17 Signs That You Were Alive Before the Age of Digital Photography


How do us elders separate ourselves from those who only know what it means to upload? Here are 17 tools and toys you’ll immediately recognize if you still remember the heyday of Kodak. Bring on the nostalgia.

1. You loaded your own sheet film


2. You know what this is


3. You own one of these


4. You know what the Photoshop icon is based on


5. Your film was so slow, you needed one of these


6. Flash isn’t something you install on your computer


7. You thought this bokeh was cool


8. You know what this is


9. You used one of these


10. Or these


11. And a whole bunch of this


12. You were suckered into buying one of these


13. “110″ isn’t just a number to you


14. You displayed photos with these


15. Or these


16. Using this


17. These don’t remind you of Michael Jackson


SHAMON! Aren’t you glad we have digital?

About the author: Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and Co-founder of PhotoShelter. Allen is a graduate of Yale University, and flosses daily. This article originally appeared here.

  • markz

    1:yes and still do (and just bought a new LF lens)

    2:got 4 of them in my fridge loaded with various B&W film)

    3:own 3 of them(well 2 and a changing tent)

    4: have a whole collection of them in my darkroom

    5: have film down to 3 iso in the fridge so own several of these even have the real “bulb” one

    6:Never used cube flashes, never had a camera that used them

    7:nobody thought that looked cool… nobody but stoned art students.

    8:yes, yes I do

    9: I wish, own a 300 L lens and rented up to 600 never touched, or seen in the flesh, the 1200 L

    10: had a Nikon F3 with the (250 shot) bulk back for about 3 years – was a killer to sling around your neck.

    11:never shot polariod though I know what it is

    12:fat chance, that was a suckers camera

    13:got given a pentax Auto110, was not so bad for a pocket camera but …. not so good

    14: not much mostly shot (and still shoot) B&W

    15&16:still use my light boxes and my loupe

    17:got two pair sitting to the left of my keyboard so no, no they don’t remind me of MJ…. or Mickey Mouse for that matter

  • markz

    on my desk… 5 rolls of Neopan in 135 and 3 old Arista edu 400 in 120….
    then a mid size fridge and freezer full to overflowing with film up to 4×5

  • John Phoenix

    Glad and remember them all. Either from my dad’s shooting or when I started in the 1970’s, how fun to see it all again, nearly forgot how this art form used to be.

  • I R J Davies

    Q. SHAMON! Aren’t you glad we have digital? A. NOPE. I like the convenience of digital (pixel suited to computer screens) but the texture and character of the photograph using film (grain for print) won’t/can’t be beaten. However many times I hear the Pr. arguments for digital over film – I usually put it down to the person making the argument either having a commercial interest in promoting digital or from a ‘photographer’ (sometimes I wonder what that means these days) not having a real understanding. You only need to check out the work (better still visit the exhibitions) of Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Ansel Adams and their like to realise that photographic quality is getting worse not better. btw I work with both mediums (digital and analogue) and for people that do – they always tell me they prefer FILM.

  • disqus_8BOe8BHzwF

    This is kind of ironic. After all, Ansel Adams was all about the composition of the shot, and acknowledged that equipment would always advance, but it could never make up for the art that the artist created.

    AKA film or digital doesn’t matter if you can’t compose to save your life

  • Jason Philbrook

    I am glad we have digital, but even more glad we still have nice film. The used market is such that it’s a great time to be acquiring this stuff and spending the money on film and darkroom supplies instead. The cable release isn’t because film is slow, but with large format, film can be hundreds of megapixels of equivalent quality, and anything that can preserve stability/image quality is welcome.

  • Naterman

    So, #7 kills me… Bokeh was first used as a term in about 1997, and not really popularized until 2001 or so. Basically, the term came about just as film started to go, so the two were rarely used together.

  • SiriusPhotog

    I’ve actually got a Kodak Disc camera and 1 unopened roll of film for it that has the 1984 Olympics sponsor logo on it. Pretty sure it’s expired by now…..

