Unboxing ‘The Film Photography Handbook’

Chris Marquardt and Monica Andrae’s The Film Photography Handbook is an English translation of 2015’s Absolut analog. The translation is good and, from what I’ve read, a bit of German-ness shines through in some of the phrasing and aphorisms. It’s written mostly for newbies and the curious digital shooter, and because it’s Chris, it’s primarily a discussion of gear options and technical matters, with a halfhearted, but still somehow genuine, nod towards artistry, experimentation, and fun.

I’m not knocking it… I haven’t read it cover-to-cover yet, I did buy a copy, after all, and if you’re at all curious about shooting film in the 2010s, there’s a wealth of good information in it.


One of my favorite bits in my hour of flipping through it is couple of recipes for black & white developer that looked relatively easy (until I started hunting for the chemicals). For example:


  • Water: 250ml
  • Acetaminophen: 30 tablets of 500mg each (15000 mg, however you can get it)
  • Sodium sulphate: 50g
  • Sodium hydroxide: 20g

Add in the order listed and allow to sit in a sealed container for 72 hours.

I could come up with 15,000 mg of tylenol pretty easily, I think but the anhydrous, calcinated Sodium Sulphate and Sodium Hydroxide will take some doing, and the recipe would probably run about $125 for, I don’t know, 500 ml? 1000? I can buy 500ml of Ordinal for $15 at freestyle…

As far as recipes go, some poking around digitaltruth probably would’ve led me to Parodinal eventually, but it’s nice to have the push that a printed book provides, and some of the technical discussion of analog materials is a interesting too.

For a technical discussion of analog processes, from cameras, film formats and types, and exposure settings, through developing and scanning—the book is entirely geared toward the hybrid analog-to-digital process—all the way to presentation of prints and archiving of negatives, The Film Photography Handbook (and Absolut analog, auf deutsch) has what you’re looking for.

If you’re interested, you can pick up a hardback or ebook copy (or both) at Rocky Nook. Enter CMFILM35 for 35% off.


By the way, Chris hosts a long-running podcast called Tips from the Top Floor that’s all about the gear, with a bit of stuff about art and concept, and he leads photography workshops and tours around the world. I listened to the podcast for the first couple of years of this hobby, and made it through probably the first 400 episodes (or more). I’ve lately switched to things that focus on the product rather than the process, the craft rather than the materials, the concept rather than the gear, but TFTTF is still running strong. Chris’s workshops appear popular, and I bet you could learn something from him and Monica, but I can’t vouch for (or afford) them at all.

Again, for a contemporary look at the gear, materials, and process of analog photography, look no further than The Film Photography Handbook. It’s a winner, and relatively inexpensive with the coupon.

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