Film is not dead it just smells funny
May 9, 2008 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Film is not dead it just smells funny - Analog photography blog - a nice way to discover some new photographers - a few images NSFW.
posted by carter (19 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, Franz-Peter, you saucy minx... I thank you for the Frank Zappa reference alone.

The pitchurs are purty too.
posted by rokusan at 2:15 PM on May 9, 2008

I [heart] film.
posted by Tbola at 3:21 PM on May 9, 2008

I love film, and I don't have the technical know-how to explain why it looks so much better to me. People ask me, "Why don't you just use a digital camera? You can do anything you want in Photoshop!" to which I say, "Yeah, well, why don't you just use a digital FACE? Your MOM can do anything she wants in Photoshop!"
posted by katillathehun at 3:31 PM on May 9, 2008

Thanks Carter... I enjoyed that. Digital and analog photography are two different aesthetic worlds. Sure digital looks OK, but once you’ve gotten used to Macphoto as standard fare, first class film photography is like looking into a whole other world with images that are sharp and deep and luminous.

Film demands a deeper emotional commitment from the photographer. The photograph is literally in his hands from the time the shutter clicks to the final print.
posted by Huplescat at 3:54 PM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

It'll be a long time before digital can capture the detail, nuance and color range of medium- format positive film.

Don't get me wrong, digital photography has come a long way and is serviceable for most purposes, but give me 60 (or 25) speed slide film any day.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:32 PM on May 9, 2008

I am learning to use film all over again after using digital to learn composition. In black and white photography especially the art is not only in composition, but also exposure and developing the film. Having in mind how you're going to develop a film when you're making the exposure, which in turn dictates to a large extent how you're going to print it. Painting with light and shadow is what it is, and it's a whole separate level of art in photography.

Thanks for posting this, some nice images here.
posted by Eekacat at 4:40 PM on May 9, 2008

I was expecting a bunch of grainy, washed out, hyper "stylish" crap, not because that's what film always gives you, but that's what a lot of people tend to go for when deliberately shooting with it. I was pleasantly surprised. A lot of that stuff is actually pretty nice.
posted by Potsy at 4:55 PM on May 9, 2008

Does no one appreciate the irony of marveling at the color depth and luminosity of film photos by looking at digitized JPGs on a website?
posted by Pastabagel at 5:13 PM on May 9, 2008 [7 favorites]

Oh you cynic pastabagel ;) Film for me is a lot about the eye. I grew up with film - Ilford (especially HP5), and Fujichrome. After a while I could 'see' in HP5 and figure out what would make a good shot. You can't waste film so you have to be careful about what you choose to compose ... I've got a couple of (really good) digital compacts, but still pull the FM2 out for some b+w every now and then.
posted by carter at 5:27 PM on May 9, 2008

You can certainly waste film. It just hits the pocketbook a little harder when you do.

As an aside, the infrared image shown at the top of the page today was taken by an employee of Blue Moon Camera and Machine. Blue Moon is one of the finest camera shops in Portland (in my not-very-experienced opinion), and it is one of my favorite places in the world. I find Zeb to be one of the most patient and awesome to talk to camera people I've ever met. I cannot speak highly enough of the place.
posted by tmt at 5:36 PM on May 9, 2008

Oh, film. I love you, I miss you, I can't fucking afford you. Especially when you come in 4x5 sheets.
posted by cmyk at 6:26 PM on May 9, 2008

There something so relaxing about film. Even more easy on the mind is shooting in film and then never even scanning it or putting it on the internet. I'm (obviously) into digital photography and its online children, but film, it just makes me go "ahhhhhhhhhhh".
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:10 PM on May 9, 2008

Toshihiro Oshima has some amazing shots.
posted by quiet sam at 12:12 AM on May 10, 2008

It'll be a long time before digital can capture the detail, nuance and color range of medium-format positive film.

The "colour range" part is surprisingly difficult to quantify. The colour gamut of a digital camera describes the colours it can respond to, but the colour gamut of film (or any other output method) describes the colours it can reproduce. So it's actually impossible even in principle to compare the two. There's a fascinating article about this here.

