5 Reasons to Shoot Film -- Popular Photograghy Article

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

  1. Summer Wind

    Colin_D Guest

    The above is opinion only, and biased at that.
    *If* the negative is on a slow, fine-grain film, and the lens is top of
    the line, then it *might* clobber the sharpness of a typical consumer
    dslr. If the dslr is a 10D, or a 300D, or a D70, with about six megapixels.

    Up against a 400D, or a 5D, or D200, all at >10MP, and with any but the
    slowest fine-grain film, the digital will eat film for breakfast.
    Nobody in the film camp is willing to acknowledge that film at 100 ISO
    or faster hasn't a chance.
    Overdoing sharpening is operator error. And you can get that effect
    just as easily with scanned film as with digital images.
    Palpable nonsense. It's what you are used to, just like jumping into a
    new car; it feels different till you get used to it. Then, if you still
    have your old car, driving it after the new one makes it feel like a
    Not for much longer; kodachrome processing is down to only one lab
    world-wide now. When that folds ...

    And, messing with curves and other factors is precisely why film is
    scanned - to avail the photog of superior image handling.
    That is proven wrong; see Roger N Clark's extensive work on this.
    Digital sensors do have a sharper cutoff with highlights, much like
    transparency film. But digital's shadow retention is miles ahead of any
    Yes, the basis of the Zone System, for black & white only.
    Not in my book. I had a color darkroom for about 20 years, and
    overexposed color film was more contrasty than normally exposed film,
    and was very difficult to print because of the contrast - and no grades
    of paper to choose from. You can't pull color neg without serious color
    tracking issues.
    If you are meaning backs like the 39MP devices for 6x6 cameras, yes,
    they're expensive. They are totally intended for professional photogs,
    and they blow film not only out of the water, but right off the planet.
    Quite; but the quality from the non-zoom plastic meniscus lens in no way
    compares with even the $100 digital - and 10 of the single use cameras
    would have bought the digital. The implied comparison doesn't exist.
    Have you thought that only reason you can buy film slrs at these bargain
    prices is *because* digital cameras are so popular? What makes them
    popular, do you think? It couldn't be because the results are superior
    to film, could it?
    A valid, but minor point. Most lenses for digital cameras are about 17
    - 18 mm at the wide end, equivalent to about 28mm, wide enough for most
    people. Canon make a 10-22 mm lens, non-fisheye. Wide enough for you?
    Just to round things off, here are five reasons where digital cameras
    are better than film cameras:

    1. Able to retain good image quality at high ISO speeds, 800, 1600,
    3200, where film is almost useless.

    2. Able to recover from underexposure better than film

    3. Able to change ISO speeds literally from shot to shot

    4. Able to white-balance almost any lighting without filters.

    5. Able to take large memory cards holding hundreds of shots, versus 36
    max for film

    And a few more ...

    6. Instant playback of images, with histogram, for judging, and if
    necessary, correcting difficult exposures

    7. No reciprocity effects with very long or very short exposures

    8. Requires no messy, polluting chemicals to develop the images

    9. In cases where speed of producing images is paramount, digital is
    practically instantaneous, no developing, drying, scanning or printing ...

    I think I've made my point.

    Colin D.
    Colin_D, Dec 28, 2006
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  2. I continue to shoot film (but scan and print digitally). The principle
    reason is that each camera that I most frequently use has some feature
    that is not available (or available at a reasonable price) in digital.
    1. My 12mm lens on a Leica thread 35mm camera. This is currently the
    widest rectilinear lens available. I think there are a couple of new
    digital only lenses which may now reach the same angle of view
    (120 degrees) on reduced size sensors. So this may cease to be true
    in the near future.
    2. Rotating lens panoramic camera. This produces a certain "look"
    which can be approximated by stitching but then one can't take
    pictures of moving objects.
    3. 6x7 SLR. Large film size and shooting ease. How much longer film
    of this size will continue to out perform digital is an open question.
    4. 4x5 View camera. The main feature is the use of tilts and swings.
    There are digital view cameras available, but the backs cost a fortune
    and require complicated computer connections which is not good for

    I have seen the discussions about tonal range capture and while
    Roger Clark has impressive data to support his claims that digital
    is better there seems to be some disagreement with many practicing
    photographers. All I can say is that shooting color negatives I can't
    imagine a normal scene where I can't capture all the tones in the scene.
    I'm assuming that we avoid situations like including the midday sun
    in the image. Mapping all these tones to a final displayed image is
    another matter.

