Daily Inspiration #203 by Gallery.ag


Inspired by what I have read on your site, a few months ago I did something I had not done in 10 years since I bought my 1st digital camera (a Kodak DC4800)– I bought and shot a roll of film.  It was like I had stepped back in time – slightly strange – but I was excited.  Since then I have shot a lot of film and find the experience liberating.  Shooting film again has taught me a number of valuable lessons:

“Film Lessons”

1               When you only have 36 exposures, each shot is precious so you are more discriminating in your photographs.

2               Photography is not about megapixels – when I shoot Tri-X or XP2 I don’t know how many megapixels I’m shooting and don’t care – its about the image.

3               Film grain adds texture and imperfection that provides a unique and timeless quality to photographs.

4               Film doesn’t require the latest and greatest equipment (and the constant reinvestment involved).  I shoot with a 15 year old Contax G2 and in 10 years I will still be shooting with the same G2 – try that with a digital camera.

5               Every time I try a different type of film its as though I’m exploring a new and different camera as each film has its own unique look and attributes.

6               Film takes you back to the days before instant gratification – before email, the internet, cell phones, etc… – when people had the lost art of patience.  One had to buy a newspaper for news or wait for the mail to hear from friends.  Film is like that, you don’t get to instantly see your picture the split second you take it – you have to wait for it and the anticipation and surprise of seeing a roll of developed film is a lost pleasure.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still shoot the majority of my pictures digitally but shooting film has made photography a more varied and enjoyable experience.



  1. I think when you enjoy taking photographs and watching them it does not matter the camera you use, as long as you like it. I love film and I which I could use it, but it has become prohibitively expensive to me, so I use my digital almost all the time now and use film not so often. Lets take the cameras themselves from the equation and talk about photography. Whenever someone puts a photo here we enjoyed, and most of the times we don’t eve know the medium used.

  2. No problem John, actually I thought it was funny when I read that, maybe in my case I don’t have to worry about keeping up! ha ha! I think you are absolutely right, getting caught up in the new equipment race happens to all of us. The interesting thing is it used to be just amateur photographers but now professionals are hooked on it too.
    In the old days Pro image makers were quite conservative to change until the new gear was well proven but now, looking at photo sites on the internet, they can’t seem to change fast enough. I think anyone who has been into photography for 15 – 20 years or more has probably been through, or amassed quite a few camera systems and lenses ( finances permitting of course ). I know I did. It got to the point where I had more cameras than I was really using at any one time and I also felt tired of the need to upgrade. Now I’m wary of buying expensive stuff I probably don’t really need. The worst of it is that these days, you just can’t get to grips fully with a new camera model before the next one comes along.Not to mention that the camera companies, even Nikon, don’t bother keeping all the spare parts to repair them like they used to. Interesting to pause and think about this.By the way….
    you may have seen on the news that here in Japan we have just been hit by a major earthquake,a tsunami, and right now, unless they can fix it, are on the brink of a nuclear reactor leak! I guess this is bound to slow down camera development a bit don’t you think! Luckily for me, I live inland near the mountains and am safe though I hear we are losing electric power tomorrow so I’ll be switching to candle power! Old technology!

    • Hope all is well in Japan considering the disaster. I have many friends and co-workers living in Tokyo. So far no one I know personally know that is affected, though I’m sure everyone is affected in one way or another.

      I’m hoping the region recovers quickly from this. Take care Steve and Good Luck!

      • Thanks John, your comments are much appreciated ! We are all doing our best
        considering the circumstances..

  3. Well John, i understand your thinking but i live in Japan where i am awash in all the digital technology and i have film and digital cameras. I never was a darkroom person and I’m not a computer person either even though i have an iMac. Of all the cameras I own ( don’t ask ) right now I’m using five of them regularly and if I honestly take stock I find I’m using four film cameras and only one digital.
    The digital I use when I’m lazy. Why don’t I use more digital when i’ve got DSLR’s sitting on the shelf doing nothing? Because in actual picture taking I do not enjoy using menus as part of the image making process. Even the M9 requires this. It is one more step I don’t want to get in the way of my photography. The controls on film cameras allow me to concentrate on the subject completely using feel for adjusting the controls. Digital cameras DO NOT do this as well.If they did I’d be using them.
    Sorry but this included the M9. Side by side comparison in the store and I still like my M6 better for the picture taking experience. Tried the Fuji X100 in the store last weekend. Nope, still not impressed by the design of Digital cameras.And the viewfinders are inferior ( except perhaps for the M9 ).
    So I don’t think we HAVE reached the stage yet where digital cameras are as good as film cameras and that is to be expected since they haven’t been around as long.
    And take a look around at how many pros are going back to film. There are more than you think.
    And really..No digital camera is designed with a ten year life span. Not even Leica M9.. I’ll bet.
    Regardless of what leica may say do you seriously think it’ll be ten years before Leica updates the M9? Look at the short interval between the M8 and M9. Look at the speed of change in digital development. Digital cameras are disposable products in the same way computers are. Don’t kid yourself.Every Pro photographer and Amateur on the internet blogs keeps anxiously changing their cameras now on a regular basis. Very few are using their same digital camera for ten years straight.

    You may think you’ll still be using your current digital in 7 or 8 years from now.
    Perhaps you will…but I seriously doubt it. The nature of digital anything is to upgrade.
    DVD to BLU RAY. Intel processor to dual core intel processor. You still love your old coolpix.
    I think that’s great. The vast majority of people will not hold on to their old digital when the new one can do more or better, Which is a great shame as there are more than enough discarded cameras out there to make a mountain of waste.

