Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Why use film?

It's cheaper! Well that's the short answer and I will address it later. Why use film? The main reason for me at first was for the challenge. I shot film back in the day before digital for taking snapshots of events in order to have something to remember them by. Nothing serious. I figured that experimenting for art's sake didn't justify the expense. I felt there was no way I could come even close to the pros without spending insane amounts of money for equipment and the eventual learning curve.

Taken with a Minolta X-570 using Kodak 200 iso film
That was before the coming of the digital age and my first digital camera. I am a graphic artist and now that I had the means to take large amount of pictures without the expense, I could let myself go crazy. I took pictures to document and to please my eye with what I learned in drawing and painting. I was self taught, so I was missing a few elements.

Taken with a Minolta X-570 using Kodak 200 iso film.
This all changed last year when I decided to actually apply myself seriously at photography. Digital was convenient and immediate but I wanted more. A friend hooked me up with a film SLR and that got me really interested into making some nice film images. I'm not claiming that one is better than the other. They both have their usefulness and this all depends on the person pressing the shutter. The photographer makes the image, not the gear.

Taken with a Minolta SRT 202 using Fuji 400 iso film
 Film has taught me about exposure, lighting, depth of field and film speed. I'm still learning but it has made me more aware of what is behind a great image and I even put my new found knowledge to better my digital photography.

Taken with a Minolta 5000 using expired Kodak film.
Film photography also makes you slow down since there are so many ways you can screw up. It's more akin to painting a canvas. Preparation, set-up, planning all come before you even think about the composition of the image. This as had the advantage of making me a better photographer where I take the time to plan my shots. I recently realized that I'm taking less shots on digital and the quality there is better as well.

Taken with a Konica C35 EF using Konica 200 iso expired film.
Now to the money part, how is it cheaper? The most expensive piece of analog gear I have was a $40 camera, every thing else I got for cheaper or free. A quality dSLR that could come close to matching the same image quality from one of my 40 year old Minoltas would cost around $3000 and would have to be replaced within 2 to 5 years. I will never spend that much money on film in that period of time and all of my analog mechanical cameras will work the same way 20 to 30 years from now, if not more.

Taken with a  Yashica Electro 35 using Kodak 200 iso film.

So dust off that old film camera and give it a whirl. You'll see what great images can still be done with it. Is film better than digital? No. Is digital better than film? No, they both serve a purpose and depending on what you want to do, one or both of them could serve you well.

Thanks for watching.

Gerry :)

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