Maybe you’ve heard a few people say that film is making a comeback.
(Don’t take it from me, have a look yourself – Film photography making a stunning comeback)
To some that sounds like a horror movie where zombies come back from their graves. Who in the right mind would want to work with this antiquated technology?
Just what is film anyway? In the simplest terms, film is strips of thin plastic coated with light sensitive material, silver halide crystals. As light hits this material, it slightly darkens these crystals. When you start to develop film, it strips away these crystals and you are left with the image imprinted onto the plastic carrier.
So why would you want to shoot film? Frankly, I can’t answer why you should shoot film but here are five reasons why I shoot film.
5. There’s no “preview” (chimping) while shooting film.
There’s no way to check the picture you just took with film. The dawn of digital technology brought on the convenience of being able to check what was just captured on your camera with the LCD screen. With digital, I find myself taking multiple shots and checking each one to make sure I captured what I wanted correctly.
Shooting film makes me think about every shot that I take and make a mental image of it before I take the shot. How I want it, how it should look, what elements should be in the shot. And I don’t get to see what I just took until much later when I develop my film. It means that by the time I can see my picture, the moment is gone. So every moment worth taking a picture is very valuable.
4. There’s an element of surprise to film. Film takes longer to process than digital. Even if I finish a roll of film, go straight on home and develop the film myself in my bathroom, that’s still hours after I finish shooting. Seeing a roll of film developed for the first time after it’s been shot is always a surprise. I anticipate what I get out of the roll and enjoy that first moment where I can see my work.
3. Choosing different films can dramatically alter the style of your images.
Sure you can choose natural, standard, vivid, and even film simulation modes in modern digital cameras that tries to emulate film contrast and color, but it’s not entirely the same.
Choosing different film speeds, film brands, black and white or color, positive or negative, contrasty vs soft, all this has affects how I, the photographer, see things before I even press the shutter. Having this level of experimenting before I walk out the door means I spend more time focusing on shooting rather than fiddling with menus.
2. Commitment – You are committed once you put in your roll of 36.
36 shots, 36 chances at making one good image (37 if you are cheap like me). That’s it… until you put in another roll. Perhaps you can put in a 2GB SD card into your camera and have a similar feeling to shooting a roll of film (I think i’m gonna try that).
Furthermore, I am further limited by the ISO I choose. Many people say there are 3 important things in taking photographs. ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture. So with ISO locked down, I only have to worry about Shutter Speed and Aperture for 36 shots. This again makes it simpler for me as I focus on capturing the moment rather than fiddling with changing ISOs.
1. Shooting film is cheaper!
Hear me out. If you want to pick up a cheap 35mm film camera, your initial investment is much cheaper than a digital. Sure with the cost of film, developing cost, etc etc etc. it adds up.
But then when you talk about Medium Format film, then it’s DEFINITELY cheaper to shoot on film than on digital. Anyone see how much a 645 digital back costs for the Hasselblads? And you are shooting a 645 negative, but what about 6×6? 6×7? 6×9?
Shooting film allowed me to dive into medium format photography without selling my kidney.
Hmm… I have 1 more point to talk about but typically articles with “5 reasons” sounds more legit (and they get more likes….)
0. Shooting film is fun! Honestly it is. For me, shooting film is enjoyable. It connects me back to photography in a very beautiful way. When i shoot my film camera, I feel a sense of connection that I am practicing the craft of photography just like those that shot film before me.
So these are the reasons why I like to shoot film. Are you a digital shooter? Film? or Both? What are your thoughts? I’d like to hear from you. Please leave your comments below.