  • Bandu

    it is a changing bag. It is completlydark inside,

    It is technicaly a t shirt, you just go inside only with hands and from out side. You can load film into developertank without a darkroom, or on field you can load film into sheet film casette forexample.

  • Markus

    don’t give me any ideas to combine two of my passions …traditional photography and being an emergency medical care provider ;)

  • David H. Aragon

    I shot a few rolls of 42 film and 665 on my Polaroids years ago. I still have some “fresh” 42 roll films laying around, possibly with my 3 disk cameras.

  • Groobek

    Never say never! Perhaps, someday, thanks to nanotechnology and robots… Sigh… :)

  • Groobek

    The Vivitar Series 1 “solid cats” were very good for their time, too, if I recall.

  • Groobek

    Sometimes, I feel like I should be wearing them when I look at the prices on the few remaining emulsions I used to enjoy shooting! o_O

  • Groobek

    I *still* keep pills and coins in them! :D

  • Groobek

    I loved shooting with my Auto110 — always a good conversation-starter. Not too shabby a shooter IF you could find good film and good processing for it. 110 needed/needs much better handling than is typically available on the cheap.

  • FilmUser

    > Aren’t you glad we have digital?

    Not one bit, no.

  • Victor Pytko

    I used mine with an end cut off as a sunshade and cap-able dust cover for my telescope’s finder.

  • Phototodo


  • shankman

    I’ve got one roll of TMAX pushed two stops, and one roll of Kodachrome I’ll never be able to develop again… :(

  • dsz

    @Victor We use them in our club’s observatory to plug up 1.25 eyepiece aperture.

  • Dendax

    Thanks for the info!

  • Alexander Petricca


  • I R J Davies

    I wasn’t really referring to the great composition that these photographers had – more the quality of the tone and character of the printed photograph by using film. I was just using these photographers as suggestions of who to look at to see some of the best examples of that print quality using analogue. Digital v Film – in the longer term it probably will matter – no doubt you can take good photographs using digital, but with film the photographers/picture editors edited more wisely, due to the cost and time involved in producing artwork. Today, markets are saturated with mediocrity being called photography and with the industry getting used to that need for speed, the type of photography that I was inspired by is no longer being commissioned. Whatever country you live in – check out your local store. A minimum 95% of magazine covers will be digitally shot – they look the same with their over bleached and retouched skin – this is why I make the point that photographic quality due to the accessibility of digital – is getting worse.

  • Courtney Navey

    same here…except mine was high school. nothing like the smell of stop bath to get you going in the morning! who needed drinking when you could just take a quick whiff of that stuff being poured. I miss the darkroom days…sigh.

  • Courtney Navey

    WHEAT PENNIES!!! That’s something I haven’t heard about in YEARS!!!

  • nom

    im a kid born in 1987 but i start photography with number 13.

  • snapshot1

    They are good to keep something else in too.

  • Matt

    I am sure the next step will be the electronic image, and I hope I shall live to see it. I trust that the creative eye will continue to function, whatever technological innovations may develop. – Ansel Adams

  • Matthew Wagg

    Fixer in a hot darkroom, thats the fun stuff. Ventilation I found out really quickly is the key to spending any time in a darkroom ;)

  • Tomas Danielis

    Please…. 2?, 3? …am I getting it right, 13 is 110 frames of 35mm film or am I off? I am digital “kid” and even I own analog camera and shoot I get it developed in shop, so I have no clue for most of it.

  • Eugene Chok

    lol every comment is slamming you and no one is helping you, its a tool you would recognize called dodge in photoshop, basically when doing printing in the dark room, the amount of light on the paper determined how dark the images would be, the tool allowed you to block light in one area, usually in a circular movement, hence lightening the area on the paper, similarly the tool in photoshop makes the area brighter

  • Francesco D’Arcangeli

    I was born in 1973 but almost none of this applies to me. Ok, I know what a flash cube is, but never used one.

  • Ernie

    Thanks to everyone who actually answered my question.

  • disqus_8BOe8BHzwF

    I think it’s more that people don’t print their shots out on good quality materials any more.

    But what you’re talking about in your comment isn’t digital vs. film photography. You’re really just talking about post-processing.

