Film, the Story So Far
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!
You need to process your own B&W film, much more economical. Plus the added benefit of better creative control.
“What is a master but a master student? And if that's true, then there's a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession.”ť
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.
Originally Posted by Rick A
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.
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.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
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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?
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
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!
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.
Originally Posted by MattKing
Sorry that I missed the Ethics and Philosophy forum. I never even saw that one before!!!
Hopefully a mod can move my thread.
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.
I dont think I could shoot so much film at the prices you pay! That is an enormous sum of money!
Originally Posted by Brian C. Miller