Thursday, October 27, 2011

How Film Improved My Life

I completed my 365 "photo a day for a year" project in March 2011 and I think it really helped me become a better photographer. Now, I'm not saying I'm a great photographer, but definitely better than I was before I started the project. Since completing my 365, I purchased an old Nikon FM2 manual film camera and have been shooting it almost exclusively. I must say, it not only helped improve my photography, it has changed my life!

I've found film is much better than digital…here's why:

Improves Shot Discipline: Most people think digital capture is free, so they "spray and pray" with their digital SLR cameras. They snap away mindlessly, capturing hundreds of frames per day, and hope to get a good one. What they don't realize is digital isn't free. It takes an incredible amount of time to review and process the hundreds and thousands of photos. We all lead busy lives and time is money…at least that's the way I look at it. Shooting film costs me about 55 cents per frame, so I can't afford to spray and pray. I look at the scene, carefully determine my exposure, set my shutter speed and f-stop, frame the shot, and press the shutter release button. I don't shoot the same subject 30 times, from different angles or with different camera settings. All the thinking is done up-front before I snap the photo and I shoot it just once.

Shooting Film is Healthier: Shooting digital is time-consuming. It takes a lot of time to transfer the photos from the memory card to the computer, catalog the photos, and post-process the images in Lightroom, Photoshop, etc. This process consumes hours each day and frequently forces people to eat unhealthy fast food for supper, neglect their exercise programs, and generally disappear from their this. With film, I may shoot a roll of 24 frames over the course of 2-3 weeks. This means I don't have to process photos for 2-3 weeks, allowing myself more time to spend with the family, go grocery shopping, cook a healthy meal, go for a jog, and get to bed at a reasonable time. Film clearly improves the quality of my diet, exercise, and sleep. It also creates a healthier family and social life.

Cheaper than Digital: I paid $200 for my Nikon FM2 and $170 for my Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI-S lens. Now, $370 for a full-frame camera is a huge bargain! A Nikon D700 (or Canon 5D Mark II) with a 24mm lens would cost me more than ten times as much. Plus, in the next fifteen years, my film FM2 will likely increase in value. My D80 will be worthless in fifteen years. Digital also requires a computer, which needs replacing every 3-4 years, and tons of hard drive space. One does not need an accountant to figure out the financial benefits of shooting film!

Film is Sexier: Retro is hip. Chevy has their retro Camaro (based on the 1969 model), Ford has their retro Mustang, and even Fiat has a retro inspired car. Oh, and how can I forget...the Mini Cooper! In the camera world, Fuji has their retro-styled X100 camera….and it's selling like hot cakes! Since getting my FM2, I've had to lock myself in the house because it drives the women crazy. Guys, trust me on this, get yourself an old, manual focus film camera and watch your coolness factor increase ten fold. Only geeks carry around big, black, shiny, digital SLR cameras, with huge zoom lenses….just ask any woman (and women, just ask any guy). Ditch the huge camera, ditch the dorky backpack with the extra lenses, and get a cool, retro film camera with a small prime lens...preferably with a leather case.

Really the only problem with film is not being able to post photos as frequently on Flickr or my blog. That drawback aside, film has enabled me to spend more time with my family, saved me thousands of dollars, enhanced my well being, and improved my social life.

Disclaimer: This article is pure satire. Shooting an old film camera will not make you cool. If you are a dork, you will probably remain a dork.



  1. ROFL! Your arguments might hold up in a court of photographers but it would only be with those die hard film shooters who, according to the lore of days gone by, continue to amuse themselves with the idea that there is a "cool factor" that comes with the film camera they find on e-bay. When you are no longer able to find film to purchase, you can always use the camera as a momento of better times OR I'm fairly certain it would make a great door stop.

    I'm off to replace the pillow pet my husband made from my pillow and pj's with the real thing......just as soon as I'm done editing the last 100 pictures I took today!

  2. Seriously, your film photo's are getting better with every post. You really do have the b&w film "eye" mastered, finding excellent scenes that showcase the beauty of b&w.

  3. Sandy, the autumn nights are cold, crawl into bed and help keep the hubby warm! Shooting film helps build strong, loving relationships...

  4. Interesting article. I only shoot film myself. I once had a DSLR, but I sold it to concentrate on film. However, unlike you, I mostly shoot large format, although I do have an F6 for quick snaps.

    Personally, I don't care about the "cool" factor. I shoot film because I prefer the way film based photos look, not because I want to be "cool".

    Thanks for the article.

  5. Roteague, thanks for your comments. This article was intended for humorous purposes only. I don't think shooting film makes one cool...this was pure satire...I just shoot it because I like it.