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Are there any benefits of using film compared to digital


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#1 Steve Ricoh

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 15:18

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I'm currently using an M240, however from time to time I start thinking about acquiring and using a film M (an M6 is currently on my watch list) but then the other half of me says don't be silly, the expense and extra effort to process and digitise negs or slides isn't worth it.
What are the pros and cons that I should seriously consider before hitting the buy key?

Any thoughts would be welcome to help with my decision making.

Edited by Steve Ricoh, 10 January 2017 - 15:19.

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#2 Paul J

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 15:43

The pros, I think, outweigh the cons.

With film we experience photography the way it should be. We change our shooting habits, style and approach, we take longer to look and in doing so search deeper. I remember watching people handle Polaroid like they were gold and they made every shot count. You engage your brain and in working harder you think harder, and IMO, better, more creatively.

All IMO of course. But I notice a significant difference.

Then there is the wonderful resolution of film, the tonality and natural colour palette, the way the tones and colour melt into themselves and grain texture that is good enough to eat. The headroom in negative highlight that rolls into the mid tones. It's grains 3D in appearance compared with post unless you want to put in a lot of work. For me the major benefits are the aesthetic; the colour and the tonality. Wonderfully organic and natural.

Then you have the added benefit of knowing you are developing a real skill, that is difficult at first and difficult to master.

The cons are expense and reduced convenience, the extra time involved. But for me the time involved is part of the overall process that makes it special. I love being in the darkroom, to me it's a place of magic. I like that Rodin quote "What is made with time, time respects". Good things come out of time and preparation.

Edited by Paul J, 10 January 2017 - 15:44.

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#3 mrckdavies

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 16:13

Hi Steve

I think you need to check the "I like film thread". It's very active, full of enthusiasm and photos.

The reality check is that you have to work around a budget and the availability of facilities. I have neither and opted to develop at home, sticking to C41 processing Kodak Portra etc. My B&W film is Ilford XP2, or old Kodak BW400CN.

I scan using a Plustek 8200i. Along with the processing kit and scanner it cost £400 to setup. I bought bulk Tetenal Chemicals and am using an air replacement system to keep the chemicals fresh. I will shortly break even, if I take consumer development costs into account.

I started with an M6 TTL, then got an M9, then finally an M3. Until you have used a late M3 you haven't experienced using silk to shoot with;-)

So while the M6 is awesome, pressing the shutter with the M3 is sweeter and now I carry it everywhere with the 3 lenses it has frames for and an additional viewfinder and 21mm lens.

Now I am truly happy and sorted.

Btw I am an amateur hobby photographer as Oskar Barnack put it, with 40 years experience. This shot changed my perspective on things,
eaae01bc4eef43bba2c849072f76b289.jpg

Best wishes

Christopher


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Edited by mrckdavies, 10 January 2017 - 16:38.

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#4 mikemgb

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 16:44

The pros, I think, outweigh the cons.

With film we experience photography the way it should be. We change our shooting habits, style and approach, we take longer to look and in doing so search deeper. I remember watching people handle Polaroid like they were gold and they made every shot count. You engage your brain and in working harder you think harder, and IMO, better, more creatively.

All IMO of course. But I notice a significant difference.

Then there is the wonderful resolution of film, the tonality and natural colour palette, the way the tones and colour melt into themselves and grain texture that is good enough to eat. The headroom in negative highlight that rolls into the mid tones. It's grains 3D in appearance compared with post unless you want to put in a lot of work. For me the major benefits are the aesthetic; the colour and the tonality. Wonderfully organic and natural.

Then you have the added benefit of knowing you are developing a real skill, that is difficult at first and difficult to master.

The cons are expense and reduced convenience, the extra time involved. But for me the time involved is part of the overall process that makes it special. I love being in the darkroom, to me it's a place of magic. I like that Rodin quote "What is made with time, time respects". Good things come out of time and preparation.

 

What he said.

 

I have taken up shooting film again in the last two years. I am now shooting as much film as digital. I love the whole process of shooting, processing and scanning, all of which I do myself. Film has a look that cannot be duplicated with digital that I just love.

