Any reason to shoot film nowadays?

Started Apr 12, 2013 | Discussions
The Davinator
The Davinator Forum Pro • Posts: 19,089
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 shot...so 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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(unknown member) Forum Pro • Posts: 13,144
Re: The Chimp and the Scholar

Excellent write up.  Very well said.  I doubt it will truly enlighten anyone about why film is still a valid art form.  Those that truly loathe film as we have seen in the thread will continue to take every chance to talk down those who continue to shoot and enjoy film.

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Mark Smith Veteran Member • Posts: 6,336
Ignorance.
2

danijel973 wrote:

You are ignorant.

Really? You were talking about the situation film forced on you historically; and quoted looking back on images of yesteryear that were ruined by poor labs.

Fact is in the timeframe you quote you had a choice, you could have picked a good lab, having film ruined was not a problem with the medium.

Your 'there are no Q labs' shows your ignorance, there are many good labs around and it is your choice to use them or not.

I have run labs in the past and can give you many first class options if you like. I use a lab for exhibition work and they are first class, so quit the hand waving and insults.

The point is you were talking historically, please try to keep it civil in tone.

joneil Regular Member • Posts: 175
Re: The Chimp and the Scholar

rattymouse wrote:

Excellent write up.  Very well said.  I doubt it will truly enlighten anyone about why film is still a valid art form.  Those that truly loathe film as we have seen in the thread will continue to take every chance to talk down those who continue to shoot and enjoy film.

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9 years of Fujifilm camera usage, ended by rampant fanboyism.

I agree with you.   I just cannot understand the "hate" for film some people have.  I understand people moving on and loving digital, but it does not stop there.

It is almost like religion, as if they have converted over to a new faith and now insist everybody else has to as well.    What's next, line up every film user against a wall and shoot them?   Okay, that's over the top, but in all seriousness, some of the attitudes I personally have run into when I say I still use film, that honestly the impression I am left with.  Give it a break people, doesn't everybody have freedom of choice or not?

Of course, I should also be smacking myself off the top of the head (aka NCIS style) for being so stupid as to expect anything but but a foregone conclusion to a question like this on a  forum dedicated to *DIGITAL* photography.

For sake of arguement, I would love to see all the posters here sign up for a membership on the APUG forums (Analog Photo Users Group) which is all film, wet darkrooms, etc,  no digital at all allowed.  Wonder what kind of replies and reception you would get then? 

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30 years of Nikon camera usage, totally fed up with by rampant fanboyism, but realized these freaks exist in all brands, so whatcha gonna do?    

danijel973
danijel973 Contributing Member • Posts: 851
Re: Any reason to shoot film nowadays?

Dave Luttmann wrote:

danijel973 wrote:

You are ignorant. Where I live, there are no q-labs anymore, there is only one lab in the city that still processes E6 but with questionable freshness of chemicals and almost half the film they keep is past its expiration date. No, they don't have a fridge. So don't start barking your arrogant nonsense if you don't know the facts. It is very, very difficult to get fresh materials and even more difficult to get high quality processing, and no, it's not because I'm doing something wrong, it's because film is on its way out for the last ten years.

As he has run pro labs before, I think he knows a little bit more on the topic than you.

Seeing that he doesn't even know where I live, let alone what is the availability of labs and processing here, I certainly know more than he does, at least about everything that is relevant to my experience with film. So from my position, he's all hot air. Maybe he can buy and process whatever kind of film where *he* lives, but he's not the center of the universe and his conditions don't universally apply. This in itself wouldn't be a problem, but he seems to think otherwise, which makes me perceive him more-less the way people would perceive a 10-year old know-it-all.

What I find most irritating in this entire thing is that "film people" behave like it's business as usual, but it's not. It's the end of the world for film. There's no more Kodachrome, and the writing is on the wall for most E6 emulsions in most formats. Another guy says "why don't you process your own E6". Yeah, why don't I produce my own glass plates like real men did before George Eastman.

For me, it stopped being worth the effort when I intended to buy a 4x5" field camera, some 3yrs ago, and realized there isn't a single lab in the country that could process film in this format, and I'd have to mail order the materials from Hong Kong.

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Mark Smith Veteran Member • Posts: 6,336
Re: Any reason to shoot film nowadays?
1

danijel973 wrote:

Dave Luttmann wrote:

danijel973 wrote:

You are ignorant. Where I live, there are no q-labs anymore, there is only one lab in the city that still processes E6 but with questionable freshness of chemicals and almost half the film they keep is past its expiration date. No, they don't have a fridge. So don't start barking your arrogant nonsense if you don't know the facts. It is very, very difficult to get fresh materials and even more difficult to get high quality processing, and no, it's not because I'm doing something wrong, it's because film is on its way out for the last ten years.

As he has run pro labs before, I think he knows a little bit more on the topic than you.

