Why Do You Use Film Today

Discussion in 'Talk About Anything Photography Related' started by Ian-Barber, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    This is not to be used as a Film Verses Digital discussion, there are plenty of those already, just search Google.

    There maybe photographers who started out before the digital era, spent years mastering their craft and for that reason do not feel the need to migrate and learn something new.

    There maybe photographers who are on the other end of the scale, who started their photography journey post digital but have decided to use film either in place of or at the side of digital.

    Let's hear your story, why do you choose to use analog film today ?
     
  2. mono

    mono Member

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    Because I am used to it for more than 50 years now!
    And I still love it!
     
  3. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

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    I started with a box camera taking 6x9, moved to a 6x6 box camera and then 35mm as "high quality". It wasn't really, and I have many negatives from the 1960s that I still think are good images but can't possibly be printed at even 10x8. Why? Because I hate grain and unsharpness in places that should be sharp.

    While I was at university, Ferrania introduced bulk colour slide film and a processing kit; and lack of a familar darkroom, together with the higher perceived quality of a projected slide (you're a long way back from the image) meant I swapped to slides. And to basically holiday snaps.

    Move forward a few years, and my wife suggested medium format. I tried it, and found the results better than acceptable. Later, an enterprising salesman in a photographic dealers over a chat on formats (I'd gone in to buy some 120 film) sold me a 5x4 camera. It was just like medium format, but more so! Technical quality guaranteed.

    Move on a bit to digital. My wife embraced it with compact cameras, and got a Minolta 7D when it came out (she'd been using Minolta 35mm cameras and had lenses etc.). This was replaced with an Olympus E3, another Sony DSLR and eventually a Sony a7r and a7rii. I've used four out of the five. And my findings were that the image quality was better from 120 and 5x4 black and white film than any of them. I was also surprised and disappointed in equal measure with the blown highlights that the E3 always seemed to deliver in situations where I simply wouldn't have expected it (and, no, as far as I know I wasn't overexposing). For the first time, I could see why digitalographers used graduated neutral density filters; but in my case it wasn't the sky but flowers in the foreground that were suffering. I might be harder pressed to decide between 6x7 colour negative and the Sony a7r, but for black and white - no contest.

    So the simple answer is that digital simply doesn't deliver the technical quality I want; and the flexibility of a view camera offers additional features as well.
     
  4. Carl Hall

    Carl Hall Member

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    I'm at the total other end of the scale. I'd grown up with digital cameras and my first two serious cameras, a Canon EOS 400D and later a EOS 5DmkII, were both digital. It was by chance that I ended up looking at medium format cameras one day, and really loved the shallow depth of field that they offered. I began reading into it a bit more and soon after bought my first medium format film camera, a Mamiya C220. This was only two and a half years ago!

    I really loved that it slowed me down. Rather than snapping a photo without too much thought, I was forced to get the beset from the limited number of frames on a roll, so I only took a photo when I was sure it was as good as it could be. I would spend several minutes composing and metering, just to get it perfect. This slow and deliberate method was so enjoyable that I slowly stopped using my digital cameras. I began looking at different cameras, lenses and films, and found that there was such a huge range that I could try new things all the time without ever reaching the end, and this was when I started collecting film cameras.

    If I want to go out and take some serious landscapes, I'll use my DSLR because I can get better results which are more consistent. My film work hasn't yet got to a level where I feel it can compete with my digital photos, but that's down to my lack of experience and knowledge and not a fault of film at all.

    Really, my main reason for using film is because I enjoy the process from start to finish. I have a friend who is a digital photographer, and he is only interested in the final image, and does not care for the route to get there. I am the opposite, I love the process right from selecting a film and a camera to use, all the way to developing and scanning the negatives. The enjoyment of the process is as important to me as the resulting photograph. And simply put, this is something that digital can't give me.
     
  5. martin henson

    martin henson Administrator Staff Member

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    Agree with Stephen apart from I do not dislike grain, I like older cameras, just a body and a lens, I like the involvement that it gives and brings me so much closer to the feeling of being creative in the capture process.

