Shooting Film After Digital…

This seems to be a topic that keeps coming to the fore…my niece just completed a college Photography course that required film only. She talked about the disposable nature of digital images, while I remarked that film intimidated me (the fear of failing is costly and never so evident with a roll that is either under exposed or over exposed…no matter how well you compose a shot). We both remarked that knowing how to do both well, can only make you a better photographer.

But what about going back and forth…what changes do you note?

My niece admits film is ultimately precocious to her…a roll a mini-series…the counter begins to rule your life (12 shots left, 6 shots left…make THIS one shot count)…so she finds she is much more purposeful in her shooting when she has her film camera.

She also spoke about “the waiting” which is brutal…”did I get it?” becomes very very real. The immediate “proofing” of the LCD screen or direct upload make digital almost a mandatory for commodity photography…while purposeful composition makes film a spectacular choice for artistic expression. But neither are ultimately a correct or a wrong choice…

Ken Rockwell has a terrific article on Film vs. Digital. check it out here

Rockwell basically outlines the differences…explains his preference while never casting aspersion on the other choice. He defines the issue simply…it is a personal choice.

Paul Morse an LA Times based sports photographer, wrote in 2000 this article in which he discussed where he shot the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials for the Sydney Olympics in film instead of digital. He had moved almost completely to the digital format. For proper context, in 2000, burst rates were not the astonishing 10FPS (frames per second) that we see in today’s newest cameras, nor were the pixel rates very large; in 2000 the state of art digital cameras were carrying a max of 2-3 mega-pixels… we are seeing 10-23 mega-pixels in the professional quality SLRs releases of 2007. This context aside, Morse speaks to the obvious lag rate of digital motors supping up before responding to the human command to capture. For the ever moving world of sports where the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition are separated by a mere nano-seconds…the immediate response of a film camera could serve well. How often have you been an event…you see the moment and click when you think it is right…only to have missed the moment?

Our own Jenfera has a 35mm Canon Rebel…and a spare roll of 24 film…

It was weird going 35mm again. Waiting to find out if the picture came out okay was torture! But it is good to know that this is something I can do if I want to use my good lenses for something special. I didn’t take any action shots so I can’t comment on noticing the quicker response. I did notice that my little digital actually can take closer macros! I only have a 35-80 and a 75-300 for the 35mm and I don’t have any macro filters or anything.

She has kindly shared some great shots with us…

Stella looking like some cat mafia bossIce on a tarpIce on branchesone of many storms

See Jenfera’s full 35mm gallery here.

As Jen put it…you can go back.

I know from my experience I am free of fear with my digital camera so am more willing to experiment.

What do you all think?


9 thoughts on “Shooting Film After Digital…

  1. I have a REALLY good 35 mm camera that I haven’t used in years since I got my digital. I’m frugal. I don’t like paying for 10 images I don’t want to get 12 or so that I might want to keep. Digital frees you to try all kinds of stuff. I could never have learned more about Macro and the like without digital.

    Having said that, I am intrigued to pull out the old camera and try some shots that I have learned with my digital. Maybe that’s the key. Practice techniques on the digital before executing on the film.

  2. Jen, I really enjoyed viewing your Picasa album. I especially liked the lamp post shot. I, too, have been thinking about taking out the old film camera and shooting a few rolls. The delayed gratification will probably take some getting used to, but hey. I could use a little reminder on being patient. 🙂

    Still feeling like I’m playing catch up after an unusually hectic December, but I’m still here and reading and viewing everything every chance I get.

    Shrewie, I don’t know about you, but I could use another rejuvenating mini-ShutterDiveGourmet tour. 😉

  3. Great topic for discussion. I was dragged kicking and screaming into the digital world. In fact it’s only been 2.5 years since I went digital. Now I don’t know if I could go back. Like Shrew said, the digital format gives me the freedom to experiment. While this is great for learning, I do wonder if a sacrifice is made in taking the time to compose just the right shot. Like MM, I hate paying for the film and developing for shots I don’t like.

