Why Digital Is Dead For Me In Street Photography

Eric Kim - Dark Skies over Tokyo

(Above photo from my “Dark Skies Over Tokyo” series. Shot with my Leica M6 and Kodak Tri-X film)

I never really understood the appeal of film in the digital age. After all, shooting film was expensive, cumbersome, and a pain in the ass to do compared to digital. Not only that, but with digital I had all the instant gratification I wanted. I didn’t have to wait before seeing my images- they would come to me instantly. I could post-process them all I wanted- to give my images that certain ‘look’ that I desired.

For this post I will share how I first got introduced to film street photography, the pros of shooting street photography with film, and how you can get started shooting street photography with film as well. Keep reading to learn more!

Shooting film in Mumbai, India

Kaushal Parikh

The madness then started when I first visited Mumbai, India and stayed with my friend and fellow street photographer Kaushal Parikh (founder of Indian Street Photography Collective “That’s Life“).

Kaushal (nicknamed K.P.) shot with two cameras: his Leica M6 TTL for film, and his Fujifilm X-100 for digital. He used both mediums, yet in the end he told me his love for film. He shoots black and white Tri-X film, and gets his film imported overseas and gets all his film processed/scanned himself. It all seemed like a hassle and I didn’t understand why he did it.

He then suggested that I try shooting with the Leica M6- and give film a go. I had some negative experiences shooting street photograpy with film before (I opened the back of my grandpa’s Contax IIIa and ruined at least 5 rolls of film on accident) and was reluctant. Regardless to say, I was intruiged and decided to try giving it a go.

I then held his Leica M6, and felt a sense of calm. I loved the simplicity of the design – and the lack of extraneous buttons and an LCD screen of my Leica M9. The most intruiging was the film advance lever- something I would learn to adore very soon.

I gave it a go shooting on the streets of Mumbai, and I started to understand the appeal of shooting street photography with film. The experience was much more zen-like, and rather than thinking about the shot I just took (in digital) I would look forward to the next shot. Of course I was concerned if my exposures were incorrect- but K.P. reassured me that I shouldn’t worry too much, as b/w film has a far better dynamic range than digital. At the end of the day, I had a fantastic time shooting on the streets, and was curious to see what I got on my film.

My first time processing film

Kaushal Parikh

After a few days, we decided to process the film. K.P. took out all the chemicals, beakers, and tools necessary to process the film. It was like a mad lab out of a science-fiction movie.

K.P. then showed me how to mix the chemicals, explained the theory of rolling the film on the spool (he did this for me), as well as agitating the film and when to stop. He mentioned the whole process of processing his film was like a religious and meditative experience for him – something that caught my attention.

We then processed the film, and when it was done- took it out to let it dry. I was still concerned that my film would all be black and nothing was properly developed, but I gasped with awe when I saw my photos on the negatives. It was beautiful – something I had never seen before. It was like magic, something wonderful and unexpected.

Scanning the negatives was a breeze- and after seeing the images on the computer screen, there was something special about the look of the black and white images. They weren’t cold and lifeless like the digital images I usually shoot- but they had character in the grain structure, ink-jet blacks, and the best of all- great details in the highlights.

I still wasn’t convinced about making the full conversion to film. After all, I had my Leica M9, my hard drives, my quad-core computer at home, and my Lightroom workflow down to a science. I convinced myself I didn’t have the time, money, or the effort to shoot street photography with film.

Then came Tokyo.

Tokyo and film: The madness begins

Some special cameras

Top left: My Leica M6, Top right: My Leica M9: Bottom Middle: Bellamy’s Leica M6. Thanks to Bellamy for the shot.

I went to Tokyo to teach a street photography workshop sponsored by Leica alongside Charlie Kirk, Bellamy Hunt, and Alfie Goodrich. Charlie and Bellamy both shoot film exclusively- and told me to give it a go. I then met a bunch of other passionate photographers in Tokyo- a ton of them also shooting film. After visiting the vintage camerastores in Tokyo and seeing the stores of still dedicating to selling film, I thought I would give it another try.

But I still needed a film camera.

I was quite fond of K.P.’s Leica M6 I shot in India – and knew it was reasonably priced. I then started to talk to my friends about getting a Leica M6 and trying more film- when I talked to Todd Hatakeyama, my good friend and gallery owner of the Hatakeyama Gallery and Simple Studio Lighting.

I was in casual conversation with Todd, when he casually told me that he had a spare Leica M6 he never used. He then asked me, “Do you want it?” I gasped, held my cool, and said, “Sure- why not?”

For the next several months, I decided to shoot exclusively film to see what I would get.

I then shot the rest of my trip in Tokyo in exclusively b/w with Tri-X, and headed to Korea afterwards to get my film processed. Having used my Leica M9 for a while, it was quite easy to transition into shooting with film. After all, everything was the same except shooting fully-manual instead of aperture-priority on the M9.

Discovering the advantages of shooting in film

One of my photos from my “Korea: The Presentation of Self” series

I noticed a few advantages when shooting with film- namely that when people asked me to delete the photo I told them I couldn’t- as it was film. Also while in Tokyo I was working on a small project titled: “Dark Skies Over Tokyo” – a project about the irony of Japanese society: they are one of the richest countries in the world, yet have one of the highest depression and suicide rates. Shooting film helped me stay focused on the project and the whole-picture, rather than individual images.

I got my film developed and scanned when visiting Korea the month afterward- and fell in love with my film shots from Tokyo. The depth, soul, and the dynamic range were to die for. Shots that were blurry or out-of-focus (that would have looked horible in digital) looked more like beautiful mistakes in film.

While in Korea I would then embark on another small project titled “Korea: The Presentation of Self”. The project was an exploration of how Koreans try to present themselves in a positive manner to others by the way they look and dress, the cars they drive, and the material things they own. I shot the entire project on Kodak Tri-X pushed to 1600, and once again- was able to focus on my project (rather than individual images).

I am now in the middle of working on two projects: “First World Asia” – trying to document the rise of Asia from a capitalistic, socio-economic, and political perspective. I also am trying to explore the role of tourism, capitalism, and globalization in Asia. The second project is focused on “Suits” – capturing the stress and anxiety of the 9-5 workday (based on my past experiences working corporate). For these two projects I am shooting all on color film: Kodak Portra 400.

Making the full transition from digital to film

Buy film, not mega pixels!

I am now making the full transition to film from digital for my personal street photography work, and recently sold my Leica M9 and now making the full move into film. Why am I making the plunge into fully film from having shot street photography in digital the last five years? Let me explain a bit more below:

1. Film helps me focus more on my personal projects

For my street photography, I am more interested in the project-based approach rather than the single-image approach. I want to create projects that are meaningful and have social statements- rather than taking interesting individual images, uploading to Flickr, and hoping to get 100+ favorites.

With film, I can focus on my personal projects by not stressing about the individual images. When shooting digital, I end up looking at my images too quickly. Although I try not to chimp, I too fall victim to this bad habit. Furthermore, I typically look at my images after a full day of shooting in Lightroom- which prevents me from disconnecting emotionally from my images. I end up falling in love with my bad photos (based on the memory of the images) rather than looking at them objectively.

2. Film helps me focus on my photography, not gear

My friend said it to me best: Digital cameras are like computers. How often do you upgrade your computer? Every 2-3 years? How long did you use your brand-new white MacBook before you had to upgrade to a new aluminum MacBook pro?

With digital cameras they get outdated in around 2-3 years. Sure you can keep using the camera you have, but you will always be tempted by the newest and greatest. The newer cameras will always have more features, better ISO-performance, better image-quality, and new designs.

I fall victim to G.A.S. like everyone out there- and I hate it. I don’t want to make excuses for my photographs not being good enough because I don’t have the right camera or lens. Now with my film Leica and 35mm f/2 Summicron ASPH– I have no excuses. It is a kit I can theoretically use for the rest of my life. It will never get outdated (as it already is!) Imagine having a 1960’s Mustang vs a brand new BMW. The 1960’s Mustang will always have a nice appeal, whereas you constantly are pressured to buying the newest BMW.

3. I don’t have to worry about post-processing

I think post-procesing is a pain in the ass. I like to tell people in my street photography workshops to spend 90-95% of your time editing, and around 5-10% of your time post-processing.

With film, the photos look great out of the camera and I rarely have to ever adjust them. With digital RAW files, you still have to fumble with the filters and presets and have so many choices to toy around with your image. Once again, I would prefer spending more time shooting and editing than post-processing on y computer.

4. I take fewer photographs and am more selective

Every time I click the shutter, it costs me roughly .50 cents. Therefore when I’m out shooting on the streets, I am not shooting away blindly- but being far more selective. When I used to shoot digital, I could easily shoot 500 photographs in a day. Now with film, shooting 3 rolls a day is on the extreme end (around 108 shots).

This helps me in the end- because there are fewer photographs I have to look at when editing, and the overall quality of the images are better as well.

5. Film isn’t going away anytime soon

People are concerned to shoot film, as they are worried that companies will quit producing film. Sure Kodak filed for bankruptcy, but it is their film department that is still making money. When photography came about, people said nobody would paint anymore- yet painting is still thriving. When TV came out, people said nobody would listen to radio anymore. People still do. When MP3’s came out, people said nobody would listen to vinyls anymore- yet they are still around.

In my opinion, I don’t think film will ever go away- but inevitably it will become more expensive in the long run. Is it worth it to me? Yes. I spend a lot of money on my photography, but still drive an old-ass car, and own only three pairs of clothes.

6. I never run out of batteries/my camera is always on

Traveling with film is actually far better than digital. I don’t have to worry about constantly charging my camera, as the film Leica M6 can operate without a battery (you only need a battery for the meter). Also taking film through the X-ray has never been an issue for me at airports (as long as the film is below ISO 1600-3200 you are okay). I took my ISO 400 film through x-rays at airports at least 3-4 times consecutively and never had an issue.

An Introduction To Shooting Film For Street Photography

Mingling films

Mingling films by Bellamy Hunt

If you are intruiged in shooting street photography with film, and haven’t ever tried it before- here are some tips I have. Note that I am still a noob when it comes to shooting film. All this information I am providing is based on my personal experiences and advice I have gotten from others.

1. Buy a film camera

I love my Leica

Leica M6 shot by Bellamy Hunt

If you are interested in shooting street photography with film, I would recommend either getting a film rangefinder or a point-and-shoot (or both). I prefer the manual controls of the rangefinder when shooting on the street, yet love the compactness and unobtrusiveness of a point-and-shoot when out on the streets. Some of my camera recommendations:


Leica MP

Leica M6 or Leica MP with a 35mm Summicron f/2 or 35mm Voigtlander f/1.4.

There are a plethora of great film rangefinders out there (Konica Hexar, Contax G-series, Canonets, Bessas, etc) yet I prefer the Leica. Why? They are the most reliable, are simple, and will last you a lifetime. I don’t believe in buying a ton of cameras/gear. I like the idea of one camera and one lens- yet prefer to have a camera that is reliable and functional.

A Leica M6 will run you around $1300-$1600 (depending on the condition) and the Leica MP (newest film Leica) will run you around $3200-$3700 (depending on condition).

For a lens, I prefer a 35mm lens (it is a nice overall focal length) and currently use the Leica 35mm Summicron f/2 ASPH. It is expensive (starts at around $3000+) yet it is the lens I will probably use for the rest of my life. If you don’t have the $3,000+ (most of us don’t – I depleted my savings to purchase it) I highly recommend the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4. Why? It starts at only $630+, is very sharp, compact, light, and ergonomic. Everyone I know who has it loves it.


Contax T2's

Contax T2’s by Bellamy Hunt

I am a huge fan of film point-and-shoots. Why? They are compact which causes you to take them with you everywhere you go. In the end, you end up taking more shots, especially in places where you want to be more low-key (subway, bus, supermarket, etc).

I recommend either the Contax T2 or Ricoh GR1s. The Contax T2 is the more functional camera, as it has a fantastic 38mm lens which is very sharp and contrasty. You can also adjust the aperture directly on the lens, it has a flash, and you can easily adjust your pre-focus (or shoot in AF) with a thumb-wheel. It is built of quality (out of Titanium) and won’t break the bank (they are around $400-500).

Ricoh GR1’s by Bellamy Hunt

I currently am using the Ricoh GR1s. Why? It is slimmer than the Contax T2 and lighter- so I can fit into my front jean pocket while on-the-go. It also has a 28mm lens, which supplements the 35mm lens on my Leica quite well. It is very comfortable to hold, and has autofocus, flash, and I can also zone focus with it with the “snap mode”. Check out my review of the Ricoh GR1s and Bellamy’s Ricoh GR Buyer’s guide.

If you want to get a film camera, I highly recommend contacting my friend Bellamy Hunt (Japan Camera Hunter) who sources all of his cameras from Japan. I have gotten a few dud cameras in the past, and hate dealing with fixing them. Bellamy sees the cameras in-person, tests them, and makes sure they are minty fresh before shipping them out. I recently got my lovely Ricoh GR1s from him, and am in the middle of getting a Leica MP from him.

2. Choose a film

Kodak Portra 400

For black and white, I currently shoot Kodak Tri-X 400 and for my color, I prefer Kodak Portra 400. They are both lovely films, and not too difficult to find online. Tri-X has been used for decades by professional photographers and journalists, and have great grain and high contrast- while Portra 400 has great skin tones, a fine grain, and nicely saturated.

Also note when you are shooting street photograpy with film, my suggestion is to push your film to 1600. If you are not familiar with pushing film, the idea is that you put in ISO 400 film into your camera, and adjust your meter to ISO 1600. You then shoot your ISO 400 film underexposed by 2 stops, and process your film for longer to get the correct exposure. This allows you to get a faster shutter speed.

