Why i’ve gone back to shooting film

Recently I bought the first film camera i’ve owned in decades. I don’t really know what came over me, but once the itch was there, it had to be scratched!

As a young lad I would spend many a happy day wandering around with my trusty Zenith E. I would happily snap away at anything that took my fancy. The recent acquisition of a beautiful black Nikon F2 immediately took me back to those happy days. It was as though I’d found an old friend.

I have always felt weight equals value and lightness cheapness, so the F2 I bought pleased me greatly. It looked and felt like a real man’s camera. Not only is it capable of  taking beautiful pictures but could also used as an effective weapon in battle.

Thai cook at market Bangkok

The minute I held the F2 in my hands I knew I had made the right decision. For one thing it has slowed me right down, I now think a lot more about composition before I push the shutter. I have also learned to tune into my camera more.

My digital camera would be turned on and I would begin firing away without really formulating a plan of action. I now fine tune the F2’s controls and seek fine light like a hunter stalks his prey.

I find I am hardly cropping at all because I am taking time over each picture and framing shots better. In fact my post processing has all but disappeared. Basically I just scan and resize my images.

Each film camera is different in the way it sounds, looks and feels. This has an effect on the way I shoot and compose my shots. In short, the camera inspires me.

shooting 35mm film

A learning tool

The newer cameras have a lot of auto settings, but shooting with a fully manual camera will teach you a lot more about photography.

Having used digital cameras for the last 20 years or so I had begun to lose the ability to go fully manual. Luckily having run a few rolls of film through the F2 all the enjoyment came flooding back.

I find the whole organic approach much more pleasant. I can honestly say I genuinely love the process of shooting film. Digital images don’t handle grain and dynamic range as well. In short – film has soul!

market thailand shopping

The cost of quality film cameras has dropped, making it a great time to get into film photography. Just because it doesn’t autofocus doesn’t mean it’s no good. I only use manual focus lenses on my Nikon D4!

With the advent of lens adaptors it’s now possible to use pretty much any lens with any body thus the price of vintage glass has rocketed. You will have to hunt quite a bit more these days to pay a reasonable price for that 1960’s 85mm portrait lens.

There is no doubt film is expensive, especially the processing. If you are serious I think it is essential you learn to process your own film. This is something I hope to be undertaking soon.

sweet stand oxford street London

In conclusion

I think both formats will be around for a long time and both have their place. One isn’t better than the other, they are just different. If I was a wedding photographer I would use a digital setup, but for pure enjoyment film will always hold a special place in my photography. I urge everyone to at least give it a go. You may be surprised!

(Pictures 1 and 3 were taken with a Nikon F2/50mm 1.4 and pictures 2 and 4 were taken with a Ricoh GR1. Both were loaded with Tri-X 400)

 

3 Comments

  • Film photography isn’t better than digital photography, and vice-versa. They are both ultimately used to take photos and create images—which is the most important part. I remember recently in an interview with John Sypal, he commented that the average film photographer owns both a film camera and a digital camera.

    • Hi Alojamiento, Yes I agree with you both have their places and as such I own both.
      There is just something about film cameras that I find simply alluring.
      Maybe it’s because i’m an ex engineer that I find the mechanical aspect pleasing?
      Also with my Nikon F2 I don’t need to charge batteries every evening.
      Either way it’s all good.

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