Getting started with film photography in a digital era – The Gear

Part 1 – Introduction | Part 2 – The Gear | Part 3 – How to shoot film (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)



The introduction of this Getting Started with film photography gave you a feeling about what it means to take pictures on film and if you are determined to continue, now, we will talk about the gear, like camera, lenses and film. I will not go in deep technical details about stuff, you can study in depth if you want from external sources, i will try to keep things as simple as possible.

I am interested in street photography so i got myself a rangefinder (FED 5B) tailored for this type of shooting. I also used a viewfinder film camera (Belomo Vilia). I didn’t use a film SLR (single lens reflex) but i will try to give you as much info as i can.

First thing first.

A. Film:

What is it? – Film is a peace of transparent plastic, coated with a gelatin emulsion of a silver based substance.

Types of film – I can put them in 3 categories:

1) by size (35 mm (24 x 36 mm), 120 mm or medium format (6 x 6 cm or 6 x 9 cm) and large format (4 x 5 inch)) – I recommend starting with 35 mm although 120 mm scans better with budget scanners.

2) by type (color negative, color slide transparency, black and white negative) – I recommend starting with color negative because it’s widely available and more “forgiving” when you overexpose.

3) by ISO (the sensitivity of the film to the light – you can easily find from ISO 50 to 800). Use lower ISO for bright light with no grain and noise and high ISO film for low light but high grain and noise. My last films used were 35 mm color negative ISO 200 Kodak Color Plus, good for a wide range of daylight situations…cheap but very reliable.

How it works? – the black and white negative case: As you click the shutter of your camera, a curtain/mirror expose the film to the light rays reflected from your subject. Lighter rays will “agitate” more the emulsion on the film and that zone will get darker as the silver cells will bang their heads violently. Darker rays are gentle with the emulsion, leaving it lighter. Picture this, you take a picture with a bright sky and above the forest with darker tones. The film will get dark tones in the sky and lighter tones on the forest, that’s the negative. To get the correct tones after scanning, you have to “Invert” the tones. Extrapolate that to other types of film (the color film has additional layers on the emulsion).

Makers: I only used Kodak but check Fujifilm, Ilford etc.

My recommendation will be to stick to 1 type of film, usually a 35 mm or 120 mm (depending on the camera you have) color negative. Shoot a while with 1 film to understand how to set exposure and how the film behaves. Learn that 1 film inside out.


B. Camera:

Film cameras come based on the size of film you can load, so we have 35 mm, 120 mm or medium format and large format. I will talk about 35 mm and 120 mm cameras because the large format 1 tone cameras are another story.


  1. SLR (single lens reflex) – have you heard of a DSLR, the digital single lens reflex? A SLR works with a mirror/prism that let the photographer see through the lens what he is shooting. When you click the shutter, this mirror is raised and the film is exposed to light. They came in 35 mm and 120 mm sizes, have interchangeable lenses and the quality is great. They come from full manual to battery operated full automatic cameras with light metering and all the cool stuff. There are some awesome used SLRs out there like: Canon AE-1, Canon F1, Nikon F3, Nikon FM, Minolta X-570, Minolta X700, Olympus OM series, Pentax K100, Pentax LX, Praktika MTL3, Contax S2b etc. For starters try Canon AE-1 or Pentax K100, they’re cheaper. Also very cheap but very good are the Former Soviet Union (FSU) SLR cameras like Zenit.
  2. Rangefinder – A rangefinder focusing mechanism works by allowing the user to measure the distance to the subject an keeping in focus parts of the depth of the image based on that distance and aperture of the camera. The older rangefinders have decoupled viewfinder and rangefinder (you had to look through a hole to focus and after that you had to look in another hole for framing), the new ones have those two coupled. It is the camera used by street photographers because they have the fastest focusing mechanism – zone focusing/pre-focusing. In human terms: If you set the distance (D), at a given aperture, everything from (D-something) to (D+something) will be in focus. They are very quite because the film is exposed to light by opening a cloth curtain in general than raising the mirror of a SLR. They also have interchangeable lenses. There are some awesome used rangefinders out there like: All Leica rangefinders (insanely expensive, even the really old ones), Canonet G-III QL17, Olympus 35RC, Zeiss Ikon, Voigtlander Bessa. Also very cheap but very good are the Former Soviet Union rangefinder cameras like Zorki, FED.
  3. Viewfinders – Look at them as the compact/point and shoot cameras these days. They don’t have interchangeable lenses. There are some awesome used viewfinder cameras out there like: Rollei 35 or the FSU Vilia and Smena.


C. Lens:

Apart from the viewfinder cameras that don’t have interchangeable lenses, with SLRs and rangefinders you can get a great variety of lenses out there. My FED 5b, being a Leica copy can mount an expensive Leica or Voigtlander M39 threaded lens. Pretty slick huh?!
Also, if you find in the basement your grandpa’s Leica but the lens is missing, you can get a great 200$ russian Industar 1.4 lens or the cheaper ones (starting 20$) with f/2.0 and up.

