appeal of film over digital?

As a bit of an amatuer student of Jung I'd argue that humans have very little control over their own psyche and the spillover from unconscious elements of the psyche during the process of making something are far more powerful than photographers give them credit for.
I agree it is not easy, but it doesn't make it impossible.
 
Great thread... I'm enjoying a lot with your thoughts and debates. It's a pleasure to be "here". Thanks!

For me Film is the best (pleasure making pictures with all that implies using it, the final result...) but now, I use Digital cameras, because it is less expensive (money and time).

A lot of times, when I look at my pictures that I have made them with a digicam I think: if I would made it with "that" film camera with that lens and filter with that film developing in that way...

But like french say: "c'est la vie".
 
What artists are using is up to them. They can also say what they want but it doesn't make it true.

As long as you can capture more information (with digital), you can recreate any film look. The only exceptions are specialised film-stocks such as Aerochrome that can capture information outside of the most digital sensors sensitivity.
What "more information"? More pixels? Sure. More dynamic range? Not always. More Grey levels? Outside of having an M monochrom or a specialized sensor, I'd like to see that.
 
Resisting the urge to haul out the "eating popcorn" and "beating a dead horse" emojis. ;)

I still have all my film gear, and a notionally functional darkroom. I only mention this to indicate a strong, albeit historical, attachment to the silver arts. When my kids were little, the time savings and instant feedback of digital won out over all other arguments over silver-based IQ. And now, 20 some-odd years later, digital cameras are so good that there are many, many pictures I make that simply couldn't be made with silver-based tech. Or at least I never had the skills to do so.

That all said, and recognizing that film and paper now have roughly the market share of sketching charcoal and soft graphite drawing pencils, there is a look that my silver-based photography has that I have never been able to duplicate with digital. Perhaps some more talented digital artists can do it (not a high bar). Despite tinkering at the edges of this problem for 20 years, purchase and discard of an Epson 3000 and all of Jon Cone's products, occasionally going down the Paul Roark rabbit hole, spending thousands on various kinds of inkjet-friendly paper, I have never once produced a print of a digital file that matches the tone, scale, or (most importantly) emotional impact of a silver-based print on Ilford's Gallarie or Muilti-Fiber gloss papers developed in Selectol-Soft and/or Dektol.

This spring I was visited the Brooklyn Museum to view an exhibit of Spike Lee's desiderata. All stuff from his personal collection related to his life in film, but also related to his own heroes and inspirations. Mr. Lee has a good eye and a taste for photography (not surprising). I was drawn to the silver-gelatin prints (what we just to just call "photographs") like a moth to a flame. These were photographs by photographers that Mr. Lee had collected, not his own work.

So digital is just . . . different. The way some products made with plastic can mimic the look of wood, but will never be wood. And as a new generation cuts its teeth (eyeballs?) on digital images, and they look "normal" to the audience of phone-wielding teen and 20-somethings, that is what imaging has evolved into.

Just to be clear, I could pop a roll of film into any one of dozens of cameras sitting on the shelf that would make the current hipsters dehydrate from drooling. But I am grabbing the Nikon Z8, not the Mamiya RB67 or the Rolleis. (or the Nikons or the Leicas or the Deardorf or Wisner) eEvery time. (sigh)
 
There is something that, sometimes, is jarringly too literal about digital capture....

That's a fact. Even a hard core digital user such as myself would have to agree if they are being honest. I recall seeing the images on HD television in a store when it was new. It caused my eyes to hurt. 'Course we got used to it and it's no big thing anymore. It's the norm, like smart phone pictures posted everywhere.