Why push to 1600? You need roughly at least 250th’s/second to capture people walking without having them blurred. If you are shooting in the sun, you will have no problem (probably shooting at f/16 at 1000th/second) but once you go into the shade you will probably need to shoot at f/8 at 250ths-500ths/second. I recently read in Bystander: A History of Street Photography that Garry Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz always pushed to 1600 to capture decisive moments. Follow the masters- they must have done it for a reason!

3. Shoot on the streets

When you are shooting on the streets, these are the settings I recommend with a rangefinder using zone focusing:

Aperture: f/8 or above
Shutter: above 250ths/second
ISO: ISO 400 film pushed to 1600
Focus: Prefocus to 1.5 meters

Remember when shooting street photography with a film rangefinder you should always zone-focus during the day. However once it becomes night, you sometimes have no choice but shoot wide-open at f/2 or faster.

Also note that with film it is always better to overexpose than underexpose. Film retains details in the highlights very well, but don’t hold much details in the shadows.

4. Process your film

There are two ways you can go about processing your film. 1) Doing it yourself and 2) Sending it to a lab to do it for you.

1) If you decide to do it yourself, make sure to google online how to deveop your own film. You will end up saving more money, but it takes more time. I don’t know how to do it myself yet- but I hope to learn soon!

2) If you decide to send it to a lab, there are a lot of choices. Back in the states, I send my color film to Costco- they process any color film for only $5 USD/roll, including a high-resolution scan (roughly 3500px wide). Unfortunately they don’t do black and white and don’t push-process.

Most places in the world charge a lot more for developing/scanning film. My recommendation is to just ask them to develop the film for you, and scan it yourself. I recommend either the Epson V700 or the Epson V750 (if you want a flatbed) or the Plustek 7600 scanner for 35mm negatives. The difference? The Epson will scan your film quicker and be easier, yet the Plustek will give you higher-quality scans, but take longer.

Tip while scanning: Try to scan the photographs without clipping your highlights and don’t add contrast while scanning. Just try to get a good exposure, and add contrast in Lightroom or Photoshop afterwards.

5. Organize/edit your film

Organizing film is incredibly difficult. Everyone has their own system, but what I do is the following:

I organize my film according to my travels and location. For example, I have a folder for all of my Korea film negatives, my Singapore shots, my Tokyo shots, and so forth.

Keeping your film organized early-on will save you a whole ton of headache and pain.

When editing my scanned film, I still use Lightroom 4. I use it to edit down my shots (select my best work) and even do some post-processing if my shots are a little overexposed or underexposed.


Just a little reminder

Kodak film by Bellamy Hunt

Shooting film for me has made me a better street photographer. I am now far more selective when shooting on the streets, I enjoy the zen-like process more, and I am able to edit my shots better. I generally don’t process my film until a month after I take my shots, which means that I am able to emotionally detach myself from my photographs and judge them more objectively.

Film is still quite expensive, yet a cost I am willing to take. After all, I think everyone is entitled to one expensive hobby (for others it is cars, expensive clothes, etc). For others it is buying a new Mercedes. For me, it is shooting film. Also I like not worrying about buying the newest and greatest digital camera. Remember: Buy Film, Not Megapixels.

Shooting film is not for everybody, but I still highly recommend everyone to try it out. If you have an old film camera collecting dust at home, blow off the dust, change the batttery, pop in a load of film, and go out and try it out. You might like it a lot more than you expect. You might hate it. Just try it out!

I am now fully-committed to film for my street photography, but who knows how long it will be for. If something better than digital comes out, who knows- I might switch to that! But for now, I am enjoying the ride!

Once again, if you are interested in shooting film or getting a film camera, contact Bellamy Hunt (Japan Camera Hunter) who has at least a decade+ worth of knowledge of this stuff.

4-26-12 Update

Thank you for your feedback and thoughts in the comments below! The post I written has sparked a healthy amount of discussion and debate. However I would like to clarify some points which I made in the article which I feel was misinterpreted.

1. This is not an article on digital vs film (and whether either is better)

This is the most common confusion I have gotten in terms of comments. This argument is not whether film or digital is better- it is about my personal experiences in shooting both mediums- and now why I  personally prefer to shoot film.

I still own a digital camera (an Olympus EPM-1) that I use for my snapshots of friends, family, workshops, etc. I am only making the full transition from digital to film for my personal street photography projects.  I don’t shoot any commercial work or editorial. If I got a commission, of course I would probably borrow a Canon 5D Mark III and shoot it with that.

2. I’m not suggesting for everyone to sell their digital cameras, but to experiment with film for street photography

About a year or two ago, I never understood the hype of shooting film vs digital. I would make many points saying that if you trained yourself enough, you would get all the benefits of film (while shooting digital). For example, not chimping, sitting on your images for a longer time before editing your work, as well as processing your film to ‘look like film’ using Silver Efex Pro 2.

However after actually shooting for film for several months (around 4 months to be exact) I now know the differences. I feel that photographers cannot make a judgement on the benefits of shooting film until actually having tried shooting film for a certain period of time. Otherwise you are not speaking from experience – and more assumptions.

For example, one may have the determination and willpower not to ever chimp or review his/her images for an entire month – but I would argue that the most of us don’t. Even having the temptation will make the editing process far more difficult. One can also make the argument to only use a 512mb or 1 GB SD card when shooting on the streets – which can make one more selective. But even in that case, it doesn’t “cost” you anything upfront to process your shots- which will mean you are ultimately more selective when shooting film.

Once again, the purpose of this blog post was to encourage people to experiment and try out film if they have never. If people don’t like film – no problem. I don’t discredit photographers just because they shoot digital. I myself have shot digital the last 5 years, and just have recently shot film myself.

3. “The camera doesn’t matter” argument is a bit flawed

I used to always say that “the camera doesn’t matter”. In a nutshell, it encapsulates my feelings quite concisely. I hate people putting down others because they don’t shoot with a full-frame camera, have expensive lenses, or shoot with a Leica. However some caveats below in how the camera does matter- to a certain extent.

For example, if I want to be mobile and shoot on the streets- I physically couldn’t use a large-format camera or a pinhole camera. Using a more compact and portable camera would allow you to do that.

To me the importance of using a certain a certain camera is in the handling, ergonomics, and appearance – not the image quality. If you put an image of a photo shot wide open with a Canon 5D Mark III next to a Leica M9 I couldn’t tell the difference. If you did the same with a micro 4/3rds camera shot at f/8 vs a Leica I couldn’t tell the difference. If you put a b/w film photo next to one processed in Silver Efex Pro 2 I probably couldn’t tell a difference either.

You want to use a camera you are comfortable with. I prefer shooting with a Leica- not because it is expensive but because it listens to my personal preferences. I rely heavily on zone focusing, like having a camera with a quiet shutter, and one that doesn’t look menacing. I have found in my personal experience that someone is less likely to be threatened by a rangefinder than a DSLR. I am also more comfortable with the simplicity of design when compared to other rangefinders.

Once again, having an expensive camera won’t make you a better photographer. But find a camera that fits your personal needs (not the needs of others).

4. Yes, I contradict myself – and pride myself in it

I contradict myself all the time. I don’t agree to points what I wrote two years ago. I am constantly changing, evolving, and transforming as a photographer. I experiment with different cameras, with different mediums, as well as different approaches. I started this blog to also share my personal experiences shooting street photography to help others, not to paint things black and white.

It is important to contradict yourself. Otherwise, you become close minded. Think of all the scientists who said the earth was flat for hundreds of years. Once there was scientific proof that the Earth was round, they refused to say it was the truth. This is because they didn’t want to contradict themselves.

I encourage everyone to try to contradict yourselves. Don’t be stuck to one position. Otherwise, it makes for a quite boring world.

I am currently shooting purely film for my personal street photography – but who knows, I might end up switching back to digital in the next few months. Nobody knows (not even myself).

5. Photography is the most important thing

I don’t care if anyone shoots digital or film. I just want to spread the love of street photography with as many people as I can. Honestly in the end I have become quite annoyed when people try to debate what street photography is and what it isn’t.

As Nick Turpin eloquently wrote,

“Street Photography is Photography and … the future of Street Photography is intrinsically tied to the future of the medium itself, while there is Photography there will be Street Photography because it is the Prime Mover, the evolutionary inheritance of all Photography.” – from “Undefining street photography

I drool when I see alligator-skinned Leica MP a-la-cartes, love the build and creamy bokeh of the Leica .95 Noctilux, and fall victim to G.A.S. all the time myself. However I am aware of my weaknesses- as I am only human and flawed myself.

Remember that in the end- just focus on the photography and go out and shoot, a lot.

For your reference, check out my old post I wrote about a year ago titled: “Which is better: Film vs Digital” in which I said that I still preferred digital at the time.

Did you used to shoot digital and have started to experiment with film- or made the full transition? Share your thoughts/opinions and thoughts in the comments below! Also make sure to continue the conversation on my Facebook fan page

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  • Craig Nisnewitz

    I shoot digital with Nikon D 80 cameras and film with Leica, M 6 and M 4. I shoot mostly black and white with the Leica cameras. I use Ilford XP2 Super film. It is ISO 200 to 800 but allows development as a color film. The black and white negative is similar to Tri-X. I can bring the film to any lab that developes C 41 color negative film. I then scan the negs with a Konica Minolta film scanner and use Vue Scan scanning software. The cost for XP2 is slightly higher then Tri-X.

    • Thatguy

      too bad your a shit photographer, wether you use digital or film, it’s sad people actually buy into this shit and they actually take your advice on this shit. It seems every rich asian dude who gets into a hobby throws up a .com like they are a pro or something… quit fooling yourself dude, you suck badly…

      • Thatguy

        this was towards Mr. Eric Kim… He = shit photographer like the other 90% of photography internet personalitys…

        • Dennis

          Is there any need for this kind of post? I think not! If you don’t like what’s published by anyone on the Net stay away from it. BTW “personalitys” just shows if anything “sucks” it’s your spelling.

        • Selfesteemguy

          His photography is at least better than your ability to spell.

        • http://blog.thomasott.net/ Tom

          Why don’t you offer up some of your images for critique?

        • Guest

          It’s cool you think it’s shit. You’re entitled to your opinion.

          But herpderp if you don’t offer a critique then you’re just trolling.

        • PK

          Calm down Thatguy…I know you can have your opinion about Mr.Kim’s photography, but it looks like you have a problem because Mr. Kim shooting with Leica! Why don’t you take a deep breath or Yoga ( Asian in origin! ) and relex…

          • Guest

            “but it looks like you have a problem because Mr. Kim shooting with Leica! ”

            What in the world does that “argument” have to do with anything?

            He could use a Nikon, Canon or Fuji for that matter and Thatguy’s opinion would remain the same.

          • PK

            “every rich asian dude ” from his first post he mention “rich asian” that just my guess Leica Mr Kim used ticks him off. In this case only Mr Thatguy can clarify this.

      • matt

        Wonder’s why youre even here then.

      • Me

        Jealous are we thatguy.. lets see your photography prick! Eric is just writing from his point of view. If he`s so shit why do you follow him? Post your link here knob head before you start talking out your arse!

        • You

          Go easy on the E.K. Kool Aid there.

        • Me

          Wow, are you his manager? girlfriend?
          Taking it to heart…..

          • Me

            No I’m your mums boyfriend dick head!!

          • Me

            lol, ok..
            tell her i said hi,
            and keep on drinking that kool aid, maybe you can be the minister for the E.k. church of street shooting, or something..

          • Thatguyisabell

            your mum says hi but its hard to understand her with her mouthfull…

      • wil

        Thatguy has a point. The shots are a bit generic and over arte for traditional street photography. He needs to find his own style.
        So you can better judge my opinion look up will spiers on flicker.

  • Paul Scrivens

    Interesting article, Eric. I’ve been thinking of moving from the M9 to film recently; either the MP or M7 (haven’t mastered full manual yet).

    For digital shots, I think I’ll stick with an iPhone – the quality is adequate for documenting my day or shots of friends and family for Facebook/Instagram.

  • steven ichikawa

    great write up! i really liked this whole article but… nobody “has to push” anything lol. i know its what you recommend but is it necessary? no. will beginners to push/pull be confused by this at first? yes.

    i personally push my tri-x to 1600 but i leave my fuji pro 400h rated at box speed or 800 if i REALLY need to get the shot. even in shade, i’ve yet to miss a shot (keep in mind i’ve been shooting a pentax 645.. lot bulkier than a film leica or a typical 35mm slr). just sayin’.

    • steven ichikawa

      forgot to add.. a lot of films dont push well. you happen to use tri-x and portra which have some of the best exposure latitude around. if anybody shooting cheap kodak/fuji film tried to push everything to 1600 a lot of shots would just come out plain ugly (from my experience).

  • Guest

    I would rather buy the Voigtländer Color-skopar 35mm 2.5 as a cheap 35mm for the M mount than the 1.4 nokton. It’s sharp (on level with the 1.4 nokton I think), hardly any distortion (the nokton has plenty) and cheaper. Yes it is slower, but if you shooting at f8 that doesn’t matter and the nokton’s harsh bokeh is not something to yearn for anyways so for shooting wide open keep this in mind: there will be distracting out of focus elements (to me that matters whether you’re a bokeh whore or not).

  • Ostahle

    Interesting story Eric!! Good luck with your film shooting. However, I am puzzled about why you speak so well about film vs. digital. I can “buy” the argument of being more selective – Yes, that is a good argument. However, you scan you negatives and do post-processing in Lightroom. Doesn’t this make you “Semi-digital”? I shoot with an M9 and I love it! When I shoot B&W and want a more “film like” image I use Silver Efex Pro and select “Tri-X” conversion etc.

