Most of those who have been following along here for a while know that I enjoy shooting both digitally and with film cameras. Both can be rewarding in their own ways and many of us have strong opinions of which we prefer. These days I carry my camera bag with me everywhere I go with no exception. In it you will usually find my Hasselblad, OM-2n, XA2, and the body of my 5D. I leave the OM lens adaptor on my 5D making it all to easy to pull out the body and swap lenses with the OM-2n when I want to switch things up.
How do I decide which camera to shoot with? It’s almost as simple as you knowing what lens you want to use, but the thought is extended when I consider the film inside each camera and the behavior of each. More often than not I reach for a film camera. These days I use my OM-2n the most, followed by the 5D and last but not least, my personal favorite, the Hasselblad.
Using film has nothing to do with being trendy. It’s a format in the same way digital photography is a format. Painters use different paints, sculptors use different raw material, and photographers use different lenses, bodies or types of film. It’s not just a matter of keeping up with technology, it’s simply a different paint, or material of which to create with.
Film still yields an unrivaled dynamic range, warmth, and a unique, beautiful way to capture life. Digital gives us ease of use as an entry point into the medium and an easy sense of accomplishment (which can ultimately leave you getting burnt out quicker). I notice many photographers that got into photography through digital means who end up looking to film as a way to further develop themselves as photographers. Sometimes it takes time to develop an appreciation of the nuances of using film when modern day tech seems to push so heavily against analog because of the constant pressure to develop and the latest and greatest digital camera system.
This weird push and pull for or against one format or another is unfortunate because there is clearly room for both. Any talk of film “dying off” is unheard of to me and it’s disappointing because a negative attitude toward film is not only absolutely pointless but drives the overall social mentality that paints it in a seemingly outdated way as if it is somehow redundant now that we can mimic the feel of it on a computer. It’s like drinking orange flavored sugar water instead of real orange juice.
Film isn’t dated, it’s very much alive and well. Against what you may believe after reading about Kodak’s financial state, they openly admit that their film division is still profitable despite the other parts of the company faltering, and they are certainly not the only film maker of the world. Shooting with film is not just for hipster kids or overly romantic shooters like myself. It’s for any photographer that wants to broaden his or her palate and as always I encourage anyone on the fence to give it a chance. Not only by trying it but by not talking down on the idea simply because your personal needs or taste does not align with what it gives you at this moment in time.
One nice example of someone giving film a chance is my good friend David who hand coded the new site design here on 50ft. He had been shooting with a modest DSLR for a few years now but recently decided to give film a try after being surprised by the results of using a borrowed rangefinder. He has been shooting with a Nikon FM2 lately and I love what he has been capturing with it. Looking back on his old photos it’s hard to believe its the same person shooting them. I think the switch has renewed his focus and spirit in looking for interesting things to shoot. You can see them on his Flickr stream here.
Well, I set out today simply looking to share a new desktop but here we are discussing film again and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I shot the above photo on the floor of a coffee shop a while back when I had first bought this lovely OM-2n. I thought the black and white tiles would make for a fun desktop image. Enjoy!