I know what you meant, though, and it is true that medium format film is still miles ahead of every remotely affordable digital camera in available resolution, at the very least.

Note, however, that DSLRs have delivered substantially better dynamic range than any film for a few years now. Colour print film has a dynamic range of around seven stops; the 20D managed about 8.5 stops, and I think more recent midrange DSLRs are rather better. They're now up there with the best dynamic range you can get from any film - but the film in question is slow black-and-white stock, while the DSLRs work in colour.

This is an often-overlooked but significant advantage for all sorts of photographers. Underexposure and overexposure in images of subjects with a wide dynamic range is a common photographic problem, and the more dynamic range your camera has, the better.

I wrote more about this in this part of my old review of the Canon EOS-20D.
posted by dansdata at 1:00 AM on May 10, 2008

This is all a bit strange really. This blog makes me think of audiophiles comparing high-end turntables by listening to 128K MP3 recordings of their output.

Film has exactly one significant advantage left over digital photography; its incredibly high resolution, particularly in medium format. But as others have pointed out, looking at scaled-down JPGs on a web page completely negates that advantage. Any of the pictures on that page could have been taken with a DSLR, and nobody would even know.

There is absolutely no advantage to film photography if people will primarily be looking at your pictures on the Internet.
posted by standbythree at 7:14 AM on May 10, 2008

There is absolutely no advantage to film photography if people will primarily be looking at your pictures on the Internet.

Alas, it's not about the viewer.

I suspect for a lot of film users it isn't just about posting images to the web but about the process itself and, that the internet is replacing the camera clubs of yesteryear for a lot of folks.
posted by squeak at 11:08 AM on May 10, 2008

Well, here's the deal. Back in the '80s, Kodak came out with an amazing new film and developer combo called "T-Max." The grain, resolution and dyanmic range of this film blew the "Old Standby" - Tri-X - completely out of the water. In theory.

In actuality, photographers clung to the old-style emulsions, Tri-X and Ilford HP5, because it offered a much richer tonality. By that I mean that the interplay of light and shadow was a lot more subtle and engaging, and made the new T-Grain emulsions look inert and lifeless.

Digital camera makers (or, rather, those who make the sensors) aimed squarely at high-quality color-accurate transparencies as the goal for image quality. And, yes, the new 10mp+ DSLR sensors handily hand a beatdown to Fujichrome ProviaF 100. But when you convert it to greyscale, it looks a lot more like T-Max than Tri-X - and that's before the darkroom wizards get their mitts on the film with new-school chemistry and zone-system know-how.

If you doubt, you need to go to a gallery where a top-tier print maker has their work on display, or, better yet, go see an Ansel Adams print in person. The depth and richness of the image is something that can't be done on a computer quite yet, even tho the resolution and sharpness of modern imagers and optics is more than a match for Adams' old Wollensack and '30s-era sheet film.

That said, I think it's largely because we don't have a new technical master showing the way - someone who understands the digital process on a fundamental level, has the artistic mastery to do something profound with that understanding, and the ability to teach and pass on this understanding to others.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:47 AM on May 11, 2008


Digital continues to encroach on the medium format arena. Why do you think Hasselblad, Bronica and others have digital backs for their medium format cameras? The last bastion of film is in the 4x5 and LARGER arena ... don't talk to me of the glory of medium format film after I've worked with an 8x10 camera. Or after I've made 8x10 color Polaroids ... and then there are those amazing panorama cameras, the banquet cameras, etc., that are even bigger. And yes, you CAN do 8x10, using pinhole cameras to support that size (Quaker Oats oatmeal boxes, for example).

You want film? THAT'S film!

(and yes, I enjoy using my Canon 10D, even if it isn't the latest greatest DLSR around ... it's what you do with the image when you're done that's important. Go check out the work of one of my favorites: Dan Burkholder)
posted by aldus_manutius at 8:55 AM on May 11, 2008

I see nothing in those pictures (which may have started out as film but have been transferred to digital format for presentation on the net) that couldn't be captured by a digital camera. When I used film, I never, ever, got colors as good as the cheap Kodak digital I have now.

I, for one, welcome our digital overlords.
posted by Doohickie at 9:40 PM on May 13, 2008

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