Any reason to shoot film nowadays?

Started Apr 12, 2013 | Discussions thread
The Davinator
The Davinator Forum Pro • Posts: 19,348
Re: The Chimp and the Scholar

Piginho wrote:

MiraShootsNikon wrote:

Mahmoud Mousef wrote:

* Taking out a roll after you've done a few shots? How practical is this to capture precious moments without fiddling with the camera? Kids running around. Animals. What do you shoot?

I'm not sure what Mahmoud is on about here.  If he's on about changing ISO, any film user would know that you can push or pull film and would know what latitude each film would have.  Also, many SLRs had the facility to remove a film mid roll, remembering which frame you had reached, allowing a change of film type and later to return to the original, winding on to the right frame to resume shooting with the original film.

Nobody knows what he's on about....including him.

I believe that my Dynax9 and Contax N1s can both do this, though I have to say that I've never felt the need to try it, as I use the right film for what I want to achieve in the first place, based on many years of experience.

The Dynax 9 was one of my favourite Minoltas.  Last year I picked up an old X700, with a 35,50,85 and 135 lens for under $200.

* Not being able to see how things turned out after the shot; after setting up lighting, or checking if a shot is blurred with a long telephoto or low light or high speed? How practical is this with film?

Mira's answered this beautifully.  Film is not for the lazy.  Seeing how things turn out immediately, is a nice to have, but by no means essential to the experienced photographer who is confident about his technique.  Yes, things can go wrong, but this is very rare if you know what you are doing.  If you are not doing all your own post capture work (processing/developing), then part of the process is only using other people that you trust and again, little can go wrong.

Exactly.  I also find clients willing to pay more for film based work than digital.  My portrait sessions and engagement shoots often include some Fuji Instax, Holga and even 4x5 film...and the clients pay more for gel silver handmade prints as well.

If you're really looking for insight into why anyone would still use film, Mahmoud, much of the answer is in the unpacking of these two statements.

I'm going to start with the second, which basically boils down to "with film you can't chimp."   Have you ever wondered why checking your DSLR screen became known as "chimping?"

BTW, you can "chimp" with film.  (Or you could)  Polaroid backs used to be popular and some SLR manufacturers, including Contax, made preview cameras capable of using Polaroid film.  The use of such was popular with some pro photographers, especially in the studio.  Never felt the need myself.

Me neither.  been doing it long enough that I dont even meter with my older cameras.  I know if I got the I dont need to waste time and potentially miss a shot when chimping like some photo newbie.

The gist of it is that film shooters don't need to see "how things turned out" after the shot.   They already know.  I don't mean that in the elitist tone you're likely to read it--I mean that they've studied the *hell* out of what they're doing and they've planned ahead very, very carefully.  They know the rules, knowledge which is sadly being lost in the digital era.   Stuff like the zone system and common color / situation equivalents for each segment; like the 3-stop print difference between highlights and shadows; like common metering equivalents for 12% grey; like the difference between leaf and focal plane shutter hand-hold speeds; like trap focus techniques; like how to "walk the set" with an incident meter and translate strobe ratios into a finished look.

Couldn't have put this better.

Call me an elitist if you like for thinking all of that matters, but it's why I say that film shooters tend to have a better idea of what they're doing.  They have to!   Shooting film well is a craft that requires patience, study, experience and, in the field, confidence.   And we're not even talking, yet, about the post production routine.  So, to do it, you have to be really, really invested in the art.   You've got to care about it.   And if you really care about photography, this concentration of interest, knowledge, and personal investment naturally makes the film-shooting community a much more intriguing and vital place to be.

Of course, many digital photographers do care, some from film era and many new to photography.

Does that make it an "elitist" practice?  No. The resources, labs, cameras, materials, and knowledge is all out there and, as Dave has pointed out, most of it is staggeringly inexpensive on the used market.   So the barrier to entry isn't financial; no, it's a pure self-selection.  To shoot film well, you have to study, you have to be patient, and you have to care.   Not everyone's that into it.

Absolutely.  Couldn't be less elitist now due to rock bottom secondhand prices.

And it's why I *do* look down my nose at most digital "photographers."  Because they haven't studied, they don't care, and they produce work that reflects it.   For them, photography is shoot-and-chimp, not plan, plan, plan, study, study, plan, shoot-and-know.

I hope people note that you said "most", not "all."

Which gets me to your second point: how practical is film for catching precious moments?  Not very, unless you've had a ton of practice and you've devoted yourself to knowing how to do it.   (I actually do a ton of family and lifestyle portrait work with a Mamiya RZ67, and that only gives me ten frames per roll.)

Photography is a big tent.  More power to the snap shooters out there.  But do I want their casual needs to dictate what's relevant to folks like me who've put the time in to know what we're doing?  Hell no.  Come on, that's not such a terrible stand, right?

I'm surprised that Mahmoud feels so strongly if, as he said, he shot film for many years.  Maybe he never got it!

I find some digital users need to proclaim to the world about how they've moved on from film.

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