I learned photography shooting Tri-X during a different era. Later I preferred HP5+ when Kodak changed Tri-X and also raised the price. I became intimately familiar with those films and a smattering of Ilford's PanF. Today I'm still shooting nearly everything in B&W but with digital cameras. Over time I've fiddled around with software and I'm able to satisfactorily produce images that look less digital than most digital images. At least they do to me. But I'm not a perfectionist. Photography for me is not about making perfect negatives, prints or images. It took me years--decades, I guess--of messing around with medium and large format gear and films to realize I like "down and dirty" pictures that speak to emotions. Also that light is magical and you can't make a magical photograph in crappy light.

So, when I use a lower resolution digital camera, soften images and add grain to make a photo less digital looking, it's not to copy the look of Tri-X or HP5 or PanF or others but to pay homage to the look these films imparted. IMO, when it comes to how the picture looks, everything is fair game.


............................
 
What "more information"? More pixels? Sure. More dynamic range? Not always. More Grey levels? Outside of having an M monochrom or a specialized sensor, I'd like to see that.
That was in the past.

Dynamic range with modern digital sensors is much greater than film. Arri Alexa 35 has 17 stops of dynamic range compared to 14 at best for film (Kodak Vision 3). Color depth is also far greater with digital and lets not talk about sensitivity and noise.
 
There is something that, sometimes, is jarringly too literal about digital capture. ...
To me, that says 'poor image processing.' I had the same reaction when my friends bought one of the latest generation televisions with super high resolution and cranked it up to what, to them, was its sharpest rendering ... We put on Frank Capra's "Lost Horizon" and ... ugh! I had a headache in five minutes and went to bed. Many digital cameras have rather mediocre in-camera JPEG engines that do similarly.

A camera, film or digital, is a recording device. What you do with the information that they record is what matters. Film work with good lenses is bitingly sharp and literal if that's what you want, the same goes for digital capture. You just have to learn the tools and know how to get what you want from the captured information.

I'm not a fan of the crunchy-sharp photo, nor am I driven to the pastel blurriness of mucho-blur-romanticism. I look to make photos that have something of intriguing detail in them, hints of emotional movement, and that allow the eye to rest and see clearly. Do I achieve it all the time? Hah! Likely not ... but it isn't the camera, film or digital, that is at fault. ;)

G

PS: My friend Jack was following me onto the freeway the other evening and he made this photo of me in my Fulvia Coupé... What better camera to make such a photo, on the fly, than a smartphone? I love it, wish I'd taken it. Whether it was made with digital or film is completely irrelevant: I think it is a beautiful photo despite the Olde Fahrte in the driver's seat! :D


Heading Home - Redwood City 2024
Photo by Jack Walshe
 
Just to be clear, I could pop a roll of film into any one of dozens of cameras sitting on the shelf that would make the current hipsters dehydrate from drooling. But I am grabbing the Nikon Z8, not the Mamiya RB67 or the Rolleis. (or the Nikons or the Leicas or the Deardorf or Wisner) eEvery time. (sigh)
At the moment, I have two cameras sitting next to each other "cocked, locked, and ready to rock": a Nikon D7000 and a Pentax SL. The D7000 makes technically better images at practically zero cost, yet I find myself grabbing the meterless, manual everything SL every time.

I think the reason I prefer film—especially black-and-white—is that the hyper-real digital look leaves nothing to the imagination.
 
you guys are killing me. I'm trying to talk myself out of film because of cost and lack of ease that shooting digital affords. But it's still not working and I find myself thinking about a M6. Many years ago I shot my Canon AE1 with a kit 50mm lens, split between Tri-X and Kodachrome. Lately I've been shooting my M10 with the 35 steel rim reissue and it reminds me of pics I used to take, like this one. I really want to get off this desire to shoot film - we'll see.
L1002173.jpg
 


I saw this a few days ago and thought it was excellent and relevant to this thread.

yes I saw that video. At first I agreed with him, but then I started thinking that he's just talking himself into shooting film by creating an elaborate and well argued position that shooting film creates a certain mindset because of cost of film and processing it, a mindset that can't be created by shooting digital. I'm not sure I agree with it. I can with purpose slow my process down with my M10 even farther than I already have from shooting a spray/pray Sony A7RV, to approximate the mindset he claims is only possible when shooting film.'

