9 reasons Why Film Photography Is Coming Back - ArtByPino.com

9 reasons Why Film Photography Is Coming Back

Have you ever wondered about any of the following regarding film photography?

  • Is film still used in photography?

  • Do they still make 35mm films, or have 35mm films been discontinued? What about 120 or Medium Format (MF) Films? How about a Large Format or 4×5 Sheet Film?

  • Is film photography just a fad? What about Lomography? Is Instax considered film photography?

  • Who makes film cameras now? Where can I buy a film camera?

Yes, there is an increasing usage of film in photography. Today, the old film cameras of a bygone era are more expensive than some full-frame DSLR cameras. As more folks buy up available cameras, the prices have steadily increased for some camera models by 25-50% year-over-year. Today, hobbyists are the ones primarily pursuing film photography. Still, many portraits and wedding photographers now offer film photography as part of their packages. Why? Read the section below the gallery. Some are skeptical about film or analog photography, just like they were of Vinyl making a comeback (pre-iTunes era) until sales of Vinyl exceeded the sale of CDs. 

Another indicator is new film stock and the revival of discontinued films by manufacturers. For example, Kodak discontinued the Ektachrome in 2013 and reintroduced it in late 2017. CineStill introduced the CineStill 400D in 2022 in both, 35mm and 120 medium format. Kodak introduced the Kodak Gold 200 in 120 format. Ilford introduced the Kentmere 100 and 400 films in 120 format after years of success of those films in 35mm. ORWO Wolfen announced its first Color C41 film in 50 years, the NC500 and surprised the world by also introducing the NC400 in 35mm.

Leica has started re-manufacturing or hand-making their flagship M6 35mm film camera. Not in a limited edition. For ongoing sales. Yes, the body alone will cost about $5,900 and the lens another $2,000-4,000. On a more relatable note, the head of Ricoh announced in December 2022 the possible re-introduction of Pentax branded (Ricoh had acquired Pentax) film cameras. His video message is interesting.

As evidenced by the steady growth of membership in Facebook groups on film photography and YouTube channels, interest in film photography has been growing over the last five years.  It would be safe to say that it is not a temporary fad.

EXAMPLES OF FILM PHOTOGRAPHY 

WHY IS FILM PHOTOGRAPHY COMING BACK?

Let us first discuss what exactly film photography is.

WHAT IS FILM PHOTOGRAPHY?

When we say film photography, we are not referring to Instax by Fujifilm or Polaroids. Instax is a modern-day Polaroid instant picture format. We are referring to 35mm film and 120 Medium Format or Roll film and, of course, Large Format, which is seeing unprecedented growth in popularity as evidenced by the steadily rising prices of Large Format cameras such as Graflex Press Cameras, Toyo Field & View Cameras, SINAR Cameras, Wista Cameras, and numerous other brands. Lomography is a famous film photography style explained quite well by Adorama here.

Film photography uses 35mm or 120 medium format film or large format (4×5”, 5×7”, 8×10”, and bigger) using analog film cameras instead of memory cards. The film then has to be developed or processed. Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, and others offered 1-hour film development once upon a time. With the flooding of digital cameras, the film went away – well, almost. Prints were made from the film roll once it was processed. Once you got the photos, you decided if you wanted enlargements. From when you took the pictures to when you got the printed photos back, it could be as little as one hour with the 1-hour photo developing service or take a few days with regular service. Remember, there was no immediate preview of the shot you just took!

9 REASONS WHY FILM PHOTOGRAPHY IS REVIVING

  1. Authenticity & Credibility: Think of something handmade versus machine-made. You know that the person that handmade it put thought and effort into it; there is a certain amount of craftsmanship for which you are willing to pay a premium price. Taking pictures with a film camera is similar. For one, not everyone can do it well. It takes much practice and experience to produce stellar film images that only come with shooting rolls and rolls of film using different films and cameras. Each film type has its personality – a unique look. If you give a monkey a DSLR and it takes 1,000 images in an hour, a handful is bound to be great images. The film reveals a photographer’s real knowledge, experience, and creativity, with only 24-36 frames available to take on a film roll. That number further reduces if they are shooting 6×6 medium format – it goes down to 12 images. If they are shooting a large format, now it is down to 2 images.

    Given the cost of each frame or shot ($0.xx to $x.xx), a photographer must be decisive and conversant with photography to produce a pleasing image. The learning curve with the film is much steeper. Unless one thoroughly understands the Exposure or Photography Triangle, one is unlikely to get far in film photography. The yearning to be a real photographer contributes to film photography’s revival—authenticity and credibility as a photographer that results in a more rewarding experience.

