5 Reasons to Shoot Film -- Popular Photograghy Article

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Summer Wind, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. Summer Wind

    Summer Wind Guest

    Given how the photography magazines abandoned film overnight a few years
    ago, it's surprising to see this article. Reason #2 is the most important
    to me.



    5 Reasons to Shoot Film
    Five cases when film beats digital hands-down.
    By Russell Hart
    December 2006

    Digital is the earnest child of photography, always striving to better
    itself. Film is the adult, having had more than a century to mature. That's
    why there are times when film -- and only film -- is the best insurance that
    you'll get the result you want. Here are five arguments in its favor.

    For most purposes, digital will do. But unless you're shooting with an ultra
    high-resolution digital back or top pro-level DSLR, film still produces the
    sharpest possible images. A 35mm frame converted to a digital file by
    today's desktop scanners simply clobbers the sharpness of a typical consumer

    Yes, you can sharpen a digital image in software. And with most DSLRs you
    must, because images are considerably softened by anti-aliasing filters that
    keep their sensors from recording jagged edges and moiré patterns. Yet if
    you overdo your sharpening, the image can take on a distractingly "crispy"
    appearance. The sharpness you get from film is more natural looking.

    Films have personality; DSLRs don't. While many DSLRs let you dial in higher
    or lower saturation and contrast, those crude adjustments can't compare to
    the richness of film, whether Velvia's crisp, saturated look or the delicate
    tonal shoulder of Tri-X. (Black-and-white is a particular challenge for
    digital, especially in-camera.)

    You can always mess with curves and other factors once you get a digitally
    captured image into editing software. There are even programs that mimic the
    qualities of specific films. Whether they succeed is a judgment call, but
    you won't get the inimitable look of Kodachrome out of the box.

    Digital SLRs are dynamically challenged. In contrasty light they have a hell
    of a time with highlight and shadow detail. Sure, they've improved, and RAW
    helps. But they have far to go before they match a color negative's ability
    to lasso photons high and low.

    Film can be manipulated to soak up even more of a scene's tonal extremes.
    You can rein in highlights by "pulling," or shortening, the development of
    b&w film. You compensate for this by adding exposure when shooting,
    improving shadow detail. You can overexpose color negative film by as much
    as four stops to increase shadow detail and reduce contrast, without
    damaging highlight nuances.

    Again, some super-duper digital backs claim to match or exceed the range
    captured by film. If you can afford them, go for it -- and bring along your

    At a given level of quality, film is still less costly than digital. On the
    low end, a single-use camera loaded with color negative film costs under
    $10; the cheapest digital point-and-shoots run nearly $100.

    On the high end, consider what a well-appointed 35mm SLR will set you back
    these days: a couple hundred bucks with lens. Color film and processing
    costs maybe 15 cents a shot. Compare that to the price of the least
    expensive DSLR, still about $600 (though over time it will save you a lot in
    film and processing costs).

    True, camera makers have created some excellent wide-angle zooms, and even
    fisheyes, for their digital SLRs. These lenses offset the smaller-than-35mm
    image sensor found in all but a couple of DSLRs. But many photographers
    choose the same brand of DSLR that they used for 35mm because they can shoot
    with their existing lenses. The problem is that the DSLR's smaller image
    sensor puts horse blinkers on those lenses, wasting much of their available
    image circle.

    For example, the nearly 75-degree angle of view produced on the full 35mm
    frame by a 24mm wide-angle (maybe my all-time favorite 35mm focal length)
    narrows to just over 50 degrees -- in effect, a 36mm or 38mm lens -- when
    you put that same lens on a DSLR with an APS-C-sized image sensor (Nikons,
    Pentaxes, the Sony, and most Canons).

    So if you want the full goodness of a made-for-35mm lens' angle of view, put
    it on your aging Canon EOS A2E instead of your Digital Rebel XT, or even
    your old Nikon F3 instead of your spanking-new Nikon D200.
    Summer Wind, Dec 27, 2006
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  2. Summer Wind

    Annika1980 Guest

    What a bunch of bunk!
    Total Garbage.
    The advantage of digital is the ability to mimic any film look. With
    film you have to change films or ISOs to achieve a certain look. With
    film you're stuck with what you've got loaded in the camera.

    RAW mode says hi.
    The only true thing the guy wrote here is "though over time it will
    save you a lot in
    The 5D says hi.
    But even with my 20D I can get wide angles via stitching. There is
    nothing the film shooter can do, however, to approximate the telephoto
    benefits I get when shooting subjects at long range. Hardly a day goes
    past when I don't long for a longer focal length. Rarely have I ever
    lamented being too close with my wide angles.
    Annika1980, Dec 27, 2006
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  3. Summer Wind

    bmoag Guest

    The reasons for killing trees to publish things like this is the same
    reason, just before every election, the Republican party brings up an anti
    flag-burning constitutional amendment.
    bmoag, Dec 27, 2006
  4. Summer Wind

