Introduction: How to Load Film Into a 35mm Camera

Picture of How to Load Film Into a 35mm Camera

This provides information on loading film and adjusting the main settings on a 35mm camera. 

Step 1:

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Locate the Rewind Knob, on the left side of the camera, and pull up until the back of the camera opens.


Step 2:

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Cut a Leader for your film to load into the Take-Up Spool. The leader must be approximately 22mm to fit into spool.

Step 3:

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Place the film into the left side of the camera. Push the Rewind Knob down to create a snug fit on the film after it is placed into the pocket.

Step 4:

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Pull the leader of film over to the Take-Up Spool. Insert the narrow end of the film leader into the slot. Hold the spool steady with one hand and push the film deep inside until film is way inside spool or comes out the other side.

Step 5:

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Make sure the teeth are properly placed on both sides of the film. Use the rewind knob to take in any slack in the film, tighten the film to the camera. Then close the back of the camera and use the film advance to wind the film.

Step 6:

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Take 3 pictures. If the film has been loaded properly the rewind knob will turn ever time you crank the film advance lever. If not, make sure the slack has been taken out of the film by retightening the film to the camera. Make sure you take at least 2 pictures to clear out the exposed film and start with fresh film. Once you see the number 1 in the window, you are ready to take pictures.

Step 7:

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Now its time to set your ISO Film Speed. To set film speed, gently lift up the ISO speed ring and turn it to your desired ISO speed shown in the window. (this should rotate the numbers on the INSIDE window on the ring)

Step 8:

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To set Shutter Speed, rotate the shutter speed ring to desired shutter speed. The shutter controls the length of exposure, on this camera, the higher the number, the less the exposure time. (this should rotate the numbers on the OUTSIDE of the ring)

Step 9:

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To set the aperture, turn the aperture ring to desired aperture. The larger the aperture number, the smaller the aperture opening will be and less the light will be transmitted to the film. (the dial closest to the camera)

Step 10:

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This camera has a built in meter. When you press the shutter release button down about one third of the way, you will activate the meter. While the meter is activated, rotate the shutter speed dial or the aperture ring until only the green o LED is lit. when you see the red + LED light, this means your subject is too bright. To fix this, change to a higher shutter speed or aperture. When you see the red – LED light, this means your subject is too dark. Change to a lower shutter speed or aperture. The goal is to achieve the green o LED light for best results.

Step 11:

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To set a timer, push down on the self-timer lever until it stops. When you are ready to take the photo, push the shutter release button completely to activate the timer. The photo will be taken in 10 seconds. (the length of the timer could depend on the make and model of the camera)

Step 12:

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Once you have completed the roll of film, you must rewind it back into the canister. To rewind your film, press the film release button on the bottom of the camera. Fold out the film rewind crank and turn it in the direction of the arrow until you feel no more tension on the knob.

Step 13:

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Pull up on the film rewind knob until the back cover of the camera opens. The film should be rolled back inside the film canister and it is now ready to be developed.


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sasghar (author)2012-04-14

Kodak aren't the only firm who make film, let alone 35mm film - arguably the most ubiquitous format going since at least the 1980s. Fujifilm and Ilford Photo are both large players in the film game and aren't showing any signs of letting up just yet, and Eastern European manufacturers like Foma and Efke show it's possible to make it work at a small scale.

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uafzal1 (author)2012-03-22

On the other side, digital imaging and "tweaking" with the help of software can be as artistic as analog darkroom art, but takes much less effort in the beginning, so that people become lazy, sloppy and careless; always wanting "instant gratification". I have taught photography with BOTH formats, and always have detected that people that start with Digital cameras tend to shoot THOUSANDS of frames swiftly...
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jrfrank (author)2012-02-15

Thanks Emilee for a great instructible! It inspired me to get my Nikon F3 going and shooting . Loaded some Fuji 200 neg film and getting the film developed and put on CD at a local store for $2.49. Poor man's digital SLR!

