Those of you who have followed my blog probably looked at my last entry and thought “Film? Why is she writing about film? Didn’t she say she was going digital?” Well, some time has passed since I wrote my entry extolling the wonders of digital and I’ve had time to reconsider. And now, I have a confession to make….I am a digital defector.
Yes, that’s right, after much consideration I have gone back to film as my primary photographic medium. Why, you ask, when I wrote a entry detailing all the advantages of digital for scrapbooking, archival, and budgetary reasons? Well, the reasons are several….
The first was quality. I simply could not get decent quality pictures in low-light situations out of my digital camera, even with flash. Research tells me this isn’t limited to just my somewhat outdated camera, that this is an inherent problem with digital cameras and can only be improved (but not completely solved) by going with a digital SLR with a very hefty pricetag and the accompanying complexities of use and portability. The second quality issue was with color. I simply wasn’t happy with the color quality I was getting out of my digital photos and again, my research tells me that is another problem with digital that can only be solved with a high-end digital SLR and editing software. By contrast, with film I can get the quality that I want out of a high-end but relatively inexpensive, easy-to-tote-around pocket point-and-shoot camera. And while it is true that I will have some expenses with the cheaper film camera that I would not have with the expensive digital ones, I would have to pay for a lot of rolls of film and processing before I would begin to make up the cost difference!
I also like the convenience of having prints on hand from processed film so that when I sit down to scrapbook I can just pull from what I already have instead of having to decide what I want printed, go to the photo lab, wait for the prints, go back and pick them up, and then finally being able to scrapbook. I know you can get prints from digital as you go but that actually requires more work than just getting film processed. You have to go through the files, decide which ones are trash and delete them, fix any major problems like red-eye or bad exposure (and it seemed that I had to do a lot of that fixing to my pictures to get them to the quality of my film prints) and then load them onto a media to take to the photo lab. All of that work for the “convenience” of having prints on hand doesn’t seem too convenient to me.
Another issue that made me finally decide to stay with film for awhile longer was storage and archival concerns. My laptop computer simply doesn’t have hard drive space to handle my managing (let alone storing) large graphics files of the type created by the high-end digital camera that I would need to get the level of quality I desire from my photos. I also don’t have a cd burner on the machine. That means transferring the files to another machine to work with them and back them up, or replacing my laptop. Neither of those are practical options at the moment. And I am concerned about the long-term maintenance of digital files. While it may be possible to do so, there is a lot of effort that must be put in to create back-ups and bring the files up to date on new media. I will have no such concerns with my film and negatives. They can be safely stored with relatively little effort. And I came to another realization…
I decided not to be too concerned about preserving my negatives or original files for future generations. I reached this conclusion for several reasons. First, how many of us are doing anything with old photos where we wish we had the negatives? It just seems a lot of effort to put in on the slim chance that 50 years from now someone might want to reprint something. The second factor was that scanner technology is improving so rapidly that 50 years from now my grandkids won’t need the negatives or files to create an excellent copy as long as they have a print to work with! So I am doing what will work for me now and in the immediate future with archiving my original photo sources and not worrying too much about “future generations.”
Even though I have decided to remain with film for the time being, that doesn’t mean I am totally shut out of the digital photo world. I can still straddle the technological line between film and digital when I wish to do so with the help of my photo lab, who can put my pictures on cd for me either at the time of a roll’s original processing or later if I decide I need that service after the fact. So in a way, I can have the best of both worlds. I can use a point-and-shoot pocket camera, get the color and low-light quality I want, and still have the ability to email pictures or edit them digitally.
Call me a dinosaur but I think I’m going to go back to doing it the old-fashioned way for awhile.