art, culture, technic, technical

Taking photographs in the old way …

… on analog film.

A fellow blogger wrote a post on this topic: 7 reasons to return to film photography

I stumbled over that post by change. Most of his reasons are reasonable, but there are others he didn’t set in the perspective.

I started photography in the early 1980s (OK, I got my first camera during the 1970s, but here I mean a more serious kind of photography). So I took photographs on film for approximately more than 25 year. Over the years you get plenty of dia slides and negatives. You have to catalog them and store them. You have to take care for a storage, suitable for them (not too hot, not too cold, no humidity, dark, keep them plan). Nearly the same is true for the prints.

I developed my black-and-whites myself. You need a  bunch of chemicals, that need special care after usage. The same is true for the color processes (more complicated, expensive and pollutive). Don’t mention the laboratory equipment. If you’re really interested in the old chemical processes, try taking a class at a school or try to get an internship at a photographer who still uses that old way.

Regarding the photography itself: digital is more easy, ’cause you see the result at once and can learn from your mistakes by analyzing the exif data. An analog camera won’t record such things, you have to write them down right after you’ve taken that picture. There were data backs for some cameras available, that burned the exposure data also on the film, somewhere at the side, that was used for transporting the film inside the camera . This sidespace is also light-sensitive, but usually unused. So it was fine for this purpose. These data backs were very expensive. Sometimes as expensive as the camera. They were a replacement for the rear panel of the camera. During my analog times I’ve never met one who had such a data back. Winder or motor drives for transporting the film automatically were much more common.

On the other hand: good photos on film testify your quality as a photographer more easily, because you have to work more carefully and are (nearly) unable to retouch the photo after taken it (no photoshop for corrections!). At the analog laboratory you only have a small range of corrections (WB, darken, lighten, general color correction) are possible.

Don’t forget: you can’t change the ISO or the WB (there are daylight films and tungsten films). Each film has a set ISO value. OK, you can over- or underexpose the complete film and develop it regarding this, but it is always for the complete film!!

Now I summed up so many cons and only few pros, and you might ask yourself, is that all? No. There is some more. A film is more sensitive than the digital sensor today. Our eye is able to cover approximately 14 f-stops. The film is able to cover 10 f-stops, while a digital sensor is only able to cover 8 f-stops. What does this mean? It’s easy:

Take a sunny day and look to the outside. There is a blue sky, green trees and even in the shadows you can still see structures. The sensor will take a picture that has structures in the shadows with a white (blown out) sky or you’ll get a blue sky with black shadows (drowned). Both of them are bad. The film will have the same problem, but not as bad.

I’m so glad to have my analog camera changed into a digital one, even I know about the disadvantages. But I’m able to work around them.

On the other hand: data on my harddisk is not so durable as any well stored, during a chemical process developed film or print. Today we are able to look at any photo taken a hundred years ago. But who will be able to watch the photos, I’ve taken digitally, in 100 years?

From that perspective it is much better to take your photographs on analog film. But decide yourself. Post me you opinion.

3 thoughts on “Taking photographs in the old way …”

  1. Sorry for the late reply. Have some problems with my pc but all solved.

    As I said in my article blog, your explanation was amazing but this article is in another level.

    Thanks a lot for this and for sharing with all community bloggers and film photography lovers.


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