"Why Are You Still Using Film?"

I have a better question.

  Why are YOU Still Using Digital?

I was surfing around and found an article called "Why are YOU Still using Film?".  Fortunately, the article allowed real replies instead of the canned "good riddance" comments you see in most of these "film is dead" pieces.

The article, of course, got hammered in the comments section. 

It would appear that readers saw past the "horse and buggy" analogies.

The commenters noted that the blogger used someone else's Flickr photo of a Canonet.  I was thinking "This blogger was supposed to be a photog.  Wouldn't he have his own picture of a camera??"

Couldn't he have just, like, instantly made one with a DSLR? 

Look here:  I was able to take my own camera photo, and that was with a camera made in 1983.  I typed up the developing order on my Smith Corona, jumped in horse-drawn buggy, and rolled on down to the Pony Express stop with my film roll. 

Okay, actually I just sent it out to the film lab and went and did something else until the pictures were ready.  Easy.  Then I scanned the negative on an Epson V500.  (The blur is because I used ultra-shallow depth of field-- f/1.7 -- but you knew that.)

Anyway, why am I still using film?   Five good reasons (and that's not even counting TMax 400 or Tri-X).

[Pick Any] Five of the Best Reasons to Switch to Film...

1.)  Financially speaking, if you're using digital, you're not saving as much money as you think.  You're using a highly complex electronic device that can quit at any moment.   The sensor can develop a nasty line through the middle without warning (ask me how I know), or it can just wink out on you and refuse to take pictures at all.   Each year's best digital cameras go obsolete in just a few years.  And just to make sure you're not stranded at a wedding without a camera, you end up having to buy another digital back.   You did prepare like that, right?  So much for savings.   Oh, and forget "medium format digital";  it's twenty grand.  

2.)  Film doesn't need to get any better.  I can use it right now instead of waiting around for years until digital works out the bugs.  Film has incredible richness and depth that doesn't need to improve.  My half-frame camera made by inebriated Soviet workers in 1974 still takes better pictures than a digital camera designed by robots and cranked out by Skynet in 2011. 

3.)  The longevity of the images.  No digital image is going to last longer than human civilization, especially not when they can't even make CD's that are guaranteed to last two decades.  I have CD's from the year 2000 that are unreadable already.  (Actually, I have CD's from last year that are unreadable already.)  As for print longevity... go ahead and print your digital images at your local superstore, then see how long those last.  They use inkjet-quality inks.   Somehow I don't think those are going to last for a hundred years. 

Which brings me to my next reason

4.)  Digital photos have no "original".  It makes it harder to prove who really made a photo, especially if you post full-size pictures to the Internet.   Being virtual, digital pictures can also evaporate along with your hard drive.  If you're using Flickr to store them, you trade one problem for another.  Now you have the nuisance of bloggers and link spammers using your pictures for their "switch to digital" articles, often without your permission.  Digital picture or not, it's tragic to see a beautiful photo of a film camera being misused for yet another "who needs film" article.  

And finally, we can't forget reason #5 why I still use film. 

5.)  Camera versus Log!    I really wanted to say the digicam companies didn't know about the image quality problem, but after listening to Kodak's former CMO in a 2010 interview, it's hard to say that anymore:

Interviewer:  "[film has] such a better image quality than [a] digital image, they'll just never touch it... do you think we're ultimately going to be forced to relinquish image quality based on sheer economics?"

Former Kodak CMO:  "Yeah, without a question ... you'll put up with it .... years ago I helped a company create [a color process] for a commercial printer... the quality wasn't quite up to offset class, but, I said it was 'business color', so let's sell it as 'business color'. And someone said, well why would you sell it as 'business color', and I said because 'sh***y color' doesn't work as well..."

This quote isn't from an idle spectator.  It's from the very same executive who made it his mission to push Kodak away from film.  The good news is that Kodak came out with Ektar in 120 and 4x5.  Great film, and it shows there's still hope for Kodak.   I'm also rather excited about the new Portra 400.  It gives "that look", and it does really well pushed to 3200.  They make it in 4x5, too.  There really is still good in the world.

So anyway, that comment by the former CMO brings me to add a reason #6 to use film: 

6.)  If digital camera makers are that cynical, I'll spend my money on film instead.  It's the technology I prefer anyway.

Ah, why not, let's go for seven:

7.)  Slide film!

Or how about reason #8...

8.)  Cheap medium format!
   Once we get into 120 and 220 film, digital can no longer claim the resolution advantage.  Large format is even more impressive.   Buy yourself a TLR, a Kiev, a Hasselblad, or even a Lubitel, and find out what photography is really about!

Come to think of it, here's good reason #9...

9.)  Digital suffers from "Leaky Sky Syndome".  Digital camera sensors cannot deal very well with bright lights, such as sky.  The glow from the sky leaks into other areas of the picture, giving it a nasty, artificial appearance.  This ugly digital artifact cannot be retouched out.   The better DSLRs minimize this, but they're expensive!

We could keep going, but that ought to do it for now.  

And one more time:  if you get joy from digital photography, then by all means continue doing it.  No real artist would ever tell you to stop using the medium that makes you comfortable.
  I use and enjoy digital cameras sometimes;  it's just that I think future generations should have the opportunity to use film at an affordable price.  Toward that end, someone needs to counter the continual stream of "give up, will ya" articles that keep emanating from the digicam industry (and their apparent friends in the media). 

If you use digital, hang on to it and keep enjoying it... but why not try some film, too?  That way, everyone wins. 

I hope you've enjoyed this article. 
Thanks for visiting!

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