 

I have also found that shooting film has improved my digital skills, unfortunately I had developed somewhat of a "spray and pray" attitude, I would take muptiple photographs of the same scene hoping that one of them would be a keeper. With film I have re-learned making every shot count.

 

As an example, in 2009 I road tripped through the US Southwest and Colorado for 9 days, in that time I took over 4000 photographs. It took forever to go through them and find the good ones. I just returned from a trip to London, I took 209 digital and 72 film photos, every one of the film ones is a keeper and 3/4 of the digital are keepers.


Edited by mikemgb, 10 January 2017 - 17:11.

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#5 Martin B

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 17:01

Film Pros (+) and Cons (-):

 

+ For B&W, the tonal range with grey tones on film is better than digital IMO. I find it hard to achieve the same from a digital file - files from the Leica monochrome camera might be an exemption here, but so far I have no detailed experience with this camera yet.

 

+ Silver Gelatin Printing: B&W prints directly from a negative on photosensitive paper beat what I have seen compared to B&W inkjet prints. I have no trouble printing on 11x14" paper size from a 35 mm negative - exhibit visitors asked me several times if the original came from a medium format camera since the resolution of the shown prints was so good.

 

+ Slowing down: is advantageous if the situation permits - limitation in the max. number of frames makes me more considerate about correct composition, exposure, and DoF. My keeper rate of film negatives is usually about twice as high compared to my digital files.

 

+ Grain effects: this can be both a pro and a con depending on the scene. I personally like a bit of grain but not too much in my film shots. I don't like digital grain effects - they look all unnatural compared to film grain (even there are differences, e.g. T-grain within the TMax films).

 

+ Color saturation: The color saturation directly coming from color films is simply stunning! Yes, I can achieve the same or similar from digital files with post processing (I did this comparison!) - but in some situations color film still beats digital here, for example fall foliage. But digital comes very close also.

 

+ Street photography: I personally like the look of film photos taken on the street from people, scenes, signs etc. Tri-X 400 or HP5+ 400 are my favorite films here. So far I did not attract any attention when taking shots with my black Leica M6 (with taped brand name and red dot).

 

 

 

- Speed: I can't directly see the result after I took the photo, and film development, drying of the film plus digitizing need time. Sometimes this can be also an advantage to slow down!

 

- Post processing: is easier and more flexible digitally than with film, e.g. on a laptop from anywhere.

 

- Development at home needed to save cost: Having film developed at an outside lab is getting expensive! You are much better off vesting in some basic development equipment and chemicals to do the development yourself at home.
 


Edited by Martin B, 10 January 2017 - 17:03.

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#6 Tom R

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 17:05

I'm currently using an M240, however from time to time I start thinking about acquiring and using a film M (an M6 is currently on my watch list) but then the other half of me says don't be silly, the expense and extra effort to process and digitise negs or slides isn't worth it.
What are the pros and cons that I should seriously consider before hitting the buy key?

Any thoughts would be welcome to help with my decision making.

 

Why? What do you hope to achieve with one that you are not able to achieve with the other? I ask because I see this question arise frequently on this forum.

 

I use both:  I use film when I need a final product that has the appropriate characteristics and more naturally satisfies an end-use, such as a silver gelatin print. I use digital when I need a particular kind of look, such as slightly-off colors, a particular palette, etc. that is organic to the M 8.2, and whose end-use is primarily in the digital domain.  

 

In addition to the "final products," the "workflow" differs dramatically (for me anyway) between these media. Different workflows might contribute to different approaches to the task at hand. The "quick" turnaround available to the digital domain promotes a way of seeing that is very different than the studied approach that comes from having a time-delay between the acquisition of the image and its "proof."

 

I am somewhat "older" perhaps ... but I find these days that I use the digital camera to 'explore' compositional theories and settings---much as a film maker once used "dailies" or "rushes" to assess progress on a film. Once I've identified settings and certain compositional elements, I return with film and continue testing my original ideas. 