    Perhaps people don't know how to place the exposure properly with
    digital cameras, or perhaps the commonly used jpeg output clips
    the image. Those who shoot digital will have to explain why they are
    having problems.
    Robert Feinman, Dec 28, 2006
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  3. Summer Wind

    Annika1980 Guest

    I keep waiting to see Al's images that he took on Christmas morning. I
    guess they're still in the camera or at the lab. I had mine posted
    online by noon local time Christmas Day.
    Annika1980, Dec 28, 2006
  4. Summer Wind

    Annika1980 Guest

    $950 in 5 years? What do you shoot, like 12 rolls a year?
    When I was shooting film exclusively I had to buy the film (usually
    +$5/roll for the good stuff).
    Then I'd spend more money having it processed (about $8/roll with
    And how many keepers do you get out of each roll?
    I don't know how many images I've taken with digital, probably over a
    couple hundred thousand or so. Figure up what that would cost ya with
    Wow, such hostility you luddites possess! I wonder what it is that
    makes you so bitter?

    But go ahead, knock yourself out attacking me even as the world around
    you switches to digital. We could give a shit what you shoot with.
    Stick with your Kodak Brownie for all I care. Drive your fuckin Edsel.
    Play your 45's. And that leisure suit still looks great on you.
    Maybe if you switched to digital your attitude would improve and your
    pics wouldn't all suck so badly?
    Annika1980, Dec 28, 2006
  5. I agree with Jeremy. I have 20+ K-bayonet lenses and half a dozen bodies
    and have no intention of going digital. Four reasons: 1) I have a very
    good film scanner so I do not need digital capture 2) I dont like crop
    factor and want to keep my 50 mm a 50 mm and my 24 mm a 24 mm. 3) This
    is strictly personal: I want to have a physical image (slide or neg),
    not just ones and zeroes. 4) I never shoot above ISO 100 anyway.
    Well, and maybe number 5) "If it aint broke dont fix it". I am happy
    with the equipment and workflow I have now, going digital would not make
    me a better photographer.

    Väinö Louekari
    Väinö Louekari, Dec 28, 2006
  6. Summer Wind

    Annika1980 Guest

    No, but it might allow you to get better pics and lots more of them.
    Annika1980, Dec 28, 2006
  7. Please, do tell me just how?

    Väinö Louekari
    Väinö Louekari, Dec 28, 2006
  8. Summer Wind

    Scott W Guest

    Ok I am with you on the crop factor sometimes being a pain, but as for
    not shooting above ISO 100 you don't know what you are missing. When I
    shoot film I never shoot above ISO 100 if I could at all avoid it, I
    don't like noise in my photos. But being able to crank the ISO up to
    1600 and shoot in low light with available light has given me photos I
    could never have gotten before.

    The high ISO setting are also handy if you are shooting with a long
    lens hand held, nothing like getting the shutter speed up.

    No digital will not make you a better photographer, but you might get
    better photos and for many of us that is well worth it.

    Scott W, Dec 28, 2006
  9. Worthwhile points, sure. As for high ISO, I often use a tripod and then
    I really do not need high ISO. So I can shoot in low light even with low
    ISO. Also, if necessary I can hand-hold a camera and a 50 mm lens at
    shutter speeds in the area of 1/8 - 1/2 seconds and the image will be
    reasonably sharp.
    A tripod is a great thing to have.
    So, bearing in mind that I scan my slides and b/w-negs and can do any
    postprocessing I want in CS2, just tell me _how_ would digital get me
    _better_ photos?
    Mind you, I have nothing against digital capture. Nowadays quality is
    good, it is cheap. Fine. To each one his/hers own. It just does not suit
    me, that is all.

    Väinö Louekari
    Väinö Louekari, Dec 28, 2006
  10. Summer Wind

    jeremy Guest

    We should fine-tune this discussion just a bit. My preference for film
    results only in my SHOOTING on film. I scan my film and the rest is
    digital. I have never liked wet darkroom work, and I believe that the
    digital darkroom offers me advantages in terms of control and REVERSABILITY
    that I can't get from a wet darkroom.

    So the only issue, at least for me, is the method of capture of the image,
    not how that image is manipulated and printed post-shoot.

    I shoot about a roll per week, so film cost is not an issue foe me.

    I also do have a digital P&S (4 of them, actually) so I do have the
    immediacy benefits of digital capture whenever I am inclined to shoot with a
    digital camera.

    But my first love has always been my 35mm SLRs, and I do not wish to stop
    using those bodies and lenses. Period. Whatever advantage digital capture
    might have to offer, I elect to decline them so that I can continue using
    the equipment I feel most comfortable with, and which brings me not a little
    gratification from working with it.

    I'm not happy with having to take 2.5 hours scanning a roll of film, but it
    happens usually only once weekly, so it is not that big of a deal. My local
    pharmacy develops an entire roll in less than 20 minutes and returns the
    uncut negatives to me while I wait, and they are open 24/7, so I get to see
    my images promptly after having shot them.