Seeing that he doesn't even know where I live, let alone what is the availability of labs and processing here, I certainly know more than he does, at least about everything that is relevant to my experience with film. So from my position, he's all hot air. Maybe he can buy and process whatever kind of film where *he* lives, but he's not the center of the universe and his conditions don't universally apply. This in itself wouldn't be a problem, but he seems to think otherwise, which makes me perceive him more-less the way people would perceive a 10-year old know-it-all.

What does 'where you live have to do with anything? You are irrelevant and NOT the centre of the universe,the problem you perceive in  'obtaining processing' do not universally apply.

Therefore they are local and not an issue for the medium as such, I have the best Lab in Europe just 60km away and have them process 8x10 I realise that's not the case for everyone. There are closer labs that don't do such a good job-is it my fault if I choose them? Or a problem with film per se?

You say you have had your films ruined by poor labs over many years, that isn't the fault of the film medium it was your call to take them to those places.

You say you can't buy fresh film?

Buying film is easy even for the technologically challenged such as yourself, try 'da interweb thingy' Google can help.

There can be no excuse for using out of date film and blaming that on the medium.

The fact you seem to be seriously deluded and resort to petty name-calling, pretty much proving you just reduce yourself to being abusive when you fail to win an arguemnet.

Try civility, it'll increase your understanding of others resorting to childish name calling is just not very clever.

The Davinator
The Davinator Forum Pro • Posts: 19,089
Re: Any reason to shoot film nowadays?
1

danijel973 wrote:

Dave Luttmann wrote:

danijel973 wrote:

You are ignorant. Where I live, there are no q-labs anymore, there is only one lab in the city that still processes E6 but with questionable freshness of chemicals and almost half the film they keep is past its expiration date. No, they don't have a fridge. So don't start barking your arrogant nonsense if you don't know the facts. It is very, very difficult to get fresh materials and even more difficult to get high quality processing, and no, it's not because I'm doing something wrong, it's because film is on its way out for the last ten years.

As he has run pro labs before, I think he knows a little bit more on the topic than you.

Seeing that he doesn't even know where I live, let alone what is the availability of labs and processing here, I certainly know more than he does, at least about everything that is relevant to my experience with film. So from my position, he's all hot air. Maybe he can buy and process whatever kind of film where *he* lives, but he's not the center of the universe and his conditions don't universally apply. This in itself wouldn't be a problem, but he seems to think otherwise, which makes me perceive him more-less the way people would perceive a 10-year old know-it-all.

Your profile states where you live.  Anything else?  As someone who ran a pro lab and exhibits his prints, I'll trust him over some self important web-expert like yourself.

What I find most irritating in this entire thing is that "film people" behave like it's business as usual, but it's not. It's the end of the world for film. There's no more Kodachrome, and the writing is on the wall for most E6 emulsions in most formats. Another guy says "why don't you process your own E6". Yeah, why don't I produce my own glass plates like real men did before George Eastman.

End of the world?  I still photograph events using films.  I am able to buy everything from 110 to 8x10 locally with ease....and have it professionally processed with ease.  You compare processing your own film to using glass plates?  Do you see how ridiculous that statement is....as though people who process their own film are somehow as old as glass plates?  Guess you've never done any b&w work.

For me, it stopped being worth the effort when I intended to buy a 4x5" field camera, some 3yrs ago, and realized there isn't a single lab in the country that could process film in this format, and I'd have to mail order the materials from Hong Kong.

Well, I can mail order from hundreds upon hundreds of stores for film.  And even in my town of 350,000, there are a number of labs doing even 8x10.  Why dont you move to Antarctica and tell us all how digital is bad because you cant charge your batteries.

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Mark Smith Veteran Member • Posts: 6,336
Re: Any reason to shoot film nowadays?
2

danijel973 wrote:

For me, it stopped being worth the effort when I intended to buy a 4x5" field camera, some 3yrs ago, and realized there isn't a single lab in the country that could process film in this format, and I'd have to mail order the materials from Hong Kong.

No you wouldn't. You can buy film 4x5 from Maco in Germany no need to go to 'Hong Kong'

Here:

http://www.macodirect.de/

You can get 4x5 processed as well if you know where, but hey why so ego centric? Just because some of us can use Google and find film–you can't fine, but that is an issue with you and your proximity not the medium of film per se.

You seem to be a very abusive person Danijel if you talk to people like this face to face you find it doesn't open many doors!

I'll leave you with your own thoughts:

joneil Regular Member • Posts: 175
Re: Any reason to shoot film nowadays?
2

Dave Luttmann wrote:


For me, it stopped being worth the effort when I intended to buy a 4x5" field camera, some 3yrs ago, and realized there isn't a single lab in the country that could process film in this format, and I'd have to mail order the materials from Hong Kong.

