Whether you want to snap some photos of friends or are looking for a new hobby, here’s our guide to film cameras in Hong Kong.
Have you looked around the streets of Hong Kong lately? More and more film cameras are starting to pop up in the hands of photographers as new converts are picking up the practice (and never looking back). Although all the knobs and gears may seem daunting at first glance, trying your hand at film photography in Hong Kong doesn’t have to stress you out or break the bank. Maybe you want an analogue snapshot of that Insta-worthy location, a new trusty camera in hand while you explore your favourite street market, or just to find a way to channel your artistic side – there’s no wrong way to make your introduction into this hobby.
Your friendly guide to film cameras in Hong Kong
First things first: how do film cameras work?
In order to take amazing photos, knowing how film cameras work is key. So basically, what you load into the camera itself is a roll of light-sensitive film that is then exposed through the camera, which is manipulated to let in a certain amount of light onto the film to capture an impression.
If you’ve got your head around that, you’d probably realise that “light” is the most important factor when dealing with film cameras. In fact, the three pillars of film photography – ISO, shutter speed, and aperture – all have to do with light control. Not sure what any of those terms mean? Don’t fret, just read on as we take you through.
Mastering film photography: ISO, shutter speed, and aperture
One of the first things to take note of when loading a fresh roll of film into your camera is the ISO, which is the sensitivity to light. In simplest terms, a camera’s ISO is a setting that might brighten or darken your photo. Though different photographers might want to mix and match their ISO based on how they want their image to turn out, a good rule of thumb when starting out is to just match your camera’s ISO to the number listed on your film.
2. Shutter speed
When taking a photo on your film camera, you might hear a satisfying chuh-clunk when pressing down the shutter release button. What’s happening is the shutter in the camera opening for a brief amount of time to let in light and create your image. The amount of time the shutter remains open has to do with the shutter speed (easy to remember!). You can slow down your shutter speed to 1/4th of a second or even several seconds to create a cool blurred effect when capturing things in motion. On the other hand, you can set your shutter speed higher to 1/1000 or 1/2000 of a second to capture crisp images of fast-moving objects.
The final aspect of a film camera you need to know about is the aperture. A camera’s aperture controls a hole that can change sizes depending on what the aperture is set to, thereby affecting how much light will actually pass through when the shutter is pressed. The aperture at f2.8 is wider and the depth of field is more shallow, making it good for photos like portraits, where you might want just your subject in focus against a blurry background. A more narrow aperture like f22 on the other hand creates a deeper depth of field and is perfect for landscape photography where you want everything in the frame to be in focus.
Types of 35mm film cameras
Tried out a certain camera a while ago and found it wasn’t your style? Fear not – there is way more than one type of film camera in Hong Kong and you’ll definitely be able to find one that will suit your needs. While there are more types of cameras than the ones talked about here, let’s start with the more beginner-friendly 35mm ones.
1. Single-lens reflex (SLR)
When you first think of a film camera, odds are that you are picturing a single-lens reflex camera. These cameras are great for beginners, because you have a good amount of control over your settings and can see exactly what will show up in your picture when you look through the viewfinder, thanks to the trusty mirror inside the camera. Some reliable SLRs that won’t hurt your wallet too much are the Canon AE-1 or the Pentax K1000.
As opposed to an SLR, with a rangefinder you never look directly through the lens, but rather a viewfinder window on the top left. People may favour rangefinders as they are generally smaller and lighter than SLRs due to not having a mirror inside the camera. Some, however, are not fans due to not having a completely accurate view of how your photo may turn out. A couple of good beginner rangefinders are the Canon Canonet GIII QL17 and the Yashica Electro 35 GSN.
3. Point & shoot
A point & shoot film camera is pretty self-explanatory: you point it and shoot it. These cameras are great for off-the-cuff shots because the camera decides all the settings for you, leaving just the need to click the shutter button. For some this may be a good initial foray into film photography while, for others, the lack of control over the camera’s settings is less than desirable. The Olympus Mju and the Nikon L35af are some good bang for your buck point & shoot cameras in Hong Kong.
Okay, I’ve taken some pictures… Now what?
Congratulations on completing your first roll! First of all, you will need to check if your film camera requires you to manually rewind your film. Nothing is worse than finishing your roll of film then opening the camera back before it’s rewinded – thus exposing and ruining all of the pictures.
After you’ve got your film safely rewinded and out of your camera, you need to get it developed. Although some photographers prefer to do this themselves in their own darkroom, odds are you won’t have one of those just yet. But don’t worry, you can just drop them off at a film developer where they can print or scan the pictures for you. Don’t forget to save your negatives in case you ever want to reproduce your pictures again.
This all seems like a lot of work – so why film?
“Why film?” is a good question in a day and age when almost everyone has a digital camera in their pocket through their smartphone. Crystal clear images are a marvel, but sometimes nothing quite beats the grain of film. We love film photography, because it’s a good hobby to help slow down your process of taking photos and hone in on some technical skills.
Though all this jargon may seem overwhelming at first, a big part of film photography is trial and error. Luckily, most film cameras come with a handy built-in light metre that guides you through the process of controlling your settings. Fiddling around with the aperture and shutter speed (very rarely the ISO) to create the perfect light conditions for your photo is part of the fun and easy to pick up as you spend more time with your camera!
Film developers and suppliers in Hong Kong
Want to get started with film photography? Browse these shops to find quality film cameras in Hong Kong and get your photos developed. Oh, and feel free to share with us your pictures on Instagram (@honeycombershk) – we love sharing good shots with our readers!
- Showa Film & Camera has multiple locations across Hong Kong
- Camera Film Photo, Unit A, 5/F, Gee Hing Chang Industrial Building, 16 Cheung Yue Street, Cheung Sha Wan, Hong Kong, p. 3955 2211
- Imageplayground has multiple locations across Hong Kong
- YatGyun Film and Camera, 2A, Sik On House, Hill Road 66, Sai Wan, p. 6599 7048
- Dot-Well Photo Workshop, G/F, 44 Carnarvon Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, p. 2368 3826
- Chung Pui Photo Supplies, 44 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong, p. 2868 3628