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Author Topic: Who is still using film and why?  (Read 14409 times)
David Watson
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« on: June 08, 2013, 02:28:23 AM »
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I haven't used a film camera for ten years or more until very recently.  Intrigued by the number of pro photographers I have met who, whilst they have gone digital for their professional work, still use film for their personal projects.  I wonder why?

To find out for myself I have wound the clock back and bought a Fuji 680 outfit and I will be using these for a variety of jobs over the next few months in parallel with my normal MFD camera.  I will take the same image with both cameras and then compare them.  By the way this camera on the second hand market must be the bargain of the century if you like film.  I obtained a complete outfit in mint condition for less than £1500.  I have run a test roll through it and before I get it back I am very impressed with the build and operating characteristics of this camera.  It is like a view camera with SLR facilities.  Michael did a review on this site some years ago which prompted me to try and find one.  There are a lot out there across the world but mostly in Japan and some are very very cheap.

Anyway back to the topic.  I am interested to know what other photographers are doing in terms of medium to large format film and digital and why they would choose one medium over another for a particular job.  
« Last Edit: June 08, 2013, 10:52:10 AM by David Watson » Logged

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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2013, 09:05:49 AM »
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Digital is great, especially for color.  I would never go back to color film.  However, I still feel digital lacks when it comes to black and white.  

I use to shoot 4x5 using Tri-X at ISO 80 and under develop by 30%; this got me some very rich negatives, which I would tone to completion with selenium as well.  I then printed on Berger warm tone paper, which was a very silver rich paper, and toned the highlights with Selenium and the shadows with Gold.  This created a very 3-D looking print that had so much depth, not the mentions the blacks where amazing.  If I had the space (and the time), I would defiantly install a darkroom in my place.  I don't see that happening though.  

Funny thing about toning with gold is that it is heavier than silver.  Berger paper was 330 g/m2 weight and would flout, a little annoying until you got use to it.  After being toned with gold to completion, it no longer flouted. 

Also, I use to do a lot of alternative printing, like platinum and palladium printing.  This just can not be replicated by digital, or come event close.  I am thinking about getting an used 8x10 field camera and doing some of this work in the near future.  I may also fool around with the Chrisotype (Gold printing), but have read it is extremely difficult to master.  Plus, you do not need to the space or a separate darkroom since the solution is only sensitive to UV light.  Just print at night.   Cheesy
« Last Edit: June 08, 2013, 09:08:00 AM by JoeKitchen » Logged

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jerome_m
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2013, 10:59:46 AM »
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Film is still the biggest sensor available, so one can use film when one wants the specific look that comes from using a very large sensor. Film also has a specific way to render colour, contrast and grain, so that may be another reason to use it.

About the "large sensor" option: I did not buy a Fuji 680, but a Mamiya RB 67. It is very cheap for the kind of machine it is and the lenses are also quite affordable. One needs to invest some time to change the light seals on old film backs, though.

Edit: I forgot to add that some people use old film cameras as a way to get people to ask about the "strange camera" and get them to pose. Street photography with an old wooden view camera is (reportedly) a very interesting experience. Sometimes it is better to be conspicuous than hidden.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2013, 11:24:08 AM by jerome_m » Logged
David Watson
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2013, 11:02:43 AM »
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Film is still the biggest sensor available, so one can use film when one wants the specific look that comes from using a very large sensor. Film also has a specific way to render colour, contrast and grain, so that may be another reason to use it.

About the "large sensor" option: I did not buy a Fuji 680, but a Mamiya RB 67. It is very cheap for the kind of machine it is and the lenses are also quite affordable. One needs to invest some time to change the light seals on old film backs, though.

Interesting point.  I will compare my "test" shots (scanned) with the same shot on my 60MP MFD back.  thanks for the response.
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Scott Hargis
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2013, 11:07:10 AM »
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I've been bringing a MF film camera (Mamiya RB67) to my interiors shoots for a while, and more recently a 4x5 as well. I build my shots with a DSLR (and that's what I intend to deliver) but when it seems suitable, I then duplicate the exposure with the film camera and shoot a couple of brackets. The job has usually been delivered before I even get the film back from the lab, but I often send the results to the clients anyway. In a couple of cases, they've preferred the film versions, despite what we might otherwise call "flaws" in color or toning.

All of my clients are totally intrigued by this new, wonderful thing called "Film".

I do it because I really learned most of my photography shooting digital, and I feel like I'm lacking something because of it. I think of it as knowing how to do long division, even though there's a calculator on my desk. Also, it's fun. And, the results can be startling!
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jerome_m
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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2013, 11:26:57 AM »
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Interesting point.  I will compare my "test" shots (scanned) with the same shot on my 60MP MFD back.  thanks for the response.

