How Do Film Cameras Work?

All you have to do to record a moment of your life nowadays – is pull a smartphone out of your pocket. We are used to the fact that photography is simple and easy. Even film cameras don’t require a lot of hard work. And all that – thanks to physics, chemistry and our imagination.

Let’s take a closer look at what is hidden behind that shot you took with the help of a film camera.

In simple words.
A camera is always a lightproof box. At some point of its existence, it lets in a tiny portion of light. This light causes a chemical reaction on the film that is situated inside the box. And there you have it – a moment that is now frozen for eternity.

This is exactly how you can explain the work of a film camera to your child, for example. But if you are curious to know the details of how this magic happens – keep reading.

What do you see?
Once you look into the small window on your camera, you can see exactly what is going to appear on the picture. Thanks to the ability of the light to reflect.
Light reflects off the object that you want to take a picture of; enters the camera; goes through the lens; hits a mirror; bounces off into a pentaprism; passes through the eyepiece and ends his journey in your eye. That’s quite an adventure, right?

What happens after you press the button?
Firstly, the mirror has to flip out of the way. We don’t want the light to take the long road. We need it to get to the back of the camera, right where the film is situated. Once the light hits the film – a chemical reaction begins.
Why does that happen?
Because the film is not just a piece of paper. It is an extremely thin sheet of plastic covered in small silver crystals. These lads react to light, making the magic possible. Now, the film will forever remember the reflected light that it captured.

The Mysterious Darkroom
The film needs to be developed, so that you have the chance to put that picture up on your wall. Even though a chemical reaction already happened, it is still crucial to make sure that no light hits the film. Otherwise the images will be blackened and ruined. That is exactly why films are developed in dark rooms.If you like the size of the image, you can easily place the strips of the film directly onto photosensitive paper. Or you can use an enlarger. This way you can make the image as big as you want – photo paper will be exposed to light through the film that would be blocking parts of it.
What happens next is a long chain of chemical reactions and baths. The developing starts in the first bath, where a ‘negative’ is formed. Then the film is placed in the ‘stop’ bath to terminate the first chemical reaction. The third bath fully deactivates all chemical processes and can be called the ‘fixer’.

There is no doubt that photography is an art, but there is still a lot of knowledge behind it and as such I would always recommend using a professional photographer for special occasions such as wedding photography etc.