One question I get asked a lot after the usual “You can still buy film?”, is “Why do you still like to shoot film?”
Now to answer this I will start by saying that I do shoot digital a lot more than I do film and that is mainly for the convenience, however as mentioned in my previous post, I am moving more into shooting film. Now, I have a few reasons, a lot are sentimental or nostalgic reasons, but some are comfort and usability reasons. I was featured on Shooting Film in their “5 Things I Love About Film“.
So, here we go, why I still like to shoot film:
- The colours, especially reds and oranges. Among my favourite subjects are sunsets and the look of a sunset on film is so rich in the reds and oranges. To get a similar look in digital I would have to spend a lot of time in RAWTherapee with saturation and other adjustments and then have to deal with ugly digital colour noise, which brings me to:
- The grain, there is something pleasing about the grain of film, even the grain in ISO 3200 film is pleasant to look at. It is something “organic” and fits in with the picture, where often digital noise is harsh, rough edged and even worse, spots of blue, green or red.
- It is limiting in ways that help you to become a better photographer. While I will always maintain that digital is best for first time learning because you can get instant feedback and not have to worry about the number of shots, that advantage is also a big disadvantage. With film the disadvantage of not getting instant feedback and limited number of shots is also a great advantage because it forces you to think and take your time, not just go and say “I’ll take several shots, different angles, etc, then delete the ones I don’t like or fix them in post.”
- Handling of film. There is something soothing and exciting about handling a canister of 135 or a roll of 120 film and loading that sticking a memory card in the camera just can’t match. Same thing goes for handling the negatives versus putting the pictures on the computer.
- This one is a big one. The cameras! There are so many different styles of film cameras out there, but they all have one thing in common, they feel more satisfying to use. You are more involved in the use of a film camera, it’s not just turning it on and pushing buttons. It’s loading the film, winding the film (on those without motors), it’s the feeling of the shutter button or the focus ring or the aperture and shutter controls. (The below picture contains all my film cameras and one digital. Left to Right: Nikon FE, Canon AE-1, Kodak Star 435 converted to pinhole, Pentax Espio 80v, Canon SnappyQ, Kodak Instamatic X-15F, Canon Sure Shot WP-1, Agfa Optima1a/Agfamatic, Minolta XG1, Konica FT-1 Motor, and the digital Canon PowerShot S30)
- The waiting to see the pictures. Since there is no display and the film needs to develop, you don’t get a chance to see the pictures ahead of time. Waiting to see the pictures can make it more exciting and make you value and carefully choose each shot before you take it.
- The social aspects. Sure with digital you can get the pictures up on your favourite social media site very quickly and get “likes” for them. But with a film camera you get true social interaction before even taking the shot. Everyone is curious about the camera and why you’re using it. Even after finishing a roll, if you get prints made, you get to see the real reactions of people to your pictures.
Well, that pretty much covers my reasons for using film, it’s a fun and social experience that can’t be easily matched. Next we’ll take a look at getting started and what you need to get started.by