    • steven ichikawa

      do you shoot film or have you shot film before? if not, the experience in itself is a lot different and the results cannot be duplicated by digital in my opinion.. silver efex does come close but the results are usually clearly distinguishable.

      • Dave Luttmann

        I enjoy using both film and digital. That said, I’ve processed files from my Nikon D700 and run them through Silver Efex andand the Tri-X and HP5 setting. I had shots done with my F5 and the real Tri-X and HP5 mixed in with the digital versions. Not one person could tell which was which. I love using my older cameras. But to be honest, the results nowadays from digital cameras can do just as well.

  • http://twitter.com/magOwl Magnificent Owl

    I started out shooting film back in the 90s using a Nikon F-801 (not counting vacation shooting and whatnot) and processing/copying myself. But the early 2000s and I stopped photographing for some reason. 2 years ago or so I got me a D7000 and been steady at it since (was it 2 years since it came out? 2½ maybe.). Lately I’ve been yearning to get back to film though, I still have my old F-801, but I wanted something else so I got the Yashica Electro 35 (the GS), which is absolutely wonderful. Come payday I’m getting a develop kit to start doing that myself again as well. And maybe I’ll even get a fixed up Kiev 60 for medium format, we used to call it “the tractor” :), but it takes nice pics as long as it’s working properly. Film is special, just no way around it.

  • Steve

    I used film before digital cameras were around. I switched to digital only in about 2004. I’ve bought a few film cameras since then but never use them. What I love about digital is being able to change ISO between frames, not having to stick with B&W when a great colour photo appears, never missing a photo while changing films and not having the processing and scanning procedure that never seemed to produce the quality I wanted. I’ve lost far less photos with digital, there were several times when something would go wrong that I was unaware of at the time with film.

    I did enjoy processing film years ago but the novelty wore off. I never enjoyed scanning film, perhaps it would be better if I could pay someone else to do it but that gets expensive. I can understand the novelty for people that have never used film before but I’m sticking with digital.

    • http://blog.thomasott.net/ Tom

      Steve, I’m with you on this. I made the leap to digital in 2010 after doing the film thing for years. I still have my film cameras and I love film but practically I simply shoot more with digital and have a lot of fun doing it.

      This is NOT a bash on film and I do load up a few rolls here and there, but for street photography my little GRD3 beats film hands down.

    • Rob LaRosa

      I agree. I spent much time during my college years in darkrooms and once digital cameras became affordable I never looked back.

  • JapanCameraHunter

    Great Article and thanks for the plug Eric. I am really glad that you are enjoying shooting film. Looking forward to seeing the results of your Ricoh Gr1s.

  • http://kaushalpar.wordpress.com/ Kaushal Parikh

    Hey Eric glad I had something to do with your switch to film:) Next time you come to Mumbai I am going to make you shoot with my Rollei TLR (1949). You will love it!

  • Guest

    Another International Street Photographer fad. You really need to step up your game and start shooting medium or large format because that’s what real photographers use…

    • Guest

      So, let’s say Mr. Kim wants to pack lightly…. That rules out most of medium format. How about low key? Rules out most of medium format as well.

      Not saying that you can’t use medium format, many people do, but carrying around a gigantic box isn’t for everybody.

      • John Vincent Torres

        I’d say a TLR is pretty low key. Nearly silent, and people see you looking down at a strange little box and not straight at them with a camera to your face.

    • Mark

      Define ‘real photographer’ ? Bit of a silly statement to infer that if you’re not using on formats larger that 35mm that you’re not real in some way.

      Looks like there are many well known great photographers past and present out there who’ve been faking it…

      • Guest

        You totally missed my point. My statement is obviously silly because this whole post is silly from the get go. As if shooting film miraculously made you a better (street) photographer. Film allows you to better concentrate on more personal projects? Please.

        As I said, it’s just another E.K. fad…

        • Amanda Banks

          The whole post is about the author’s transition and what it means to the author. So if he felt it made him a better photographer then it did. It’s this person’s experience. Even if it’s a fad, then so what. It was a process in this particular photographers growth.

  • http://twitter.com/TLPhoto Marcus

    I shot film M cameras for ages and sold them all because of the difficulty in focusing with less than perfect eyesight.
    I recently bought the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 which as Leica-ish qualities about it and great IQ, but cannot rid myself of the need to shoot film no matter how hard I try!
    Sadly my Leica glass – including an f1 Noctilux – went with the bodies (sadly too before the price shot up to NZ$15,000 for the Noctilux. I think I got NZ$3000 for mine!) and it is, as you said, very expensive.
    Another M6 and a Voigtlander 35mm might scratch an itch though.

  • Fernando

    Hello Eric,

    Nice to see that you have arrived there: from film to digital, and back to film… I’ve had a Leica M6 for some years, and a little Rollei 35 (a nice camera you should try)… Recently I’ve been looking to the X100, X-Pro1 and so on, haha, and ended acquiring an even older M4-P…

  • Zen Travels

    Very interesting post Eric but “b/w film has a far better dynamic range than digital” is not Totally accurate. Tri-X has 13.5 stops of dynamic range which does beat your M9 but the latest Sony 16MP chip found on the Pentax K-5 or Nikon D7000 has around 14 stops. The newer D800 hits 14.4. The rumored upcoming B&W sensor Leica M will probably be on par with that as well

    • Zos Xavius

      Even with 14 stops digital doesn’t have the latitude in the highlights film has. Shooting digital is very much like shooting slide film. Blow those highlights and they are gone. With Tri-X you can overexpose 4 stops and still get a useful print.

  • Roger Gallant

    Great article! I have also moved back to film. I shoot shoot about 85% 35mm film, 10% instant film, and 5% digital. The only time I use digital now is for website work, and when I need to shoot several hundred pictures in an evening (i.e. photographing music events). All my personal and project based work is now done with film (medium and 35mm).

  • Yaz1959

    Try a roll of Ilford XP2. It uses c41 processing and can be processes at Costco. I wrote a little about it at http://www.captainshutter.wordpress.com

  • Guest

    You need to jump to medium format. buy a mamiya 6/7 and deal with 12/10 shots out of a roll. After you try that, it will seem that you’re shooting like a madman in 35mm. Also as someone said, not all films push well. Kodak Tri-x and Ilford Hp5 (both 400 iso and B&W) push well into the 1600/3200 mark but it’s a waist of film capacity doing it all day. I really think the iso 1600/3200 is only needed in the early/late hours. as for the color, the portra is really the best i think. It has great shadow detail (wich is rare in c-41 film) and you can underexpose it by 1 or 2 stops without having to push the film (saving you some money). Oh and you definitely need to start developing. It will save you a ton of money…

  • Graham Hearn

    Nice article Tom!

    I used my Nikon D90 for a while, and still do when I need to take hundreds of shots in a day, like at a motor race.
    However, I’ve acquired several 35mm film cameras, and my favourite of all time is the Olympus Om-2n. If I were to be allowed only one camera to keep and use forever, it would be one of those, along with the outstanding Olympus Zuiko lenses.
    If anyone wants to try film and doesn’t want to buy something cheap to “tide them over” then the Olympus OM-2n or OM-1 is a great buy.
    Oh yes – I love my Rollei B35 too. You should try one, Tom! You’d love it.

    Keep up the good work,


    • wil

      Spot on Olympus om are awsom cameras and lenses.

  • http://twitter.com/mattmaber matt maber

    Interesting article Eric, Ive recently got a hold of a Yashica Minister III cheap off ebay to supplement my Fuji X100 and find out what this film hoo-har is all about.
    I quite enjoy it, but the instant gratification of digital wins hands down for me. That said, I have been tempted to upgrade my film rangefinder to a Canon Canonet QL19 but not yet maybe.
    The upside is that now the only Leica Id consider would be a film Leica so at least my dream camera purchase has dropped its budget somewhat ;)

    • Dark

      “I noticed a few advantages when shooting with film- namely that when people asked me to delete the photo I told them I couldn’t- as it was film.” – that is not an advantage, that is blatant disrespect for that person and his privacy. You don’t take pictures of people without asking permission (or being in a position where it’s ok to do so).

      • alex

        if they want privacy, they should not be in public, nobody is private in public especially considering all the hidden cameras everywhere.

  • Terry19452

    I can well understand those favouring film over digital, and vice versa, but what I don’t really understand with film users is it would seem they only capture their images on film, but then most digitise them by scanning and playing around in digital editing software, and then printing out on an inkjet printer to inkjet paper.

    I may be a purist, but the only true way to appreciate film is to print out the negatives in the traditional and time honoured method via a photographic enlarger on to traditional photo fibre based bromide, or at least resin coated, papers. I did this for 40 years before going totally digital 10 years ago, and I wouldn’t now go back. Doing your own d&p is messy. There was a time when I had to, but not any more.

    • AlexCoghe

      It is true. Totally agree with your comment. The problem is the birth of a new breed of “purists of film” that make all this “revolution” for scanning images.
      I don’t consider myself a purist and i am deeply attracted also by “slow photography”, but my advice is focusing on Photography, without labels and prejudices.

      Sorry, i can’t consider a photograher better than another just because shooting with film cameras.

      • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

        Definitely agree with you Alex. This post wasn’t intended to be a ‘digital vs film’ argument- but rather my personal experiences transitioning from digital to film, and enjoying the process.

        And shooting film won’t make everyone a better photographer- but I think it has helped me out a ton!

        • AlexCoghe

          Yes, mate, i understand the meaning of your post. Howewer there is on my blog an open letter for you: http://in35mm.blogspot.mx/2012/04/why-digitale-is-not-dead-for-me-in.html I would be happy that you read this and comment.

        • http://www.facebook.com/rita.chesterton Rita Chesterton

          Greetings Eric… I am nearly 70 now, but shot a lot of film in the 1960s and ’70s using my faithful Nikkormat FTN (full manual, match needle). I don’t shoot much at all with my Leica D-Lux 5… perhaps because digital just doesn’t feel as organic to me, and there’s the distraction of shuffling through menus to change settings, and having to think too much… whereas my Nikkormat felt like a natural extension of my emotions. Unlike others, I do not feel that you are being anti-digital at all. Digital is obviously here to stay. You simply make a good point… and I ‘get’ it. Photographer Larry Fink ‘gets it’ too: “The primary difference for me is this– with film there is one brain which is being stimulated by factors which concern empathy, structure and on the deepest level the revelations of chance. The film camera is the instantaneous servant of the extemporaneous impulse. So often with digital, which brings another electric brain into play, there is a incremental time lag which is the difference between a miracle and a well crafted observation.” – Larry Fink, Photographer

      • IanPettigrew

        “…but my advice is focusing on Photography, without labels and prejudices.”

        FINALLY… thank you. Best advice here.

        • AlexCoghe

          Thank you Ian.

    • http://www.terminaljunkie.com tjunkie

      I totally agree with your statement. To fully appreciate film is to print out using enlarger and do the dodge/burn the traditional way. It seems a little out of point to have it scan and edit it digitally.

      • ceebee

        Yep. Still the transition makes sense.

  • Jeffwieser

    Great article. I’m heading to Europe this weekend with my Mamiya 7II and 25 rolls of 220. Can’t wait!

    • Knur

      You lucky rich bastard ! :)

  • Michael

    The problem with working with digital is not the cameras, but the fact that alot of people don’t know what the fuck they are doing. Digital in the hands of someone who knows their craft inside and out can make great work, and it has nothing to do with trying to make it look like film in post processing.

    • AlexCoghe

      And why a problem of others must be mine? I don’t care about all the craps made with digital. I can respond about my work…and maybe we are forgetting that for a professional sometimes is a mandatory choice.

  • http://iceofspades.tumblr.com Tracy

    I would actually love to shoot film more — I have an old Canon AE-1 that I’ve used in my earlier days but it recently died. The reason? The shutter count was all used up. The battery isn’t an issue, as the meter still works. I’d have it reset, if that were possible, but it’s just so difficult to do that here in Manila.

    I understandwhy you love film. I loved it too when I first started out, but I realized the convenience of shooting digital. It takes quite an amount of discipline to not keep checking the images after shooting, and a great amount if mastery and practice to not fumble with buttons and settings.

  • Harrydan

    They would not have bothered to invent film had they invented digital first.

    • Cyberprimate

      Sure. But then we wouldn’t know what the beauty of film grain and dynamic are.

    • ALEX

      Funny comment, because digital photography is technology copying reality, it could never have been the other way around. It`s like saying they would not have bothered inventing real race cars had they invented video games first.

  • Carbonara with bacons please

    I still like the film over the digital as well. If you do it right, film pictures will look like they have feelings and lives in them, whereas the digital ones generally don’t. You can easily see from wedding pictures between taken from films or digital. Not to mention, people usually do post-editing way too much and never realized about it. Plus, films always look more artistic and natural no matter what..

    • Knur

      “Plus, films always look more artistic and natural no matter what..”
      Not anymore.
      You can use digital filters to emulate the film look.

  • Raed

    Don’t forget the Zeiss c-biogon 2.8/35 as an excellent compact choice for lens, if you can get hold of one.

  • Cyberprimate

    Nice article . I’ve been using digital (Nikon D700) for years. I’m a total beginner in film photography and I’ve just bought a … well not a 35mm camera but a Rolleiflex. Your article is very instructive nonetheless.

  • Guest

    Film is great or was great but using it just for capture only just to scan it digital just doesn’t make much sense. I know far too many photographers that do this because it makes them feel like more of a photographer.

    • http://kaushalpar.wordpress.com/ Kaushal Parikh

      Just curious…have you shot film before? These photographers you claim to know did they tell you they shoot film only because it makes them feel more like photographers? The process of shooting film, for me, works to my advantage. Slowing down and being more selective results in better images – for me. Printing with an enlarger or scanning them into my computer does not affect the content of my images which is the most essential part – for me! This is not a film vs digital argument. This is a “what I feel most connected to” discussion.

