I am still a bit surprised when people inform me they have decided to keep using film cameras in this day and age of high-quality digital camera image output, and that is just what I was told by a couple last week. Of course, my response was that they should use whatever makes them comfortable.
I find that many photographers using film want to offer a rationale for using film and make statements like “this camera has always taken very good pictures”. I suppose that’s a rational statement, however, but the difference between digital and film is like driving an old 1970 Ford sedan and the newest Ford hybrid model across Canada. There is a lot more performance, comfort and options available for the operator of the newer model so that the experience can be more pleasurable and certainly more efficient.
This couple were so emphatic about how great their old film cameras produced pictures that I assumed they do their own darkroom work, but they take their film into a lab that processes it, then scans it to a computer, then with predetermined settings the computer makes the desired print sizes. Hmm, not much photographer input there and most of the process seems to be digital technology. Oh well, at least they are taking pictures.
I do believe that digital camera users become better photographers faster because of the instant reinforcement of their camera’s LCD, then again because it is so easy and quick to check images on a computer display. Last Thursday my shop was filled with people discussing equipment. I have to mention that just before I talked to the film camera couple, I had been discussing digital cameras, but the question was “ What’s the best digital SLR camera, what do you like?” Well, I like them all. I haven’t had the chance to try every new camera out, but from my reading I think Nikon, Canon, and Pentax all have excellent products.
My advice was they should first decide what they had available to spend, and then decide on how they like to shoot: sports, landscapes, family and so on. Of course any camera will do everything, but some are better for sports and some won’t hold up to the elements if packed on your horse or bounced around getting cold on the back of a snowmobile. My suggestion was before they choose to do some research before they buy.
But film? Well if one is into “retro” or likes to experiment with technology from the past picking up an old film camera and the equipment for processing and printing doesn’t cost much and might be lots of fun. However, for those like me that are dedicated to producing quality photography I would, of course choose a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera.