10 Reasons Why You Should Shoot Street Photography With Film

(Above image by Devin Yalkin)

Recently when I went to Tokyo, I had a ton of fun shooting in the streets with Charlie Kirk and Bellamy Hunt—both who shoot film. I never really understood the rationale why people shot with film. To me at the time, it seemed like a burden. First of all, you had to buy the film. Secondly, after you took the photos you couldn’t see them instantly. And lastly, it was expensive to develop it (and even more money to scan). For these three reasons, I was mostly put off by film. Although I did shoot a bit with my Contax IIIa film rangefinder and did enjoy it—at the end of the day I preferred my digital camera.

Nevertheless, I was intrigued with film once I came to Tokyo. In Tokyo, the analog culture is strong. There are tons of used film camera shops, and tons of other places where you can buy film as well. Not only that, but there are many photographers who shoot film who support one another as well and have their own communities. I had no idea how much influence the analog culture would have on me when I was in Tokyo.

Lately I have been having less fun with digital photography. Although one of the huge benefits of digital photography is that it is instant—it didn’t have as much mystery how the photos would come out. Also because taking a photo was “free”—I would take far too many photos when out on the streets (around 300-400 photos a day). This made me far less selective when I was shooting, and it also made the editing process a lot more difficult.

Therefore when I was in Tokyo, I was thinking about buying a film camera. I talked to Bellamy (who also buys and sells cameras for a living) and he suggested a Leica M6. It is the best bang-for-the-buck film Leica, and because I was already used to my Leica M9 it seemed like a logical transition.

While I was still contemplating the purchase, I was talking to my good friend Todd from the Hatakeyama Gallery (and also sells lighting equipment) about my thoughts—and he told me something that shocked me. He had a Leica M6 that he didn’t use much, and he offered to give it to me for free (yeah, I have awesome friends). Like a giddy schoolgirl, I gladly accepted his offer and went out to shoot.

I have now been shooting film for around 1.5 months, and have been loving every minute of it. The process is a lot less hurried and more calm and zen-like. I enjoy the small things of it, like loading the film, cocking the shutter, and hearing the silent click of the shutter. I also love the mystery—that I don’t know exactly how the photo will come out. Although I am not an expert when it comes to shooting film (I don’t even know how to develop/dodge+burn/print my own photos yet) here are some things I have been enjoying shooting film over digital:

1. You cannot chimp

Kramer O'Neil

Shooting film was instantly thrilling. First of all, I started to enjoy the fact that I couldn’t see my photos instantly. As you guys well know, chimping is a bad habit when it comes to street photography. With film, you physically cannot chimp—therefore you focus on actually taking photos when on the streets.

2.You look at your images more objectively

Garry Winogrand

Garry Winogrand once said, “Sometimes photographers mistake emotion for what makes a great street photograph.” There have been instances in which after I took a photo, I got excited by the thought, memory, and emotion of the photo that I took. I didn’t take the time to wait and sit on my images—and judge them more objectively (based on composition and content).

When shooting with film, I typically wait around a month (when I have around 10 rolls or so) and get them developed. Therefore I don’t see my images about a month after I take the photos, which means that when I look at my images—I actually forget a lot of the photos I take. Therefore because I get detached emotionally from the photos, I can more objectively edit and choose my best images.

3. It isn’t as expensive as you think

David Kim

Although buying and developing film can be expensive, the barrier to entry is very low. Film cameras are far cheaper than digital cameras, and have a longer lifeline. Based on pure conjecture, I would state that the average photographer upgrades his/her camera every 5 years. However if you buy a solid film camera (and maintain it well), it can last you a lifetime.

Let’s do some (very rough) math for fun:

  • A Leica M9 is $7000, and a typical lens will run you around $3000. Let’s consider that the average Leica M9 user has 3 lenses, that is a total of $16,000.
  • A Canon 5D Mark II is $2500, and the typical L lens will cost around $1000. The average DSLR user probably has around 3 lenses as well. That will run you around $5,500
  • You can buy a film SLR as cheap as $100-200 with a lens. If you want a rangefinder, you can get a Leica M6 for ~$1500 in good condition. If you are on a budget, you can get a Voightlander lens for ~$500. So a film camera will typically run anywhere from $100-$2000.

Let’s factor in the cost of film. One roll of Tri-X is around $5 (in the states). The price of developing/scanning your photos vary depending on where you live. I’m in Korea right now, and get a roll developed/scanned for $5. If you are on a budget, you can save a ton of money by buying your film in bulk and rolling it yourself (comes to around $2 a roll) and develop/scan yourself (developing costs practically nothing, but a scanner can run you $300-700).

For simplicity sake, let’s say shooting/developing a roll of film is around $10. Up-front it seems like a huge cost, but also consider the fact that you will be shooting less with film—as you will be more selective. When I shoot digital for an entire day, I take 300-400 photos. With film (if I am in the shooting mood), I will take a maximum of one roll. Assuming that I shoot a lot (one roll a day for an entire month) it factors to around $300 a month. However I argue that the average person doesn’t shoot that much, maybe 1-2 rolls a week – and maybe 4-5 rolls a month. So developing costs might range from ~$50-300 a month.

Let’s take this a bit further. Therefore a year film/developing costs will be around $600-$3,600 a year. The high end may be shocking ($3,600 a year is a LOT of money—but that is assuming you shoot a roll a day, which are for the very small minority of photographers). I would say the average costs will be more around the $600/year range.

$600/year isn’t much if you think about it. That means $50 a month, which is probably less than we spend on Starbucks (10 coffees at $5/pop). It is also less than a “nice” lens, which will range from $1000-3000. Also considering that the average DSLR or digital photographer upgrades his/her gear every 5 years, here is a rough estimate:

  • $600/year for film/processing x 5 years = $3000
  • New nice DSLR every 5 years = $2000-3000
  • New Leica digital rangefinder every 5 years = $7000

Don’t get me wrong, film is still expensive—but if you do the math and think about it rationally, it is roughly the same in costs to digital in the long run. Also note that these calculations are very rough and not scientific at all, but hopefully it can be used to illustrate my point. And also remember, if you roll/develop/scan your film by yourself, the cost is very low.

4. Film has more dynamic range

Ludmilla Morrais

Although the average digital camera has strong dynamic range, it is still horrible in comparison to our human eye or shooting with film. To my understanding, the average digital camera has 256 shades of grey (I haven’t fact-checked this yet) while black and white film has (theoretically) infinite shades of grey.

Also I love film because it is nearly impossible to blow your highlights. Even if they are over-exposed, they will still retain some shade of grey and not have that artificial bleach-white look.

5. You become more selective

Ryan Cabal

When shooting digital, taking a photo costs “nothing” so you take a ton of photos without discrimination. Although I believe it is a great thing to take a ton of photos to your heart’s content—it makes the editing process incredibly difficult.

What I enjoy about film is that I am much more selective when I am taking my shots. Therefore at the end of the day when I get my film developed and scanned, I am working with a better batch of images (and far less in number as well).

6. Your photos look good straight out of the camera

Alex JD Smith

I love black and white and especially the gritty film look. When I shoot with my M9, I shoot in RAW and process my photos afterward in Silver Efex Pro 2. Although I can process my photos pretty quickly (I typically use the same preset), it is still a hassle and something I would prefer not to do.

With film, the photos often need little to no processing. I find that my film shots look great out-of-camera. Of course if you want to dodge/burn your images, that means more work in the darkroom (which is difficult).  But in the end for me, I find that my film shots don’t need much processing—which is one less thing for me to worry about.

7. You can’t delete photos

Oh man....
Bellamy Hunt

When I am out shooting in the streets, there are times in which people ask me to delete their photos. When I am shooting in digital, I typically comply and delete the photos (most of them aren’t good photos). However I have had a few instances in which I checked the image, and really liked it—and refused to delete the images. This has led to some stiff confrontations and conflict (things I don’t really enjoy).

With film it is a different story. When people ask me to delete the photo, I tell people I can’t and show them the back of my camera. Most people when they see a film back—they are perplexed (after all, what kind of camera doesn’t have an LCD back?). Then most of them are a bit confused, and say “oh – okay” and keep on going on. My conjecture is that the average person sees a film camera and thinks that you are just of a hobbyist (rather than some weird photographer that is going to instantly upload your photos online with your digital camera).

Of course this could lead to some conflict in which someone forces you to take out the entire roll of film. In that case, it is best to stand up for your rights as a street photographer (it is legal after all in a public place) and refuse. In my short time shooting film (around 1.5 months) I haven’t had a single person ask me to take out my entire roll of film yet. But I have heard stories in which it has happened to other street photographers who refuse to do as well. But once again I argue that this won’t happen much when you are shooting film (as most people don’t mind film photographers as much as digital photographers).

8. You don’t need to worry about megapixels

Josh White

Film cameras are all pretty much the same. They are all “full-frame” and don’t differ much in image quality (factoring out the lenses). Therefore you don’t need to upgrade your film body much (if ever).