 

I'm quite sure that others on this NG have very different opinions, etc., on this topic. But, again: what do you hope to achieve with one that you cannot with the other?

 

that being


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#7 luigi bertolotti

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 17:20

Well... if you like the idea of having a M6, buy it :)... but of course this is not the issue :

- Which past experience did you have with film ?
- Do you feel some limitations that are intrinsic of the fact that M240 is a digital camera ?
- Which kind of images do you whish to produce ? Prints ? Images to be projected ?
- Are you interested in special elaborations of imagery, to achieve (generally speaking) "artistic/artificial" pictures ?

From my side, and declaring first of all that i am a standard amateur, who tries to take "good pictures" when and where it happens, to achieve "good 20x30 prints" that I keep for personal record, I frankly don't feel any desire (and above all, any advantage) to come back to film (and I still have M3 - M4 .. even IIIf... :) ) ; time to time I vaguely think "oh, would be fine to buy a pair of rolls... (and maybe... 6x6 ones)" but is just a funny thought : seriously speaking, for me digital has been a DEFINITIVE step up in enjoying photography : a certain share of nostalgy is part of many aspects of life... but is a sentimental fact and no more, at the end : there is always some aspect about which I can try to improve my photography skill.. WITH DIGITAL... which sense would have that I try to improve my skills on film ?

Edited by luigi bertolotti, 10 January 2017 - 17:21.

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#8 earleygallery

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 18:19

Film is a different medium, giving a different look in the final output - whatever form that takes.

 

It's a bit like a watercolour painter asking about the pros and cons of painting with oils instead.

 

If you have an interest in trying film out then do it. You don't need to go to the expense of buying a Leica if you're not sure about using film though.

 

For me the pros include the discipline of shooting film, choosing your film stock and working with it, less post processing, not having to worry about whether you've charged your batteries enough before walking out with your camera (assuming you use a mechanical one).

 

Cons are obviously the issue of processing, will you process/scan or process/print or process/project?, cost per image (compared to digital) and time taken from capture to processed image (although that could also be seen as a pro).

 

With Ektachrome on its way back there's never been a better time to get into film!


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#9 TomB_tx

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 20:29

I shot film for 60 years, and never cared for digital until the M9 came out. Now I shoot both, but have always used the M9 as if it were film. Except for doing more testing of lenses and such where I wouldn't waste the film, I don't really take more shots with digital than I would with film. The M-D would be ideal for me, but waiting to see the M10.
So you can shoot the same way with both, but even so there is convenience to digital.
Film does add the quiet pleasure of darkroom work, while I find pp on digital too much like my normal work, but without the income!
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#10 philipus

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 21:34

In terms of benefits, well, for one, film smells better :D "I love the smell of fixer in the morning. It smells like...photography" Mary Ellen Mark is rumoured to have said to Brando. Oh, and you'll also have a physical artefact that not only was there with you when you shot that amazing photo but will also carry it forever.

 

But, seriously, in many ways it's mainly a matter of time and, depending on where you live, costs for development.

 

Time, because you have to wait for results and need to spend time to digitise/scan (post-processing takes about the same as with digital photos).

 

As for costs, they will be low if you shoot b&w or if you live in a place where costs for colour negative and even transparency processing is inexpensive. But one shouldn't over-estimate costs. Most people take a lot less photos with film than with digital, so even if one has to pay say 10 Eur or even more to have a roll of slide film developed that can be ok every once in a while. Don't forget that it is also possible to develop both colour neg and transparency film at home.

 

Many digitise film using digital cameras and the results are very good. I believe it can be done with a digital M using the old Visoflex system and a suitable lens. Of if you have a digital SLR that can very easily be used with a macro lens. Just get a USB light table (Huion are good) and a tripod.

 

Otherwise the Plustek scanners give good results from what I have seen in the I like film thread and on Flickr. There is a bit of a learning curve when scanning but it isn't rocket science at all and there are plenty here, me included, who are happy to help with any and all questions.