    • heyoh

      Film capture still possesses a different look relative to digital capture. Thus, even if scanned digitally, it still look different. What is so hard to understand about this?

  • Wani

    I’ve recently embarked on trying out film, and it’s been an amazing few months. Like you mentioned, the depth, the soul and the little bit of excitement of seeing what shows up on your negatives is, really, something else. Now going on random shoots with my boyfriend (yes, I’m so blessed to have someone who shares this new-found love with me) is always something to look forward to!

    The buzz of the people around you, the streets filled with stories… is simply something you have to experience yourself to know how fulfilling it really is. It’s a hobby that I hope will keep me this excited for a long time.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with transitioning to film for street photography; it was a great read! :)

  • http://analog36.wordpress.com/ D. Harris

    Great article Eric. I’ve been documenting my experiences shooting film here:


    I post the pics and my thoughts there as well as post images to Flickr. Here are a couple of sets:

    Keep up the good work.

  • Carlos Leroux

    My dream has always been to get the “perfect” photograph, but currently my gear only allows me to capture so much of what I can see, the issues such as the amount of megapixels, ISO capabilities and sensor sizes make it extremely difficult for me to get the 100% out of every shot I take. Film is probably the hardest, least cost-efficient method, but it’s just soooo much more gratifying. I’ve been trying to fix my grandfather’s Edixa Reflex for over a year now, but in the end, they just stopped letting me put my hand in it, and declared it some sort of family heirloom. The camera is as bare-bones as it gets, no meter, no batteries, not even a pentaprism. It barely uses a waist level viewfinder. An advantage film has over digital is that the only limit to the resolution you can get out of it is how far your scanner can push it, its impressive. I can’t wait to grab a film camera and shoot with it certain moments, but for some reason I am not tempted to use it as a main camera, but as a complementary one, a camera I can use for those shots you just know that is worth the hassle and pain of developing and processing film.

  • LenzX100Photography

    As I really like you and Bellamy, I tried shooting some rolls of film. I like the whole process of shooting film like you described it. But in the end the results never came close to my digital prints.

  • http://analog36.wordpress.com/ D. Harris

    One thing I’d like to see on your blog, Eric, is a portfolio section of your best work.

  • http://twitter.com/adbigmilk adbigmilk

    Great post. I will also recommand to use contact sheet to edit your pictures. It’s always different to see your shots on paper than a computer screen even when the photo is small like on a contact sheet. And I make myslef a rule to know when to process my film : http://adbigmilk.tumblr.com/post/20369518311/when-is-the-best-time-to-develop-your-exposed-films

  • Fiddlergene

    I shot film for years with my Leica M6 and M4, and I loved using those cameras and processing the film. When I transitioned to digitalI knew I’d never go back to film. I’m going to write a blogpost about this article and my feelings about film vs. digital. Check it out in a day or so at genelowinger.blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/chrisblackhurst Chris Blackhurst

    Enjoyed that article Eric. I remember once answering to an older blog post of yours and asking where the analogue love was – and look where you are today!
    I like the fact that more people are championing film recently – its quite heartwarming. I’m going back to 100% film shooting after the completion of two projects I’m committed to and am looking forward to slowing down again doing more seeing and less looking.
    Only a couple of gripes – always shoot 400 film pushed to 1600? Always zone focus? Mmm, each to their own I’d suggest, especially regarding the latter. What if you like shallow DOF and some bokeh action? (People are sick of shallow DOF / bokeh shots? Suggest the same may be true for deep DOF/in your face flash shots soon) Not going to get that at f/8 or similar. Zone focusing could be argued to be not fully indulging in the beast of a fully manual camera. Should one be learning to focus quickly on the fly? Again, one man’s meat etc.
    Overall though, good stuff. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • fotolorea

    I’m in a similar—although not identical—place right now. I’ve been shooting digital for years, but something about film kept calling out to me. I recently acquired a Leica M6 myself (went with the 50mm ‘cron instead of the 35, though), but rather than replacing my digital cameras, it’s complementing them. My Fuji X100 is my “casual” camera, since it doesn’t require me to really be in the zone when shooting (although often it will end up putting me in the zone anyway). It’s my take-it-with-me-just-in-case camera. The M6 is what I’ll be grabbing to shoot with when I’m going out with the express purpose of shooting. It’s very possible that will change in some way—I’m still adjusting to the M6 and film in general, so who knows what my workflow will be 6 months from now.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the switch!
    ~Joey Pasco
    @fotolorea on Twitter

  • 750mlphotos

    Eric–good to see you’ve come back from the darkside of digital… to film.

  • Chee Guan Koh

    Film or digital, it doesn’t matter. Just use whatever suits you and make you happy. Enjoy the photographing process and appreciate your own work is the most important thing.

  • AlexCoghe

    I respect your point, my friend, but sorry i am not agree with you. If is true that the camera is not so important we can’t think to make difference also between film and digital. Sorry, but i have seen crap and fantastic works with film as crap and fantastic works with digital. I don’t understand your point with the editing: it depends only by the attitude and approach of the photographer. I can’t understand also this extremism. The world is not black and white (yes, also with photography) and i love shoot film exactly i love shoot digital. Today is a trend: all speak of the virtues of analog photography, but also digital photography has its own. I am an observer before to be a photographer, so i can understand your point when you argue about being more selective, but this depends by the photographer also in digital. That said, sometimes, yes also in street photography is a real advantage to be able to takin’ more pictures. And by the way we’re not architecture photographers, sometimes we can and must shooting more. And with digital this is more simple and, for sure, less expensive. I could speak more about this topic and maybe i could write a post about this…respecting your decision, i don’t wanna to take away the pleasure of photographing both digital and analog.

  • Museumlover_2000

    While I have been shooting “street” photography for over 35 years and have my film indexing, developing and printing down pat. I am loving shooting with the M9. I can suddenly do things I could never do in the darkroom and print on an Epson so big, retaining so much detail with so much tonality that my prints look like they where printed from my 6×7 negatives. It’s one thing to shoot film, develop and print optically then show those prints but when you scan and the Internet becomes your gallery why bother. Film is great but I suspect that if Garry Winogrand were alive today he’d be shooting with an M9.

  • Peter Samson

    Eric, I would also recommend trying Kodak’s Ektar 100 film in bright sunlight. The film produces vibrant colors!

  • Jonno83

    You think about SEO much when you write? Ha!

    For this post I will share how I first got introduced to film street photography, the pros of shooting street photography with film, and how you can get started shooting street photography with film as well. Keep reading to learn more!

  • Guest

    Magical thinking is dangerous. There are no silver bullets, there are no shortcuts to consistently excellent photographs. Making great images is 80% bloody hard work, 10% gear, and 10% unfathomable grace or luck or the muse by your side.

    As we grow as photographers and artists we hope there is some old master’s secret that will instantly vault us into the pantheon of greats. We chase lenses, cameras, film, filters, developers, papers, archaic techniques, sensors, raw files, apps and output. These are all to one degree or another fools gold.

    There is one thing that matters – the image. Period.

  • Davidcrane

    Wow, I had no idea I was always supposed to shoot my Tri-X 1600, all those years of shooting Tri-X at ISO 320, just a waste. BTW, film may not be going away any time soon, but scanners are. Hope you didn’t spend all the money from the sales of your M9…. you will need it to find a good working Nikon 9000 or similar quality scanner and working software.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/mathomas1962 Mike Thomas

      Just FYI, PlusTek continues to make 135 scanners that are pretty good.  Not as good as the Nikons but plenty good for the size of print most people make.  PlustTek is also working on a 120/135 scanner that should be released soon.  Their quality target was the Nikon medium format scanner (can’t remember the model).

      Not looking for an argument — just wanted people to know.

  • Jonno83

    Think about SEO much when you write? Ha!

    For this post I will share how I first got introduced to film street photography, the pros of shooting street photography with film, and how you can get started shooting street photography with film as well. Keep reading to learn more!

  • tamabrett

    You’re a douche. That woman clearly didn’t want her photo taken and now you’ve used for your own self promotion. It’s illegal to publish a photo in Japan without permission of the subject.

    • Charlie Kirk

      No it’s not. Get your facts straight.

      • tamabrett

        Let me know if you ever get into trouble for breaching someone’s privacy; a friend is a very good lawyer.

        You’re douche like Eric but are you are “pro photographer” too?

        • http://twitter.com/chrisblackhurst Chris Blackhurst

          lol You might wish to know your enemy before making such posts. Google Charlie and see where he has recently resided and what his career was before photography. Then sit back and enjoy the dairy produce dripping from your face.
          And yes, I know I am a now a “douche” in your eyes, also. Obviously, I will be losing sleep over this.

          • Ich Will

            Well, I’m in a wheelchair. I’m one of these “unusual” subjects that street photographers seem to love shooting so much.

            Most street photographers make my life a misery, I became depressed and agoraphobic. I found it impossible to leave my house for 4 years – photographers did that to me. Having your image snatched without permission has lasting negative effects. The woman in the photo may still remember that moment and it may still affect her.

            My friend and wonderful person gave me a hug once. A photographer, who had been following me most of the day (It’s very difficult to follow people and not be noticed, I know someone is going to follow me almost before they do, just by their body language) seized his moment. This was years and years ago. I mentioned it to her the other day, she burst into tears. As far as I can remember this was the only time she got included in my ordeal.

            The thing is, I love street photography. I enjoy making my own photographs, though I wouldn’t describe them as street. When a photographer, no matter how subtlety either before or after the shot acknowledges me and my presence, treats me as a human being rather than a curiosity in a chair, I am delighted and more than happy with what happened.

            Eric Kim is one of the most respectful photographers I have never met. I can’t imagine he left any of these people feeling unhappy about having their photo’s taken and if he did, I doubt he would have published it. I know for a fact, having spoken to someone I had a bit of an altercation with – he shoved a wide angle lens over my chair (Which is the equivalent of putting a lens through someone’s legs, respect a wheelchair users personal space and respect that it is a bit larger that most peoples, especially if you are stepping backwards, we are on butt level!) and I was very vocal with my objections.

            Anyway, years later I met him again, and to cut to the chase, the photo he got was apparently amazing, one of his best, but he could never bear to use it. To do so would bring up all the memories of how disrespectful he was. He had simply deleted it. So it works both ways, an unpleasant picture ends up being unpleasant for both the subject and the photographer.

            So basically, try not to judge a photo on it’s respectfulness to the subject. Unless you were there, you can’t know what you are talking about.

          • tamabrett

            You’re not a douche, you’re an important part of the internet ecology. These self promoting narcissists need people who are easily impressed by their dubious skill.

        • Charlie Kirk

          See the comment below. I have lived in Japan for ten years and am very familiar with the law there. You think that Moriyama and Araki have the consent from everyone that appears in their books? Please do not make stuff up. People end up believing it and will worry about shooting in Japan.

          • Will

            I’m about to move to Japan, in two weeks, better not be illegal haha though I know it’s not, but I don’t think photos of people like that are interesting at all. Personal point, but i wonder what i’m supposed to see in it, usually when I like a photograph I make a (supposed) connection to the photographer and feel like I can follow what s/he were trying to do and I admire the ability to compose. Randomly snapping photos with the flash on does not do that to me, I think “the photographer thinks weird photos of people that have the natural reaction of confusion and a little shock is cool and art”.

          • tamabrett

            5 minutes, Google and half a brain and you’ll find out the truth about Japan’s strict privacy laws. That these guys are so clueless is a good indicator of the quality of their seminars.

          • http://twitter.com/twocutedogs twocutedogs

            Japan’s privacy laws relate to data held on individuals. The only risk that a photographer faces in Japan is being sued if you take an image of someone that harms their reputation. This is a potential risk in most countries in the world (see the Di Corcia case). And the fact of being sued doesn’t mean that you will lose. There is no right against being photographed that is protected by law. Celebrities do have “portrait rights”, but the common person doesn’t. I’ve spent ten years in the legal profession in Japan and I know this area well. So, please, fuck off.

  • Andrew

    So many of the comments here are written by wankers.

  • Jbgood

    Eric, there is a bit of arrogance to say that you are done with digital! Trust me you caught a weeeeee bit of a bug. Never say never. Man you are an infant and a self proclaimed “international street photoographer”, whatever the f that means. I think it is great you have a passion and you inspire others but you lose credibility when you write this shit! You barely can spell Kodak never mind saying digital is dead. You have so much to learn and to learn you must grow and not be so short sighted. I truly wish you well but you lost lots with this post my friend! Take it from someone that has been shooting film since the 70s and shoots lots of digital along side my film. Think and learn but leave arrogance in your diaper!

    • http://twitter.com/SNiPhotos Seon Nanton

      Stop being a friggin jerk Eric is growing and he can call himself international , where have you been. He even had the best of the best the Leica M9. Picasso often changed styles and mediums sometimes giving up old ones all together. I shoot film and Digital. The best medium is a combination of both the convenience of digital and the quality and texture of film. Where the hell is your blog ? Typos happeveryone so leave that shit in your adult diapers grandpa.

      • Guest

        Oh yeah, since he had “the best of the best the Leica M9” then he’s indeed entitled to everything. Sheesh…

        And owning a camera, whatever brand it may be, never made anyone a (great) photographer, it just makes camera owners.