With digital photography—there is always a new and hot camera. I honestly find all of it a pain and a headache to keep worrying about having to upgrade to the newest and greatest camera. Although I do feel that technology is great and does make our lives easier, it can also make our lives more stressful in many regards.

9. The prints are beautiful

Ben Anderson

If you have ever gotten a digital photo printed out and a film photo printed out and put them both side-by-side, there is no comparison. Digital images on print look very cold and artificial, while film images look much more natural and smooth. This is because digital files are still not yet up-to-par to film (film has a higher dynamic range).

10. You make beautiful mistakes

Daido Moriyama

Nowadays the dogma in digital photography is that your photos much be sharp, in-focus, and not blurry. If we see one of our images that are technically imperfect, we may be inclined to edit them out or even delete them.

I have made tons of mistakes shooting film—but it gave me results that pleased me. I took a shot when I forgot to change my shutter speed (it was at 15th of a second, rather than 250th of a second) and it gave me this gorgeous blurry image full of depth and soul. Considering that during the editing process I look at fewer photos (36 in film and 300-400 in digital) I notice these beautiful mistakes more. The same goes with images that a bit out-of-focus or under or overexposed. Through my mistakes I have made many technically imperfect images, but I have learned to appreciate these images far more.

Film photography isn’t better than digital photography, and vice-versa. They are both ultimately used to take photos and create images—which is the most important part. I remember recently in an interview with John Sypal, he commented that the average film photographer owns both a film camera and a digital camera.

If you haven’t had much experience shooting street photography and film, I highly encourage you to do so! Although there are negatives about shooting film—you can also find great joy in it. Who knows, you might make the switch and love every minute of it!

Recommended Film Cameras

Here are some film cameras which work great for street photography and are a great “bang-for-the-buck”. There are a ton of film cameras out there, but I’m not the expert! Contact Bellamy Hunt for questions regarding cameras.

  • Rangefinder:
    • Leica M6
    • Bessa R2A/R3A
  • Compact:

Resources

Places that I recommend finding film cameras:

What have your experiences been shooting street photography with film? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below! 

156 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why You Should Shoot Street Photography With Film”

      1. Interesting article Eric! However, I am surprised at you new found love for “film” photography. I am 61 and have used many, many analog cameras over the years (OM-1, OM-3, Canon F-1, Nikon F3, EOS-1, Leica M4-2) before I took the plunge into the digital world. I now use a Fuji S5 Pro and an M9. And honestly, I am having so much more FUN now ……

        1. It seems that one who started straight out of digital and really digs photography ends up trying and appreciating what film use can have and, that the analog era one digs the digital stuff he got access to now. I am not surprised. And frankly, I say it is mighty good to have time and gears for both. Different rythms, same passion= photos.
          Cheers and happy shooting

          1. I’m a digital shooter who is film disciplined. Didn’t think I was ever going to switch to digital until I ran my film camera into the ground. Today, I still apply what I learned from film to digital. Even have the LCD off! Sometimes I really have the urge to pick up a film, but having to think about scanning turns me off. I’m always on the go! Places to be. Can’t let a scanner hold me down.

  1. Great article, Eric!

    For those Spanish-speaking readers (if any) that are interested film photography, I’m writting a blog devoted only to analog photography: http://www.salesdeplata.com

    Lately, I calculated the exact cost per picture with film (developing it at home) and each photo costs only 0,1125 euros. You have to take a lot of pictures so it make sense to get a full-frame digital camera instead of keep on with film. The full article is here (in Spanish, sorry): http://salesdeplata.com/2012/01/02/cuanto-cuesta-una-foto-en-analogico/

    I also wrote about the advantages of film photography vs digital here (in Spanish, sorry again): http://salesdeplata.com/2011/08/29/el-sentido-del-carrete-hoy/

  2. Wonderful article Eric! I’m glad to see you have been convinced of the greatness of shooting film. I highly suggest you start trying to develop your own B&W film if you can soon. Its great fun (I’m reminded of a kid playing with a chemistry set) and magical.

  3. How do you recommend to get your film developed? At a physical photo store or by mail? And does anyone have a recommended by-mail photo developer? Thanks – I loved the post.

    1. Thanks Will! If you are in the states, I recommend Costco for color film. Black and white– you are honestly better off doing it yourself (it’s pretty expensive in the states to get it developed)

    2. I find it best to do it yourself. I process my own black and white and C41 colour film. It is about as difficult as boiling an egg. Very inexpensive too. It costs me about $0.20 a roll for black and white and $2 for C41.

    3. Hi Will,
      I recommend the same thing nando said about it. It’s the bomb to do it the way you want it instead of relying on someone who doesn’t know what you want. And yes it’s very affordable to do as well as not so difficult.

  4. Good points! I’ve made the decision to switch back to film completely for pretty much the same reasons. The end result looks so much better than Silver Efex can ever give you and that’s especially noticeable in the print. You really need to get developing your own and making prints. That’s like half the pleasure of doing this! Try tri-x in rodinal. Nothing beats that !

  5. Good entry! I wish that the good folks at Leica and at Think Tank had kept all of this in mind when they were choosing photographers for their recent contest…..

  6. Good reasons. I still keep a Canon QL17 with me . Here in the US it is however becoming more of niche market and the $$ needed to get film, process, scan is becoming costlier.

  7. Don’t forget the added costs of a new computer very few years plus the software to work on the digital files. Yes, most people use computers, but photographers have to have a higher priced computer due to the ram and processor speed needed to work on their photo files. Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Nik Efex or Alienskin Exposure costs money too, and don’t forget the OS and software upgrades. Add it up too.

    The best way to save money is to develop your own b&w and scan with an Epson V700 or 750, which will add 500 bus for the analog side. Or you can shoot color negative film and bring to Costco and have them only develop the negatives and then do low rez files on a CD just so you can present the images online. Then you have a physical negative to store as well as a digital file to show people on your favorite websites.

    1. I have a 2 year old desktop that seems to work fine with Capture NX2 even though it is not particularly high spec (AMD Phenom II & 4GB ram) compared with current kit.
      You still need a decent IPS monitor to work with scanning film as a cheap TN monitor is really going to cut it when it comes to any photographic workflow either digi of film.
      The main saving using film is being able to get cameras for a fraction of the cost of the digi equivalent. My pocket sized olympus mju cost me a few pounds but if I want a full frame pocket digi cam then that will cost far far more.

  8. One question though: Given that you have both the M9 and M6, which would you keep and use if you only had one choice? I’m guessing that you’d keep the M9 for the convenience and due to it being more modern in today’s world; meaning that film could be gone in 10-20 years. But on the flip side, you will be replacing that expensive brick due to it wing digital. So, this does play on the mind a bit. I wish we could go back to the film glory days, bringing Kodachrome back and more labs opening. There is nothing like film. I love digital, and love instant gratification that it brings, but it also pisses me off that we have to upgrade constantly which is EXPENSIVE! I never paid so much money for a bloody camera, or cameras, as I do now in the digital age. That money alone could have kept me rolling in film and processing for years! Film has layers of depth, meaning better dynamic range. Color negative film is most forgiving. Slide film isn’t,nandnin that way ,digital is like slide film in that you don’t have much in the way for error. If you under expose the file, then you gain noise as you try to bring out those details. Digital files look flatland muddy until you apply some post processing.

    I don’t know the answer, but I know I’ll be crushed if film goes away. And I live digital! But, I grew up with film cameras.

    1. totally agree.
      I also think owning a analog leica really means owning it forever, not like other digital cameras that you have to worry about the sensors. I really wish we go back to those film days…

    2. Great question! If I had one choice, I would keep the M9 for the convenience and practicality.

      I am not quite sure what the future holds in terms of film (companies keep on killing film). My feelings is that in the future, we will still have film– but it will just keep on getting more expensive and difficult to access.

      Thanks for the comment btw! :)

  9. Pingback: Der analoge Stammtisch - Seite 70

  10. My father grew up and used run a small studio in Seoul, Choong Moo Ro. I believe there are still lot of photoshops and studios that you can develop films. It is like a small town which all these masters of photography hangs out in Coffee shop.

  11. Hey Eric, great to read that you arrived the beautiful land of film photographers! The article is great, there’s nothing to add and you did express it much better than I ever could. Thanks.

  12. Great post Eric, I totally agree.
    I’ve been shooting film for little over three months now, and I don’t shoot any digital anymore.
    I’m developing the film and scanning the negatives myself. I love the whole process!
    Soon I’ll try making prints as well. I don’t know how much I’ll do that, but it’s something I want to learn and experiment with at least.

  13. Japancamerahunter

    Great stuff Eric, Glad you are enjoying shooting film. Thanks for the nod and featuring my picture. If you or anyone have any questions about shooting film I will do my best to answer them for you.
    Thanks
    Bellamy

  14. That is why I love my Zenit E.Still, you can use any film camera.Leica is too expensive to be a recommandation still.Use Zenit, Exa, Kodak .Oldies but goldies.Film is much more personal and to do everything manual, even focusing, is sublime.I love Analog.

