on the back is a little peep window so you can see what film you have in) and the two buttons on the back (the left one) is what you have to press in when changing the aperture.  To set your double exposure, you simply press both buttons in and turn the front dial to however many frames you want to take - all very easy :)

The results when using the following Colour films
Ektar 100 / Lomo 100 / Fuji Superia 200 / Kodak Portra 400 / Lomo 800 / Slide X-Pro 200

Summary: Great camera, easy to use, it's biggest limitation is that it's shutter speed only goes up to 1000 which means when it's really sunny you have to up your aperture, you can't have those super bokeh shots :P  It has an inbuilt flash too, think Terry Richardson, you just have to remember because it's on the top of the camera and rather small - it's range isn't that great, so it's best to remove lens hoods or use shorter lenses so you don't end up with big black smudges on your photos.  The 1000f also automatically sets the ISO and auto loads the film (really easy) but it oddly shows the frame count backwards due to loading the film in backwards.  I've often thought I've nearly finished a roll but in reality have only just started :P


Love this camera, it was the first SLR I used and made sure that I fell in love with film.  In recent times I've stopped using it because I dropped it on ice and the metering stopped working but have just recently starting using it again paired with a free light meter app on my phone - so far so good!

This camera you really do set everything manually, including ISO and loading the film - bit of a pain but was a great way to start out with because I learned so much about SLRs

The results when using the following Colour films

Summary: Great camera, awesome shots, be prepared to set everything manually!!


MINOLTA HI-MATIC F (rangefinder camera)

The hi-matic f is my first rangefinder camera, which means instead of having a mirror like an SLR it's mirror-less and requires you to join a focusing patch (seen through the view finder) to match the view through using the focus ring on the lens.  This also means the view you see through the view finder is slightly off - affecting framing and something you need to be aware of.  Without a mirror though, you get less motion blur, a lighter camera and more compact which makes it nice for street photography! Rangefinders are typically sharper, have no distortion on wider lenses and no vignetting (black edges).  

The batteries for the hi-matic f are no longer in production but you can buy for cheap a pack of AG13 button cell batteries, place two batteries on top of each other then wrapped a thin strip of paper around the two (to stop them falling apart) and pop them into the battery compartment.  I did read this method creates a slightly higher voltage which will cause the exposure meter to read wrong and underexpose so something to be aware of! I've also gotten into the habit of removing my batteries when I'm not using the camera because they will drain power kept inside the camera.

 There is a red button on the back to check the batteries and a light on top to confirm.  There isn't a film peep hole so I'll like to make note on a piece of paper which film is inside the camera and when it was put in for my own reference.

Apart from manual focusing, the camera is auto and therefore you don't have control over shutter speeds unfortunately, the one control you do have is setting the film speed so I would recommend setting it lower than the film's rated speed in order for your photos to errr on the overexposed side! Another thing to note is the ISO (or ASA) only goes up to 500.  As you can see from the photo above the hi-matic f has a very simple operating system.  On the front of the lens is the black dial to set your film's ISO and on the len's body is the focusing ring and another dial for flash - very straight forward camera!

The results when using the following Colour films:
Lomography 100

The results when using the following B&W films: 
Ilford HP5

Summary: Cheap camera, light weight, looks great, novel to use if you're used to SLR's.  It's auto exposure may be a con or pro depending on who you are but it does cause some trouble since the batteries for the camera no longer exist and the replacements can play with the exposure reading, possibly causing the camera to underexpose - although there is an ISO dial to control the rating.


Okay it's now onto my toy cameras!

Superheadz Ultra Wide and Slim
If you don't have a toy camera, unsure of which one to buy and need something that's relatively cheap this is your guy! I actually started off with the pink model of this camera which I got in Japan (they come in a wide and awesome assortment of colours).

The Superheadz camera is all auto - a  recurring feature of toy cameras meaning you having to roll with it's punches and (often) random results.  What I love about the ultra wide is the photos come back super saturated independent of film choice.  As the name suggests it's super slim (super light weight 75g) and ultra wide, meaning it takes a wide view shot with a focal length of 22mm (getting close to fisheye lens but without the distortion).  You don't always necessary want wide shots but remember - roll with the punches!  Another thing I should point out is that despite being lightweight it still feels sturdy.  It has a solid back, so you don't have to worry about the rear door flinging open and ruining your roll of film.  The superheadz takes 35mm film which can be processed just about anywhere, which is a convenient feature.