EdRothe (author)2012-01-22

I've got a better idea. Put it on your antique shelf and go get a digital camera. Kodak just went bankrupt because few people are buying film anymore. It wont be very long before 35 mm film is no longer available or is too expensive if you can find it at all. IMHO,,, ;-)

amclaussen (author)EdRothe2012-01-30

You miss it completely... Film Photography is an art in itself. If you are now goint to comment that everything "digital" is better just because it is much more recent, you are not seeing the point. And your other comment on 12" Vinyl records also reflect your lack of knowledge and understanding. Nobody claims that digital sound or photogtaphy is not VERY convenient, but that's not the point. And truly knowledgeable and respectable audiophiles consistently find some elusive qualities in the old vinyl LP, so that you can find A LOT of new and recently designed ANALOG audio at expensive prices. Of course, to be appreciated, it takes some serious efforts. It is like fine wines; not every person likes them (or is capable of appreciating them), it takes dedication, effort and some study. Digital is capable of high quality imaging, but to equal the quality of a good old 35mm camera and best quality film, takes quite a bit of money nowadays. On the other side, digital imaging and "tweaking" with the help of software can be as artistic as analog darkroom art, but takes much less effort in the beginning, so that people become lazy, sloppy and careless; always wanting "instant gratification". I have taught photography with BOTH formats, and always have detected that people that start with Digital cameras tend to shoot THOUSANDS of frames swiftly... to end erasing most of them and NOT improving the least bit... because is all too easy to just keep pressing buttons! On the other side, having to wisely use the expensive (in time and cost) film, really teaches them to become intelligent picture takers.  Think about it.  Amclaussen.

EdRothe (author)amclaussen2012-01-31

Alright already, I am properly chastised! How about if you instruct us all on the appreciation of fine wines on Instructables, Professor Amclaussen?

I do agree with your point "shoot THOUSANDS of [digital] frames swiftly" (I see it constantly from my grandchildren on Facebook, for example). But that is another argument, not one that will forestall the inevitable movement to the digital medium for even the most serious photographer as the techniques are developed. (IMHO, of course.)

BTW, "truly knowledgeable and respectable audiophiles consistently find some elusive qualities in the old vinyl LP" is pedantic nonsense. If the CD had been designed with a sufficiently small quantization (more bits per sample) there would have been no issue for the self appointed " knowledgeable and respectable" experts to preach to us about.

amclaussen (author)EdRothe2012-01-31

Well, your comment suggesting to "Put it on your antique shelf and go get a digital camera"  was not nice,to begin with.  It meant throwing a perfectly good camera to the thrashcan or forget it on a shelf.  That's a shame. (and goes against the nature of Instructables, no less). I wasn't "preaching" at all, but inviting to be more appreciative.

My comment was the result of your quick and coarse disqualification of the true value of the film cameras. I will invite you in the most respectful way, to hold a good 35mm camera in your hands, and then take a recent equivalent Digital DSLR...  Does it have the same precise, solid feel? NO!  Does it perform always better? Nope!  Will it endure for another 30 years? Absolutely NO !    See... while newer cameras have numerous aids, options, settings and bells and whistles (too many), the BASIC construction quality has been lost.  You need to pay several times as much in order to get today's best quality lenses and camera bodies, just to approach the construction quality of the cameras available to the public in the 80's !

The thing here is that THERE IS a sizeable movement going to old fashioned film photography, as well as another equally veritable group of people investing time and money, and specially dedication to the analog and Vinyl record reproduction.  Remember when the first Compact-Disc players started to appear back in 1983?, well  I clearly remember most (about 99%) of people declared the LP dead forever, and claimed that the newly developed CD was absolutely, completely "perfect"... and just a few found some objectionable artifacts in them.  Some years later the same folks that had claimed the initial CD's started to accept that the first generation players (and many of the second generation too) were awful sounding.  The fact is that NO CD is "perfect" even today, after many refinements.  Latest designs of Digital Audio formats use up to 24 Bits at 192 KHz instead of the 16 bit 44.1 KHz of the CD... But it is still open to debate if it is really enough for high quality reproduction.

