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04-30-2010, 11:18 PM   #1
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Good reason to use film rather than dslr?

Is there any reason why someone would use film slr over digital slr? Personally, I've only used p&s film cameras before switching over to digital p&s, then to digital slr. I understand that most of dslr (at least the ones that I can afford) are not full frame, but as far as functions go, dslr can do everything that film slr can do. Am I missing something? What are some good reasons to use film slr other than for nostalgic value?

04-30-2010, 11:27 PM   #2
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if you're a fan of traditional B&W and print your own images with an enlarger, or you are into the more exotic film effects -direct positive, cross processing, bleach bypass and other special effects that are related to using altered chemistry on film and the unpredictable results you can get by using those techniques....but apart from that there isn't much point in using film

-sure you can imitate those effects in photoshop and LR but with cross processing and bleach bypass effects you really cannot accurately predict what you will get, that is what makes it all so much fun. I still use my film cameras and rangefinders because I like the way they are built, I still shoot square format medium format because I LOVE the compositional freedom of the square.
04-30-2010, 11:48 PM   #3
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Lots of valid arguments for shooting with film or digital - use what you enjoy working with.

Certain film types give results that are not easy to duplicate with digital processes, and just by changing to a different type of film you can dramatically change the type of image your camera produces. I have mechanical film bodies that need a new watch battery for the meter every 5 years or so and will still operate fine without any electrical power. My negatives may be at risk of physical damage, but I don't have to worry about constantly backing them up against hard drive or storage media failure.
04-30-2010, 11:55 PM   #4
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Given Ive only just joined the digital SLR world, I'll have to get back to you re comparisons...

but I still like the analogue grain you get when enlarging an ISO3200 B&W film say. Ive kept my two old pentax bodies for a bit of fun on the side - one has a 50ISO Velvia film in it (i love my old slide projector for random pics thrown up on a wall when we have a house party for example and i like the 'time capsule' thing going on with slides. you dont look at them as often, but if youve used a good film, the colours are breath-taking) and the other a b&w film that i can develop and enlarge at home myself.

plus my missus and I bonded one day many moons ago, each taking a camera loaded with B&W film and snapping to our hearts content through the streets of north adelaude, some of the same images but from diff cameras... so although her old P&S long since died, my old MZ-30 can be full auto so can give that to her while i use the old 1970s pentax and we can get all nostalgic, hehe!

im not even going to begin on the lomography thing, thats a whole different kettle of fish...

05-01-2010, 02:08 AM   #5
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1.)Shooting film is a direct archival - with DSLR i have to write DVD's think of backup prints etc.
2.)You can get fully featured (nice 55/1.8, all functions) film gear very cheap - i use it for unsafe areas/street shooting.
3.)Fully mechanical camera, loaded with iso400 - a true ever-ready - newer runs out of batteries, bullet proof etc.
4.)For most decent film SLR's viewfinders ar better and brighter - desirable for night shooting.
05-01-2010, 03:09 AM   #6
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Recently, our hard drive died, wife had not backed up. Every digital photo ever taken, and there were some really good ones- wiped out except a couple that had been emailed out. Bit like the one that got away, except this was every fish ever caught digitally.
Also find film cameras, being much simpler, are faster to use.By the time you work out which ISO setting and other settings you want, the action is gone. In the good old days,when photographing some function ,the lens was prefocused for the distance I was likely to use, aperture/shutter speed manually dialed in. With wide angle lenses, did not even need to look. For indoor candids, had this setup with the old potato masher-no one escaped my evil intent. Add a waist level finder on the old LX and right angle mirror on the end of the lens and candids at the old drunken uni functions were mine for the taking and adding evil captions for the uni magazine
Film, with its finite cost, makes me take more care in composition. I find digital makes me lazy in composition. I remember the good old days when trekking in deep southwest Tasmania or Nepal, I would take much more care with setting up shots to try to make every shot a ripper to conserve film.
Another advantage of film is that the old manual mechanical shutters would still operate without batteries. With experience, I found the meter was rarely used(many of my cameras have dead meters anyway, and are now not worth fixing) and eyeballing the exposure in manual mode works well.
The older digital cameras had excessive delay- almost unuseable for action shots, but all these shots are now gone anyway.
Lastly, the colours are not yet there, but I dare say will be soon.
05-01-2010, 04:32 AM   #7
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I enjoyed reading the different view points, and very good ones, above...

For me taking a film camera instead of a digital boils down to a few practical issues:
- a film SLR is still smaller than a digital one, I rather carry a quality lens or two
- when I'm out in the freezing cold, a fully mechanical camera still works
- but for certain stuff, like macro shooting, digital beats film in ease of use

But, having grown up in the heyday of film (and of the break-down of commercial quality), I also see the drawbacks of film - less reliability in the image capture process, sometimes schlocky looking results, technical limitations... and after some decades, boxes and boxes of developed film and prints!

As I'm into vintage cameras, there really isn't a digital alternative. I enjoy using obsolete equipment, learning to use it well.... I see less of a need for a modern auto focus film SLR, though these too are lighter than the equivalent digital.

And so well put above: when everything works out with film you can get a look that digital just doesn't duplicate.

ps. putting on my Takumar club hat for a minute: another compelling reason for using film equipment is cost and peace of mind: you're not constantly tempted by marketing and peer pressure to buy the latest and greatest upgrade. You can get a nice very-high quality kit and stick with it, knowing that nothing modern is really better, and work on other things instead.
05-01-2010, 06:03 AM   #8
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I still shoot film along with digital because:
  1. Range. I like the tones and color range of negatives
  2. Grain. Sometimes I like the grain, especially B&W
  3. Darkroom. I like the interplay of B&W chemical and film
  4. MF. Nothing like medium format film exists for anywhere near the equipment price
  5. Nostalgia. A forty year friendship means something
  6. Versatility. Wet print or scan
  7. Proof. For my day job, nothing "proves" a fact like a negative or slide.

