Film, the Story So Far

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by RattyMouse, Oct 28, 2012.

  1. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,540
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Mi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I wish there were a general film talk forum here. I dont want to post to either the color or b & w forum because those forums are much more on the processing/developing side. I have some general comments on film and will drop them here in the Industry forum because that seems to attract such comments, right or wrong.

    So after this weekend I shot 3 more rolls of Fujifilm Acros, bringing the total of rolls spent on hand at 6. These will go into the lab today and hopefully will get them back Friday.

    For some reason, today I looked at the cost of this. 6 rolls developed @ $3.50/roll. I'm not sure what I paid for the film, lets just say $3/roll. $40 for all this film, bought and processed. Wow. That's a lot for 96 images. Even though I have lived in China for 3 years now, I still cant get used to thinking in their currency so I pay for things with "funny money". The cost never hits home. My wife hates that.

    $40 for one week's worth of images. That's a lot of money, but money that I have and can easily spend on this. But is it wise? That is a much harder question. I have 2 kids to put through college. Film is looking like an awfully big luxury now.

    Of course, developing my own will cut down the costs and I'll get there one day soon. Almost ready to start that. But I still am amazed at how expensive film is. Perhaps a detailed spreadsheet of my digital habits vs film would make it look better. The problem is, I am doing both, not just film. So I am also spending money on digital gear, computers, hard drives, etc.

    The cost of this hobby can be sobering.

    Then I think of why spend all this money on film? Certainly I like shooting film and the images I'm getting are good, but are they THAT much better than digital? Different yes, better? If only I could print my film optically. I KNOW that then the film images would wipe the floor over the digital ones. That is what I crave and what I cannot yet get here in China. And that would mean even MORE money. Sigh. Right now though, I shoot film and end up with a digital file and a digital work flow. This causes me to doubt the whole idea of shooting film in today's world.

    What I'm left with is the enjoyment of the film process. Others have mentioned that many times. I liked being limited to 16 shots/roll. I find that I shoot waaay more intelligently than when with a digital camera. I like having negatives in a binder, stored neatly. That is a wonderful archive compared to some damn hard drive.

    And I LOVE the film cameras. I think 50% or more of what I like in my film images is all due to the lens on my Fuji GA645. Slap a digital sensor in that camera and I'm sure that I would LOVE it just as much, maybe enough to forget film. The lenses on some of those old Fuji's are just wonderful; a joy to shoot with.

    So picking up film again has not resulted in some sort of panacea for me. I enjoy it, but am left with lingering doubts, questions, and uncertainties. I am going to keep moving foward for at least as long as I am in China. But once I am back in the US, paying with dollars, that will be the real test.

    Thanks for reading!
     
  2. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,443
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You need to process your own B&W film, much more economical. Plus the added benefit of better creative control.
     
  3. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,540
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Mi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes, I noted that in my post. The problem then is scanning. Here in China, I get great quality scans for virtually no money. The lab that processes for me does this as well. If I process my own, I have to either pick up that step or work in another way. Yet more headaches.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,900
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here is a thought.

    Back when our kids were growing up, I took film pix because that was all there was, and I still have them to treasure. But, consider the possibility that there was digital back then. I had an Apple ][ computer and an Apple ///. If I had transferred the pix to these computers, there is no way that I could have read them today. In fact, the disks themselves have started to deteriorate.

    Project this into the future. You are paying up front for an archive of your family. This is priceless.

    I have photos that go back about 100 years and that show my family over that time period, even if in some cases, I have no idea who is in the picture. It is great though to look back through them. And also easier than booting a computer and searching for a photo in a file of photos.

    So, I think that analog is well worth the price.

    And, of course, if you can do it yourself, it is about 1/2 the cost.

    Film has many other benefits, including the fun of doing it yourself, adjusting the image yourself instead of with a magic piece of software, and also knowing how good you can get with the latitude of both B&W and color film.

    Now, go and enjoy China and explain to your wife that the photos of your kids will still be there when you are my age.

    PE
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,044
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you want to encounter expense, try printing your own digital prints on a high quality digital inkjet printer.

