Is Film Better?

Not long ago I purchased a film camera. I know, I know, it seems backwards right? WRONG! Though it may not be my primary camera, it will certainly get some use. There is something special about film that digital just can't seem to replicate, though there are PLENTY of attempts. Do a quick Google search for "make digital look like film" and you will be shown 21,400,000 results! There is obviously a desire to obtain that "something" that film produces in an image. With the onset of digital, why would someone even want to shoot a film camera? That, my friends, is exactly what I hope to show you.

The below Canon Elan 7 is the model of film camera I purchsed. I bet it's not what you had in your mind when I said "film camera" is it? There are a few reasons for this selection of camera:

Canon Elan 7 (image from B&H Photo)

  1. I can use my current Canon EF lenses and did not have to purchase older lenses
  2. The price! I purchased this thing from eBay with a lens an it was only $50! Good luck finding an older camera at that price! (I'm looking at you Canon AE-1)
  3. It's really not that old. This particular camera came at the end of the film reign and the beginning of the digital era, so it comes with similar technology and features as my digital camera. This helps for familiarity.

There are pros and cons to both digital and film. Digital is quick and easy to upload; film requires you to shoot an entire roll and then develop and scan in to turn it into digital. Digital allows you instantly check you photo to ensure proper exposure and desired effects; film is mysterious and you need to know your camera to get the desired effect.

But, the end result of waiting to get that film developed and returned is worth it. The surprise of going through those photos, it's not the same effect of uploading your digital files to your computer. Some say that film has "soul" while digital just doesn't have that desired something. There is obviously something about it or else there wouldn't be 21,400,000 Google hits!

Let me show you a couple of example photos that I took of my son on the same day.

They're both black and white to make the comparison closer. Can you tell which is film? Which do you prefer?

What about these two?

Easier to tell the difference now? Which do you prefer? Do you like the sharp brighter look of the digital or the muted grainy look from film? Personally I have to say that I enjoy the "soul" of the film. That's not to say that I don't like the look of digital, but there's something about the surprise and having limited shots before needing to reload the camera. Film makes me slow down and think about my shot and focus, and I think that practicing with film actually improves my photography all around.

Will I start shooting exclusively film? Absolutely not, even if I do like analog things like fountain pens, notebooks, etc. I will continue to play around with film as long as I can still find it online and have a place to get it developed, unless I get my own chemicals and do it myself (don't tell my wife). I would like to think that my son will look back on these film photos of himself and our family and think they're pretty cool. He'll be the only one of his friends that doesn't just have digital photos from an iPhone floating in cyberspace. He'll have tangible photos that were shot on film.

Remember, digital was never meant to last forever.

 One more, I can't help myself

One more, I can't help myself