Why You Should Shoot With Film

ONE: THE LOOK. Film has a distinct look and feel – an incredible color palette and tangible softness. Film is where it’s at, visually. You may try to make your digital images look like film and fail – or just realize that the easiest way to get the look of film is to shoot film.

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TWO: THE EASE. With a full-time photography-directing business that requires loads of travel, it is tough to connect with family and friends who would like to see more than my face staring at a computer screen. Film allows me to shoot, develop, scan, tweak, and upload images to clients in a fraction of the time it takes to process the same number of images digitally. The majority of my finished images are straight from the camera, with only minor adjustments to make them sing.

Nikon F4S, 50mm 1.2 lens, Kodak Ektar 100

Nikon F4S, 50mm 1.2 lens, Kodak Ektar 100

THREE: IT FORCES YOU TO BE A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER. There’s no slacking with film! You have to nail the exposure, know how the light is interacting with your subject, and how your camera will react to both before you press the shutter.

  • Each frame costs money, so you’ll be more diligent. Film will help you cut down on spray and pray photography-- where you were once shooting 10-15 images, you’ll find yourself taking just one or two.

  • Pressing the shutter less often saves time when culling images later. Fewer frames, fewer decisions...more time.

  • When you shoot enough with one film at a specific ISO, you learn the exposures necessary for different lighting situations. Film makes your exposures like clockwork where you can concentrate on your subject. Not your camera settings.

FOUR: DETAIL RETENTION IN HIGHLIGHTS AND SHADOWS. I dare you to shoot the same ultra-high-contrast scene at identical exposures using film and digital cameras.

The results will show an incredible retention of detail in both highlights and shadows of your film image. A huge dynamic range of tones with even gradation from darks to lights.

With digital? Not so much – just try it and see.

FIVE: THE DEPTH OF FIELD IS UNREAL.

Unreal, like bokeh so buttery you’d swear it belongs on your toast.

Nikon F4s, 35mm 1.4 lens, Kodak Ektar 100

Nikon F4s, 35mm 1.4 lens, Kodak Ektar 100

SIX: YOU LEARN TO SEE THE WORLD FULL-FRAME. Many digital cameras have a crop factor of at least 1.5, which means digital photographers see the world in a semi-telephoto state all the time.

Whatchu talkin bout Willis!? A 50mm lens on a film camera does not have the same angle of coverage on a dSLR with a 1.5 crop factor, as it is now effectively a 75mm lens. (Full-frame digital cameras are available, but if you don’t have one, you’re seeing the world through your lens differently.)

SEVEN: IT CAN MIX AND MATCH LIGHT WITH NO PROBLEM. Let’s say we’re in a room being lit by window light from the side and tungsten light from overhead. A digital capture will render all sorts of issues with mixed, uneven light.

With film, there’s no problem. You’ll end up with even gradations from tungsten to ambient light. (And no white balance nightmares!)

EIGHT: THE DROPPING PRICE OF FILM GEAR. As the brightest and shiniest DSLRs hit the market, film cameras can be picked up for pennies on the dollar of their original value. What used to cost as much as the latest high-end Nikon or Canon release is now only a fraction of the price.

I can replace everything in my bag - Mamiya RZ67 Proll, Nikon F4S, Pentak 67, Bell & Howell 8mm with lenses, film inserts, light meter, and tripod - for less than $2000. Everything! For less than the cost of a Canon 5DMIII body.

I can replace everything in my bag - Mamiya RZ67 Proll, Nikon F4S, Pentak 67, Bell & Howell 8mm with lenses, film inserts, light meter, and tripod - for less than $2000. Everything! For less than the cost of a Canon 5DMIII body.

NINE: LEAF SHUTTER, BABY. There isn’t a dSLR on the market with leaf shutter capabilities.

But what’s a leaf shutter? Instead of the camera’s shutter being a focal plane shutter – inside the camera, behind the lens – the shutter is inside the lens.

Leaf shutters can sync with a flash at all available shutter speeds. If the camera goes up to 1/500, it can sync it That means you’re no longer stuck at 1/250 or less for your fastest sync speed!

Also with leaf shutter, particularly Twin Lens Refex (TLR) cameras, there is no mirror in the body that has to go up and down. No mirror equals less camera shake, which equals hand-holding when shooting at much lower shutter speeds.

Mamiya, 65mm f4 lens, Kodak Porta 100

Mamiya, 65mm f4 lens, Kodak Porta 100

TEN: FILM SETS YOU APART. FAR APART. Quite frankly, those who shoot film know their stuff. And when you know your stuff you can forget the technical aspects and shoot the world the way you see it. Your vision comes out to play when you leave all the latest actions, presets, and doodads behind and focus intently on the subject matter before you.

Purchase film cameras: www.keh.com

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