  15. Also, I feel that film cameras bring less attention, due to their compact size & amazing looks.
    I’m sure when I go out shooting film, I’m most likely viewed as a hobbyist. Resulting in a lesser confrontational outcome. Invisible!

    Although you’ve only shot for 1.5 months, the shots from Tokyo blew my mind. Let me know when you’re back in Korea, hopefully we can go shooting again. Finally, thanks for the mention and being an awesome teacher. Cheers mate!

    Ryan Cabal

  16. Eric,
    Very good article. I’m happy that you are seeing the light!

    Some points for you to consider:

    1. You should factor in resale value. Leicas generally retain their value and often increase in value over time. Six years ago, I bought my MP for $1999 new. Even as a used item, I can now sell it for more than what I paid for the camera. The way I see it, I’m using the equipment for free. Yes, there was a start up cost but I’m going to get all my money back if and when I ever decide to move on to something else. For me, that’s not going to happen for a very long time.

    In contrast, examine what has happened to the resale value of an M8! As soon as the M9 came out, the value of an M8 fell like a led zeppelin! Although the M8 fairs much better than digital SLR’s when it comes to retaining resale value, it is still not good enough for me.

    2. Digital is NOT free! Over the long term, digital is actually MORE expensive than film!

    It is proven that film is capable of having a very long lifetime and that in retains resolution and fidelity even in less than ideal conditions. Consider Capa’s long lost Mexican Suitcase, for example. One can essentially put their negatives in a shoebox, forget about them and they’ll likely be ok for decades. Film can always be read by the naked eye and can be printed or scanned at any time in the future using the latest technologies.

    Digital on the other hand will have to be maintained over time. Back-ups, migrating files from soon-to-be obsolete media to new media, converting from soon-to-be obsolete file formats to new file formats. All this takes time and money.

    You mentioned replacing cameras every few years but you also need to consider other equipment. With more capable cameras, you’ll need a more capable computer. Computers also break down. Hard drives crash. My Microtek M1 scanner (a piece of crap) broke down after only two years of use! I had to replace with an Epson v700 so that I can scan my 120 and 4×5 negatives. Two of the three paper feeders of my Epson 3800 printer no longer work! And it is only 4 years old. I will likely need to replace it soon. I have a Nikon scanner for my 35mm negatives but a few months ago it started making some funny noises. It seems fine now but I know that it will eventually fail. In contrast, traditional darkroom equipment will work for decades without issues and require very little maintenance.

    Please read the following article from the New York Times about the long-term costs of digital movies vs. movies shot on film. The same holds true for photography.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/business/media/23steal.html?pagewanted=all

    3. Consider where digital equipment (cameras, computers, battery chargers and everything else required for digital photography) will end up in just a few short years. Please take a look the following video:
    http://youtu.be/gNPWkcq4KfQ

    I have an 80 year old Leica IId that still takes wonderful photographs and the camera won’t be retired at any time soon. An M8 or an M9 will likely be retired much sooner. Perhaps in less than a decade even? And other digital/electronic equipment used in conjunction with a digital M will surely be retired too.

    e-Waste is a terrible and shameful problem that very few people are aware of. We have no business dumping our digital and electronic garbage in 3rd world countries! Personally I want to reduce my footprint. I feel that the best way for me to do that, is to stick with film photography and analogue processes. I am also trying to minimize my use of electronic equipment and to prolong the life of the electronic equipment that I already have.

    1. I’d like to add to your fourth point something that everyone should think of when shooting, digital or film: most photographs that you perceive as good, or that has become iconic, are timeless. Even if it’s quite clear that it was taken in the 40s, 90s and so on, there’s still a feeling of timelessness. A feeling of “that could’ve been today!”

      So think about it when you’re photographing, don’t be too apparent. Learn how to tease people, make them think about your photograhs and not just look at them.

  17. In addition to point #3… Don’t forget that you need a computer to shoot digital. There’s another cost right there. Plus Photoshop/Lightroom/whatever. And if you roll your own film and develop at home, that cuts costs as well.

  18. Welcome to the film world, Eric. It’s about time you saw the light! Don’t forget, every roll of film gives you negatives, which are valuable physical assets! I shot digital for two years and I don’t have anything to show for it. But since I switched to 100% film, I’ve got negatives, contact sheets, and prints, which you can hold in your hand. Not to mention that it’s so fun to dive into all the processes of making them.

      1. Remember to buy binders and negative sleeves to put your negatives in, Eric. Don’t do what I did in the beginning and just throw all the negative in a pile and thinking you’ll sort ’em out later. Because, spoiler alert: you won’t.

  19. There you go! Well said, Eric.
    When I shoot with films, I cannot delete photos as you mentioned. I made lots of stupid mistakes, I always learn something from the results from the rolls. I tried to figure out more actively what was wrong with my skills and getting exposures and composition more seriously when I shoot with films. Instead of storing few GB of images from digital cameras, critiques from my selevtive film images gave me more. (surely I not arguing that which is better against another, that is simply my preferences.)

    I shoot about 180 rolls a year on average last 2 years. I realized that using film camera made me being more relaxed and generous about focusing(for street snaps, of course) Shooting films for street snaps without light meter(or just check few times before shooting) gave me more freedom as well. Surely it made me being more sensitive to light condition, direction of sun, inside or outside a big shadow of building or brightness of people’s clothes which can affect the results. I learned all these from my mistakes by shooting films last two years.

    Considering cameras, my first film slr was $20. It works pretty well as well as the build-in light meters. So anybody can start using film cameras at cheaper price with full-frame features compared to digital cameras. After I enjoyed slr film cameras, I liked RF cameras so much. And I only have RF film cameras now.
    Especially RF Leicas without light meter which are M2/M3 and II(screw mount) according to my preferences.

    If there are people who think that leica M6 is still beyond budget, leica screw mount is another option. My first screw mount Leica costs $350 including leica summar lens last year(I noticed that average price is raised nowadays). I sold the lens to a collector at $200. so I start taking photos with this screw mount camera at $150 technically. My point is that even Leica RF cameras can be cheapter (below $500) than regular M6 outthere.

    Although developing & scanning is somewhat burden, I minimized this by purchasing a used flat bed scanner($120). My scanned images are way better than any other local photo labs, since they will not do this job carefully as they did long time ago anymore. In this way I saved at least $900 last year by scanning by myself.
    To me these scanned images are only for web-posting purposes, not for exhibition. If someone ever need a better quality scanning for porfolios or exhibition, they can select few shots from films and scan them. I would say this would be more selevtive about their results.

    Luckily enough, I learned darkroom work from a local free art school, so I didn’t spend any money for the chemicals required for developing but prints I need.

    There would be pros & cons about film photography compared to digital photography.

    But knowing the limit of one’s equipment(either digital or analog) can give us more creativity and imagination.
    I think that would me more important.

    Whatever it is, enjoy taking photos outthere!

  20. Most older film based SLRs are pretty compact (by today’s standard). For example, an Olympus OM2 with a standard lens is probably still smaller than an M9 and lens. The same is true for Minolta XD7/11. Also, I find my XD7 much much easier and faster to focus than using a rangefinder. There is no parallax error and you always have 100% coverage in the viewfinder for any lens attached. You can also get a preview on the chosen aperture, looking through the lens stopped down.

    Another great M mount based rangefinder to consider is Minolta’s CLE. It’s cheaper than the M6, has less weight but more features. It takes most Leica and Voigtländer lenses, although the native Minolta M-Rokkor lenses are probably equal or close enough.

  21. Eric,
    I’m glad you’ve had this epiphany and found love in film. I had this feeling last year and now my digicam is in the retirement home (my shelf). it’s a beautiful process and I hope you enjoy it and find it ultimately satisfying/fulfilling.
    Good luck, and I look forward to seeing more of your work – on film! :)
    Kosta

  22. “Furthermore, due to the fact that I can only shoot about 24 exposures or so from each roll of film, I am much more selective with my shots, which makes me focus more on my framing and composition of shots, so I don’t “waste” any of my film.

    However I think in the long run, the convenience of digital trumps film by far. Being able to take raw images, edit them on your computer, and directly upload them to Flickr or online is much better than having to purchase film, send it to get developed, wait, download your images to your computer, then upload it online.”

    Eric Kim, October 2010

    “Although shooting with film is an extremely rewarding experience, it helps you realize how truly convenient and awesome digital photography is. Shooting digital makes our lives so much easier in terms of capturing our images, uploading our images, and storing our images. I can’t imagine having to store, label, and organize thousands of rolls of film (compared to organizing my photos in Lightroom 3 on just several Terabyte hard drives). Not only that, but having destroyed all those rolls of film on accident was extremely frustrating as well.”

    Eric Kim, February 2011

    “If you want to chimp less, first step is to turn off your lcd screen preview.”

    Id.

    1. Regarding the convenience of digital I’d have to agree. I’m getting to enjoy developing, but I hated it for a long time. However, scanning is such a pain. It takes me an hour to scan and remove dust from the images I scan before I can even begin with the editorial process and post production.

