The Poison Pen

Film Photography – on the el cheapo

Posted in Photography by thepoisonpen on July 19, 2010

The general consensus seems to have fallen out of love with film, or fallen back in love depending on your predilection. In the digital age, most effects can be manipulated in photo editing suites and costs can be cut considerably as film development slowly falls by the wayside and becomes a specialised market.

Lomography started to dominate the film market years ago, creating a left field generation of  photography utilising Soviet cameras and their quirks which included light leaks and weird exposure. As such was the appeal, the prices soared for Lomo authorised cameras. No matter how shitty the camera was, with a lomo sticker it became a novelty. However if you know where to look, you can enjoy film without needing to spend over £50 on a camera that is essentially, a bit broken.

So here is my cheap and cheerful guide to film for those who might not know where to look, where to start and certainly don’t have the pennies to waste on what can be a variable medium at best.

Black & White

I’ve used a lot of black and white film over the years in a variety of cameras, but my favourite way to use black & white these days is with a Boots disposable black & white camera. It comes pre-loaded with an 800 iso film. I’ve only ever had these developed at boots, which usually takes around 14 days, but I’ve always been more than happy with the results for such an easy to use point and shoot camera. It’s a fantastic easy way to get into using black and white if you’re unsure where to start or not to savvy on anything more than a point and shoot.

Another bonus is that they are normally on offer for buy one get one free.


Edinburgh 2009

Redscale is the name of a technique for shooting your film on the wrong side. It is done manually by rewinding the film backwards into an empty film cannister to achieve ‘reddened’ results. That was a faff untill lomo came along and created pre-loaded redscale film. The lomo films are reasonably priced at under £10 for three films depending on where you purchase, so shop around online to find the best deal.

Also lighting is very important, it won’t work for gig photography or to take groping into a dark corner. Redscale feeds off high contrast light situations to make the most out of your film. Sunny days and large city scapes work best unless you can rely on a very strong flash.


If you already own a film interchangeable lens camera or have inherited, sourced or scoured your way through families attics and draws. You can achieve a variety of effects using simple filters. There are two ways to use filters: The first is a round glass filter bought to fit the size of your lens directly and is good if you’re used to using auto-focus. The downside is they can be rather pricey depending on the lens you are going to attach it to. Or, you can buy a filter unit which attaches like a large lens hood over the front of the camera allowing you to add numerous square filters at the same time for cheaper than your standard fitted lens screw in type. The Cokin website has a comprehensive guide on how to get on the square filters, and as always eBay is a good place to source second hand filters for extra cheap that photographers no longer want or need.

Taken using olympus om10 yellow filter

As for developing? Go local and support your nearest independent film developers as they are on the decline. I plan to try Digitalab which Newcastle (U.K) based and offers a wide range of services including cross processing for an extra cost.


2 Responses

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  1. Seymour said, on October 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Great post and I agree with your take on the whole “Lomo” craze … still … if fools want to spend that sort of money on being “hip” then the laugh is on them. The most I ever paid for a camera was £11 on ebay but most in my collection come from friends who gave them to me saying, “found this old thing in the attic, thought you might like it” – sweet!

  2. Musehunting – becky hunter said, on November 18, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    […] Lucy explains how to get back into film photography […]

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