Here are the 10 main reasons why I went From Digital To Film a little more than a year ago.
1. It’s cheaper
Don’t get me wrong : film photography is not cheap. But just think about all this cheap used gear you can buy. For example, an Olympus XA is full frame (35mm) and costs around 35$ used, a used Olympus MJU II 35mm costs around 200$ (even if the prices went way up lately), and even if you want to use a SLR, a used Nikon F3 costs around 250$. A full frame digital body costs at least 1500$. If you buy a Nikon F3 (which is a wonderful camera, trust me), so it gives you more than 1200$ to spend on amazing types of film. And this huge price difference is even more true if you shoot medium format (120).
Film can be expensive, that’s true. But you can try to shoot expired film or learn to develop and scan your film yourself to reduce these costs.
2. You edit less
When you shoot film, you still have to edit your picture (check this blog post I wrote on this subject), but you only do small adjustments. However, when you shoot digital, because of the huge RAW files you get, you’re so tempted to go into a very long and complex editing process. Most of the time, you correct in post all the errors you did during the photo shoot. Basically, you tend to spend more time in front of Lightroom or Photoshop (or both) instead of go out shooting. And he whole point about photography is to go out, not about playing all day with sliders, am I right?
3. You worry less about your settings
When you shoot film, you don’t have to worry about your ISO, your film speed determines the sensitivity of your meter. So you just have to worry about your aperture and shutter speed, the only 2 settings that really matter in photography. You might also adjust about your focus if you have a manual focus camera or lens, I’ll tell you why you why it might not be a big issue in a future blog post. Also, film cameras generally don’t have tons of other settings to play with, it’s pretty straight to the point.
4. You pay more attention to your composition
Because you have less shot on film, you tend to think more before taking a picture. So yes, you take your time to frame, to look at all the different angles and types of composition you can try. It results in an overall better framing and a more interesting picture.
5. You learn how to understand light
Especially when you shoot black and white, you’re only photographing the contrasts. A film negative is not as deep as a RAW file. You can’t radically change the white balance or indefinitely adjust the contrast. You have to understand the light you have on your scene so you can clearly adapt your settings to have the result you hope to get. More than metering, you have to understand where are your shadows, your hot spots, what are the colours etc. it may seem complex but it’s actually easier than it looks.
6. You spray less but shoot better
When you shoot film, you have to think about every shot. It takes time : you understand the light of the scene, you choose your settings, you frame, you wait for the perfect moment to press the shutter button. So yes, for all this time you spent to take this only shot, you could have taken 50 pictures with a modern DSLR. But trust me, this one picture might be better than the other 50 you might have taken. And also : more sprays means more time behind a computer choosing the right photo.
7. It’s inspiring
This one is hard to describe with words. But the feeling you get shooting film is SO different. I mean, the sound is different, the feeling holding a camera is different, the way you shoot is different, the pictures look different. Trust me, after hearing the sound of an old Leica shutter, you won’t find the sound of a modern DSLR elegant at all.
8. Film is reviving
Because more and more start to use old cameras, film is still produced and will still be. For example, Kodak started to make Ektachrome again, one of their most famous film! Photo labs still remain pretty rare but it is not hard to find somewhere to develop your film. And you can still do it yourself to have a full control of your picture from the photoshoot to the print or the film scan. It’s also good to know that doing it yourself is cheaper!
9. You’ll be a better (digital) photographer
For a moment, just imagine doing all the above with a high-end digital camera with huge RAW files. Imagine taking that much care about every shot you do with a modern DSLR or mirrorless. I promise you, your shots will be stunning and you won’t edit as much as you did before as your shots will be great straight out of the camera!
10. The cameras are pieces of art
And you can actually afford most of them. For the most part, they are well made, heavy, built like tanks, beautiful and have this vintage look we all love. Every one has a different shutter sound and a different feel. It’s a good way to change cameras from time to time. The best way to not get tired of going out shooting.
What about you ? What made you shoot film ?