You will probably find out that the MFD back has more detail, less grain and a bit different colours. You will probably not find much difference between the rendering of the different lenses. But some people only have a small digital SLR and using an old medium format film camera is, for them, an easy way to explore a different rendering.
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DanielStone
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« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2013, 12:42:55 PM »
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I shoot MF and LF now, maybe 2-3 rolls/yr of 35mm... Digital has really "overtaken" that realm of my photography Cheesy

MF:
The GX680 system is a wonderful kit to work with. All the front movements are available, and the big 6x8cm negative/transparency allows for wonderfully detailed scans, even from a pro-sumer grade flatbed like a V750.

LF:
For LF I use 5x7", for both bw and color. Color film I cut down from 8x10, so a 10sht box of 8x10 now becomes 20 sheets Smiley. I don't print very big(20x35" at max usually, generally in the 11x14 range most of the time), but drum scanning my film allows for the best technical scan possible. Owning my own scanner helps keep costs down long-term as well, and really get the best scan, since I'm the operator.

Post/Scanning/Printing:
TBH, I actually *like* film grain. It adds a "sharpness" to the shot, without looking flat and boring. Also, moiré is essentially NEVER possible, unless you have a collimation of certain variables that essentially never come together in the real world, anyhow.
I can also make b&w contact(Azo/Lodima, in amidol) prints from my bw 5x7 negs, and they're still big enough to display pretty much anywhere(matted to 11x14 usually), even tiny little apartments/studios. I used to shoot 8x10, and love the "presence" of an 8x10 contact print(or larger), however the sheer bulk started getting in the way for me. 5X7 is still a nice size negative, and I know I'm not using a point-n-shoot Tongue. The 5x7 proportions to me are also more pleasing than the 45/810 ratio.

I'm not shooting commercially(YET, still cutting my teeth as an assistant here in LA, I'm 25), so getting files to clients asap isn't a necessary evil in the workflow. I'm just shooting for my own enjoyment at present. When I start shooting for others/pay, I'll for sure offer digital 1st, but make it known that I want to squeeze in a few rolls of film, when/if possible. Just as an "alternative" for the client.


-Dan

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Codger
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« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2013, 02:41:13 PM »
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I'm still shooting film exclusively.  I have an excellent 67 kit with six primes, along with the requisite polarizing and ND filters for each.  Provia 100 has been my choice for more than a dozen years.  I shoot multiples at each set-up, including brackets for exposure or for wind.  I tripod every frame.  Most of my captures are made during the "magic" hour: yes, I like the quality and directionality of the light, but that's also when dynamic range begins to compress, and that's critical when working with transparencies.  I drum scan the best of the best at 400 mb and edit with PS for a master file.  I frequently print very large pieces.  I would like to ease into good digital (envious of that 10-12 stop dynamic range, ability to change ISO each frame, and instant visual verification), and have addressed a number of questions to this forum the past year about possible systems.  The issue remains -- my kit is paid for.  A comparable digital kit (if possible) would go $10K or much more, and that would be comprised of good used components.  So, I'll work through the 15 pro-packs I stockpiled in March, check my Lotto ticket this evening, and continue assembling an idealized DSLR kit in my mind each night instead of counting sheep.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2013, 02:50:12 PM by Codger » Logged
leeonmaui
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« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2013, 04:03:10 PM »
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Aloha,

I don't shoot film anymore but I do develop to film. At least My color lab develops to film, I just don't think inkjet prints have nearly the quality of developed film.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2013, 05:12:23 PM »
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...and continue assembling an idealized DSLR kit in my mind each night instead of counting sheep.

You and every other shutterbug in the universe!

Tony Jay
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2013, 05:52:27 PM »
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I continue to shoot my b&w personal work on 4x5 film-going on close to 100 exhibits since 1972. I just hiked into an archeological site on the Ghost Ranch with it yesterday. All my commercial work is digital color. When I travel by car or plane to out of state shoots I can't bring both so I have trained myself in a pinch to do a decent b&w via stitching files with the DSLR, but I still prefer film. I can do a DC b&w that will hold its own next to a great traditional or digital b&w print but frankly you have a lot of artifacts to deal with if you push the tonalities a lot as I do. I get a better file from filtered film. Also I just like the contrast in methodology to what I do everyday for a living.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2013, 07:31:48 PM »
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I am toying with the idea of putting a 11*14 set up together for the fun of it...

Cheers,
Bernard
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EricWHiss
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« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2013, 12:57:46 AM »
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I'm shooting a lot of film these last two years, 120 and 4x5 but added a 5x7.   I have really enjoyed it and sort of have caught a bug or something.   I'm now also messing with digital negatives to print my digital files. All for personal work, as the turn around is not fast enough for my paid work.  I was just shooting mostly tmax 400, but realized I can sometimes do better with portra than my digital backs can do with color at higher iso's anyhow and the look nice - skin seems nicer. 

