So, I have been around long enough to see film photographers go through all the great hay days, of trying to decide which film is the best for the type of photography they are going to do, to today's photography of megapixels and raw images and the new mirrorless cameras, etc. So many changes in just a short time it seems to me. Let me go over some of the great things I have seen:
- I remember working in the camera store, and knowing the real purist photographer would be shooting slide film. Now their choices: Kodachrome, Ektachrome, and then the foreign films came in like Fujichrome, Agfachrome, and they all had their own characteristics that made them unique. Kodachrome had the warmer hues to give the richer colors, but more well known for the lasting quality or archival quality of it's film. The only problem was that it had about 12 good labs in the country to get it processed at. And it took about a week to get your slides back. Good slides or bad slides, you kept them all. One flat price for all. Most came in ISO of 25 or 64, and later on, Kodak came out with a 200 ISO. I remember using Fujichrome 50 and 100 a lot because the colors seemed really neutral and still gave good rich accurate colors.
- Ilford Black and White films gave Kodak a good run for their money because they were made in Europe and had much better latitude in the gray tones, and just seemed to be the choice for those shooting black and white films. ISO 32, 125 and 400 were the choices of the time then.
- The other things I remember was how to show our customers how to load their film so that they didn't take pictures without the film NOT go through the camera. How nice it was when someone made a camera that the counter would not work if the film was NOT going through the camera. Can you imagine taking great photos, and then find out that the film didn't ever go through the camera. Well, sometimes they thought that the developer did something wrong, not the camera. I hated that part of it. It was hard to convince the customer that they messed up.
- Slide film came in exposure of 24 and 36 exposure rolls only. Print film came in 12, 24. and 36 exposure.
- For a long time, and even today, film still claims to have better details in whites and blacks than in digital formats. Although that seems to be improving in digital all the time.
- 35MM cameras were considered generally to be much heavier than they are today.
So, let's look at the digital cameras, which I have also sold now.
- A digital camera can be made much lighter than the 35 mm cameras.
- At 10 megapixel, you can generally make a very large print from the image.
- Memory cards are small, and can hold a large amount of photos on them, plus, if you take a bad picture, you can erase it off of the card, and only keep the good pictures.
- Obviously, no need to develop the pictures. They are ready for preview on the camera.
- Easily printed and printed much cheaper than they were off of 35 mm
- Enlarges much easier than 35 mm film and can go much larger as well.
- Today's cameras have built-in filters and editing tools in them.
- Trick photography and special effects are more easily done on digital photography.
- Good Black and White Photos are easily done on digital cameras as well.
- motor drives in digital cameras are much faster, because it doesn't have to pull film through.
So, which cameras are better?
There are a group of photographers that are still saying that film is the pure form of photography, much like vinyl records are much better than cd's. There was an argument the other day that I heard that film photographers have to take the perfect photo of the picture as it is, but, you notice that almost every professional digital photographer today, hardly ever takes a photo without changing their photo or enhancing their photo on the computer once they have taken it. Almost all photos we see today are touched up or restored in some way in the computer before you see them. So, where is the purity in photography anymore?
I guess the one thing to always remember: the greatest photographer in the last 100 years, is probably Ansel Adams, and he used FILM:
Now, the challenge is that for someone to develop a style, a name for themselves that will take themselves to prove that digital photography can become as famous as film.
Article written by: Lanny Cottrell
Entertainment & Learning for the Photographer