I’m a hybrid photographer and I use both digital and film cameras all the time. Film and digital capture are completely different media and since so many people are asking me why I shoot film, why I moved back and began my hybrid photography way when the digital times are so advanced, I decided to write this post for all of you to highlight what I love about the film and show you some differences between film and digital photography.
Most people get better results with digital cameras. I prefer the look of the film. The film takes much more work. Extremely skilled photographers can get better results on film if they can complete the many more steps from shot to print/scan all perfectly.
Which is Better?
Neither is better on an absolute basis. The choice depends on your application. Once you know your application the debate goes away. If you need to shoot sport or need higher ISO, digital is way better but for portraits, landscapes and kinda slow photography, film is the best choice.
So what are the basic differences between film vs. digital? And why do I love shooting film? Why do I match my digital images to the film medium?
Here are the points!
What are the main differences between film and digital?
The most obvious difference between film and digital is the sensor used to take the photo. With film cameras, a film sensitive to light is placed behind the lens. When a photo is taken the shutter opens for a predetermined period of time and light hits the film. The result is a photo “printed” on the film. With digital cameras, a fixed electronic sensor is situated behind the lens. The sensor is built from tiny light-sensitive sensors each representing a pixel. When the shutter opens light hits the sensor and each pixel gets its “value”.
Photos taken with a digital camera literally cost nothing. The photos are kept in erasable memory and thus can always be discarded at no cost. The film does cost money. With a film camera, you have to pay for the roll of film, for developing the negative and for printing/scanning the photo. Every time you press the shutter button you spend money.
What do I love about film?
Whether it’s a portrait, scenery or a fleeting moment, film photography reveals it in the truest, unchanged way, grasping the scene with all its flaws, making them the values. I love how imperfect the images that I get are. They’re usually a bit out of focus or a tad underexposed and I love that. It gives character to the image.
You’re hiring a better photographer
There’s no ‘shoot-and-check-the-back-of-your-camera-to-see-if-someone-was-blinking’ and there’s certainly not much over-shooting going on to make sure you get the shot.
Film doesn’t mean you miss out
I understand that you want to still be able to share images with your family and friends around the globe via different channels and film images are also available in this way.
Shooting film is expensive. Shooting film is difficult. So you have to slow down and make sure you’re only shooting the most important images.
The thing I love most about using the film medium in the wedding industry is the timeless nature of the resulting image. I mean, what bride wants to see her face in ultra HD?
Higher dynamic range
With a higher dynamic range, film is better at capturing white’s and black’s details and can’t be replicated with digital cameras. Also, film can capture subtle details lost in digital photography.
Unlike digital cameras, film cameras are future proof and don’t become obsolete.
Film offers higher color consistency over digital. Film is the standard of photography and nothing compares – not even digital. Thanks to film, you can very easily achieve a beautiful signature style with the consistency of your work and that’s very important when you want to offer professional photography to clients, because your clients, especially wedding clients, are looking for someone whos going to capture their story in one artistic way – the signature way and you need to achieve that consistency of colors to make a beautiful story for them.
I personally love shooting film, I think it’s a fun creative challenge and a great way to learn composition and exposure. That all being said just because a photo is shot on film doesn’t instantly make it a better photo. If you feel more comfortable shooting on a digital camera, there’s no reason to just randomly buy a film camera unless you’re interested in trying it out. But do I think it is necessary to make a great photo? Absolutely not. Amazing photographers can make consistently great work with any sort of camera no matter the format.