Start small and grow if you find film photography your passion. It doesn’t make sens to buy a Leica to find out you don’t like shooting film. Whatever you choose, stick to 1 camera and 1 lens and shoot with that for a while until the setup of the camera will become natural to you. Also a fixed lens like 50 mm  or 35 mm will help you more learning to judge the distances and framing and their good for fitness because you will have to zoom with your legs. :)


My gear:

  • Camera: FED 5b (18$ camera + lens below + case + flash).
  • Lens: fixed 53 mm Industar 61 L/D f/2.8
  • Film: Kodak Color Plus 200 (35 mm color negative) – 3.5$ with free developing.

You can check the first part of the series to get a feeling of what shooting film means or continue with the next part on how to shoot film (under construction).

Stay hungry, buy film! ^-^


Part 1 – Introduction | Part 2 – The Gear | Part 3 – How to shoot film (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)


Getting started with film photography in a digital era – Introduction

Part 1 – Introduction | Part 2 – The Gear | Part 3 – How to shoot film (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)


Film camera - A fully manual FED 5B former Soviet Union rangefinder camera

Fig. 1 – Film camera – A fully manual FED 5B former Soviet Union rangefinder camera


Everybody is taking pictures, i mean EVERYBODY!

With the mobile phone capability of taking pictures, instant awesomizing with filters and edits, instant sharing, instant “Like”-ing and instant feedback from “friends” and “followers”, not only photographers take/make pictures, everybody is doing it. Digital is fast, from pushing the button to getting your snap to an immense audition, everything happens in seconds.

In this digital era, we want things to happen with lightning speed and “the new way of taking pictures” is kind of intervening with the old ways of doing photography.

I don’t want to get in a debate or start flame wars about what is photography, how it should be done, why Instagram is/is not ruining photography, which is better film or digital, i just want to show you that there is something else than digital snap and share and waiting in vain for likes and faves :). There is something else, something classic, physical, very personal, old school, not very convenient but full of rewards you would be amazed if you try it…..this thing is film photography.

Disclaimer: this post is based on my experiences and my personal opinions and should be taken with a grain of salt. I am no expert but i hope my tips and tricks will get you started with film. Also the costs in these series may be different in other parts of the world.

Why would you try film photography?

  1. You have found your dad/grandpa old film camera in the basement. Or, you found one at a garage sale or someone just give one away.
  2. You’ve seen people online or offline using film cameras and thought it will be cool to try.
  3. You just want to be cool and different or want to experiment.
  4. You’ve done some digital photography, being with a camera or smartphone and want to try other mediums other than digital.
  5. The sky in your digital pictures is so blown away and you heard that film is more forgiving and finally you will get that blue sky and green hills right…in the same snap. :)
  6. You want to try the old process of doing photography, the get your hands dirty process.

What you should now before starting?

  1. Using film is more expensive than digital, for a casual user. (Using film for professional use, tends to be cheaper than digital in the long run but that’s another story). You need to buy film, pay for developing, pay for scanning to get your files on the computer. Here developing is free by the lab you buy the film, scanning costs roughly the same as the prints, but in the States, developing and scanning is cheaper. You will get cheaper if you develop but more important if you scan your film at home, so investing in a good film scanner will save you big bucks in the long run. Every click will cost you money.
  2. The process is slower from clicking the shutter to getting your photos online. The audition is online these days so don’t expect to show your photos in art galleries in 6 months from now, just because you’re doing it the hard way.
  3. You will slow down and this is good, so you will stop that “spray and pray” type photography and start to thing before snapping. You will judge if that picture is really worth it. With digital, in a photo shoot, you can take about 300 pics and get 3 good keepers, with film you only got 36 frames so think and look carefully before snapping the shutter.
  4. Film cameras are very cheap. I bought an old Former Soviet Union camera, a fully manual and mechanical rangefinder called FED 5b + flash, for around 18$. I didn’t have to adjust anything, i just put a film in it and i started shooting. My camera also doesn’t need any batteries.

