Kew Gardens on 35mm film and digital

This Valentine’s Day I visited Kew Gardens for the Orchid festival and decided to shoot it on both digital and 35mm film. This was my first time using 35mm film and it was great exploring the unique experience. From being careful with every picture that you take to then waiting hours for the film to be developed, hoping your photos turned out well was thrilling! There is something vintage and romantic about using a 35mm film but my photographer heart loves the flexibility you have with a digital camera. Here are my photos from my Valentine’s weekend and let’s discuss the successes and failures of my first experience with 35mm film, as well as see the pros and cons of both photography types.

I will say, I am not a trained photographer or even a very skilled or learned one. I enjoy photography for what it gives me; the happiness of seeing a photo I have personally shot and edited.

Favourite 35mm shot

This is my favourite shot of the whole day and especially, my favourite 35mm shot. I love the green and how it stands out against the almost blackness of the pond water. The red of the flowers above stand out too which makes this shot so romantic and dewy with the almost misty filter. My camera is a AW818 and it gives this misty filter on my shots which I have fallen in love with.

Favourite Sony shot

This is my favourite shot from my Sony digital camera, DCS-H300. The colour of this shot is completely unedited – yes unedited! This looks like a stock photo for a plant shop and I am living for it.

Cacti on 35mm

One thing I enjoyed about using a 35mm camera is the time and effort it takes to get a shot right. In some cases it doesn’t work out as you will see in a later photo, however sometimes it works perfectly. I love the depth of this photo, how the cactus near the lens is blurry whilst the cacti further away is more refined, and again this is very romantic.


This was shot on my Sony and then edited using VSCO. I first sharpened the photo, increased its clarity and balanced out the white of the railing to the beautiful green of the plants. For this photo I used the preset Q5 which brought out the rich tones of the leaves, showcasing the beautiful sun beams which bounced off their tops and separated the various greens and yellows of the foliage below. I find VSCO easy to use, with presets that you can edit to make unique to your own photo.

Photographers become the muse

Sometimes 35mm film does not come out as planned

This 35mm shot is a true example of why 35mm film has been overtaken in the digital age. The issue with 35mm film is that you cannot see what your product is until you develop it which can take weeks or days if you go to the wrong places. Or it can take a few hours but the photos may be developed incorrectly! Here my finger has made an appearance in this shot, however, I strangely like it. It shows innocence in my lack of knowledge of 35mm film and in my opinion, is kind of cool!

Digital VS 35mm film-

Coming from a non-professional stance on photography and cameras, I must say I enjoyed both my digital camera and my 35mm film. Yes, both have advantages and disadvantages and the person behind the lens almost affects the outcome greatly, but here is my take on the pros and cons of digital vs 35mm from my experience at Kew Gardens.

Digital cameras give you a lot more ‘give’- you have a lot more to play with when using a digital camera. You can retake the same photo hundreds of times until it is perfect and then simply delete the others. This isn’t the case for 35mm film, instead you have one chance to get the shot otherwise you have wasted one photo on your film. However, this does make you appreciate the moment more, you take your time lining up the shot, you breathe in and take it before it’s too late. You live in the moment with 35mm film.

35mm film takes time to develop and can be expensive. In the age of instant gratification and access to anything we want, waiting a day or two for film to be developed may be too much for some photographers to handle. Additionally, when you have used up your film you’ll need to buy more which again can take a day or two to arrive or even longer and can be pricey – most film rolls starting from at least £5. However, again is this a complete con? NO! It allows the photographer to take his or her time with their photography, allows them to enjoy every moment they have with their film. I must say the waiting for my film to be developed was so exciting and receiving the email confirmation made my day.

So when deciding between a digital and a 35mm camera, you have a lot to consider – time management, flexibility, photographers talent and costs. In my opinion I think everyone should try a 35mm and carry both a digital and 35mm on them when they plan on having a little shoot!

I personally will be taking my two everywhere with me… my phone camera is merely for selfies now!

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