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Why I Shoot Film When Digital Is So Much More Logical!

Todays Car Boot Bargains!

(My latest film camera car boot bargains - a 35mm Olympus Compact and two Kodak Brownies.)

You know me. Every week I come home from the car-boot sales with another odd little camera or some 35mm film. After I've run a roll through them, I'll put up a post, or share the photos on Flickr, then I'll wax lyrical about how great taking photographs on film is. I talk about it on the Podcast, hell, I even do the the show-notes for the Film Photography Podcast because I love the format so much.

The problem is that I wasn't really sure why I liked shooting film. It's more expensive to get the photo's developed. The photo's are a lot grainier than my digital images. The negatives get dust on them and scratched, and that can never happen to the RAW files from my dSLR. I have to keep buying film, I can't take any where near the same amount of photo's on film as I can with digital, and I can't experiment as much.

We have here a conundrum. Logically, film should not have any part of my photography work-flow. Digital is better in almost every way. Film is the past, digital the future. Sure, it's great that the Olympus Trip 35 doesn't use a battery, but is it really better than my old Fujifilm S5700 Super-Zoom?

The answer, is that the reason why I love film, is not logical, but it is based around a fact. And I think I've worked out what that fact is.

In my digitally, technologically, electronically, brainwashed sub-concious, film cameras just shouldn't work as well as they do. My sub-concious (and then my concious) mind doesn't think that film cameras are complicated enough, so I'm always amazed, delighted and uplifted when I get my prints back from the lab and they look great. It just shouldn't happen!

Having come back into photography only over the last few years, I submersed myself in magazines, books and websites that continually obsessed about mega-pixels, processors and resolution. If you read through a camera review at, its all very, very technical and very, very complicated.

In my confused mind I mixed up technology with photography, and that you needed the most advanced of the former to get the best of the latter. Photography improved as technology advanced - something I now know to be not true. Sure, photography always changes, and technology can drive that, but they can be mutually exclusive.

So, as you can imagine, when I picked up my first Film SLR - The Minolta SRT 101, I was amazed that the 40 year-old light metering system could compete with modern, computer aided multi-zone light meters. It just wasn't right that the clock-work shutter could work just as well as the electronically driven curtains on my dSLR!

It should now be apparent that as I worked my way through various manual-focus 35mm Film SLR's, compacts and instant cameras, then more recently ended up with the Trip 35, my mind was reeling that these incredibly simple, but well engineered and designed, cameras could help me create photo's that were on par with anything that I could create with my digital cameras. 

You see it's not that I think Film is better than digital, or the other way round. Digital is now. Digital is the future. Digital is dominant, digital is the sensible way to shoot.

But film..... film is magical!

Thanks, Rob.

What Do You Think?

Do you shoot film? Why bother when digital is cheaper, cleaner and technically better? Do you shoot digital and film, or are you purely a digital photographer? Please add your comments below! 


Reader Comments (4)

Film is certainly fun to play with, but it still comes down to two more important things- exposure and lens quality. I loved film too - but the benefits of digital greatly outweigh the cons... at least in my humble opinion! :)

October 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Lourcey

Hi Larry,

You're right, the benefits of digital do outweigh the cons, but why do I then love film!

Great website by the way, everyone please check out Larry's site:

Cheers, Rob.

October 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterRob_Nunn

Hi Rob,

So good to hear someone else talking about the magical lure of film, there is definitely something about it!

I think as you mention it's the pure simplicity of it all and something that I tried to explain verbally to my family, (who have to put up with my darkroom activities and collections of camera gear laying around the house!) I managed to get it across by getting them together the other year to all build some simple 'pinhole' cameras from black cardboard, ortho film and paper negatives. I don't think any of them thought that a simple cardboard box with a small hole made with a pin was going to be capable of anything, especially the younger children.
So you can imagine the look on their faces as we huddled in the darkroom and placed the 'negs' into the developing tray and images magically appeared!! Even my wife jumped around squealing in excitement much as the youngest children did :-) We then made positive prints by enlarging the ortho film and contact prints from the paper negs and the magical appearance of the images when the paper went into the developer ushered some breathes of amazement too.

They still all have those little cardboard 'cameras' and the negs and prints that they captured and luckily much more appreciative of the 'lure' of film and my time in the darkroom. The older children can't often remember the last digital camera model they once owned or even have most of the images, but they never forget about the pinhole day we all had :-)

Digital is great and as you say the it's the future but film definitely has that magical lure.

All the best,


October 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVictor

Hi Victor,

What a brilliant story, a great way to get the whole family involved without boring them to tears! I can't wait to get some developing gear and start messing around with "proper" photographs!

Cheers, Rob.

October 23, 2010 | Registered CommenterRob_Nunn

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