    Digital photography has let people like me explore what cameras are capable of. How did I learn what a changing f-stop would do? I picked up a camera and shot the same image over and over, changing only the f-stop. I did the same to understand speedlights. Had I done those experiments 20 years ago, that would have cost me close to $100, if not more.

    I’ve learned more about photography by reading Ansel Adams’ writings and then immediately putting it into practice. I don’t need to have an instructor to become proficient – I need an instructor, instead, to begin mastering photography.

  • pilgrimtraveller

    no, they were used in dodge ball! with a dodging wand, one could warp the path of an oncoming ball to ensure that one avoid being struck. if one had sufficient mojo with a dodging wand, one could make the ball boomerang back to hit the opponent who threw it.

  • aaronpriestphoto

    And now we clean sensors……

  • Victor

    Wait… Mirror lenses don’t create doughnut highlights with a DSLR? Why?

  • cengiz sakarya


  • Tyler Magee

    You are coming across as a real jerk, Not everyone knows what that is. I didn’t know what that was at first and you giving that whole step by step thing makes you seam very rude. If I didn’t know any better I would call you rude.

  • tomdavidsonjr

    In all of the banter, I’m not sure anyone actually answered your question – it’s a paddle used for dodging in the darkroom during enlargement and printing.

  • tomdavidsonjr

    Polaroid 4×5 and 5×7 Positive/Negative medium format film also required these. We used to use one in an “Old Fashioned/Western” themed kiosk at the mall. Snap the picture, slowly but firmly and steadily pull out the exposed film by the paper tabs. Don’t shake it like a Polaroid picture… because that’s stupid. After 2.5 minutes (as I recall), peel apart and you have a B&W print on one side and a negative on the other side. Rinse the negative in the darkroom sink to remove all the goo and the sticky bits of paper, then rub down the print with the fixer. Show the client the print. Take the dry negative back to the enlarger, print/burn/dodge/develop/sepia tone. All done. Next client please.

  • Damian Chavez

    I took a film photography course recently, but still only knew about five of these. Ha. We never used gloves.

  • mko

    trying other forms of art I see

  • jmco

    #16 is the incorrect type of loupe. The one shown is more for thread count. Too small for slides or negs on a light table. Here is a better example:
    If you had the money you might buy a Peak 8x which had a square bottom and showed the whole slide. Later, the Russians sold the Horizon 8x which was superb, full frame, and cheap!

  • jmco

    – #00000 super small brushes for retouching prints using that stuff that came in the little jars.
    – Cheap but decent Czechoslovakian black and white paper you could get in large sizes
    – The radioactive (true!) antistatic brush for negatives
    – the lovely and large manual darkroom timer for exposing prints
    – canned dry powder developer like Accufine
    – toxic selenium toner (now banned)
    – stainless steel film developing cans and metal loop film holders to go in them. I never could master them so I used the auto loading plastic kind with the wide mouth easy pour tank.
    – yellow and black metal holder to place paper under enlarger
    – enlarger lenses (and which was the better kind)

    – contact sheets
    – an entire table that was, a light table. Very handy.
    – the sound a round light safe darkroom entry door made when in use
    – the sound of running water washing film and prints
    – the smell of fixer

  • wrymind

    Polaroid print coater – worked kinda like fix. Once you smelled it you never forgot that odor.

  • wrymind

    not to mention the similar model blacked out on the sides version to check focus on the focus screen.

  • jmco

    Gloves would be more for sheet film handling. Although, you might use them when you cut 35 mm film into strips to put in plastic sheets. Bear handed is easier if you are clean and careful.

  • jmco

    - Bulk film loader (cheaper way to buy B&W 35mm film for a few years – then it was just cheaper and easier to buy bulk “bricks” of preloaded film).
    – a special dark bag you put your hands in along with film to load or unload with no dark room.
    – 110 film cartridge. Sold by Kodak to replace 126 format (which was already smaller compared to pre WWII options) in a thinner, smaller camera. Popular with moms and grannies in 70s. One word: Plastics.