Should every photographer try shooting film at least once in their life?

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perfectionist007 Forum Member • Posts: 77
Should every photographer try shooting film at least once in their life?
1

Just thinking maybe pickup a cheap film cam.

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PhilDunn
PhilDunn Contributing Member • Posts: 659
Re: Should every photographer try shooting film at least once in their life?
14

perfectionist007 wrote:

Just thinking maybe pickup a cheap film cam.

Should? No.

I'm a film veteran, who also used to do his own darkroom printing back in the film only days, and I don't recommend anyone shoot film beyond curiosity about the experience. You get much better quality from digital and you save a lot of time and money. For example, a 1" sensor camera, like the Sony RX100 series, puts out superior quality than 35mm film. That said, shooting film in large format (8x10) will still yield the best *single shot* image quality in photography.

Now if you realize what you are getting into and are not expecting superior quality, except for the exception I mentioned, then have at it if you are curious. I just wouldn't spend too much on a camera. What do you plan on doing with the exposed film? Lab prints, lab or home scanning?

rurikw Senior Member • Posts: 1,594
No
2

but if you are interested why not. I dream about 6x6 b&w slides.

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mamallama
mamallama Forum Pro • Posts: 53,227
Re: Should every photographer try shooting film at least once in their life?
4

The answer is the same as for should every driver try driving a stick shift at least once in their life.

I think not. Only those who are curious.

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Dan Marchant Senior Member • Posts: 2,888
No
1

Unless you want to learn how to develop film.
There's nothing that shooting film will teach you that you can't learn shooting digital. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it just because you want to. Lots of people enjoy it. It's just that no one needs to shoot film.

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Turbguy1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,072
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sluggy_warrior Regular Member • Posts: 354
Re: Should every photographer try shooting film at least once in their life?
1

PhilDunn wrote:

perfectionist007 wrote:

Just thinking maybe pickup a cheap film cam.

Should? No.

I'm a film veteran, who also used to do his own darkroom printing back in the film only days, and I don't recommend anyone shoot film beyond curiosity about the experience. You get much better quality from digital and you save a lot of time and money. For example, a 1" sensor camera, like the Sony RX100 series, puts out superior quality than 35mm film. That said, shooting film in large format (8x10) will still yield the best *single shot* image quality in photography.

Now if you realize what you are getting into and are not expecting superior quality, except for the exception I mentioned, then have at it if you are curious. I just wouldn't spend too much on a camera. What do you plan on doing with the exposed film? Lab prints, lab or home scanning?

ah, the horrible memories, spending the whole weekend in the darkroom, doing the shaking ritual/dance to eliminate bubles, wasting so many papers trying to find that good brightness/contrast.

Also, didn't know how to preserve the negatives correctly, I opened them out after 18 years recently, and the protective plastic sleeves all stuck/fused with the films

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 13,679
Re: No
1

Dan Marchant wrote:

Unless you want to learn how to develop film.

There are reasons for shooting film that don't involve developing it yourself.  Like getting the look associated with certain films, or just getting the superior viewfinder and manual focusing experience associated with some of the old manual-focus-only cameras.

However, you don't need to shoot film to learn photography.

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 13,679
Re: Should every photographer try shooting film at least once in their life?
3

perfectionist007 wrote:

Just thinking maybe pickup a cheap film cam.

The cameras are cheap – you can get classic film cameras for a fraction of their original price.

The consumables (film and developing) will eat you alive.

Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 29,625
If you like pain.

perfectionist007 wrote:

Just thinking maybe pickup a cheap film cam.

Make sure that it is very cheap. Film/processing/printing can absorb lots of dollars and end up with inferior quality to just about any digital camera sold now.

In my case the savings in film and processing paid for the ever needed updates to digital cameras that went on for maybe 10 years, but now slowed to a crawl as excellent gear has been available now for maybe the last 5 years. It worked out that when we travelled on some overseas trip, we upgraded before about every second trip to our latest needs and still saved money over the film days adventures.

For those who for some crazy unknown reason want to see film-like results then there's any number of programs available that can mangle nice digital images into the usual horrible film look. (Detect any bias in my thinking?)

But hey, a cheap camera and some B&W film and learn the basics of development can be an experience. On the Internet there's now home-brew developer formulas that use coffee in the mix. Interesting but never tried it.

Again for me, there's still loads of film in the freezer and darn good Nikon SLR gear in the junk drawer but have not touched it since 2002 when I went digital. Time to have a cleanout.

Regards...... Guy

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Gerry Winterbourne Forum Pro • Posts: 14,016
That wouldn't work
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perfectionist007 wrote:

Just thinking maybe pickup a cheap film cam.

There are, of course, many similarities between shooting film and digital. But there are many differences too. I shot film for several decades before switching to digital a dozen years ago.

It took me a long time to adjust to the differences, which exist both in the way one exposes and the way the pictures are developed.

I predict that it would be the same for anyone switching the other way; so just getting hold of a cheap film camera would offer no benefits. You would get results that would be poor until you'd mastered all the new techniques; so unless you spent a long time with film (no "just once") you'd learn nothing from the experiment.

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with film, or that you shouldn't make a serious attempt to master it. All I'm saying is that there's no point in a quick dabble at it.

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JulesJ
JulesJ Forum Pro • Posts: 45,358
Re: Should every photographer try shooting film at least once in their life?
3

PhilDunn wrote:

perfectionist007 wrote:

Just thinking maybe pickup a cheap film cam.

Should? No.

