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Reason for still using film (again)?

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I've been contemplating a return to film too. After shooting a roll of TriX with my dusted-off Contax G and printing high res scans with my Epson 3880, I see no difference in the final print from my M9 files and Nik Silver Efex Pro.

 

I've concluded that the reason to use film today is only if one wishes to utilize the darkroom for prints. The only other reason to use film is to do away with the possible electronic failures of my M9 and instead use the time honored failure-proof MP.

 

I don't buy the BS about analog cameras forcing a more contemplative approach that results in more "keepers" than my M9. I've loaded my M9 with a miniscule memory SD card replicating 36 exposures, never chimping, not changing my ISO setting from 400 and viewing/printing my results 1 week later. I've discovered that this process has made me a better and more contemplative photographer without an analog camera.

 

I'm sure I'll get flamed for this thread, that may now be jaded, but this self-discovery settled the film/digital debate for me, so I thought I would pass it along as added info for prospective deliberators.

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Very well written and convincing article Mauro - you have tipped the scale toward my MP purchase. I'm still having trouble justifying the time requirement for in-home processing and the commercial processing expense vs instant digital downloading.

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I shoot slide film only. Both 35mm and 120. I have never even used a digital camera except on my cell phone.

 

I love to be able to take slides out of the box, put them on a light table and marvel at the detail.

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Film cameras are more tactile tools than digi cams.

 

There is nothing like a Leica RF camera, screw or M.

 

My Nikon D3 & D700 are nice to use and make good pics, just not like a Leica. M9 does not do it either. Just different.

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From my point of view the image below contains a bloody good enough reason, just purchased the whole lot for £1k . Cameras are not built like this anymore, it just oozes class and I find I can focus ( at least with those lenses ) just as fast if not faster than I can with my M8. I sill enjoy using the M8 but I have to admit that I feel the build and "feel" of this Nikon is simply on another level ... a higher one.

Simon

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I have been carrying around both M8 and M6 bodies for a couple of months shooting with one or the other in different situations. I have done this to figure out my opinion on using film.

 

I must say that I am starting to enjoy using b/w film more and more. The biggest difference for me is the mode of "looking for b/w images". When I use the M8 I find myself looking for interesting colors and details knowing that the sensor really pulls them out. I regularly check for burned highlights as those can really ruin good shots and give them that cheap digital 90s-video-art look.

 

With the M6 and Tri-X 400 I am taking completely different kinds of shots. I am more concerned about general composition and high contrasts than details. Also I find that I am less concerned about exposure usually just taking a general value with an incident light meter and perhaps correcting a few stops here and there. I develop my own films and enjoy both the process and the gratification the process brings.

 

I love the general look of film images. Not just the grain but also the way the images are by nature something different from the over-saturated stockphotography that fills the world.

 

Taking less photos makes you remember the situations and thoughts behind each shot. Images become encapsulated in stories.

 

And finally, I hate showing people photos from the camera screen. Its like somebody looking at unfinished work, strangers entering your private space and turning those sacred moments of the shutter-click to something very teenage. Using film kind of makes all that go away.

 

Having said that I would never use film to shoot, say, a family party. Thats where convenience is everything.

 

My 5cents.

Edited by mscore

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The differences between digital and film enlarged conventionally (not scanned) is seen in the print. You cannot possibly present the differences upon a computer screen. They are two profoundly different mediums in that respect. That's the bottom line, for better or worse.

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I've been shooting film for the most part since the One Challenge in October. I decided my goal for 2011 would be an average of one roll each week. It looks feasible, I loaded roll 21 this afternoon. In comparison my M8 has gone 36 (!) exposures during the same time.

 

I can offer no other explanation than that I like it, all aspects of it. Loading, shooting and developing it. I'm not that thrilled about scanning the negs, but I'll take that as a part of the package as I like the results in the other end.

 

Carl

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The differences between digital and film enlarged conventionally (not scanned) is seen in the print. You cannot possibly present the differences upon a computer screen. They are two profoundly different mediums in that respect. That's the bottom line, for better or worse.

