So, it has been about a month since I have been using film almost full time. It is an interesting experience. I mean, I shot film for years but somehow it makes a lot more sense to me this time. Maybe it is because I’ve gotten older or more patient. Maybe I am just learning to appreciate the art of it.
Perhaps I have just have more time. I do like the photos and I am learning to love the process. I never did like the process much, to be honest.
There are several problems I have noticed thus far. First, the way of processing digital photos has gotten so good that the “look” of film argument isn’t what it used to be. I am getting photos from my phone that I like almost as much and I would have thought that crazy in the past.
I do still enjoy my M3 more than most other cameras. I like the feeling of shooting with it. It is a lot of fun and I find I enjoy the process of shooting more with it than with nearly anything else. It makes me want to take photos and I suppose that is important.
I know that no matter what I say about the convenience of digital cameras and the look getting closer and all that in the future I will still appreciate the film photos more. I don’t know why that is the case. It is a hard thing to quantify.
I think it isn’t something that is meant to be explained. I don’t really get it. If the above photo was digital I feel as though somewhere deep in my brain I would know that the photo doesn’t actually exist anywhere.
In any event, it is an interesting argument. Digital vs film and all that. I don’t know if it matters much to me anymore. That being said, I have gotten so many questions in the past month about the differences between both and about which is “better..” Or which I think is better anyway.
It is a hard question because like anything there are lots of pros and cons to both.
The part about film I love the most is what I mentioned before. I love the tangibility. I know, I scanned all of these so technically they are digital too. I also have all the negatives in a binder.
Some people say the biggest problem with film is anything related to low light. This is sort of true. I mean, I will never have ISO12800 film. I make do, though. I shoot all of my HP5 film at 1600. This has nothing to do with the look and everything to do with the shutter speeds, ha. If I need light, I use my cell phone torch like I did above. It always works well enough for my purpose.
The last email I received regarding this matter was the most poignant. The writer said he hasn’t really ever seen a real world comparison between a modern digital camera and a film camera in which the person did everything themselves. He went on to say that he hasn’t seen a comparison with a full frame camera with the same lens as the film camera and someone who is deliberately “trying” to make both look like film.
I don’t know about all that. I’m sure I have seen similar tests. I have never really explored the topic myself though.
So, I spent some time thinking about a good way to do it. I think it could be (to borrow from the old Top Gear) actual useful consumer advice.
First, I had to decide on which digital camera to use. This is a complicated question as the easy answer would probably be to use a Leica since my film camera is a Leica.
The first problem with using a digital Leica is the price. The cheapest full frame digital Leica is the M9 which is still $3000 or more here in Korea. The M8 (which I loved a long time ago) would make my 50mm lens a 75mm lens so I didn’t want that. They are still almost $2000 as well compared to my M3 which is less than a grand.
The second problem with the Leica is that for a real comparison they aren’t exactly “modern”.. I mean, I wanted something that afforded some modern conveniences. So, being that the Sony cameras are the only full frame mirrorless options I decided on the Sony A7R for my test.
The Sony used was around the same price as a used M3 so that was fair enough. It does, however, offer some of the modern things I was talking about above. It charges with USB which was one of the first things I wanted. It has WiFi, which was the second thing. It has a ton of resolution and can do decent enough video. I think it ticks all the boxes.
Yes, the stickers. Don’t let a girl with a label maker at your cameras.
Anyway, let the games begin. And for the record I processed the Sony photos intentionally to look like the film scans.
Finally, the YouTube channel I have been talking about is just about ready to go with this post being the first “topic” of conversation. So far, I have been quite surprised by what I’ve experienced. It isn’t really what I thought it would be. Stayed tuned, as this post will be continued in the weeks and months to come.
As a side, my photography group @wearethestreet on Instagram has just launched a new blog! Check us out at wearethestreetblog.wordpress.com.