I'm a film veteran, who also used to do his own darkroom printing back in the film only days, and I don't recommend anyone shoot film beyond curiosity about the experience. You get much better quality from digital and you save a lot of time and money. For example, a 1" sensor camera, like the Sony RX100 series, puts out superior quality than 35mm film. That said, shooting film in large format (8x10) will still yield the best *single shot* image quality in photography.

Now if you realize what you are getting into and are not expecting superior quality, except for the exception I mentioned, then have at it if you are curious. I just wouldn't spend too much on a camera. What do you plan on doing with the exposed film? Lab prints, lab or home scanning?

I think you are missing the OP's point. It is not about quality, it is about understanding.

I don't think shooters who have only ever used this format should try using film. But anyone old enough to have learned their photographic skills shooting film has a depth of knowledge about the art that digital only shooters don't have. Having developed and printed one's own (or others), one learns an enormous amour about exposure and the art of photography.

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john Clinch Veteran Member • Posts: 3,591
Re: Should every photographer try shooting film at least once in their life?
4

Yes you should try film

It is, as explained above, a completely miserable experience. If you do the whole process analogue then it is a nightmare. 4 hours in a dark smelly room to produce a few rather grey prints. Let some one else print and it is like a random number generator as to how things turn out. My last role of colour film included a sunset. The print lab set the white balance to render the sky grey!!!!!!

So instead you or some one else scans the negatives and then processes them. So now you have a really complicated way of making low quality digital files. You probably own a simple way of high quality digital files already. My phone probably turns out better scans than say under exposed Kodachrome

So why do I say yes

1. If you are under 35 (and male) you can grow a beard, wear tweed and be a hipster. Everyone will believe you about the great look of your photos. If you are female you can pull off the same trick but I'm not sure what you wear. But you don't have eat breakfast through the remains of yesterdays dinner stuck in your facial hair

2. When you print your messy scans they will turn out just fine. This will then save you from the total tedium of staring at everything at 100% and muttering soft and or noisey without realizing that it will be fine once converted for the output medium of your choice

3. You will no longer have to worry about whether you should be using film as you will know for sure that it is rubbish

4. You won't get into a bidding war on ebay over a 1990s titanium classic that doesn't doesn't take very good pictures but does match your outfit

5. You will be saved the heart break of proving me wrong. Buying a brilliant cheap camera. Finding a reliable scanning process and consistently turning out great images. Booking the trip of a life time costing thousands of dollars and using 2 years annual leave. Taking shot after brilliant shot and feeling sure that National Geographic will buy every picture. Then getting to the airport for the flight home and a guard with an automatic weapon insisting that you put all your film through the hold X-ray scanner and frying the lot....

PS yes i have had my film X-rayed. I did get images but it the x-ray had robbed contrast and added unwanted exposre but they were just family snaps from a horrible film slr with a terrible lens. But yes the guard did have an automatic weapon..

Van Nostrand Regular Member • Posts: 262
Re: Should every photographer try shooting film at least once in their life?

No. Certainly not every. Just think about the reasons why 99 +% choose not to, and then factor in that a fair percentage will get nothing of value out of the experience due to just how some people think/rationalize.

caterpillar Veteran Member • Posts: 7,327
No.

perfectionist007 wrote:

Just thinking maybe pickup a cheap film cam.

No.

Using the same line of reasoning, should one ride a horse?

Nothing wrong with trying it though if one wants to.

While we are at it, anybody want to shoot in black & white, and process and print that output in a dark room?

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caterpillar Veteran Member • Posts: 7,327
Re: No

Tom_N wrote:

Dan Marchant wrote:

Unless you want to learn how to develop film.

There are reasons for shooting film that don't involve developing it yourself. Like getting the look associated with certain films, or just getting the superior viewfinder and manual focusing experience associated with some of the old manual-focus-only cameras.

However, you don't need to shoot film to learn photography.

That may be fine and true, but its hard to find a lab now in our country that process films, especially color.  And it will cost a lot, and the waiting time now will be days to get y our prints.

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drynn Forum Member • Posts: 78
Re: No.

If you have never shot film before there is no point in trying it now; the experience will not add anything worthwhile to your digital experience.

If you have shot film before and now shoot digital, you'll already know why there is no point in going backwards.

My output with digital is of a better quality, with less waste, than it ever was with (own developing) film.

However, if you are a true photo nerd, you will need to give it a try: just make sure your glazing drum is perfectly clean to avoid that pitted finish!

smithim Contributing Member • Posts: 581
Re: Should every photographer try shooting film at least once in their life?

PhilDunn wrote:

That said, shooting film in large format (8x10) will still yield the best *single shot* image quality in photography.

Maybe,  but at what cost per shot? Not just for the film/processing, but most people would need it scanned to be able to do anything with it - a quick google shows at least £50 per shot, and up to £200 for a high res scan.

Fine if the client's paying, of course

Mike CH Veteran Member • Posts: 8,972
Should every...
1
  • ...driver try driving a horse buggy?
  • ...cook try cooking over a fire?
  • ...school kid try walking long distances to school?
  • ...soldier try shooting a musket?
  • ...guy with a mobile phone try hiring a message runner instead?
  • etc

While there are certainly valuable lessons to learn in all those situations, it’s clear to me that they are all that relevant. There are in all those cases, analog photography included, specialized skills and experiences involved - but few of them translate particularly well into the modern equivalent.

That doesn’t mean that the old style can’t be loads of fun or that it can’t be a case of personal choice and enjoyment. But it does kind of mean that that is mostly what it is.

Regards, Mike

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D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 20,296
Re: No

rurikw wrote:

but if you are interested why not. I dream about 6x6 b&w slides.

You can get those by reversal processing an ordinary ASA 125 B&W negative film.

But do you have a medium format projector ?  Mine is an ancient Leitz model, fully manual.

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