      • Jbgood

        Is that the best you have Okie?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=54705616 Seon A Nanton

          Nope, but I’m not not a hater Eric’s community has been really beneficial to me and it’s hard to get out there and show what you got. This blog show me that there is a real street genre. I’m sure you know more about photography than I do so what, that’s why I’m here to continue my journey, not to be a friggin hater. Just because a technology is newer and more convenient noesnt make it so much better. Otherwise Canon, Nicon, Sony & the rest wouldn’t force a new sensor down our thoughts ever eight months with cameras that feel like toys

  • Waltershin

    Dang man, you guys are harsh! Cut the guy some slack. He is young and experimenting with film. Look at the community he has built here and I can honestly say he has helped me improve my street photography. I think his photography will elevate in a matter of time. His projects are capturing societies around the world today that future people will love later.

  • http://www.cutebun.blogspot.com Cutebun

    I still do use film cameras as it is more compact and DSLR is too heavy and bulky to bring around. I even shoot during traveling and I enjoyed it.

  • elphotog

    What we should all take from this is how exploring will broaden your mind. If you’ve never shot film before you definitely should give it a try, even if you just shoot a few rolls of film. During this current semester of college I have been taking a photography class which only allowed us to shoot 35mm b/w film. Like Eric Kim, shoot with film has completely changed my regular work flow and mind flow. I am completely in love with film! But there are times where it’s easier for me to shoot digital and I do, but, what I’ve learned from film and simple manual cameras has carried on to when I shoot digital.

  • Brian

    After seeing you and Kai on digirev I thought I’d give film a go. My ex roommates girlfriend had given me a Nikon fm so I finally loaded it up and put it to use. I loved it. I only shoot street on film now, and I use my canon for everything else. I think if we want to document our world that if we do it on film it will last whereas I think all these people shooting digital will loose their files eventually. My negs will out live me, and I think that will be a good thing.

    I blog my film and other shots at http://brianhawley365.wordpress.com

    • Steve

      I never understand why people think film will last longer than digital. Film can get destroyed by fire, flooding, fungus and lot of other things. I can make prints from my digital files, I can even make negatives and slides from them. I can make digital files from my film. There’s really no difference, if you take care, both can last hundreds of years but if you aren’t careful, they can be destroyed in seconds.

      • Brian

        Yes everything can be lost either way. It’s just that negs are already existing hard copies, whereas digital files are sort of only potentially real. Someone could format your hard drive or throw away your old computer given you are not there (dead) same with negs, but I hope my negs are compelling enough to not be considered garbage. I shoot digital too, but just not for street photography. Personally I’m shitty at digital file management whereas with negs I have them, plus the scan, plus the print if that ever happens. So the backup workflow is more integrated. I bet my negs will outlast my digital files, knowing the way I roll. good luck preserving your images.

  • V70pdb

    I’m old. I’ve been shooting since I was 8, nearly 60 years ago, and of course most of it was in film. The process of developing and printing is truly magical. When your image appears out of the liquid for the first time it is simply Wow!
    However I’ve given up on that now, moved on as it were. I still feel the magic in digital. It’s just a different type of magic.
    Here in the UK we have had “photography clubs” for decades. I joined one when I was in my 20’s. It was a dreary place where peoples first question on seeing a print you had made was “What did you shoot that with?” and their second was ” What was the film, the printing paper and…” well you get the idea.The image was not the interest but the gear and the processing fascinated them. As I say a dreary place full of old men with expensive cameras. All the gear and no idea.
    Drop this obsession with obsessions. Obsessions about gear, about film, about digital, about types of film etc. It gets in the way and blurs your vision.
    Spend your money on travel tickets and your time on the streets. Simply exist – and with any camera, digital or otherwise. Shrug off that “Camera club” mentality. It is stultifying.

    • F’KIMG

      ^ Thank you for post & sharing with us your experience.

      Spot on in every sense, message is clear = These are just tools & mediums to capture an image. Digital or Film its about the shot. A great capture will be a great capture, delivering what you envisioned from before the frame and till its frozen. A poor image will be just that, a poor image. It doesnt matter which platform you use it all comes down to the individual photographer. As the saying goes “Its the Indian not the Arrow”

    • R. Hung

      I absolutely agree with you. I am not experienced as you are but I have been shooting for 30 years. I used to shoot a lot of films but have finally changed to digital 5 years ago. I agree with Eric on the magically quality of films and how it helps you to be selective too. Today, I have seen too people are chasing their gears instead of taking time to learn and take pictures. The reason? I believe buying top equipments is much easier to achieve than taking great pictures.

    • dnguyen

      HEAR HEAR!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Donohoe/100000308877053 Paul Donohoe

      i agree and it seems to me that this camera club kind of mentality where all is received wisdom, rules and blah blah talk, is being copied by some so-called street photographers who gather large followings of wannabes

  • Dan

    Good for you to go through with film, it will for sure improve your photog skills.

    In my opinion thought, in some months/year, without forgoing film of course, you’ll go back to using digital also… you can’t stop progress and the film workflow is cumbersome after a while as you’ll find out in my opinion.

    • Dan

      p.s. Love the top photo

  • Jrs3films

    Jay Maisel and Martin Parr shoot digital. Different strokes …

    • Knur

      James Nachtwey and Steve McCurry shoot digital too.

    • http://twitter.com/JohnKobeck John Kobeck

      I gave up digital a few years ago to use only a Hasselblad V system. I just finished selling off the last of my Hassy gear, thanks to the Fuji X Pro line. In my eyes, the X-pro is as good as MF film.

  • Dan

    My problem with setting the aperture to f/8+ and pushing the film effectively turns a fantastic manual camera into a glorified P&S. Going full manual will really slow you down and make you think. I see too many ‘in your face flash’ photos where obviously no manual has been used. I’d prefer to effect the results with my own choices.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Walter-Morataya/100000545501164 Walter Morataya

    Glad to hear you’ve switched over to film eric! I myself have been shooting film since i first picked up a camera and I’m only 23, I’m not saying digital is no good because that is obviously not the case. Personally I fell in love with film the first time i stepped foot in a darkroom and saw my photo suddenly appear in the tray of developer, which by the way you should give printing a try. Film just works better for some of us and its not about having an ego that film is better than digital, its more of a personal thing, I myself process my own film make my own proof sheets and print my own photos, it makes me feel very close to my photography its a great feeling, But anyway, don’t pay attention to anyone trying to put you down because there is a big difference between critiquing someones work and posting hate comments to feel good about yourself. Keep shooting film, try different films, developers, pushing and pulling your film, find a darkroom and give printing a try. You’re free to shoot film or digital, just remember its about you and your photography.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000888508397 Donald Burghardt

    My friend, you experiment a lot and i encourage you to. You have build a great society all over the planet but i think you made a huge misstake in selling that M9. I have shot thousands of rolls of film and developed them in B&W and color myself. The discussion nowadays about pixels and gear is a much smaller playingfield as back then we had tons of variables more like camera, lens, film, iso, push, pull, pre-exposure, chemicals, temperatures, agitation, enlagers, enlargerlenses, pre-developing, post-exposure, papers, wetting agents, dryingmethods, toning, conservation and so on and on and on…

    You are now just having a tiny taste of film and its beauty but foremost hassle and i can assure you that all of it is possible when using Lightroom and Nik in the right way. Before you really master film you will be 10 years from now provided that you do all the processing yourself.

    If you really want to shoot film then take slides, but they really are unforgiving like digital *can* be if you don’t master the process. So negative film is a way of taking the easy way out.
    I shoot fully digital but still with the ‘filmeye’ and that is why my week in Tokyo with you delivered me only a few hundred shots. Digital is (to me anyway) a blessing as since i moved in with my girlfriend i don’t have the space nor the time to do all that darkroomstuff.

    I (re)learned (fresh-up) a lot in Tokyo. I am an educated photographer that organises workshops as well and i’m very much looking forward to meet you again in Amsterdam next month. But do keep in mind that photography is about seeing, not about the used medium. There is a lot to learn and gain and get explanation and understanding of digital workflows by using film for a while. But dismissing digital and selling that M9… man… that was a decision to think over…

    • Guest

      The m9 is just a camera, it can be replaced with another m9 (new or second hand). I see nothing wrong in committing to digital, whether it is for good or just a period. Having an M9 depreciating on the shelf while you’re shooting film does not make sense.

      • Guest

        It should of course be “committing to film”.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000888508397 Donald Burghardt

          As i said, experimenting is good and there is a lot to learn by shooting film and understand where things come from. It’s good to use it as a mix, well i guess… but to dissmiss digital is a bit rigorous and not necessary. I am convinced every photographer should not only shoot film but do the whole process for som years and be educated in that field because there is A LOT to it. I just lost a heartbeat by reading he sold that magnificent M9… Yes it’s hardware, but why does someone buy that hardware instead of still shooting with the Agfa Click if it is so damn unimportant?

          • Guest

            I’m not saying what camera you’re using isn’t important, but it makes no sense to have such an expensive camera if you’re not using it. Eric has been saying his M9 had become his backup/extra camera. If he chances his mind he can easily get a new/used M9 then, if he holds on to it without using it it will depreciate and he has nothing left for it. Also: Rumours has it there’s an M10 coming this fall (we will of course never know for sure until it’s here) and I guess the second hand value of the M9 will fall drastically then (probably not as much as the M8/8.2 did though) so getting rid of it now makes sense.

    • http://ahsah.tumblr.com/ Ahsah

      I believe in some cases and especially these days, photographers shooting film have to decide whether or not they want to spend ALOT of time learning to be chemists and properly processing their C41, D76, or E6 or simply finding a great photo lab that they can trust who do this all day every day. I personally have been processing all the major types for quite a while and have finally come to the conclusion that frankly…I don’t like doing it and I’m not doing a good enough job. Thankfully there are people who actually enjoy the chemistry, process, and ideology behind the craft that I can bring my film to. They are a hell of a lot better than most of us who initially learned only to save a quick buck and spend their lives perfecting this craft so we can go out and take more photos.

      • Keith

        Just to let you know I have been on at all the big
        companies (Kodak, Fuji etc) and labs (now gone bust) who used to process my film (print or slide) to get into digital
        processing since 1999 when I bought a Nikon D1. Having chatted to a lot of other photographers it’s
        getting easier and easier to process digital files with Lightroom (if the
        photographer is any good and doesn’t need to shoot RAW because he’s 3 stops out
        on exposure !!!). But its still time consuming.

        I think that if someone were to offer the following …




        Fill Light


        Tint Adjustments

        Noise Reduction


        Red Eye Removal



        for around 12.5 pence (UK £) per image inc VAT ( = £4.50 for a “roll of 36” ) that it would be a real game changer and that I and every
        other photographer I know could get back to doing what we want to do – which is taking pictures
        and not sit have to sit in front of a computer “processing”. Sure I enjoyed the darkroom in my film days but not since I turned pro in 1989. I miss giving my stuff to a lab and getting on with the next job. Digital lets me shoot in low light conditions with a quality I never dreamed of – I just hate all the computer work.


        • Lee

          ‘(if the
          photographer is any good and doesn’t need to shoot RAW because he’s 3 stops out
          on exposure !!!)’ what!! You shoot raw because it retains all the detail allowing you to make the descions rather than the camera ditching details to give you what it thinks is a good image. Jpegs that’s a crap print waiting to happen

          • Keith

            No Lee !

          • lee

            mind you a print now theres a novel idea!

          • Bubba Jones

            Respectfully, “…Jpegs that’s a crap print waiting to happen…”, that is a sad comment about your skills. 99.99% of the rime I shoot JPGs. All my setup is in camera, CWB, exposure, and the like. From there the JPG may be cropped, sharpened. Folks if you must reply on a raw file you may want to check your workflow.

            If you are not blowing up your images over 16×20 selling them at that sized an larger what the heck is raw vs JPG getting you? Most folks send theri photos via e-mail, flicker, and the like, from there the recipient sees it then deletes it, what has raw brought you? Yes raw has more info, but for what use? Remember film has bee around for over 200 years, it has produced exceptional images and very large prints, even for billboards.

            Please get over this FEP vs raw, it is a nonstarter.

        • Aaron Burr

          Keith, both refreshing and encouraging. i’m about to dust off my old OM-1 and buy some BW film. i know it’s no a Leica, but with any luck on the short end, i may end up with some good photos and courage enough to go with the Leica-esque equipment.

    • Bard Fosse

      I also remember all the stupid filters to carry to balance the light, film available today are daylight and that’s it.
      Processing films is not fun for me, stinking chemicals and stress with time. I have an old film camera laying around. And I shoot a few films inspired by your post, processed them and then… Well, then it came back to me one iso in the camera, one white balance in the camera, if there was issued a digital camera with those specs nobody would buy it, it would be slaughtered by everyone.
      Then it was chemicals, baths, spills and crap, then meticulously scanning the pictures. If anyone would issue some hardware/software like this to process digital photos nobody sane would ever buy it.
      Anyway the result, I carried a digital camera and shot the same with it for comparison, then I popped the image through Lightroom and Nik Silver efex pro, I could replicate the film with no problem, I could also play around a lot with other “films” dodge and burn and really play around as much as I wanted. I could do all this in a shorter time than it took to process the film, then scan it to make it into a picture I could use. So to sum it all up I don’t get it… I am an old film shooter and I don’t get it, why would going to film give me any advantage over digital? It’s more limiting, more messy with baths and chemicals, it’s more time consuming to process and it limits me a whole lot more.
      So after that “fun” revival of the past I could put the film camera back to where it belonged, in the attic.

  • Monika

    Thank for the post! There is a time and place for both digital and film. I have been introduced to film very recently …. and I love it!! I love the feel of the camera, the slowing down when taking shots – thinking more about the shot itself, rather than just clicking away and constantly looking at my screen to see if I got THAT shot. I love the developing of the film – the magic.
    But then I love my digital camera, which can handle fast situations, that my manual Nikon FE wouldn’t be able to do (well, not me anyway…too slow to focus manually). I don’t mind the post-processing either. It is relaxing and enjoyable.
    I hope you get alot out of the film process….I know it will help me become a better photographer in the end!

