Is it embarassing to shoot film?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by BetterSense, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Multiple times, friends of mine have said something like "we have a real nice film SLR in the back of the closet. It's really nice. Always took great pictures. We haven't used it in years/decades, though, since it's a film camera". I always tell them to dust it off and shoot some pictures with it; even offer to give them a couple rolls of film and develop it for them. They never take me up. I must be some kind of weirdo, suggesting that they seriously shoot film pictures, you know, they way they did for most of their lives, before digital cameras became cheap 10 years ago.

    My in-laws gave me their old 35mm cameras. One of them is my glove-box camera. When I visit, and they have occasion to use the camera that used to be theirs, they usually say something like "man, I loved this camera" Loved? Why did you stop loving it? It still works. I still use it. I don't understand it.

    And then today on craigslist I saw someone selling an ME Super, and they made a point of saying "This camera has been in the family for years, and still works perfectly. It sounds like a precision handgun when you fire it. A great camera". That ME Super works perfectly, the same as it did 15 years ago when they were using it for what it was made for. Why don't they still use it? Why are they selling it?

    I once went to a Wolf camera with my friend who was carrying a F100. The old guy behind the counter made fun of him for shooting a film camera. "Film is dead!" he said, while fondling the F100 pornographically. He told us stories about how great a camera it was and how much he loved his, and how many great pictures he took with it, before he went digital. My friend had to basically pull it out of his hands like someone pulling a fix away from a junkie. "Too bad film died", the man behind the counter mumbled nostalgically and wandered off.

    I took a camera to the skatepark once. A guy noticed it and started talking about how he used to shoot for magazines "back in the day". He told me it was the coolest thing in the world to have a Nikon with a motor drive for shooting sequences. You could still shoot black and white and get published even into the 2000's. He said he still has the film gear, somewhere. I asked him if he ever shot it and he said no. I asked why, and he said "it's a digital world now". What does that mean? 5 seconds ago he was enthusiastic about film. Mentioning that he could still shoot it, even in 2011, is a conversation-ender. Why?

    Why does it seem like people can understand how great film and film cameras are, but seem unable to shoot it themselves? What causes them to acknowledge that film and the era when film was king "was" great? What causes the idea that film and film cameras "were" impressive tools that are fun to use and effective? Why do they still think that but don't shoot film? Is it embarrassing? I do understand professionals who were forced to digital with the rest of the industry being nostalgic for film...but why should regular people be? The cameras still work. They still have them. You can still buy film. I don't understand the mindset of "I liked to do X, I can still do X, there is nothing stopping me from doing it now, but I don't do it, and I miss it". It seems to be a strange type of disconnect between what they think and what they do, kind of like cigarette smokers who claim they want to quit when there's nothing stopping them.
     
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  2. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    When people say that to me, its usually followed by another statement.

    "but digital is so much cheaper….."

    So, no, it's not an embarrassment. The masses have been sold an ideology and blindly believe it
     
  3. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    Alot pf people find the idea of using film to be inconvenient. I can see where they are coming from.
    Oh well, more cameras for us.
     
  4. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Member

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    High-tech marketing.

    They've been explicitly told what they should be doing, and by implicit extension what they shouldn't.

    Ken
     
  5. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    It's about money, get more money from selling cameras then film!:laugh:

    Jeff
     
  6. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    People are willing to believe that the march of progress always makes things better, easier. We constantly leave behind technologies that work well, in order to take up newer technologies that often are not a huge improvement. In part, this process represents the marvel of human ingenuity and is the engine of truly great progress. In part, it is simply a marvel of marketing and is essentially about making dollars by convincing Joe Public that he needs to keep up with the advances.

    Once the support networks for the old technology become less visible, the man in the street considers that technology dead. They will tell you its a shame, but "that's progress". In the case of film, the vast majority of film shooters never processed their own. These people may have liked their film cameras but they look around now and they see nowhere to buy or process film. As far as they are concerned, film cameras are no longer supported. And because they were never that excited about chemistry or precision mechanical tools, they are now pretty fond of their new digital cameras anyway.

    You need to have some degree of true passion for an old technology in order to keep using it when the world moves on. I love listening to music but I was never particularly attached to vinyl and turntables. For me, CDs are convenient and currently still widely supported, so that is how I do music. On the other hand, I do have a passion for film and mechanical cameras, so I keep using them. Most people never really cared and still don't.

    Ian
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Digital serves most peoples' purposes perfectly. And we live in a society in which we readily adopt new consumer technology blindly, based on just about everything but objective judgment of the technology. And we do it without ever looking back, even as far as a half year in certain areas of technology. So, they are not going to change. They would have to have been trained from birth to not be that way. I guess we just have to face it: We are odd now, because we use technology older than 10 years. Personally, I am too set in my ways to care.
     