 

All this to say that there will probably be some costs in addition to the camera body itself to set up the digitising/scanning side of the workflow. Yes, there are labs which offer scanning services but you completely lose control over the results so I wouldn't recommend going this route (I've tried it). Plus a better-resolution scan of a roll will cost quite a bit and you'll soon reach the cost of a scanner.

 

In addition to the extremely positive news about the return of Ektachrome (dare I even think about beginning to possibly hope that Kodachrome might perhaps be coming back?), there is another reason why there has never been a better time to start shooting film: the lenses. Older lenses clearly work brilliantly, and I love all mine, but current lenses simply sing with modern emulsions.

 

In any event, if you buy an M6 and don't like it you can probably sell it for about the same for which you bought it. I'd just advise to buy from a dealer who offers return privilege and a warranty and who can vouch for the camera's history incl. any service, rather than trawling eBay for deals.

 

Good luck and do post in the I like film thread when - not if :) - you have your camera

Philip

 

 

What are the pros and cons that I should seriously consider before hitting the buy key?
 

 


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#11 Doc Henry

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 21:55

Film Pros (+) and Cons (-):

 

+ For B&W, the tonal range with grey tones on film is better than digital IMO. I find it hard to achieve the same from a digital file - files from the Leica monochrome camera might be an exemption here, but so far I have no detailed experience with this camera yet.

 

+ Silver Gelatin Printing: B&W prints directly from a negative on photosensitive paper beat what I have seen compared to B&W inkjet prints. I have no trouble printing on 11x14" paper size from a 35 mm negative - exhibit visitors asked me several times if the original came from a medium format camera since the resolution of the shown prints was so good.

 

+ Slowing down: is advantageous if the situation permits - limitation in the max. number of frames makes me more considerate about correct composition, exposure, and DoF. My keeper rate of film negatives is usually about twice as high compared to my digital files.

 

+ Grain effects: this can be both a pro and a con depending on the scene. I personally like a bit of grain but not too much in my film shots. I don't like digital grain effects - they look all unnatural compared to film grain (even there are differences, e.g. T-grain within the TMax films).

 

+ Color saturation: The color saturation directly coming from color films is simply stunning! Yes, I can achieve the same or similar from digital files with post processing (I did this comparison!) - but in some situations color film still beats digital here, for example fall foliage. But digital comes very close also.

 

+ Street photography: I personally like the look of film photos taken on the street from people, scenes, signs etc. Tri-X 400 or HP5+ 400 are my favorite films here. So far I did not attract any attention when taking shots with my black Leica M6 (with taped brand name and red dot).

 

 

 

- Speed: I can't directly see the result after I took the photo, and film development, drying of the film plus digitizing need time. Sometimes this can be also an advantage to slow down!

 

- Post processing: is easier and more flexible digitally than with film, e.g. on a laptop from anywhere.

 

- Development at home needed to save cost: Having film developed at an outside lab is getting expensive! You are much better off vesting in some basic development equipment and chemicals to do the development yourself at home.
 

 

Agree at 200%. Thanks


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#12 Martin B

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 04:36

Talking of film and printing....Color Silver Gelatin Print (11x14") from 35 mm negative on Arista color glossy paper for RA-4 print process. Had fun developing the film (Kodak Gold 200) with C-41 and then enlarging in color with my color diffuser head enlarger (yellow: 36, magenta: 42, blue: 0), and printing with RA-4 chemicals with manual drum processing. Yes, it took some time to get this all done, but the result speaks for itself....(cellphone shot of the matted print)

 

p2168660622-5.jpg


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#13 Nowhereman

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 05:16

Not an easy decision, but worth trying. I went back to film last February when I found a small hand-development lab in Chiang Mai to develop my film. In a thread called Go back to film? Sell the M9-P/MM? Wanna talk me down? you can see a good number of B&W M-Monochrom pictures and some color M9 pictures as well as some of my Tri-X and Portra 400 pictures taken with my M6 and the M3 that I subsequently acquired, as well as reading some of the arguments for and against.

