Adventures with a Point and Shoot Film Camera

Exploring the area around Wet Sleddale on the eastern edge of the Lake District National Park with my 23 year old point and shoot film camera.

Landscape photography using a fully automatic point and shoot film camera.

My Old Point and Shoot Film Camera

I recently filmed a video telling the story of my attempts to photograph the countryside close to where I live using a fully automatic, point and shoot film camera.

I loaded my 23 year old Olympus Superzoom 700BF with a roll of Kodak Gold film (ASA 200, 24 exposures). My aim was to use the entire roll and then to select my six favourite images.

It was far from ideal conditions for photography and the results a little more than snapshots but for what it’s worth here are my thoughts on the images.

Development and Scanning

Once I got home from filming I sent the film off to be developed and scanned as TIFFs.

5 days later I received the negatives and a CD containing the digital files which I imported into Lightroom. The only things that I have done to these images are:

  • Cropped to 16:9 ratio that I use for all images on my website
  • Converted to jpeg (1,920px by 1,080px)

Other than that they are exactly as I received them.

Wet Sleddale Reservoir

Wet Sleddale Reservoir near Shap on the eastern edge of the Lake District National Park
To me this image appears to be very noisy and over sharpened. I suspect this was caused by the scanning process.

The first image that I selected was of Wet Sleddale Reservoir.

I have never found it to be an easy place to shoot. I am starting to favour a composition that looks west along the southern edge of the reservoir.

When inspecting this image I felt that it was very noisy and looks to have been over sharpened. I suspect that this has been caused by the scanning process.

Path Beside Wet Sleddale

The path that runs alongside Wet Sleddale Reservoir near the village of Shap on the eastern edge of the Lake District National Park
I found a minimum focal length of 38mm to be very restricting

The next shot that I selected was one of the path that runs alongside the reservoir. I liked the way that the path cut through the tall grasses on either side.

Working with a limited focal length (38-70mm) was quite restrictive. I would have liked to have made more of the stones in the path.

Because of the soft light the shot lacks contrast. This is something that I would normally have adjusted in Lightroom had I been shooting digital.

The Ladder and the Wall

The wall at the western end of Wet Sleddale Reservoir near Shap on the eastern edge of the Lake District National Park
The light for this shot was terrible but I believe there is a composition here worth exploring further.

At the western end of the reservoir I found a ladder crossing a drystone wall. By now the light had deteriorated further and so there is very little to like about this shot.

However, in better conditions I do think there is scope for a shot here. Success will depend on my ability to arrange the ladder and the summit of Seat Robert in a pleasing composition.

The Gate(way) to Mirethwaite

The view across Mirethwaite towards Tongue Rigg in the far eastern Lake District
Finally a shot I quite like! I think there is a lot of potential here and plan to revisit at some point in the future.

Once I had crossed Sleddale Beck via the packhorse bridge I took a short diversion to the gate leading to Mirethwaite.

I know from past experience that there was potential here. With the gate, barns and hills there is interest in the foreground, midground and background.

Again the composition needs a lot of work but I am already planning to return and have another go.

This is my favourite shot from the morning.

Wet Sleddale from Sladdale Hall

The view of Wet Sleddale Reservoir from Sleddale Hall
Probably the best known shot from this area. The view of Wet Sleddale from just beneath Sleddale Hall.

Once I reached Sleddale Hall I had to make a decision. To continue to Seat Robert or head back to the car. With just 4 exposures left I opted for the latter.

This is another composition that I have shot before. Once again the limited focal length was quite restrictive and I found I was forced to move further back than normal in order to fit everything in.

Because of the bright conditions the shot has very little detail in the sky. But, as this is east facing I think it has great potential as a sunrise location.

I just need to find a decent bit of foreground.

(Couldn’t hit a) Barn Door

The door to the barn that sits above Wet Sleddale Reservoir near Shap on the eastern boundary of the Lake District National Park
It is rare for me to make such basic errors as clipping the fence post on the left-hand side of this shot. Something that I would not have done had I been using liveview on my DSLR.

One of the main problems that I had shooting with the Olympus was that I found it very difficult to see the whole frame through the viewfinder.

I normally wear glasses so what I could see was also quite blurry.

It is very rare for me to make mistakes like clipping the fence post on the left-hand side of this shot.


It was an interesting experience shooting with a point and shoot film camera.

I wouldn’t have said it was an entirely enjoyable experience but the images have a ‘look’ to them that is very different from my usual stuff.

Conditions were far away from being ideal and the images are nothing more than snapshots. However, I do have a few compositions that I plan to return to at some point in the future.

The video will be released on Tuesday 13th August at 18:00 BST.