      But I’d like to argue that it’s a price worth paying, because in the end: to take a picture you like you probably had to walk around for a couple of hours, maybe even travel to another city or take a hike in the woods for a day, so what’s an hour in front of the computer?

  23. I’m glad you’re getting into film and confirming what a lot of us who’s been shooting for some time now has been saying. And what’s interesting is that these factors are true throughout even if you use film daily. When I was first photographing film I was so afraid of shooting too much, now I’ve realized that it’s not particularly expensive and thus I am shooting away almost as if I’m using a digital camera.

    However, even though I’m shooting so much it still doesn’t feel like digital. Because factors like the one about not being able to blow out your highlight and not being able to chimp plays such a big role in my shooting style. That’s why I feel like I am photographing with closed eyes when I’m using film (even have a portfolio on my website called Closed Eyes) because I’m just shooting… and that’s what we all aim for in the end, to just shoot and not think too much about it.

  24. I’d also like to take this moment and comment on some of the points you made in the article:
    1. You cannot chimp.
    This is such an important point to make. You can NOT chimp. Sure, you can try and not chimp on a digital, such as if you tape over the LCD or whatever. But on a film camera you do not even have the choice. And over time you’ll become more and more accepting towards not taking great shots ALL the time. That was a big issue for me when I started taking pictures, I hated the fact that some pictures weren’t even worth post-production. But now I don’t care, now I have respect for the editorial factor of photographing.

    2. It isn’t as expensive as you think.
    I can not stress enough of how true this is. I photograph a lot on film, it’s my primary choice of photographing and I develop my own black and white negatives. A lot of people manages to develop colour as well – I’ve tried it once and it was so-so, but I’m sure I could manage that as well over time. I spend around $60 to $100 every time I re-stock my film and chemicals. And that’s every two month or three month. So developing yourself is very cheap and it’s so simple. You basically can not screw up black and white film.

    3. Film has more dynamic range.
    Now this is not entirely true. I’ve always thought this as well but then I researched it and there are so many different conclusions on the matter (NEVER listen to Ken Rockwell though). Now, what is true is that you can not blow out highlights on film (basically!) and there’s so much information to dodge and burn – even with scanned negatives. But Clarkvision did a very scientific test a while ago, when digital cameras were even worse than they are today, and found out that print film has around 7 stops of dynamic range, while a digital camera like the Canon EOS 10D (which is damn old today!) had 11 stops of dynamic range! (Source: http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/film.vs.digital.summary1.html)

    But in the end, practically, film has a lot more information to fetch with dodge and burn, and that is a fact that stands true. And I think this is why people believe film has greater dynamic range, because there’s such an incredible amount of information in blown out skies and so on and so on.

    4. Your photos look great out of the camera.
    Sure, they do look okay, better than what you get with digital. But always try to retouch your film photographs. Just throw them into photoshop and play around just like you would with a digital copy. You’ll be even more amazed with film once you start to work with it in post production.

    5. You make beautiful mistakes
    Such a true statement, perhaps even more true than number 2 above. You’ll learn to appreiciate motion blur and out of focus photographs. The reason being is first of all that black and white (which most start out with?) handles motion blur much better than color. And the other reason is that the grain has a structure in film that doesn’t look like a noise layer on top of the actual image, like with digital. Because grain looks different in the different tonalities of the image. Keep this in mind if you’re adding grain to a digital photo – play around with layer styles or blending options to make it act differently in highlight and the dark parts. (Preferably by making it less apparent in highlight, and most apparent in the middle)

    1. “print film has around 7 stops of dynamic range”

      I’ll respectfully disagree here. In Bruce Barnbaum’s excellent The Art of Photography he explains that careful exposure and development can capture 15 stops of dynamic range. (I would have liked to look at “Dynamic Range and Transfer Functions of Digital Images and Comparison to Film” from your link but the page cannot be found.) One possible source of confusion might be that if you are scanning the film then that is a completely different issue from printing in the darkroom. Careful burning can get information hidden in the highlights, which has been a very important element when I have shot with Kodak’s infrared and decided to do so at a low ISO.

      1. As I wrote in my comment there is a lot of information that you can dodge and burn. Much more than in digital image files. However, this information is not actually measured as stops, from what I understand, since it’s not actually not visible until you dodge and burn it.

        So you’re not actually disagreeing with me from the way I see it. It’s just that the information is greater in print film, but it’s not there until you bring it forward, i.e. “flatten” the image.

        1. This may be a matter of semantics. If you expose part of a piece of film for a specified amount of time, and another part of the film for twice that amount of time, then the difference would be a stop. Exposing a third part of the film for twice yet the amount of time would yield a difference of two stops between the first and last portions of the film. B&W photographic paper can only yield about ten useful zones, so if a piece of film has a range of 15 stops then it is necessary to either burn the highlight areas or lose them. The dynamic range is within the film, but additional care is needed to translate that to paper. The reason the range may not be visible in the film is that if it is scanned the scanner may not be able to get through the highlights, but the range is still within the film, seen or unseen. With a digital image, once the top of the sensor’s ability to capture is hit, that is the end of the possible range.

          1. I do indeed agree with you. The dynamic range within the film is there, and obviously visible since it is, well there. But it’s not visible in any useful form and I think that’s why Clarkvision got the results he did.

            What matters is the practical results of course and that’s where film is superior since you can, even on a bad scan, dodge and burn a lot more than you can on a digital image.

  25. Another interesting and thought provoking article Eric. A few years ago before Leica had brought out the M8 I bought myself a M6 (new at the time), because I had always wanted to own a Leica. However after a very short while I found I couldn’t get used to using film again, having to wait to see the results, then having to scan the negatives before I could work on them. I had become spoilt by the immediacy of digital, so I sold it and went back to digital. However in recent months I have thought about trying film again, so I have just bought a cheap used Vivitar 35EE rangefinder just to see if I could get back to film this time. If I do, then the M6 could be on my shopping list once again!

  26. Beware of Chungmuro district Eric =) Maybe you’ll meet a nice Leica Focomat V35 there and your life will completely change. Printing is another part of film fotography which is sometiomes even more interesting.

  27. Good article. My Nikon FM2N will almost certainly last me the rest of my life, and with my fast 35mm lens (I also carry an 85mm lens in my pocket for those occasional circumstances) it is light and ready when I am on the street. The other street camera I enjoy using is my Nikon 35ti, which is about as unobtrusive as it gets.

    There are two things I am glad you got right. The first is that anyone can buy in bulk and develop their own negatives. This keeps the cost low to the point that it is easily affordable. I don’t scan mine because I print in the darkroom, which is not something everyone can do.

    The other thing you got right is that of being more selective. I have found that when shooting digitally on the street that I just end up shooting everything and getting little. When I decided to use film for all of my street photography the results were much better. As a matter of fact, I have found that if I take three rolls with me and shoot them all, the final roll oftentimes has the best results, perhaps because I know that I have a finite number of frames to work with.

  28. Ah yes, it’s about time you saw the light. I started out shooting film, picked up digital, and prefer shooting film. I even did a quick cost analysis per frame of 135, it costs me $0.26 per frame to buy, shoot, and develop film. That’s $9.36 per 36 exp roll (see: http://blog.thomasott.net/2011/11/23/some-thoughts-on-shooting-film/ )

    Now we all know that Nikon announced the D4 recently at a hefty price tag of $6,000. That’s 641 rolls of 36 exp 35mm film bought and developed. And the best part? You can use your film camera again and again. By the time you shot those 641 rolls of film the D4 will be nothing more than a nice paperweight.

  29. Excellent post Eric, thanks for puting in words my thoughts. I was started in photography with film and for me it has been hard the transition from Film to digital. Dont get me wrong I loke digital and understand the pros of it, but film is always on the back of my head, calling, teasing me to grab my gear again, which at least once a year I use it.

    Lately and starting in Streetphotography again I have missed film a lot, so I decided to undust all my film gear and eaven I bought an old Rangefinder, a Canon Canonet QL17 GIII, which is a beautiful camera and with a very silent shutter.

    Right now I am using my old Nikon SLR a FE with a 50mm 1.4 glass, It is a hell of a good camera, more louder than a RF and more visible also.

    The only thing that I am missing in this return to film/streetphoto is regain the lost scan skills and buy a new and better scanner.

    Enjoy film and yes, as Bellamy says Buy film not Megapixels

  30. Great article..i particularly like not having to worry about batteries and charging, especially useful when away on a trip for a few days. Fantastic.

  31. Well, point 9 is simply not true, and a big lie! I make stunningly beautiful prints with my digi camera, much better then the photos in my film days ..

  32. well, the best film camera ist the Leica MP. The M6 needs batteries, the MP doesnt. You shouldnt use the build in meter. BUT I only have the M6 :(

    1. The M6 doesn’t need batteries either– only for the meter! The MP is the same– it only needs batteries for the meter. Shot with both and are not that different!