    By the way I like changing the look or color of an image by changing the film I insert in the camera much better than changing it by computer processing in camera or on the computer. i like the purity of an image that travels straight through the lens and on to a film better than one that goes into a pixelator. I like natural cheese better than processed and custard made with milk instead of instant made with water but your taste may vary.

    Your last paragraph is great. We just need to take pictures! Exactly.

    • Great post Steve! 🙂 I particularly took notice of this sentence which I feel sums up today’s photography scene perfectly – “The nature of digital anything is to upgrade”

      In reality that is EXACTLY the nature of the IT market, and what is a digital camera after all? Nothing more than a light tight computer. The whole market is upgrade driven with PR men telling everyone they will take far better pictures once the new model camera comes out and people saying “How did I ever get by using that old thing?” It’s a trap, a con and the majority of photographers are naively falling into this pit and staying there locked in never to escape.

      I was asked the other day by a photog who knew I was a Leica user whether I would be getting a Fuji X100 to which I replied – “No way, I’m waiting for the X500 because that really will be a camera and some!” The point being the best camera is the one you have and the one you have with you. Learn it, enjoy it, use it – Get out and shoot! 🙂

    • Thanks Steve,

      I guess my point is that – old cameras, as long as they still work (digital or film), then there is no real reason they could not be used. Just for a sec, let’s stick to the concept of traditional photography and the output of the image onto paper, M9 or M6, regardless of which you enjoy shooting, you could use either to produce prints for years. That is of course if the print was your ultimate output goal, most of us don’t even go that far. The cover of your favorite magazine will still be a usable image in 20 years, so again, why wouldn’t the camera used to take the shot still be suitable for use to take other quality images?

      I’m certainly not kidding myself, and I agree with you – “Every Pro photographer and Amateur on the internet blogs keeps anxiously changing their cameras now on a regular basis.” – I know, I’m one of them 🙂 I can’t count the number of cameras I’ve had in the last 10 years. My 20D used to take great pictures, I just wanted a 5D, but the pictures I took with the 20D are still great pictures. The 20D is still a usable tool. When you think about the progression of technology in image taking, the DSLRs of today are capable of capturing images equal to that of film. The experience we want from taking pictures is different for all of us, hence the reason for so many manufacturers, camera types, functions, ‘features’ etc. However it does not change the need for decent glass/aperture settings/shutter speed settings, the basis of what we need to compose an image. This tool, digital or film can be used for years.

      I know, we live in a disposable world. The majority of us are tech/camera junkies looking for the next fix – and that includes me. But we really don’t need another camera. I’ve seen countless blogs about how its all about the photographer and not the camera, and yet still we want to keep up with the ‘Joneses’.

      And btw – I still have the coolpix only because I couldn’t sell it when it was time to upgrade, just wasn’t worth anything so I kept it…Is it an M9 or 5DII? – NO – but it still works, still takes images I can print if I choose to 🙂

      • Steve,

        I just realized your last name is Jones. Seriously, there was no pun intended on keeping up with the ‘Joneses’ 🙂

  4. Nice work AG,

    Regarding point #4. I see your point, but respectively disagree.

    Don’t you think that we’ve gotten to the point where we can hold on to our digital camera’s for 10+ years? The debate of digital vs. analog (film) is long past. I believe we’ve reached a consensus by now – and so shouldn’t a 5DII or M9 get some consideration, same as an old M6 or your G2? Technology has taken off in the last 30 years, and the constant change has us believing that we need the latest and greatest.

    As long as camera companies continue to develop ‘features’ in smaller packages, the vast majority of us will want to experience it. But at this point, old camera or new camera, there is something on the shelves for all of us to enjoy photography for a long time if we choose to put aside ‘the next thing’. Given the large number of megapixels available, given the fact that the principles of aperture and shutter speed still apply and given the fact that we can still use new or old glass on new or old equipment, I think I’ll still be taking photos with my current digital 7 or 8 years from now.

    btw/ I still have my Nikon CoolPix 5700 that I purchased in 2002. And although I haven’t touched it years, it still works – and interestingly enough, it has produced some of the best pictures in my digital photog life. We really just need to take pictures is all.


    • “We really just need to take pictures is all.”

      Amen to that!

      Many people (often unfairly I might add!) deride Ken Rockwell, but he posted a VERY interesting piece the other day that as usual with Ken is as provocative (possibly to some) as it is IMO wise and true. I won’t post the link out of respect for Steve but the title of his piece on Thursday was:- “How to Learn Photography” and in it he stated:-

      “Women are better photographers than men as a whole ….” Controversal? Maybe, but he followed it with the reason and as a man and a gear geek myself I wholeheartedly agree with his reasoning:-

      “Women are better photographers than men as a whole because women worry about their pictures, and not about their cameras. Men spend lifetimes researching and talking about cameras, which does nothing to advance their photography. Women and children take pictures because they like them, not because they like playing with cameras. Their natural curiosity leads them to better pictures.”

      As John so rightly said- “We really just need to take pictures is all.” 😉

  5. I’ve sold off most of my digital cameras (still have a sigma dp2 though) and have invested in medium and 35mm film. I’m just more satisfied with the end result with film that i ever was with digital.

    It’s true what you say about trying out new film. It does feel like your using a new camera!

  6. You summed up the experience quite nicely…exactly my experience over the last 6 months as I have also returned to film. I’ve taken it a step further by developing my own b&w film. Photography is more relaxing now, more like a hobby again…the very reason I started with it in the first place.

  7. I agree with you 100%! I have been primarily shooting film for about 6 months now, both 35mm and Medium Format. I LOVE it more than I can explain. But I don’t think I need to…..you already get it. I get about 75% more keepers with film….for this alone it’s worth it to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.