Whilst it's widely thought that Millennials and Gen Z's spend a lot of time on their smartphone – using it for everything from a monthly food shop to opening a bank account – they're often found reaching for a more expensive film camera when it comes to photography.
While today's best camera phones are incredibly powerful, sales of film cameras look to be on the rise. In 2019, the universal instant film camera market was valued at approximately 1 billion dollars and sources suggest that it's expected to grow a further 2.5% by 2026 (DataIntelo). But with most specialist film cameras and even instant cameras increasing in price, why aren't more sticking to digital?
• Want to know: is film better than digital photography?
We asked a camera buyer for her take on why film photography has such an emotional pull, and why consumers and professionals alike just can't seem to stay away from the look and feel of the medium.
Mia Foster, Head of Cameras at antiques buyer and specialist Vintage Cash Cow, has had a passion for photography for as long as she can remember and now uses her specialist knowledge to delve deeper into the cameras that come through her door. Mia joined Vintage Cash Cow in 2019 as a vintage product photographer and camera specialist, and quickly worked her way up to head of the camera Department in 2020. With a degree in photography from Leeds Arts University, Mia is camera obsessed.
Hey Mia. What's your background in photography, in particular film?
From a young age I’ve always loved taking photos, especially playing around with color, lighting and depth of field. This led me to studying photography at Leeds Arts University which is where I first learnt about film photography and how to use different types of cameras, including medium and large format.
Since starting at Vintage Cash Cow I've bought a couple of film cameras to capture holidays and some medium format for landscape photography, which I love. I’ve got my eye on a Leica replica too!
Do you think that film photography has an emotional pull?
I think that film photography evokes a real feeling of nostalgia. I love seeing photos of my parents from when they were younger, or really famous photographs of places in America through the ages. There’s just something about the colors and tones in landscape film photography that make me feel really carefree and nostalgic.
Do you think this is why so many are now turning to film photography, despite digital technology being so advanced and film being expensive?
Absolutely. I love using my DSLR for landscape work, whereas if I want to achieve a different feeling, I’ll switch to film. The idea that you've only got one chance to get the shot is so exciting to me. I love using film for my holiday snaps, in the back of my mind I’ve always thought film makes things look better – whether this is true or not, I don’t know.
I think people like using film rather than digital because you end up with such a different image quality. I remember when people were going crazy over the app that made phone pics look like they had light leaks.
You must see plenty of camera models in your role as Head of Cameras at Vintage Cash Cow. What trends are you seeing?
Honestly we touch so many cameras everyday – well into the hundreds – that we have seen every camera you can imagine. Over the summer though, we’ve noticed a surge in the search for nostalgia with people looking for compact film cameras and even small camcorders, especially for holidays. Instant cameras are really popular with our customers now, too.
Tell us about your favorite film cameras
There are so many cameras I’d love to try and just haven’t got around to yet. I love shooting on my Olympus MJU-II when I go away because of how lightweight it is. It’s so small that you’re more inconspicuous when shooting. I also have a coupled of 1920s cameras for display which are gorgeous.