Sunday, 4 October 2009

Why I Like Film

I wish to stress this article is my own personal opinion, it is not a general Film v Digital debate.

Let me start with the Cameras themselves, apart from the high end pro DSLR’s ( and the sturdy Canon eos 10D with its magnesium alloy body) most other DSLR’s are cheap looking plasticky little things, that more resemble a Childs toy then an SLR camera. I could not imagine a hefty Long Lens on one these things. They definitely don’t look like their worth the money they cost.

When I press the shutter button on my EOS 3 or 1N, I know that I am committed to producing a print from the exposure that I just made, this encourages my creativity, I don’t want to waste my efforts and time. Not unlike when I am using my medium format twin lens camera, knowing I only have twelve frames per roll of film concentrates the mind, making me think and pick my shots more carefully. Having the ability to record hundreds of images (and knowing you can delete any one in a second) on the memory card of a digital SLR/camera, in my opinion has the opposite effect; it must be tempting to just shoot away without much discrimination, and therefore having a negative effect on creativity.

Another reason I prefer using film, is because I enjoy producing my own B/W prints in the Darkroom. I know that when I have produced a good print, I have influenced and worked on it, inputting various skills and techniques all through the process, from the moment I choose a film, put it in the camera, to the moment I put the final print into the wash. I have produced that final print with my own hands, literally. Definitely more satisfying then simply clicking buttons as you would do with a digital camera in order to produce a monochrome print and in my opinion a lot more skillful as well. Sure there is skill in digital imaging, but it’s a skill sort of removed from photography itself. I did not become a photographer to spend hours and hours sat behind a computer screen manipulating images, I like been out and about capturing images.

I feel sorry for young photography students who go straight into using digital; they are missing out on a lot for the simple reason that film photography teaches the true fundamentals of photography. From such basics like how cameras actually work, how lenses work, the interaction of light/various lighting techniques etc, whatever you can think of about photography, film will teach the true fundamentals of it. I find that a lot of digital photographers are obsessed with technical matters; they will spend hours in forums/debates discussing sharpness, or staring at bland images of brick walls discussing noise levels at various ISO settings? What’s all that about? No lover of Art or Art dealer would enter a gallery with a microscope and go round comparing corner sharpness (another obsession of digital photographers) to help decide which piece of Art they will buy!

I would like to stress I am not against digital photography, despite my opinions and observations. I can see and appreciate the appeal of digital. I recently bought a Canon 10D, iv not had the chance to use it to any great extent yet, but its comfortable to use, nice sturdy feel to it, like a film SLR that’s why I chose the 10D, though its an old model, I think its ideal to explore the digital world with. I suppose it’s just another tool to use in the pursuit of good images, though I can never imagine it taking precedence over my film photography.