    Any time I want to take snapshots I always have my digital cameras. What is
    strange to me is that so many posters have expressed the opinion that they
    are somehow bound to shoot in either film or digital, but not both. Perhaps
    someone with only a single body and one or two lenses might decide to
    abandon film, rather than get a scanner. But there are tons of folks that
    have acquired large kits of film gear over the past couple of decades, and
    the sense that one gets here is that they have all dumped all that stuff.
    Didn't their film cameras and lenses do superb work prior to the
    introduction of DSLRs? Are they no longer able to do that same level of
    superb work, now that a DSLR has been added to the list of owned equipment?

    I am weary of the way that so many of these discussions end up as "Film vs.
    Digital" arguments. And I am weary of how often complete strangers, who
    know nothing about me or the kind of photographs that I love taking, will
    imply that I must be a Luddite, just because I've CHOSEN to continue to do
    my serious work on what they characterize as an obsolete and inferior
    medium. They should all just give it a rest.
    jeremy, Dec 28, 2006
  11. Summer Wind

    Summer Wind Guest

    Blown-out highlights seem to have become acceptable in digital photography.
    If you take a look at the images at this site ...


    .... you'll notice a lack of detail in the highlights in many of the
    pictures. Look at the white fur in the dog pictures. I don't think the
    problem is with my monitor. I haven't tried printing them, though, and
    perhaps there is detail that would print.

    Summer Wind, Dec 28, 2006
  12. Summer Wind

    Summer Wind Guest

    Just to round things off, here are five reasons where digital cameras
    The author of the Pop Photo article did not say that digital has no
    advantages. The point is that there are still good reasons to choose film
    over digital depending on the subject and desired results.

    Summer Wind, Dec 28, 2006
  13. Summer Wind

    Scott W Guest

    Yup tripods are good, but it is not normally camera motion that messes
    up my low light shots as much as people moving. I normally shoot with
    my 28mm f/2.8 lens in doors with low light and I find I can shoot with
    very long shutter speeds, like ¼ second, unless people are moving even
    a little bit..
    Well for starters often being able to shoot at higher ISOs means you
    can shoot at larger f numbers, the difference between shooting at f/1.4
    and f/2.8 can be huge. And whereas a lot of people don't like to
    hear it one of the ways National Geographic gets the photos they do is
    to shoot 300 to 400 rolls of film per article, more photos helps.
    Often the shoots I end up treasuring the most 20 years later are not
    the ones really liked at the time I took the photo. When I shoot film
    I misses a lot of valuable (to me) photos simply because I was not
    shooting enough. In fact going back over the photos if I had the last
    25 years to do over again I would have shoot far more film then I did.

    Being able to shoot at longer effective FL is a big one for many

    I find the dynamic range to be better with the digital and I get much
    less noise in the shadows compared to when I was shooting film.

    I also find that my prints look sharper when digital, not more detail
    captured but sharper looking because of the lack of noise. I also
    find that scanning print film is a bit of hit and miss when it comes to
    colors. Slide film seems to be much easier to scan but the dynamic
    range is so limited that it is hard to work with.

    In the end it was the time needed to scan film that pushed use to go
    all digital, and since we were using Canon SLRs the change to DSLRs was
    pretty easy. I did have to pick up the 28mm lens to get back to having
    the same FOV of my 50mm, but this was not an overly expensive lens.

    And if you want both the detail and the low noise and mostly shoot with
    a tripod you can always get this kind of photo with digital.

    http://www.pbase.com/konascott/image/72258285/original (warning this
    is an 8.5 Mbyte file)

    To put that in terms that someone shooting film would better understand
    that is the same number of pixels you would get if you scanned 35 mm
    film at 5400 ppi.
    And if you like what you are getting with film that is great, but when
    you get tired of scanning film there is always digital waiting for you.

    Scott W, Dec 28, 2006
  14. Summer Wind

    Mike Guest

    I don't think there is a digital back, when compared to my 4x5" film
    camera, "blows it out of the water". Maybe a BetterLight is in the same

    I agree digital pretty much obsoletes 35mm film. But for me,
    who makes maybe 150 4x5" exposures a year, film is FAR better than the
    digital alternatives. I get over 100 megapixels out of a 4x5" film scan.
    For small prints, I use my Epson flatbed. For the 1-2 winners, I
    ge a 4000dpi drum-scan giving over 200 megapixels. Thus for EVERY
    exposure I make, I have the option of creating a huge 40"+ print with
    stunning quality. Yes, I understand that stitching together digital
    exposures can match or exceed this quality. However for one, I don't
    have to decide beforehand which scene I am going to take dozens of
    mosaics, and two, I think this takes away the fun/creativity out of
    **composing** a single photograph behind the camera.

    Sure, a top-of-the-line BetterLight scanning back might do better, but it
    does not make economic sense and doesn't carry well in the field.