Well, I can mail order from hundreds upon hundreds of stores for film.  And even in my town of 350,000, there are a number of labs doing even 8x10.  Why dont you move to Antarctica and tell us all how digital is bad because you cant charge your batteries.

-snip-

Hong Kong?   I don't get that one either

Otherwise, yep, same here, agree with your comment.  My city is about 400,000, give or take.  Two stores, both about 10 minutes drive away (20 minutes during rush hour traffic) that sell all the supplies I need for film & wet darkroom.  It is cheaper by mail order, but the irony there is the place I mail order my supplies from is a 90 minute drive away, so it's no all that far away either.

I have always processed my own B&W film because to me, that is part of the artistic process.   your mileage may and can vary, but for the record, I always prefer my wife's home baked cakes to store bough cakes too, so I suppose that makes me a luddite or an idiot in the eyes of some people too.  

Mark Smith Veteran Member • Posts: 6,336
Re: Any reason to shoot film nowadays?
2

joneil wrote:

Dave Luttmann wrote:


For me, it stopped being worth the effort when I intended to buy a 4x5" field camera, some 3yrs ago, and realized there isn't a single lab in the country that could process film in this format, and I'd have to mail order the materials from Hong Kong.

Well, I can mail order from hundreds upon hundreds of stores for film.  And even in my town of 350,000, there are a number of labs doing even 8x10.  Why dont you move to Antarctica and tell us all how digital is bad because you cant charge your batteries.

-snip-

Hong Kong?   I don't get that one either

Otherwise, yep, same here, agree with your comment.  My city is about 400,000, give or take.  Two stores, both about 10 minutes drive away (20 minutes during rush hour traffic) that sell all the supplies I need for film & wet darkroom.  It is cheaper by mail order, but the irony there is the place I mail order my supplies from is a 90 minute drive away, so it's no all that far away either.

I have always processed my own B&W film because to me, that is part of the artistic process.   your mileage may and can vary, but for the record, I always prefer my wife's home baked cakes to store bough cakes too, so I suppose that makes me a luddite or an idiot in the eyes of some people too.  

I find it strange that I'm considered a 'throwback' or 'dinosaur' because someone has decided for them 'film is dead'.

Indeed for some it is, and they react very badly that some people in the world don't have to deal with the issues they do. I suppose to them their 'normal' is what everyone else has to put up with.

The poster started getting abusive (I guess defensive) when I suggested not all labs were poor, and all of us have choice, labs were ruining his work–he picked a poor Lab.

In 30 years of shooting I've yet to have a ruined film, I shoot many formats. I think Danijels rudeness should be tempered by his own words.

http://www.danijel.org/index.php?id=299

On that page he says of film

"how absolutely great it was before we abandoned it for the sake of a silicon substitute"

So I think despite his arguments he can see why others who still continue with the medium value it, he should be less abusive and remember for some film isn't dead and they can (at least for now) continue to enjoy that 'absolutely great' medium.

harrygilbert Senior Member • Posts: 2,799
Re: Any reason to shoot film nowadays?
2

After shooting film (and running a B&W and color darkroom / lab) for 40+ years, I can only say my DSLRs give me better quality at less expense and more image control than film ever did. And I'm not polluting by dumping used chemicals down the drain. Nor am I missing shots while changing film rolls after 36 exposures. And getting images from camera to customer can now be a matter of minutes rather than days as in the days of film.

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Ermac Regular Member • Posts: 397
Re: Any reason to shoot film nowadays?

bseng wrote:

What are some reasons why someone would shoot 35mm film over a DSLR. Can you extract higher image quality from 35mm?

Here's a couple;

1. B&W printing

2. Mechanical cameras not battery dependent.

DaveOl
DaveOl Veteran Member • Posts: 3,191
Re: Any reason to shoot film nowadays?
2

I like one of the earlier posters who said that he shot film to tick off all the digital people!

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The Davinator
The Davinator Forum Pro • Posts: 19,089
Re: Any reason to shoot film nowadays?

An interesting thing happens to me when I'm photographing a couple for an engagement session.  When I'm done, I often get questions from people who saw the session being photographed. They ask about the F5 or Mamiya RB67 and they comment on how cool it is that I'm using film and how I really must know what I'm doing.  I've gotten business from those discussions when I tell them I can run a B&W session for them, and I'll hand process the film and prints.  They love the idea.

DaveOl wrote:

I like one of the earlier posters who said that he shot film to tick off all the digital people!

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afterswish1
afterswish1 Contributing Member • Posts: 743
Re: Any reason to shoot film nowadays?

Just thought of another valid reason, aside from night photos: shooting with the sun in the frame. Perhaps it's a personal preference but I prefer the way film reacts to it, compared with an overloaded sensor.

Of course, it's a little harder to do HDR with film, but swings and roundabouts

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