    TheDave© Guest

    Film does have a certain nuance that digital lacks, and I seem to
    generally be more pleased with my results from film than I am from
    digital, but there is a flip side, too. The flexibility to change ISO
    or other settings at need cannot be discounted, and is no small thing.
    I've always prefered 12-exposure and 24-exposure rolls of film rather
    than 36-exposure rolls for that reason, but they're getting harder and
    harder to find. That's one great thing about my MF cameras... 10 or 12
    shot rolls, depending on if I"m doing 6x6 or 6x7.
    I just don't buy these cost arguments anymore. It's six of one and
    half a dozen of the other.
    Again, a flip side. Sometimes I wish my 10D were full-frame, but like
    you, it's not all that often. Then again, there are times I love the
    1.6 factor on the long end. In fact, I've even grown to like my 1.6
    crop factor so much, that using my full-frame film camera seems strange
    when I do use it.
    TheDave©, Dec 27, 2006

  5. Hmmm, I wonder how many of the screaming digiheads who are going to
    start jumpng up and down and frothing have even the remotest experience in
    any of the things mentioned in the article.

    Not that it'll stop them.

    Picking on digital is like picking on jesus. Always good for yuks.
    Watch for the throbbing forehead veins.

    Annika's already piped up. Scott should be along any minute, and
    Floyd'll make a guest appearance. "Blasphemy! Blasphemy! BUUURRRNNN

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Dec 27, 2006
  6. Summer Wind

    That_Rich Guest


    Cheap as film camera bodies are these days, I use three A series
    bodies each loaded with a different film along with a few rangefinders
    normally loaded with B&W. It's pretty much a no brainer to grab the
    one (or two) I need before heading out.

    I have no real preference over film and digital, I just happen to use
    film because my investment over the last thirty years in film
    equipment must be figured into the equation. To replace all I've
    amassed with digital would be silly at this point. When full frame
    digital becomes reasonable for a weekend shooter, then I'll make my

    So when push comes to shove I suppose I only *have* one reason to
    shoot film over digital.

    That_Rich, Dec 27, 2006
  7. Summer Wind

    jeremy Guest

    Amen! I've been wondering what ever has happened to all those guys that
    were buying film equipment all those years. It couldn't ALL have ended up
    on eBay . . .

    The way I see it, the acquisition of my film scanner has, in a sense, turned
    all of my film cameras into digital cameras.
    jeremy, Dec 27, 2006
  8. Summer Wind

    Scott W Guest

    It seems to be the older guys who have been shooting film for many
    years that have moved on to digital. Oh sure Bret looks like he is a
    young fellow but most of us are getting pretty old.

    FWIW I was shooting LF around 1970, but mostly it has been 35mm for the
    last 20 years that I shot film.

    It was 2001 when film scanner finally came down in price enough that I
    bought one and this breathed new light into film. Now I could do even
    more with color film then I could with B/W in my darkroom days.

    Now I am not going to pretend that I have a huge amount of experience
    in film, but I do have a fair bit and it goes way back to the early 60s
    when I was just a kid shooting 120 film and making contact prints in my
    dad's darkroom.

    Scott W, Dec 27, 2006
  9. Summer Wind

    David Starr Guest

    HP-5 in Rodinal?
    Efke PL-25 - 4x5 - in Pyrocat-HD?
    Infrared Ektachrome?
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Retired Shop Rat: 14,647 days in a GM plant.
    Now I can do what I enjoy: Large Format Photography

    Web Site: www.destarr.com
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    David Starr, Dec 27, 2006
  10. Summer Wind

    Frank Pittel Guest

    : >What a bunch of bunk!

    : >
    : >> 2) A SPECIFIC "LOOK"
    : >> Films have personality; DSLRs don't.
    : >
    : >The advantage of digital is the ability to mimic any film look.

    : HP-5 in Rodinal?
    : Efke PL-25 - 4x5 - in Pyrocat-HD?

    I'm kind of partial to Efke PL-25 - 4x5 in tfx2. Semi-stand development with
    5sec of agitation every 3min for 20min.

    : Infrared Ektachrome?
    : - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    : Retired Shop Rat: 14,647 days in a GM plant.
    : Now I can do what I enjoy: Large Format Photography

    : Web Site: www.destarr.com
    : - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Frank Pittel, Dec 27, 2006
  11. Summer Wind

    Mark² Guest

    Sounds more like:

    "One More Reason (among thousands) to NOT Read Pop Photo..."
    Mark², Dec 27, 2006
  12. Summer Wind

    Annika1980 Guest

    I have a friend in a similar position. He shoots weddings with a Hassy
    and about 4 years ago he told me he couldn't afford to junk his
    equipment and try to re-learn how to do everything digitally. The only
    problem is that now he's competing against those who have made the
    switch and his business is suffering as a result.
    Annika1980, Dec 28, 2006
  13. Summer Wind

    Annika1980 Guest

    Yeah, photographically speaking I'm just an infant, at least compared
    with some of these old film luddites like Hickey and Denelsbeck.
    And I'm also the youngest 47 year old sumbitch you're likely to ever
    Annika1980, Dec 28, 2006
  14. Summer Wind

    TheDave© Guest

    And the oldest. :p
    TheDave©, Dec 28, 2006
  15. Summer Wind

    TheDave© Guest

    It's pretty much that way in *every* industry... keep up or fall by the
    TheDave©, Dec 28, 2006
  16. One of my favs, too. I wrote an action in Photoshop that duplicates this
    in 38 seconds, then applies USM and fires off a duplicate in a tri-tone
    or duotone as well.
    John McWilliams, Dec 28, 2006
  17. Summer Wind

    That_Rich Guest

    What's to re-learn. I already digitize my film.

