Film: Not dead yet (video)

A reader emailed me this video from 2011 about analog photography in New York.

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  • http://www.fredfacker.blogspot.com Fred Facker

    I shot a roll of color film this weekend, usually when I’m shooting film I go with black and white, so I can develop it at home. When I went to get it developed Sunday, the guy at the photolab in CVS tells me they no longer develop film. Neither does the Wal-Mart. Thankfully the Walgreens by my house still has their developing center, BUT they have doubled the price. It was $14.79 for a single set of prints and a CD! Add in the cost of film itself, and you’re talking $20 for 24 exposures!

    • Clint Dunn

      Yup…the writing is on the wall. Too bad.

  • http://www.agniusdigital.com agnius

    Romanticizing the past has been a hobby of some.

    I have shot plenty of film and don’t miss it at all. Lamenting about not knowing if the image has been captured until the film is processed was nothing but another anxiety for the pros to deal with.

    RIP film. You worked hard enough.

  • stepper

    Film will live on only as a novelty for hipsters and “artists”.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/fingerprinz/ Markus

    Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://reddot35.com FED4-user

    Thank you, a great film summarizing why film is not dead (and hopefully will never die). I cannot be happier going back to film in 2012. I can process my film here in NC in several places using C-41 processing methods (if I am lazy to do it myself). It cost around $2-4. The Ilford Super XP2 or Kodak BW400C costs around $5 for 36 (total $7-10 for 36). So it is not bad. You become very selective and thoughtful.

  • antoine serviette

    Film has a certain look and feel, a certain identity, that digital still does not have. Digital photography looks cheap and shiny, even with good vintage lenses. And the speed and convenience of digital cameras have spawned a generation of lazy, over entitled photographers who fire away at 10fps with their fancy autofocus, with no regard for the photographic process and not spending any time with composition and not really caring about the actual shot; instead they spend hours on the computer editing out their mistakes. pretty disgusting.

  • fjfjjj

    Digital hipster crap.

  • E

    To shot in digital or film is as a sexual preference. Nobody has the right to judge it. I shot mainly in film (from 35mm to 4×5) because I like it over digital. Period. And believe me, I’ve shot lots of digital too. If other people prefer digital is ok, it’s their choice. Too bad that film is in danger, though.

  • Banksie

    The whole “film is dead” and “no it’s not dead” dialogue is what really needs to die. If you like film, then use it. If you don’t, then don’t. If you like both digital and film than use both. Film has been around forever. People are acting like they just re-discovered milk or something.

    • And

      Ha! Milk.
      Spot on.

    • Gui

      Hey,

      I born in 1986 and I started to be interested in photography just 3 years ago.
      Since that time I learnt really a lot and I am now passionate about art photography.

      Since I started I was using digital but i realized something was wrong with me.

      Step by step I entered the manual focus world…thx to adapters etc until I decided to buy myself what I thought was my need: a digital dedicated manual focus camera aka Leica M8. I worked hard to buy this camera second hand with a second hand zeiss lens. I felt so much better using this that a DSLR or a Mirrorless as the camera was just complete RAW : no gimmicks, few buttons, direct access, just the essential.

      But something was still wrong.

      One day I went to a Lomography workshop and someone lend me a Lomo camera with 3 rolls of film. Those were my first time shooting film in my all life (yes…born 1986 but first time shooting film…like many).
      This experience was just wonderful and made me realized how the marketing fooled us completly since marketing decided it was better for them (and not for us) to buy digital cameras every years instead of an analog one every ten. Understand that I born with digital…this is the only thing I experienced until few month ago.

      Man…I’ve sold my M8 and bought a film M3. Why an M3 ? Because it is amazingly well built, it is slow, there is no metter. When I use it I am not in a rush, I’m relaxed, I look around me, I set it up, I shoot, I learn to be more patient until I get my films, I’m so happy to discover what I HAVE PRODUCED (and not what the digital camera kind of “decided” to produce for me).