    It is also best not to price things out based on $/image, unless you are doing something high volume like school photos or catalogue shots.

    Four rolls of 645 negatives or slides would generally give me lots to work with - in the day, that would be at least half of a wedding that I was shooting as the "official" professional photographer.

    By the way, I think "Ethics and Philosophy" would be a good forum for this.
     
  6. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

    Messages:
    493
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Ratty, that's cheap. $40 for 96 images, so 42 cents a shot. You know what I like on a really productive weekend? 25 rolls of 120 film. At $6 to $10 per roll, and then processing on top of that. Yeah, that's for color, and I know that I could do it at home. But I like sending the color out, and developing the B&W at home. When I go bicycling through the neighborhood alleys, I go through at least three or four rolls.

    Sure, put savings plans into effect for your children. Bring them up to be intelligent, creative, and curious. But keep running the film. Down the road, when your kids are in college, you'll have lots of stuff to print. That will be 100+ memories per week. And if you don't do that, then where will those memories be?

    Your choice.
     
  7. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,540
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Mi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    PE,

    What you described above is THE #1 reason that re-ignited my interest in film. And for that reason alone, I'll probably continue on with film as long as I can. I'll return to that reason when things get difficult. I have a well organized binder for my negatives which will be the family history. But will there be film scanners 50 years from now? Even now the scanning situation seems in decline.


    Film seemed so much easier when pre-digital!
     
  8. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,540
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Mi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That's a good point. I spent a LOT of money on Canon ink back in the US when I printed my digital images. I totally forgot about that. I love a print and so print waaay more than most people. An image isnt real until I have it in my hand.

    Sorry that I missed the Ethics and Philosophy forum. I never even saw that one before!!!

    Hopefully a mod can move my thread.
     
  9. jp498

    jp498 Member

    Messages:
    1,465
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    Owls Head ME
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm perfectly content shooting 1-2 rolls a week unless it's a special event. And I still have more photos than I can print or scan.
     
  10. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,540
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Mi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I dont think I could shoot so much film at the prices you pay! That is an enormous sum of money!
     
  11. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,522
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ratty- I've seen you have several versions of this conversation already. Having this conversation is somewhat akin to asking, "would I love my child more if he/she had different color eyes/hair/skin"? Of course not! Your child is who he/she is, lumps, bumps, quirks, buck-teeth, and all. And you wouldn't love them any more or any less if they were different. You might not complain as much about the dentist's bills, but you'll still take them to the dentist every time they need it.
     
  12. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    We all have doubts, fears, and worries, so what?

    Hobbies are about fun, frivolity, and challenging our minds; not practicality.

    Bought anything frivolous for the wife lately?
     
  13. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,540
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Mi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Heh heh....no I havent. My wife hates when I buy stuff for her. She's terribly thrifty. How she tolerates my spending on photography I'll never know.
    ]
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,540
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Mi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm not sure if I read you right. The take away lesson I get from your post is, digital is good enough, at least when it comes to family/precious moment shots.

    Wrong?
     
  16. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    5,891
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Done!
     
  17. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    4,275
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Richmond/Geelong, AUS
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Oh, I could tell you plenty about expense. A 61cm tall (or wide) print is presently being prep'd from a Velvia tranny for $250.
    And there are 18 more images to go...

    I agree with the last point that Ethics and Philosophy would be a better place. But here on APUG, cross-overs and muddles often occur. It's just a forum, and not the end of the world (which sounds like what New York — of all places, is looking at, God forbid...).
     
  18. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,044
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The service here is exceptional :laugh:
     
  19. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Taking the shot, regardless of medium, is most important.

    Digital is not without its costs. When I switched to film I could pay for, as I remember, about 12,000 film shots a year for what I was paying for digital hardware and software. I don't shoot anywhere near 12,000 shots a year.

    Use film, have fun, take pictures of the kids, give them to your wife.
     
  20. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,540
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Mi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    If I could switch to film exclusively, that would easily cover the costs that I pick up buying/processing film. The problem is, I just cant do that yet, or have not found a way. One of my prime shooting times is when it is dark, out on the street. I routinely use ISO3200 and f/2 or f/1.4 lenses in the digital world. My GA645 certainly does not have ISO3200, nor does it have an F2 lens. I can't shoot outside at night with this camera, without radically changing my habits.

