A reasonable question to ask in this digital age perhaps? I recall when I was just getting seriously into digital photography in 2005 there was this debate about the comparative ‘quality’ of digital vs film. And that was really only about the comparison of a negative to a digital sensor. The question of digital print vs wet (B&W) darkroom prints was seldom mentioned.
The question of digital print vs wet (B&W) darkroom prints was seldom mentioned (that is quite another matter. This debate has moved on as digital sensor improvement has grown to the extent that in basic terms digital can deliver much more for less cost that film. So why bother shooting film? Best to unclutter ourselves save for a few die hard eccentrics (like me) surely?.
Well there is another way of thinking about it. If I were a rich man (which I am not), then as well as my usual work day car and my SUV I would probably have a vintage Morgan, just for special occasions. As I said, I’m not rich but not so poor that I can’t afford myself a few little luxuries.
So it if that when I think I deserve a little treat I reach for one of my personal film cameras to indulge myself in the challenge and pleasure of shooting film (I have about 6 that I use regularly and another handful that I am getting back into use for other photographers). But it’s not just about the selfish pleasure of working with these old cameras, the physical nature of them, the sensual nature of shooting then winding, the precision of MF lenses, the anticipation of waiting to see results. There is more, much more …….
I have made use of old film cameras or sometimes by ‘converting’ digital cameras to behave almost like film cameras in workshops aimed at improving digital photography. How does that work? Well the thing about shooting film is that it slows you right down and forces you to think carefully about getting it right ‘first time.’ But even more importantly it encourages you to fully visualise how your shot will appear knowing that you are not able to ‘see it’ instantaneously on the back of your camera.
Both Film and Digital techniques when worked together provide the best insight to personal, for pleasure, photography. On that basis alone I highly recommend that all photographic enthusiasts either revisit film photography to compare with heir more recent digital work (if they are ‘old timers’ like me) or give it a try (if from a much younger generation) to experience and appreciate the work of the master photographers from the Golden Age of the 60s and 70s.
Final though is there is no need to make a big financial investment. If you avoid the big named collectable brands a good 35mm film camera is quite affordable and the depreciation is … well nothing if you look after it! And who know you just might make a profit.