  33. when I am shooting film, I am much more selective and I feel, that my film photos are more concentrated in some sense. My favorite Film Camera for b & w is the most rare Yasuhara T 981 rangefinder with a very sharp black Russian Jupiter 8 2,0 50 mm. I also have a Jup. 12 2,8 35 mm (a stellar lens), a 2,5 75 mm Voigtlaender Color Lanthar and a 4 90 mm Leitz Elmar all with M 39 mm LTM mount. Sometime I use a Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F with SMC Takumar 1,8 50 mm for colour shots

  34. Most of what I think has been covered with other comments. I have always shot film, never even considered digital. It is convenient and I use my I-phone for memories and snaps and its fantastic, but for my “art” I use film. I have used ther same make of body (a nikkormat) for 20 years and have got through about 6 at about £100 GBP a go. I have used the same 24mm lens since 1989, always developed my own film (T-Max 400) and print in the darkroom. I dont crop, I use the full negative and frame everything in the darkroom. I then scan the print NOT the negative which saves time as far as scanning negs goes.

    I used to buy film in bulk but it is no longer any cheaper.

    There is no way digital is cheaper once you take into account the hard drives, the fragility of the cameras, the computers etc.

    For me it is all about the process, the creation of works of art as well as the photography. It is about the final product, on the wall in a gallery, or on your website or on the wall at home. It is about the journey you take to get there, the thrill of taking the picture, those weeks in limbo as you wait to see what was on the film, the rediscovery of your photos, those moments where you instinctively pressed the shutter not knowing what was there, moved on the the next moment, the joy of frustration of seeing the negs for the first time, the discipline of the contacts, the challenge of getting the print right in the darkroom. To remove any on eof these elements from the process, the journey woiuld be the devalue the end product….for me.

    And I think also the anger, the frustration of getting it WRONG. The pain of finding out that an image is just not quite right AFTER you have been through the investment of time and money of buying film, spending time developing it, washing it, drying it, to then find out you have screwed up by not focusing or framing right or developing right. It makes you remember, learn your lesson, ensure you never make the same mistake twice. In short it makes you a better photographer, quicker and more thoroughly.

    Small things like the smells. When you load the film into the developing tank and fill it up with water for the first time, before you put the chemicals in, the smells waft up, of fresh film, smells of promise, potential, evokes such feelings, like fresh food. Same with opening a fresh pack of paper, or the acid almost gagging smell of the stop bath mixed with the developer or fix. Or that dazed feeling of stepping outside from the darkroom and not understanding why it is dark outside when it was light when you entereed the darkroom. Or better still when it was dark when you went in and light when you come up, the morning sun shining on you….

    You are a photographer, you are painting with light, writing with light (photo-graphy), an artist. You are creating an image, framed instinctively in a split second, using elements infront of you, out of your control. Cherish your tools, your process of acheiving your results. If digital is your tool, then so be it, but I challenge anyone who has used both analogue and digital to truly, honestly, hand on heart say that they get the same satisfaction out of both…

    1. Toby,
      I’m with you. I shoot only film, develop it myself, and find it rewarding. I use computers in my job too much to waste more time in front of the computer to do what I consider my “art.” I use my iPhone to shoot sunsets, etc.

      About the WRONG… shooting street, you don’t get a chance to shoot it again. Chimping won’t help if you miss it. There is no AFTER. If a situation in front of you is in flux, keep shooting it, until you can’t any longer.

      When all is said and done and we leave this world, unless you leave explicit instructions about how to retrieve your photos from memory sticks or hard drives, your images will be lost. With film, all my images are easily accessible, backed up on “tape” if you will. If you happen to be Gilden, David Alan Harvey, Bruce Davidson, Garry Winogrand, or HCB, your images will be lost forever if they shot on digital.

      Personally, I don’t think Eric has the staying power or discipline to shoot film. Sure, he wants to pretend on his blog that it’s the best thing, but give it 2 months and he’ll never touch film again. I’m almost willing to put money on it. I did say almost. He’s a whore so I wouldn’t put it past him to do it just for the money. “Blame it on my ADD!”

  35. Great article. I have been shooting film with my M6 for a year now and I cannot think of using digital anymore for anything more than family parties. Seriously, my M8.2 is collecting dust now.

    However, I do disagree on “shades of gray” and dynamic ranged. Those depend so much on what materials you use, how you develop, and how you scan. For example a high resolution scan that resolves film grain (4000dpi) does not really give you many shades of gray, rather the “raster” dots of film. Printing such an image even digitally brings out that beautiful texture of film. Same goes with dynamic range, the concept seems to have a different meaning when you use film.

    1. Michael Meissner

      I am using an Ikon ZM as well and would even prefer it anytime over the leica models for it’s outstanding viewfinder and the possibility to shoot with 1/2000 shutterspeed. at least, it’s a very attractive alternative.

  36. Great! I started photography using film camera and have been using it for quiet sometime now. I used to have a digital camera but I sold it few years back to concentrate with film. And I did not regret the decision. I am also using a Leica M6 for all things that I do, photography wise. And I am loving every bit of the image it gives me. Not all though but I’m getting there. Keep on shooting film and I’m sure you will love it more. Cheers.

    http://i383.photobucket.com/albums/oo273/iver20/AyalaStreet.jpg

  37. Another reason we should shoot film over and over again= to really make sure that marvellous and really good thing doesn’t go dead as some are pleased or scared to believe it will.
    Film is here to stay anyway, so enjoy.
    Cheers and happy shooting.

  38. Jason St Clair Newman

    I loveeeeeee my M6 … I shoot on Tri X as well, have a fridge load of film, I can remember someone writing one time it’s like getting a present each time, you really don’t know what ‘s there, until it develops… that’s what the magic of film is, in that roll could be a shot(s) you forgot about, that just rocks!…. I also shoot on digital as well, but I love film and will always shoot it so much so I’m saving up for a mamiya now to add to the collection.. I think personally the only camera that I am curious about is the new fuji x pro… (and the fact it will be able to accept M lens)
    Personally I actually think shooting film makes you a better digital photographer…. Happy Film Shooting :)

  39. I shoot film on manual focus Canon, Nikon, Leica and Minolta cameras with an amazing range of lenses. I also shoot film on medium and large format 4×5 and 8×10 cameras. Yes, 8×10 negatives that scan in around a gigabyte. Can’t beat them for resolution but all that tech crap can be flushed down the toilet when you experience the spiritual and physical satisfaction of mindfulness and presence that is required, and rewarded, by film work. I have a 4×5 enlarger, do all my own darkroom work. But you know what, I have a few digital cameras, mostly Nikons, that are entertaining in their own way. Just not really philosophical instruments, if you know what I mean. If you still shoot film, you know what I mean.

    1. Jeff, I like your word choice. Mindfullness really sums up what these street guys with their hard nosed no-chimping rules are going for without knowing it. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings, and spend more time in the dark room thinking about your pictures than you do shooting and eventually you’ll make a few decent ones.

      Me, I never really zenned out when I was speeding through Yosemite and throwing my sack-of-concrete of a camera on top of my car so I could take a cool shot. Buy hey, if that’s how you mellow then keep on truckin’, Jeff. Keep on truckin…

  40. Eric,

    It is not true that digital has less dynamic range than film. First off, you a wrong in assuming that digital only has 256 shades of gray. Let me educate you on this ( I am a researcher who works on digital image analysis). The bit depth of an image is how many shades of gray it can represent. 8-bit for example = 2^8 shades = 256 shades of gray. The images that typically produced by digital sensors nowadays have 32-bit intensity resolution , which means 2 ^ 32 = 4,294,967,296 shades of gray. The problem is human vision can only reliably distinguish around 500 shades of gray. So, in real life, it does not matter how good is your intensity resolution, what matters though is how faithfully the gradients are smoothly represented by the underlying medium.

    While I do agree that film’s capability in representing the subtle gradients in intensity could be perceived as being better ( for example in representing shadows and highlights), than digital sensors. But that situation is improving.

    The other thing is of course scanning negatives…you could argue that film has better dynamic range than the digital sensor, but the moment you put that strip of negative into a film scanner, you end up having images that might be less than perfect reproductions than print. There is definitely some degree of information loss while converting film to digital, which I feel is better preserved while working purely in digital.

    I do agree with the other points you have raised in your blog. i had a great read.

  41. Hi Eric, congrats on the exhibiton – I saw the video intro toit the other day :)

    I just wanted to say that there are two (what I’d consider) very fundamental things you didn’t include in your reasons to use film!!

    1. FULL FRAME!! I think you may have left this out because you came straight from an M9 and you are sued to taking the full frame as totally normal :) But remember that the only way to get full frame in digital is to either spend £3000 on an m9 or to lug around a £2000 canon 5d (i’m a canon man) – i wanted to but the weight man.. 60’d as as much as I can bare. I’m not a pro and don’t want to look like a pro or have pro arm arm and neck muscles. But I reallly want to use my 50mm as a god damn 50mm not some harcore telephoto which is what it feels like ona cropped frame. So I reckon that given you can buy a film slr and 50mm lens for under £100 anyone who has been brought up on cropped frame should definitely take the true 35mmm frame into account.

