Friday, July 31, 2009

Why Film Won't Ever Go Away: Film Cameras are Simple to Use!

Think About It? How many settings and adjustments do you really have to make on a film camera: aperture, shutter speed, film speed, and focus (although you may have an auto focus film camera); also carry enough film for what you plan to do. And if you are good at applying or at least estimating the Zone System, 9 times out of 10 you KNOW what your result is going to look like, without the instant gratification of a digital camera. Bracketing will take care of case number 10 if you are unsure. Besides, sometimes that image on the back of your camera is so small, you really don't know what the image will look like, and good digital photographers still tend to bracket and make their final decisions on the computer screen later.

There are literally dozens of settings to take into account for your digital camera. So most people never take full advantage of the real advantages of digital, they simply shoot the default AUTO settings, and keep shooting until they have an image that they like. And if your battery dies you are done! I can shoot any of my manual cameras (even the ones with light meters) when the battery is dead. Experience tells me what the best guess is for my exposures under various conditions. And the decisions necessary for film photography all cause you to THINK and PLAN, two things that are a good idea anyway. That's why many school programs have their students start with plastic cameras, where there are no technical decisions to be make, just the planning and thinking about what you want the image to look like.

Lets face it, many of the best digital photographers today are great because they've been doing it for years (meaning that they probably started with film), and THEY could do it well with any equipment. We'll see if the totally digitally trained generation produces a great master, and/or if they do, will their materials survive the digital data rot? We won't know this for a few decades because everyone with film experience will need to die first, so their bad artistic genetics are not passed on. But just in case you want to support film user genetics, check out these guidelines for choosing your first film camera.

That's my thought for this Friday. Since this is a Photo Blog, I'll leave you with a photo for today:

Camera: Mamiya 645 (1000S)
Lens: f/2.8 80mm normal
Film: Ilford ISO 400
Location: Fern Canyon, Northern California


  1. Very good blog extreme informative, keep it up. Thank you for all the comments.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. When I first started I didn't realize how much I would enjoy this.