I’m having some trouble deciding if I want to go back to film. It wouldn’t be forever – I don’t think – but just a stop-gap measure until I can afford to replace my DSLR. I have a Pentax K-1000 with 50 mm. lens that works very well. It’s great because you never have to worry about the battery. It lasts for years and years, only running the simple light meter. There is no energy-hungry processor or LCD. It is manual only, so even in -60 degrees it would work. You’d just have to guess on the exposure, which I think I could do. But I don’t plan on going into the deep freeze anytime soon.
It’s a difficult decision. A foray back into film might do my photography some good. I’d have to decide on which types of photography I wanted to do, then get the type of film to match. With digital, you don’t need to decide until the moment of capture, when you can set ISO (speed) and whether you want to view it B&W or not. You can also change your mind later with digital, so long as you’re shooting in RAW.
I most likely would not be making a huge commitment to film anyway. That would involve getting a medium or large-format camera and lenses, buying the larger film, and finding a very good company to do the scanning. These days, if you want to go film, you need to make sure the scan is high quality. You still need to scan into digital. It is the 21st century after all. Digital is the way everyone delivers images, pro and amateur alike.
I don’t see the point in going whole hog on large format film. That is, unless you want to do landscapes or other imagery that needs to be printed truly huge – like billboard size. And provided you are making money from it. Then you’d want to buy the large-format lenses and get a digital back.
These are sort of half-digital cameras. They take the image from large (or medium) format film lenses and convert it straight into digital. No scanning of negatives required, no buying of film. It’s the best of both worlds really, except for the weight and cost. You still have that bulky large-format equipment to haul around. And they’re quite expensive. A 50 mp Hasselblad digital back goes for $17,500 at B&H Photo. And you still need to buy the lenses and heavy-duty tripod. You’re $50,000 into it before you know it!
What I’m thinking of is much less ambitious, but still a bit of a hassle. I’d have to buy one or maybe two more film lenses. And then I’d need to find a good processor/scanner. But I don’t know if I’d like it. I’m very used to the control I have with digital. It’s significant. You can choose ISO for one thing. With film you have to rewind the film (after making note of the frame) and make sure you don’t wind it all the way into the cartridge (not easy). Then you need to load a roll with a different speed. Then you have to go back to the original roll when you encounter different shooting conditions. With the Pentax camera these transitions are all manual, and my fingers aren’t exactly dexterous!
Digital photography will eventually take over completely. Yet despite what you may think, it has not yet done so. There is no real 50 megapixel DSLR camera, for example. The resolution has just not caught up with large-format film. But talk to a random film shooter and you’ll find out that resolution is not the main reason many of them shoot film. And it would most certainly not be the reason I would go back. There’s a mini-film revival going on right now. But digital will take over eventually, no doubt about that.
I’m just not sure what to do at this moment. For me it’s not really a question of what I want to shoot – I know it’s ultimately going to be digital. It’s just that digital is a much more expensive option as it sits right now. Oh well. By this time tomorrow I will have decided what to do for the near future. Until then I have posted a few examples of each format. Hope your weekend is going swimmingly!