Today I am going to blog about a few benefits of shooting with film over digital, in my opinion. This post is not meant to criticise digital format but just to point out the goodness of film photography in the modern era.
Film slows you down
Unlike digital which is literally free, each shot on film costs money. If you shoot 6×6 on 120mm Portra 400, develop & scan at Triple D Lab, each frame is about SGD 2! Similarly, for 35mm, it is about 60cents.
Since you cannot click freely, you tend to give each composition a second thought before you click the shutter release. Hence, shooting film slows you down by raising your awareness and making you think.
For me, when I use digital, I have several images of the same subject, most of them have just a slight tiny bit of difference. It’s a pain in the ass when it comes to choosing.
Sometimes, when I cannot make up my mind on which one to share on social media, everything ended up rotting in my hard disk.
When I use film, I take one shot, at most two or three of the same thing, then I move on. No, I don’t spend money to ‘work the scene’.
Lesser time spent on laptop
If I am able to make up my mind after choosing that one fateful shot, I have to edit. To be honest, my editing sucks and I don’t really like to edit.
Small but closer community
If you are worried of being outcast or feeling lonely in shooting film, fret not, I assure you the film community is still around. You will be surprised, Singapore actually has quite a vibrant film community.
Film is not dead and is gaining a lot of attention year by year. A lot of good film cameras are getting harder and harder to hunt for. The price has also increased as well.
Don’t you feel that many digital images on Instagram are almost similar? Everyone is copying each other by using the same presets in Lightroom. Or they use the same VSCO presents, with the limited editing choices. Everything is so perfectly aligned in digital that it lacks the sense of surprise.
Anyway, my point is, the digital market is so huge and competition is stiff. Why not join our small but closer film community? If you put in effort in learning and make full use of your creativity, I believe your film image will blow your viewers’ minds.
I mean I encourage you to open your minds to film photography. Don’t dismiss the idea without trying.
I am still learning and I really hope my image can blow my other digital photographers’ minds to the extend they start to consider shooting film.
When digital wave engulfed the whole photography world, many photographers sold their film cameras and jump ship for digital format. So there are many, many film cameras in the market that are selling at half the price cheaper than the original.
Let’s take Leica as an example, the latest digital Leica M10 costs about SGD9000-10,000. But owning a Leica is no longer a far fetch dream if you can make do with film Leica. Because a film Leica is pretty much affordable compared to its digital counterpart.
Or if you prefer Nikon, a full frame dSLR costs about SGD2000-3000. But a full frame film Nikon costs less than SGD1000 (in fact it’s only $200-300)
Aesthetic film effect
When you shoot with film, you don’t need to touch photo editing software. Because the native original film effect is always the best. (That is if you send it to the lab for scanning). Some of my favourite films are Kodak Gold and Fuji Pro 400H.
Furthermore, I feel that film makes your subjects pop. The image feels more ‘3D’. After shooting film for some time, I can more or less tell if an image is shot with digital or film. Because digital image somehow looks very flat and very digitalised.
Higher exposure latitude in film
Film is such a wonder that no matter how many stops you overexposed the film, the details are still retained. Unlike digital, an exposed image is pale to near white.
Hence, when you are unsure, just overexpose the film. The photo above was shot at f/2.8, shutter speed 1/500 at super sunny weather.
The difference between shooting digital and film is the experience. Some people love it, some people cannot appreciate.
From the moment you click your shutter, to exposing the film, to developing the negatives, to receiving your creation. The whole experience is just unique and fulfilling.
Lastly, I feel that the best thing about shooting with film is the suspense. You have something to look forward to. Unlike digital, we see the images instantly. We know when the image is screwed up and we can retake the same photo millions times to our heart contents.
But the feeling of mystery and suspense is missing. I like the anticipation during the period of waiting to collect developed films from the lab. Or I will also anticipate the moment of truth if I do self-developing at home.
Overall, it’s like a birthday surprise you set for yourself.
Yes, these are all the reasons why I think people appreciate film medium. These are also the reasons why I am 90% shooting film and 10% digital.
Of course, even though I am an advocate for film photography, I do admit there are flaws. I will blog about it next time.
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