    A while back I went out with a friend I used my 4x5 he shoot digitally, at the end of the day I used 5 sheets of film, he had taken over 400 of the same subjects, constantly bracketing every shot and more, always checking his histogram, there was simply no thought about exposure, placement of tones or depth of field, every thing done without knowledge of what really is happening just letting the digital camera do all the thinking for want of a better word

    To me this us not photography and i know some will argue it is, but that's why I do not capture digitally anymore, I just don't enjoy using them and prefer film with its wider range (black and white) of tones and overall look.
     
  6. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

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    It seems that I have more in common with your friend. I'm only really interested in the final image, and my only consideration about the route is how many obstacles the camera puts in my way. The results from film, for me, are superior; and film cameras "work" more the way I do. Well, some do; eye level cameras which are placed to one eye (I'm trying to distinguish cameras with pentaprisms etc. from cameras with (say) a waist level finder but used at eye level) are not devices I get on with. They suit some types of work and methods or working, just not mine.

    So you could put me down as a "don't like the digital camera designs as they force an alien way of viewing the subject on me". That's more a reason for not using digital than using film, though.
     
  7. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    I am very much on the same track as Karl.

    Started out with Digital, tried 355mm film, then moved into Medium format with a Mamiya 645 Pro and then the Pentax 645N

    Although I enjoyed Medium format, there was still something missing for me. Hard to explain but holding the camera to the eye just felt like I was using an oversized DSLR even more so with the auto functions. The scanner was also struggling to extract all the detail from negatives I was hoping for.

    Next stop was to try 5x4, I have been lent a camera to try, I bought a 150mm lens for it and a box of Fomapan. Very quickly into using the camera, I knew I was starting to head in the direction i wanted to go. The entire process from setting up the camera, having to think and make decisions to hanging them to dry is magical.

    I still digitise the negatives but the Epson V800 is giving me good results, not as good as wet printing would (providing I could learn the craft) but they are good enough for what I want.

    This combined with my 15+ years of Photoshop experience is finally giving me something I enjoy.

    Yes I am making some mistakes, some big, some small, I am also having to learn from a tremendous amount of reading and tapping into peoples knowledge but to me, this makes it enjoyable and I feel to some extent that each exposed negative is made by me.

    Needless to say, I have just placed an order for a Chamonix 5x4 which is currently in transit.

    The digital camera (Nikon D3s) will still remain with me but will probably get used less and less for serious work apart from maybe some long exposure seascape work in the winter.
     
  8. Keith Haithwaite

    Keith Haithwaite Active Member

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    Ian said "...that each exposed negative is made by me". That precisely sums up my feelings as to why I continue to use film after 60+ years and in retirement I only have to produce pictures to suit me - the ultimate freedom ;). Yes, I do sometimes shoot digital but that is a necessary other side to the coin.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
  9. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

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    I shoot film today because it's fun and I own a number of cameras that are a joy to use that otherwise would just sit in the closet. I, also, enjoy the entire analog process; the slowing down to create the image, developing the film, the contemplative hours printing in the darkroom, etc. I do scan my film and produce prints via the desktop, occasionally, but I don't find that nearly as enjoyable. Film and its associated paraphernalia is getting more expensive and harder to obtain, but I'll continue using it 'till the end. :)
     
  10. Mathieu Bauwens

    Mathieu Bauwens Active Member

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    I like that "free time" between the shot and the discovery of the pictures, being on film or on paper. Even during a 2 days developping session lab after weddings (15 Trix on 135mm, 8 120 Trix and 30 or so 4x5inch), I always took a look at the 2 or 3 first pictures of the film after the fixative part of the work. this joy and excitment, I do not feel i at all in front on my computer working on 2-3000 digital files.
     
