Photography Supplies You Can't Live Without

Film Photography Supplies

With some basic chemistry skills and patience, you can develop your own film and explore a side of photography that's being forgotten as digital cameras take over the imaging world.
With some basic chemistry skills and patience, you can develop your own film and explore a side of photography that's being forgotten as digital cameras take over the imaging world.

A lot of photography accessories are equally necessary for both digital and film cameras. For the moment, though, we'll run down the things you really need if you shoot film.

Because of the digital revolution, your options for this medium are dwindling. Kodak, for example, recently discontinued its iconic Kodachrome color film [source: PC Mag]. So, when you invest in film, pick a common type that's backed by a major brand and in good supply at your local superstores, not gathering dust in the back of your town's last camera shop. If you choose rarer films, be prepared to spend a lot of money to ship your negatives to a specialty lab.

If you're intrigued by the old-school idea of developing your film in a darkroom at home, you certainly can, and the learning curve may not even be as steep as attempting to understand Photoshop, which takes years to master because of its many capabilities. And there's one big advantage to home development -- you can use less common film types that store labs no longer work with, such as medium-format or large-format films.

To develop film at home, you'll need a hand-held developing tank and a variety of fluid chemicals, including photographic developer, stop bath and fixer. You also have to buy photographic paper in order to make prints from your negatives.

Your darkroom should have hot and cold running water and cabinets that let you safely store chemicals and other accessories.

You'll need patience and a willingness to deal with the trial and error that is an unavoidable part of film developing. Unlike in Photoshop, when you develop film, you can't hit CTRL-Z to undo your mistakes.

And you should be prepared to spend significant chunks of cash on the consumables you use, such as film and paper. Paper alone is a significant expense, at a minimum of around $30 for 100 8-inch by 10-inch (20-centimeter by 25-centimeter) sheets.

If film development sounds like it might be a hobby in and of itself, you're right. It's a detail-oriented and costly process that requires investments of both cash and time, and it lacks much of the instant gratification of digital imaging. Still, film is a powerful art form that rewards dedication and skill.

It doesn't matter if you choose the path of digital photography, film photography or both. There are thousands of accessories you can buy to accentuate (or totally overload) your photography fun.

But try to keep things simple. Photography centers on capturing light in a way that's personal and meaningful to you. If you focus less on geeking out over equipment and more on understanding what pictures mean to you, you'll impress yourself with the images you can create.

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  • Hansen, Peggy. "Essential Photo Equipment for Outdoor Photography." (Jan. 30, 2011)
  • Ilford Photo. "Processing Your First Black & White Film." October 2003. (Jan. 30, 2011)
  • Nikon USA. "Getting Started: Memory Cards and Batteries." (Jan. 30, 2011)
  • Nikon USA. "Getting Started: How to Change a Lens." (Jan. 30, 2011)
  • Resnick, Mason. "Black and White Film Processing: The Twelve-Step Program." Black & White World. (Jan. 30, 2011)
  • Steve's Digicams. "Essential Photography Equipment for Amateurs." (Jan. 30, 2011)
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  • Willis, Dave. "Essential Landscape Accessories." Outdoor Photographer. Aug. 1, 2008. (Jan. 30, 2011)