  • K. Peter Schmidt

    Wait, Eric, til you have your hands on the upcoming Leica Monochrome on May 10, in Berlin. I bet, you will change your mind. Again. See U.

  • http://twitter.com/50mm_Streettog DipayanBhattacharjee

    Hello Eric,

    I read your post yesterday, and Alex’s post today. Both of you have very well written points. They show your ideas well.

    But I’m a newbie here, and I have a hell load of doubts and inquisitiveness. So I had to take it a step further and write a post of my own. I would really appreciate if you would take a look and give your views.



  • http://analog36.wordpress.com/ D. Harris

    I think selling your M9 was a little drastic, no?

  • theunshuttable

    I’ve been there. You’ll be back.


    • Will

      So many of us have, you eventually settle down to a healthy compromise, different on different days, feels great having options.

  • cee4star

    Wow some interesting comments here, and great article. It got me thinking and inspired me to finally write a new blog post! http://www.cee4star.co.uk

  • cee4star

    Wow some interesting comments here, and a great article. It got me thinking and inspired me to finally write a new blog post! http://www.cee4star.co.uk

    Keep up the good workand happy snapping – regardless of format!

    @cee4star http://www.cee4star.co.uk

  • Mike Avina

    Nice post Eric–always interesting!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnVincentTorres John Vincent Torres

    Great article, Eric. Still seems like gear fetishism in certain parts, but you make a lot of good points, such as out-of-focus shots looking natural on film whereas they can be disastrous with digital.

  • http://www.boliston.co.uk/ Adrian Boliston

    It’s good to hear you are using film as I have recently started shooting film as well after using a D700 for the last 18 months.
    I have been using an Olympus “point & shoot” film camera (a mju III 120) and have had my first films back from the developers and really like the results I have got from such a basic camera (worth about £15 now).
    I have also recently purchased a Nikon FM2 film SLR and shot a few rolls on my trip to London last weekend and really enjoyed the whole “film experience” even though I have not had the films back yet to see the results.
    There is something about the “manual-ness” of it all – winding on after each shot (love the sound and feel of all this), rewinding the film, physically setting all the controls without the need for LCD readouts or menus.
    I’m in the process of learning about scanning and have been using Vuescan which seems really good but will take me a long time to master to get the best results. Using a basic Epson 4490 flatbed but hope to eventually get a dedicated scanner like a Coolscan or Plustek.

  • Sdubois64

    Yes sir!! i shoot film, just love it…love the “mechanic” of it…loads of fun!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503394674 Joseph Camosy

    Eric, I would like to suggest that you place more focus on projects and vision, not gear. Choose your project then choose the gear best suited for that project (be it digital or film). Also, I have to say you need to become more sophisticated in your compositions. The “in your face” street photography is getting very tiresome. If you’re not composing with at least 2-3 elements, then it’s just P&S.

    • Will

      Yes unfortunately I agree, Eric’s early work shows composition, I remember seeing people by a fountain silhouetted against it in an image worthy of someone staring at it for quite a while and wondering what they were talking about and how you got the image, I remember an image at the top of an escalator with reflections of the one person again which was intriguing and had a sense of “you actually took the time to think about the photo and compose it” , then bam, the last year or so it’s just been random shots of strangers, trying to find meaning in an otherwise meaningless photo and hasn’t inspired me at all, it’s boring and what everyone does.

      That being said, each to their own, I guess there’s different types of street photography, I thiiiink you are trying to go for the surreal type of street art, I think this is a gamble, what separates it from the million other people waving the camera around in a random fashion, just because you have your name out there? Well maybe, unfortunately. I don’t hate you for it of course, I just don’t like your street photos any more, but then I don’t like 95% of street photos I see, you’re just blending into the crowd like anyone does in creating anything, 95% of TV is rubbish, same kind of thing.

      P.S I don’t like your friends street photography either, or the guy you’re taking after, the famous one, it’s like a snobby art world where there’s enough of you to hold a scene together but there’s no real reason outside of it. I.e. if you show these photos to the average person, not in the context of a gallery where it assumes grandeur but in a neutral setting, they would not understand any greatness about them, whereas good composition and thought out photos do. I believe we should be targeting the average person if our work is to survive.

      Please don’t feel too bad though, my opinion, I feel it’s better to say what I mean than sugar coat it, I mean no offence though it is obviously fairly offensive what I have said.

      • Harrydan

        “….or the guy you’re taking after, the famous one, it’s like a snobby art world where there’s enough of you to hold a scene together but there’s no real reason outside of it. ”

        Poor Mr Gilden….you are being harrased in public for no fault of yours. Just because of a few emulators that doesn’t even deserve to be your third assistant.

      • http://twitter.com/trevorsaylor Trevor S

        I have to agree. His early work was quite good, and what turned me on to him to start with. I remember watching some of his slide shows on youtube and recommending them to others. There were some really nice shots there, and a number of them were memorable. Lately, however, it’s a different story. I’ve never been into Bruce Gilden, personally, and EK seems to be emulating him, among others. Personally, I think a street photograph should be more than simply someone’s reaction to your camera/flash.

        Furthermore, it seems although EK is a nice young man, he has gotten a bit full of himself as the globe-trotting, Leica-toting, “International Street Photographer” Eric Kim, and is losing that initial vision of what made his photographs stand out. There is a snobbery around Leica, and recently around analog photography, and sadly it seems EK has had one too many sips of that Kool-Aid. With that said, every artist goes through stages, and perhaps this Bruce Gilden-inspired phase is one of them. Shooting 100% film might be another.

        I’d like to think of the classic street photographers as offering a bit more than EK has been recently. Documenting the streets and composing thoughtful, poignant images is not easy, but the best ones are done with the photographer not interfering with the image being made, as was at one point–and should still be–the aim of photojournalism. After all, “street photography”, before its recent faddish iteration–has its roots in photojournalism.

        Best of luck to Eric, as I wish him all the best. Internet fame is fickle and must take a considerable amount of effort to maintain. I hope that he gets back to what he does best, once he’s done experimenting with different types of photography. After all, 100% digital or film doesn’t really help anyone…and “only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

      • http://www.citysnaps.net/ Brad

        Have to agree with Will. Time to develop your *own* style, rather than copying what now seems to be popular; ie flash-in-the-face shooting scaring old people, women, and school girls – with no regard for context or released narrative. There’s no depth there. I understand it speaks to the notion and attitude of an “I’m bad (meaning cool), and a no rules hard core street photographer” that some want to personify. It’s all turning into a TV reality show. SP is about subtleness and observing, not copping a swagger and snapping people left and right hoping something will come out in the wash.

        Or, if you want to stay on that track, step up your game. Head into South Central LA, Crenshaw Blvd, for example, and flash-snap a few people in your own age group as you walk down the sidewalk.

  • th0i3

    I was reading this post yesterday and it such an inspiring post. I shot mostly using digital camera, but was given a manual Canon SLR 10 to 12 year ago. The camera got stolen and i was off photography for awhile until I bought my D80. Will definitely look into SLR and shooting on film. I wish I could afford one of those Leicas (Film or Digital). Peace!

  • AlexCoghe
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  • Stijn

    Hm. I like film. I like medium format. I like the feeling and the quality.

    But as *I* read it; your reasons for “film” sound more like attitude (focus? triggerhappy?). postprocessing is the same like in my dark room; if you know what you want; you don’t spend fiddling around.


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  • Terminallyhip

    I entered the Think Tank street photography contest with photographs I shot on my AE-1. Beautiful images that have won awards at other shows. No Leica, no digital.

    Now, I guess, you can ask the folks at Think Tank why they didn’t accept my entry of film photography for there street photography contest. Film photographers are spoken down to and considered hipsters…

  • Disraeli Demon

    Thanks for another thought-provoking article, Eric. I found myself smiling as I read it, since many of your reasons for switching from digital to film were the same as my reasons for switching from film to digital. I wonder if maybe the change of method isn’t the important thing?

    Thoroughly applaud your recommendations for film compacts – I’ve used both the Contax T2 and the Ricoh GR1s in my time and they’re both terrific. If you’re trying to decide between them, I found the T2’s 38mm lens gave me a more generally useful, less extreme field of view than the GR1s’s 28mm optic; and for low-light shooters, the T2 uses an infrared focussing system that works well in poor light and is completely unobtrusive; the GR1s uses phase detection which requires an AF illuminator (you can’t disable this illuminator except by sticking electrical tape over it, but from memory the focussing still coped well in dim conditions such as urban streetlighting.)

  • Rei.iane Madrid

    EK, this is a great article in regard to your personal pursuit of best medium for street photography. I agree in the general consensus of the image being always the main focus of photographers may it be from film or digital. I myself shoot more in film than digital but I never consider that using a film camera makes me a better photographer. Film is a preference. You either produce great results or duds just the same like when using a digital camera. Film has been with us since the start and a resurgence of people using it is great for business and great for photography. Let stay in the middle and use both mediums it is not going to hurt anyone’s pride if you are using film or digital. These formats should coexist for the benefit of the image.

  • Barry0211

    shawne Hoke has a great tutorial on how to develop your own film.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/43194675@N02/ Devin Jones

    I liked this blog back in the day when it was less about selling. Selling gear, selling workshops, selling yourself. I miss the days when you used to mainly feature and interview other street photographers. It turned me on to a lot of good stuff. It still does from time to time, as the quality of features and interviews has not diminished.

    However, I see a lot of rehashes of “do this, do that.” You do contradict yourself, as does anyone when he or she learns photography. You preach too. While they can be beneficial to young photographers, it would seem that your contradictory sermons are increasingly places for product placement like that which graces this post.

    I write this knowing my opinion means little. You’ll continue to do what you do well, which is be a professional photographer. Professional not in the sense of “years of experience, acclaimed body of work” but in “I know how to make a lot of money from this.”

    Still, posts like these cheapen the blog.

    But, on second thought, looking at the amount of comments, posts like this make the blog. That’s unfortunate.

    • Guest

      Very well summed up.

      • sefasef


  • Craig

    less verbose gesticulating & more picture taking – if you all indeed are “photographers”…

    push Tri-X to an effective ISO of 8,000 while you’re at it ;) – just to piss of the curmudgeons & fanboys (regardless of orientation)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528471378 Mikael Siirilä

    I have done the same switch going from M8 to M6 + Tri-X and I am loving everything about it. One very important advantage of the Leica M system is that you can use both digital and film bodies with the same lens and they all (2 bodies, 2 lens) fit in a small bag.

  • L Vanos

    Hi Eric, Nice article, as I shoot film I often need to explain myself, sometimes I even consider switching to digital. Especially with the new smaller cameras. Proper articles like this one provide major stoke and keep film alive. chapeau.

    btw, Film might just increase the chance to fall victim to GAS, there is an abundance of options in cameras, film, developers to pick from.


    If you end up shooting lower ASA film in some sunny place try out Ilford fp4+ its awsome.

  • Cwcushman

    I actually did the switch in the opposite direction in the last year, going from film to digital. The primary reason I purchased a Nikon (I was using Rolleis, both TLR and SLR) was so that I can use the same lenses on my D700 and my FM. I now choose the best camera depending on my needs. For a walk around Hollywood I will typically carry my D700, however for my recent trip to Mexico I carried the FM.

    If you are not processing your own film give Illford Delta a try. I prefer its tonality. Also, local labs should be able to push your film for you. You might need to find out what the break even point is. If their machine can handle ten rolls at a time make sure you give them a full load. Doing that will minimize any additional costs for the special processing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sakhmelmawia Sakhmel Mawia

    Thanks for the 3. Shoot on the streets.. i’ll try to apply it. ( If it is good )

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sakhmelmawia Sakhmel Mawia

    Am a Speechless Person .. But i do have a Photos… Not Good But.. U know.. anyway hey… Visit my Blog and Comment some … Advice.. like that.. :D Sorry Bout My Bad English ( http://www.mattyphotography.in )

  • http://johngoldsmithphotography.com/ John Goldsmith

    Your enthusiasm and growth as a photographer, Eric, is wonderful but with all due respect I find this post naive. I began to address some of your points several days ago but I simply didn’t have the energy to deal with the sensationalism as I see it. Maybe you’ve come to realize this as well as you’ve made some updates and have had lots of feedback from your community. Honestly, I cannot begin to read this in its entirety. Saying that “digital is dead (for you)” is just an attention getting headline and I think undermines what you seek when, otherwise, trying to build a cohesive community. Nevertheless, I hope you recognize (and I think you do) that how one makes photographs is a personal decision and that there is no right way to be creative. In fact, there are many means of doing interesting work and whether film or digital is the most boring aspect.

    But above all, your comment about “I don’t have to worry about post-processing” is ludicrous. This is not the only issue I have with the post but it’s what I am going to address. Film is not magical – it is simply one method of capturing light. Since the advent of photography, photographers have not only used the light that landed on their negatives but also the light they cast down onto paper to make their images. My point is that the only means of making the picture you want is by controlling the light. In the darkroom, they brightened, dimmed, filtered, burned, dodged, bent, melted, boiled, cut, warped and a host of other manipulations to make their physical images look the they wanted. Weegee’s Marilyn Monroe work was a great example of this sort of manipulation. But that is an extreme case. The bottom line is that film doesn’t simply work aesthetically how you want it to unless you have controlled lighting in a studio and in a darkroom. In other words, there is a front side to making pictures when you collect your latent image but there is also the backside where you refine that image so that your eyes can see it and your brain can appreciate it.

