I shot a roll of film!


This is the first roll of film I’ve shot since 2017, and maybe the third or fourth one ever that I can remember. The film is Cinestill 400D, and the camera is a Canon EOS Rebel G that my friend Paul lent me, paired with my old EF 50mm f/1.8 lens.

I’m pretty happy with the results, and I enjoyed the process a lot. Here’s a selection along with some of my thoughts.

These are a couple from near/in the office. I liked the shape of the trees in the afternoon light, and there’s a lot of fine detail that shows the limits of the film (and the scan resolution).

36 photos actually felt like a lot to get through! One week into the roll, I had only taken eight photos, and I was getting impatient to finish the roll so I could see the results.

I needed to lower my standards. I think this was a good thing, because it led to me taking more varied photos and being more experimental.

I probably wouldn’t have taken the picture of our succulents if I was being as selective as usual, but I like how the green colors and the water details turned out. I don’t know if I reeaally like that double exposure, but it was fun to try!

I like how the film rendered the clouds here.

At home on a weekend morning.

This was at Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park. I looked at the the trees and thought to myself, “I hope someone wearing red walks by, that’d be some nice color contrast!” And then this person immediately appeared. The highlights came out a bit brighter than I was expecting, but that’s okay.

This teal Ford Festiva lives in the Duboce Triangle neighborhood. I wish more cars were this small and simple.

This is probably my favorite photo on the whole roll. I love the tones and textures of the golden reeds and the rippling blue water and the sinuous driftwood, the way the bird’s colors recall the reeds, the contrast of the dark rocks against the water. In the distance, you can see the San Mateo Bridge and the East Bay hills. The Seek app tells me that the bird is a Short-billed Dowitcher.

Last one on the roll. SFO control tower and wetlands in the evening light.

I really like this EOS Rebel G. It’s lightweight, intuitive, has autofocus, and has been reliable. When I tried film photography years ago, it was with older SLRs from the 70s. I thought I wanted the full vintage manual experience, but actually most of my photos sucked because they were out of focus or had light leaks, and it was disappointing enough to keep me from trying again.

Costs: Film, developing, and scanning comes out to just about $1 per photo. Not super cheap, but the hardware was minimal cost, and I’m definitely getting that value out of these photos.

The Cinestill 400D turned out pretty nice. I shot Fujifilm Superia 400 in the past because it was easy to get, but I don’t think I actually like Superia that much (or maybe it just became associated with feelings of disappointment…). I think I’ll try a roll of Kodak Portra 400 next.