23 thoughts on “Adventures with a Point and Shoot Film Camera”

  1. Two points on the upside 1, Plenty of locations to revisit and get .raw files and 2, your film will last to the next century while your .raw files are unlikely to.
    On the downside I have also been underwhelmed with commercial scans in the past and yes glasses are a curse and there’s the cost.
    Actually the last film camera I purchased in 2000 was the Olympus View Zoom 120 which looks to be a later but considerably uglier version of yours. It still works if you can find anyone with the batteries but its been well superseded by my “walk around” G7xii. 🙂

    1. Hi Chris, a few places to revisit with the proper camera. The great thing is that they are all very close to my house so it would be pretty convenient. I am seriously considering dipping my toe into the murky waters of film photography. Although I didn’t really enjoy shooting with my old point and shoot I feel that the images do have a certain ‘quality’ (look, feel, whatever you want to call it) to them that you don’t get with digital. I am considering getting a Holga 120, loading it with black and white film and leaving it in my bag for whenever the moment takes me. What do you think? Of course that is all dependent on being able to find a lab that can produce good quality digital files.

      1. I’ve notice a return to film trend from the Photography YouTubers so why not especially if you haven’t been there before. I can still remember the magic of watching my black and white prints appear like magic in the developer. That would be the early 1970’s and that first moment has never left me – if you haven’t experienced this it’s highly recommended. However for myself if I went back to film I’d certainly go back to my still fully functional Nikons from the mid 80’s they aren’t so heavy really compared to my 5D4 and in reality all they lack is AF. I had to look up the Holga (initially my brain went “plate camera what !!” but found this https://www.thephoblographer.com/2019/02/04/the-cult-classic-holga-120n-lives-again-and-is-available-to-buy-right-now/ and couldn’t quite work out why you wouldn’t want to use a decent film camera. You can get really good second hand film cameras at incredibly competitive prices. For myself I used film (slide and negative) for 37 years I’m not going back to waiting two weeks for my images or opening a box of 36 slides (or prints), really liking only one or two and the cost. This might be OK if you are dealing with locations you can return to easily but really unsatisfactory when you can’t. Thats the advantage of digital and of course Photoshop just offers so much more than the dark room – without the smell and chemicals!!!
        Never the less in photography I’m a firm believer it doing it your way, for yourself. I have a friend who was thinking of experimenting with pinhole cameras – and why not. If you are lucky enough to have access to your grandparents photo albums you may get a sense of the look and feel of BW prints and what I noticed was (maybe this was around cost) most of the pictures were of people so maybe the Holga would be good for some “street” photography.
        My advice, go for it – what have you got to lose, one thing for sure you will still have the respect of your followers.

  2. Happy days! Back in time, about 1995/2000 and before digital cameras were viable, I shot on film and scanned prints onto CDs to give to clients. Cutting edge with Photoshop ver 2.5 and a flatbed scanner costing £1300 (1995 prices). Scanning film was expensive and good results could be obtained if the prints were high standard. I used a commercial lab for these and the end result costs were reasonable. Try using prints next time and you might avoid the noise issues you got in the first image.

    1. Hi Les. Thanks for the advice. I am considering trying my had at a bit of Lomography and seeing what I can produce with a toy camera. If that goes well who knows. I could be knocking on your door for advice on what to get next! 🙂

  3. Interesting idea and if nothing else, a reminder of how good we have it these days. When I look back to the film days, I’m amazed I’ve still stuck with photography, it was a nightmare 🙂

    1. I have to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. The light was poor and I really struggled to see through the viewfinder. But when I received the scans I was surprised by the images. There is something about them that I quite like. They have a ‘look’ that you just don’t get with digital. I wonder if, as they are unedited, if they aren’t just a little more honest.

      1. Shhhhh!!! no place for honesty in photography Chris, haha. Yeah, I agree they do have a certain appeal, helped no doubt by being far from the usual fare on social. You don’t tend to shake your head muttering ‘so where’s that light coming from????’ with images captured on film. Looking forward to the video.

        1. I have been thinking about have a go at black and white film photography using a Holga 120 toy camera. It would be interesting to see what I can get out of a camera that is so far removed from the high tech digital cameras that we use today. What do you think mate?

          1. I think anything that motivates you to be creative is a good thing. Regardless of the results, it’s always a learning experience if you choose it to be. That is sooo much easier to say. I think the idea of the ‘toy’ camera is good in as much as I feel it needs to be a different style although from what you would use your ‘proper’ camera for, otherwise you’re too likely to end up just comparing or using it as an expensive reccy.

