How I got into Film Photography with the Kodak Retinette

Hey guys!

I've been super into film photography lately, so I thought I'd share my experience of diving into the world of 35mm film. Although most of the settings are the same as my DSLR, i.e. shutter speed and aperture, it is way less complicated! Read on to learn from my embarrassing mishaps with film and how that's making me into a better photographer.

Beginner Film Photography

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Initially, I wanted a vintage camera to use as a prop in photos. I know, I know... it's the influencer/trendy thing to do nowadays... So I was really just looking for an old cool looking camera that I could pay $20 for.

But after scrolling through eBay for a few hours, I realized I should raise my price point a bit. I figured I'd be happier with a camera that actually functioned. (So that my money wouldn't go to waste and I can actually take photos using the camera, instead of just sitting on a shelf for looks.)

Kodak Retinette Film Camera

So after tons of research, I bought the Kodak Retinette film camera from eBay for $38. The company I bought it from said it was in 89% good condition, but they had not actually put any film in it to test it fully.

So here are some stats:
Kodak Retinette - Type 022 - Solid Body - originally produced from 1954-1958
Schneider Reomar 1:3.5/45mm lens / Compur-rapid shutter with red on chrome EV scale - rectangular lens panel
Mine from eBay also came with a brown leather case.

This is my first experience with a real film camera. (I say "real", because I used to play around with the disposable kind when I was a kid. But that's more of a point-and-shoot situation!) So I watched a bunch of videos on Youtube, downloaded the manuals, and pinned a few things on Pinterest to learn how to use it, what the buttons mean, etc. But I was still veeeeery intimidated.

Vintage Friends Tshirt

The first time I put the film in the camera, I took it out to Wynwood Walls. I was super excited, taking tons of shots of the colorful art. Eager to see how the colors would come across once developed. But when I unloaded the roll and sent it to The Darkroom, they informed me that the roll came out blank...

I admit I shed a few tears when I read that email. I didn't know if it was the camera's fault, a user error, or just a bad roll of film. I even had a friend (who's super into film cameras) take it apart and oil it up to try and see what's wrong.

It wasn't until a few weeks later that I realized it was my fault. I didn't load the film in properly, so I never actually took any photos. 😞 A detail that I had overlooked was the rewind knob. As you pull back the rapid winding lever, the rewind knob is supposed to rotate, indicating the film is advancing so you can take another shot. If the rewind knob doesn't rotate, then it means you did not load the film properly into the built-in take-up spool.

Having realized that after the fact, I quadruple checked the film the second time around. I was so relieved that it worked! (Side note, since my first roll was blank, the team at The Darkroom were super understanding and credited my second roll of scans and prints for free.) So here are a few images from my first (successful) roll of Kodak Ultramax 400 film using the Kodak Retinette camera.

FIlm Photo


Tropical Film Photography

Film Photography

One thing to note about this camera is the focal range. It is calculated by distance in feet. So let's say you are taking a portrait of someone and want to make sure their face is in focus. You would either measure how many feet the camera is from the subject or be a really good guesser! (I actually memorized the length of my arms to help me measure and calculate the distance while out in the field.)

Blenders Eyewear

What I love about the Kodak UltraMax film is the color payoff. I had dyed the bottom part of my hair pink that week and I really didn't know if it would show on film... I was so pleasantly surprised that it did! From my experience, colors with either orange, green, or blue undertones look particularly vibrant with this film. (This next photo I actually had to tone down the neon pink flowers while editing because it was too bright.)

Pink Bougainvillea

Palm tree photos

A few weeks after receiving the results of my first roll, my sister and I went to a local park to shoot some more film. These are some of my favorites from my second roll!

Nature Trails

Film Photography

Vans Sneakers

I've been familiar with manual mode on my DSLR for a while now, but being "stuck" at the same ISO (the camera's sensitivity to light) for 36 images was a little hard to wrap my brain around. You might notice as you scroll through the images that I tried shooting in a different light. Some photos, like the pink flowers, were in taken direct sun. Which meant using a faster shutter speed (my camera goes up to 1/500) to compensate for the 400 ISO, or speed, of the film. I found that as long as you adjust your settings properly for each situation, this film performs really well in shade or sun. If you're a newbie to the aperture, shutter, and ISO exposure triangle, my Pinterest board has a few helpful tips and charts that helped me in the beginning!

Film Nature Photography

If you read my last blog post you'd know I recently got back from a trip to Pompano Beach and Coral Cove. I still had a few exposures left on my second roll, so I took my Kodak Retinette with me on the trip and took these photos.

Film Photography Sunrise

Coral Cove Beach

Blowing Rocks Florida

Hillsboro Lighthouse

The more I practice using this camera, the more comfortable I'm becoming. On my regular cameras, I take hundreds of photos to then choose 20 favorites to edit or post. But with film, I don't have that luxury of unlimited storage. There's no batteries, memory cards, or light meters to tell me how a shot is going to look. There are just 3 settings (shutter speed, aperture, and focus) that I can change to capture a moment. I feel like it is making me into a better photographer because I have to think about my shots more. And the mystery of how they came out is nerve-wracking but FUN!

Kodak Ultramax 35mm Film

So what do you think about film photography? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Vintage Kodak Retinette Camera

Products used/shown in this post:
Nikon DSLR
Camera Strap
F.R.I.E.N.D.S. T-shirt
Misfit Smartwatch
Pura Vida Bracelets - code: "LauraGarcia20"
Hollister Mom-Jeans
Adidas Superstar Sneakers
Kodak Ultramax 400 Film
Blenders Eyewear Blue Pheonix Sunglasses 
Vans Sk8-Hi
Freestyle Watch - code: "Mermaid10"
Blenders Eyewear Black Betsy Sunglasses 


  1. I have an old Retinette that I’ve never used. So you need to adjust the setting on the lens, or your distance, to get it focused properly? Sounds like a DSLR lens in theory, but it looks like a lot more guesswork with the Retinette.

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