To answer the question about why? Well film is a lot more work in some ways, but then there are no batteries to deal with, no memory cards or laptops to lug around.  Film can do things that digital can't easily and I think the larger formats have a look that can't be easily recreated.   Black and white analog prints seem to have tone and feel that I can't quite get with digital and inkets too. 
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Jason Denning
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« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2013, 01:53:39 AM »
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I shoot both colour negative and slide film on my 617 camera and haven't used my digital medium format for a long time, this is because the only way to obtain the same quality from a digital camera is by stitching (80mp digital backs possibly excluded, although I still think film holds up better when printed larger) and the shots I take require straight lines and most of the time it to be taken in one shot that just is not possible yet on digital. Even the digital 617 from Seitz has it's limitations.

It's just the best way to get the best quality in this format in one shot, I can shoot street stuff with this camera!

I also have a specially made cone for a 55mm lens on my 617 which allows me to capture very wide distortion free shots, which is wider than the widest 28mm lens available for the phase one system.
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2013, 03:04:47 AM »
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I don't shoot film anymore though I still have a freezer with a lot of film in it; the reason? I live on an island where film and required chemistry is now as rare as interest from your bank account, where water is in short supply and expensive. But I would if I could.

Just this week, for the hell of it, I shot two digital pics of a red pepper. One I worked up for b/white and another for colour, both for viewing on Internet/computer. In neither case did the result excite me. Both versions took lots of manipulation to look even remotely presentable, and I know that had I shot film the results would have been much more as I'd hoped when I started on the project. There is just something missing in the b/white that takes the guts out of the picture, and the colour one looks stupidly electric. For a veggie? The feeling I get from both pics is that they display the same 'look' with vegetables that digital is renowned for giving to skin in too many model photographs: plastic.

You can see the results in the Hasselfake Fotografs over on the 'critique' section - I won't post them here.

For anyone living in a big city with the facilities, then I'd suggest staying with film for the personal work; it gives you the time to play, and you end up with something that's very versatile after the event.

Anyway, the film cameras are so much more sexy! And organic; if you say organic, then everything is cool.

Rob C
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amsp
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« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2013, 05:40:33 AM »
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I posted this last year in a different thread and it still holds true to me. In fact I've invested more into film gear in the last couple of years than digital...

Quote
Well, if convenience is your priority then digital no doubt is hard to beat, for me the priority is the end result no matter what. There are many reasons I'm enjoying film again, but the major ones are:

1.) "The look". I see a distinct difference in my film shots, colors are strong but muted (if that makes sense), skin tones are more flattering, and they have an overall more "organic" look to them. There's more really, but it's all very hard to put into words. This is why I think it's impossible to do any film vs. digital comparisons, because people look for, see, and value different things. It's all very personal.

2.) "The experience". For me the experience when shooting film or digital are two very different things, I just enjoy and feel more connected to the craft when shooting film. You could say I'm making images when shooting digital and creating photographs when shooting film, but I'm sure that only makes sense to me. Either way, enjoyment is something that should not be disregarded as it seeps into the image more than you might think.

3.) "The final image". All of the above would not really matter if the end result did not reflect it, but I see results that for me are worth every inconvenience in the world, and then some. And in the end that's all that matters. For me there are things that digital excel with, where for example high volume, speed, and exact reproduction is key. Then there are other things where "feel" is more important and I prefer using film.

Anyway, this is all just my own findings only really applicable to me. I just challenge people to break out of the mindset that digital must be better in every way and replace everything that came before it. I don't really see people in other art forms thinking this way, in fact most other "artists" relish choice and the unique aesthetics it might offer to them, be it a technique, tool or material. But for some reason our field seems hellbent on going the other way, and that worries me.
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HSakols
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« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2013, 07:42:09 AM »
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Earlier this spring I ran into a large format photographer who was shooting black and white film which he would then scan.  I asked if he would have better control shooting color film and converting, but he still preferred black and white.  So if you wanted to scan your film and make b/w prints would you use b/w film or color negative?  I still have my minolta multi scan pro. 
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Rob C
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« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2013, 08:00:39 AM »
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Earlier this spring I ran into a large format photographer who was shooting black and white film which he would then scan.  I asked if he would have better control shooting color film and converting, but he still preferred black and white.  So if you wanted to scan your film and make b/w prints would you use b/w film or color negative?  I still have my minolta multi scan pro. 


I'd go for b/w film. It's what it's designed and made for doing best.

Having said that, were I looking to hedge my bets and were Kodachrome still alive, that's what I settle upon for people shots.
After I left the industrial photo unit where I was trained, I seldom used colour negative film. People say it is much improved, but old prejudice dies hard.

Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2013, 10:17:34 AM »
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I wish Astia was still in production.
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« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2013, 04:32:40 PM »
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Buy a back brace at the same time Tongue

I had a 11x14 for a while. Fun to work with. Not fun to carry!

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