_______________

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Edited by Nowhereman, 11 January 2017 - 05:18.

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#14 A miller

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 05:35

Steve- why dance around the idea and over think it?  Just take the plunge, have an adventure and make up your own mind.  If you can afford an M240, you can certainly afford to give an old film camera a try. I think you would like so long as you take it in the right context and look for a different kind of highlight detail and tonality and NOT look for the same clinic sharpness and cleanliness that you get with your digital files


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#15 michaelwj

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 05:39

Pros: You're using a camera not a computer.

 

I rest my case :D


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#16 Mark T

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 06:52

For me, the big reasaon to shoot film is because you want to make your own prints. Developing film is ok but not really that exciting once you've done it the first 100 times. Scanning is pain. Always. Especially as scanners themselves become outdated relative to the computers that drive them. However, making your own optical prints is where the real craft comes in and where the satisfaction lies. If you don't intend to do this than I would say it's not worth it. If you only want digital results to look at on a computer screen (i.e. from scanning), then I would say start with digital.

 

Analogue technology for analogue results. Digital technology to produce digital results.


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#17 105012

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 07:15

I mostly shoot film these days, love the tools, the process and the end results, really supports me to produce a better portfolio of pictures.

 

I process it all using an ATL-1500, but also recommend a daylight tank like a Rondinax or Rondix or JOBO 2400 or Kodak daylight tank (I have all 4 :)  ).

 

I recommend getting a Kodak Pakon scanner, this has all the colour profiles for Kodak's colour films (produced by Kodak themselves, very accurate and beautiful) and also does a great job with Tri-X, T-Max and Fujifilm ACROS (my commonly used B&W's, I am sure the same for others like Ilford etc). And the Pakon only takes a couple of minutes to scan a roll of 36, you start it and walk away, easy. 

 

After looking through my digital 'contact sheet' from the Pakon, I can be producing prints in my darkroom a few minutes later.


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#18 Nowhereman

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 07:16

Making your own optical prints from film may be the ideal. First, I've crossed out "your own" because print making in the darkroom is a craft in itself that not all photographers were particularly good at. The skills are quite different. Second, digital prints — they can be silver prints — from film can be beautiful: the first time I saw 40x60 inch (100x150cm) prints at a Daido Moriyama retrospective some years ago in the Gallery of New South Wales, I was blown away. Also, gradation management and dodging and burning digitally, although also a craft that requires a good amount of learning, can result in stunning prints. For these reasons, I don't feel that a hybrid workflow should be a reason for not shooting film.

 

The picture below is an example of a negative that was so severely underdeveloped as a result of a mistake by the lab that an optical print would not have been possible to make, but post-processing in Lightroom/Silver Efex resulted in an image that, in my view, has a film look that is unmistakeable:

 

Leica M6 | DR Summicron 50 | Tri-X@400 | Stand Development in Rodinal

31842975272_7929af51a1_o.jpg

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#19 Doc Henry

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 08:59

For me, the big reasaon to shoot film is because you want to make your own prints. Developing film is ok but not really that exciting once you've done it the first 100 times. Scanning is pain. Always. Especially as scanners themselves become outdated relative to the computers that drive them. However, making your own optical prints is where the real craft comes in and where the satisfaction lies. If you don't intend to do this than I would say it's not worth it. If you only want digital results to look at on a computer screen (i.e. from scanning), then I would say start with digital.

 

Analogue technology for analogue results. Digital technology to produce digital results.

 

Yes Mark , print on silver paper is better and nicer than scan or inkjet , scan is just for posting. A pleasure to work in front of his enlarger instead his computer , obsolete in few years by changing PC, OS, software etc.....

 

Grains of film are nicer when watching a print !

 

Attached File  L1015924-2homlabm9la50lf+++900 (2).jpg   107.77KB   36 downloads

 

Rg

H


Edited by Doc Henry, 11 January 2017 - 08:59.

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#20 MarkP

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 09:11

Henry,

I'm surprised it took you so long to weigh in :-)

Regards
Mark
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