Maybe before arriving here, you’ve done some research on film photography and i am pretty sure you’ve seen debates on “why is film better than digital” or vice-versa and i will tell you what i find special in film and why i think using a film camera will improve your photography:

  1. The dynamic range of film is awesome and i find it way better than digital.
  2. The film grain is so pleasant. I was so against grain or noise and i craved super sharpness in photos but after using film for a little while, i started to love the grain and noise. This is not the case of “i got noise in my pictures and i have nothing to do but like it”, it’s the shifting to being more interested in composition than sharpness.
  3. I love the time you spend waiting for the film to be developed and scanned. It’s like waiting for Christmas or like a box of candy….you never know what you will get or if you’ll get anything.
  4. It makes me see things better.
  5. I started training my eye by slowing down, it made me more thoughtful on composition and lighting and interestingness of the scene. You will want to nail all of those right in-camera and not in post-production. You will really look at the scene, look at the lighting, make the composition, frame the shot and if is wort it, click. 1$ gone. :)
  6. I spend less time editing on the computer. I do very little adjustments. It’s better to be outside and shoot than staying in front of the computer screen.
  7. I invested in 1 camera and 1 lens and i try to stick with 1 type of film for a while. This way i will learn the inside and outside of my gear and make it a part of me and get very natural taking pictures.
  8. It shifted my views on photography and the whole learning process. I don’t care anymore about gear, heavy computer editing or any technical info. I got very interested in composition and lighting, i look at paintings of the great masters, i have seen tones of YouTube videos about the great photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Josef Koudelka and many many others.

But film photography is no Holy Grail and i want to be fair and tell you what you may find annoying doing film photography – It’s not convenient. I do the developing, the scanning and the printing at the local lab and i find the costs pretty high for an experimenting amateur. Also, sometimes, i think there is too much time spent going back and forth to the lab. Another thing with labs is that after developing you may get missing frames, frames scanned badly or simply bad developing. If i will invest in a film scanner the costs will reduce drastically and some of the above problems will be gone.

I hope this introduction will get you the feel for film photography and in the next posts i will try to guide you in choosing the gear, guidelines for shooting, differences between shooting film vs digital and tips and tricks i learn along the way.

Have fun and keep on shooting! ^-^


Part 1 – Introduction | Part 2 – The Gear | Part 3 – How to shoot film (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)


Old external flash unit working with Fujifilm X10

Fujifilm X10 with old external flash unit

Fig.1- Fujifilm X10 with old external flash unit.

DISCLAIMER: If you test non original/not manufacturer approved, external flashes for a digital camera, YOU WILL DO IT ON YOUR OWN RISK. Differences in voltage for triggering the unit MAY DAMAGE YOUR FLASH UNIT OR/AND YOUR CAMERA!


For Fujifilm X10 (and i think all the X series) you have two original external flash units, the EF-20 and EF-42, but there are many people online who are wandering if other types of flashes can work with the X10, like Canon or Nikon flashes or compatible ones and especially if cheaper ones work with the camera.

I have a Nikon DSLR but i don’t have an external flash (original or compatible)…but…i remembered i have around my film cameras, one very old external flash used with some old Vilia and FED 5B cameras.


Fig.2 – The NORMA FIL-16 flash unit.



Fig.3 – The hot connector.



Fig.4 – Setup table based on ISO/ASA/DIN (different names for ISO).

It has the connectors required for the X10 to trigger the unit. I plugged it to the wall and waited for it to charge. For the charging part, the flash can be charged directly from 230V electric plugs or from a “mobile” unit working with 4 x R20 batteries, you hold on your shoulder. Yeah, this is how they do it 40 years ago.

Fully charged, i mount it on the X10, set the camera to external flash and BOOM! O.O

It worked!…buuuuuut…..why it is all white?! Why am i seeing all white….i blinked rapidly and after a few minutes i started to see the things around me. It was a supernova?! The sun exploaded?! I was just exiting Vault 101?!

I am jocking, it was nothing bad, just that you have to keep the distance because the flash will be triggered on full power. Also, the flash compensation settings in the camera will not work.

NOTE: The test results are based on the type of lighting available at the time of testing. Your environment may have different results.

If you are very close to the subject, your picture will be completely white, ALL white.

If you are around 1 meter (same zoom) to the subject you will see the maximum power and the picture will be a little too light, but still usable.

This was shot from around 2 meters with the lens zoomed to keep the exact framing in all test pictures. Very good light:

Fig.5 - Shot from around 2 meters.

Fig.5 – Shot from around 2 meters with the external flash unit.

This was shot from the same distance, same zoom, with the internal flash, very dark:

Fig.6 - Built in flash, same distance and zoom.

Fig.6 – Built in flash, same distance and zoom.

It was actually fun to shoot with the old beast and i think with a diffuser it will work perfectly.

Have fun and wear sunglasses! O.O

Grub rescue > and how to recover your boot menu and make changes permanently

A few days ago, after resizing some partitions on my hard-drive i did a restart and boom, no boot menu and i got this message:

unknown filesystem.

grub rescue>

What happened until now:

– i have 1 hard disk with dual boot setup with GRUB (linux boot menu) with Debian Linux and Windows.

– the Windows part has 2 partitions: C:\ with the system (bootable) and D:\with stuff.

– the Linux part have 3 partitions: root (/) (also bootable), home (/home) and swap.

– i shrinked with gParted the D: partition and grow the root and home partition on Linux.