    So I often grab my digital gear if I know I'm going to be out late at night shooting. GAS in the digital world is difficult. And in the film too. GAS can be a big problem for me.
     
  21. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,540
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Mi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Thank you!
     
  22. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

    Messages:
    493
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I know that you are using a tripod. Last year, when the Occupy fill-in-the-blank stuff was popular, I photographed a meeting with a Pentax 645 and Delta 3200. I went wide open with f/2.8, and metered manually. My exposure was 1/2 second, and I had to wait until people weren't moving so much. Otherwise limbs and heads disappeared.

    Anyways, set your camera to M for manual, set the lens for wide, and set everything manually. Now you are set to have fun!
     
  23. Mr Bill

    Mr Bill Member

    Messages:
    420
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ratty, I grew up shooting B&W film at a time when color was too expensive (for me or my friends). (I don't want to be specific about time frames, but it was way before the C-41 process.) Shortly after C-41, 6-hour mini-labs came out, soon followed by 1-hour. When these 1-hour places starting doing half-price processing, color suddenly became very affordable. As I recall, those prices, in ~1985 dollars, were about the same as you are paying in 2012 dollars. Anyway, to me, these prices are still a pretty good deal.

    I would ask, "What do you have more of, time or money?" If the answer is time, my own tendency would be to set up to print B&W, and leave the color work for digital. (I don't suggest to process and print your own color, because the learning curve is higher, and chemicals are more elaborate (harder to get). Alternatively, if you DON'T want to learn to process, perhaps you can use some of that spare time doing photo work on the side for $$, using that to subsidize your own photo hobby. I don't know if you can write, or where you are originally from, but perhaps your home-town newspaper would be interested in periodic human-interest photo-stories from you, contrasting your life in Shanghai to your hometown?
     
  24. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,522
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Location:
    Currently in Stockholm
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ratty,

    I'm going through a similar philosophical dilemma myself, although not quite for the same reasons. I'm single, I don't have any family around me, and I live in a boring kind of place. My photographic opportunities are limited -- most of what I do is travel-related, so probably at best I shoot about 100 rolls a year, mostly black and white (80%). But...I do like colour, and even though I can get same day developing (within a couple of hours) for slide film, recently it's been coming back not so clean. Plus, most of what I really like to shoot in colour is in low light, and I'm now at the point where I've realized there are very little film options left for me for good quality high speed colour films.

    So...really the best option is to get a good DSLR to handle that kind of work, but I'm reluctant to spend thousands of dollars on another camera and most likely upgraded software and hardware...just to be able to take a specific kind of photo. And since I regularly lug around 2 or 3 cameras, the idea of adding another just for colour would probably lead me to using the only digital option...which I don't want to do. I like film. I like the process. I like working in the darkroom -- it's not something I want to give up, and I'd like to do it for as long as films and papers remain viable options. I would also like to go a more hybrid route (with digital negs) -- I think that would open up possibilities, but then it's the problem of getting a printer, inks, etc. I move around a lot (3 countries in 5 years, 3 moves within one country and two in another) so it's not practical for me to have a lot of gear that people who are more settled can have.

    I've never been anti-digital, just pro-film, but now that the digital option is looming as the most probably future outcome for what I want to achieve, I'm having a bit of an existential crisis about it. :wink:
     
  25. zsas

    zsas Member

    Messages:
    1,961
    Joined:
    May 12, 2011
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    fwiw, i left the color to my wife who shoots digi, i 'fill in' with my film camera(s), almost always sporting b/w. i find my b/w have a bit of soul that her color often miss. i print em myself and find it a joy...as does my wife/kids.

    the cost of home processing/printing b/w is not a whole lot....

    keep it up..you will find your ballance...
     
  26. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,540
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Mi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Moose,

    it says here that you live in Japan. Your photographic opps are limited? NO way! Japan is a wonderful country. I'd burn through enormous amounts of film if I lived there. I love Japan!

    Thanks for your post!