  4. Chris – I love film. I really got hooked on photography using film cameras. I collected them for a while and even restored a few cameras over the years. I did sell off most of them (along with my dark room & scanning equipment) but kept some of my favorite cameras. I still dabble with them when I feel the pull of my Rollie or old Canon AE1. Indeed, film always has “a look” that can’t be replicated today, particularly color film. I find the experience of post-processing fun but it can be exhausting after a few rolls of film. Glad you put that Oly through its paces. Look forward to the vlog! Be well.

    1. Hey Miguel, after I received the scans in the post I think I am starting to look differently at film photography. There is something about these images, a certain honesty perhaps? Let’s have a chat after you’ve seen the film tomorrow but I think I might be interested in exploring film photography in the future. Was looking at Canon AE1 on Ebay yesterday…

      1. Sounds good. No shortage of good 35mm cameras to be found online. Would just assure metering is working and battery compartment is clean. I love my AE-1 with a 50mm/1.4 lens. Heaven. Quality lenses for the Canon’s to be had as well. Prime’s are a steal compared to their digital younger siblings.

        1. I don’t think I want to spend too much money at this stage so I have been thinking about trying to get my hands on a Holga 120. I am really interested in seeing what it is like to shoot with something that is about as far away as you can get from the sophisticated digital cameras that we use today.

  5. No reflection on your skills Chris, but this reminds me of the many disappointing sessions I have had with film. I have been revisiting some of my film prints to find compositions worth re-visiting. Found some photos that I have no recollection of taking but I clearly did. Maybe the disappointment of the end product had erased the memory of what must have been enjoyable days out. The giant leap forward that being able to review, learn and re-shoot in seconds, as opposed to days, that the digital era has enabled cannot be understated. I can never see myself going back to film; life is just too short.

    1. You’ll see in the film tomorrow Steve that I share that sentiment. The biggest thing that I missed was the instant feedback you get from digital. I can’t see me converting to film but I am considering slinging a cheap film camera loaded with black and white film in my back for when the mood takes me.

  6. Maybe try E6 like Kodak Ektacrome next time so you can compare more easily the quality of the digital scan versus the slide by using a projector 🙂

    Well done though.

    1. E6? That’s slide film isn’t. Now then, that might be interesting. I am thinking about having a go with some black and white film but first I need to sort myself out a better camera. Was looking at a Canon AE1 at the weekend but a decent one will cost a few quid.

      1. Yes – I meant slide film (E6). You’ll just need to find an old slide projector (I use my fathers), and then you can do a slide show at Shap village hall on retro photography 🙂

        My final film cameras were a Minolta Dynax 7000i (https://www.rockycameras.com/ekmps/shops/rockcameras/images/minolta-dynax-7000i-slr-camera-12.99-26556-p.jpg).

        I also had a Yashica T4 P&S which had a Carl Zeiss 35mm lens which was super sharp and was really an amazing little camera. It was perfect with B&W film and took great shots in cities such as NYC. Wonderful stuff. (https://www.filmsnotdead.com/fnd-shop/yashica-t4-2/) – I notice it sells for quite a lot of £££ now!

        I shot a lot on Ilford XP2 (ISO400) B&W and got some great results. I did the chemistry myself in the University Photo club – was a real sense of achievement as you saw the images appearing. OK, a bit of wasted photo paper here and there with experimentation on darkroom exposure settings, but a real sense of joy. Perhaps akin to you sitting on the side of a mountain. Proper photography mate….

        1. Oops – Ilford XP2 was a B&W film that could be processed in C41 colour chemistry – made it cheaper and easier to get B&W prints from the High St.

          It was Ilford HP5 I used for the B&W chemistry in the darkroom. I never got as far as doing C41 myself….

          1. If I do have a go at black and white film photography I think I am going to start with something really cheap and really simple. Been researching the Holga 120 toy camera. I think it would be fun to shoot with something that is about as far removed from the all singing, all dancing cameras that we shoot with today.

  7. I keep meaning to clean up my old Nikon F90 and buy some film for it to do something like this. I think this might have finally given me nudge to go and do it! I’ve been thinking a lot about film photography recently, mainly because I’m a bit concerned that my images aren’t looking natural enough. There is a kind of quality that you get from film that I’m not sure can be replicated digitally and I think it would be a really useful exercise to go through now that I’m so used to digital. I’m a bit concerned that the scans from the printing company may mess around with things too much though! Looking forward to seeing the video of this trip Chris!

    1. Give it a go mate, it might be fun. I think you are in a great position to take the same shot with the Canon 5D and Nikon F90 and compare the two. Process the digital shot before you have received the scans back so that you are not biased and see which one you prefer. Now there is a challenge for you! 🙂

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