05-01-2010, 08:50 AM   #9
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If Pentax made an SLR with a 35mm-size sensor (and correspondingly bigger/better viewfinder), and an un-"crippled" lens mount, my main practical reasons for shooting 35mm film would be gone.

But I'd still probably prefer film.

As a matter of process, rather than end-result, I like some degree of delayed gratification. I like working slowly, thinking about every shot. I like the discipline of it. You could shoot that way with digital, but who does? Put a DSLR in my hands, and I'm just like everybody else. snap-chimp, snap-chimp, snap-chimp, snap-chimp, snap-chimp, snap-chimp, snap-chimp ..... and I no longer feel nearly so connected with the subjects, animate or inanimate.

There are quite a few shots I don't think I could have made, like this one, with my K100D. Not because the sensor isn't capable of recording them - but because I wouldn't have seen them.

I should also mention how much I like the way the Pentax SLRs of the 60-80s era were built. They're elegant, simple, sparse in controls, a pleasure to handle and use.

Last edited by Sluggo; 05-01-2010 at 09:01 AM. Reason: afterthought
05-01-2010, 08:59 AM   #10
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thanks for your input

Thank you all for your insight.
I'm not old enough to live through the intricacy of film photography, but I'm willing to find out as I just purchased a spotmatic f. Any advice for nubee is welcomed. Along with the camera, I also purchased super takumar 55/2, takumar 135/3.5 (on the way), and sigma 28/2.8. Any other lens that I should invest or should I experiment with them first? My pesonal darkroom is no where in sight for now.
05-01-2010, 09:46 AM   #11
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Noise. I like doing longish expsoure night shots and that means sensor noise when shooting digital. Put a film camera on the tripod and I can leave the shutter open for an hour or two with no ill effects.

Also, old 35mm film gear is much less likely to be stolen.
05-01-2010, 10:47 AM   #12
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Welcome to the forum @ragamuffin1171! The comments above pretty much cover the position of film in a digital world. I shoot both and will add my comments to the chorus:

What I like about my dSLR:
  • Low cost per frame...encourages experimentation
  • Immediate learning
  • Full digital...easier to share and publish electronically
  • Small sensor means more reach from my longer lenses
  • Endless "roll of film"
  • Accurate colors and wonderful control over color balance, sharpness, etc. in post-processing
What I like about film in general:
  • Huge dynamic range with B&W
  • High degree of control over contrast/tonality with B&W
  • Superb tonality with both color and B&W
  • Option for traditional wet process (silver) prints
  • Direct access to alternative processes without the need to create a digital negative
  • Medium or large format is superior for capturing detail at a fairly reasonable price point
  • Best option for long time exposures
What I like about my film SLRs
  • Smaller/lighter than my K10D (except for a couple from the late 1960s)
  • Larger, more accurate, and generally brighter (at least on my newer bodies) viewfinders
  • Better and cheaper wide angle options
  • Full mechanical models are not battery dependent
  • Inexpensive to purchase/replace
What I like about "figital" (film/digital hybrid...scanned film) process:
  • Most of the strengths of film
  • Easy to publish like pure digital
  • Most of the post-processing power of pure digital
  • Most cost affective route for medium or large format digital images


(Currently shooting about 50% film)
05-01-2010, 10:55 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ragamuffin1171 Quote
...Any other lens that I should invest or should I experiment with them first? My pesonal darkroom is no where in sight for now.
Looks like you have the classic film kit. Longer lenses can wait until you know whether you need them. When the time comes, the Vivitar 200/3.5 is a decent lens and reasonably priced in M42.

As for the darkroom...A daylight tank and reel along with some way to measure chemicals and a good thermometer and you are set for B&W negatives. Add a scanner ($$) and you have a complete figital darkroom.

05-01-2010, 11:01 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sluggo Quote
I should also mention how much I like the way the Pentax SLRs of the 60-80s era were built. They're elegant, simple, sparse in controls, a pleasure to handle and use.
Ditto Sluggo's words. A wise man once described a sabre made of light as an elegant weapon from a more civilized time. The older you get, the more sense you make of Star Wars.

To the point, I see my film camera as a tool with finite capabilities. Unlike a DSLR with a large memory card, my K1000 is capable of just 36 exposures at a time. When I first started in the mid-1980's as a student with little money, I shot 12-exposure rolls of the Kodak VR-Color stuff from the drug store and each roll might keep me busy for three to four weeks. The goal here is to foster shooting that is more contemplative. It's been said that when Ansel Adams first began shooting in Yosemite, he would pack seven or eight glass plates with him for his day hike with his camera and tripod, and would commonly find at the top of the mountain that one or two of the plates had broken in his backpack during his hike. Every shot is precious and valuable.

I've fairly successfully carried this practice with me to digital - I can routinely get ten to fifteen shots I like from just 35 to 40 shots taken during an outing with my photo club friends or a walk with my family with most of the culls being brackets that were off. As for film, sure, it's a pain but it was never supposed to be easy. The magic of seeing my 8x10 B&W prints come up in the tray of developer in the darkroom back in my college days burned into my brain the smell of that developer. I can recall the scent right now.
05-01-2010, 03:23 PM   #15
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The Spotmatic F you chose is an excellent camera, and a good introduction to film photography.

It is the only Spotmatic capable of open or full aperture metering.
This however requires Super Multi Coated or SMC Takumar lenses.
I don't like stopped-down metering so I recommend these instead.


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