Why Shoot Film – Part 1

Click on the link above to listen to a 6:41 minute discussion on Why Shoot Film, Part 1.

Digital Test-Image
Film Test-Image

Please note that the test files are kinda big so if you have a slow internet connection just be patient. Also note that the different composition is due to the different aspect ratio but I tried to get at least the top and bottom about the same.

Viva la Revolution- Stephen

15 thoughts on “Why Shoot Film – Part 1

  1. I’ve come full circle, Started out with manual camera with film photography way back in the 1970’s doing both color and monochrome. I waited for digital to evolve and mature where I finally chose to go with a Sigma SD14 and Now, I’m on my way back to film photography, adding a Sigma SA9 to my collection so my lenses investment works with both. I also knew to stay with lenses designed for film since it offers a larger image.

    Digital works well for some situations, but not all, and film provides a complete suite of photography capabilities.

  2. Great to have you back Stephen & great article too. The amount of comments I get when out shooting on the streets with my Leica M2 like:- “Oh, what a quaint old camera. Do they still make film even?” I find carrying cards for my local film lab a great help & replying:- “Sure, you can get any film you want from here & processed too as quick as you like.” The business of that lab is booming right now because of the quality of their work and keen pricing so nobody even think of telling them film is anywhere near dead.

    Viva la Revolution!

  3. Hi there. Thanks for the thoughts. It would be really great if you could share at some point your general workflow for obtaining high quality converts of scanned color neg images, such as the one you’ve shared. I think this is one of the major stumbling blocks that people face when trying to scan/use film, because many standard converters/inverters just don’t do justice to what’s possible to get from well-scanned film.


  4. I just shot an event in my church (low light). I had to do it handheld with long lenses. I wanted to do it on my D80 but there was no way I was going to spend all my time spotting the hot pixels that I get over iso400. Additionally, I wanted a nice image despite the high contrast that I anticipated from the use of spotlights. ISO800 film in my Nikon FE was the solution. It was great not having to worry about blowout as the lighting changed instant to instant.


  5. Sam- I will be testing the new Portra 400 which from all accounts is the bees knees of fast CN film for scanning… 3 over and 2 under latitude… will post the review here on FR when finished!

    Viva la Revolution- Stephen

    1. I’m quite curious about the new Kodak Portra 400 emulsion, can’t wait to read about your findings in that regard.

      Regarding the “why shoot film”, I agree with you. I shoot both digital and film, love both, but normally I have the tendency to use more film.

      I do my own B&W processing at home, and nothing can be more rewarding than being part of the full process.

  6. You hit the nail on the head when you said “I shoot digital AND film”. To do that at a high standard requires more investment than shooting one or the other. I’m not sure that model can work.

    I’ve got top quality 35mm and MF film cameras, plus two Canon 1D Mk IV’s and a Leica M9. In addition there’s the wet 5×4 darkroom that’s not been used for 5 years for anything but developing B&W film. Then there’s a substantial Mac setup and an Imacon scanner all of which needs to stay regardless of film, or film/digital capture.

    How is film cheaper if one can’t offset processing costs against pending purchases of digital camera gear ? Getting out of digital cameras and using film exclusively is the only model I can see working and few are advocating that strategy. Film is available by mail order, but colour processing costs are escalating and becoming less convenient. Home processing of C41 with the volume scanning burden is becoming the likely outcome.

    As a wedding photographer, how can I recover material and lab costs from customers who have never seen prints as nice as the ones I show them from my digital files ? They stretch to pay for my services already and are unlikely to pay more than cost for an upgrade to film, so processing will come out of my pocket, which is OK if the business grows from using film, but expensive if it doesn’t.

    I know the film quality argument is good as I recently attended a wedding as a guest and shot Portra 160 NC in my Leica MP. I was shocked by the fabulous results. I’d forgotten how vibrant colour was from film; how insignificant the pixel peeping resolutions mattered when seen on an album sized print.

    Right now, I’m struggling to see how a film strategy can work on a reliable professional level and if it can’t, is it just for hobbyists ?

    1. Gary- your concerns are what I hear a lot and I plan on addressing them here and in upcoming workshops… more on that soon!! The Figital workflow (FILM + DIGITAL) is actually a cost saver and a good marketing technique. I know at first it seems that film costs make it impossible- in example you mentioned of shooting weddings actually it is cheaper to shoot film than digital… think about the countless hours spent “processing” your digital files… this was never the business model for wedding photographers, there was a trusted lab and your job was to shoot more weddings… the current model with digital upgrades and being a slave to your computer is broken- and don’t get me started on all the soccer moms and dads who shoot events like these for “fun” or near nothing and are killing the market. All of this will be covered in very short time… film is for everyone both pro and hobbyist, tho most hobbyist now use digital…

      Viva la Revolution- Stephen

  7. A conversation from another site:

    “I find the pictures and audio quite misleading. The digital pic was exposed incorrectly. The photographer should have exposed for the highlights and corrected for the foreground using a good RAW converter. I’ve shot pics like these and they can be done a lot better than what is shown.”

    Actually your incorrect. Both exposures were the same as they both were ISO 100 and I did bracket the digital +1 and +2 and then a -1 and a -2 exposure and chose the one with the best range… the dynamic range of digital sensor regardless of the RAW software is less than film- it is just a fact… in this case and not in all cases film “wins”… more soon…

    Viva la Revolution- Stephen

  8. Thanks Steve, I enjoyed the audio. I am a long time film user who has slowly transitioned to digital. I shoot both now but much prefer film. I own an RZ67 as well as a range of OM’s. I am actually debating whether or not to invest in another film camera in this digital age. Just got a new wet darkroom built after getting rid of my old one 10 years ago and I can’t wait to get back into it. Hopefully film and darkroom supplies will continue to be readily available.

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