What’s With the Film Thing?

Learning is NOT about your equipment. It’s about you.

Film versus Digitalby Gavin Seim: There must be a romantic draw to film because some still love it. That’s OK with me, even though I can’t totally relate. When I started in photography I was using film and the day I went digital I never went back. That was the days when film may have actually been better. As a teenager I remember eagerly reading things like “digital will be as good as film once we hit eight megapixels.” Then it happened and they still didn’t acknowledge it. Now with digital we can shoot at huge resolutions and get ISO over 100,000 for less money than using film.  Sure it’s grainy, but show me a film that will shoot ISO 100,000.

Some photographers STILL tell newbies to learn film first. All the while I’m thinking. “Stop wasting their time and money. Do we learn to ride a hoarse so we can drive a car? Their both transportation.” Fans of learning on film say it makes you think more about the shot since you have less of them. I say if you want less shots get a 1 gig card, or better yet a 256 meg. With today’s cameras that will make you think twice before you shoot because you’ll fill it up in no time.

Some of you may remember in the film days we heard things like “digital is great for learning because you can see immediate results and respond accordingly.” I concur. But now that digital is the norm people say “it’s better to learn on film because you cannot see the results. It’s teaches you discipline.” Huh? Something not making sense here. All the essentials like shutter, fstop, composition, focus and the rest can be learned just as well on digital and for less money.

If you still like film that’s OK. I know people get hooked on things and retro can be cool. But can you actually give us a real factual argument that film is better? I’m not talking about a romantic feelings towards film, I’m talking about some proof. With digital. I can shoot faster, longer, with less light and less resulting grain, then manage and edit the resulting images faster and spend less money doing it. What does film give me.

Bottom line. If you find film interesting and useful then go for it as long as you can still find it. Personally I would suggest learning digital first and then trying film if you like. Otherwise you’ll spend a lot of money on so so images that you could be putting into better lenses, education and more. In the end I think we all need to remember that it’s not about the gear we use. It’s not Mac or PC, Canon or Nikon, film or digital. Being a great photographer is about taking the time to learn and master your passion. If you want to make it as a professional it’s that too, but even more it’s about learning to sell and market your image to the paying customer.

Then again, I am just a young punk and I’m not afraid to change my mind. For curiosity sake I’ll add a poll below to how many of you are actually using film.

You might also check out this article on Seim Effects talking about getting a feel of film tones in digital and where things are going in the future.

Do you actively use film?

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