The Joy of Shooting Film!

by Mike on April 19, 2011

(this man started singing when he found I’d be shooting him on film instead of digital)

I started shooting film again last week and I have to say I’m loving it.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve picked up a Mamiya 645 Pro medium-format system and a Canon A2E 35mm body from Adorama here in NYC. All the images in this post were shot with the A2E with the cheap Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens. Anything color was photographed on Fuji Superia 400 film, while the black & whites were done on Ilford Delta 400.

I can’t recommend Adorama enough for used gear since they offer a no bull$hit 90-day warranty, something I actually used since the first 645 I bought had a malfunctioning shutter. They took it right back once I showed them the problem, and gave me a discount on another camera to compensate me for the film I burned in testing.

Anyway, let’s get back to the story.

Shooting film has been an absolute joy. Theoretically, it’s not all that different from shooting with digital, but I’m finding that film has turned my photographic process upside down, and I mean that in a good way.

I’m shooting way, way less, and getting more and more keepers. Since film costs money every time you click the shutter, you’re going to think twice about motordriving frame after frame.

Plus, it’s pretty nice not to have an LCD screen to look at after each shot. This way, I can focus on the streets in front of me to look for interesting shots instead of constantly facing down and away from the action.

This adds another cool element to shooting film – the sheer thrill of not knowing exactly what you’ve got until your film is processed. I don’t know about you, but I get very giddy when I pick up new prints, and now I get the same feeling whenever I pick up my film!

And as far as image quality goes, I’m simply loving film, especially when it comes to black & white. Silver Efex Pro does a great job of emulating black & white film, but it’s not quite as sweet or smooth as the real thing. Digital still sucks when it comes to handling blown or nearly-blown highlights.

The colors that I’m pulling out of film are also awesome – unlike digital, they don’t need any post-processing to look ‘real.’ For example, my Canon DSLR has a hell of a time dealing with the color red – something that isn’t a problem for my A2E using the same lens.

In all, shooting film has been a lot of fun, and I’m going to be doing more posts on the topic, including how to manage film images in Aperture.

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