How to load film into a camera

I used to love working in the darkroom at college and developing all my film negatives. Film photography isn't new but we're going to walk you through how to put a roll of film into a film camera anyway.

Keep an eye out for more film photography tutorials next month, including how to develop film and how to make an enlargement in the darkroom

I'll be using a Minolta X700 35mm film camera during this tutorial.

Key Words

35mm Film - This is the name of the film format. The images will be 36x24mm

Rewind Knob - The rewind knob allows you to rewind the film at the end of your photoshoot to put all the film back into the cannister and avoid risking exposure to your film.

Take-Up Spool - The take-up spool is where the film you've used goes during the photoshoot to make room for another strip of film to be exposed for a photo.

Film Advancer - The film advancer is the lever on the back of the camera that you pull after taking each photo to take a new photo. When you can no longer pull this, the roll of film is done.

Negatives - A negative is the photos on the roll of film after you have developed it.

You will need:

  • A film camera

  • A roll of 35mm film (or 50mm if you're using a 50mm film camera)

First, you need to pull up the rewind knob, which is located on the left side of the camera. This will open up the back of the camera so you can place your film

Pull out just enough of the film out of the cannister so it can be placed into the 'take-up spool'. The take up spool makes sure the the film moves so you can take another photo. Place the film into the left side of the camera, pushing the rewind knob to make sure the film doesn't fall out of the pocket.

Insert the narrow end of the film that you took out of cannister into the slot on the right - the 'take-up spool'. Make sure the film won't come out of the spool by using the film advancer. Do this twice. The film advancer is the mechanism at the back of the camera that you can pull back with your thumb.

Close the back of the camera and use the film advancer again twice. We wind on twice after we have closed the back of the camera due to part of the film being exposed to light. This means the film won't capture a photo and will instead turn out black. If the film has been loaded properly, the rewind knob will turn every time you crank the film advance lever and take a picture.

Make sure the film speed is to your preference by rotating the shutter speed ring to your preference. This will control the length of exposure. Make sure your light meter is never below 60 as this will result in underexposed negatives.

Take your photos until you can not crank the film advancer lever anymore. This means your roll is finished.

Under the camera is a little button, which is called the rewind release button. Press the button. Pull up the release handle, which is located on the left side of the camera. There will be an arrow next to it indicating clockwise movement. Move the handle in a clockwise motion until the red line on the right side of the camera disappears or until it becomes easier to rewind.

Your film is back safely inside the cannister and you can open the back of the camera now. Take the film cannister out and prepare for developing your film.

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