  8. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    On the radio last week there was an interesting discussion about how humans are never satisfied and how this is thought to be an important part of our development. Lots of examples were given, all of them centred around the idea of disposing of perfectly good items when newer ones emerge.

    On the subject of embarrassment; yesterday I was in Oxford and it was so hot. I was waiting for my wife who was buying ice creams and in that time (maybe 5 minutes) two groups of Japanese tourists walked past, paused and started talking to each other about my camera (FM2): pointing it out and studying it from a slight distance. Neither group approached which was a pity as I'd have let them play with it. But I did like the interest it aroused, I didn't feel any sense of shame.
     
  9. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Member

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    Was out in public this afternoon getting in some quality time with the 4x5 Crown Graphic. Spied a pleasant compositon. Raised the camera to use the sport finder. Then a woman's voice from behind,

    "Are you taking a picture with that?"

    "Uh, yes I am."

    "Why?"

    "Well I thought the antique truck there was kind of interesting..." *

    "No, no. Why are you using that camera?"

    "Because I can?"

    "It's old..."

    "But it works perfectly."

    "But it's old..."

    "It makes marvelous photographs."

    "Why would you use such an old camera? Do you carry that around with you?"

    The point here isn't that she was being abusive. She wasn't. She was just genuinely perplexed by what she was seeing. Why would anyone choose to willingly use such an old thing? She just could not get past that.

    Ken

    * Polished up white antique delivery truck being used indoors as a fruit stand display at a Farmer's Market. Thinking possible APUG MSA "Markets" entry at the time...
     
  10. werra

    werra Subscriber

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    Well, you cannot argue with small size, instant feedback, HD video and decent enough high ISO quality in everyday p&s. I don't think it's in any way related to being embarassed to shoot film. Digital is so much more convinient.
    As long as film and chemistry are produced, and I hope they will be for another 40-50 years at least, I don't see not a slightest problem with digi being mainstream. More gear for us to play.
     
  11. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I think if you're not into the process of photography, or the developing, and are an every day "take photos at birthdays" type of person. Film does not really make much sense, the freedom to take 1000 photos and not pay for any of them, and to chimp is worth more to most people than the look or pleasure of film.

    But also, I think some people (a lot of people) are embarrassed to be different, and if shooting film singles them out as someone who fails to follow the pack, then they're not going to do it.

    That's not to say all digital shooter care about that, but it's amazes me how many times I hear as a defence "most people would do it", or "everyone else does it" even from grown adults.
     
  12. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    For the person who wants everything on their computer so they can e-mail and Facebook them, then digital makes sense. If you just want some 6x4 prints to pass round (like people used to do all the time) dropping a film off at a minilab and picking up your prints a little while later is a lot easier than messing about with an inkjet printer yourself for the majority of non-hobbyist photographers.

    Yes, you can do the same thing with a memory card but most people already had film cameras so they would have had extra expense to become part of the new high tech digital convenience crowd.


    Steve.
     
  13. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Young lad in the local branch of J*****s likes to smell the bellows on my 1950's 5x4 before going off to sell some punter the latest digi-must-have - I only went in there because film was nearly half the recommended retail price.
     
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  15. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    I use my digital SLR time to time, as I think my light meter is playing funny buggers with me.. need a new one. Also use it for digital polaroids ocassionally, since I light on film 'strobist' style with YN-460's and RF-602's.

    I dont think it's embarassing, as it looks pretty darn impressive to carry around a RB67, or hip to carry around a Trip 35 or OM slr etc. Though I wouldn't leave digital behind either, the dSLR video just makes my day. My dSLR never gets dusted off for stills.
     
  16. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Not sure about the USA, but in the UK, you can go into a chain photo lab and put your SD card into a machine and get prints, so you don't actually need to own a computer. Probably still not as simple as giving your roll of film to someone, but still pretty simple.
     
  17. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    I actually make it a point to bring film to my gigs I shoot. I love bringing my old Nikkormat out. One of these days I'll upgrade to a Nikon F, but until then I'll be on this thing. I always get the proverbial "that thing takes film? you can still get film?" etc.

    The dSLR makes me money, but film lets me be creative.
     
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  18. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Yes. That's why I wrote that it can be done with a memory card. However, most people who do that now will probably have owned (or still own) a film camera but were persuaded by the advertising that they had to go digital. They spent the money but ended up with an identical net result.

    I was writing about a UK perspective too but I expect it to be the same in most of the world.


    Steve.
     
