A lot of us who grew up with digital cameras are now enjoying the pleasure film photography. Nearly all digital camera have auto ISO, auto exposure, auto everything and analog photography for the most part does not have luxuries like that. Once you’ve chosen your film stock, your ISO is fixed for the next 36 photos. And with the older cameras, estimating the appropriate exposure and shutter speed is a decision left to you. Tools exist to help, such as a light meter but it’s incredibly useful to be able to judge, at the very least, the difference in exposure values in different parts of a scene and the overall exposure value of a scene (e.g. the sunny sixteenth rule and Ken Rockwells here

Though I’ve been trying to estimate these values, I’m thankful my Leica M7 has auto exposure. Pointing at the shadows and locking exposure gives me some control over the look. Metering for film is vital for a lovely tonality. Johnny Patience’s blog entry on metering film, and this review of Portra exposed / underexposed is a go to reference for the internet generation. In short, use a light meter, learn to guess the exposure value, and expose for the shadows. Also some films benefit from being a stop overexposed (too much overexposure reduces film contrast).

When I used my Fuji XT1, before the update to shutter speeds like 1/32000, i couldn’t shoot wide open (e.g. 1.4) without totally blowing highlights. Film, I’m happy to say is something else. The photos below are Portra 400 rated at 200 and shot between f/1.5 - f/2. I nearly always exposed for the shadows. Note, not all film stocks are so forgiving. I believe TriX and NeoPan are better when ‘correctly’ exposed, say 3 stops here or there. And Ektar is best when shot without much latitude. Not that you can’t recover but the beautiful bold colors of Ektar are best when the exposure range is balanced.

Surprisingly PSI, the Pakon Scanning Software, saw blown highlights. I was definitely disappointed. But a scan through TLX revealed exemplary tonality and light reproduction. Surprise! Moreover, I’ve decided that ColorPerfect is not worth the effort - I barely seem to understand the interface and TLX/PSI give me wonderful scans anyway.