First Roll Challenge: Using a Camera Almost as Old as the US Embargo to Cuba

Mastin Labs #FirstRollChallenge
Words and photos by Casey Berner


I was a terrible photography student in high school. The irony, I retained the title of photo editor for the school yearbook for four years. At the dawn of the digital age, I preferred my Canon 1D Mark II on the football sidelines versus the labor of film and the darkroom. Photojournalism was the goal and thinking creatively, posing, still life, etc. was not. I was a teenager, so chalk it up to naivety. I’ve shot digital ever since; both freelance and professional work as both a photographer and videographer I haven’t thought about film in any capacity since.


I’ve used Mastin Labs for presets and watched as social media and portfolio sites started using film presets to create a look for their work. The analog renaissance was making its way into the fold. People thought it was retro and cool and many didn’t even know those presets came from film stock and weren’t just some cool marketing word people in the offices of Instagram came up with.


So this June I decided to plunge myself into the world of film once again and picked up a Leica M3 to take on a trip to Cuba. I ordered as much Portra 400 as I could carry and boarded a plane for the recently off limits country. I don’t think I touched my Sony a7s once the entire trip. It felt wrong to capture Cuba that way. Using a camera almost as old as the US Embargo to Cuba, not being able to shoot 50 frames in one scene. Using a light meter, doing the math in my head, manual everything. Something about that felt organic and right. Without even sending in a test roll to The FIND Lab, I was nervous for my images to come back, but I was overjoyed with the results. It’s been about two months since then, and I can’t stop shooting film. My bank account hates me. But hey, stay broke and shoot film.



 Casey sent us a second roll and it was so fun to see, we decided to share his second roll too!
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Mastin Labs

Mastin Labs creates the only authentic film emulation presets for Lightroom, ACR and the iPhone that have been rigorously tested against film scans. Get an authentic film look in 3 clicks or less with Mastin Labs.