Film Camera Malaysia
In this circle of life, it seems like trends die just to get revived again by the current generation with the cycle rinsing and repeating itself. We see this happening currently with the emergence of the analog camera again, after what seemed like its final breath with the advancement of digital cameras (not to mention how much more convenient it is to see your photos in real time instead of having to wait for it to be developed) and the rise of smartphone cameras being as good if not better than some of the compact cameras out there but I guess like a parent after you done a mistake, some things we humans just can’t let go of.
So, if you’re not lucky enough to have parents who kept their prehistoric toys of the past (I’m joking about prehistoric part… maybe just to agitate my mom. Hi mom! If you’re reading this), here are some tips on where to get a 35mm film camera in Malaysia, specifically in KL and also more tips on how to fully utilize it & many more!
Cameras to Choose From
Ugh, the horror of having too much to choose from (Who else here is indecisive? Yes? No? Can’t decide? Hah, same) but come on, film cameras in Malaysia can get pricey so we at The Cool Bears really want you to get your money’s worth and not buy something that’s just gonna end up collecting dust on a shelf so sit down & really reflect on the purpose of purchasing a film camera is.
1. For fun (Point & shoot cameras)
Hey, this is a perfectly valid reason to get a camera BTW. For hangouts with friends or just wanting to shoot your local neighbourhood spots, I suggest an automated point & shoot 35mm camera. This is because:
i. As its name suggests, you literally just point at the subject of your choice and… shoot! No need for fancy shmancy camera terminology of shutter speed, aperture, and, exposure, a point & shoot camera will have that handle for you. The most you need to do is turn on the flash. Seriously, that’s it.
ii. Most point & shoots rely on autofocus lens so you don’t have to spend 10 minutes adjusting the lens (this happens when you’re still new to it. Not saying it happened to me though…) while your friends awkwardly pose as their grins stiffened more & more, probably wondering “is this pain & wait really worth it when we’d have about 70 shots done by now if he/she would just use their damn phone? “ With slightly more complex point & shoots cameras, sometimes you might to dictate whether it’s a portrait or landscape shot which is super easy to figure out and you get to impress your friends too.
iii. If you think because 35mm cameras are typically for casual usage only thus a lower quality of photos produced, that’s when you’re wrong. Remember, before the digital age came along, film cameras were the only method used by your parents & their grandparents to capture photos. Also, the competition was fierce back then so every company from Fuji, Kodak to Canon wanted to provide the most accessible BUT still the best cameras on the market to attract more consumers. A bit like how the current competition is right now, if you think about it.
2. For the occasional event (Disposable cameras)
Don’t think you’ll use that film camera more than once? Well, you’re in luck because there exists the disposable camera A.K.A single use camera! These cameras usually allow a user to shoot up to 24, 27, or the most 36 shots and after that? Just dispose the camera. Just like the point & shoot, all you need to do is find a subject and snap away. Depending on the models, some are equipped with a flash and some are not, we recommend getting the ones with flash albeit for a pricier price but you’ll thank us later come nighttime or low light situations.
3. For an amateur wanting to move up (Scale & Zone/Manual cameras)
If you tire of the effortlessness an auto-focus camera brings, pick up one of these bad boys as focusing is entirely manual and based on an understanding of depth of field and scale (such as aperture, exposure). Perfect for beginners who are wanting to dive in the core fundamentals of photography.
4. For digital attributes but still keeping it old-school (SLR)
Just like a current DSLR, these cameras have the same settings & features but just in analog format. SLR cameras seem a better choice for those wanting to upgrade from a point & shoot as there are SO MANY variations on the market and all cost about the same. Ranging from fully manual to fully automatic, you just need to find what suits you and your interests. But one thing to remember is, it’s rare for these cameras to be sold alongside a lens and we recommend you get a 50mm “prime” lens or a “kit zoom”, the former being better for lowlight and the latter being better for daylight.
For specific brands, the old-timers like Canon, Fuji, Kodak, Yashica, Pentax, Konica and Olympus will surely give you favourable results. We won’t recommend a specific model as it’s all up to your personal preferences and the “best” camera is up to you to decide. Google becomes your best friend here for researching any models and their features. Not forgetting, hit up lomography.com to study uploaded shots by owners of that camera model you have an eye on to see if it fits your aesthetic.
Where to head in KL to get the film camera of my choice?
1. Weekend flea market at Amcorp Mall, Asia Jaya
Feeling adventurous and really want to dig through the haystack to find that needle (camera)? There are usually many vendors peddling their goods and more often than not, having what you want or something similar. Remember to always compare their given prices with online prices and then meet in the middle for a reasonable price for both of you.
If negotiating a deal seems too tiring, Carousell is your next bet. There almost always listings of film camera uploaded every day and because it’s such a competitive market, prices are usually reasonable and open for negotiations. Just as we stated earlier, Google is your best friend in researching these listings and coming up with your own conclusion of which one brings the most value to your money.
For another online alternative, check out auction sites like Ebay as it usually have more competitive prices and a bigger variety of cameras for sale. However the only downside is because it’s international shipping, it might cost even more than what you can get locally.
What film should I use?
1. Fuji Fujicolor C200/ Kodak ColourPlus 200
I reckon this would be perfect for beginners who are only learning how to operate their cameras. This doesn’t make it a “bad” film, in fact the two are the most reliable for well-lit and coloured shots but the reason why either of the two should be the film you pick up for your first roll is because it’s one of the cheapest out there. Ranging from RM15 (Fuji) and RM13 (Kodak), even if your test shots come out less than exceptional, your wallet won’t feel the burn as much.
2. Kodak Portra 160
As its name states, this film is perfect for those who want to focus on portrait shots. As you experiment with more films, you’ll start to realize each bring a different aesthetic, some more warmer-tinged or cooler-tinged which can frankly make your human subjects look more orange or pale than usual. But the Portra film series captures the most accurate skin tones so if you’re planning to shoot human subjects VS landscapes or buildings, this is the film for you.
3. Agfa Vista 200
A currently discontinued film, this is a personal favourite of mine as the colours of my photos always developed beautifully and saturated in the right amounts without anyone turning into an Oompa-Loompa. Despite being a film aimed for the average consumer, it brings a great sharpness & detail that is non-overbearing. If you get a chance to pick up a roll of this film, please do, you won’t be disappointed.
But what do all these numbers mean?
When you decide to buy film for the first time, you’ll probably realize the different numberings of the same films such as Kodak Portra 160 with Kodak Portra 400 or Kodak Gold 200 with Kodak Gold 400. Sometimes you might even see those numbers going up to 800 or even 3200! So what those numbers even mean? It’s referring to the speed of the film which is the measure of its sensitivity to light. The higher the number, the more sensitive it is to light so if you’re aiming to shoot stealthily (meaning without the flash on) in low light situations, a higher numbered film is what you want. For first timers, 200 and 400 should be enough to experiment.
Where to get film in Malaysia?
Fame Cherry (Online shop)
For the cheapest prices available that doesn’t require a bulk purchase, this website has every kind of film on the market including black & white and lomographic films. This is by far the cheapest site to get films and with a Google Sheet of each price of film updated live, also one of the most efficient.
So, there you have it, tips every analog novice in Malaysia should know about so what are you waiting for? Grab your film camera of choice and go crazy snapping!