    2: The feeeeeel of film. You sort get close to this in the dynamic range point, though don’t really mention what I’m on about. I mean that wonderful analogue tibre you get from film. In colour it is a watercolour-like, painterly quality and I think it is somethig about the way that emulsion captures the essence of light itself that digital does not in quite the same way.. Now this is a very difficult quality to describe, but if you looks at the work of colour photographers like Joel Meyerrowitz, perhaps you will see what I’m saying – if you have ever receievd decent colour prints and also recieved colour digital prints, you owill almost certainly know what I’m talking about. As for black and white, then of course you will know what I mean – endless tinkering in photoshop and lightroom will rarely quite emulate the feel of black and white film. Here’s some examples – 1st tri x , second ilford xp 400 (pushed to 800 iso), and thirdly ilfod xp 400. Anyway, sorry I don’t usually shamelessly promote my own stuff, but thought it shows what I mean (especially when compared to my bnw digital stuff)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream#/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream/lightbox/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream#/photos/bencarias/6459134367/in/photostream/lightbox/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459134367/in/photostream/lightbox/#/photos/bencarias/6357825149/in/photostream/lightbox/

    That is all. Keep up the good work, it’s great to follw and really makes me want to go out and shoot!!!

    Ben

  42. Hi Eric, congrats on the exhibiton – I saw the video intro toit the other day :)

    I just wanted to say that there are two (what I’d consider) very fundamental things you didn’t include in your reasons to use film!!

    1. FULL FRAME!! I think you may have left this out because you came straight from an M9 and you are sued to taking the full frame as totally normal :) But remember that the only way to get full frame in digital is to either spend £3000 on an m9 or to lug around a £2000 canon 5d (i’m a canon man) – i wanted to but the weight man.. 60’d as as much as I can bare. I’m not a pro and don’t want to look like a pro or have pro arm arm and neck muscles. But I reallly want to use my 50mm as a god damn 50mm not some harcore telephoto which is what it feels like ona cropped frame. So I reckon that given you can buy a film slr and 50mm lens for under £100 anyone who has been brought up on cropped frame should definitely take the true 35mmm frame into account.

    2: The feeeeeel of film. You sort get close to this in the dynamic range point, though don’t really mention what I’m on about. I mean that wonderful analogue tibre you get from film. In colour it is a watercolour-like, painterly quality and I think it is somethig about the way that emulsion captures the essence of light itself that digital does not in quite the same way.. Now this is a very difficult quality to describe, but if you looks at the work of colour photographers like Joel Meyerrowitz, perhaps you will see what I’m saying – if you have ever receievd decent colour prints and also recieved colour digital prints, you owill almost certainly know what I’m talking about. As for black and white, then of course you will know what I mean – endless tinkering in photoshop and lightroom will rarely quite emulate the feel of black and white film. Here’s some examples – 1st tri x , second ilford xp 400 (pushed to 800 iso), and thirdly ilfod xp 400. Anyway, sorry I don’t usually shamelessly promote my own stuff, but thought it shows what I mean (especially when compared to my bnw digital stuff)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream#/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream/lightbox/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream#/photos/bencarias/6459134367/in/photostream/lightbox/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459134367/in/photostream/lightbox/#/photos/bencarias/6357825149/in/photostream/lightbox/

    That is all. Keep up the good work, it’s great to follw and really makes me want to go out and shoot!!!

    Ben

  43. Hi Eric, congrats on the exhibiton – I saw the video intro toit the other day :)

    I just wanted to say that there are two (what I’d consider) very fundamental things you didn’t include in your reasons to use film!!

    1. FULL FRAME!! I think you may have left this out because you came straight from an M9 and you are sued to taking the full frame as totally normal :) But remember that the only way to get full frame in digital is to either spend £3000 on an m9 or to lug around a £2000 canon 5d (i’m a canon man) – i wanted to but the weight man.. 60’d as as much as I can bare. I’m not a pro and don’t want to look like a pro or have pro arm arm and neck muscles. But I reallly want to use my 50mm as a god damn 50mm not some harcore telephoto which is what it feels like ona cropped frame. So I reckon that given you can buy a film slr and 50mm lens for under £100 anyone who has been brought up on cropped frame should definitely take the true 35mmm frame into account.

    2: The feeeeeel of film. You sort get close to this in the dynamic range point, though don’t really mention what I’m on about. I mean that wonderful analogue tibre you get from film. In colour it is a watercolour-like, painterly quality and I think it is somethig about the way that emulsion captures the essence of light itself that digital does not in quite the same way.. Now this is a very difficult quality to describe, but if you looks at the work of colour photographers like Joel Meyerrowitz, perhaps you will see what I’m saying – if you have ever receievd decent colour prints and also recieved colour digital prints, you owill almost certainly know what I’m talking about. As for black and white, then of course you will know what I mean – endless tinkering in photoshop and lightroom will rarely quite emulate the feel of black and white film. Here’s some examples – 1st tri x , second ilford xp 400 (pushed to 800 iso), and thirdly ilfod xp 400. Anyway, sorry I don’t usually shamelessly promote my own stuff, but thought it shows what I mean (especially when compared to my bnw digital stuff)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream#/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream/lightbox/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream#/photos/bencarias/6459134367/in/photostream/lightbox/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459134367/in/photostream/lightbox/#/photos/bencarias/6357825149/in/photostream/lightbox/

    That is all. Keep up the good work, it’s great to follw and really makes me want to go out and shoot!!!

    Ben

  44. Hi Eric, congrats on the exhibiton – I saw the video intro toit the other day :)

    I just wanted to say that there are two (what I’d consider) very fundamental things you didn’t include in your reasons to use film!!

    1. FULL FRAME!! I think you may have left this out because you came straight from an M9 and you are sued to taking the full frame as totally normal :) But remember that the only way to get full frame in digital is to either spend £3000 on an m9 or to lug around a £2000 canon 5d (i’m a canon man) – i wanted to but the weight man.. 60’d as as much as I can bare. I’m not a pro and don’t want to look like a pro or have pro arm arm and neck muscles. But I reallly want to use my 50mm as a god damn 50mm not some harcore telephoto which is what it feels like ona cropped frame. So I reckon that given you can buy a film slr and 50mm lens for under £100 anyone who has been brought up on cropped frame should definitely take the true 35mmm frame into account.

    2: The feeeeeel of film. You sort get close to this in the dynamic range point, though don’t really mention what I’m on about. I mean that wonderful analogue tibre you get from film. In colour it is a watercolour-like, painterly quality and I think it is somethig about the way that emulsion captures the essence of light itself that digital does not in quite the same way.. Now this is a very difficult quality to describe, but if you looks at the work of colour photographers like Joel Meyerrowitz, perhaps you will see what I’m saying – if you have ever receievd decent colour prints and also recieved colour digital prints, you owill almost certainly know what I’m talking about. As for black and white, then of course you will know what I mean – endless tinkering in photoshop and lightroom will rarely quite emulate the feel of black and white film. Here’s some examples – 1st tri x , second ilford xp 400 (pushed to 800 iso), and thirdly ilfod xp 400. Anyway, sorry I don’t usually shamelessly promote my own stuff, but thought it shows what I mean (especially when compared to my bnw digital stuff)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream#/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream/lightbox/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459149931/in/photostream#/photos/bencarias/6459134367/in/photostream/lightbox/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencarias/6459134367/in/photostream/lightbox/#/photos/bencarias/6357825149/in/photostream/lightbox/

    That is all. Keep up the good work, it’s great to follw and really makes me want to go out and shoot!!!

    Ben

  45. Sorry Eric – my browser just crashed and posted three comments instead of one – i’m sure one was enough – sorry for the spam :0

  46. Beautiful post, it really makes me happy to have bought a M6, I still need to buy a lens though, but they are pretty expensive

    1. Wait wait wait, you’re happy you bought a camera without a lens? Man, I got a Porsche here I think you’ll love. No wheels, but man that engine purrrrrrrs like a kitten. *click*

  47. Eric you should try your hand at developing your black and white negs. It is very easy and magically rewarding. The only hard part is getting the film in the developing tank in total darkness. The rest is a cake walk. I’m on my 6th roll and i can’t stop shooting! Help me! :)

  48. Eric, a few word from me regarding this
    1. The dynamic range. It was already mentioned that the range of the digital camera is not so limited. But you have to keep in mind that the limit is the paper, never the film or the sensor. so that argument doesn’t count in most conditions.
    2. The money issue: When people who likes film do a calculation they alway have a used analog camera against a new dslrs. And oh wonder, the new dslr is so expensive that you can buy hundreds of film. But these days you can buy used dslrs in perfect conditions for a good price, a canon 5d for 700 euro in mind conditions. so the price difference to the used analog is very small. and what people always forget if they need the pictures digital to work with them or to show them on the internet is the time they need for scanning. your time should be your more expensive than being forgotten in these calculation. And if you are still cheaper with the analog camera, just shot one wedding, concert or something similar where people expect a good amount of good pictures not only 36, and digital will be sooo cheap
    3. The print-out: There are only a few real analog print outs that you see. Most of the print out that you get these days are digital, also from film. If you send the film to a lab, they will develop it, and then it will be scanned and handled like a regular digital file. No advantage for the film. And if you are good in both worlds, you will not see any differences. If you do, you did something wrong. HAve a look in the last years of national geographic. can you say which of the pictures are slide and which digital?
    4. Megapixel: Nobody has to worry about megapixels anymore these days. If you do, you have a problem :-). In the regular frame szice you will not see any differences.