    Unlike Annika, I have no interest in taking 1000s of lousy pictures of my
    dog, or of the spider in my backyard. Blah. What do you do with them?!
    Mike, Dec 28, 2006
  15. Summer Wind

    TheDave© Guest

    Tape the shutter button down. You'll also get alot of garbage, but
    you're sure to get something worthwhile out of it.
    TheDave©, Dec 28, 2006
  16. Summer Wind

    TheDave© Guest

    I think you two are appraoching it from different angles. You seem to
    be saying that if the same pictures under the same conditions were
    taken and compared, then digital or film wouldn't matter. Neither
    would make you "better". Nuances of specific films aside, seems
    reasonable and true enough.

    However, what Scott seems to be saying is that the flexibility that
    digital provides allows you to get *more* good photos that you would
    not be able to realistically get with ISO 100 film. It doesn't make
    the photographer "better", or even his work better, it just gets more
    good results. Fact is, you can't always use a tripod, and sometimes
    the subject matter begs for a higher ISO speed, also. Digital gives
    added flexibility in those times.
    TheDave©, Dec 28, 2006
  17. Summer Wind

    That_Rich Guest

    Post them on the Internet..... then
    ....tell people that their outlook on life will improve if they switch
    to digital.

    That_Rich, Dec 28, 2006
  18. Summer Wind

    Scott W Guest

    I am mostly in agreement with you, there is little reason to shot 35mm
    film anymore but LF does go well beyond what a affordable digital can
    capture in one shot. I have said a number of times that if you are
    going to shoot file you should at least use a large piece of film.

    As for stitching I find it easier to deal with then shooting,
    processing and then scanning film, but scanned LF film can give a nice
    image as well.

    How long have you been taking photos? The reason I ask is that it is
    going back to photos taken from 20 to 25 years ago that I can get a
    perspective on what photos will likely be of value to me in 20 to 30
    years from now. In looking at past photos I realized that I took far
    fewer then I wish I had taken. I did what a lot of people do, just
    take photos of the things that seems to be worth taking a photo of.
    But it is often the mundane parts of our lives that are most worth

    As for Bret's photos I rather enjoy them, I like this group a fair
    And where as your LF camera is wonderful for a lot of photographs it
    would have a bit of a problem for something like this.

    But the photos that I believe will have the greatest value to me 20
    years from now will be the ones like this
    Beer, chips and raw fish, it does not get any better then that.

    Scott W, Dec 28, 2006
  19. Summer Wind

    Colin_D Guest

    Yes, they're not so hot all over, but on looking at the image
    properties, they are small, heavily compressed images, and most detail
    is gone, not only highlights.

    Blown out highlights are a hazard with digital, but film is by no means
    immune to it. Digital is no worse than with transparency film, specially
    if you shoot RAW, and the shadow retention is far better with digital.

    I have just finished scanning my grandson's wedding images, shot by a
    so-called 'pro'. He bought the films for a considerable amount, and I
    got the job of scanning them.

    What a hell of a job it was too. White wedding dress, blown out in most
    of the frames, the guy was using full boot flash for the formals, so
    much that even in broad daylight the shadows thrown by the flash are
    easily visible, stretched out across the lawn behind the couple. Of
    course the dress was blown out. More, the flash depressed the exposure
    so there is no detail in the dark suits worn by the men, or the
    background foliage, and attempting to lift the dark tones with curves
    didn't work, the suits went magenta.

    The 'pro' photog left before the reception took place, so he mocked up a
    couple of shots of the couple and the wedding cake, flash blasting the
    hell out of the white cake and the dress.

    I photographed the rest of the reception with a 300D - not the most
    advanced digi - but the results are head and shoulders above the film
    shots. As a retired pro myself, I wish I had done the whole wedding,
    but the family figured they didn't want me to be working through the
    wedding, so I could enjoy the occasion. Ha! my wife got annoyed with me
    constantly muttering about the pro missing shots, not composing
    properly, not controlling the background, guests leering behind the
    wedding couple, you name it.

    But, back to the subject. The digital shots are better than film, in
    dynamic range, tonality, smoothness. I'll never shoot another film.

    Colin D.
    Colin_D, Dec 28, 2006
  20. Summer Wind

    Colin_D Guest

    Just to expand on the term 'Luddite', in my book that means a person
    who, while being a film shooter, denigrates digital users, usually in
    personal attacks. A person like yourself, who has no bias against
    digital per se, and who does not attack those who use digital cameras,
    is not a Luddite. The characteristic of a Luddite, as with the original
    Luddites, is their attack on new devices, seeing those devices as
    endangering their position. Some film users display fear and anger
    against digital users. They are the Luddites.

    Colin D.
    Colin_D, Dec 28, 2006
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