The Joys of Film

Recently, I have been shooting film again. I won a Linhof 6×12 panoramic camera in a photo contest. I had a few old rolls of Velvia 50 film sitting in the freezer and thought I should expose them before the end of this decade. And you  know what?–I really miss film!

  • First, I feel more connected with the scene or subject when shooting film. With digital I take the photo and then immediately check the histogram, look at the picture on the LCD,  make adjustments and shoot again. I spend most of my time fiddling with the camera and less time looking at and interacting with the scene or subject. With film, I simply take the photo, no fussing around after the fact, and  I keep my eye on the scene or subject so I never miss a special moment (unless I am reloading the film!).
  • Second, I love the anticipation, the magic of getting the film back and seeing if the shots worked. There is a little alchemy and voodoo at work with film. There are always surprises, some good, some bad. With digital there are few surprises becase I look at every photo seconds after I make it.
  • Third, I like the idea that with slide film, once I press the shutter, the photo is done. No computer work, no post-processing, just a lovely image on the light table. And film feels like a real photo; it is organic and sexy. A memory card is just so geeky.
  • Finally, there is nothing like Velvia. I love its special rendition of the world, those amazing purples and vivid greens and blues. Digital just can’t seem to give me colours like Velvia!

Attached is a photo from the first roll of film to run through the Linhof, a camera by the way that reminds me of an Leica on steroids. No batteries that die, no sensors to clean, no firmware updates, no new models every 6 months, no black dot issues, no issues of any kind. Wow–how refreshing! Anyone want to buy a bunch of digital stuff?


14 Responses to “The Joys of Film”

  1. I hear you, Darren – err, Darwin. Nothing beats picking up film and being delighted (or disappointed). There’s magic in a well composed and exposed transparency. I was just scanning some 4×5 that I just picked up thinking digital would be so much easier. But, alas, I just love these old (fashioned) film cameras and the challenge with extracting the most from them.


  2. iheartfilm Says:

    I so want a Linhof. Nice shot, by the way.


  3. Since I switched to digital, I have thought about shooting some film a few times. I even took my Mamiya 645 and a roll of film along with my digital SLR on a photo shoot once, however, I shot all digital. Yes, I remember the days of getting back those rolls of film from the lab with my heart rushing, wondering how everything turned out. As you said, some were a bit disappointing and some were a pleasant surprise. It took my a long time to decide on selling my film cameras. I always thought there was a chance that I would want to shoot some film again.


  4. Second those thoughts! I am in the process of going back to film (or film camera as a 2nd body), I’ve been thinking much in the lines you write here. There’s nothing that beats the feeling of seeing the new slides on the light table, the un-processed pale RAW files on the computer screen just don’t compare! And it will also do me a world of good to slow down my creation process, digital has made me sloppy.

    Unfortunately I don’t have any Velvia 50 in the freezer so I have to settle with 100 or 100F. Velvia 50 doesn’t seem to be available here in Sweden, did Fuji stop making it?

  5. Darren, 🙂 for me it is exactly the opposite.

    I won’t say never because we all know what happens when you do that but there were too many years of working with film, developing and printing that practicality takes precedence over any nostalgia I might have.

    Plain and simple for me, digital aces film every day in every way.

    I don’t long for the past because I still remember bracketing my transparencies and having it cost me about two dollars for every sheet I exposed.

    Vive le difference. Long live digital. 🙂

  6. I feel the same way about film, which has a lot to do with why I use 4×5. I envy you your Linhof, though 🙂

  7. Hi Darwin, I’m a junior in high school and currently taking a class in photography. And guess what? We were required to do a project on a photographer and I chose you. Your work truly inspires me. Keep up the good work.

  8. Very cool camera – I love the aspect ratio. I’ve been contemplating experimenting with a pano format as well, though I’ve had 4×10 on my mind…yum. There’s certainly pros and cons to either approach (film and digital). Personally, I find film to be a lot of work on the post processing end since I scan, color correct, do global and localized adjustments, etc. While a transparencies do indeed look good on a light table, they don’t amount to much on the practical end without further work of some sort. I suppose that’s my own fault for not accepting the transparency as the “final” version. Hmmm.

    Anyhow, are you able to use your ND filters with this setup? Just curious since it appears not to have through the lens viewing. Have fun!

  9. Just a clarification: I intended to say Grad-ND filters. Sorry.

  10. Hey Darwin,

    Some great points. I agree with you on the colors – Velvia wins hands down. And the battery issue is a big one for me .. I wish I still had my old 35mm cameras.



  11. exactly my thoughts. I’m enjoying 6×6 and Velvia these days.

  12. Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

    Don’t pay for your electricity any longer…
    Instead, the power company will pay YOU!

  13. Darren…ah Daewin…no Darwin, yeah Darwin,

    I feel the same way about film vs. digital. Both have a place with my work, but film just has something about it that makes it special.

  14. Darwin, I haven’t done film in years. I just got my hands on a 4×5 Linhof that a friend is lending me. Bought myself some Velvia and will be going out soon to get film experience again 🙂

    That Linhof you won is a very nice camera, looks like you are enjoying it. Fairly easy to carry in the back country 😉



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