Experts: Explain WHY you shoot film to NEWBIES

I use black and white film most of the time, and I like the hands-on-approach of developing my film and having negatives. I know that ultimately an analog picture is no more "real" than a digital one. Funny enough for me the difference (and why I keep using film, its disadvantages notwithstanding) also lies in the very moment of picture taking. I get to use other people's digital cameras often enough, from simple point and shoots to sophisticated current models, so I have some comparison.

With film, I have this very concrete and satisfying sense of really having "taken" the picture. Also at this point I have a very good sense of how the light is in relation to what my film and my lens will see, how I am going to develop it, what the negative is going to look like, and print.
Then, take a negative (this works best with low-light situations, thin negatives), shine a bright light at an angle to the emulsion side, and enjoy the view: a silver positive image of the moment you photographed, tiny but with enourmous detail, like a very fine etching. Priceless.

That, and the way my trusted cameras handle. Aperture, shutter and focus, all can be set by feel.
Film photography has been a major hobby of mine since I acquired my first camera, a Nikon F, in 1962.

Shortly after that momentous event, I set up a home darkroom, endured the trials and tribulations of learning the art and science of developing and printing and, with the practice of 50 years, have become pleasingly proficient at it.

The thrill and sense of satisfaction in using hard-won skills to turn raw sensitised material into beautiful 20 x 16 black and white prints is still as vivid and precious to me now as it ever was all those years ago in the beginning.

To me, film IS photography, in a way that digital capture and image manipulation never can be.

I've had several sniffs at digital cameras but the experience thus far has been completely underwhelming.

Various camera club acquaintances have spent hours good-naturedly trying to wean me off film, patiently demonstrating their DSLR's, M8's, M9's and sundry other digitalia and extolling the virtues of Photoshop, Lightroom et al, but to no avail.

My eyes glaze over, my brain disengages and I enter an almost trance-like state which only passes when I have a quick fondle of an early Leica or Rollei TLR.

I just know that digital photography, like Marmite, Labour party politicians, and reality TV shows holds absolutely no appeal for me whatsoever.

I started my photographic journey with film, it's been an engaging, enduring pleasure to have made its acquaintance, and I'll finish the journey with film.

For me, there's no other way to travel....
I love shooting B&W on 35mm, but honestly, it's tough to make a technical argument in favor of it. I love the look of TMAX & TRI-X, and I feel it handles highlights more gracefully than digital, but digital in expert hands may wipe away that advantage.

I suggest you read up on dynamic range, compression, and analog saturation then. There's no way you're cramming more light into a medium (digital) that is linear and fixed, with no inherent saturation to compress excessive input. Yeah, sure, I guess one could be an HDR monkey, but how great has that worked out in reality?

Film is awesome for the same reason analog tape is awesome. It's not about resolution or pixels.
I jumped into black & white photography in 1968, and was immediately smitten. I love it all. The film, the chemicals, the darkroom, the cameras, and most of all, the pictures. I've spent all the intervening years trying to get really good at it. I'm still trying. I even love the trying.
I used to have two Pontiac GTO cars, they were both 2 door coupes, and both had 6 liter engines. But one was made in 1966, the other in 2006.

The old GTO had a bench seat with a 3 speed manual transmission, manual windows, and an AM radio/8-track tape player, 14" wheels with G70 14 tires, and manual drum brakes. It had no air conditioner or other options, it was a bare-bones car, pretty much the minimum you could get.

The new GTO had power leather seats, a 6 speed manual transmission, a multi-speaker stereo with a CD changer and MP3 input. It had 18" wheels and tires, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, and an efficient "climate control" system. The new GTO had every available option, I can't think of anything else which could be added to it.

Despite the comforts and conveniences of the newer car, the old GTO was more of a pleasure to drive. It was rough, simple, and fun.

Last year I bought a new X-Pro when it was released in Japan, I also picked up the three lenses which were available, and have since added the 14mm lens as well. Despite it being a great performer which produces instant results, I don't use it that much. I have shot ten times as many images on film as I have with the X-Pro during the time I have had it.

I find using precision mechanical devices to be a great pleasure, and developing film is a great way for me to relax after a long day. I love to look at the negatives after they are done, and I also love to look at the finished prints.

The more effort you put into something, the more pleasure you can get out of it, regardless of the activity.
Experts: Explain WHY you shoot film to NEWBIES
Okay. Here are a few in no particular order:

I enjoy using mechanical film cameras
I don't enjoy using automatic everything cameras
I like the reliability of mechanical cameras
I enjoy the process of using film
I enjoy developing film
I like having physical negatives that I can look at any time in any place
I like not having to worry about hard drive crashes
I like not having to worry about memory media failure
I like not having to drag a laptop around with me
I like the fingerprint that different emulsions impart to the image
I like the image quality of film
I like the visual texture of a print made from a negative
I don't like the homogeneous, smooth, plastic like look of digital images
I like the light and shadow that film captures
I don't like the uniform illumination and no shadows in HDR images
I don't like sitting at a computer working on image files

Other than the above, I like digital photography. :D

Three main reasons:
- you have an output of 20-25 pictures to manage instead of 200-250
- film photography is a beautiful medium to describe the images you see, in its own right - b+w obviously, but also color.
- film cameras and their feel

I do not work with photography. I feel I need a purpose or a reason to get me to shoot digital images. With film cameras I don't. I can just go out of the door walk around, take 4-5 pictures, maybe 10, maybe one. I would not have any motivation to that with my digital camera. I travel a lot but mostly to the same three-four places. Film shooting suits this, I would have limited interested to walk around known places with a digital SLR.

