This is not a debate in the Digital vs. Film argument. For the most part, Digital Technology has effectively killed traditional film work in the consumer market and in the commercial market. That is not really up for debate. Digital workflow is cheaper and faster and more convenient and the consuming public cannot see a significant difference between the finished film print and the digital print (in many cases a finished digital print can look better, because of modern post editing). It almost seems like a no-brainer, why would I use film, when digital allows me to work faster, cheaper, and deliver a better product?
Here is why.
I work at a photography studio for my day-job. I spend 40+ a week, shooting portraits, commercial, fine art…. what ever we can sell. We tend to shoot “fast and loose”, because when you are working, time spent on a project is always limited by budget. Honestly, when you work as a photographer, being profitable is just as important (maybe the most important) as the images produced… if you are not profitable, you will not be able to stay working… It is always a battle to capture the images that we need, in the time allotted to be profitable.
Photography is my day-job, but it is also my hobby. I use it as the place I can find….Zen(?)…. I shoot a 4×5 studio film camera and a 4.5×6 cm medium format for much of my hobby. There is something special about distilling photography down to its simplest form. The 4×5 camera is essentially just a film holder, with a lens on one end. The camera does nothing. There is no meter, no focus assistance, no nothing. Just a lens, a dark box, and a piece of film. It is also very large and heavy. It is manageable to carry on short hikes, but I can only carry the camera, meter and a few sheets of film. When I go to some great location, and it takes 45min to set up a camera and I have only 10 sheets of film, it makes the whole process… different…. I have to be much more deliberate in what I choose to shoot. With only a few frames to burn (and a cost of a few $$ per frame), I have to make sure that there are no mistakes; there are no extra frames. There is a certain zen to be found in the tasks that must be done with film, spending the time to load film carriers in the dark room, processing the film after the shoot. All the work that went into the final 4×5 inch image – the exposure, the focus, the developing, and the oddly satisfying feeling of not seeing the image immediately after exposure, is ephemeral.
If you have never shot film before, pick up a film camera and give it a try.