Why I Shoot Film

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Graham Hill
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Why I Shoot Film
10 months ago

In a digital world, it can seem odd to return to film, but after shooting digital exclusively for nearly 12 years, I have just about completed the journey back to film.  Every so often a post appears in Open Talk about people curious about shooting film.  This post is for them.

I shoot film for numerous reasons and in no particular order they are:

1. Film gives me a look that cannot be duplicated digitally.  I have tried 3 of the best sets of film emulation software and they do not get close.  Not one bit.  I can see what these programs are trying to do to digital images, but they are transparently not there yet.   Even if they were 100% perfect, I would still not prefer them because.....

2.  Film frees me up from the tyranny of the computer.  I post my film images untouched, except for cropping as needed, which is rare.  Other than that, the time I spend PP images has dropped to almost nothing.  Others might like PP'ing their images, but need more time for my family and no longer care to spend so much time on PP'ing.  Digital images need far more work to make me satisfied.  My lab provides scans for me so I dont spend any time at all on scanning.

3. Film forces me to go for quality, not quantity.  One could easily set out to shoot digitally and keep the shot count under 100 images for a weekend.  I can't do it.  With film, I can.  Being limited to much fewer shots dramatically improves my photography.  In spades.  I enjoy every shot more and produce less crap.  Keeper rates have soared.

4. Film lets me shoot cameras like the Fuji GA645 and Fuji GF670W.

5. When shooting film I change batteries once every year or so.

6. Shooting film lets me produce gorgeous 6 x 7 Provia transparencies.  There is no digital equivalent.

7. Developing film is an absolute blast.  More fun than I have had in 20 years of photography.  It is enormously satisfying opening up the developing tank and pulling out a roll of wet film that you shot and you developed.  I seriously, seriously wish I started developing my own film 30 years ago. It is astonishingly fun.

8. I enjoy the grain aspect of film.  Shooting digitally I used to add grain to my images.  I'd rather get the real thing than some computer simulation.

9. Moving sliders around on a computer doesnt do it for me anymore.

10. I want to give my children part of my life for when I am gone and I want it to be a physical object, not a computer hard drive.

11. Being a film shooter gives you an entry ticket into www.apug.org, by far the most enjoyable forum I have ever had the pleasure to visit.  Questions that I have posted there have resulted in multi page answers by people who truly know what they are talking about.  Such generosity with time I rarely encounter on line.  The ONLY internet site I have ever donated money too, year after year.

12. The rabid fan boy count in the on line film world is dramatically lower than in digital.  Hasselblad users rarely seem to attack Rollei shooters.  Rangefinder shooters see no need to mock people whose camera's have mirrors in them.

13. I *LOVE* the IQ of Fujifilm 400H, Reala, and Provia films.  I see nothing like it in the digital world.  Not. Even. Close.

14. I *LOVE* the IQ of Fuji Acros film.  I see nothing like it in the digital world.  Not. Even. Close.

15. Shooting negative film, I blow highlights once or twice ever 300 shots or so, if that.

That's enough I suppose.  There are probably more reasons but the curious should get the point.  Each and every reason above are the reasons why *I* shoot film.  Plenty of people, most of the people here won't agree with these and that's fine.  But the reasons stated above resonate deeply within me and drive me daily in my photographic pursuits.

I'll close with a few pics.  See captions for any details.

Ilford Delta 3200 film, the first roll I ever developed.

Fujifilm Reala 100 film.

Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 film.  See full size image here is still not the full size of the scan.

Fujifilm 400H film.  If only Fujifilm's digital film "simulations" could get anywhere near this color.

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