      Digital is a big lie. Marketing tries to make you believe you will take better photographs with the next camera. You do not. They hope all of us will forget about film really soon so they can continue to sell us their crap without any worry.

      With films no worries…I don’t mind not being in focus because even an out of focus picture can be fine, clear and interesting.
      I don’t car white balance because there is no such worry.
      I don’t care about batteries because there is non.
      I don’t care about electronical failure because there is non.
      I dont’care autofocus don’t focus where I want because I do focus where I want with my fingers and my eyes.
      I’ve learnt I don’t need Iso25000 to take pictures…I simply have to expose properly.
      I’ve learnt I don’t need to take 10FPS of crap because I don’t do sport photography and I don’t need such high FPS to record Life around me.
      I’ve learnt I don’t need massive and long PP to have a powerful image…I just need to know how to compose and chose the film I like.

      Now…I am a film addict and I’m sure there are millions of guys like me who could become fond of film as I do…if they had the chance to try it even once.
      Now…I just hope film production will never stop and I hope there will be tons of people to spread this message among their friends to help make film to re-born.

      And…no, I am not re-discovering Milk…Since nobody made me taste it before.

      • Ray

        Excellent! I am using an old M 3 for more than 20 years and I am lucky
        with it. Good luck!

      • E

        Very interesting experience and testimony. I hope your text will inspire other young people to try film, it’s the only hope for that medium in the long term.

  • andyedward

    Shooting film teaches you to be FAR more selective about what you shoot, so you actually LEARN something about photography. Digital shooters have diarrhea – they shoot indiscriminately

    • JM

      +1

    • brad

      amen

  • YUEN SIU LUN

    I think this clip is one of the best clip I saw recently for the debate of the usage and value of Film Photograpy

  • c.d.embrey

    Two things will kill film. Lack of film to buy, and lack of labs to process the film.

    Fuji is stopping the production of motion picture film early next year, and Kodak won’t be far behind. The motion picture film business is what has kept the production of color still film alive. How much longer do you think you will be able to buy color film?? My guess is not long.

    Someone has already mentioned that consumer one hour labs are closing. So are Pro Labs. One of the mainstays of Pro Labs have beeen the Wedding Photographers who shot film, and that business is dieing. One local lab has stopped doing C41 ’cause they were getting less than 50 rolls a week.

    The B&W business will be around for awile longer, but not forever.

  • Robert Capa

    I shoot both film and digital. Digital for the crap I don’t really care about, because I need color, because a client demands it or because it is pitch black and nothing else will deliver an image.

    One of the main reasons why I still shoot film is because I don’t have to worry about my life’s work being wiped out by a giant sun flare frying my RAID. For better or worse my negatives will be around for decades or centuries, unless they are physically destroyed, which is a lot harder to do than wiping a drive or an OS becoming obsolete.

    Color film is in danger of pricing itself out of existence.
    B/W should be around for a looong time.
    We need good affordable negative scanners to survive in the digital era.

    • Banksie

      @Robert Capa

      “We need good affordable negative scanners to survive in the digital era.”

      As long as we have high MP digital cameras and quality macro lenses, we’ll be fine. Just get yourself a quality Bencher copy stand and a good color corrected light box. Or look for a Beseler dual mode slide duplicator or a Chroma Pro on eBay. The Beseler is basically a color enlarger turned upside down and with a flash tube in it.

      Back in the days of analog printing, we all had to make quality internegs to print reversal film onto RA paper. The process was basically the same as scanning film today. We used cameras and lenses then, and we can still do it today. Just use a digital camera instead. :-)

  • Banksie

    @Gui
    “I don’t car white balance because there is no such worry.”

    If you use color film, you still have to ‘worry.’ Yes, you can color correct in post but it’s can be very tedious. We used to have tungsten balanced films available and especially in reversal films since C-41 neg films could be color corrected easier with dichro enlarger printing. But they aren’t so available anymore. You will still need to gel your lights or lens to get perfect white balance with color film. Color temperature issues remain the same whether it’s digital or film.