One more, very important: I do not own a digital rangefinder.


Because I can process both the film and print paper in:

1) Instant Coffee
2) Vitamin C
3) Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (no, not baking soda)

And that's just a kick.

I added another biz card to my pseudonyms....

"Coffee Break Images"... I have a Latte Shop owner who wants to hang them. He has a full blown establishment with HUGE wall space.

Gimmicks are fun.

It's called Caffenol Processing (sometime called Folgernol)
I think for me that film is more challenging and it keeps me engaged in the process more. I find as much as I like digital/Lightroom I want to keep shooting film because I enjoy the process of it and it is so easy to make mistakes if you aren't on your game and that motivates me to get better. I think my digital also looks better because I still shoot film.
film for the soul

film for the soul

all my color shots are digital now, as i see so many advantages over chromes, which i shot in the last century.

BUT: while my b/w on film is reduced in the number of frames i shoot, the keepers i appreciate much more.

to begin with, the exclusion process is reversed with film: instead of deleting the shots i´m not so convinced of (digital world), i only print the few frames i love, sometimes even zero per roll (film world). that means the film prints are just a few, but much better selected. while i often forget about my digital color shots, i always remember the b/w film shots.

dark room printing is time consuming, allowing me time to connect deeply with the pictures i choose. and my share of a good print is much bigger than in the digital world, instead of relying on a pc program somebody has written i have to rely on the work of my mind and hands and the years of experience (and the fantastic work of the heiland company).
i get so much more pleasure out of my wet prints, moving them through the house to be in their company for a couple of days after printing. pictures for the heart & soul!

b/w is film and film only for me, digital b/w i find just an imitation, an artificial limitation of the power of digital, and i can´t get what is interesting about shooting digital b/w.

ok, the equipment for film costs a few bucks, but is dirt cheap second hand these times, and the chemicals are not so expensive. think of buying a new memory card from time to time, a spare battery, screen protector etc., so it´s about the same costs, film or digital. and any digital camera is old, really old, after 5 years or so.......

the learning is not too tough, you can get good results in an instant and refine your abilities over the years.
I work with digital photography everyday as an Art/Photographic director. It is a really good gig and it does allow for creativity and ingenuity with photographs. But, every image that I create is manipulated in Photoshop. Even when I direct full photoshoots I have to shoot to allow for heavy manipulation. I have to create comps, show multiple options with many different elements, direct Photoshop artists to composite the final image, and then do it all over, sometime more than once. A lot of my time is spent in front of a computer.

For my personal work I shoot an image and that's what I get. I do not shoot 300 frames. I shoot a few frames. I carefully compose, I figure out exposures. I have a decent percentage of successful shots, and I usually get at least a few shots from each roll that I like very much. I do have to spend a little time on the computer scanning and doing a minimal amount of dodging and burning, but it is so nice to work in a more physical process as opposed to completely living in a digital world.

The process of shooting, experimenting with film, cameras, formats, lenses, and developing has been a real joy.
I actually wrote the whole thing out and it really comes down to this. You can shoot film and digital and get the same satisfaction in the end. The beauty and the fun of it lies in the journey.

You want beer? Go to the store and buy beer. Done -Digital
I want beer. Maybe I'll make my own. I'm going too need some hops, barley.. Ooh I'm going to make a nice lager - Done. Film

I bought my mom a sweater from the GAP. She loved it. -Digital
I knit my mom a sweater from apalaca wool I found at a small local apalaca farm. She really loved it. -Film

I'm hungry. I'm going to the store and buying hummus. -Digital
I'm hungry. I'm going to the store and buying chick peas, fresh lemons, and Tahini to make some hummus - Film

Yeah, digital is faster, but film is more fun. I'm sure there are a million other things you can compare.
From an Art perspective I appreciate using slide film on a personal level because of the thought that each of my slides is not only unique, but that each slide is a portion of film that was physically present at the location of the shot, and that the very light which touched my subjects whatever they may have been - also touched my slide. It is a sort of authenticity that cannot be matched through prints, film or digital. Might not mean anything to some, but it means a lot to me.

