Film Photography Abroad: Bring Tripods & Light Meters For Long Exposure Pictures

Apr 17, 2024

Traveling with a vintage camera? Old Time Focus has some useful tips for keeping your equipment safe and taking the best photos you possibly can!

Digital and phone cameras are all the rage these days, but no one can deny the charm of a vintage camera. That said, if you’re into film photography (or if the slide-and-click of vintage cameras is on the list of your Top 10 Most Satisfying Sounds), you have to keep some things in mind when you travel with them. Before you pack your bags and head off on your next excursion, make sure you take the time to read Old Time Focus’ guide on storing film and cameras properly!


Choose the Right Camera

Although vintage cameras are typically durable, they lack certain features of digital cameras. That means, in addition to some extra packing considerations, you may end up having to bring other things with you on your trips.

Being weighed down by all that equipment can suck the enjoyment out of traveling, which is why Old Time Focus’ guide suggests you first choose a model that is lightweight and durable, such as the Agfa Record III, Graflex XLWA, or Horseman VH. The camera can be stored in a dedicated camera bag, but you can also use a backpack as long as there is adequate padding to cushion the device. Just make sure it’s not getting knocked around in there!

Accessorize for the Trip

Cleaning supplies are also necessities for travel, as they are paramount to keeping the camera lens clear. No matter how good a photographer you are, your pictures probably won’t turn out that well if your lens is smudged.

You can also consider bringing other accessories on your trip, depending on the type of photos you want to take. For example, tripods are useful pieces of equipment for long exposures and vintage selfies. Additionally, you can boost the accuracy of your exposures with a light meter; if you’re tight on finances, Old Time Focus notes that certain smartphone apps can be used as a budget-friendly alternative to physical equipment.


For film, Old Time Focus says that color negative and slide film are ideal for vibrant colors, but if you’re not that concerned with color, you can instead opt for black and white film. 

Additionally, if you’re traveling to sunny destinations, you should take film with an ISO no higher than 200. If you want to take pictures in locations with variable weather conditions, or maybe a forest or a cave, you should instead use ISO 400 or 800 film rolls, as low-light areas require higher film sensitivity.

And if you want to be absolutely prepared for any possible scenario, then have a healthy mix of every kind of film!

Regardless of your choice, all types of film are sensitive to impact, extreme temperatures, and humidity, and you must take extra care to store them appropriately for the climate. Old Time Focus notes that film rolls may also be damaged by X-ray scanners at airports, so definitely consider storing them in a lead-lined bag for added protection. 

Otherwise, you can pack all your camera supplies into a carry-on bag and request a hand inspection at security. In general, it’s best not to store your camera and film in your luggage while you’re flying. You never know what can happen!

Of course, that’s not all there is to film photography abroad, so if you want to make sure your camera and film survive your trip unscathed, definitely check out Old Time Focus’ full guide! 

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