While cameras with films are not something that the new generation is very familiar with, most cameramen will tell you they are still the best bet when it comes to professional photography. They provide a kind of unique edge and class to the photographs which digital cameras are found to be lacking. The color variations, the effects, the special features that you can give your photographs with professional cameras (SR2, SR3 etc), which till this date work with films, is remarkable indeed, and something all good photographers vie for. Also, you’ll find some of the older cameras (35 mm types) in your family still working well and you don’t want to dump them. But they operate with a film, which you need to know how to work with.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a professional to do a good job of loading a film in a camera, which needs to be done just right to ensure that the final result is underlined by excellence. And what has made the task even easier is the automatic loading feature that new cameras come equipped with.
So here’s how you should load a film in your camera, in a few simple steps.
Open the switch at the back/side of the camera
As the first step to loading the camera film, you need to start by opening the back of the camera. The sliding switch at the back or side of the camera, which looks like a latch and usually shows the open direction with an arrow, is usually easy to manipulate and doesn’t require any special skill or expertise. The only effort you may need to put in is to hold the locking button while simultaneously moving the latch in case of cameras that have a double catch to minimize the chances of accidental opening. Just lift up the latch and put in the film.
Make sure the film settles into place
Mind you, simply putting the film in after lifting the latch won’t do the trick. You need to ensure that the film is locked in its place, which is the spool hub – a cylindrical protrusion that needs to fit into a tiny recess provided in the film chamber. The end of the film opposite the spool hub should go over the spindle that extends into the chamber, which may require some manipulation with your fingers.
Align the film with tip mark in opposite chamber
You’ll notice a film tip mark, usually orange or red in color, in the opposite chamber. As the next step, you need to pull the leader of the film canister gently, so that some of the film comes out of the cassette. And as you do, make sure you have a finger on the cassette to prevent it from coming out of the chamber. You may need to pull the film out a little more if the alignment is awry.
Close the camera after double-checking
Once the alignment is complete, double-check to ensure that the cassette is firmly in place, and then close the camera (a clicking sound will tell you when it’s properly shut). Engage the film with the motor of the camera such that the film moves into the first frame and the camera LCD panel or frame counter displays the numeral 1. In some cameras, the shutter button may need to be pressed several times before the number 1 shows up. This is usually the case with some of the cheaper camera models.
Precautions to be taken
Pulling the film out too much or too little will cause problems in loading. So be careful about how much of the film you stretch out. Good cameras, fortunately, give a warning sign on the display if the length of the film pulled out is not proper. If you’ve pulled out too much, you simply need to turn the spool hub counter clockwise to push some back into the cassette. And if it’s too little, then just pull out some more.
And of course, you need to be cautious about opening and closing the camera for loading or removing the film. If not done properly you could end up with an exposed film – a sheer waste of time and money of course, but even more importantly leading to loss of some precious moments that you won’t get to capture again.
Then there’s the light factor to be taken into consideration. It’s a good idea, of course, to work in less light, if not absolute darkness, while loading the film, but it’s not really imperative. The part that you need to pull out for loading is made to handle light, so your film won’t get ruined during the loading process. Of course, if you end up pulling out too much of the film, you may find things have gone wrong. But on the flip side, loading in complete darkness may be a difficult proposition and you could end up messing it up, especially if you’re not a professional at it. Perhaps you could look at going into total darkness for the loading of your camera film once you’ve mastered the intricacies of it, and become adept at handling it even with your eyes closed, so to say.
As with any new trick or task, patience is the key to loading a film in a camera. There’s, naturally, an art behind the process, which requires a certain amount of nimbleness of the fingers, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll find your fingers manipulating the film easily enough, without hassle or complication. One thing is certain – you won’t regret working with a film camera, and, in fact, might even give up on digital cameras completely after using the film camera a few times.