Why Do I Use Film?

Why Do I Use Film?

In this digital age of instant results, why do I still use film?

Let me put this in perspective. I own and use many digital cameras, from top end DSLR’s of different brands to compact digital pocket cameras that can be submerged underwater. I produce hundreds of digital images per session of shooting. So what would make me use film? Here are some of my own personal reasons:

1. It is different. The way it looks, behaves and comes across is different. It smells different. You can smell the fresh roll of film on the cartridge when you put your face behind the camera. It sounds different. Every shutter release sounds clunky and whirly and yet precise and with purpose. My margin of error is much different than that of digital. I have to get it right the fewer times for film. I have to retain in my mind what the image was when the shutter fired, and compare it days later when the print arrives, unlike digital where I just flip to the back to see if it was OK. You have to load the film the right way, and unload it the proper way. Your margin of error is much narrower than that of digital. It forces you to check and recheck. The way things are done on a film camera is different. Maybe, that difference is what makes it a fun thing to do, because people sometimes don’t want to conform to convention. People want to be different.

2. I want to touch and feel my precious archives. Just like everyone else, I have thousands and thousands of digital images stored into vast array of hard drives and memory archives. Some images are so redundantly repetitive, you could make a slapstick movie clip out of it just by scrolling images on a fast clip. The problem is: what images do I print? To print them all would consume the whole supply of the paper mill as well as the contents of my wallet. That’s why I like using film, especially for special occasions. It helps me preserve those important memories, take those shots in a frugal way, and choose wisely how to trigger the shutter. I am forced to have the negatives developed and images printed by the mini lab shop. When they arrive, they reside in my plastic bin box, complied neatly in a row of manila folders. They are properly labelled and filed. I don’t need electrical or electronic help to conjure up these images. I just open the lid, flip to the folder, and open the images. Those negatives will still be readable long after I am gone, even longer than 100 years. The digital files I have 6 years ago would be lucky to be readable in another 10 years without digital extractors and software converters.

3. It forces me to have an analogue version of my photos and that are not in digital format. I have my doubts on digital. It is not being archaic or backward, just cautious. The colour negatives of World War 2 journalists can still be viewed today: just hold it up against the light. The digital files of a few years ago cannot be read without painful and expensive extraction methods, if there are any left. Can anyone still read their floppy 4.25" diskettes? What about mini disks, cassette tapes, beta max and VHS video tapes? Digital files may be precise and intact, but the software method of being able to read them keeps moving the goal post. Files have to be upgraded and refiled to newer versions every so often; it may be so hard to just keep up on upgrading.

4. In heaven, there are no digital files. Only books, and of course, the Book Of Life.

Why Do I Use Film?

Raoul Isidro

Joined May 2010

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In this digital age of instant results, why do I still use film?

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