    So I disagree in most of your topics, sorry for this.
    Regards
    Eike

    1. Forget the point, pictures look great out of the cam: Complete nonsense, the picture is looking like the guy in the lab think it should look like if you don’t do it yourself. It can be ok, but it can’t be always good or better than a jpg out of camera. Take a picture at night on film, bring the film to a lab and you will be disappointed

  49. My M-6 with a Summilux 1:1.4/35 , a roll of Tri-X , some imagination and a rockin’ environment and I am lovin’ life. Fantastic post Eric and I am now a follower. Where have you been all my life.

  50. Pingback: | The AGL

  51. Hi Eric,

    As for film-based 35mm camera, well, I shouldn’t have sold my 35mm Canon AE-1 a couple years ago. I didn’t really think the film would last. Boy, I was wrong, I must admit.

    Well, I don’t know where to begin, but would like to buy a new film SLR camera. But don’t know which one, in terms of modern – now these days.

    Can someone else or you, Eric, recommend a few. Then I’ll dig further and go from there. The last time I had some hands-on experience with smelly chemicals film when I was teenage years ago at my high school. I might have to hire a contractor to built a small chemical darkroom downstairs at my residence… Whether it is well-worth it to invest/hire contractor… or is it better to send film rolls to outsourced film company to do the rest for me?

    What do you guys suggest? For past couple of years, I have been very concerned about environment and aim myself being more “greener”. That’s the reason why I had sold my old 35mm camera about a decade ago or so and switched to digital SLR since.

    I probably would *do* lot of digital photos than film photos for sure.

    Thanks! Have a good one, friends.

    1. I would reccomend a rangefinder camera over a slr. I use both, but I feel more connected to my environment with a rangefinder camera.

  52. Pingback: 3 Ways Film Changed My Life « phillipehan

  53. Film! I love them and just started on DSLR. LOL. I bring my analog camera out more often than DSLR because of the size and weight that is lesser.

  54. Pingback: 15 Tips How Street Photographers Can Better Edit Their Work — Eric Kim Street Photography

  55. Hi Eric,

    My friend told me to read your online blogs about street photography. I have to say that I like some of your ideas but most of the time I find your ways absurd. I am not a hater but sometimes you have to slow down.

    You sound like a “smart ass” telling people that unless you do this, you will never be a good street photographer.

    There are no specific rules to street photography. What works for you does not mean will work for others or me. A picture is a reflection of the photographer’s ideas or emotions. I appreciate you giving seminars but man you need to accept that some ideas maybe not suitable for you so you just have to respect it.

  56. Pingback: The Links Capsule–May 20 2012 « :: The visual notepad ::

  57. Hello Eric, I have enjoyed reading your post on film. I will share this post on Tweeter.

    Im a landscape photographer who shoots film for all my principle photography. I also believe that there are significant benefits to using film. I think film can be a great teacher of photography. I thought you might be interested in my post on why i shoot film, here: http://www.lightinframeblog.com/why-i-shoot-film/

    Best regards Steve

  58. In the end it’s all about the image, surely. To me how you get that image – digital or film – is of secondary importance. I use digital, but I admit it has its problems. I also appreciate the blurry or accidental image, of which I get plenty but some of which are just unintentionally beautiful.

    The guys featured on this blog are all great photographers – I look at these images & I’m almost always full of respect and admiration for the technique and the eye. The only thing it has to be is interesting, which given what’s all around us is hardly a big ask. To say you can ONLY do street photography with film – that’s like people who argue PC vs Mac as though their lives depended on it. And film isn’t necessarily for ever – I’ve been scanning old negs into my computer, & the amount of damage & deterioration in so many of them is terrible.
    And finally – the ability to make my images look like I want them to be right here on my Mac, without having to send them off to some processing line where some uninterested geezer does an average job on them while he’s thinking about his girlfriend or his next coffee break. That’s what really does it for me with digital, and yes, I developed my own prints back in the olden days.

    BTW, I never chimp.

    1. Beautiful post and what more can you want than stirring up discussion..:-)
      Personally, I have been on the fence between digital and bw film ever since I bought my first Eos 5d (and mark II and Mark III..) That was in 2005. I´m exactly where I was then now. There´s absolutely no doubt digital has the edge in convenience and in many more aspects. The one thing, however, that keeps me shooting bw film (for my own pleasure, though..) is the beautiful prints I can make in my darkroom. Sure it´s a pita and it takes forever to make one decent print but when you do get it nothing rivals it! I have been making my own darkroom prints for some 25 years now and Epson K3 prints for some 8 years. The digital wins for speed and convenience every time but when I want something beautiful to look at I have to go to the dark and get my hand wet again! There´s no way the machines can reproduce it. Digital is perfect, analogue is beautiful. Let´s accept it. Petr

      1. Quiet Light Photography

        I shoot only film. I am not opposed to digital. But it just does not appeal to me. My lab soups and high res scans my negs. The best of both worlds.

  59. Hmmm. Wow. I shot film for something like 25 years before digital. I was so glad to see digital cameras come of age over the last few. There is not a single thing you listed that cannot be done with digital.

    1. You need not chimp. I very rarely do. Tape your screen if you cannot control yourself.

    2. You need not look at process your images immediately. You could wait a years if you wanted Nothing forces you to, does it? So you can still look at your images more objectively.

    3. Digital isn’t cheap, but it is still cheaper than film if you don’t get sucked into the gotta have the latest upgraded body. Or a 9000 plus dollar digital camera body that has the same nameplate as HCBs. And film is not getting less expensive, it’s getting harder to find, and pricier to develop.

    4. Film has more dynamic range—ever shot slide film? Or maybe that is not acceptable in some street photography rules. Is the dynamic range of your sensor the problem with your photography? If so, go for film, and then everything will be perfect. I’d say that dynamic range of most street photography I see is not something that strengthens or weakens it. If it does, it’s likely low on the list of problems.

    5. You can be just as selective with digital as with film It is a matter of discipline. If you cannot develop discipline on your own, grab an older small card, say a 512mb the next time you go out to shoot. Take only that. You will learn shot discipline. Discipline is the responsibility of the photographer, not the camera.

    6. Your photos can look good straight out of the camera in digital too. Or, you can use your—oh, I am beginning to hate the word—vision to work on it. Within limits, depending on the type of photography. You photos look good right out of the camera with film? Don’t you get negative and then kinda like have to develop them? Are your developing decisions/processes important to how they look? Do you dodge or burn? Isn’t that kinda like post processing on a computer?

    7. You can delete photos with digital, yes. Good. If someone objects to me taking their photo and ask me not to, or not to publish it etc, I will generally honor that. However, let’s say while you are running around in Tokyo, in Kabukicho, Shinjuku, yo stick your flash in some guy’s face and take a photo of his shocked looking mug. Turns out the guy is Yakuza and he rather pointedly asks you to delete the photo or he will delete your ass. I’ll bet you’ll find a way to delete that photo, by pulling out and exposing your entire roll of film.

    8. You do not need to worry about megapixels with digital either. If your camera was good enough yesterday for you, it will still be good enough tomorrow not matter what the camera companies try to sucker you with and no matter what the nabobs on forums say.

    9. Digital prints can be beautiful and can look better than film Of course that is subjective and BW film properly and skillfully developed and printed often beats most digital BW—my opinion—there is no rule on that. Of could if you “had” your digital files printed by some quickie shop, what would you expect but disappointment. Learn how to print yourself. Perhaps your seeming lack of experience in either digital or film printing explains your reason #6.

    10. Well, if you think before you delete, you might just find the same lucky mistakes are possible with digital as film. No rule says you gotta delete a blurred photo on digital. Think.

    Your whole list seems to say that the camera or media is the most important thing in photography. But in fact, it is the photographer who can and should control every single reason you listed.

    One thing digital has done is that it has allowed folks to learn very quickly and at less expense (unless they were extreme suckers for camera company marketing) and then after thousands and 10,000s of photos during which they should have learned something about photography, turn to film. This makes learning to shoot film a relative breeze. Try it the other way, start on film, do it without the instant feedback available, shoot fewer photos in 5 or more years than in a year with digital because you cannot afford the costs with film. Then you will avoid the temptation that some seem to have to accredit their turn to film as indicative of better tastes or magically occurring talent. You got there because digital provided you with an accelerated learning curve. That is a good thing. You’ll need it in a few years when the last rolls of film dry up or become prohibitively expensive.