    That_Rich, Dec 28, 2006
  18. I have yet to see anyone capable of mimicking the films I use
    routinely. Most especially, I haven't seen anybody do a decent portrait
    film. What I HAVE seen, however, is studios changing their gels so the
    subtleties of skin tones (that they can no longer capture) are buried under
    bizarre tan lighting.

    Digital sensors don't capture color - they only capture intensity. In
    order to interpret color from them, the sensor for each pixel must be
    filtered, RGB. Little blobs of clear plastic over each pixel on the sensor.
    And then the software interprets them accordingly.

    Film does much the same thing, silver nitrate in colored suspensions.
    But the upshot is, each type of film has its own particular filtering, its
    "personality." That's what you get when you change films.

    Should the colors you're after fail to coordinate well with the
    filters of your digital, you're shit out of luck. If you didn't capture the
    nuances, you have no choice but to try and hand-paint them in with your
    editing program. I'll leave that for the guys who love the "instant
    results" they get from digital.

    RAW mode mostly says "Too low!" and makes you settle for black. Go
    shoot some decent print film sometime and get real prints, not trying to
    compress the tonal range into what your scanner will handle. And then we'll
    have you try some decent B&W.

    Hmmmm, bodies and batteries and cards and harddrives, Bret, how much
    have you spent in the past five years? I've spent $600 on bodies, and about
    $950 on film, processing, batteries, and slide sleeves. And that's
    excluding the film that my clients paid for.

    Ah, good! Only, what is it now, $3,000.00 US to get a nice wide
    angle? Plus the lens of course. Nothing like that wonderful cost
    effectiveness of digital! Now see, if I'd gone digital for the weddings I
    was doing a few years back, I could have charged them three times the going
    rate to do a group shot.

    And made them wait three years for the goddamn body to come out...

    "There's nothing the film shooter can do to approximate the telephoto
    benefits"?!?!?!? What, you mean like cropping out the outer edges of the
    frame and enlarging the image further? Bret, seriously, you can be really
    funny sometimes. I just wish I believed you were trying to be.

    Listen, I have nothing against digital, and for some people, it's the
    right way to go. I'm not one of them, at least not until they come up with
    a full-frame wavelength-sensitive sensor that allows some serious color
    nuance captures - and at a price that isn't ridiculous. I often have to
    explain this, to one extent or another, every time somebody cranes over to
    compare their new toy to mine. I usually leave them blinking owlishly at
    either "color tones" or "EOS 3," one or both of which fails to register
    with them.

    Right now, it seems like every last digital image I get, regardless
    of the camera, lighting, or conditions, I need to tweak in color register.
    This isn't a huge chore, and I consider myself good at it. But it doesn't
    impress me with the magnificent capabilities of these expensive doodads. I
    also haven't been impressed with the battery dependency and the card

    But you know? The digital soccer fans are starting to get really
    obnoxious. Are you happy with your camera? Good. I'm happy with mine. ****
    off and try the insecure braying on someone that cares.

    Or even better, come to the startling realization that you don't have
    all the magical answers for everyone else.

    Sheesh. Hope you got a life for christmas...

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Dec 28, 2006
  19. Summer Wind

    Scott W Guest

    You made some valid points on color, but I don't think color works
    quite the way you believe it does. But yes some films will capture
    color differently then a digital camera will, but the digital camera
    mimics the human eye well so where film looks different it pretty much
    means film is capturing colors that don't match what a person would
    have seen. Now you might like these somewhat artificial colors and
    there is nothing wrong with that.

    But the end of your post is pretty typical, some film fan does a post
    one a bunch of reasons why film is better then digital and when people
    point out that many of the reasons given don't hold up they are accused
    of film bashing.

    If you like what you are getting with film great. And I don't mind at
    all that someone posted reasons why film is better, but it is a opening
    for discussion for that merits of the points make don't you think?

    Oh and as far of telephoto work goes, a 20D will blow a 35mm camera out
    of the water on that one and you idea of cropping simply does not work
    since there is not the detail captured to support the level of cropping
    needed. If you wanted to make the telephoto point you really need to
    bring in a teleconverter, now that will work. I take it you have not
    done much with DSLRs?

    Scott W, Dec 28, 2006
  20. Summer Wind

    That_Rich Guest

    Hmmm, thanks(!).... the whole idea of my photography is to mimic what
    *I* see.... to hell with the rest. Sure is nice to have film emulsions
    I'm comfortable with to help me out instead of hours with photo shop.

    That_Rich, Dec 28, 2006
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