The fact is: "If CD would have been designed..."    -But it WASN'T!!!
 The same applies to Digital Photography today, it is still far from "perfect", and every year manufacturers push quality just a little bit higher, in order to make the most money in the long run. 

Now, if you compare the true optical quality of the SLR lenses available in 1980 to the lenses sold today, you would be surprised that in MOST cases, the old lenses measure better, image better, and render beautiful pictures with old "outdated" film!

If an Instructable verses on the RESCUE of a perfectly good old technology, that somehow has not been completely surpassed by newer technologies (in some respects), FINE ! 

Let people enjoy old cameras and lenses, learn darkroom film and print processing, and get some real traditional artistic ablilities that come naturally with those old techniques.  Nobody will doubt that Digital Photo is here to stay, and has reached a very high degree of quality, but it is not perfect yet, and instead of a competition between two aproaches, it is more the combination of both worlds that is the most desirable attitude.

The example about wines is just that: an example. The objective was to show that everything needs a little appreciation. Not to offend or disturb anyone.  Another good example is the irrefutable return of the classic MECHANICAL wrist watches (mabye never as presice as time keeping pieces as the electronic ones, but as a tribute to appreciation. Not meant to be worn at all times, but for special occasions. Let's be constructive and appreciative.  Let's have many more Instructables like this, specially to show too young persons the beauty lying in older designs, arts and crafts.
Have a nice day.

jb17kx (author)EdRothe2012-01-24

Kodak aren't the only firm who make film, let alone 35mm film - arguably the most ubiquitous format going since at least the 1980s. Fujifilm and Ilford Photo are both large players in the film game and aren't showing any signs of letting up just yet, and Eastern European manufacturers like Foma and Efke show it's possible to make it work at a small scale.

In my mind, now is a better time than ever to lend a helping hand to keep one of modern history's most influential art techniques alive. Prices for used equipment spent most of the last ten years tumbling but is now, if anything, on the up again. Professional 35mm camera systems (not the incredibly cheap one used for this instructable) sell used today for a fraction of their list price.

A Nikon F4S, for example, sold new in 1988 for circa $2500 (before inflation) but can be had today, in great nick and with a tonne of life left in it, for less than $300.

Libahunt (author)EdRothe2012-01-22

Maybe then it is the last best time to take up the hobby while it's still available?
35mm can go out of use, but film in general will not. The analog-natural is beauty in itself.

EdRothe (author)Libahunt2012-01-23

OK, I'll concede the point. There are still a few folks around who swear by 12" vinyl records, as well. To each his own.

im3733 (author)EdRothe2012-01-23

Not to mention, keep it in good enough shape, pass it down for a generation or two, and you've got yourself an antique heirloom!

amclaussen (author)2012-01-30

Emilee: It would be helpful to include the reason for setting the shutter speed in this step, also in the next one for the aperture. The rule of thumb that I have used for years to easy the learning of the exposure controls is the following: The proper exposure settings for the film are like the act of trying to fill a glass of water to a mark in the middle...  you can open the fawcett to a trickle, and wait for hours to reach the level mark in the middle of the drinking glass; or open the fawcett wide open for a couple of seconds!  The analogy is that shutter speed is akin to the time the fawcett will let the water into the glass, while the Diaphragm or lens opening is akin to how far you open the valve.  The size of the glass would then be akin to the Film sensitivity or ASA (now ISO).

Thanks for your nice Instructable, amclaussen

EmileeBrought94 (author)2012-01-21

sorry guys, just a school project, it was a requirement..

shuggles (author)EmileeBrought942012-01-22

Hardly an instructable!
Largely irrelevant in this digital age and no better than the typical user manual that comes with a camera. Seems like you have hijacked this great institution for some kind of class. Spam is spam, and this in my opinion is spam. YMMV

Sorokahdeen (author)shuggles2012-01-22

Bro, are you *kidding*? You're talking about an instructable on how to use those used 35mm cameras out there that digital cameras are turning into landfill. You should explore a 35 mm Nikon from 20 years ago: their bodies are made of brass, their lenses are stellar, a few of them come with mutlfunction viewfinders and they are going for dirt cheap for what should be reliable items.

