Why I like film so much


When I talk about color what I mean is slide film, good stuff like Fuji Velvia 50 or 100. Of course everyone has their own preferences, but I am quite enamored of the bold, bright and saturated reds and oranges, deep blues and greens, and jet black tones that I get from Velvia.

I have a picture of the sun coming up behind Mt. Fuji and the gradations from yellow-white to yellow to orange of the sun fading so smoothly into the blues and purples of the dawn sky are just stunning. Add to that the jet black of the shadows and the contrasty look that film has, and the image just springs to life.  

I can’t explain it, you have to see it yourself. In real life I mean. Go to Fuji and wake up at 5 am and be ready to be blown away.

But I digress.

This last weekend, I was reminded once again of some of the many reasons (besides the amazing color) that I love film. I was out shooting sakura with my elderly Yashica Mat 124G Twins Lens Reflex camera (TLR from the 60’s I think?), and in 1 hour I took….six photos. Six! That’s one photo every 10 minutes. The next time you’re out taking shots with your favorite digital camera, count how many shots you take in thirty minutes. I guarantee it will be at least 20 if not 30 +. (Granted with my EOS 1-N film SLR I can blow through pictures at almost the same speed. What a blast it is to use!)

Going through the process slowly – checking your composition, setting shutter speed and aperture manually (via a spot meter), cranking the film, and then clicking the remote – you put so much more into every picture that it means something. It’s all very nostalgic, and it feels great to lose the break neck pace of digital shooting.  

Here she is:

Yashica Mat 124 G

I added a sakura blossom for good measure 🙂 Taken with the s90, the only digital camera I bring with me when shooting film.

And here’s one of my Pentax spot meter:

Pentax spot meter

These together set me back 30,000 yen. In comparison, my 30D + lens cost 110,000, my s90 cost me 44,000 and my new 7D (body) cost me 124,000. So digital cameras (not counting my other lenses) have set me back 278,000 yen, and no they don’t take any better pictures than my 50 year old 30,000 yen analog set up. Actually, if you’re picky, the film has far more sharpness and detail than any of my digital cameras. Why? Because these negtives are 2 1\4 inches squared (6×6 cm), not the 16×22.5 mm sensors of my digtal SLRs (we won’t even go to the s90).

So you see my friends, if you can be bothered to shoot it, film gives you (I think) better colors, sharper pictures, did I mention a 2 1/4 inch finder?? (even my 35mm EOS 1-N has a vastly superior finder to any of my digital cameras) The handling is sure and precise, if a bit slower, and everything feels like a throwback to your parents’ days. It’s all an experience, more than anything, and I think that’s what taking pictures is all about.

Of course if you can’t be bothered, well I do still take digital myself! But for anything serioust that gets enlarged and hung in my house or in a gallery, it’s almost always film.

On Sunday evening I ran into some of the best light I’ve ever seen, and the result you can see here. That will the subject of my next post: shooting with what you have. But for now, here are some s90 and 7D shots from this weekend (both days, various locations around town). 

On Saturday I browsed a few sakura spots, and along the way snapped this shot from a high up temple.

View of Seiwa

The steps leading to the upper area of Nyu Daishi

To the top

Cups you use to purify your hands and mouth

Three cups

Older folks out for a Sunday stroll

 Sunday afternoon stroll

 The main gate at Nyu Daishi in evening light

Gate at night

Temple at night

Night temple

 A single tree with a sun (light) star

Lighting up the night 

Some backlighting on sakura behind the Seiwa branch of town hall

 Beautiful backlight

A full blooming tree

A burst of color 

Dave enjoying the weather

The weather is fine



2 thoughts on “Why I like film so much

  1. Great photos once again.

    Yeah, film still has the edge over digital photography. In the last decade DSLRs have made vast improvements and in the next decade I’m sure DSLR sensors will surpass the sensitivity, sharpness and color accuracy of film.

    However, film has it’s final trump card…the dark room. That in itself is an art.

    • David, I think you’re mistaken about why I like film 😀

      It’s that the colors are less accurate and bolder and more vivid than they actually might be in real life. In the slides I use at least. I really get the “look and feel” that I like, and I think, photography being an art, if I didn’t put my spin on things it just wouldn’t be mine , you know?

      And until they get affordable 6×6 cm sensors (not the 10k + digital ones they use now), or even 4×5 inch sensors, film will still be the ultimate in resolution. I don’t think those are coming any time soon – it was only 2 years ago that Canon finally made an affordable full frame with the same sensor as their top camera! I think 35 mm digital has almost hit it’s limit for sensor size. Sensitivity, yes, using 100 ISO speed film is sometimes a bit of a pain 😛 I do love my 7D when it comes to shooting indoors at 3200!

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