    While it is possible to buy fully automatic film cameras, folks who shoot with film do it for pleasure, the reward of controlling all aspects of creating an image. One has to evaluate the light quality, the angle, the film type (color or black & white, ISO), the lens, the aperture, and the shutter speed. Folks realize a difference between applying a filter on an app to a digital image versus shooting the real thing – on film. It takes creativity at a higher level than a digital filter applied to an image taken on a DSLR.

  2. Richer Images: The film captures a dynamic range (the difference between lighting and shadows) that digital struggles to render. In theory, the digital sensor is better at capturing the dynamic range than a film camera (9-12 stops of light versus six stops on film). On digital, to get the same effect, one has to shoot multiple shots at varying exposures using exposure compensation or bracketing. Then, you merge the images in the digital darkroom (Photoshop or Lightroom). This way, you have different exposures of the same scene that record the different light levels preserved upon the merged image and look equivalent to film but not quite. There is a certain depth in film images that you don’t see in digital photos. If you learn how to set your exposure right on film, you can accomplish that dynamic range capture in one shot. The images are classy.

  3. Unmatched Aesthetics: The film’s look is unique in that it is imperfect – an unmatched aestheticDigital gives a clinical look to picturesCrisp, sharp, vivid, and, yes, entirely predictable. Another way to think about this – listening to Bob Marley or UB40 on Vinyl versus a CD. There is a richness or warmth that you experience listening to a Vinyl record. Few photographers genuinely stand out with their digital photography as the technology is within the masses’ reach. HDR had its time of glory. As did the bright, airy, and rustic presets. In digital, such looks start with one photographer, and the crowd imitates it in no time. With film, not quite the same. Not easy for the masses to recreate the unique look that a photographer gives to their imagesIt helps establish a unique style attributed to the photographer leaving her or his signature on every film image. In the film, the color saturation, depth, the grain adds flair to the photos. Each film stock has its unique flair. Yes, there are presets that one can use in digital to give it a film look. But then, presets can never replicate the entire experience of shooting on film. Only the most trained eye could discern between an image shot on film versus a digital image expertly manipulated with film-look presets on smaller screens. We sell 30+ varieties of films with free shipping whether you buy 1 roll or more.

  4. Therapeutic: Shooting with film is. One has to concentrate on a deeper level than taking a picture with a DSLR and considering various factors. A film photographer strives to get the image right in the camera and relies less on post-production. Adding to the therapeutic value is the lack of instant gratification, waiting for the film’s results. We ask our Customers – 90% of whom are in the 18-25 age group – what attracted them to film photography, and typically, the number one response is ‘the look’ followed by delayed gratification, the mystery of not knowing what the result will be.

    In the case of black and white film, deciding what chemistry to use as different chemistry allows different results from the same kind of film; it is almost meditative to shoot with film. With digital, while one has to evaluate some of the same variables, a burst mode of shots is possible or relatively affordable and move on to the next. It is not as deliberate of a process as it is with the film. With film, it is like the old saying, “measure twice (or thrice) and cut once.” Even if an app or film preset on digital emulates, the look of the film, where it fails, is in the inability to recreate the process of shooting film photographs. The entire ritual of thinking about what film to use – color or black & white? Then, decide what ISO film to use. If you opt for black & white, it decides what chemistry you will use to develop the film after shooting. Each chemistry combination with film stock gives it a different look. A hands-on affair to get that unique photograph. Check out our monthly film subscription service - new films delivered to your mailbox each month. No repetition in 12 months.

  5. Making a print from the film is remarkably different from printing a digital image—such prints stand out. You have probably seen them in museums that display old photographic prints. It is not an image printed on a printer like digital images. But, to experience the sheer majesty of a film image, a picture is made from the negative by hand. It is a different kind of craftsmanship dwindling in the digital age. It takes an extensive setup to create a print from a negative. Outside of academic institutions offering film photography courses, few commercial outlets provide it. Yes, smaller-scale darkroom printing can be set up at home using an area with water access nearby, ideally, the bathroom. An enlarger is needed to create prints. The black and white photos are known as ‘true’ black and white prints as they use silver gelatin to create the picture. 

  6. Simplicity: Once upon a time, you needed a proper darkroom setup to develop or process film. That was a luxury for someone pursuing film photography as a passion or a hobby. For one, having space and for another, the required array of equipment and plumbing added to the cost. Those days are gone unless you intend to make analog prints at home. If you are taking the hybrid approach as mentioned below, for about $200, you can put together the necessary equipment and supplies necessary to develop or process 35mm and 120 medium format films. Furthermore, companies like CineStill Film have simplified developing chemistry using chemical resources that were not in existence when film-developing processes were first invented. This has had multiple advantages – simplicity, lower cost, and, perhaps, the biggest advantage being safety (read more about safety on the CineStill Film site).

