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Switching from digital to film

Jorgen Udvang

Subscriber Member
The more advanced digital cameras become, the more I like film. I use digital for convenience and for commercial images where time is never sufficient. Always being in a hurry seems to be a natural part of progress.

I also prefer Portra for anything with people, 160 for formal shots and 400 for leisure. Lately, I've used Ektar 100 for some industrial photography and it's a very impressive film. Extremely fine grained and with a "fulness" of colours that is hard to beat. It does tend towards red a bit, so I do some colour adjustments in PS, but it's still a very satisfying film to use, particularly with medium format cameras.

I can also recommend Kodak Pro Image 100, which is a much cheaper film. It lacks the delicate colours of Portra, and shows more or less as much grain as Portra 400, but is still a good film for portraits and everyday use.
 

jduncan

Member
I've considered switching full time to film. The benefits of digital photography are obvious, but the slower pace of composition and exposure have brought a more satisfying experience for me. Another reason for this consideration, is with digital, I was obsessing with absolute perfection in resolution and the high tech involved that provides IBIS, IS, HDR, focus stacking, pano modes, etc...ugh! Perhaps, it's my love for purely mechanical cameras too. Film cameras and lenses are a fraction of the price compared to their digital counterparts. Surprisingly, clients are starting to prefer film images over digital when given the option. I guess this has everything to do with the character of a lens and film or just the appreciation of a more analog process that connects us historically to the origins of photography. Everything old is new again...
Maybe also the cell phones and computational imaging. People can get pictures with the focus dead on the eyes, great color and dynamic range pretty easily this days. So maybe they are starting to value craftsmanship and the creative side.
 

heymatthew

Member
Professionally, I shoot digital. Or at least at my 9-5 job. I work in local government where we cover mayoral proclamations, local events, utility repairs and outages, road work, etc. Those are things that people need access to quickly. Film doesn't give me that luxury. Our social-media-driven world has created a society that needs their news immediately as opposed to tomorrow or later or whatever. So I've conformed to that in my documentation of local government.

But personally, I only own a single digital camera and lens (an EOS R and 50mm f/1.8) and I shoot film for the rest (Leica M6 + CV35/1.4, EOS 1 + 50/1.8 and Fujica GW690II). Weddings are sort of an odd thing with COVID, but I should be shooting a couple weddings later this year (if they happen) and I will likely shoot them hybrid (EOS R + M6 most likely) and will probably rent some sort of fast zoom for the EOS R.

When I shoot hybrid, I tend to shoot color on digital and high(er) speed black and white for film (TX400, sometimes pushed to 800, or Delta 3200 or the like, which I sometimes expose at 1600 for that brighter look). I find that shooting color film alongside color digital leaves me just trying to match everything and that doesn't work because as good as Lightroom and its presets are, I can't get them to match and stuff just looks weird.

Ideally, I'd shoot with a Leica SL or M10 or something at some point for a more seamless workflow, but that's a ways out for me as I still utilize my EOS R for video work.

All that being said... I think if you have clients that are willing to pay the price for film and also that are willing to be patient as the lab processes and scans your stuff for you, then film has a charm and look that is hard to replicate with digital. More and more clients (especially in weddings and portraiture) are willing to absorb the time and cost of film. I don't see a ton of commercial clients being willing to do that as in my experience working commercially as a food and lifestyle photographer, the art director or creative agency wants the images quickly and electronically — both of which are sort of oxymoronic with film.
 

Shashin

Well-known member
When you buy a roll of film, there's hope, anticipation, and joyous wonder.
When you buy an SD card, not so much.

Joel
When you buy a roll of film, there's hope, anticipation, and joyous wonder.
When you buy an SD card spot spot the scans, not so much.
 

Godfrey

Well-known member
The "hope, anticipation, and joyous wonder" is the same for me regardless of whether I'm shooting film or capturing digital. A side benefit is that with digital I can re-use the storage media and save a little money along the way.

The hope, anticipation, and joyous wonder for either is always at its best when I see each exposure I've made opened up in whatever rendering system I have decided to use and look at the captured exposures at near the size I'm going to print them to... :D

G
 

anyone

Well-known member
Would I only like to shoot film? Probably not. Love the possibility to experiment with instant feedback.
Would I only like to shoot digitally? The answer is also no. I continue to be amazed of the achievable print sizes from film. The grain just scales beautifully. That lead also to a drum scanner and (older) flextight.

I have to say my workflow is hybrid though - each film capture ends up as a file. I still have a darkroom, but my skills are not anymore up to the standard.
 

Shashin

Well-known member
I am a little ambivalent over the environmental impact of film. The need for silver, water, and gelatin has costs. Not to say that digital does not have costs, but I do get to reuse the "film roll' in my digital camera.

Still, like most forms of our craft, there is something to be said for analogue processes. I just get tired of tasting the chemicals when I mix up the developer and fix...
 

Jorgen Udvang

Subscriber Member
I am a little ambivalent over the environmental impact of film. The need for silver, water, and gelatin has costs. Not to say that digital does not have costs, but I do get to reuse the "film roll' in my digital camera.

Still, like most forms of our craft, there is something to be said for analogue processes. I just get tired of tasting the chemicals when I mix up the developer and fix...
The biggest environmental impact of digital photography is probably the internet that we use for sharing and discussing photos. With increasingly larger files, that will only get worse. I haven't seen any figures for general internet use, but somebody has been calculating the energy cost of music streaming, and already after playing an album 4-5 times, one is past the consumption of producing and distributing a CD.
 

MartinN

Active member
With todays ever increasing prices for film and chemicals, there will be a situation where it simply is too expensive to do film photography on a regular basis. Now, one 120 roll cost almost as much as 5 rolls a few years ago, and even then film photographers had to be somewhat conservative with when and how often to press the button.
Soon it wil be too expensive for a casual hobbyist.
 

Godfrey

Well-known member
Film photography was always expensive. It's a moreso now compared to a dozen years ago, and some years before that it was very cheap compared to what it cost when I was first doing photography... Complaining that it might soon be 'simply too expensive to do on a regular basis' seems a little gratuitous.

When I was first doing photography, the cost of film and chemistry was a constant struggle for me. Only a few of my friends did photography because of the costs. Those of us who felt it was important enough to spend the money on kept going.. All a matter of personal priorities.

G
 

MartinN

Active member
Nice to get more perspective on pricing. I can only compare to when I started and today film is so much more expensive.
 

Shashin

Well-known member
With todays ever increasing prices for film and chemicals, there will be a situation where it simply is too expensive to do film photography on a regular basis. Now, one 120 roll cost almost as much as 5 rolls a few years ago, and even then film photographers had to be somewhat conservative with when and how often to press the button.
Soon it wil be too expensive for a casual hobbyist.
The cost was the reason I closed my darkroom and switched to digital. I ran a color darkroom and I needed to buy my chemicals in bulk (in 10s of gallons and most were caustic so shipping was an issue). And the process for disposing of those chemicals was just too complex.
 
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