I'm wondering what other people think about that.
 
To me, that says 'poor image processing.' I had the same reaction when my friends bought one of the latest generation televisions with super high resolution and cranked it up to what, to them, was its sharpest rendering ... We put on Frank Capra's "Lost Horizon" and ... ugh! I had a headache in five minutes and went to bed. Many digital cameras have rather mediocre in-camera JPEG engines that do similarly.

A camera, film or digital, is a recording device. What you do with the information that they record is what matters. Film work with good lenses is bitingly sharp and literal if that's what you want, the same goes for digital capture. You just have to learn the tools and know how to get what you want from the captured information.

I'm not a fan of the crunchy-sharp photo, nor am I driven to the pastel blurriness of mucho-blur-romanticism. I look to make photos that have something of intriguing detail in them, hints of emotional movement, and that allow the eye to rest and see clearly. Do I achieve it all the time? Hah! Likely not ... but it isn't the camera, film or digital, that is at fault. ;)

G

PS: My friend Jack was following me onto the freeway the other evening and he made this photo of me in my Fulvia Coupé... What better camera to make such a photo, on the fly, than a smartphone? I love it, wish I'd taken it. Whether it was made with digital or film is completely irrelevant: I think it is a beautiful photo despite the Olde Fahrte in the driver's seat! :D


Heading Home - Redwood City 2024
Photo by Jack Walshe

Just a couple of thoughts:

1. It’s not poor processing I’m talking about. I’ve seen enough haloed prints not to reproduce them;)

2. That can’t be you - I always pictured you with long grey hair and a large and bushy beard!!

As someone noted, I’m not anti digital and use both. The original question was what appeal does film have over digital, not is film better than digital all the time. We should have left the wars long ago.

I noted earlier - I leave the brush marks in the work. I have no interest in trying to make digital look like film or vice versa. That’s just me of course, but the notion that digital can be anything you want is as much a weakness as a strength in my view.
 
Part of the fun with the analog scene is that it's being continuously reinvented, but in a smaller, quirkier way than before. "Back in the day", it was mostly about the needs of the mainstream buyers, but today, the oddballs are calling the shots.
 
Just for fun, a print I ran today in a current experiment - shot on walk the other evening using Foma 100 developed in PC-TEA with my M4 and an LTM Ultron 35/1.7, ‘scanned’ with an S1r and printed on uncoated smooth hot press watercolour paper with an Epson P900. Only 10.5x7 inches.
 

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Just a couple of thoughts:

1. It’s not poor processing I’m talking about. I’ve seen enough haloed prints not to reproduce them;)

2. That can’t be you - I always pictured you with long grey hair and a large and bushy beard!!

As someone noted, I’m not anti digital and use both. The original question was what appeal does film have over digital, not is film better than digital all the time. We should have left the wars long ago.

I noted earlier - I leave the brush marks in the work. I have no interest in trying to make digital look like film or vice versa. That’s just me of course, but the notion that digital can be anything you want is as much a weakness as a strength in my view.

(Bolded) Never me! :D

[
GDG - Back On Two Wheels!
 
Just for fun, a print I ran today in a current experiment - shot on walk the other evening using Foma 100 developed in PC-TEA with my M4 and an LTM Ultron 35/1.7, ‘scanned’ with an S1r and printed on uncoated smooth hot press watercolour paper with an Epson P900. Only 10.5x7 inches.
Interesting 'framing' ... a trapezoidal shape to the border!

G
 
Interesting 'framing' ... a trapezoidal shape to the border!

G

:) that’s an iPhone snap of a print of course - if it had let me load as pic I’d have probably straightened it first using the power of the digital iPhone;)

Something more like this - with the borders cropped off, accepting that it’s also mucked up the aspect ratio. You always lose something
 

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