 

Many young amateur photographers have not even seen real silver-halide prints. Getting rare even in photo exhibitions.

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I love the general look of film images. Not just the grain but also the way the images are by nature something different from the over-saturated stockphotography that fills the world.

 

.

 

I must admit I got turned on to Tri X again by shooting 1 roll - something I didn't do since digital inception. Love the grain BUT I can't distinguish the difference between prints made on my Epson 3880 that were scanned from Tri X film and M9 files processed through Nik Silver Efex Pro.

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I must admit I got turned on to Tri X again by shooting 1 roll - something I didn't do since digital inception. Love the grain BUT I can't distinguish the difference between prints made on my Epson 3880 that were scanned from Tri X film and M9 files processed through Nik Silver Efex Pro.

 

That's because you are not using a traditional printing process for film. You are inserting digital when you scan film. You are doing digital, not film printing. There is a difference.

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From my point of view the image below contains a bloody good enough reason, just purchased the whole lot for £1k

 

Nice kit! Be careful not to over-stress the tripod socket, it's a weak point on the FM-series. When it breaks the camera is trash.

 

I use film either for convenience (color negs developed & scanned very inexpensively at Target) or for B&W (TMax 100). Everything else is DMR.

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Nice kit! Be careful not to over-stress the tripod socket, it's a weak point on the FM-series. When it breaks the camera is trash.

 

Thank you for the "heads-up" Doug, as I was not aware of it. So my Nikon and Leica do have something in common ..... a stress point, tripod socket on FM3a and base locking catch on the M8:o Never mind they are still both great tools to use and handle.

Simon

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I've been contemplating a return to film too. After shooting a roll of TriX with my dusted-off Contax G and printing high res scans with my Epson 3880, I see no difference in the final print from my M9 files and Nik Silver Efex Pro.

 

I've concluded that the reason to use film today is only if one wishes to utilize the darkroom for prints. The only other reason to use film is to do away with the possible electronic failures of my M9 and instead use the time honored failure-proof MP.

 

...Which is not a bad reason, IMHO.

 

One of my main reasons for sticking with film is simple: I use my M cameras and lenses for the majority of my photography - and I don't own (or particularly desire) an M8, 8.2 or M9. I want to use my M lenses - no other lenses can equal them - and doing so means using the camera bodies I happen to have (an M4-P and an MP).

 

Of course, I could buy a Nikon digital body for a fraction of the cost of the M9 and go digital, but it just wouldn't be the same - not even close. Even when using Nikon equipment, I would rather use my F100, F3 and FM2n bodies and film than use a digital body.

 

As for printing, I'm currently deciding between putting together a traditional darkroom or getting a film scanner and an Epson 3880 printer.

 

As with everything, each method of printing has its own unique pluses and minuses.

Edited by 400TX

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I am not a professional, however I once was a few decades ago. I like film because it puts more of me into the photo and process of producing it. With my Canon 5D2 I take a photo, download and print it in a matter of minutes. Not much enjoyment there since this is my hobby and a hobby should help you spend time. With my M6 I take a photo, develop the film, etc. which can take hours before I see the final print. This is time well spent since I have longer to anticipate and appreciate the results.

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I see enormous differences in the way that film and digital render light - in highlight transitions, in out-of-focus areas, in grain and so on. Using Silver Efex Pro (I do, when I want a good b&w conversion of a digital image) in no way matches a true film image, but it's a good attempt. The problems it can't overcome are the inherent limitations of a digital sensor - though shooting carefully within those limitations can produce a relatively pleasing end-result. With real film, the photographer is freed from those limitations from the outset.*

 

Still, if the OP is happy that there's no difference then it's obvious he should stick to the M9: it's undeniably more convenient than a film camera, and if the greater satisfaction of using a film camera, the sensation of handling film, the contemplation of the process, and the higher quality of the end-result are not there when using film, then what's the point? As far as I'm concerned, all of those factors mean that I use film for anything important and the M8 is my snapshot camera these days.

 

The subject has been discussed many, many times before - don't really see the reason to revive it yet again, quite frankly.

 

* I always forget to include the proviso that this doesn't apply to shooting slide film.

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