    “buy digital cameras every years instead of an analog one every ten.”

    More like 30-50 years with analog. All my Leica M bodies are closer to 25 years old and still going strong. And your M3 is more like 56 years old. The only downside is repair. The M3/M2 rangefinders used balsam glue and over time the finder might separate. It’s an expensive and skilled repair (and involving donor parts.) The other issue is that there are fewer really skilled repair persons around (like Malcolm Taylor in the UK, and Don Goldberg, Gus Lazzari, and Sherry Krauter in the US.) They will retire eventually and who will replace them?

    btw, Nikon still makes a film D4 equivalent: the F6. It’s got all the bells and whistles of a digital flagship pro SLR camera but records on film. The best of the last of that kind of camera.

    • http://www.flickr.com/genotypewriter genotypewriter

      “btw, Nikon still makes a film D4 equivalent: the F6. It’s got all the bells and whistles of a digital flagship pro SLR camera but records on film. The best of the last of that kind of camera.”

      From my experience using both Canons and Nikons, the film camera that’s closest to the current bunch of pro DSLRs is the Canon EOS 1V (2000)… 45 AF points in the Canon EOS 1 vs. 11 in the Nikon F6, AF point linked spot metering, 8 exposure modes vs. 4, 20 custom functions, etc.

      • HotDuckZ

        10 fps. film camera = 10 USD. per 3 second!!! very funny. :)

        • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com genotypewriter

          Funny isn’t it… machine-gunning pro photographers today are whining about how MWACs are undercutting them thanks to digital’s ease of use… at the same time if it weren’t for digital, most of these pros wouldn’t have even taken up photography in the first place.

  • olivier

    the only true message of this movie is “take your time when you press the shutter” ….

    the film process forces you to take your time because each shutter press cost money !!!

    the chemical process is not more magical than the digital one … it’s just a matter of time

    • E

      “The film process forces you to take your time because each shutter press cost money !!!”

      Do you really think your shutter pressing on a digital camera doesn’t cost you money? What about the cost of memory when you need to put a big load of crap in a hard disk? What about the shutter probably gone after 100 000 cycles and need a repair? I know people making easily 1000 pictures in a week, at that rhythm you have for two or three years. What about the battery’s life? Yes, film is expensive, but in same time you learn how to shoot things that are really interesting, and you improve your overall production and skills. Considering that I thing film is finally a very good business for me.

      “The chemical process is not more magical than the digital one … it’s just a matter of time”

      That depends for whom. You can’t speak for me or others that still find chemical process “magical”. And as matter of time I have very bad and expensive experiences trying to recover information from a dead hard disk.

      • http://www.flickr.com/genotypewriter genotypewriter

        “What about the cost of memory when you need to put a big load of crap in a hard disk? “

        What about the cost of storage to keep all your negatives, transparencies and prints moisture free? :)

        “What about the shutter probably gone after 100 000 cycles and need a repair?”
        ” What about the battery’s life? “

        And film shutters don’t need replacements? Are all film cameras fully mechanical?

        “Yes, film is expensive, but in same time you learn how to shoot things that are really interesting, and you improve your overall production and skills. “

        No. The problem you’re talking about is the lack of self control or something. There’s nothing stopping anyone from being careful when shooting digital. By your logic, once you’re good enough, film doesn’t have any advantages over digital. Whose side are you on? :D

        • E

          “What about the cost of storage to keep all your negatives, transparencies and prints moisture free?”

          I never say that film was for free, but the author seemed to think that digital yes, but maybe it’s only my interpretation. But in fact, I don’t have any moisture problem even if I live in the tropics. The storage cost is really low for me: $18 for a pack of 100 plastic sleeves (for +- 3600 pictures in 35mm). I bought one almost two years ago and I still have sleeves.

