Film vs Digital Cameras

Film and digital cameras work similarly, but with slight advancements for digital such as autofocus and smart auto-exposure settings. The basic concepts for exposure are exactly the same (swapping film for a digital sensor). If you can operate a digital camera in manual mode, there’s a good chance you would do well on film without much extra practice. Finding a working film camera can be difficult, but if you research and make careful observations, there are tons of working, used cameras out there. Film is still for sale on many online retailers, and you can send it to a lab for processing in as little as a week.
Now is the best time to shoot film, as everything is much cheaper than it ever was. Professional-grade equipment can be purchased for pennies of what it used to cost. Digital photography is instantaneous, yet this advantage might also work against new photographers. When every shot costs up to $2, the photographer values each photo more than if it were on digital, because there is not an unlimited amount of storage. There might be a maximum of 32 shots on a roll of film, or as little as 24. This leads to each image becoming more thoughtful and planned, rather than a single shot picked out of hundreds. Film cameras make a photographer think about what they are looking at, how the subject looks in relation to the background, and the overall composition. In other words, film makes beginners better at photography.
A few notes on using film cameras:
Film cameras rely on a working light meter, so it is important to test yours to make sure it works. Working without a light meter is a complete guess, but you can use the rules of Sunny 16 ( to get a somewhat accurate exposure. This is also a great way to know if your light meter is accurate, it should follow the rule as well. Film cameras also rely on film, which is highly sensitive to light. Even opening it slightly in bright light is enough to ruin it, so make sure to take care when inserting and removing film from the camera. Many old cameras made during or after the ’80s rely on small batteries, so make sure to replace those before taking photos.
Starting with film can be daunting, but as soon as you get to know the placement of the buttons, dials, and switches, one can use a film camera just as naturally as a DSLR. If you want to up your photography game and keep film alive and well, go pick up a cheap film SLR and try it out.

Written by: M. Heins

Down to the Coffee Basics

There are many different ways to prepare and brew coffee, rather than just putting it in the coffee maker and pressing start. Here I will introduce you to some of the different ways coffee can be brewed, and the different types of coffee you can use.

The most common method is the drip method. This is the same type as the coffee maker most people have experienced if you are a coffee drinker. This is one of the easiest and most accessible ways of brewing for most people. This process involves placing the coffee ground into the filter, adding the amount of water you want, and more or less pressing a button to allow the machine to       automatically brew the coffee for you.

After this, a French press is also a common method of brewing. Here, you mix more coarse ground with hot water and let it sit for several minutes. Then, you will press the grounds down to the bottom with a strainer and pour the coffee out. The coffee will taste stronger and smoother through this method than the drip method, this is because no filter is being used in a French press. Coffee beans contain several acids that benefit the digestive system, but most do not pass through the filter when it is being used. The French press eliminates this, allowing the acids to stay in the coffee when you drink it, which creates a noticeably different flavor.

Chemex is an hourglass-shaped glass that holds a filter on the top half, and hot water is poured through to the bottom half. They end up holding about a 32oz. of coffee when filled up. The coffee brews similar to the process of a drip coffee but is poured by hand allowing for a more careful pour to create a better-tasting end product. Chemex coffee is very smooth to drink, and a refreshing enjoyable experience that does not hit you as hard with the caffeine effects as over methods in my experience. If poured properly, and using quality coffee beans, this is one of my favorite methods of drip coffee.

V60 is a funnel-shaped apparatus in a V-shape at a 60-degree angle (hence V60). There are ridges on the inside of the funnel to help ensure an even flow of water throughout the coffee and into the container. The main differences between a V60 Pour Over and a Chemex is grind size, filter paper thickness, amount of coffee made, how long it takes for the coffee to drain and the ultimate taste of the coffee. (Courtesy of

Along with drip coffee, there is also espresso. Espresso requires its own type of beans to produce the desired flavor and requires an espresso machine to produce. These machines can range from a few hundred dollars for the home, to thousands of dollars for professional coffee shops. A shot of espresso is made by forcing about 1.5 ounces of nearly boiling water through tightly packed, finely ground espresso coffee. This creates a very strong and concentrated coffee. After making the shot of espresso, you can either drink it as is or use it to create a variety of other espresso-based drinks.
(Courtesy of

Written by: K. Mortensen

The Spark Collection: Little Bits

Little Bits are kind of like legos, but for circuits. They were designed with the beginner circuit builder in mind. They are a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that empower you to invent anything, from your own remote controlled car, to a smart home device. The Bits snap together with magnets, no soldering, no wiring, no programming needed. Each little Bit has one unique function such as lights, sounds, sensors, buttons, and with different combinations you can make circuits large or small. Little Bits allow you to create interactive projects without any background in engineering, programming or wiring, in just a few seconds. It’s as easy as snapping LEGO bricks together. And the best part is, its available for check out for The Spark Makerspace collection!