Negatives: It has a 1/125 shutter speed meaning it doesn't let in a whole lot of light and therefore can only really be used on super sunny days (unless you're using an high ISO film).  It has no hot shoe to attach a flash and it also can't do macro (you have to always make sure your subjects are at least one metre away).  With a f-stop of 11 it also guarantees everything will be in focus even if you don't want it to be and it also lacks double exposure capabilities.

You can pick one up for under 50 dollars :)

The results when using the following Colour films
Lomography 100 / Kodak 400 / Fuji


Sunny Juice Box Camera

Okay onto my second favourite toy camera my juice box! Firstly how awesome that it's a juice box, super incognito and the shutter button is the straw - ahhhh! love it :)  Even though it's super cool, it's probably the most flimsy camera I own, every time I go to press the shutter, I don't know if I'm going to break the straw and whether or not I've twisted the straw the right way (something you need to do to be able to release the shutter) - confusing times!

Like the Ultra wide, this camera takes 35mm film, it's also wide at 27mm, has a f-stop of 9.5 (everything will be in focus after roughly a metre) and a shutter speed of 1/100 (which means only use on those extra bright sunny days, especially if you are using a low speed film!)

Negatives: It's limitations are similar to the Ultra wide, no flash attachment, it can't do double exposures but it does produce nice saturated results which gives it the two thumbs up from me :)

The results when using the following Colour films
Lomography 100 / Kodak Ektar 100 / Fuji Superia 200

Holga 135 bc

The Holga 135bc is the cheapest holga you can get, it's all plastic and the "bc" bit just means it has forced vignetting (vin-yet-ing) so instead of the black edges occurring naturally on the film the 135bc has black inserts to stop the corners being exposed. Some people might find this cheating or tacky but I'm all for it.  At 178g it's twice as heavy as the other two toy cameras above but it's still super light, just a bit more bulkier

Unlike other holgas it takes 35mm film, which means processing is cheaper and easier to find :) The Holga 135bc has a 47mm focal length (standard view), two different aperture selects f/8 and f/11 and you can attach a flash.  The other nice feature, is you can take as many exposures as you'd like on one single frame of film - you don't need to advance the film to press the shutter (this can also be dangerous if you unintentionally forget to wind the next frame on though).  The shutter speed is fast at 1/100 but there is also a "bulb setting" which means as long as you hold down the shutter release button the shutter stays open (also dangerous if you accidentally switch the setting onto bulb without meaning too but perfect if you're using a tripod).

The final neat thing is it has a hot shoe so you can attach a flash. Just make sure at night your subject is around 1-2 metres away, if you're using a smaller flash it probably won't be able to do long distances and the holga cant do close ups! 

I've found you really need to shoot on super sunny days and/or with super high ISO film.  The results I got shooting with Lomo 800 colour film on a very very sunny day - turned out great (with no need to do double exposures). Although if you plan on doing double exposures you may want to consider a 400 ISO or play around with lighting conditions! Tricky because you can't mess with settings but part of the fun as well!

Negatives: So there is a lot to like about this camera but there are some things I'm not entirely sold on firstly the super soft images you get, I love this in black and white but not so sure about the colour photo results yet.  The viewfinder also doesn't accurately represent what you're taking, you really need to aim higher than you think you should be, especially so you don't cut off people's heads! And finally when I put through 36 exposure rolls a lot of frames came back blank, I then read about the recommendation of only using 24 frames as 36 is too tight for the spool, so something to remember when you go to buy film for it

The results when using the following Colour films 

Holga 120N

The Holga 120N was my first foray into Holga, actually my very first toy/plastic camera! I bought it back in 2006 in Japan and it wasn't until I got it home, I realised it took 120 film which I found very difficult to have processed so it sat in a box for a very long time!

This plastic camera comes with plastic mask inserts for square or rectangle shots (either or!) or you can choose to leave them out altogether and hope for the possibility of light leaks.  There is also a sliding button on the back for you to select whether you are using the 16 (rectangle shots) or 12 (square shots) alongside a window to view frame count.  Unfortunately that window doesn't tell you what film is currently in use so you'll need to jot that down, or put a sticker on the back of the camera to remind you.