  60. Really I don’t understand the either/or mentality of a lot of photographers. I love both, I shoot both. One teaches me more about the other and shooting both expands the services I can offer to clients when it comes to paid work.
    However reality is film is becoming increasingly expensive. I just dropped off a roll at one of the best spots in town: 15 bucks for 36 bw exposures on cd. Yikes
    But the buy in for film is so cheap there’s no reason why on shouldn’t t least have a few film cameras and rolls on hand.
    Any way I just love photography: iPhone, dslr, micro 43s, film slr, p&s. spices and ingredients and tools man! Wooooooh I get excited no matter what camera is in my hand.

  61. Federico Montemurro

    This film-digital war is hurting the analog art more than helping.

    [My heart with film, my brain with analog]

  62. If you bulk load tri-x and develop and scan at home like I do, your cost of film falls to about $2.90 per roll, or $230 based on 80 rolls a year.

  63. “When shooting with film, I typically wait around a month (when I have around 10 rolls or so) and get them developed. Therefore I don’t see my images about a month after I take the photos, which means that when I look at my images—I actually forget a lot of the photos I take. Therefore because I get detached emotionally from the photos, I can more objectively edit and choose my best images.”

    You should credit Gary Winogrand for this Eric – it’s something he recommended for the same reasons…

  64. Pingback: Updates, lists, facts | filmtoofilm

  65. Pingback: In Limbo: Post #2 | Jordyn Colleen Photography

  66. “To my understanding, the average digital camera has 256 shades of grey (I haven’t fact-checked this yet) while black and white film has (theoretically) infinite shades of grey.”

    Fact-check result: no. Pretty much any good recent digital camera will let you shoot 12- or 14-bit raw files, giving you 4,096 or 16,384 shades of gray, respectively–more than your eye can differentiate in a print, and enough to manipulate the exposure/density a fair amount before you run into banding. And B&W film IS NOT a continuous-tone process–you get clumps of silver on the negative, and the approaching all-or-nothing clumps get put together in varying concentrations to SIMULATE shades of gray.

  67. good morning from the philippines! as i have read your blog regarding film and film photography, im very blown and still want to study film. not as a profession but maybe as a passion. thank you very much for your insight and knowledge shared.

    it helped me so much to decide to pursue film more as I am now trying to figure out whether to continue it or not. but I have decided to pursue it more than ever. not being cheap but more of my own passion. thank you very much mr Eric Kim.

    from the philippines

    Vic!

  68. There are two sections to this park, bisected by Emery Road. The southern portion has the snowmobile trail. The northern section is for skiers and snowshoers. Several roads are blocked and unplowed in winter making them part of the groomed network of trails. The main trail leaves from the Field House (warming hut with rest rooms), crosses a flat play field then winds through the woods passing a deep gorge and spectacular waterfall. The path is wide but it’s a long downhill heading out and a long uphill on the return portion of the loop. Follow the unplowed roads for a less strenuous return. Novices can ski here. Just stay on the more level terrain near the Field House and the unplowed roads. Terrain: Hilly.Just shy of a mile high, Mount Katahdin dominates the landscape of the more than 200,000 acres in Baxter State Park. About 175 miles of trails exist within the park, along with forty six peaks and ridges. But guess what? It’s not all that easy to access the park in winter. For those who want to sample a sliver of the park, it can be done on the Baxter State Park Loop, a combination of ski trails and the Park Tote Road. The road is open to snowmobiles, with a posted speed limit of twenty miles per hour. Skiers are on that portion for about 1.0 mile. One of Maine’s best cross country ski trails, Baxter State Park Loop is located near Millinocket, ME. Trails’ printable online topo maps offer shaded and un-shaded reliefs, and aerial photos too! Use topographic map functionality to find elevation, print high resolution maps, save a PNG, or just learn the topography around Baxter State Park Loop. You can also get free latitude and longitude coordinates from the topographical map and set your GPS. Subscribers with access to our maps can download or print any topo, and cover more terrain when you map your Baxter State Park Loop route ahead of time. Fake Oakleys Sunglasses http://ircona.com/shop/fake-oakleys.html

  69. The Seeley Creek trail system is a challenging, well-maintained, and well-marked set of classic and skate lanes at the base of the Swan Mountain Range. 50-kilometer race on the last Saturday in January. The nearby community of Seeley Lake is popular with snowmobilers, who have 300 miles of groomed sled routes of their own. Dog sledders have yet another set of trails that depart from the nearby trailhead. The mid-winter snow depth averages about 3 feet in the Seeley-Swan Valley, which is 80 miles long, 30 miles wide, and bordered by wilderness on two sides. One of Montana’s best cross country ski trails, Seeley Creek Nordic Ski Trails is located near Seeley Lake, MT. Trails’ printable online topo maps offer shaded and un-shaded reliefs, and aerial photos too! Use topographic map functionality to find elevation, print high resolution maps, save a PNG, or just learn the topography around Seeley Creek Nordic Ski Trails. You can also get free latitude and longitude coordinates from the topographical map and set your GPS. Subscribers with access to our maps can download or print any topo, and cover more terrain when you map your Seeley Creek Nordic Ski Trails route ahead of time.

  70. Pingback: black white

  71. they had been the best 9th kind of wot power leveling, plus i true love them all some of the most, they really are suited to with less time recovering out on the town! i buy millions of comments people get consumers!! they will be an important, indisputably:)

  72. I have had my film for over 7 years I’ve kept it out of light locked up. Will the pictures still look good when they are developed

  73. Pingback: 10 Reasons Why You Should Street Photography With Film | THERASHOOTIC

  74. Just because it’s not illegal to take a photo of someone in public, doesn’t make it ethical to do so when you k ow that they object. If someone politely asks you to delete a photo, you should comply whether it’s a “great” photo or not. It’s basic common courtesy and respect for others privacy and belief systems. You come off in all of your articles as a very small man.

    1. Ed, there won’t ever be street photography as an art form if that is allowed. u are basically giving them the right to destroy your work of art. Also there won’t ever be any news reportage of events if you are a photojournalist because the people almost always object having their pictures taken doing things they won’t like the public to see. right of property (your film/camera) trumps right of privacy. Expectation of privacy in public space is silly. We have video cameras monitoring everyone in the streets.

  75. Pingback: Halloween cat, Lomo-style « Zorki Photo

  76. Pingback: #6 while the city sleeps | hannah palmer photography

  77. I found only one valid arguments among the ten. Number 4. The rest is all about mentality, but number 9 and 10 which is about lack of knowledge. You can make a mistake out of any digital picture in the photoshop. One can argue you get photoshop for free with film sometimes. Nor film is ever perfect from shoot. Editing is always necessary.

    All though there is only one valid argument, it is still a valid conclusion. You should use film because of argument number 4 alone. Digital censors still got a long, long, long way to go before it even get close to film. Though, this is said with a reservation. If you are ready to blow off $50 000 on equipment, you can get good pictures from digital equipment. Most of the money must be used for preprocesing the digital data to get rid of noise by interpolation. This will not give you a copy of the real world like film, but the quality as we measure it will be just as good as film. Said in other words, they who never saw the site at the actual time and light won’t see that the picture is unreal. Probably not even you, if you wait a month before looking.

  78. I can not believe that you’re advocating taking a picture of someone without their permission and getting mad that anyone would ask you to delete it. How dare they!

    1. Maegan, when a photographer is in a public place then all things and people are game. There is nothing in the law that says one must delete the photo, nor destroy the entire roll of film. Check the photo laws in your location, for most locations the police themselves do not have that authority.

  79. Pingback: FILM | WWU Photography

  80. It ‘s interesting what people have had to say about film photography. I myself have a love/hate relationship with my art and photos and find new techniques refreshing and easy. But there is time new and interesting old and beloved. Almost every kid I talk has no idea what film camera is, I find that so sad when the most beautiful shots come simple film. I really admire rebels that go for old to mix with the new. Good on ya mate ;)

  81. Pingback: The Benefits Shooting Both Film and Digital in Street Photography — Eric Kim Street Photography

  82. Pingback: swimming pool built

  83. Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with
    Search Engine Optimization? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good results.

    If you know of any please share. Appreciate it!

  84. Pingback: please click the following webpage

  85. Pingback: us insulin pumps Market

  86. Pingback: sexy lingerie

  87. Pingback: Street Photography and Film | Of Photo and Fiction

  88. Film is fine in some places and if you have the time and money etc. Most folks are busy have work and kids or live in developing countries. The cameras you own and recommend are expensive, elite cameras. It’s easy to have this opinion from your privileged perspective. If we need to discuss film vs digital and gear then you miss the point. It’s about taking photos. It’s a simple pseudo art form and digital opened it up to everyone to try it. Film is nice and I shot it for years and still do occasionally but it belongs in an elite clique only now.

  89. I have gone through your blog and found it very informative, it helped me gathering a lot of information regarding “10 Reasons Why You Should Shoot Street Photography With Film” We have a Film Transfer Companyhttp://www.filmtransfercompany.com/.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.