  7. Longevity and cost of film as a medium: Interestingly, film photographers buy older cameras, some over 50 years old. Once such cameras are overhauled (lubricants dry out, and if you don’t get them cleaned, lubricated, and, adjusted, it is a matter of time before a mechanical spring breaks), they will last another generation. Consider the longevity of the digital format, where photographers update their cameras every 2-5 years. Another consideration – look at the cost of medium-format digital cameras compared to shooting medium-format film that is scanned. The MF film costs are much lower.
    Also, film images are captured on a negative. Something tangible. Compare that to the horror stories of someone who had lost all their digital image files due to a hard drive crash. You get the point.

  8. Exclusivity: Well-known photographers in the US are beginning to include film shots as part of their wedding packages. Why? They are exclusive and not within everyone’s reach due to the costs associated with the cost of the film, the shooting, development, digitization (converting the analog image to digital), and printing or having prints made from negatives. So, for Clients wanting the best of everything in life, it is an allure to have their special moments captured on film.

  9. True Look: Of late, we are not sure if Covid-19 has had anything to do with this, but the trend is to capture folks as their true selves. Meaning no airbrushing, no photoshopping, but creating images of folks in genuine form. Folks want the real thing. Not a fantasy or make-believe image. They desire to be captured in a picture of their real persona. The film does this very well in a flattering way. Use a film such as Ilford FP4 Plus 125, Kodak TRI-X 400, or Ilford HP5 Plus 400 for a portrait shoot, and you will see what we mean. Be sure to get the roll developed at a professional lab for the best results. Why a professional lab as opposed to a low-cost option offered by someone down the street? A controlled developing process and better scanning from the pro lab.

8 Things to Consider When Buying A Film Camera

Film Cameras With a 30-day warranty and 1 hour of coaching to show you how to use the camera

The above is not to say that digital is without merit. We recommend taking a hybrid approach where photographs that matter shot on film are developed and scanned to digitize them. This way, you are getting the best of both worlds. Preserve the negatives in archival-quality storage sleeves. As it stands today, film negatives have outlived digital. We have all experienced the ever-changing digital formats – from 5 1/4” to 3 1/2” disks to CD-ROMS, DVDs, and Flash Drives to the Cloud. At the same time, we have heard horror stories of losing priceless data or images upon losing a drive or ransomware. With a hybrid approach, there is a certain level of protection. Always insist on getting the negatives back from whoever develops your films. When we process the film, we always return your negatives.

Leica still makes professional series film camera models. Expensive. eBay and Etsy are good sources of used film cameras. Buy only from sellers with a 99% or higher rating on eBay and a 5-star rating on Etsy. We sell film cameras that are film tested, new light seals, and mirror foams installed as needed with a 30-day warranty. Sometimes, it is hard to pass up a $5 buy at a garage sale or a thrift shop. Know that film camera repair is expensive as few folks know how to repair them. The only way to get parts is to cannibalize another camera. Labor rates run from $60-120 per hour. The $5 purchase can soon cost more than a serviced camera with a 30-day warranty.

We offer various film services and products as a Full-Service Professional Film Photography Lab in McAllen. We sell 25+ varieties of film for 35mm and 120 Medium Formats. We process or develop film, scan, and print negatives. We also offer one on one coaching for both DSLR and film photography. You can always text us or call us at (956) 492-7140 for any questions on photography.

Buy a Film Camera With a 30-Day Warranty – Peace of Mind

Our Professionally Serviced (CLAd) Camera Includes a 30-day Warranty

Reach a live person Monday through Friday 11 am – 7 pm, CT, to get support and answer questions on your purchase for as long as you own the camera you purchase from us. To connect, text Pino for a callback (helps minimize spam) at (956) 492-7140.

BOOK YOUR FILM SHOOT TODAY

We offer Film Photography Sessions using color and black & white film. In 35mm and Medium Format or 120 films. We develop or process our films and scan them as well. We can order images from the digitized or scanned images or send the negatives to get the traditional prints made using the silver gelatin process. For black and white, we use professional-grade Kodak & Ilford films and a variety of chemistry depending on the look desired. For color photography, we can use professional-grade CineStill, Kodak Portra, Fuji Velvia, or any other film you choose. You can Google and see the same images taken with different films to pick the film that you like the most, and we can do your session with that particular film. Email or text us at (956) 492-7140 to learn more about our Film Photography Sessions.

 

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