This has been on my mind since I read this a few days ago. I agree. Others might see this as trivial, or even just being sentimental, but it is meaningful to me too. A digital image can be exactly, 100%, duplicated. There is nothing that sets the original apart from a copy. A negative or slide is different. It is tangible. It is unique. There is an original source--the slide/neg--that was there the moment the image was made.
Once in a while, someone will catch me reloading one of my cameras and ask "When did you get back into shooting film?" My answer is always the same: "Back? I never left."

Digital capture simply became an adjunct to my film work. By a back-of-the-envelope estimate, it comprises about 10-20% of my photography. It comes in handy at times, and at those times, nothing can beat it. But for the vast bulk of my work, it really has to be on film. A big part of this revolves around the cameras themselves: with the possible exception of Leica's M8/9/MM, every digital camera I've laid hands on has had noticeable shortcomings either in ergonomics (which also involves stuff like screen menus), size-weight, response time, or (much of the time) a combination of the above. When I abandoned my tech-heavy Minolta 9xi FSLRs over a decade ago for the pair of Konica Hexar RFs I still use, the less-is-more dictum hit me like a gale wind: the more-elemental functionality of the cameras was quite liberating. Shooting was simply more direct - I knew the fundamentals of the film I was working with, so the rest was a piece of cake, and I didn't need a phalanx of subsystems assuring me it was so (or worse, those same systems bothering me about how something or other was "suboptimal" in some way). Just because I can easily work my way around your garden-variety pro DSLR doesn't mean that I like to, let alone need to.

Because of the way I deal with film, my post-shoot digital workflow is relatively straightforward as well (which it should be by now, as I've been working this "hybrid" system for some fifteen years). Scanning is fairly painless, and PS working-up is relatively minimal; It's rather rare for me to have to get especially jiggy with levels, curves or layers unless something went seriously awry either while shooting or processing. (Working with chromogenic b/w film in this regard is almost criminally simple.) And while I'd agree that a silver print is simply a thing unto itself, I've made many a b/w (and color) inkjet print that I would be utterly unashamed to present to a critical crowd...I've even sold a few prints to same.

So, put simply: I know the medium, and I know the cameras, to the point that I don't have to obsess over either. I find myself fussing more when working with my little Nikon P6000 (which I happen to love) than with my Contax Tvs (which I happen to love a hell of a lot more). To reluctantly fall into modern cliché, film is simply how I roll.

- Barrett
Film is the slow food of photography - it makes you slow down and think. Coming home with maybe 40 shots instead of 400, as is often the case with digital, and having more keepers out of the 40 than out of the 400 is great!

Also the joy of surprise; I have been shooting and developing B/W film for more than 40 years, so I do have a fair idea of the result, but while developing and scanning a 2 months backlog I find photos that I had forgotten all about.

Also I do prefer the look B/W film compared to the look of B/W digital.
Made a more detailed post about this on my blog:
I won't follow the original track, i.e. "you can achieve better results with film", because I'm not sure this is the real point.
You can achieve great results with both; both have their strong points and their Achille's heels. I prefer the look of film, expecially in the highlights, but this is not my point.

My point is: I shoot film because I like it more. Not simply "I like film results more", but "I like the whole process of shooting with a film camera, developing the film etc. more". I find it more satisfying. I draw a pleasure from it, which I miss when shooting with my 5DmkII.

Why I advice young people to try shooting film: because it's DIFFERENT, really different.
And trying something different is often a real plus.
It surely enriches your experience, and it will probably enhance your creativity.
It's important to try different approaches, expecially in young age.

Ok that's it. :p

Both can create superb results but to me it's the journey and the magic that counts. Digital offers instant review capabilites which is sometimes great but often a hindrance. Not being able to review the results right away gives me freedom and doesn't stop the flow. Another thing is the fact that film is organic matter (gelatine) and looks that way it is almost human has flaws isn't always 100% percent predictible and last but not least has temperament (sound like my former girlfriend except for the almost human part). The magic for me happens at the printing stage a white paper exposed to light is put into a chemical solution and where once was nothing an image slowly emerges. In this world where everything can or is supposed to be quantified film photography is the last remnant of alchemy (not chemistry).

Reasons to choose film:

1) different flow (not beeing able to review the image 5 sec after you press the shutter gives you and immense amount of freedom and keeps the art directors advice at bay)

2) Closer to human not the perception but the essence

3) Film is magic some other chemical photographic processes even more so e.g. the Bequerel Daguerreotype science still can't explain why it works but it does.

4) Time Time is a luxury and film photography requires time, time to review, time to contemplate, time to get results, and most importantly film photography gives you time for yourself , time to think and time for reflection.

5) Film teaches you to look and see, only 12, 24, 36 shots on a roll of film instead of 6000 on a SD card.

6) Film is a physical object, you can hold it and it has a tactile feel

7) Archiving film is much much cheaper in the long run than archiving digital files

8) Film allows you to use a 100 year old camera and experience the past.

9) Girls dig TLRs that use film (might help with the adolescent newbie photographer)

Final word: Film is not better or worse, film is different both the experience as well as the final image.