Waiting for Film

There’s no question that shooting film (versus digital) is a considerably more time-intensive activity. Right now, I’m waiting for the negatives I shot in Joshua Tree National Park yesterday to be developed.

First one has to select and buy film before shooting, whereas with a digital camera one can simply pick up the camera and shoot. That’s assuming that the battery is charged, of course, but most modern film cameras use batteries, so it is also a good idea to check the batteries before walking out the door with a SLR or medium format film camera. Digital cameras use batteries, so nothing is different about that other than the type of battery and whether it can be recharged or not. Yes, I am aware that many older film cameras are mechanical and don’t need batteries. Let us ignore that.

After shooting with film one has to either develop and print the film in their darkroom or take the film to a (presumably)  trusted lab for developing and processing of some type. The processing may be prints or digital files or both. Or neither, since some people shoot film, get the negatives developed, then scan them to get digital files.

I no longer personally know anyone who has their own darkroom. That was considerably more common before the 21st century.

Film is expensive when you only consider it on a per-frame basis. The roll of film I shot yesterday will cost me around $.30 per frame, and that’s just the cost of film, developing the negatives, and having the negatives scanned. I don’t usually get prints, since my primary target is digital (this Web site), so that thirty cents per frame could easily be more money.

But even with the waiting, there are a number of things that I prefer about shooting film. Most of those preferences are intangibles. I like the way I approach shooting film versus the way I approach shooting digital. I tend to take considerably more time setting up to shoot with film. I give more time and attention to each frame before pressing the shutter button. I get more “keeper” frames when shooting film, because I’m paying more attention to what I’m doing.

I’m not going to dwell on the relative costs of full frame film and digital. Either way one goes, it is an expensive pastime, but I love to shoot film, and right now, I can shoot film for around $.30 per frame versus $3,000 for a full frame digital body. The film will hold me for a while…

The graphic on the left shows the relative sizes of a four thirds sensor, an APS-C sensor (Nikon’s size. Canon is slightly smaller.), a full-frame sensor, which is equivalent to a frame of 35mm film, and medium format film (220).