Chapter 4: No Pain No Gain


This next chapter is to show the pain I went through on my first few rolls. I hate this idea and perception that you can simply pick up a 35mm camera and shoot with it, there seems to be this glorified perception that it is “easy”. It only becomes “easy” when you give it the respect it deserves. As stated in my previous chapters, I am a trained camera operator although I mainly produce and direct. I therefore understand what it takes to construct a good image.

Although I am not a photographer by trade I am someone who has experience with moving images and therefore understand the language and concepts of things such as ASA (ISO), shutter speed, lens aperture etc. Maybe it was over confidence, but my first few rolls were nothing short of rubbish, in fact I only had one image I liked (the image above).

“…my first few rolls were nothing short of rubbish…”

I made three fundamental mistakes throughout my first two rolls. I thought like a DSLR I could push the ASA (ISO) without much loss of quality (always refer to your film stock to make sure you set your ASA correctly), secondly I shot the two rolls back to back without getting them developed in between, and finally I did not take my time to get comfortable with the focus settings on the camera. The focus on the Minoltas are easy to use if you take your time at the beginning, however don’t do what I did and rush. I now know looking back I was over confident. With all the preparation and research I did I was very angry with myself for not taking more time, I was just desperate to play around with the cameras.


Above is a prime example of me rushing into a shot, I did not take my time checking the focus, nor the ASA settings. The composition was there but execution was way off. Again with the below, I have completely mis read the light and played around with the ASA. I have since done more tests with my 101 and the light meter reading is not accurate. Although this is not an excuse, it does allow me to understand issues with the camera, I have since resorted to using a light meter with that camera.


I should have known better but my first two rolls were rubbish, on the plus side it has allowed me to remind myself of the simple basics of shooting 35mm film. It also allowed me to establish what I liked and what I did not like about the SRT-101 and SRT-101b, along with any possible faults.

“It also allowed me to establish what I liked and what I did not like about the SRT-101 and SRT-101b…”

Since shooting these I have managed to produce much better images from both of the cameras, and I have since moved onto shooting more frequently with the SRT-202.

Just to prove I am not completely useless I have included some of my more recent photographs below:


So my advice for this chapter is to keep at it, don’t give up, get a feel for the camera and please be patient. Remember your stock defines your ASA settings, and I promise you, once the great photos start coming in, you will be glad you stuck at it.

Should you have any questions please feel free to tweet me @Visual_Alex or instagram @journey35mmfilm . Alternatively leave a comment below.

Ta for now – Alex

All images shot on Ilford XP2 Super 400 35mm film stock.

Top photo was shot with a Minolta SRT 101

Second photo was shot with a Minolta SRT 101-b

Third photo was shot with a Minolta SRT 101

Fourth, Fifth and Sixth photos were all shot with a Minolta SRT -202


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