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Nikon Film photography

A Complete Guide to Film Photography in Japan

By Thai Ngo Mar 30, 2023

In recent years, smartphones have become a necessity in everyone’s life. People use them to make phone calls, entertain themselves, search for information, and, most importantly, take photographs. However, most photos we take are quickly forgotten and buried beneath dozens of new ones every day. To break this habit, many people have turned to film photography. It teaches us to appreciate and improve the quality of each photo we take, capturing unforgettable moments in all their beauty.

What Is Film Photography?

Film photo taken in Vietnam

Photo credit: author

Film cameras were conceptually similar to digital or phone cameras today. To create a complete image in film photography, there are six significant steps:

  1. Insert the film roll into the camera
  2. Take photos
  3. Remove the film roll
  4. Develop film
  5. Scan film
  6. Print the film (physically or digitally)

Simply put, the film sheets are like drawing paper, and the sunlight is like paintbrushes. The shutter opens when we take a photo, allowing light to pass through the lens and “draw” “n th” film’s film’se. These operations, however, take less than 0.01 seconds, just long enough for a specific amount of light to hit the film. The “click””or “s”ap” “ound”made by the camera when we press the shutter button represents the entire process of opening and closing the shutter. This also explains why all films are developed in a completely dark room.

After all, who wants to store a finished painting in a box full of paint?

The Difference Between Digital and Film Photography

Coastal city - Film photography

Photo credit: author

The most apparent difference between a film photo and a phone photo is colour, light, detail, and contrast. That’s because tThat’sl work on the same principle, the only difference being that an electronic sensor replaces the film sheet. Sometimes, after taking a photo with your phone, you even have to tweak it a bit to make the photo look more realistic and sharp. There is also much software created for you to colour-grade images. However, in this era, the vintage colour and image quality created by film is already an upgrade for your photos. Many people turn to film photography because of these nostalgic vibes. By taking photos with film, the shadow, highlights, and small details on the subject are also reproduced in an extremely clear, realistic way.

Necessary Equipment for Film Photography Beginner

“For Fun” Cameras:

Fujifilm Instax - film photography

Phot” credit” Canva.com

There are many disposable or instant cameras on the market today that you can buy and shoot without having any photography knowledge. Here are the most common types:

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11: This camera can help you instantly capture images and print films. You just need to buy it, put the film in, and shoot. It costs about 9,000 yen, and each film change (20 sheets) costs about 1,300 yen.

Kodak Disposable Analog Camera: It costs about 2,200 yen and can take 30-40 shots. After shooting, you must bring the camera to the film development facility and develop it for a specific cost.

These cameras have the advantages of convenience, simplicity, and speed. However, their image quality could be improved. Invest in a film camera with lenses if you want sharp, beautiful souvenirs or art-worthy photos.

Interchangeable Lens Camera

Nikon camera - Film photography

Photo credit: Canva.com

The film photography industry has had thousands of camera lines from giant names such as Nikon, Canon, Leica, Hasselblad, Yashica, and others over its more than 100-year history. 

  • A camera body: If you are new to film photography, we strongly advise you to buy a 35mm film camera from Nikon (Nikon FE, FM, FA, F4S,…) or Canon (Canon A-1, AE-1, 1N,…) at a used camera store in Japan. To begin, these are the two most popular and affordable cameras. You should go to Kitamura or BIC camera because they will have the necessary paperwork and warranty.
  • A prime lens: 50mm lenses with an aperture of 1.8 or 1.4 will also be an excellent choice for beginners. Do not forget to confirm the lens mount capability (by trying mounting it on your camera) before buying.
  • One roll of film: You can experiment with various films, the most popular of which is Kodak Color Plus 200. The number 200 in its name refers to the film’s ISO (light sensifilm’s).

The entire pack will cost between 30,000 and 40,000 yen, which is quite pricey for a beginner. However, this is a long-lasting and reliable option. Furthermore, the images produced by this camera will be sharper and more realistic than those produced by disposable cameras.

Are You Ready to Try Japanese Film Photography?

Because film developing and scanning services are available everywhere in Japan, photographers have many advantages over their counterparts in other countries. Furthermore, film cameras are a must-have in all camera stores. Why not buy yourself a camera to save good memories in Japan?

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Featured photo credit: canva.com