In the hands of anyone with chops, they take amazing pictures and the good ones are so tough that, if someone tried to steal one from you, you could beat the guy down with it *and then* use it to take his picture.

At it's best, digital photography can be amazing, but the convenience and hurry of it have pulled the skill out from under a lot of photography, so much so that you've got old-school professionals buying Holgas so they can take control and show that it's them and not the camera.

Seriously, give 35mm a chance, I'm saving up for the Nikon F series camera that I could never afford as we speak.

amclaussen (author)Sorokahdeen2012-01-30

I feel much the same way, I still own and use a Canon A1 bought in 1984 together with some top quality "L" series fixed focal lenght lenses. In 2008 I travelled to Canada and buying a good quality DSLR was part of my plans, but handling a 1,000 USD digital SLR in my hands, and comparing just the feel of the controls, the precision of the focusing mechanism, and the overall quality impression, I quickly went back to my old A1.  The lens construction of the latest top quality lenses today, is still inferior to the quality obtained in the 70's and 80's.  BTW, my old A1 still works like a charm, its viewfinder image is head ans shoulders above the comparatively dim image of its newer equivalent cameras, and my manual focusing ability is rarely surpassed by the auto focus of the latest ones.  The only aspect where the latest DSLR's surpass my old camera, is in their ability to stabilize the image at very low shutter speeds, and not by much.  Now, to make me take the plunge into truly good DSLR's will require more than 10,000 to 20,000 USD... so I'll keep my old SLR and its lenses for as long as film continues to be sold. amclaussen.

Libahunt (author)shuggles2012-01-22

"Largely irrelevant in this digital age"
- Excuse me?? This is exactly why this is relevant. The knowledge is going lost otherwise, it has to be available in some googleable place. Manual that came with the camera 20 years ago is probably lost already.
Some people know the beauty of film photos and always will. Maybe too artistic for you, but it will never die.

It is a just fine instructable, though could be more universal.

Don't apologize. Requirement or not, knowing how to operate a film camera can still be useful.

Yes, 35mm film to most is comepletely useless. But to many, it still provides a better quality than your average digital camera. Especially when comparing costs. And, as aaronx said, most photography classes still requiring knowing how to shoot in 35mm. For the sake of quality alone, I would take a low end SLR over a basic PnS any day of the week.

Only things I would change would be specify the camera you're basing this on since, while these are pretty basic rules of thumb for film, things could change slightly from model to model. And, as stated, remove the decimal before "35."

Other than that, good job.

EmileeBrought94 (author)2012-01-22

Thank you for all the positive and negative comments, I will take them all in stride. I personally think that film photography is a nice break from the technical age, yes digital is really convenient but to know and operate a 35mm or other older film models, it's a nice art. I'm only 17 and I plan on going to college this year to major in photography, I know that this will be a useful skill being that I will have to take a course in black and white film photography. But thank you to everyone who says this is helpful!

Zadrac (author)EmileeBrought942012-01-24

Naval schools around the world and I mean the big Naval schools, US Navy, Spanish Navy, british navy, etc, still make their officers learn to navigate on Sail vessels to learn the rudiments of the art of navigation. I belive that if you learn on the 35mm tha art of photography, if and when you get to digital you will be so much creative due to the knowledge. Just my small input. Great instructable.

amclaussen (author)Zadrac2012-01-30

WELL SAID! It is like learning to drive in a Stick shift (manual tansmission car) instead of an automatic transmission car. Most (95%+) of the digital cameras in the market cannot be used in a purely MANUAL mode. If the photography student does NOT learn the exposure adjustment controls by using both Diaphragm, Shutter speed and selecting the proper film sensitivity; he (she) won't understand the basics. Today's Digital SLR's are so cramped with menus, options and gimmicks, that straightforward learning is not freely allowed. I would even recommend starting from "absolute Zero"... Make a pin hole camera! and then go to a 35 mm rangefinder camera, then to a Reflex film camera, and finally to a DSLR. Starting with a full options DSLR will warranty bypassing a lot of knowledge. Congratulations for using the Naval Schools analogy, right on the nail !!! amclaussen.

tannerpotts17 (author)2012-01-28

OK, I'll concede the point. There are still a few folks around who swear by 12" vinyl records, as well. To each his own.