– restart and ran into the grub rescue> problem above. What happened was that when resizing the root partition i screwed up the boot part.

The solution is basicaly to identify your linux bootable root partition and update the GRUB with the correct settings so that at the next boot, GRUB to be able to “read” all bootable partitions in your hard drive.

1. Make sure what is your Linux bootable root (/) partition. To do that, make sure you have the Debian Live DVD and boot into this DVD.

2. Go and try the Live image. Wait to load.

3. Open a Terminal.

4. At the prompt, type (the sudo -s won’t require a password):

sudo -s

fdisk -l

What i get was all the partitions and the bootable ones marked with *. I get something like:

Drive           Bootable      Type          Mount         Size        Etc……

/dev/sda1     *                 ntfs

/dev/sda2                        ntfs

/dev/sda3   ………… blah            blah

/dev/sda4                        ext4          /home

/dev/sda5                        swap

/dev/sda6    *                  ext4          /

5. So the Linux root bootable partition will be /dev/sda6. TRY TO UNDERSTAND THIS: so it’s on the first drive (sda) and on the 6th partition (sda6). At point 7. you will understand.

6. Restart and take the Debian/Ubuntu Live DVD out.

7. Back at the grub rescue> you should type each line followed by [Enter]:

grub rescue>set boot=(hd0,msdos6)

grub rescue>set prefix=(hd0,msdos6)/boot/grub

grub rescue>insmod normal

grub rescue>normal

8. You are back at the lost boot menu. ^-^. Boot into Linux.

Back on track, but if you restart the computer, you will be back to the grub rescue> problem. So to make the changes to GRUB that will be permanent, we should reinstall GRUB on the hard drive and update the GRUB menu:

9. Open a Terminal and type (Now for every sudo command you should enter your user password):

sudo grub-install /dev/sda

sudo update-grub

10. That’s it! Your changes to the boot menu ar permanent.

NOTE: If Windows won’t boot, use a Windows installer DVD and do a Stratup Repair.

Have fun! ^-^

2014 in review – Thank you!!!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

How to install Android Kitkat 4.4.4. via Cyanogenmod 11 on Motorola Defy+

Hello guys and welcome to a new tutorial on the most famous (nooooot ^-^) Kaigara Online website.

After completing this tutorial, you will have a rooted Motorola Defy Plus device with the latest Android Kitkat version via Cyanogenmod 11 (CM11).

I have a Motorola Defy Plus device and if yours is Motorola Defy, please read all the links carefully before doing any operation.

The tutorial will go to all steps from stock ROM, to rooting, to installing Custom Recovery, to flashing Cyanogenmod. If you find yourself in an intermediate state, please follow the tutorial from that point forward.

Here is what i did:

  1. Follow PART 1 of this guide. (Now you have a rooted Motorola Defy Plus)
  2. Follow PART 2 of the same guide, BUT, on step 3 use the latest ROM from here and corresponding Gapps. (Now you have Custom Recovery installed and Android JellyBean 4.3 via CM10.2)
  3. Download and put this file on the root of the sdcard. This will update the Recovery with TWRP recovery, a touch friendly recovery or a CWM recovery on steroids.
  4. Read the official thread on xda by the great Quarx and read about eventual problems related to Kitkat on Defy. (If you succesfuly install CM10.2 on your device, you will not have any problems…i didn’t. ^-^).
  5. Download the CM11 Kitkat ROM from here and put the zip on the root of the sdcard. (I used the latest one
  6. Download the GAPPS from here and put the zip on the root of the sdcard.
  7. For CM after 01 october 2014 you will need sdcard and ~30mb free space. Quarx explained that in the Kitkat thread on point 4 but i will go in a little more detail.
  8. Download or (depend on your phone) from…map3_bootstrap (NOTE: unzip defy.7z and put the and on the root of the sdcard).
  9. Now you should have on the root of the sdcard the following files:, gapps (whatever you downloaded),,
  10. Boot into TWRP (at boot, when the led turns blue, press the volume down button > press Recovery > TWRP).
  11. Install (DON”T do any wipe till i say so!!!)
  12. Reboot
  13. Boot again into TWRP and install
  14. Reboot
  15. Install
  16. Install gapps
  17. Now is the first time you should Wipe cache/dalvik
  18. Reboot into oblivion Mmuuuwwaaaahhaaaaaaaa!!!

DONATE to Framaroot, Clockwork Recovery, TWRP, Cyanogenmod, Quarx (Paypal donations on the first page).

If you choose to DONATE TO THIS WEBSITE, I will donate myself to the project above! ^-^.

Have fun!!! ^-^

Tested stable custom ROMS

Motorola Defy+:



– CM10.2 (follow this guide but with the latest ROM from here and corresponding Gapps)

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S:


HTC Sensation:

None. :) Rooted stock rom with bloatware and unsupported apps removed works great.


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