    I just got back from a visit to Spain. In previous years with my film camera, I would come back with around 10 rolls of film (approximately 250 pictures). Between the film and developing, it would cost more than $100. Of the 250 photos, only a handful would be really worth printing. On this visit (which was only 12 days) I think I took 2,000 photos. However there is a lot of repetition as I would take 5 to 10 shots of the same subject sometimes and play with different exposures. So far, it hasn’t cost me a cent. I’ll print the ones I like, save some others and delete the rest.

    As I have since gotten rid of my old film cameras and lenses, I am unlikely to go back, but I would be interested to know what the rest of you think about the differences.

  4. I had one of the early digital cameras and I hated it. I think it was like 1 megapixel (or less) and it wasn’t nearly as easy as it is now to get digital prints. The pictures it took were not very sharp and the prints were terrible, so I went back to my 35mm. Now the thought of going back to film sounds like a drag for all the very good reasons everyone has already mentioned here.

    Stella looks very majestic – and she didn’t turn her head away! I also like that shot of your lamp post, jenfera – I remember leaving your house a few weeks back and noticing how cool your lights looked under the blanket of snow.

    Anyone know whether lenses for a Canon AE1 would fit any Canon DSLR’s if my day to own one ever arrives? Jenfera, I seem to remember you saying your Rebel lenses would fit a DSLR – how did you find that out?

  5. One more thing on the digital/slr/film discussion. I was telling jenfera and renae that I was trying to capture this really cool sunset picture yesterday. I was really disappointed in what my camera captured. The sky was a hot fuschia pink – what my camera saw, I’ve just posted in the Web Gallery, and its certainly not hot fuschia pink. If you get a chance, check it out. What would you say the story is? Unfortunately, time wasn’t on my side for playing around trying to get the shot. The two I posted are with 2 different settings on my camera (sunset and night, I think) but with very similar, disappointing results.

  6. Karma – no, the AE1 lenses will not fit on the new digital Canons. I know this from back in the day when I sold cameras, even though they didn’t have DSLR’s then. What they did have back then were the “electronic” SLR’s like the Rebel vs. the manual kind like the AE1. The lenses for each are completely different. I belive Nikon was the only one that made lenses that fit on both their manual and electronic SLR’s, but the manual lenses wouldn’t do the autofocus on the electronic cameras.

    I like MM’s concept of practicing on the digital and then using those techniques on the 35mm. I know they don’t all translate – for example, you don’t get all the cute little pre-programmed shooting modes on the 35mm, but at the very least, practicing your composition without fear of waste on the digital is a great idea. I think I will take both my 35mm with the 75-300 lens and my digital to my stepdaughter’s graduation this spring. I was disappointed when the first one graduated and I couldn’t get a close enough shot of her getting her diploma, never mind capturing the exact right moment while the digital took its sweet time.

  7. Karen, I’ve always been into sunsets and sunrises ever since I got into photography back in high school. A “trick” I’ve found to be helpful when trying to capture those colors is to not let your camera meter off the sun. Point it somewhere around the sun, use those settings (aperture and speed) and then recompose your shot. If it’s a sunrise or sunset over water and you want to capture some details in the water, let your camera meter off the reflection in the water. It’ll overexpose the sky a tad, but you’ll get wonderful detail in the water and foreground.

    With digital, it’s also easy to play around with exposure, so experiment! Take a shot, then change your exposure compensation up or down and take more shots. Fiddle with the aperture settings. Sometimes, I like to wait until the light is really low, and then close down the aperture to force the camera to use a very low speed. (Usually, this means I have to use a tripod or put my camera on a railing or table or some stable surface.) Often, the camera ends up capturing wonderful colors that are even deeper and richer than what my eyes see.

    Hope that helps!

  8. ivory – I’m sure that would be wonderful advice if I only owned a DSLR! 🙂
    The choices on my point-and-shoot are limited. 😦

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