Libahunt (author)2012-01-20

Nice instructable, very much needed in the time film cameras are going out of use and operating knowledge forgotten.

I was thinking about the beauty of salt grains on film photost just this morning :) Too bad I never find inspiration any more to make photos that would be worth the cost of film and developing..

Here are some points to make the instructable even better:

1) Heading: .35mm - remove the . it's not 0.35mm but 35mm.

2) Step 1. You could add that the rewind knob is the one with foldable crank. Just to familiarize
the user with the camera and it's parts.

3) Step 2. Most films come with leader (as much as I have seen), so mention that to cut only when there isn't one.

4) Step 4 and 5. I would make this just one step or add the 4th step photo again in the 5th. At the moment making sure the film is tight and securely attached to the right side spool before closing the lid may go unnoticed as the 5th step photo does not support that short text.

5) Step 7. The knob may work in different way on different camera models but to locate the film speed knob, it always has numbers 100, 200, 400 and probably some others on it. (There may be cameras that have German DIN film speed which would probably have 21, 24, 27 among them or something in that range, or Russian GOST, 90, 180, 350 for example. In that case one should look up the numbers compliance with ISO which is nowadays written on the film container.)

6) Step 8.
>The shutter controls the length of exposure, on this camera, the higher the number, the less the exposure time.
"on this camera" is not needed, it's universal.
To locate shutter speed knob, there are probably always numbers 30, 60, 125, 250, 500 among them (maybe really antique cameras have something else). The numbers actually mean 1/30 second, 1/60 s etc. Knowing that the bigger number makes shorter exposure starts to make more sense.

7) Step 9. Aperture ring always has at least some of the numbers from this set: 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16. They also mean 1/4, 1/5.6, 1/11 etc of theoretical full light coming through.

Keep going, it's a very good 'ible nevertheless :)

wilgubeast (author)Libahunt2012-01-24

This might be better as a private message. Perhaps for the next 35mm project. :-D

I know how it goes... you get started providing some constructive feedback, fifteen minutes have gone by, and you are four paragraphs deep into a comment.

Libahunt (author)wilgubeast2012-01-25

Well if it is not going to be incorporated into the 'ible then it will be here available for all readers if they bother to read comments. PM would not.

And yes so it is. I am quite slow writer but when I can provide some useful information (in my own opinion) then I'm at least later satisfied how I used all that time :)

Lennox6 (author)Libahunt2012-01-23

This is great info/addendum to this instructable. excellent photos. It's unfortunate that so many people measure quality with terms like convenience or expediency. By its very nature, digital is inferior for data acquisition and recording. In both photography and music, digital only approximates the analog source by increasing sample rates, and resolution. There will always be information lost converting analog to digital.
As far as digital cameras go, most digital cameras are not suitable for large format photography- certainly not those in the same price range as a common SLR.
The true virtue of digital recording (images or sound) is the convenience of storage and data fidelity across infinite reproduction.

iminthebathroom (author)2012-01-22

Excellent instructable, I hope you most post more instructables in the future. Simple, clean & well documented. Years from now when certain knowledge that may seem basic today is lost, your "simple school project" will be looked upon in the future. Here on instructables we usually have a keep it nice policy, evidently some have trouble reading... Anyway, while you're here keep in mind that instructable is always looking for information like this, later on in your school curriculum why not document future projects. It will be appreciated!


mdeblasi1 (author)2012-01-23

I miss film.
I miss having to compose every shot carefully because there were only so many shots on a roll.
I miss having images matter.

