That heading (“Why Are Some People Still Using Film?”) probably sounds a little confrontational and it was meant to. However, I am not actually trying to criticize anyone who is still using film, I’m just really interested in the reasoning behind the decision to go one way or the other. Not that it is necessarily down to reasoning, it could be emotional or perhaps financial.
My own reasoning for converting to digital is clear. I didn’t have room for a darkroom anymore, family life leaves a lot less time for self-indulgent hobbies and I felt that digital had reached a point where I could achieve pretty much the same quality as I was getting with film.
The other day I was waiting outside Boots (the chemist) in a popular seaside town and I noticed a bunch of people who came out of the shop and stood next to me while sorting out a fistful of newly purchased 35mm films. Around the neck of one of them was slung a well used and (presumably) well loved SLR (should that be “Analogue SLR?”). What really struck me was that this was a young man; young enough to have grown up in the digital age. He must surely have chosen to use the old technology, as opposed to not having got round to replacing it? I was about to approach him and ask him about it when my wife reappeared from Boots and dragged me off to the beach. It was probably just as well – I’m not sure being approached by some fat old stranger piled up with bags, towels, buckets and spades, mumbling something about “why aren’t you digital?” would have made his holiday complete.
Later the same day, I visited the Photographers Lounge and was admiring and discussing the latest images by Richard Heeps, which are proudly hanging on the gallery wall there. Kate pointed out that these images are shot on film and traditionally printed in a darkroom. The prints have detail, a depth and a richness which I am not convinced would be achieved with digital, although I have no experience with the really high-end digital kit. Assuming that high-end digital would achieve the same (or even better?) quality, the cost of this equipment could be prohibitive to many photographers.
I can’t help feeling there are many really good reasons for still using film and just because I’m struggling to think of them doesn’t mean they are invalid. When I went looking for some 120 film for my Mamiya RB67 it was quite hard to find and the price was quite shocking. Not to mention the time, effort and cost involved in getting it processed.
I don’t want to get back into “which is better, film or digital?” because that is now a pointless fruitless exercise, but as someone who was reluctant to give film up for quite some time, I’d really like to hear some of the reasons other people have stuck with it.