  11. Graham Patterson

    Graham Patterson Member

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    Photography is my artistic outlet. I will happily use a digital camera (usually my iPod!) for visual notes but that is a different need. if I need a picture for a web page I am not going to produce a print and scan it unless that print is the object of the scan. I also work in IT these days so I sit at a computer most days. Add in an investment in chemical photography over many years, and I stay with the tools that I have paid for and finally have some glimmer of understanding about using!

    Basically I'm not moving because I don't have to.
     
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  12. KenS

    KenS Active Member

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    Film?... because I (usually) get or make time to 'think' about that which is within the frame... and then re-think and react to that which I observe on the ground glass... Yes.. I have used digital... but it's 'ease' never seemed to 'satisfy' the results from careful positioning and 'framing' of the subject matter. I have a rather elderly Sony digital (it was a gift)... but it was too 'easy' to depress the shutter without giving the 'scene' a second thought... and... each 'exposure' (or record) was not costing me money 'out of my pocket'.

    Ken
     
  13. Isabel

    Isabel Active Member

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    I am a hybrid photographer along the whole "photography chain" so I mix and match digital and analog the way I want and feel that it goes best with what I want to achieve. I like the visual quality of film (especially large format) and the possibilities it offers for N- and N+ developments and I do love the feeling when I open the development tank and look at the negatives for the first time ;). I also like that I can chose between different film types for different looks. There is just something very "organic" about using film.
     
  14. martin-f5

    martin-f5 Member

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    probably there's more live in the analogue process.
    Have you ever seen a silver gelatine print on baryt?
    Have ever driven up a hill with your road bike?
    It smells, it's dirty. it's far away from being perfect but it's yours.

    Have done a lot on 35mm, upgraded to 6x6 and got lost in the digital world.
    Now with 4x5 and (even 5x7) it's so fascinating.

    Took one of my son 32 years ago on 35mm with FP4 and reprinted it for Christmas,
    it was astonishing how many details there have been on the negativ still after all those years.
     
  15. mpirie

    mpirie Member

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    Film is what i cut my teeth on....after 40 years and I still enjoy the whole organic process of exposing, processing and printing the image.....every time i go out with some film, i learn something new.....either about me or the process i'm following.

    Mike
     
  16. Joanna Carter

    Joanna Carter New Member

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    For me, film is a far better medium if you have any intention of archiving your images.

    Digital involves having to create backups, sometimes multiple, in order to preserve your inheritance. Then, when we are long gone, the technology has changed and your carefully preserved archives are no longer readable unless they are inseparably tied to an equally aged machine.

    A few years ago I was relying on an external, mirrored, drive to store my images. The theory being that, if one drive went down, the other would continue until I replaced the broken one. Unfortunately, one of the drives scrambled the file allocation table and the mirroring mechanism faithfully replicated the scrambled table to the other drive. Result - having to use recovery software, which managed to recover some, but not all, of my images :mad:

    I lost a great many digital images but, fortunately, even though it means re-scanning my film images, at least I do have an original to go back to.

    Of course I use digital for making images but with a different backup strategy. But, in the back of my mind, there is always the knowledge that, if I don't do regular backups, I could still lose a life's work.

    With film, I have that reassurance that, other than fire and flood, I will still have my precious images and, you never know, someday after I am long gone, someone will discover my work and I will be famous and someone else will get immensely rich selling prints :rolleyes:
     
  17. KenS

    KenS Active Member

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    I have been working under the dark-cloth for almost 65 years and sometimes still tend to feel like an idiot seeing on the ground glass that image I believed to be the ONE that would have made my mentor proud of his teachings. it has not quite yet have happened... but I will keep trying while enjoying the experience. While it 'might be nice to be able to afford a digital back that might fit in place of the ground glass I feel I might really miss the joys of the 'REAL' large format wet darkroom experience, which I suspect cannot and will not ever compete with the self satisfaction derived from printing from a 'near perfect' large format film negative.

    Ken
     
  18. David M

    David M Active Member

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    More play value; nicer toys. You can even make your own.
    ...sharpness, tonality, ultimate control, I suppose.
    Might be something to do with the other people who do it.
     

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