A short note on Film vs Digital

An article out on F-Stoppers got me thinking about why I’ve recently going out to get an old fully manual film camera and my reason to shoot with it more than my digital camera lately.

I’ve chosen to use film recently because I feel it is a great tool to learn photography. There are a number of reasons why I feel this way and by all means I’m not here to tell you to do the same but I do feel it has helped me in my photo learning process and may help you too.

Here are my three reasons for using film while learning:

It slows you down: If you are buying film you only get, at most, 36 shots to a roll. You can’t just “fire away” and hope for the best like you can with digital. Also with a manual focus while walking around you have to stop and focus. Now you can say that I can also use Zone Focusing to get results as well especially when doing street photography. I do use this if I plan on capturing a person out on the street but most times I’m not out to get people but more architecture in downtown Milwaukee and Mequon/Theinsville where I walk around.

It makes you think: Now yes you do think when shooting digital but with the limited number of shots on the roll of film you will be more likely to be more discerning on how you shoot the subject. Digital will let you shoot multiple shots of the subject with ease as long as you have the memory space on the card to get various angles you want and then later pick the best of the buch. Film though as stated has a limited number of shots per roll of film. Keeping that in mind film also has a cost per roll* that comparably is much higher than digital and you tend to think about that cost and work more to get the shot right in one or two captures. You train yourself in this process to look at your chosen subject. 

* This does not including the cost to develop the film and get the images into digital format.

It teaches patience: Film does not give you the instant feedback like Digital does. You can’t know your results until the film is developed. You learn to wait for your results and you learn to take your time with setting up the shot. Sometimes as a new photographer digital allows you to rush through things a little too easy. There is the tendency to just fire away and sort it out later. Taking the first to reasons into account you learn patience and this helps you to think about composition and exposure more to get it right in one go.

As I said previously I’m not telling you that you have to run out there and grab a film camera. I’m just showing you that it is another tool you can use if needed to help your build your skills as a photographer.

Thanks for reading

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