  19. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I dunno about embarrassing. I was shooting the lunar totality the other week and got interviewed by ABC radio because the RZ looked kind of interesting/impressive. They didn't realise it was film though...
     
  20. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    These days the real question I get, no kidding, is why am I using a dedicated camera at all? Why not just use an iPhone or Blackberry? Why carry a device that just takes pictures? Especially a big SLR, people think I am crazy for carrying a camera bag, multiple lenses or bodies. Single purpose devices seem perplexing these days. Why not just use your mobile? Because it takes crap pictures I say but if you're just going to put them on facebook then I get their point and see why quality wouldn't matter to them. Digital, throw-away world.

    Edit: I must say though, unless you want to develop your own film is pretty inconvenient these days so I do understand what they're saying but admitting you still use a darkroom must be like admitting you ride your horse to work.
     
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  21. HowardDvorin

    HowardDvorin Member

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    First of all, each mode of photography has its uses. I still use film for my shooting because I enjoy film.

    When people try to draw me into debate I simply say " Film works better for me."

    Enough said.

    HowardDvorin
     
  22. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Once people have made the investment in a DSLR they don't see any more any reason to use film. If you don't develop at home, film IS expensive and your wife will look at you very strangely if you spend money on a good DSLR and then bring film to a laboratory.

    Sometimes when one tries to be evangelical the other side reacts in disbelief or in defense of his habit, a "who is right who is wrong" attitude.

    I think the best suggestion to give, to all those people who say they have a nice film camera at home, is to sell it on eBay, craigslist, garage sale etc. "because there still is a number of people who would be interested in buying it". The question by the other person will then arise, why should people bother using a film camera? That's the moment to sing the Gospel, and talk about the very good highlight rendition, the clean shadow rendition, the nicety of having a solid peace of work in your hand, the pleasure of processing your film at home, which is not difficult at all, etc.".

    At that point it's their question, it's an answer to their curiosity, so there's going to be less defensive attitude. It all should be said without the least antipathy for digital. Digital is very good for what it is good at. A proponent of film practice should never be an anti-digital zealot.
     
  23. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I'm not anti-digital, and I understand perfectly the reasons why it is mainstream. The thread is about why some people will tell you that they remember how much better film "was"--"those were the days" etc--but they are using digital anyway. There is a disconnect there.

    I actually thought of a similar parallel. I've heard a lot of people wax nostalgic about old videogames, and how much better they were. They claim that their new wonder console just doesn't get played the way their old systems did, and they wish they could "go back" to the games of their youth, which were better (and I like some old videogames too). Then I ask them if their old system broke, or they can't find a cartridge, because some of the old videogame systems are not well supported anymore. "Oh no, all my old game gear works perfectly, it's in box around here somewhere...". It seems to be a similar phenomenon. Are they lying to themselves (hindsight bias) when they claim that they remember their old games with fondness, or is there some social pressure that keeps them from placing the Super Nintendo in the entertainment system alongside the Xbox 360?
     
  24. stavrosk

    stavrosk Member

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    First of all people usually imitate what people around them do so nowadays they tend to shoot digital without even knowing why just because everybody does.
    Second, the cost of buying the film is something that people who are used to digital cannot explain. (The cost of developing too)
    Third, having just 36 or 24 or 12 etc. photos per film seems so constraining for the digital shooter.
    And fourth, what I think is the most important thing, a digital shooter cannot bear the thought that he/she will not know how the photo looks until the film is developed. He/she keeps wondering "what if... it's too dark/it's too bright /it's shaken /my eyes are closed?" and so on.
    Therefore it takes someone who know what he 's doing to shoot film and keeping this in mind, I would say it is not embarrassing. Quite the opposite.
     
  25. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    It's not a silly question. iPads, iPods, iPhones, etcetera create the "perfect" quality output for electronic media. DSLRs and film don't. DSLRs and even P&S digis are dinosaurs just as much as film cameras when you want to display on electronic devices.

    The question becomes what's the intended use?

    If it is simply to become part of the everyday chatter on Facebook or via e-mail then an iPhone is about as good as gets, period.

    A buddy of mine shoots two formats that I know of, 8x10 and iPhone. He does great work on both.

    I've actually considered taking a similar path, not quite there yet. Possibly selling off my cc-400 and 35mm gear, and keeping my RB kit plus maybe a 5x7 Rittreck for the artsy hang on the wall stuff then using my iPad for all the banal daily conversation stuff.

    Heck this month I'm even turning the iPad into my phone via Skype and dumping my cell phone altogether.

     
  26. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    BetterSense: I still own and play Dreamcast.. and emulator games.. some times I get around to installing Baldur's Gate II and Icewind Dale II for a bit of fun too!