FEATURES: The camera has a hot shoe on top (for a flash ) and a screw mount on the bottom (for a tripod). There is a sliding button above the lens for two different aperture options - cloudy f/8 or sunny f/11.  The lens is 60mm and the shutter is 1/100 sec. with the option (on the bottom of the camera) to change that to bulb mode (B) meaning that as long as you hold down the shutter, the lens will remain open.  You also have the option for multiple exposures - you simply don't advance the film knob.  The actually view finder (like many toy cameras) doesn't actually line up with the lens so take this into account when shooting! Finally on the lens itself there is a focusing ring, I was always under the impression this did nothing and that holgas by default were super soft (out of focus!) but turns out I may have super wrong :P  Flickr user squarefrog aka Paul did this amazing focus and from what I've gathered the different settings (for optimal sharpness) go a little something like this:

Individual (closeup)  10cm - 1m

Triplets: 1-2 metres

Group: 2-3 metres

Mountain (infinity) 3+ metres

Summary: Okay, it's basic but it takes 120 film which means - bigger prints and better quality! I think the thing to remember is the camera does have a few dials to play with; the shutter speed (bottom of camera) along with, two f/stop choices (the button above lens) and the focus distance on the lens itself. You should try and remember that unless you have a tripod you'll probably use the 'N' shutter speed setting which is 1/100 of a second and thus you may need to select some faster film or shoot in bright light or use multiple exposures to get your shots properly exposed.

The results when using the following Colour films
Fuji Superia 100
Kodak Ektar 100 / Ilford Delta 100/ T-Max 400


Fujifilm Instax Mini 8

The Fujifilm Instanx Mini 8 is a great little camera.  It runs off 2xAA batteries and loads a pack of 10 film at a time, with each photograph measuring 62x46mm. Loading film is super easy and there is a film counter dial on the back to know how many shots you've got left (0 = none, S = start/nofilm in). 
The button closest to the lens pops out the lens and then it takes a few seconds to read the exposure and light up a suggested setting. 

You can see the orange light above has lit up the indoor symbol. Indoor has a f stop of 12.7, cloudy f/16, fine f/22 and clear f/32. So all that really means is the higher the number the less light the lens lets in. Which makes sense for the clear setting (pic of bright sun) that you would want the least amount of light when shooting on a sunny day so your photo isn't overexposed. There is also a hi-key setting which is meant to be the brightest of them all but I've been too scared to test that setting out! All the above info from the fuji website here which is worth checking out for some super simple/easy how-to photos. p

I have a sneaky suspicion that the maximum fstop (32) coupled with auto flash means it can't handle super sunny days or bright backlit situations outdoors (maybe you could sneakily cover the flash :P).  On the plus side and almost in contradiction I think it handles mix light on a subject well and is probably to do with the fact the flash always fires :) 

One downside to the instax is the viewfinder doesn't actually relate to the lens, meaning you're simply looking through a hole that is above and to the left of the lens so you do need to take this into consideration when shooting things!

The camera is also designed to be held to shoot portrait photos but you can easily turn it on it's side to take horizontal shots .  Personally my favourite photos with the instax have been taken inside of people in front of darker backdrops. You do need to remember that the flash effective range is 0.6m - 2.7 m and unless you have a super close lens add-on (which you can pick up cheaply from ebay) the minimum focus range is 0.6m. I talk about that close up lens and some more accessories and things over here!


  1. This is so awesome! I'm actually working on a similar guide for the cameras I own (and have been for awhile but I keep adding to my collection so the post never actually gets finished). I can't believe you picked up the EOS3 for $3!

    Erin |

    1. I still have a few more to add myself but it's definitely one of those time consuming things that's easier to put off :P You definitely should do a guide though, I for one would love to read it and you know (as lame as this sounds) I go back and reference my guide all the time for myself, especially when I haven't used a camera for a while and forget it's quirks!! lol $3 was so amazing huh :)

    2. It really is difficult to get it finished! Especially because I want it to be comprehensive enough and have good photo examples from each camera.

      Let me know if you ever add to this post :)

    3. yeah, exactly, comprehensive is good, hopefully I will get my butt into gear and finish it off, or update it at least :)

  2. LOVE my film Canon EOS <3

    1. I appreciate that they are easy to use and light weight and fit awesome lenses! :) :)

  3. Glad to have found a new blog who shoots film as well! :D

    1. film for the win! Nice to discover your blog too! :)


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