rimar2000 (author)2012-01-20

Pardon, It is not .35mm, it is 35mm.

hynee (author)rimar20002012-01-23

Yes, and I think she meant 22mm of leader on Step 2, not .22mm. [Intended as feedback only, I'm not hating!]

zappenfusen (author)2012-01-22

30 years ago my Wife & I took classes, went as far as making contact sheets in Her kitchen apt. This instructable brings all that back with a great refresher in the basics. The mostly manual cameras made great pictures, accepting that content was rarely on par with anything near professional, the camera's made you figure it out with only a light meter and what appeared to be in focus to you. They were a gas to play with and eased me right into a string of Breakfast's starting in that apt., with my now Wife, which continue until today. That hock shop Fujica was no Nikon but I think I'm going to cruise the Pawn shop's just to see what I can see. Thank's for a project Emilee that will be great surprise for my Wife and thanks for a darn good Instructable.


thegeeke (author)2012-01-21

Seriously? Are we getting to the point where people can't even load film into a camera without help??? And by the way: It's 35mm not .35mm. If people are getting to the point where they can't even load film anymore, than I am an old man!

iminthebathroom (author)thegeeke2012-01-22

Actually we were at that point about 10 years ago

thegeeke (author)iminthebathroom2012-01-22

Hmmm... Now I feel really old! (And I'm only in my 20s!) I can still remember my excitement when I got my Canon AE-1! ;)

BTW: I did not mean my comment in a derogatory manor to the author... if it came across that way, I am sorry.

thegeeke (author)iminthebathroom2012-01-22

Hmmm... Now I'm feeling really old... even though I'm only in my 20s! ;) I can still remember my excitement when I got my canon AE-1... doesn't seem that long ago!

BTW: I didn't mean my comment in a derogatory manor towards the author... not sure if it came across that way. If it did, I'm sorry.

uuglypher (author)2012-01-22

Don't the Instructables powers-that-be have a rule proscribing competitive micturation in the comments section?

criggie (author)uuglypher2012-01-22

EHEHHEH I had to google that - Well done Sir!

BTW is spelt "micturition"

marian65 (author)2012-01-22

this could not have come at a better time! I have a friend who called me and said she had 4 35mm cameras that she inherited and she wanted to know how to use them. I can't wait to forward this to her! Don't let the negative comments get you down. I think this is a wonderful instructable!!

black1888 (author)2012-01-22

Regardless of what other have said, I would like to thank you for this instructable. It was quite simple, straight-forward and just what someone who started using film camera needs.
Thank you once again. :)

pointon (author)2012-01-22

great job, yes this is old tech but knowledge is being lost and by creating and storing articles like this is the only way that it will be preserved for future generations . If you cant say anything constructive keep your negative destructive comments to yourself.

blue frog (author)2012-01-22

Good instructable.
It would be a pity to see the craft lost, and as for 35mm disappearing, a lot of professionals would disagree. Its hard to beat a good black and white print from pan f . Personally I'll be continuing to use my Canon 35mm slr a part of my tool box.

aaronx (author)2012-01-22

Why all the film hating? Ya everyone knows digital exists, and that it's easier. I don't go look up Hobo Can Stove instructables and tell them a microwave is easier so their post is pointless.
Also don't forget a lot of Photo I classes at high schools or colleges still require students to shoot film. 2 of the 4 photo classes i took required film and the other 2 it was optional.

And yes we do need instructables on how to load film, when i started taking photo classes 3 years ago i didn't know how to properly load film.

I do shoot with a DSLR, but i still own a manual 35mm, and might upgrade to a Nikon FM10 or F6 (so i can swap lenses form my DSLR). I will always own a 35mm SLR. Scanned film is much higher resolution and EV range then entry level DSLRs and PnS. If a coolpix is good enough for you, awesome, but don't bash others for choosing another option.

PedroDaGr8 (author)2012-01-20

Wow, way to make me feel old at 30! :P I remember doing this all of the time. Hell I could do this when I was 5. Nice detailed i'able for those who grew up in the all digital era.

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