Instagram? Great stuff. Easy to use, lots of filters, and an awesome way to show people the taco truck you’re currently visiting. Strip of all the glossy varnish and what you’ve got is a pretty impressive digital picture – at least for something that came out of a phone. Want to get those saturated and then washed out colors? That great film noise? Those warps and lines that sometimes look so artificial when you digitally create them? There’s an easy system to do all that.
Film. If it’s been sitting in your fridge for upwards of 5 years like this Kodak Gold 200 has, so much the better. If you want to get into it this way, it’s not even too expensive. Film will set you back a few bucks, but really not much. Processing is an even better deal. Most big photo labs will develop negatives for a couple bucks (at Target it’s less than $2) and if you don’t have a film scanner, most places will scan the lot straight to CD-ROM for another few bucks – probably about the same cost as getting some crummy prints, which you probably don’t want anyway.
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You might not even have a 35mm film camera sitting around anymore. I do have the last SLR I used before switching to digital, but frankly I don’t like it. That’s why I went back out and bough my first camera love all over again – the Canon A-1. Great camera, and after a little tune-up, it’s in good shape. They are also fairly easy to find with a high-quality 50mm 1.8 lens (and remember, since this is 35mm film, it’s actually 50mm – we don’t have the APS-C crop factor you get on consumer-grade digitals). The sound of that film-advance lever? Priceless.
Sure you can clean it up in Photoshop, but don’t do it – the first button you hit loses that look you’ve been trying so hard to create. Here it is, in all it’s questionable glory.