Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why Film?

SEATAC Airport by Wayne-K
SEATAC Airport, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I've been getting a number of comments on my photos lately along the lines of "wow, I never knew film was so sharp," or "you're doing so well shooting film." I find this somewhat interesting and amusing, but quite honestly, I can't understand why people think shooting film is any different than shooting digital. Photographers have been shooting sharp, well composed, and well exposed photos on film for over a hundred years.

Comments aside, a lot of people just don't understand why I shoot film. Why shoot film at $0.55 per frame when I can shoot hundreds of frames on my digital SLR basically for free? Well, for me it's not about the film -- I enjoy the experience of shooting the Nikon FM2. The manual controls force me to think about the shot. It makes me consider how I want to render the scene on film by consciously selecting the shutter speed and aperture. It also makes me think about the exposure and whether I need to override the meter to compensate for excessively dark or bright scenes.

If a camera company built a digital camera that offered an FM2-like shooting experience, I would buy it in a heartbeat (the Leica M9 offers that experience, but is prohibitively expensive). As I mentioned previously, I don't shoot the FM2 because I want to shoot film. I shoot film because the FM2 gives me the shooting experience I enjoy. I suspect 80% of the photographers out there cannot comprehend this perspective. Most photographers only care about the final product. For them, it's all about the destination...the journey matters not.

I read a great review of the FM2, where the author not only reviewed the technical performance of the camera, but also spent a considerable amount of time discussing the "experience" of shooting it. Read the review here if you're interested.

Kodak Brownie



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