    While I consider my images relatively unadulterated, I personally put a great amount of effort into making them look how I want them to look and it doesn’t matter if it’s digital of film. I learned photography by shooting film and since then I’ve essentially converted to digital. I’m far more productive with the latter. While I appreciate film and the process of making pictures with film, I can’t see any clear-cut winner when it comes to making compelling photographs. For a skilled photographer, these are simply different tools that can be applied to achieve one’s vision.

    As Fred Herzog said:

    “Take street pictures because it hones your instincts for speed, for quick composition, for [inaudible]. But above all what you bring in your mind to the scene is what makes your picture. If you don’t read, if you don’t have discussions with enlightened friends, you do not get there. There is a saying about seeing: Only a few people can see but most people don’t even look. And that says a lot to me. You can only see if you have something in your mind to bring to the picture. The camera is just the least important adjunct to your ideas. Your observations are important because they’re you. The camera is just a gadget you can carry on in your hand or around your neck or on a tripod.”


  • Metamorfosiuno

    After quite a few years of shooting with my DSLR, I also made a decision to switch to film.
    I never thought that I would but this all changed when I went on a photographic shoot to Battersea Power Station. I began to notice that these days I would go on these shoots take numerous pictures, come home see what I had and then delete them all!
    For me I was slowly losing the joy, I was falling out of love with photography and there were months when my camera sat on the tripod and would only be touched when I dusted it off.
    So whilst in the camera shop and looking at a digital camera and the film version, I went for the film and for me knew that I had made the right choice.
    Is film going to make me a better photographer? Who knows, this is not my career it is just a hobby and personally a hobby should bring you some joy or why would you spend money and your time to do it the first place?

  • Haleyk

    Great article, thankyou. What I can’t get over is how nice Todd must be to just give you a Leica M6!

  • http://www.pavelkounine.com/ Pavel K. wedding photography

    Eric, you’re completely wrong about not having to post process film. Film is always post-processed, whether you do it consciously or not–with the one exception being printing directly to paper, which I doubt you do.

    Think about it: how do you scan? Depending on your software and the details or lack of that you want to collect from the film, you may or may not need to process the image manually. If it was a straight scan, linear scan, you’d have an ugly flat looking image. Even with your amazing black and white film (Although I prefer the Fuji line to Kodak’s in the black and white and slide world). This is even more important with C-41 film, the amazing _new_ Kodak Portra 400. Scanning incorrectly will give you most of the problems of digital: blown highlights, crushed blacks, etc. Scanning flat allows you to do what this c-41 film was designed for: post.

    Now if you want the complete hands-off approach, I suggest you shoot slide. But for someone who doesn’t watch their exposures meticulously, and by that I mean with a lightmeter, you’re screwed. Slide is definitely a no-no for street photography.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lisa-Williams/550050839 Lisa Williams

    when I decided to venture into street photography I made the conscious decision to do it strictly with film, when I hit the streets my nikon stays home and I head out with my Bessa R2 and a few rolls of film and I love it.

  • Guney

    “when people asked me to delete the photo I told them I couldn’t- as it was film.”


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=534035943 Kristoffer Johnson

    To take full advantage you need a darkroom. It is an even better experience than shooting film and then scan it.

  • kenri basar

    I am a film convert too! But it is just so expensive to keep up…

  • http://www.filmislove.org/ Jimi

    Great post!
    I’m glad you found your passion for film photography.
    I’ll reblog this post on my blog.


  • http://filmphotographyisnotdead.wordpress.com/ Ricardo Vilela

    Film Photography Is Not Dead. Thanks for this wonderful post.

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  • Chetaco

    You have picked film for this particular type of photography for pretty much the reasons I abandoned it. I can work a project without loosing site of my purpose or fear of loosing time because of not having to change rolls or knowing how many rolls of what type I neet to shoot. It gets complicated because conditions change – wrong film type changes the project. Not to mention if suddenly color is needed to fit the bill for road conditions then I’m screwed unless I brought a second camera already loaded. Yes you can have multiple cameras at hand but that is just more equipment and more things to think about when it’s time to take the shot, i.e is this the one with TriX or color? If you do no post processing of film then what is all that you are doing in the dark room? Even deciding how long to leave the film in its developer is a post production process. You saying when you are at the enlarger you don’t dodge or pick filters to bring out certain colors that reproduce differently in gray scale?

    To each his own and if it works for you, great. My film days are done. Its the brain behind the viewer that makes the shot and the less mechanics it has to deal with in a fast pace shoot like Street Photography the more focused that brain is.

  • Pathetique

    This is great. In three months Eric will be shooting with a Canon 1DS3 and a 600mm prime, and everyone on his blog will be saying “Thanks to You, I’m now shooting a DSLT with a mega-telephoto and loving it! It’s so pure and real! I will keep reading your blog to be told what is the correct way to shoot street photography!”. Jesus, people are so easily led it’s scary.

    • wil

      Telephoto has no place in street. It is voieristic and impersonal.

  • pathetique

    Make that “DSLR” but the point still stands

  • Pathetique

    Oh, and while I’m at it…you can go out with a digital camera and only take 36 shots, it’s called self-control or using the smallest memory card you can find and shooting RAW

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MWBJ7LBQH3C27EAP6QJ5KRGO4E jaya

    If u use 400ASA film and under-expose by 2-stops would u not be compromising on shadow details, since u yourself say that an overexposed captures more details than an underexposed one?

    • Mike Thomas

      Yes, pushing film involves the trade-off of losing shadow detail.  Everything is trade-offs.

  • http://twitter.com/kamalaakarsh Aakarsh

    Superb post. I have been following your blog since long time and just when I am slowly transitioning from digital to film, it feels so heartening and reassuring to see one of my gurus of street photography too is also going through the same phase. Amazing! I dont have or I cannot afford a Leica but I have a 1961 Canonet rangefinder with which I am currently exploring. I agree with your whole post. While i believe that Film and Digital are two separate genres (like classical music and progressive rock music, under the aspect called “Music”), i feel it is high time people stop comparing both. Because the both are for different needs and causes although the needs and end-causes do overlap or rather good photographers can make them overlap well. But yes, film has certain human character. It is like dealing with an original violin instead of a synthesizer although both can produce great music.

    My compliments for this wonderful post. and looking forward to your photographs!

  • Andre Luis

    Photograph with film can be cool, good pictures, and even a challenge but nowadays it’s completely environmentally incorrect, and the most important it’s not the photograph, but the planet for us and future generations and no art can justify this kind of aggression anymore. The amount of chemicals that you need to develop the film it’s enough to polute even more the water and the soil. My art cant be irresponsable just because I want a better image, needs to be as well responsable.

    • ALEX

      i think you are completely right but totally wrong in the same time, environment is a concern, yes, but you are overlooking the amount of junk pilling up in third world countries and dioxins pumped into the air due to the ridiculous amount of digital crap produced and thrown away. Digital products have an average 2-3 year lifespan buddy…you need, I mean WE ALL need to cut back on the obsolescence-prone junk they try to peddle. A digital camera comes with a ton of other digital junk like computers and such, it piles up REAL fast. Meanwhile those gullible zombies line up for the iphone 5…it’s just stupid.

    • wil

      The cems for b&w are so non toxic you could drink them and not die.

  • NomandJ

    Ya know. I’m a working documentary photog, represented by 11 galleries throughout the world. So i can place some perspective on this.

    I only have 3 comments I have to make:

    1. Gallery owners, collectors etc place a far higher value on film over digital – digital has become for the masses, supermarket, for joe average etc hence they are turning on it in a big way.

    2. MODERN Street Photography has enough trouble being accepted by the fine art community, so film only adds to your rep if showing a gallery your work – who will be hesitant anyway if you mention street photography. Why? because there are people that upload 50 photos a day and call themselves a street photogs, whereas an ACTUAL working photographer may take 5 years to achieve 20 strong images.

    3. Film is becoming very, VERY popular among 16-23 year old because they are rejecting digital, as they see way to many middle aged men their parents age running round with massive dig cameras, looking bloated and very uncool.

    Too many people are in the industry (well their not really IN the industry, more pretending to be) entered photography because of the technology and not for the art, or even for photography. If film was still dominant they would never have touched it. They dont love photography they love the technology. Digital is iphone or instagram to them, completely THROWAWAY.

    Erik, if you like film, shoot it. Many (i.e.most) documentary photographers that have made the crossover into the fine art world shoot film. You want to attain a rep with people in the industry im guessn, yes, not from internet weekend warriors who dont make their living full time from photography, who hold no power within industry, who have zero idea about the ACTUAL photographic world, who are not published, who have no art practice, who are not represented, who spend all their time on the net and would literally drop their guts in fear if they had to face (in REAL LIFE) an editor or sub editor, a gallery owners, curators, publishers with their no doubt laughable “bodies’ of street work etc etc.

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      Steven, thank you very much for the insightful comment. It is true that film is considered more ‘serious’ than digital in those regards, which is a shame but true. Keep in touch mate, and glad to have you here :)

  • Jean

    Great page, I share 100% of your views ; it feels good to see that we are a few guys out there to be thinking this way ! I shoot film for all my personal work, including with 35Ti, T2, TVS etc. Velvia rules !! Unfortunately photo agencies (including mine, Hemis.fr) now tend to refuse images shot with film because their customers find their look too old-fashioned.

    Jean – http://www.jeanheintz.com

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/J3LORM2HHGUWGJQXFK5U346JME jeff

    Great blog post. Sounds like you found the right style for yourself. Everyone needs to find the right artistic process that suits them best. That’s one of the most important aspects of being an artist. If your serious photographer, than its a given you should spend a few years shooting film. Work with as many cameras as possible.

  • bmore

    how can you teach a street photography course….? what could you possibly tell people “just make sure your outside when you shoot”…….? it;’s amazing people can cash in on something as simple as preference…….

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  • dnguyen

    Use a darkroom, noob.

  • Taperecorder

    Thanks a lot for a great article an please du not let thouse enwyose people below poison you.
    Ps: Sorri for bed vriten english.

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  • Eduardo

    I can’t imagine my life without my 5 babies: two Nikon F100, Canon Elan 7, Canon AE-1 Program and Yashica Electro 35 GSN. And my thirst for film cameras didn’t stoped…

  • alex

    Some of the comments are pretty sad. Kim found something refreshing in using film, as have i. If you are hurt by this and find nothing better to do than to smirk at it, then you are insecure. I love film for all it has to offer, the different looks you can get with different film, the darkroom the EVERYTHING…i guess the instant gratification is way more important to some than others but to me it just is not worth the “REAL metal quality camera, light engraving on a tangible substance, non expendable picture, sweet REAL shutter sound etc.” experience I get instead. Now that I have tried the piano, the synthesizer is no longer an option for me.

  • ALEX

    It’s rather childish to pretend that you know better than Kim does about his own feelings or about his experiences. I read the article and it is 100% what I experienced with film as well. I have a digital camera but I just can’t respect digital photographs anymore. It’s not true that choosing one or the other equates only to personal preference or that they are just tools…there is a big difference in regards to the required skill level, the look and the value. I just can’t use the synthesizer anymore now that I tried the piano. I have learned to be more open minded in my thirties so I won’t attack digital at all, I will promote film though simply due to the experiences it has given me. If you are close minded, insecure, stupid or just simply too lazy you will hate those with a different experience or point of view…I see that there is no shortage of these qualities here.

  • Steve French

    Welcome to photography. ;) Thanks for the conversion; I know many people see your site and value your opinions. Traditional photography needs more blogs with positive messages like the ones you expressed here regarding the quality of the media, not just the ability to obtain wacky colors and blurry toy-camera images. Film is in a scary place right now. The more people that realize whats at stake the less chances are that it will further shrink from the market. I love what V70pdb had to say about gear. I think that your friend Kaushal would disagree with everyone who says that traditional photography is too much hassle. I appreciate the meditative view he passed down to you. I say that for professional use (sporting events, newspaper articles, boring stereotypical wedding shots, etc), digital is a better choice. The high speed ability and technology is amazing. For real art, however, there is no question which is superior. I suggest that next you invest in a real darkroom. It will forever change the way you pre-visualize, shoot, and develop. You will be delighted when you make a real print. It can be daunting at times, but you will appreciate things you’ve never noticed before -the interaction between light and the subject/lens, perspective, composition. Keep it up and don’t look back. Your M9 will be obsolete soon enough, but your M6 will be good for many decades to come!

  • jadedphotographer

    Good sir, you still fail to impress me.

  • Xingqiwu

    Excellent contribution. I regularly shoot both film and digital, but strongly prefer film for many of the reasons you’ve touched on here. Personally, though, I still favor the square format found in Hasselblads and TLR Rolleiflexes.

  • Xingqiwu

    Addendum: BTW, I also very much like the content of the projects on the transformation of social reality in specific Asian societies!

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  • mark young

    A great article and inspiration for all photographers that like to explore the experiential and technical aspects of street photography. I use both and it is easy to see you apply a great deal of thought to your own evolution.

  • http://www.facebook.com/farabira1 Farabi Rahman

    Wow. Thanks Eric. I can feel the transition that i had gone through by looking at your experience. I was shooting digitally, but the pictures never evoked my satisfaction. After shooting film and wet printing it, i can tell that film is medium for taking serious images. Film just makes everything look so much better. If you are going to capture an image why not use film: it will look more real, intimate, and natural. I don’t know, for some reason, i can just connnect with pics made by film, and not digital ones.

  • John Kobeck

    I show film for years, then I bought into the digital revolution and spent thousands on full frame DSLR’s. The Canon 5D is a marvelous camera and most people love it, but the problem with most of the people who love is, they never shot film. So while the 5D was good, it didn’t satisfy my artistically. I have since sold all my digital stuff and now shoot almost exclusively with a medium format Hasselblad and I couldn’t be happier. If you think the 35mm Leica is good, you MUST try MF film. That will knock your socks off! You can see some examples here http://www.johnkobeck.com

  • rpavich

    I’m a reader of your blog and I was ready to fire off a reply about how one could do all the things that you tout film for…but do it with digital, but then I saw your statement about your willingness to contradict yourself, and you softened me.