          “And film shutters don’t need replacements? Are all film cameras fully mechanical?”

          Not all film cameras are 100% mechanical, but mine yes. From the 50′s. No problem so far. Very different situation with my first digital that was dead after 4 years (and it wasn’t a shutter problem). Of course you could need one day a shutter replacement but as you use it in a less heavy way, it could lasts more.

          “No. The problem you’re talking about is the lack of self control or something. There’s nothing stopping anyone from being careful when shooting digital. By your logic, once you’re good enough, film doesn’t have any advantages over digital. Whose side are you on? ”

          I never said that with digital you can’t be careful. I was trying to say that “in my case” film helped me a lot. With the arrival of digital I stopped film and began to practice digital in a very common way: one shoot lots of crap for getting fewer good images. But after some years of this bad practice I began to shoot film again and I realize what was bad with my method. Since that moment my digital shooting is very different. But this is not a war with sides mate, as I said I shoot digital too. For that reason I know very well positive and negative aspects of both techniques and even if film is far to be perfect “I like” it more than digital for my own photography, what I consider more serious. I use digital mainly for commercial or casual stuff.

  • Argon

    “Hi I am John, and I am accountant. I don’t why all of these people are using computers and calculators. The real numbers are in pencil and abacus. They were developed in 13th century and worked great since then, all of those computers are for lazy people. It is a difference between calculating and making a calculation. I can do only 1% of others can, but i am true and real.
    Hi I am Joe, and i sell abacus. They are on par with the best mainframes out there.”
    Are those guys for real? I’ve shot plenty of film both on Leica and 503. It is wonderful – but certainly way outdated. Disagree? Open any today’s fashion magazine and one from 1990′s. There were always something specially off with a film – colors, saturation, hue. Black and white is much better, but still have some downfalls.
    Plus, unless you dodge and burn your prints yourself – you will never get enough control over your photo.
    I still shoot film here and there – just for fun and that black box excitement. But compare film workflow with digital one? Come on, get real!

    • fjfjjj

      More analogies:

      Toy Story vs The Godfather

      Second Life vs Making love in the afternoon

    • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com genotypewriter

      Strictly speaking, digital is far less accurate in terms of the colours captured than film (transparency, not negative). 2 green, 1 red, 1 blue doesn’t mean accurate colours. If you open up a raw file you’ll know what I mean… no, not in photoshop or lightroom… I mean really open one up :) It’s just the digital process is very efficient and makes image much easier to manipulate to get the colours we want. DSLRs (when saving JPEGs) and typical raw conversion software do the necessary manipulation for us to see more believable colours.

      But yes… much easier and faster to get accurate colours from digital than from film, which is a reason for the commercial success of the former.

      If you want plain resolution an a single capture, film is still light years ahead, provided that you know how to do it.

      • Argon

        I agree that ability of film to capture actual light might lead to better colors, however, there are so many possible variations with the film that it kills all the possible benefits.
        The differences lies in different color reproduction, saturation, hues, response to UV and IR light between different film models, chemicals etc.
        There are variations even from roll to roll. And since ability to acceptably manipulate colors is very limited with film, you get all of the different so-called film special feeling or, in other words,artifacts.
        For the resolution, if we compare apples to apples, i.e FX sensors to 35 mm and MF sensors to 120/220, i strongly believe that digital at least o n par with MF and better than 135 for FX. 8×10 are still possible but this is completely different story.

    • brad

      Im sure your photographs will be outdated next month. For your info they were intentionally screwing up the color many times in the mags. Unless you can shoot film well then you are just a monkey. chimp it up!

  • http://www.outdoorimagesfineart.com David Knoble

    Superb presentation! I started with BnW film in the late 1970′s and still process BnW negatives today. The permanence of a film negative is so much greater than a digital one. It has been the best way for me to marry science with art – something I fear is getting lost. Thanks for sharing!

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