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  1. #1
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    Is it embarassing to shoot film?

    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.
    Last edited by BetterSense; 06-27-2011 at 12:53 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    f/22 and be there.

  2. #2
    hoffy's Avatar
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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. #3
    tomalophicon's Avatar
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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. #4
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    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".
    High-tech marketing.

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

    Ken
    "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."

    — Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs

  5. #5

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

    Jeff

  6. #6
    Ian David's Avatar
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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. #7

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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.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  8. #8

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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.
    Steve.

  9. #9
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by perkeleellinen View Post
    ...I did like the interest it aroused, I didn't feel any sense of shame.
    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...
    "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."

    — Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs

  10. #10

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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.

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