    Thanks for a good article; while I won’t be junking my dslr anytime soon, I appreciate your transparency and your humanity.

    Keep up the good posts.

  • Johnson johnson

    I love it when gen xers (or whatever the hell theyre calling 20 something’s) “discover” analogue photography and go all old school about its superiority, as of they’ve magically re-discovered fire or something.

    Been shooting film since 1971. While I own a few digital cameras (m8 and x100) they’re more pleasant diversions than serious tools, at least if your goal, as is mine, is to leave something to the next generation. I’m not sure archival issues have been thought thru sufficiently with respect to digital media. I prefer the tangibility of a negative as opposed to the virtual reality of digital product.

    And while I admire your pictures, I find it inexcusable you never bothered to learn silver halide photography as a basis for developing your photographic skills. In my mind, you’ve just recently become a photographer when you developed your interest in film. Before, you were just a digital dillitante.

    • 1LTLos

      He forgot to mention that during his “street photography” whatever that amounts to, that he was wearing two-toned wooden platform shoes too. HAHAHA

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Donohoe/100000308877053 Paul Donohoe

    I hate to be picky but you lost me when you said an advantage of film is that you can’t delete a photo if someone asks you. Do you still then USE that photo? You don’t say one way for the other. This to me is not an ethical stance UNLESS you promise you won’t use it and follow that promise.

  • Linden

    I have read and re-read this several times. About to take the plunge (back) into film. This is a very useful reference artichoke which I have bookmarked. Thank you.

  • John

    There is a downside to shooting film in today’s world–if you travel and shoot.
    Salgado found it. Baggage scanners in airports. He switched from black-and-white film to digital after he lost a large number of rolls to the perils of airplane travel.

    • mjp

      Just finished another journey around Asia and went through plenty of scanners, and nothing happened to any of my film. Even left film in the M3 and it came out fine. Just don’t put your film in checked baggage, and if you’re really worried, ask for the security people to hand inspect it…

  • Ahmed

    You mentioned pushing the film to 1600, underexposed by 2 stops, and process the film for longer to get the correct exposure. When I take my film for processing, what do I tell them so that they would process it longer properly?

  • OBI

    Excellent !!! I Looooove this article.

  • Caroline

    This struck a chord with me since I lived with film for forty years and only bought digital for work with great reluctance. Clients wanted “Digital” and “Speed” though neither would give as good a result as film. When digital resolution finally achieved a decent resolution at an affordable price I sacrificed my Nikon F5 and the Leica M6 with 50 & 35 F2s which I had bought to see me through my retirement…

    Digital has been a disaster! Computer and cameras are now worthless and quality was only bearable at best compared to film, only the ability to be in control of image adjustments and retouching saved it though with film if you got it right in camera in controlled light the only post processing was typing out the invoice!

    I love my ancient Rolleiflex but did I love my long dreamed of Leica? No!

    Many reasons. It was too pristine and expensive! I always felt uncomfortable once I stepped away from populated areas into more interesting back streets, would it get stolen, would it get scratched and loose a lot of value? It often lived in hotel safes, at least it would fit which a dslr would not…

    I loved the feel of it, the superb manufacture, the crisp click of the controls and smoothness of the focus. Then one day the nearly new 35mm froze solid at close focus whilst doing landscapes hundreds of miles away on distant islands, trip ruined.

    The lens hood always blocked the corner of the view even though Leica had worked out decades before how to cut away a hole for the viewfinder, it drove me crazy wondering what was in that corner and what the parallax would mean to the view, I missed more shots than I took…

    I got so much exercise looking for the lens cap, Leica should have posted out monthly free packs of them!

    Thamkfully the camera worked without a battery because the battery holder was always falling off loosing the use of the light- meter and replacements were not cheap… My Nikon F2s have never lost a battery cover in forty years and only one lens cap when pins stuck out each side, that soon got redesigned…

    Then the film counter just stopped working!

    Like Vinyl sound over CD there is a difference between film and digital. Both have their place.

    I have never held a digital camera which gave me any sense of joy like old film cameras did, they were more akin to a musical instrument with natural controls whilst digital is about plastic and buttons, compacts too small with no viewfinder and dslrs too large and clumsy. Leica makes their M9 about the same as my old M6 so why can’t a Nikon be similar to my favourite F2 from 1972?

    In the end I hated the Leica m6 I had hoped to love as much as the 1930’s Leica I had when I was a student.

    If the house was burning down I would grab the Rolleiflex TLR or the Linhof Master Technika, the digitals can burn…

  • Miguel

    The first thing i tough when i started reading was: You call yourself a photographer, with your cutie website, have a ridiculously expensive, almost ludicrous Leica M9, and never even experimented with film? Really?

  • Jim Sparks
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  • Daniel Stainer

    Couldn’t believe some of the harsh comments in this post- especially those attacking his current work. Kudos to Eric for expressing his opinion and trying out something new. Who are we to judge? Probably the most brilliant thing Eric mentioned was a reference to film being more Zen like. Having come from film myself, I do understand where he’s coming from. All things being equal and having first-hand experience seeing the “machine gun” approach some photographers take with digital, using a film camera does cause one to slow down and take a more thoughtful approach to composition. It is up to each of us to find the paintbrush that works best for our individual style, whether it be a Leica MP, an X100s or a D800E. In writing this post, Eric wasn’t judging those of us who choose the digital path. Rather, it was Eric reaffirming the creative epiphany he found for himself, and sharing those thoughts with us. If film will help him find his creative muse, we should be happy for him.

  • 1LTLos

    Zen like? More to me like the quality is visibly and measurably miles ahead of my digital experience. I like the digital only because I will take a digital into a situation that I will not take a film camera — I dont mind if the digital get wet, drops in the post Katrina “mud” etc — For me and separate from this author, I never left digital — my use of both mediums overlapped in 2005 and now in 2013 film in my SLR’s are overtaking my use of digital. I started work in a dark room as far back as 1975 and it was professionally outfitted so for me film is a joy.

  • 1LTLos

    Oh one last word — Tokyo is the LAST place in the world that one has to teach about the use of film — ever heard of FUJI? And I dont mean MOunt Fuji

  • ClearMind

    Sorry to say: you’re telling a lot of bullshit here to get some ‘fame’. You get better pics with any digital P&S and if you really, really want to make them looking crappy as your pics you still can do this later on by software

  • Jonathan Eastland

    Nice one Eric; you forgot one. Contax TiX.

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  • Pj Charles

    I found this thoroughly interesting. LY I had the opportunity to meet John Minihan who really inspired me regarding film and particularly TLR photography. As a result I bought a Rolleiflex and am learning to shoot with film. I too haven’t gone past shooting but find the development of the images to be a bit challenging. Thanks for this insightful discussion and I intend to reblog this on my TLR site and credit you.

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  • Danny Jackman

    I like your thoughts in this article. I am 64 now and have documented life since I was 16 yr. Have used everything from 35mm to 8×10 ,all film cameras. Now I photograph with digital but still photograph as though I am using film, slow and methodical. Working with large format did much to allow me to visualize in this manner.

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  • PhotoBob

    So nice to read when someone realises how wonderful film really is. I think there is something to be said for the experience of anticipation and not instant gratification all the time.
    Have you heard much about the “new” Zeiss-Ikon rangefinders?
    Wish this article was in a downloadable pdf.

  • http://diamondsandrust.org Matt J

    The people in the shots of yours above either look scared or worried! Is that the effect you have on people Mr Kim?

  • captaindogcock

    You’re a bad photographer either way. Typical “holier than thou” new film adopter.

  • guest

    Hipster nonsense Eric. A great shot is a great shot wether it was taken by $10000+ Leica film gear or an iPhone.

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  • Jz-Dragon

    Seems most of you missed the point with this article and are emotionally divested, and polarized.. Eric is able to achieve a higher dynamic range with film, and to be more connected with the medium and environment as he shoots. I’ve shot both mediums, like most people. Personally I find the comments about the dynamic range to be absolutely correct, and, in fact also have a much stronger connection with the whole experience. I am strongly considering selling my DSLR, / just like what I am seeing far more with film and my various cameras. Hasselblad here I come. Eric, just remember there are two types or people 2% lead and inspire, the rest follow. The 2% are always in contradiction to the 98%, but that is the way it has and will always be – stick to your guns, great article.

  • mepatri3

    Achieving a “higher dynamic range” is only part of the reason to shoot with film, and to be frank, not a very big reason. In fact, DR is contingent upon many different factors such as lens quality, film sensitivity, and other influences including the final viewing medium. It’s believed that for color shots, digital photography has much less noise/grain than film at equivalent sensitivity, which means digital has an edge in image quality.

    If this is about “connecting” to the process as Eric suggests, that’s totally subjective, which he admits. But it seems to me that to be really committed and fully “connected” to the medium, you would need to include the full development process, with an enlarger, paper, dodging and burning, and all the other creative techniques film photography brings during the processing stage. Otherwise you’re not really connected. All Eric is doing is going half way if you will, by developing the negatives and then transferring them directly to digital format. While this is interesting, this is really not what connects you to the experience, and is more of a housekeeping chore than anything else.

    I appreciate that Eric favors film ( I can see his point) and I agree with him in that it’s not a one or the other issue. It’s all about what each of us feels, and what we get out of it. I applaud Eric for his approach, and wish him luck, especially if he decides to venture fully into film photography and processing.

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  • http://www.pauldelrosario.com Paul del Rosario

    “When editing my scanned film, I still use Lightroom 4.” You shoot in film, then scan them into the computer. Why not go into the darkroom instead of Lightroom?

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  • Pele

    “There are a plethora of great film rangefinders out there (Konica Hexar, Contax G-series, Canonets, Bessas, etc) yet I prefer the Leica. Why?” Because you are a snob? More reliable? I’ve had tens of cameras. Even my Holga doesn’t want to break down.

  • newshooter

    Just on the pushing of film to 1600. I sometimes have a problem with asa400 at f11 even with speed beyond 1000th sec from where i come from with a m6.

    I am keen to push my asa high so that i can shoot night too but how does it work that in the day my smallest aperture can often exceed max shutter speed?


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  • jason

    Last week i nearly succumbed to GAS. Buy a DSLR! Boxing week sale.
    As i exited the elevator a buddy stopped me!
    “This bag is for you!”
    Inside a hardly used Pentax Spotmatic 2, a Canon EOS, both Film cameras..
    It was like when i returned to Canada.
    At an evening meal with friends i was asked “How come you don’t do BW?”
    i gave answers, no tank, no reels here etc.
    Next morning on way to work, almost outside my door, a steel tank, reels, dishes..
    I restarted shooting film..
    Later a Scanner, an abandoned Canonscan with everything, DVD, notes, cables, negative holders..
    Yes! Only works on XP or older..
    No problem, keep the XP for that!

  • http://blogwildotan.com/ Natan Dotan

    great one, thx for sharing Eric


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  • waytoosquirrelly

    I have a film Leica M3 and a digital Leica M (240). The only reason I don’t shoot much with the M3 – it still works fine – is the expense of the (color) film and the developing of the (color) film. It just doesn’t make financial sense for me to shoot color film, but there are other reasons, too, many others. I haven’t actually tried, but I’m pretty sure I could should 500 consecutive photos with my M. That’s 14 rolls of 36 exposure film.

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  • waytoosquirrelly

    I don’t often disagree with you, Eric, but in this case, I think you’re crazy. Because processing your film is “like a religious and meditative experience” is not a good reason for shooting film over digital. Editing my digital images with Lightroom 5 is like a religious and meditative experience for me, too, but it takes a lot less time and money to do it. That’s the least serious of my reasons for disagreeing with you.

  • http://www.debonairgent.com Debonair Gent

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  • Pete

    Here’s my experience with film.
    I bought a FED 5b after I was curious, and I loved it. Despite its quirks, it felt so nice in my hands. I probably ran about 10 rolls through it.

    However, I returned to digital soon after. Why?

    ( now, I don’t want people to think that I am some sort of digital fanboy, I don’t really care how you shoot an image as long as it’s good.)

    My problem with film wasn’t really a physical aspect, it was psychological. I read all of the ” film is way better than digital” articles and I then started to like the images that I was making. However, Iooking back, I realized that I only liked them because they were shot on film rather than digital. A typical shot of a tree was ” good” mearly because what it was shot on. Therefore, it lowered my standards Of what a good shot was, and I needed to revert to digital.

    Digital also had the advantage for me because it allowed for me to get the shot I wanted. I am working on a project now documenting my hometown. Film failed here for me because I generally have only a short period of time to take the shots due to the light. This is only slightly trivial on digital because I could look at the image and see if it was I wanted. I could see if I had the shot that I wanted. With film, I would look at them later, and decide that it was good only from the shots on film. It counteracted my usual strategy of shooting from multiple angles because I don’t have the money to blow on endless rolls of film. So, I generally picked what I thought was the best angle and rattled off a few shots. This was different from digital, where the angle I didn’t expect to shoot from turned out to be the best.

    So, I think that it is best to shoot what you feel works. Despite what people say about shooting urban landscapes with film because of its quality, I found hat digital gives me better images because it allows for me to see what image that I am getting, as well as if I can move on to a different spot.

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  • Børre Ludvigsen

    I’m “old” too. Been taking pictures for 60 years, both film and (for the past 20 years or so) digital. Both work fine, but there is still something special about film. Pixel sensors are all aligned on a grid, silver is distributed chaotically – and you get a new “sensor” with every frame – 8x11mm, 135, 120, and 4″x5″, all with their individual characters.