Wednesday, 1 January 2014

And that was Film for Me

We see people - old hands who shot film or new kids who were born in the digital age and absorbed the vibe of old photos - hankering to make film more than it was, more than it is. There are all kinds of scientific differences (some people read it as "superiority") between Film and Digital:


  • Film is low volume (12, 24 or 36 shots per roll) - so you think more before you shoot, making each shot more worthy
  • Film is more expensive, so again, you don't machine gun (people forget those bulk rolls strapped to the pro SLRs).
  • Film colour is all mixed in and "organic" unlike the cold, antiseptic nature of the initial clean RGB digital image.
  • Film grain is prettier than digital noise (yeah, they forget ASA 400 Fuji Neopan pushed in Fujidol to ASA 1600 with golfballs of grain)
  • Film emphasised shallower Depth of Field and bokeh because 35mm film is Full Frame (don't forget the Hassies, Mamiyas, Zenza Bronicas, Rolleiflex TLR). Digital is so pedestrian at sensor sizes one quarter or smaller in area than 24x36mm
  • Film asymptotes (rolls off, in daily parlance) over exposed highlights in a gentler fashion than the brutality of Digital level 255 (full white)
  • Black and White Film and Halide Paper have that deep, tonal black that Digital Screen Media (which projects white) doesn't have.
  • The Darkroom smell of D-76, Acetic Acid and Sodium Thiosulphate has that soak through the fabric scent that Digital will never have.
  • Film was shot with leather covered, fashion strapped, all metal cameras with shutters that go ka chunk louder than that pansy sound that the Sony A7 that some people are horrified about.
  • You sight Film through real glass, unlike the TV looking electronic viewfinder.
  • You have to be real good guestimating how the result will look like - none of that wimpy chimping every few seconds of shooting.
  • Real film photographers take an Ansel Zone V with their hand rather than rely on that 49 segment matrix TTL exposure meter that Digital demands.
  • You choose the type of film for indoor or outdoor, none of this Digital Automatic White Balance thing.
  • You actually scrawled on the back of the print, rather than rely on the ubiquitous EXIF metadata in the image file.
So, clearing out stuff from my room, notably, old books, I came across this bookmark. I made it so long ago.1978 in fact. My scrawl on the back said Fuji ASA 400. It would have been (if memory serves me right) my Minoltat XE-1 SLR with 135mm f/3.5 lens. Maybe.

Yes, I know it's blurry. And that was film for me.


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